Dreams Not Deferred

5

May 21, 2020-

After visiting the newly reopened American Legion Post 6 and stopping by Bill’s Pizza for a couple of slices, which I then enjoyed at a park bench, in Courthouse Square, I headed along North Cortez Street, and made note of more places re-opening, this coming weekend.

It was another of life’s sublime pleasures, to see a fairly good cross section of our area’s graduating high school seniors, lining up in their vehicles-sedans, trucks, SUVs and Jeeps, preparing for a motorcade through downtown, after which they would go to Pioneer Park, on the north side, for a group celebration. I stayed around and cheered all of the grads, as they drove by my perch on the outside of a long-defunct Chinese restaurant.

This group has been challenged to complete their course of study, in ways not seen since World War II. People of my parents’ generation may well identify, yet at least they got to finish school in their buildings. This spring semester, at all schools, has been an intense swirl of innovation-much of it accomplished on the spur of the moment. The best of it has relied on inquiry and discussion, followed by students coming up with solid new ways to accomplish things that had relied on formula, for far too long.

I had little to do with the achievements of this class of seniors, but I did cheer one young lady, a special needs person, who learned the value of setting personal boundaries and safeguarding herself, without, thankfully, having to undergo trauma. She can now take her place among those pursuing, and realizing, their dreams-hers being to work as a cosmetologist.

May each of these remarkable souls make their mark, not waylaid by any future misfortune-either greater or lesser than the one that interrupted, but did not dismantle, their last year of high school.

Light, Out of Calamity

8

March 27, 2020-

In some of mankind’s darkest moments,  advances have come from the suffering, like small mammals coming forth after the Age of Dinosaurs.  These advances, in short order, became a part of the fabric of human culture.

After the Great Plague, of the Fourteenth Century, Europeans began to return to embracing science, rather than superstition, in treating illnesses.  The primacy of Cardinals and Bishops began to face widespread scrutiny, and the stirrings of Protestantism were felt.  The Catholic Church itself had to make changes, under Ignatius Loyola.  Advances in scientific discovery came, as a result of these trends.

After the American Civil War, the Red Cross was started, by Clara Barton, as a means of assisting soldiers, in time of calamity.  It quickly expanded to help society at large, in times of disaster.

After World War I, movements to assist disabled and unassisted veterans, in returning to civilian life began, with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. These organizations still make large scale efforts to assist those who suffer from dislocation, or from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After World War II, mass production of houses, the science of rocketry, television and large computers became part of the civilian world, having been first advanced within the military sphere.  From large, room-sized computers have come hundreds of technological products, many of them falling into the realm of nanotechnology.

Now, we will await the advances coming out of the struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Teleconferencing, already available for business, government and limited conversations between family members and other small groups, has exploded in use, as nearly every group, which conducted its business in person, has found ways to meet virtually. Even when the crisis has ended, I can see the sheer range of teleconferencing leading to its continued wide use among the public at large.  It will also greatly modify the educational process, even more than it has to date.

The retrofitting of factories that produce a wide variety of products, from airplanes to distilled spirits, are now also producing items that will help face the virus.  Ventilators, medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer will still need to be stockpiled, even after this virus has spent its rampage.  Preparedness will not soon, if ever, be relegated to the realm of memory.

There will be many tasks, which the technology and skill sets coming out of the current crisis will need to be called to perform. Not the least of these is completing the still gargantuan effort to provide all homes with clean, running water and reliable heat or cooling.  This work will occupy post-pandemic humanity for years, if not decades.

Out of  the darkness comes a greater light.  Baha’u’llah teaches:

“O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.”

 

 

Membership in Groups

14

March 24, 2020-

I’ve historically had it tough, when being part of a group.  That hasn’t stopped me from trying.  I showed up every day, as a child, to take part the best way I could, in what ever game was being played.  In high school, I had friends with whom I could sit in the library and at lunch, and hang out on weekends.  Many are still connected-at least online.

I didn’t fare so well in the Army, or in college, but my purpose during those years was much different-and so, the work became most important.  The same was true of my first four years of teaching-never an insider, but connected with my students.  So it continued, over the next four decades, but family was my bedrock, and the kids were always the foundation.

I say this, in thinking about the groups with which I’ve been involved over the past nine years.  My Faith community is the strongest connection, followed by the mostly senior crowd at the American Legion, and my younger friends at Prescott College, both groups now in abeyance, until the virus runs its course.  Permaculture groups, like Slow Food and the Farmers Market have warmed to me, over the years.

