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.

Crowds

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December 3, 2016, Prescott-  I am pinching my pennies, for the next two weeks, as it is both high bill time and a cause for continuing severance of expenditures that no longer make sense.  Satellite TV and landline telephone have gone by the boards, as a result.  Even my essential oils purchases are cut, since I’m the only one buying from me.  There also won’t be many meals out, if I’m dining alone.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy, anyway.

Watching this evening’s lighting of Courthouse Square, including the Christmas tree, was a free delight, though.  The melodic voices of children of all ages added sonic luster to the event.  I was a needle in a humongous crowd- I’d estimate 2,000 people on the lawn, and another 500 or so, walking the streets and patronizing every restaurant, cafe and shop within a half-mile radius of the Square.   I found a small deli, a bit off the beaten track, and contented myself with a cheap, delicious bowl of meatball,kale and white bean soup.

Although I am perfectly happy being alone, I like crowds.  They bring prosperity to my otherwise struggling friends and neighbours in the downtown shops and restaurants. I learn from listening to different people talking, as we all stand and watch the festivities, or while  walking along the sidewalks. Although, they can try people’s   patience, they also bring a chance to think outside the box and to develop networks of co-operation, that otherwise would not have a chance to be established.  One never knows when such networks will be imperative.

Last Sunday, at a gas station just this side of the Colorado River, I happened upon the usual chaotic, end-of-holiday scene.  I took my place in a pump queue, moved up in amazingly short order, and filled the Hyundai’s tank.  As I was preparing to drive out, after paying, another driver backed into the spot in front of me, boxing me in and keeping the person behind me from pulling up to the tank.  The driver behind me got out and started yelling at the miscreant, who, as it happened, did not speak English, but  looked determined not to co-operate, in any event.  Fortunately, there was an attendant on scene, who directed me around the car and carefully past the store front, which was also insanely busy.

Thinking outside the box seems to be the only way, as we move through a most unsettled and chaotic time.

The Road to 65, Mile 359: That Which Brings A Smile

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November 22, 2015, Prescott- This is the last day of Positivity Week, and I have been asked to mention those people and things in my life which make me smile.

So, in no particular order:  My students, and hearing them sing and struggle with the winter song that is associated with the coming holidays.  I know they will sound just fine, with practice, by concert time.

The antics of teens in the neighbourhood Skate Park.  They have mastered some moves that I would look frightful doing, and they do nothing wrong, while there.
“Peanuts”, and other such remnants of the days when childhood was indeed a world apart.  I know the teacher is made to look non-existent, but that’s part of the allure.Mission Inn

Pets, and their silliness.  The love of an animal keeps a lot of people sane, who would otherwise be underwater, emotionally.

The ambiance of places like Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, and Tucson, at this time of year.  Even Riverside, CA will command a stop, when I head back here from San Diego, next Sunday. Mission Inn has a legendary holiday display.  Our Courthouse Square, though, sets the mould.

The cards I am getting, in advance of my hexagenarian midpoint.  I am always grateful for those who help me “ring in” my personal New.

Positivity Week is now drawing to a close, but a positive spirit need never do so.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 290: The Soup of Good Fortune

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September 13, 2015, Prescott-   I spent three hours today, in one of the most worthwhile of endeavours.  The Empty Bowls Project is an annual event in Prescott, on Courthouse Square, where so many of our great community events take place.  I was given the job of Gazpacho Ladeler.  Each of us ladelers gave a contributing patron 6 oz. of soup in either a ceramic bowl, which they had purchased, or in a free Styrofoam bowl.  Patrons could come back for second helpings, so one or two of the more popular soups (i.e. lobster bisque) ran out.

Various restaurants in Prescott and nearby Prescott Valley sent a plenitude of soups, most of them hot.  The gazpacho seemed to be the only one that wasn’t.  Even so, there was just about a bowl left over, when we stopped at 2:10, and the chef came to get her materials. My tangible reward for this effort was two 16 oz. cups of soup, one minestrone and one coconut cauliflower curry.  Far greater, of course, is knowing that a substantial amount of money was raised for the benefit of local food banks.

