The Next Needful Steps

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November 25, 2022, Grapevine- I). In mid-1984, while Penny and I were presenting on a Baha’i theme, at a diverse gathering of people, in Spring, TX, northwest of Houston, we were interrupted by an indignant person, who wanted to know by what authority any white people could recommend such simplistic actions as we were describing to a largely black audience.

The articulate, lovely Sharon made several valid points, not the least of which was that people become “schooled” in the experiences of their audience, before addressing issues through a lens that is not necessarily applicable to said audience. That we were taken aback by “hostility” to “a loving message” seems quaint now-after Rodney King, James Byrd, Jr., Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other victims, beaten or killed while in various degrees of doing daily activities-and all because others were addressing issues through a lens not applicable to the presenting situation.

Penny later taught children several lessons that involved seeing through different coloured lenses. That was a good first step, and I have been left to take further steps in gaining increased awareness, applying lessons imparted in books to my daily life. As with any other aspect of life, through which I’ve stumbled, understanding and embracing people of colour is an exercise in mindfulness, translated to action.

II.) The good-natured, playful girls saw me watching their activity, in the afternoon classroom, and decided to teach a lesson of their own, by staging a staring contest. I “blinked” first, and gave them the “win”. A few weeks earlier, similar vigilance, at a different school, was described as discomfiting, by the young woman who was clearly trying to get out of doing her assignment, though for valid personal reasons.

A residual aspect of my autism leads me to observe people in a situation, often not speaking at first. This has, as indicated above, landed me in hot water, to a limited extent, over the years-with women, girls, interracial couples, gay people. I have set two goals, to be achieved sooner, rather than later: 1. Engage such people in conversation, immediately, rather than stare at them for even a few seconds. 2. Make my purpose in attending to them clear, in an articulate manner. There is nothing to be gained from being tentative or hesitant. People are not zoo animals.

Approaching the start of my seventy-third year, the next needful steps in improving my interactions with others are crystal clear. Everyone deserves to know my heart, not misinterpret my mind.

A Sliver of Red

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October 30, 2022- Looking through the leaves on the oak in the neighbour’s yard, I see a sliver of red. The maple across the street always offers a bit of variety, as autumn goes forth.

Passing by the Castles and Coasters Amusement Park, this afternoon, I spotted a a small go cart, weaving in and out of the lanes in the parking lot. Fortunately, there was a spotter, so the alternative to cars and bikes was not in any danger of being the vehicle of tragedy.

The same was true, later in the afternoon, when the teen across the street was riding his small motor bike along the sidewalk, trying to “quietly” sneak up on his younger sister-who’s nobody’s fool. She feigned shrieking as he gunned his motor, three feet behind her. He then popped a few wheelies, to impress his sister’s friend, which brought about a few eye rolls.

As evening has rolled in, I hear very loud fireworks. The local Community College is into providing sound and light shows on Halloween and on New Year’s Eve. This year, a lot of spookfests are taking place on Saturday and Sunday, to keep up Monday’s routine of school and work. Still, tomorrow will be a half day at school, mainly because three neighbourhoods will be blocked off at 3 p.m. and the kids need to be dropped off beforehand.

It’s a quiet day, overall. The Baha’i conference ended at 2:30; my visit to Penny’s grave was short and the drive back to Home Base saw relatively little traffic. In the sameness, though, there is a sliver of red.

Steps Forward, and Dealing With Walls

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May 27, 2022- Saturn Vue got a thorough once-over. The innards are just fine, though it will get what is likely its first ever tune-up, in a week or so. The tires, shocks and struts will be replaced next week-they are also the originals, and though I have been quite gentle with the car, who knows what the original owner did? I have used my cars quite intensely, but generally speaking, I have taken good care of them. The two accidents made a liar out of me, probably, but neither were very much my fault, and out of the eleven cars I’ve owned, ten of them saw well over 100, 000 miles-and eight saw over 200 K.

I made a great deal of progress, planning the Atlantic Canada and hometown Saugus portions of my summer sojourn. These had time frames inherent in them, especially Fourth of July weekend, which as long as Mom is around, will have Saugus as part of the itinerary. Newfoundland, nine years after I originally planned on going there, is a ‘go’ this time. I had the choice of L’Anse aux Meadows, on the island’s northern tip, or St. Pierre, off the southern coast. An attempt was made to schedule both, but St. Pierre looks to be one of those places which need to be booked well in advance. Northern Newfoundland is very popular, also, yet I was able to find a place to stay up there. No matter- Atlantic Canada is vast, and I feel I’m being guided to the people and places that are most important to visit right now.

The focus is both on familiarizing people with Baha’i principles, and with networking for peace. The two are quite closely intertwined. Then, too, are the family connections which will always have a primary role in domestic travels.

Networks sometimes find a link in their chains getting broken. In planning a visit to the Baha’i Shrine, in Montreal, which was postponed from 2018 because of the break-in to my Elantra, I learned that Auberge Bishop, the lovely historic hostel where I stayed two nights and received so many personal affirmations, has fallen victim to gentrification in the name of status and prosperity. The area of St. Catherine’s is now a prime commercial scheme. I have found another hostel, closer to the Shrine, though, and won’t need to put the Vue at risk, in the Mount Royal auto danger zone. I can walk to the Shrine.

We must constantly face walls, if we are to get anywhere, and determine how to turn them into bridges. So it is with controlling violence at home, ending war abroad and finding peace within ourselves-not necessarily in that order. As with my personal missions, everything can’t be done at once, but with focus, they can be achieved incrementally.