I have personally committed to helping the Red Cross in the present crisis, only to find there is an “age-ism” rising.  The mentality seems to be that those of us over 65 are “at risk” and therefore ought to keep our distance, even beyond the current social distancing.  It may be that this is an attitude meant to keep us safe, but I find it patronizing-and more than a little cliquish.  I know my limits and would relegate myself to the background, if at all feeling ill.  I also am very tuned into the dynamics of small groups, and having seldom been an insider, can see when a situation is being manipulated to exclude all but the favoured few.

In the event there is a much larger calamity, I have become certified in FEMA’s Points of Distribution.  I am committed to helping my community, whether being welcomed by the elite, or not.  May it all just turn out to be unnecessary.

 

And It Was….

4

December 31, 2019-

It was a time of loss.

The decade took Penny, my wife of twenty-eight years and nine months, both her parents Norm and Ruth (“Bunny”), two of her aunts Averala and Helen (“Honey”), two of  her cousins, Tom and Jean, and a cousin-in-law, Richard.

It took my maternal uncles, Carl and James,  Carl’s two children-Keith and Carla, and our cousins Ronnie and Lorraine.

It did not spare my father’s side of the family, either, taking Uncle George, Aunt Adeline (“Sissy”) and her son Bob.

It brought several others to the Life Beyond, friends all:  Christie Serino, Drew Crotty, Larry Silipigni, Alan and Rick Belyea, from my hometown of Saugus, MA;  Alison Sipes, from Indiana; Mildred “Mildoo” Forney, who, along with her daughter, made my visits to Oley, PA an annual pleasure; my American Legion comrades Bob Wittmann, Dennis Young, John Mortimer, Sue Chambers, Al Tercero-among several;  a host of Baha’i  fellows- Ali and Violette Nakhjavani, Nancy Coker, John Cook, Firuz Khazemzadeh, Avid Navidi, Dick Sloman, Moses Nakai, Russ Garcia, Chester Kahn, Roy Dewa, Tom Smith, Keith John Manybeads.

 It was a time of change.

It saw me get out of town, leaving Phoenix, after ten years.  Prescott, once more, became Home Base.

It saw our son, Aram, follow in the footsteps of many of his forebears, on both sides of the family and enter the service of his country, serving in the United States Navy, for nine years.

It saw him enter into matrimony.  Having returned to Korea, the land of his birth, as part of his service, Aram met and married Yunhee, a superlative addition to our family.

It saw us honour two of my nieces, who preceded him down the aisle, also bringing spouses who add luster to the Boivin brood.

It was a time of growth.

It brought in fourteen new members of my Grandniece/nephew Club and some new additions to my Greater Tribe.

There were a couple of good years, working full time, at Prescott High School, and several others spent substitute teaching.

The decade brought me the joy of giving back- with the American Red Cross, Slow Food, school garden projects, and the Farmers’ Market, as well as American Legion Post 6 and the Baha’i community.  It has brought me many new friends, members of my Tribe, who consistently make this life a thing of beauty.

Then, there were those journeys- annually to see family, on the East Coast, in the South and in the Midwest, which is never “Flyover Country” to me; my first solo visit to Europe, partly on my father-in-law’s behalf and partly because  I wanted to connect with the lands of my ancestors;  I returned to Korea, to  fully embrace my son’s wedding and to recap our life in Jeju; Hawaii welcomed me, in advance of the Tiger Cruise from Honolulu to San Diego, as Aram & crew returned from a Pacific Rim deployment; I fulfilled some of the dreams I shared with Penny, and explored the Pacific Northwest, a bit of British Columbia; southeast Alaska and eastern Canada; California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado were constantly seeing my face-largely to spend time with far-flung members of my Tribe.  Shorter, but no less meaningful, jaunts around Arizona, Utah and New Mexico filled in the blanks.

Now, the sun has risen on a new decade, for much of the world and the year, which once loomed as a pinnacle in my life, has a remaining shelf life of nine hours, here in the Mountain Standard Time Zone.

This decade of joy, sorrow, gain, loss, advances and setbacks will soon give way to another, likely much more of each.  Happy 2020, one and all!

Back to Harmony

6

September 8, 2019-

Yesterday, I let the sour mood pass through. I think it was a reaction to the falling barometer.  We got about 1.3 inches of rain, in this neighbourhood and in points east.  A trip to the laundromat, on the northwest side of town, revealed continued “dry as a bone” conditions. Whilst at Farmers’ Market, I learned, from a vendor, who is a mutual acquaintance, that an erstwhile tormentor had found some peace in her life.  That is comforting, as unhurt people are less likely to hurt people. As the day wore on, and the rain had passed, I felt more in tune.  Spiritual Feast, in the evening, was vibrant and well-attended, another uplift.

