The True Standard

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November 5, 2019-

Returning to Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules for Life”, #4 states “Compare Your Present Self Only to Your Past Self, not to Anyone Else.”

As social animals, we so often give other human beings far too much credit, for perfection or superiority.  I’ve heard from so many:  “It’s cold and lonely, on the pedestal.”

So, I have made it my business to measure my progress, compared to where I was-six months ago, twenty, thirty or forty years ago.  Then (1970), I hid from my peers.  Now, I am in the world, but not of it.  Then (1977), I found solace in the bottle.  Now, I find peace and tranquility in service, in meditation and in standing up for the downtrodden.  Then (1982), I handed out money on demand.  Now, I contribute reasonably, without caving in to every demanding voice or thrust-out hand. Then (1981), I viewed different people with different lenses. Now, every human being is seen in the light of their character.  Then, (1954-1986), I looked upon myself as essentially unworthy of love, as damaged goods.  Now, I am proud of what I have achieved, no matter what others might view as inadequate.  Then, (until 2010), I saw myself as a frequent victim of “politicians”, “the Elite”, “the Establishment”.  Now, I see those in positions of power as basically living out their own life plan, without seeing myself as a pawn on their chessboard.  Then, (prior to 2012), I had no idea why I behaved atypically, so often.  Now, I know I have a place on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum-and that’s okay.

The only true standard we have is our own life.

Dog Day

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August 19, 2019-

The day started with two good turns- A young singer with a powerful voice invited me, through her father/webmaster, to like her Facebook page;  The National Weather Service now says we may get rain, over Labor Day weekend.

I “liked ” the page, as anything I can do, to encourage a fellow autistic to build on personal strengths, is going to happen.  I’ll take rain, whenever it comes.  Last year, it came during a huge Country Music festival-in early autumn.  The world is turning on its axis, it seems, so in addition to whatever atmospheric changes we are inculcating, Mother Nature is making some changes of her own.

I read a study that claims people who nap more in the afternoon, and wake up at night, are at risk of Alzheimer’s, down the road.  That would mean a lot of us who nod off, in the heat of the day, are bound to find themselves in a different state of mind, ten years hence.  To me, though, the crux is often hydration.  I nod off less, when my water intake is up.  Since the brain is largely water, that could have some bearing on dementia, as well.  Synapses fire better, when there is a proper level of saturation.

It was hot enough today, that I felt it prudent to give my laptop a three-hour break.  Reading and a Planet Fitness visit took the place of  correspondence and pontification.  Not to worry, the latter is about finished, for now.

Remember, the Dog Days rarely last beyond Labor Day, which is two weeks off.  Stay saturated, my friends.

Feet First, Again

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April 3, 2019-

I began the work day ready to help keep our charges occupied, and relatively productive, as ever.  I ended the day, back in retirement mode- at least until I can get another position.  I chose to leave, after a brief pitch for me to take a position for which I am even less-suited than the one I have left behind.  I declined the offer, and the end game was set.

For all the platitudes that my co-workers and I have received, over the past two years, regarding loving and working with autistic children, there are people watching who do not have the best interests of those children in mind.  They are the ones who call the Governing Board, Human Resources-and the hapless school administrators.   I know this, because I once took the calls that my former boss has been getting.  I know this, because I heard the veiled threats and “you don’t know who you’re dealing with”- from individuals like the person who has been threatening me, personally, with the loss of my job, since last October.  I know this, because for refusing to take the earlier threats seriously, I was relieved of my position as Principal, in 1999, twenty years ago, this month.

So, it behooves my former supervisors to protect themselves.  Follow due process, but do not fall on your swords for others.  You are doing excellent work and deserve to remain in your leadership roles.  I will make my way, just fine, and being of “retirement age”, no one can come out of the woodwork, on the other side of the equation, and blast me for “not delivering”, as has happened a few times during my checkered career.  I will find work to tide me over until I hit 70, and, no, I will not heed the threats from last Fall.

My former co-workers remain like family and have already been in touch, wishing the best-as I do for them.

 

Microaggression

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April 2, 2019-

The other night, whilst visiting one of my best friends, I watched and listened to a speech by the conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro.  Among the social phenomena he noted was the trend towards condemning “microaggression”.  The term is used to describe remarks or gestures that trigger unpleasant feelings, discomfort or fear in people who are experiencing , or whose forebears have suffered, oppression.

I was treated, in junior high school, primarily, but also when in the Army, stateside, to a modest amount of bullying and verbal taunting, due to my autism.  I sometimes pondered what society would be like, were it to be rendered illegal to ridicule or belittle another person.  I came to the conclusion that, while it would a fine thing if people were to choose freely, as a society, to rise above such behaviours, to codify criticism as an offense, with criminal penalties, would only drive negativity underground.

