July Road Notes, Day 1

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July 5, 2021, Moriarty- I am in a more relaxed frame of mind, this time around-as compared to the “get there and get it done” mindset of May’s out and back. Departure out of Home Base was fairly early: 7 a.m., and I did have one Baha’i Zoom meeting this afternoon, but my flow was fairly even-between 65 and 80, most of the way (A few construction zones called for 45-55, but no workers were on the highways today, as it was a Monday Make-up, for Sunday’s Independence Day.)

I made a coffee stop at a Maverik, in Dewey, AZ, about 40 minutes into the drive. This is of note only because a poor soul, just trying to get a cup of joe, found the lid on his cup didn’t quite fit-the third time in a row, he told me, that this has happened. We agreed that he probably was not the only one to whom it occurred. I wished him a better day, and was glad that the lid on my cup was sealed.

I kept an eye on the roadsides, in an area between Camp Verde and Winslow where wildfire had wreaked havoc, in late June. There was a burn scar on the ground cover, in several spots, but no tree singeing. The road between there and Gallup was serene and, as mentioned earlier, no construction work. Going through Albuquerque was also no big deal-save that, when a Jeepster decided he wanted to “tandem race” me, on the Duke City’s east side along I-40, a state patrolman in an unmarked car flashed him to move over one lane-then looked over at me and told me to get behind his car-no pull-over, no citation, no warning-just “get out of the passing lane”. As I was essentially minding my own business, when the Jeepster became Jerkster, the officer’s command was easy enough to follow. They both left the freeway, at the next exit, and I continued over the mountain, to this eastern suburb.

I had stayed at Sunrise Motel, once before, under a previous owner. The current management is on a strict pandemic protocol: Phoned check-in, outdoor document reading and signing-with a six foot distance-though masks are not required outside, and key to be left in the room at check-out. The room is the same as before, complete with a rubber duck by the bathtub-as well as a plug that fits the drain (less common than one might think, in the days of drought and cutting costs).

Tomorrow, I head over through Texas-to my family in Grapevine.

The Second Half

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July 1, 2021- The first six months of this year have produced some rather significant changes in my world. Chief among them was Mother’s changing her residence-thankfully of her own accord-after 66 years in the same house. With all of us pitching in, the gargantuan task was broken into a hundred fairly manageable pieces. Now, Mom is happily ensconced in a small, comfortable apartment, with her basic security set.

The other changes are more internal. I have jettisoned a few personal demons that, while not interfering in my life very much, did cause a certain tension to arise, unnecessarily, between me and certain people in the wider community. I have already noticed how much more relaxed things are, when I am in my favourite places around town.

There were, as always, journeys during the period January-June. One was not planned-but going to Massachusetts in May was never in question. Going to Carson City was a year overdue- one of my best friends, and her blessed children and grandchildren are like family to me.

The second half of 2021 will be similar, with most of July being on the road-again largely making up for the lost contacts of the pandemic year. I’m not worried about a variant-the masks and hand sanitizer will be with me, and I have been fully vaccinated. Variants will be around for decades to come, as they are with Ebola-and influenza. Life cannot and should not stop. August and September will mostly find me here in Prescott, save for a memorial hike on the Navajo Nation, on August 16 and a four-day visit to southern California, September 17-21.

In mid-August, I will determine the prudence of going to Europe, for four weeks in October, and plan accordingly, Much depends on any lingering quarantines at that time. November and December will again be Southwest-centric, with my serving as host, around Thanksgiving, hopefully attending a resumed Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, around Christmas, and making a journey to southern New Mexico for a few days thereafter.

There will also be visits, at least once a month, to the Baha’i friends living along the Colorado River, in western Arizona, and always an eye towards getting up to Navajo and Hopi, as those areas open back up. The Red Cross is also opening its programs and services to in-person situations and meetings, starting within a few weeks, and I will remain open to helping in the schools, for special substituting activities.

Thus, the second half of this year will mirror, and expand upon, the first.

