Inside and Out

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February 1, 2020-

Everyone has roots in a community,

even if they don’t feel it.

Everyone is an insider,

somewhere.

Everyone is also an outsider,

somewhere.

Which role ends up

as someone’s life path,

destiny,

legacy,

is determined

by the choices

the person makes,

in the day-to-day,

in both light

and darkness.

(I wrote this, after watching several episodes of a procedural: “Sinner”, about a man who is both insider and outsider, in his own hometown.)

 

Growing (Beyond) Pains

9

January 24, 2020-

Every community has its pain.  I saw lots in Peach Springs, just as I did so many years ago, in various communities of the Navajo (Dineh) and Hopi Nations-and I know the pain continues, even though life is better, in some parts of the old Home Base.  So, too, there was, and is, pain in Phoenix, in La Paz County and here in Prescott.  I heard of suffering in Seligman, which is en route to any point northwest of here, yesterday, when I stopped for an early dinner.

People have their concerns, their agonies and their setbacks.  What makes the difference in much of this, is the extent to which the suffering souls lay their woes at the feet of others.  I’ve done some of that, and have thankfully learned to put that mindset behind me.  Whine and cheese are not the stuff of social progress.

I have said a bit about what I’d like to see in Peach Springs, though my own skill sets may not do much, immediately, to help that community, on the ground.  Prescott does have a few programs in place, which can help those who are knocked down, in getting themselves upright.  Essentially, though, it falls to each person to determine his/her own course of action.  The Blame Game may be mildly salving, for a day or so, then the confusion sets in, as one sees no progress.

When I last found myself really foundering, I had to set concrete steps for my own recovery.  They involved a mix of travel, social media-journaling, exercise, photography and involvement in the community that I chose as Home Base.  That mix still suits me, and it will long continue.

My hopes for each community that matters in my heart is that strong and good-hearted people will take the lead and show their family, friends and neighbours the way forward.  I want to be there when these communities arise.

Camaraderie

8

May 25, 2019-

I have, very recently, met someone who has hit me like a ton of bricks, and much in the way Penny did.  I have no idea how this friendship will go, but it is bound to be one of substance.

For the past eight years or so, I have, to outward seeming, gone at times from pillar to post with my meanderings and efforts at working day jobs.  This is who I am, though, and my purpose remains to be a friend to as many who cross my path, as do not mean either me, or the world, harm.

I used to be a loner.  Penny changed all that- and even when it was the two of us, quietly reading or thinking, in our own spaces, I was no longer just one living for myself.  Since she passed, I have been aware that, if I ever reverted to loner-hood, she’d come back and haunt me.  Thus, there is the sense of belonging to a community that’s bigger; to groups that have an aim.

I have ties, camaraderie, with so many communities, it’s hard to pin down to one place.  That remains a good part of me, and so:

Prescott- Here, I have become grounded, made an effort at being part of a day-to-day community and have established many friendships-with people across the political and social spectra, who, in their own words, might not be able to stand being in the same room with each other.  While that’s sad, it is the human condition. I’ve been doing this sort of networking since high school, though, so it is second nature.

Phoenix- It’s no secret that this city, this sometimes choking environment, nearly buried me.  That is as much present in the circumstances of my time lived here, being a caregiver, especially for a loved one, is both labour of love and slow asphyxiation.  She often said she couldn’t wait to “be out of my way”, though to my mind, it could have gone on forever-until leaving was what was best for her.

I love the desert mountains, which the city has had the foresight to keep out of the harm’s way of uber-development (Prescott, take note:  You have no idea how close you are to losing the very places which make you special.) I also love the people who stayed close to me, when the feckless around us were seeking to quarantine my wife and me.

Arizona- You took me in, when I was still very much a mess.  Flagstaff, Superior, Casa Grande, Cochise County, the White Mountain region, Kingman-and the eternally blessed Dineh and Hopi Nations all have given me friendships that will draw this one back, time and again.  Tucson, for reasons both long-standing, and yet to pan out, is a special draw.

The West- California, in the words of Debbie Boone, will “keep calling me home.”  The beaches, the expanse of Mojave and Imperial Deserts, the Coast Ranges, LA, San Diego, Santa Barbara, the Bay Area-and the Sierra Nevada underscore my ongoing friendships, which will remain.  Nevada, Colorado, Utah- your treating me like family will only be an ongoing comfort and draw this one back time and again.

The same hold true, for those in my heart in the Northwest, Alaska, the Midwest, Northeast, South, Canada, Korea and western Europe.  I cannot see myself staying apart from any of you, my friends and family, in perpetuity. Nor, for that matter, do I wish to preclude time with those friends in places yet unvisited:  The rest of Europe, the Pacific Rim, South, West and Central Asia, Africa and the rest of the Americas.

Time will tell whether my solo wanderlust, or this newfound friendship, sets the parameters of  the future.  It is a comforting place to be.

 

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.

Cocoon

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November 5, 2018, Prescott-

Yesterday was another one of those days which found me out and about, helping others in their noble efforts.  Not long ago, someone challenged me, with regard to my involvement in the community. The point that this person made was that all these activities constituted a sort of cocoon, guarding me against connecting with my inner conflicts. I was then advised to drop all activities and sequester myself, as soon as possible.