I went back to the house afterward, and finished reading “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”, which recounts Dan Millman’s experiences, whilst on Oahu and Molokai.  I sat, totally concentrating on the last fifty pages of the book, and journeyed with him through various dimensions and states of mind.  He did not use hallucinogens, and I can identify with that, since my own mind can make its way to worlds that hardly make sense, in a tangible context.  This afternoon, I only followed his lead.

After my reading was finished, I was given the message to prepare a certain soup of my own.  I first peeled the rind off a butternut squash, after cleaning out its seeds and slicing off the ends.  Then, I did the same with an eggplant and a red pepper, adding lean ground beef and a few figs, with various seasonings.  Turmeric was put in there, for some reason.  I don’t usually add it to a vegetable soup, but there it was.

The scraps and seeds were then buried in the backyard, in an impromptu garden plot.  I’ve never heard of planting so close to Fall, but that was the message I got- and well, trust the journey.  We’ll see what transpires.

I will regard the resulting concoction as a soup of good fortune- celebrating what appear to be doors opening for me, even as a door of friendship, of two years’ duration, seems to be closing.  Everything happens in its time.

The Road to 65, Mile 53: The Same Boat

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January 20, 2015, Prescott- “We may have arrived on different ships, but we are all in the same boat.”  This was one of the messages being carried by the some 400 marchers in Prescott, AZ, yesterday, during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march, from Prescott College around Courthouse Square and to the United Methodist Church, where a rousing rally, with gospel music and a stirring address by Reverend Michael Cannon awaited our assemblage.

My parents raised us to regard each person we met, on an individual basis.  They were prisoners, somewhat, of their generation’s tendency to fear “the other”, but my folks desperately wanted out of that box, and looked to us to show the way towards a more inclusive world. There were classmates of Asian descent, in my high school, who were congenial.  I did not, however, have friends who were African-American or Hispanic until I was in the Army, and it was much later that my circle grew to include Native Americans and people who hailed from the Middle East.

We are in a far more open world now.  My son does well with people, regardless of ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation, as do I.  The Baha’i Faith, to which I adhere, enjoins anyone from acting out of prejudice.  Our task is to root out the bias and replace it with an understanding of the people whose backgrounds differ from ours.  The thing to be opposed, in this great Age, is an unseemly character.

That was the bedrock of Dr.King’s speeches, and actions, in the 1950’s and ’60’s.  It was the overriding theme of Rev. Mr.Cannon’s address, yesterday morning and again last night, at St. Luke’s Ebony Christian Church, where he is Associate Pastor.  It is the foundation of that which every person who seeks uprightness in this life, does every day.  Imperfect souls own their flaws, and still march towards the light, casting the burden of foulness aside as they go.  I know of many people, myself included, who have aspects of their past which, if left unaddressed and uncorrected, would serve as a personal Tar Pit.  On we go, though, grateful for forgiveness and grace.

This is huge boat, and we each have a part to play in its successful voyage.  So, if you are African-American, come to the table.  If you are a lower-income, or lower-middle-class person of European descent, come to the table.  If you are of a family indigenous to these continents we call America, come to the table.  If you are from the world’s most populous continent, anywhere from the eastern Mediterranean to the western Pacific, come to the table.  If you came from Africa, during the past century, or from Australasia, come to the table.

You may be, like me, attracted solely to the opposite gender- and you belong here.  You may be drawn to those of the same gender, or both, or may feel you need gender reassignment, or already have had it- and you belong here.  Regardless of age, ability level, or employment status, you belong here.  Whether you are Liberal, Conservative, Moderate, Tea Party or Occupy Anything With A Corner Office, you have a part to play.

We need to uphold the rule of law, AND the law has to be humane.  We surely need to expect those entering our country to respect and obey our laws, just as those of us Americans who visit other countries must adhere to their laws.  We do best to remember that the task of the individual is to show mercy, and that of the human institution, from the family to the nation-state, is to show justice.

The great boat will not list, will not leak and will not sink, so long as we all remember:  Each has a place.