Breaking A Small Logjam

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June 13, 2021- Every so often, I find myself with nothing to say, at a given moment. On a quiet routine day, such as today, rest takes priority, especially with one very active, at times frenetic week gone and a slightly quieter one ahead. Indeed, a Christian friend, at breakfast this morning, extolled the virtues of not working on the Sabbath of one’s Faith. We Baha’is are, unofficially, given Friday as a day of rest, yet statutes and the present course of the wider society make that sometimes problematic. Still, when I am tired, I take the time to rest.

Nonetheless, life goes on and commentary with it. A small fire broke out today in Cornville, about an hour northeast of here. I may pull a shift, or two, this week, at any shelter that opens in consequence to that fire. There are other matters to which I must attend-some maintenance on the Elantra, a few meetings to host and to attend, and the long overdue resolution of a personal health issue. Fires, and other social emergencies are never convenient, nor are most personal matters. Somehow, action is required on each one-and so on I go, along with anyone else who can make the time.

As for an ongoing flow of conversation, as to why the Federal and state governments move so slowly, if at all, on matters of concern to Joe Citizen, I give you the fact that each person in said governments has to deal with the same logjams of overwork and scheduling rest. There is a conflict in perception, between those who ARE rested and ready for action and those who are running on fumes. Some of us are just slow moving, overly meticulous (Obsessive Compulsive) and prone to overthinking. Others, myself included, take action on matters that present themselves, in as expeditious a manner as possible-giving deferred attention to things that are synchronous to what has our attention at the moment. (For example, a barrage of Instant Messages coming at a time when I am engaged in helping feed two dozen people.)

Each of us is important. None of us is as important as we sometimes want the world to think.

Reflections on A Day Taken Off

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June 6, 2021- Thirty-nine years ago, today, Penny and I formalized our commitment to one another-and the marriage would last, through thick and thin, for twenty-nine years. I was hoping for at least forty, but we take what we are given. Some people are married for fifty years plus, and are inwardly miserable. We were not either. Speaking of which, as an aside, an indie artist, at a gathering on Saturday night, played a clip of his, on which a local philosopher opined: “”One who claims to be miserable, and at the same time insists he is right, is stating the impossible. It can never happen.”

Processing the loss of one of my closest cousins, I received word that a fellow member of the American Legion Post to which I belong had suffered a heart attack and is in hospital, facing the now de rigeur bypass surgery. He is one of the regulars, at our Sunday morning breakfasts, holding court and waxing eloquent about everything under the sun, in the style of an English aristocrat. That he is of Sicilian descent matters not. T’s heart and soul are rooted in the Merry Old Isle.

My day was otherwise occupied with the mundane-getting laundry done, gluing the front right quarter panel of my Hyundai, with the same substance that’s kept the back left in place, for nearly three years and watching episodes of “The Underground Railroad” and “Peaky Blinders”. Five of us pondered another set of quotes from the Universal House of Justice’s (Baha’i Governing Body) compilation on Social Action. I got in another workout.

In all this, I am looking at what is going on in the wider world, and just shaking my head, keeping up with it all, yet feeling as if it’s all a dream. The most important things in my life are all revolving around family, friends and the children-always, the children.

One of the traits that my cousin, John, had was presence, centering on who was in front of him, for as long as the person needed. That has not been my strong suit, though I am getting better at it. I am still not great at the perfunctory- greetings or conversation for their own sakes, especially online or long-distance. Birthdays and anniversaries are different; they draw my attention, because they matter so much. The rest of it-well, maybe my agenda is too broad and the next thing is always on my horizon. Still, I am making progress at being present, with someone who is in front of me, at any given time.

Twenty-nine years did teach me something.

Ruling Myself

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April 20,2021- Today was essentially a good day-for my own self-control, in accepting the reality of a friendship’s nature. It was a good day for widening the scope of justice in our struggling nation. It was a good day for the Baha’i community, as we observed the First Day of Ridvan, the twelve-day period that celebrates Baha’u’llah’s declaration of His mission.

It was also a challenging day, in which someone on the edges of my circle told me, very bluntly, that he regarded himself and his children as my personal responsibility. To some extent, I have my own efforts to help him contact aid agencies to blame. I also recognize that he is an orphan, and as such cannot help but latch onto anyone who shows him kindness-demanding more and more, until the cord ends up being cut. I am playing out my endgame here, with a GoFundMe campaign and a continuing effort to match him with financial entities that are far better equipped to help, than is any lone individual.