To be sure, there are words and phrases that don’t belong in an enlightened society’s discourse.  Racial, ethnic and gender-based slurs are things I banished from my own vocabulary, when I was about 17, to the extent I ever used them at all.  Getting to know people on an individual basis, without pre-conceived notions, has been the only way I have achieved any personal growth, in my own right.

Last October, I found myself, mercifully only for a short time, in a veritable microaggression bootcamp, where every single word, behaviour or gesture that came from me was analyzed, castigated, sliced and diced, to the point I was leery of even taking a breath sideways.  The individual doing this determined that I was beyond redemption, and I was dismissed from her presence.   Mind you, I went through this at the behest of a friend, who was likewise deemed irredeemable.

None of us walks on water.  No matter how loving one’s heart is, and how consistently one shows that love, there will always be someone, somewhere, to whom one is a bete-noire.  It’s helped me, to be more present and aware of the deepest feelings and insecurities of others.  It has also helped me to have grown a thick skin, over the past many years.  “Microaggressions”, it seems to me, are best rooted out through calm, but firm, dialogue and education.  Shrillness and stridency, as Mr. Shapiro pointed out, only drive unkempt behaviour and rhetoric underground, into the maw of the Dark Web or the shadier places in the legitimate Internet.

 

The Black Hand

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March 30, 2019-

In the Planet Fitness where I work out, there is a large seat, shaped like a Black Hand, in each of the stations where a hydromassage bed is located.  It strikes me that this is a symbol of challenge, that there are always difficulties to be overcome, whether self-imposed or brought on by others.

I have had to do a lot of re-assessment, after a rough past few days.  What I have determined is that: 1.  I am going to make fitness a higher priority than it’s been, having shown that I can make time for a workout, even on the busiest of days.

2.  I am going to cut way back, if not eliminate, my appetite for pastries and other high sugar-based food items.  Neither having my cake nor eating it, at least for the last two months of work.

3.  Doubling down on avoiding violence, no matter how violently I might be attacked, either by one of my charges or anyone who is deranged.  My reaction, from now on, will  be to distance myself, until assistance is at hand, at least in the work setting.

4.  Being more mindful and present.  Neither Alzheimer’s nor Parkinson’s has knocked on my door, but problems have presented themselves, through a combination of fatigue and autism.  I have done better, today, and need to continue getting enough rest, so that there is no repeat of incidents on Thursday and Friday.  The same old story:  When I am challenged by an authority figure, when I’m in a fatigued state, I come out with a blather of telling the person what I think they want to hear and making myself look guilty of something that, in actuality, never happened.

5.  Tax returns are done and I have worked out a more efficient system of time management, so despite some of the above, things are on an upswing.

The Quiet Ones

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February 13, 2019-

My high school yearbook entry, in 1968, included “Silent, but always there”. So it has been for much of my life.  If I haven’t had anything I felt was meaningful to say, much of the time, I’ve kept still.  Those who need constant noise and chatter, so as to not feel insecure, have often drawn the conclusion that I am some sort of dolt.  My autism certainly has not done anything to change that view.  Only time and acquaintance have dispelled the dim view, in all but three instances.

Last night, a relatively brief gathering found me in a quiet, introspective, frame of mind, with little to say.  One person asked my thoughts about my current employer; his eyes glazing over, when my reply went in a different direction than what he had been thinking.  Others seemed to feel like I was snubbing them, but that was far from the case.

The thing about the quiet ones is that we are in constant thought, and observation, about what is going on in our midst.  I will ever be concerned with what is going on around me.  I may not have the same perspective as those who are seeking confirmation of their own views, and so the turnstile will continue to revolve, here in the blogosphere, as well as in real time.  That’s fine-as my first responsibility is to be true to my own heart.  The Infinite has set a course for each of us, in that direction:  “Go placidly amid the noise and haste….”.

The quiet ones will always have much to say, and much that is meaningful, regardless of the tenor of the times and regardless of what thoughts are current, trendy.  Listening to us does require that one’s own inner noise gets turned down a notch. Rest assured that is the case, with our listening to you.

 

Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

The Realm of Caring

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January 2, 2019, Prescott-

I sat in comfort, on New Year’s Eve, not knowing that a new friend was toughing it out, on snow shoes, of all things, headed to and from Courthouse Square.  When she finally shared this with me, this evening, I could only say:  “Next time, please call me and never mind the time.”

This is how I was raised and how the people in my circle of friends were for one another.  Even in the worst phases of my autism, I knew better than to ever leave a family member or friend in the lurch.  I wasn’t always so good at it, but I did make the effort.

A few minutes later, there came a post from another friend, elsewhere in the country, about a particularly nettlesome difficulty she was facing, due to other people’s inefficiency and lack of communication. I am furious on her behalf and could only say as much, whilst praying for resolution of the matter.

I have faced the harshest of communication and the most endearing that it can convey, over the past six decades and eight years.  I have also had good friends up and leave, without so much as a “Farewell”.  I will not chase after them, and if they come back, I will be as glad to see them, as if they never left.