Little does that individual know, but my real cocoon, if you will, is indeed being here, in this small apartment, away from anyone.  The reality is, and has been, that part of me is terrified of being around people who don’t really want me there.  I spent yesterday afternoon seated with strangers, two of whom were openly hostile to my presence at their table.  They were quiet about it, as the effusive person seated next to me was gracious and made sure I felt welcome.   I am quite intuitive, though, and pick up on both positive and negative feelings.

Being involved with community groups is hardly a cocoon, though it can feel quite dark at times.  I do these activities because in the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, it is written: “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”  We Baha’is are to be good in groups, not cloistered in virtue or hiding “our light under a bushel”, as it were.  I have always been one who has had to struggle, mightily, to be among people. Penny helped pull me out of the shell, to the extent that, to outward seeming, I am something of a social butterfly, with lots of friends.  I do feel the warmth of many, both online and in real time, especially among my Baha’i friends.  I also feel the grudging tolerance of several people, and take that for what is worth.

My point here is that being involved with the good of the community is not a  source of comfort, nor is it a protection against any inner turmoil.  That protection comes when I commune with the Creator, in the early hour before dawn, at midday and in the evening.  Then, alone, do I summon the energy to face the world, and the ravages that go along with the joys.

Radiating Outward,Absorbing Inward

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October 29, 2018, Prescott-

I am now given to saying this personal prayer, in a quiet time of day, preferably at dawn.  This is not a revealed verse. It merely reflects my humble sentiments.

” O Creator of all,

Preserve this soul and protect its human host,

from all that is vile and treacherous,

whether within or outside.

Protect this humble home,

and all who shelter within it,

from those forces which mean harm.

Guard this community,

and guide its residents

to do right by themselves,

their families and their neighbours.

Bless this city, county,

state and nation,

and lead us to do right,

by one another and by those

who appeal to us for help.

Give them the strength

to do for themselves,

as dignity and justice

shall illustrate.

Radiate your blessings

upon this continent,

this hemisphere,

this planet.

May the hurt of one

truly be seen

and heard

as the hurt of all.

“Let deeds, not words,

be your adorning”-Baha’u’llah

 

Just Because…

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July 23, 2108, Prescott-

Of course, my accounts of my travels will continue, later today.  My mind was roiling, earlier this morning, with a feeling that someone was silently accusing me of prejudice, for not settling into another relationship, for not ending my widowhood.  Penny appeared to me afterward, in my mind’s eye, and told me:

“You love, intensely.

Just because you have no romantic feelings for anyone in your present Baha’i community does not make you callous, unfeeling, prejudiced.

You are there for each person, helping each as needed.

That does not require you to fit into a niche.

You love, intensely

Just because you have a strong friendship with a woman who is of entirely different mindset, in terms of Faith, does not mean you are disloyal to Baha’u’llah.

Conversely, as I’ve told you before, you and she are steadfast friends, no more, no less. You would gladly see her find someone who will cherish her, forever.

You love, intensely.

You see your younger co-workers as if they were your own daughters.  Their struggles are your own and you help them where they need help, taking nothing from their dignity.

You love, intensely.

Each day, whether on the road or at what you call Home Base, the needs, large and small, of women, men and children who cross your path have as much urgency as your own.

Just because some are, occasionally, put off by what they see as your shortcomings or errors, does not mean you are unworthy of respect.  They have their own burdens.

Carry on, my love.  As time continues, your true destiny will keep on unfolding.  You have miles to go.”

With that, my angst subsided.

 

Putting My Foot Down

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May 16, 2018, Prescott-

You say the only reason I am

involved with things

that don’t involve you,

is because I want to hide

from you.

You say the fact that

I do things that

are not directly

involved with matters

of faith

is because faith

is not my priority.

You say these things

and you are

just

plain

wrong.

Faith is my life.

You are not my overseer.

Faith is my life,

and I will work,

volunteer,

engage with community,

commune with nature,

travel the roads I choose,

with faith in my heart.

That heart soars, and

my feet are firmly on the ground.

Day by Day

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April 3, 2018, Prescott-

A friend referred to things being too crazy.

Yes, we can see it all around.

The President supports this bill.

No, wait, he’s against it.

There will be negotiations with a foe.

“Are you kidding?  We can’t possibly do THAT!”

The stock market is headed for an epic crash!

Oh, well, that was yesterday.

Maybe again tomorrow, though.

“The Constitution says that mentally ill people

are entitled to possess a firearm,

for their protection.”

So much for a well-regulated militia.

Day by day,

it’s enough for me to love,

educate

and safeguard

our four charges.

It’s enough for me to serve

the Lord of the Age,

and work to unite

the human race

against the Forces of Darkness.

It’s enough for me to tend

to my own healing

and  that of my community.

The craziness will run its course,

and our Sun will continue to shine.

Are You Aboard?

13

April 2, 2018, Prescott-

We are entering a Spring,

when our institutions

seem ready to let us down,

big time.

Are you aboard the train

of friendship?

Are you riding in the car

of community?

We, the people

stand a chance

of surviving anything

the powers that be

throw at us,

if we ride together,

if we stand together.

Are you aboard?