I have waited a long time to be the ‘captain of my soul”. My actions will remain rooted in service to humanity-but NOT to anyone who barges into my space and expects fealty. I am involved in a far more global long game. Perhaps this is just another case of my holding someone, who wants to get close to me, at arm’s length-as another such individual told me, just before I blocked and deleted her from my life, nearly three years ago. More likely, I am figuring out how to handle someone who MAY be a grifter (most people who hound others for money ARE grifters). More likely, I am standing up and saying that my primary duty is to the Lord God; that my secondary duty is to my (biological) family and not to any interloper, no matter how many years he/she has been seeking my help.

As I said, today was a mixed bag-and this month, or next, may well end with some very emotional volleys being made.

So Many Questions

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January 26, 2021-

Being the curious sort, I tend to raise matters of “What if?” and “Why?” in my head, while also seeking answers from my heart. The queries I have, regarding this life and its priorities, are largely answered in Baha’i Scripture.

Where I get more querulous, though, is with regard to flashes of images, and feelings that arise, that suggest events that happened long ago and places I’ve never been, both elsewhere on Earth and way beyond this planet. The best explanation I can summon, that is in keeping with my beliefs, is that as an energy being, I am tapping into the energy waves of people long departed, both my ancestors and those of like mind who were not directly related to me, but who had similar personalities to mine. Energy communication, and genetic memory, are like Chinese boxes-writ innumerable. We have no concept of from how far back they have been transmitted-and Quantum Physics devises at least thirteen dimensions, many curled up on themselves, from which energy can conceivably be drawn.

For now, though, I wonder as to the messages that these images and feelings are trying to convey. I am not quite on board with the whole Past Lives theory, but can make sense of the notion that energy, from those who lived in past ages and centuries, and from other parts of the Universe, is transmitted to those of us who are open to it, on a regular basis-and without channeling or summoning, which can be too easily faked.

The Year of Living Furtively

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December 31, 2020-

Some of the hardest losses of this voracious year were two of the last. It pains me, especially, when two people who are meant to be together are separated by death, however temporarily. Perhaps because I know, so well, how it feels. I know the self-doubts, the second guessing, the “if only” moments that dog the surviving spouse. I also know that the way to resilience, for the one left behind, is to embrace that which makes one special, as an individual, with double the intensity.

I learned, only this afternoon, of the passing of one half of such a pair. Jeff had struggled with his cancer, constantly surrounded, enveloped with the love that only his indomitable wife and daughters could offer. Others among us tried to help, some offering respite care; some, like myself, offering remedies and a listening ear for our friends, whose shop has become such a vibrant gathering place, in a town that is still in the throes of becoming a community.

Thirty-six friends and family members, ranging in age from 21 to 100, have passed to the next realm, in this year of living furtively, Some were fixtures of my childhood; others, I had the pleasure of knowing for only a few years. Some, I only met once or twice, but the empath in me let them make an indelible impression. That impression will last long. It comes with the nature of my beast.

It is now 6:15 p.m. , and it is still twilight. Solstice being past for over a week, daylight lengthens a smidgen at a time. That is fitting; this year has seemed at times to be made of a darkness that is interminable. Coronavirusdisease 2019 has dominated much of the time and energy of the vast majority of people across the globe. Most of us have not been stricken with the ailment, but far too many others have. Those who have not actually contracted it, have been suspect of such-every time we sneeze, or emit a wet cough, into the crook of our elbow, or appear somewhere without a face mask. All but four of those friends and family, to whom I alluded above, died of COVID-related factors-especially pneumonia.

Dealing with the pandemic became complicated, with racial incidents, some of which were exacerbated by crimes of ignorance and by people continuing to talk past one another. Demonstrations muddied the water of our national response to the pandemic, especially in light of bans on gatherings for worship or for bidding loved ones farewell. Too many of those loved ones died alone, after having spent their last days and months in solitude. Demonstrations were, in most cases, necessary to the public weal. So, too, however, were gatherings of worship, so deeply-rooted in the American psyche-and not just in Christian communities. Dineh and Hopi friends missed their traditional ceremonial gatherings. We Baha’is also have made do with virtual connection.

