2010-19: How I’ve Changed

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December 30, 2019-

It’s said that nothing in the Universe remains static for long. Even inanimate objects experience molecular change.  Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve been likened to a piece of furniture, and the blessed soul who made that comparison is himself long departed from our midst.

The decade now ending has been, in many ways, the most seismic in my life, since the 1980’s. In that decade, the changes were commensurate with full adulthood:  Finding spiritual footing, courting and marriage, solidifying of a career, loss of a parent, and  my own parenthood.

The changes that have come in the 2010s have been more in keeping with true maturity.  I’m not altogether there yet.  Few of us ever are.  The process has been in fits and starts, and suitably so, as everyone’s late middle age is unique.

So:

Losing a spouse– This was a long haul, and arguably something about which Penny warned me, several times throughout our wedlock..  It was the culmination of a lifelong, hereditary disease, that had come for a reckoning.  It made me responsible for the care of a vulnerable adult, at a time when a burgeoning adult needed us both.  There was always a balance to be struck.  The biggest lesson in this, was that never again could I indulge in the slightest amount of self-pity.  Buus Huus, the imaginary Roman patron of the woebegone, had taken his flight.

Altering my sense of community– I left Phoenix, after ten years, being alternately comforted in my sorrow and admonished about abandoning my duty to the community.  I found the latter ironic, as the West, especially in its urban and suburban contexts, has relied, to a great extent on the safety to be found in maintaining anonymity, in entering and exiting one’s residence, through the garage and inside a vehicle.

Prescott became my community, but it was, and is, more Home Base than castle.  I have dear friends here, who are never far from my mind.  Yet, the closest of them, even my best friend, know and accept that I have concern with people far afield.  Part of this is my Sagittarian being, part is boundless love.

Connecting with people– It’s become far easier for my mildly Asperger’s/autistic self to reach out to those not previously known to me, and to engage in meaningful conversation.  That has made both quotidian life and novel experiences more meaningful.  Largely gone is the concern with rejection.

Shedding long-held shackles– Subconscious  and  self-limiting views onto which I held, about women, people of colour and just about anyone different from me, have fallen away.  I’ve long known that overarching prejudice is wrong and have managed my behaviour accordingly.  In 2014, I was reproached regarding the residual bias, the microprejudices which, in retrospect, were continuing to cause difficulties in life.  Things like subtly expecting less of someone, because of gender, ethnicity or physical status constitute a forest that is hard to see for its trees-until someone comes along and blows the wake-up dog whistle.  Now, it is not possible for me to regard anyone solely on anything other than his or her merits.

Finally, self-acceptance– With all of these other changes comes a view of myself as fully worthy of taking my place in society.  There are few people, in Prescott and elsewhere, who choose to show me disrespect, and I know to disengage myself from such people, unless and until they change their attitudes.  Fall, 2018 was a litmus test of that practice, and was the first time, in many years,  that I totally blocked someone from my life.  The roof didn’t cave and life has proceeded just fine.

The changes that accompanied this decade are sure to have import for the years to come.  It’ll be fascinating to live.

Intensity and Isolation

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May 15, 2019-

When I first awake, many mornings, I contemplate a feeling of increasing isolation here.  The Western states, especially the Southwest, have an ambiance of anonymity- or perhaps that is just the reality of apartment/ head for the garage and lower the door living, anywhere  This is what greets me, with the dawn.

Once up and at ’em, my social media shows that, from the safe distance of behind the screen, my  friends are with me.  Most have their own agendas and schedules, and I was raised to not intrude on anyone’s space.  I have to appreciate that I have friends at all, so our correspondence is much appreciated.

I tend to be quiet, but also very intense in my feelings.   I tend to care greatly, even about relative “strangers”, but do not often verbalize my caring.  This combination does not always serve me well,  particularly when in certain local restaurants.   Besides,older single men are not received well by everyone, when taking up a table.  This adds to a feeling of isolation, as I have indicated in past posts.  In my own case, though, it’s probably better for my physical health-as the establishments in question offer largely high-calorie fare.

It occurred to me, this morning, that the problem is not so much that I am wearing out my welcome here, as that what I need is to end my own isolated living situation and find a small community of people who support one another, not by appointment or scheduled time, but intentionally, naturally.  This is what I miss about the little team of which I was a part, until April 3.  This is what I miss about the hostels where I stayed last summer; about being with friends and family  in Nevada, Philadelphia,  Florida and  Tennessee; about having been in Korea, a few months ago.  There is no easy answer on the horizon, but I know something will surface.

After The Blood Harvest

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October 3, 2017, Prescott Valley-

I attended a small candlelight vigil, this evening, at a Lutheran Church on this town’s near north side.  About a dozen people prayed and lit special candles for the victims of the October 1 mass murder in Las Vegas.

I will be processing this horrific event for some time.  Along with smaller, but no less terrible, if personalized, events happening within my small circle, the Las Vegas massacre  has given October an ominous start.  October is a month traditionally devoted to harvest, in the Northern Hemisphere, and planting, in the South of the planet.