Today has seen a nice breakfast at Post 6 come and go.  Now the long and celebratory Farm-to-Table Dinner will occupy my afternoon and evening.  This is one of four large social events of the Autumn-three of them this month and the last, on November 2, which will keep me connected to the community and offer a form of activity, in addition to Planet Fitness and whatever hiking I do, here and elsewhere in the Southwest.  Service projects, other than the above, will also be performed, through the Red Cross.  Home safety, simply put, is our major focus, in areas at risk for wildfire.

The message comes to me that disharmony is, largely, actually a product of not being in sync with the community.  Letting other people’s pain affect my own self-concept is a disservice, to them and to myself.  So, back to a state of balance I go.

Today will make many people happy.

The Cost of Anonymity

2

July 19-21-

I am back in my salubrious Home Base, for three days, give or take.  No one knew I was back, until I announced my presence- such is the anonymous state of being that proceeds from apartment living, in a community that relishes independence.

I went down to one of the local coffee houses, on Friday morning.  For most of the time, I was the only patron sitting inside. The barrista, a recent graduate of our community’s high school, was bored out of her skull.  Too shy to talk to this old guy, she busied herself with grinding coffee beans, swiping her phone and otherwise staring into space.  I’ve learned to respect personal space, and so focused on my simple oatmeal breakfast.

Towards lunch, a visit to Ms. Natural’s, one of my favourite hangouts, revealed a different atmosphere.  The proprietor, C, was delighted that I was back, even if only for a few days.  One of the waitresses, C2, engaged me in a lengthy comparison of summer adventures:  Mine, on the road and hers. locally-based, but no less interesting.  After C2’s boyfriend showed up, they left and I talked with C and another waitress for a few more minutes, feeling that I belonged here.

Much of the modern West thrives on anonymity.  People don’t monitor a person’s actions, all that much.  Some of my contemporaries make it look as if they are watching what’s going on, but an old white guy staring at others, and not saying much, isn’t doing anything to deter either loneliness or miscreance.  I have chosen involvement in community activities, as an antidote to both.  It’s a fine line that needs to be trod-one can not force oneself on others, nor can one just turn a blind eye to incidents, large and small, that impact a community.

So, I went to a couple of meetings, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and joined several comrades for breakfast at the Legion Post, Sunday morning. I was apprised of all that had gone on, drama and the rest, over the last six weeks.  There was a fair amount of planning and the scene for Autumn looks to be fulfilling.  The cost of anonymity can only be paid by breaking out of the chrysalis.

Now, I look forward to a week with my Carson City family.

Days of Heaven

0

 

June 2, 2019, Bellemont-

The past few days have seen confirmation of my path, this summer.   The last minute invitation to an event by Global Stilt Alliance, entitled Congress: The Legislation, brought me to Arcosanti, normally a place I visit in Autumn, on Friday evening.

A performance of young stilt artists, accented by two spoken word performers, drove home the point that we need to move beyond solving our problems through separation and the building of walls.

Yesterday, I felt the sadness of some who have bonded deeply with me, when it was time to let my friends at the Farmer’s Market know I would not be back there until August 3. This gave me another perspective on the occasional objections to my wanderings, from some of my fellows in Faith.

Saturday evening, though, did accomplish the laying of a foundation for regular meetings of a group of spiritual tutors.  We had a fruitful discussion and sharing of expectations and concerns for the practice of our tutoring activities.

Today, I was greatly pleased to see a young Navy veteran join our breakfast group, at American Legion Post 6.  The perspectives and ideas of the newest generation of military veterans are long overdue for inclusion in service organizations.

This afternoon and evening, I spent the first of several days at this Baha’i retreat property, west of Flagstaff.  Clearing brush from the area took about ninety minutes.  Then came an evening of quiet reflection and meditation.  Arriving at a more present state of mind is one of the sweetest results of the relative isolation I enjoy this evening.  Thinking over a couple of minor faux pas, which occurred yesterday evening and this night, during routine dinner outings, I see things more form the perspective of those inconvenienced.  The solution lies in my own heightened awareness, even when somewhat fatigued.

Seven of the next eight days will be spent preparing for, and assisting with, a camp for middle school-aged youth.  I look forward to continuing my own reflections and meditation during this time, as well.