The two demonstrations upon which I happened, featured participants who were uniformly masked-even among counterprotestors. The two church-based memorial services I attended featured physical distancing and/or uniform face masking. In these instances, subsequent infection was either minimal or nonexistent. Needless to say, I have exercised extreme caution when out of Home Base, since having had bronchitis (non-COVID), in mid-February.

My usual taking to the open road took a back seat, for the most part, in 2020. There were two deployments with the Red Cross, to Louisiana and Dallas. Another journey took me back to the Dallas area, for Thanksgiving and my 70th Birthday, with care taken in airports and elsewhere, to not become part of the problem. The joy of just being with my small family unit was worth the trip, as was the drive to Phoenix, three weeks later, for a mini-visit.

Equally salubrious, however, has been the use of technology, in connecting with my Faith community, with the Red Cross community and with wider spiritual gatherings. I have learned much and shared much. This aspect of technology can only serve to enhance our direct physical encounters, post-pandemic. I know that I need not be isolated from those in this community, when further afield again, towards summer and autumn of the coming year.

Finally, in reaching seventy, I reached full social security, and look at the culmination of my teaching career. Five days a week, out of personal necessity, is in my rear view mirror. Work in the coming Spring semester, will be in view of service to the schools and more discretionary, in terms of schedule.

This year, now grumbling to a close, has accented the small-How needful it is to revitalize memory, when it comes to the humble password or the most routine of courtesies! How crucial it is, to rekindle acceptance of differences, reminding ourselves how dull it would be for everyone to be forced into the same train of thought or the same world view. Exclusivity, as much as its proponents tell themselves it is necessary, is a dead end.

Let not one’s conservatism, or progressivism, lead to that dead end. Let 2020 be what comes to an end, without one’s viewpoint joining it.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 4: Legalese

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September 12, 2020-

Good things happened today. My middle brother turned 65, surrounded by the Georgia branch of his family. It was good to speak with him and to hear the vibrant voices of nephew, SIL and the little ones.

I am reaching an understanding with someone who thought I could be the brains behind his operation. There are legal points, like “Conflict of Interest” and Federal tax laws that would present problems for my being the Great White Hope. I think he gets it now.

“Cuties”, the well-intentioned, but misguided, film has run into a buzz-saw of valid criticism, for its reported perseverating on the physiques of pre-adolescent girls. I haven’t seen the film, nor will I-since Creeper Status is not something with which I identify, as well as the fact that my primary role with young people, male or female, is to encourage them to avoid being objectified and to follow dreams of their own choosing. Hopefully, there will arise a sense of propriety and like misguided projects before it, “Cuties” will disappear from the media.

Our Baha’i group had its tri-monthly consultative meeting and planned out the overall course of activities, over the next three months.

That brings me to the Red Cross-and that I was already asked when I could resume Disaster Response activities. A look at the map shows why-Fire to the left of us, Storms to the right-and I will be stuck in the middle, for at least another week, as I have personal business on the last day of summer and will focus on other matters here at Home Base, in the interim.

The Farmers Market is a bustling place, with a new venue. I was happy to visit there this morning, seeing some of my better friends, locally. Next weekend will bring me to Dharma Farm, in advance of Equinox, and the Weekend of Peace will see some events, both on Zoom and in the park across the street from me.

With that, let’s all take a deep breath, to the extent possible, in a climate of widespread smoke.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 57: Uprising

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July 27, 2020-

I was mildly upbraided this morning, by one of the fiercest women I’ve ever met. Stating only what she saw, her caution was that I was heading into the realm of puritanism.

I am, at present, watching a series entitled “Cursed”, about the origins of Excalibur, the sword of Anglo-Saxon mythology. It follows the life of a young Wiccan, pursued by various members of the political and social establishment of that time. Although fictional, it carries several elements of what actually transpired, in the days of an oppressive Church.