The killer, who may, or may not, have had help and encouragement from as far away as the Philippines, left no obvious motive for his mayhem.  We are only left to speculate, which is ever a perilous thing, in and of itself.

The motives of a person, within my neighbourhood, who has taken in recent days to harassing the family of my departed next door neighbour, are much clearer.  He sees them as something of a threat to the value of his property.  This has led him to taunting them, in the midst of their grief.  I am hoping, and praying, that this state of affairs will be resolved peacefully.

Yet, therein lies a key to the entirety of crimes against humanity, large and small.  The enemy, as I said last night, is anonymity.  Many believe, with Robert Frost, that “Good fences make good neighbours”.  While a measure of privacy is good for each of us, in the course of a day, there is a fine line between that reasonable privacy and anonymity.  No one seems to know much about the Las Vegas killer.  No one knew much about others of his ilk, either, from John Wayne Gacy, through Ted Bundy and Gary Tison, to the ISIS-inspired killers in San Bernardino, Brussels and Manchester.

I am a relatively quiet man, who has lived alone for the past six years.  This could very easily lead to people concluding that I am a threat to their safety, especially if I were to maintain a reclusive lifestyle.  Indeed, there are a few restaurants in my town where I am not welcome, when dining alone.  Thus, for the broader sake of becoming familiar to my neighbours, as well as for my own sense of well-being, I have chosen to be active in certain community groups.  It also helps that I have no hidden agenda or any particular mental health issues, unless one regards my mild autism as such.

The latest national tragedy will only see the silver lining of reconciliation, if we as a nation begin to recognize that anonymity and excessive guardedness are what got us into this mess, in the first place.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXIV: Vegas, and Then Some

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October 2, 2017, Prescott-

We’ve lost another fifty or so, of humanity’s better angels.

People who just wanted to have a good time,

leave the rat race behind, for a day or three,

found the rats were relentlessly pursuing them.

I have no sympathy for anyone who thinks

that life should revolve around the Exalted Self,

even when that narcissism is cloaked in pain.

One whose life experience is one, in which he

has drawn pain to himself like a magnet,

does not get to decide, as a self-appointed demigod,

what others should do, when they may do it,

and whether they are allowed to live past it.

The weapon really doesn’t matter.

Last night, it was a plethora of loaded firearms.

In past bloodlettings, it was a bomb, or a number thereof.

Vehicles have been accessories of said explosives,

in Brute Fests, from Oklahoma City, through 9/11/01 (and 9/11/12),

to Paris, Nice, Berlin, Bali, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando and Manchester.

This time, the brute tried to rule, literally, from on high.

There needs to be an end to anonymity,

to the culture of fences, walls and locking people out.

The weapons are accessories.

It’s the mindset that slaughters.

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXVIII: It’s Not Heat That Hurts

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June 1, 2017, Phoenix-

I came here to do two things.  First was to deliver a box of books and some food, to a loving, struggling young couple.  An entry error on WAZE  put me in central Phoenix, whilst their home was in a town several miles to the west.  A phone call, a corrected entry and some help from the staff of the apartment complex’s leasing office helped get the job done.  Husband is a mechanical innovator, and a true survivor.  Wife is a sweet lady, and works tirelessly, as well. I am glad to see how far they have come, as a unit.

My second task was easier:  Getting a document for my son.  Since that included stopping at Romanelli’s Deli, not far from his alma mater, I was in the best of graces.  A delectable sausage and peppers submarine sandwich and purified water set the rest of my afternoon on a good footing.  Promise to self:  Spinach and baby kale for dinner, tonight! The document was in hand, ten minutes after I filed my request, and the very professional Registrar gave me her business card, so that the process will be even more streamlined, still.

While tooling about my home city of ten years (2001-11), I felt a still aching pull on my spirit.  The area in which I spent most of my time was where most of the day-to-day heartache occurred, and the west side was where Penny spent her final days.  I know I have to root these feelings out, and not be shy about being in these parts of our blessed Home.  There are many good people in the Phoenix area, people who loved us, and were hurt that I moved away.  The pain, to me, comes from the anonymity of living in a large city, with so many people who came here to be anonymous.

Anonymity brings out the worst in many.  The mentality seems to be:  ” I don’t know anyone here, so why remember my manners?”  This mindset is hardly limited to Phoenix, or to the Southwest.  I’ve seen it elsewhere, wherever there are large numbers of “move-ins”. I tend to think of others, just because it gives meaning to my life.  I’d sooner let a headstrong, overwrought person have a small “victory”, or two, if it:  a) doesn’t cost me much, in terms of dignity and b) doesn’t give him/her a false sense of entitlement.  There are many things in one’s day which are best let happen, rather than having an equally entitled “arbiter” step in and unilaterally make things worse.  I trust in the conscience to kick into gear, more often than we give it credit for doing.

So, I feel pretty good about having come here, today, and it wasn’t all that hot outside.