Caring, in my view, does not mean patronizing or groveling.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  We are here to raise each other up, period.  Tomorrow, I will join my above-mentioned local friend in a leisurely activity, likely taking some children on an ice-skating venture.  This, from one who tried skating three times, as a child, and fell down each time I got up, should be interesting.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXIV: Different

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May 11, 2017, Prescott-

I have, as most are aware, led a life that has been far from conventional.  My love and I did not play by the rules, as much as we might have, when purchasing our home, in 2003.  I did proudly bring in my mortgage check, for five years, whilst juggling her increasingly unpredictable medical state.  Then came the Madoff scandal, which hit us, indirectly.  Then came the “Great Recession”, bankruptcy and short sale.  Three years later, she was gone.  Son moved on with his life, a testament to our own resiliency, and his.

We, the survivors, are hanging in there.  He’s fine in Busan, South Korea, as far as I can tell.  I am stable in Prescott, as far as I can tell. Money is tight, but no matter.  Those who played by the rules have their struggles, as well.  In the end, we each have what we’ve earned, and little else.

My autism has made me different, from day one.  I approach new situations, new groups of people, from a distance, with some caution.That’s caused issues with others, who jump into newness with both feet, and think a delayed response is a sign of apathy.  It’s caused initial issues with women, who are more in tune with connection.  After reading my heart, much of that has faded away, but it still irks me- that I can’t.quite. be. as forthcoming with new friends, as seems reasonable.

Life is better now, though.  At this age, most of those around me have either been through their own scar-fests (my contemporaries and elders) or are heart-readers (children and teens).  I have one goal, for my own behavioural exchequer:  Feel less inclined to hang back, in new situations.  ACCEPT that most people are naturally inclined to be social, to be accepting, themselves.

It’s okay to be different.

Who Am I?

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June 22, 2016, Springerville, AZ- My father passed away, thirty years ago, today.  Then, as now, I made a long journey.  Then, as now, it took a few phone calls to get the details right.  I arrived at my destination after six hours of travel.  I was comforted by the very people I came to comfort.  He was given a dignified send-off, and from the spirit realm, he still looks after me, in a stern, but loving manner.

Who, exactly, did Dad leave behind?  I was not the easiest of sons to raise, but there was a lot about autism that was not known, that was misunderstood.  There still is, in the perceptions of many people.  There is, however, nothing about who I am that limits me.  I have raised a fine young man, and am gladly here to answer his questions about the time of life that is young adulthood.  I am here to encourage his success, to boost him over the bar.

I am also here to reach out to as many people as possible.  July will be yet another month on the road.  This time, though, it will be focused on family members, some close and some long-lost.  It will be focused, as well, on friends- some in pain, some offering joy.  I will be keeping an eye on things in Arizona, though there are still those nagging critics who take umbrage at my having missed this meeting, or not being available for that event during the coming four weeks.

I am not easy to define.  Mostly, my living consists of proferring love on those around me. It’s the most basic thing in the world, and in the Universe, for that matter. There will always be those who try to obfuscate and throw me off course. There will always be those who hear the word “widower” and think, “troll”- as is the case with one of my co-workers here at the fire shelter.  No matter:  I am here to do a service, and I will continue, whether this person likes it or not.  I am very open about my wife’s having passed on.  The other part is that I am open about being comfortable with how my life is now.  This life is full of bonds, and true friendships.  The false of purpose, and the fearful, need not worry about my presence.

Another thing that colours my life:  Commitment to the generations coming up behind me; not just my son and young relatives, but the well-being of all.  A case in point:  When I stopped for dinner at one of my “A-List” California restaurants, en route back to Prescott, I was struck by the humidity inside the place, and concerned for two young ladies, who were dressed in Victorian attire, in their roles as servers, and who were about to crumple from the stifling air.  The manager, herself about to keel over, had them go into a small staff room, which was more comfortable.  We need to pay close attention to those who work hard on our behalf.  Fortunately, all three ladies recovered nicely.

This is my 1,000th Word Press post.  To leave you with more of a sense of who I am, here are a few scenes from my coastal visit on Monday.  First, here are two scenes of Cardiff State Beach, west of Encinitas.

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Not your typical June Gloom, but a bit of mist was there, on San Elijo Beach.

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Beach artistry is alive and well.

Up the coast, at Dana Point, I enjoyed a lengthy lunchtime conversation, with a longtime friend, at another of my California “A-list” establishments.

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Harpoon Henry’s is at the south end of Dana Point Harbor.

Who am I, really?  I’m just a human being who treasures those in his life, who is glad for the form in which I find myself, who does not have a need to judge the paths and courses of life taken by others, insofar as they do not harm those around them and who looks forward to whatever tale each day has to present.

Post 1,001 will look at an estuary- the mixing of fresh and salt water, and why brackishness is a good thing.