It brought me back, to a feeling in my life that I’d long buried and nearly forgotten. It brought me back to the fact that, growing up, I hated the Church. I loved Jesus, with all my heart and soul, so I went to Mass and even served as a substitute altar boy, during the summer of my thirteenth year. Yet, I hated the suffocating power that dripped from the mouths and countenances of all but a few of the priests. I hated it, and had to keep that feeling buried. My parents and family would never have understood.

Only love of Christ kept me in the fold, until I saw the power of Baha’i, the Unity of all Mankind, of all Life and of all Truth. Still, I kept this anger buried. It came to the surface, as I was watching the second episode of this series and remembered the danger of which my much younger friend was speaking.

Puritanism, the control of minds through delusion, gaslighting and fear, has indeed come to grip a good part of our society anew. Margaret Atwood, in her two novels on the, as yet, fictional future country of Gilead, outlines just how easy it could be, for a relatively small group of people to obtain control of the United States, by tapping into the flowing subconscious stream of Puritanism.

It is feared, by some, that a future dictatorship would most likely come from the Left. That’s understandable, given that the primary remaining totalitarian states are all rooted in Communism. It is also rooted in the fear that a future American regime is already putting in place travel restrictions tied to acceptance of a vaccine and personal identification system which will, by force of technology, result in ironclad control of the populace.

I see this as reverse psychology. Fervent Christians have always feared humanism and atheism. There are those who may well be counting on this, and not for the purpose of protecting Christians and others of Faith, but for exploiting that fear, and taking control for their own nefarious ends.

So, regardless of who wishes to oppress, I am mentally preparing myself. Avoiding paranoia, just watching and listening carefully, day by day, in this little Home Base of mine, I look at both sociopolitical forces, and then focus my eyes forward-on what I WANT to see in the world.

I want safety and freedom for my family, friends and neighbours, for the children and youth, for those who suffer, both those in the middle and those on the margins. I want to see a world of equanimity. I want to see a world in which power is truly derived from love and light. We may well have to walk through several Valleys of the Shadow to get there. We will, I’m sure, have to overcome many who try to take power in an ad hoc manner, through deception, gaslighting and false assurance.

It is time for all people of the heart to set aside the dark thoughts imposed on them, by any and all whose only interest is in top-down control. It is time for uprising; a loving, just, but forthright uprising. We, the People, can truly rule ourselves.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 44: And Love Will Steer The Stars

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July 14, 2020-

Today was Bastille Day, commemorating the ultimate proof that, when rulers ignore the governed, there may be severe consequences-for all concerned. Today also was the final day of the weeklong Harmonic Convergence, an online celebration of our connections to the Universe as a whole.

Unity was the theme, as it was in the last such gathering, in 1987. I saw little evidence of the roiling mayhem that continues on, outside these serene sessions. Our focus was on understanding the connections that this planet has always had with the greater Creation.

Astrology points us to the planet, at long last, entering into the sign of Aquarius, come December. To some, Aquarius is the sign of love and harmony. To others, it is the sign of the ascendancy of technology. I naturally favour the former, finding the latter to be somewhat a harbinger of control, of externally-imposed agendas and of a cold, emotionally-distant society.

There are both positive and negative forces, throughout the Universe, so the dichotomy between which will control our destiny makes it all the more imperative that we rise to control it ourselves. I cannot, very happily, live in a world where there is little concern for anyone outside one’s own space.

Thus, this series of sessions has given a boost to what I have learned, over 38 years, from the Baha’i Teachings. It has given me a boost past the mercantile veneer of “Cosmic Wisdom” which is, at this stage of the game, a means to an end, though I have hope that those who ply the trade of Reiki, and other intuitive arts, will actually come to feel the sentiments they vocalize.

In the last meditation of the series, I closed my eyes and mouthed the mantra, as best as my lungs and diaphragm could muster, for 21minutes. I saw Penny, in a blue-tinted forest, my cousins who have gone on and, my youngest brother, Brian. My departed Godmother, Hazel, Uncle Jim and their rambunctious brother, Charles, were also present. All are in a good place. I felt feline energy, inside the apartment, though none of the ferals has ever been inside here. Lastly, a walk around the perimeter of the place was a marvel of stars and the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

Love is steering me, and the stars. More instructions are coming.