Acker Night

9

December 7, 2018, Prescott-

Every strong community has its special day of community gathering-whether it be a Founders Day or Day of Incorporation.  Prescott has several days of community celebration, including Frontier Days, in July, and Tsunami on the Square, in September. Acker Night, in honour of local arts patron James Acker, is celebrated on the first Friday night in December, and features a variety of musicians, holding court in over 130 downtown businesses.  The aim is to raise money for arts scholarships, and the donations are usually copious.

I’ve gone down there, for 6 of the seven years I’ve lived here continuously and for both Decembers that Penny, Aram and I lived here, previously.  It’s always a incredibly joyful time, regardless of weather or temperature.  I end up taking in at least three performances, usually more.

Tonight, the American Legion post had its annual Christmas Dinner, which took up most of the time allotted to Acker Night.  I still managed to run into a trio of friends, in the heart of the Square.  A couple of visits to performances in the Shops at Hotel  St.Michael followed.  I ended up at the shop of a friend:  Ms. Natural’s and caught their guest guitarist winding up his act.  Claudia’s apple cinnamon cake and a robust coffee  topped off the evening, and I slipped out quietly, so the ladies could finish their closing activities.

On the way back to my apartment, these scenes caught my eye.

Over two thousand people, many from the Phoenix area,  as well us locals, attended this evening’s festivities.  It’s events like this which help give Prescott the moniker, “Everybody’s Hometown”.

Burning the Mask of Overactivity

4

October 142018, Prescott-

No, I did not mean hyperactivity.  My day is fairly well balanced and more focused than some of my recently-made friends have perceived.  I did not mean overextended, though there are days when I have to snip the cord on one activity or another.

Overactivity (my term) means having more options to which to be committed than some feel is healthy.  One person even got an insight that my current level of social involvement amounts to a safety net, a cocoon, if you will, through which I can escape confronting my pain.

In truth, each night and for a good part of my weekends, I am indeed alone with my state of being.  There was a period of time, about three years, when travel eased my pain at losing my wife of 29 years. The first year, 2011, saw me going about with clouded judgement, for about four months.  Some family members were angry with me, for not “getting it together and moving on”.  I believe these people have come to see things differently.  Now, largely being in one community, I am building a sense of personal power.  I am glad to share my energy with groups like the American Legion, Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott-and I do not find it overwhelming, nor do I find it a means of escaping pain.

Those in pain themselves will likely call “bullshit”, but that is their individual mirror.   I have not been shy about opting out of an event or an activity, when I feel the need to rest or when someone’s personal needs arise.   I know where I am inside, emotionally- and physically.

Spiritually, I believe in Baha’u’llah, as the Manifestation of God for this Day.  I believe in the Oneness of Mankind, as do many people of various Faiths-and many of no Faith.  I  believe in the continuity of spiritual revelation.  Some even think they know where mankind is going, after the completion of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation (at least 825 more years). Maybe they are right.  I can only say, it is time now to bring about the end to needless suffering, and if you have ideas that can help in that regard, bring them to the fore!  It is not overactive, hyperactive or even being overwrought, to have a passion that belongs on the table, that needs to be shared and enkindled.

Let us keep an open hand to one another, an open mind to the ideas of others and an even temper, when dealing with each other’s foibles, weaknesses and areas in which one needs to grow.  If that is difficult for someone, let he or she point the area out-preferably in a loving way, leaving the offending party to themselves, and,as Baha’u’llah wrote, “Beseech God to guide them”.  It’s time to burn the masks which limit us.

The Fast: Day 7- Detachment

2

March 8, 2018, Prescott-

One of the main features of this period of time is the occurrence of mental and emotional tests.  Many of our tests come from the emotional baggage we carry with us.  A tool that the Fast provides us, in overcoming these tests, and jettisoning that baggage, is detachment.

Physically, those between 15-70, under the circumstances I described in Part 1, face detachment from food, drink and all the activities which feature them, during the daylight hours of Fast days.  This evening, whilst attending an American Legion Post monthly meeting, I purchased a light meal, as is customary prior to such meetings, and secured it  in a to-go box, for after sundown, and the meeting’s end.

There are, of course, far more basic and  deeper-seated matters which can be and are, brought to our consciousness during the Fast.  I am facing one, right now, which I will describe later, when the time is appropriate.  I am determined that, this time, I will cast the baggage aside.  It stems from events in my life, over 50 years ago, and had been buried these many years.  Now, it’s just time to put the demons to rest.  Good people, besides me, will be the better for this.