November 27, 2015, Chula Vista- The brisk walk from Aram’s apartment to the area’s Costco was a two-mile round trip. I carried a small box, with salad fixings and a brick of sharp cheddar. I could have driven, or taken the bus. Instead, I was inspired, both by my own tradition and by a tourist in New York, who preferred to walk uptown from One World Trade Center, so as to “see what I’m passing.”
Having made two long journeys, this past year, I can say I saw alot. There are differences between the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast, but also key similarities. Both are humid and moist. Both have people who are passionately close to the sea. Both require crossing starkly beautiful deserts, if one approaches by road or rail. Both have compelling stories to share and both have celebratory traditions. The Native Americans and First Nations peoples of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and southeast Alaska have civilized traditions and lore going back thousands of years. So do the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Miccosukee, Alabama, and the hybrid nation we call the Seminole. The story of the Aboriginals of North America matters, immensely.
Having hiked up Mt. Verstovia, along East Glacier Trail, six miles around Ketchikan, all over Manzanar, on two more segments of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, and along the Prescott Circle, not far from my place of residence, I feel continually blessed by nature, health and mobility. The environment matters, enormously.
I spent time among the historical remnants of early European settlers and missionaries, in Santa Barbara, San Luis (now called Tallahassee) , San Antonio, Wrangell and Sitka. They wreaked havoc on those they found in the area already, thinking that educating the “savages” and exploiting the natural resources were their twin obligations to King and Country. Their successors followed suit, and I saw the results- some worthy of respect, (Tonopah, Bellingham and Moscow,ID), for the honest labour that modestly claimed a share of the resources of land and sea. Others, like the ravaging of Native Peoples in Sitka and Hoonah, the slaughter of Chinese immigrants in Hells Canyon and the internment of Japanese-Americans, as recorded for posterity, at Manzanar and Poston, stand as reminders of just how far we have to go. The historical record matters, tellingly.
I returned to work, towards the end of this, my 65th year, secondarily to recoup some of my financial resources, but primarily because the well-being of yet another rising generation needs whatever champions who can arise. I will work another five years or so, as long as my health and the goodwill of the powers that be remain strong. The people we call “Millennials” and “Generation Z” matter, beyond measure.
I will miss Margaret and Ardith Lambert, Tom Boyd, my Xanga friends who called themselves Inciteful and Sister Mae, and feel the losses of several friends’ parents, whom I never met, but sense their character, in the people their children, who are my friends, have become. Losses matter, achingly.
I visit with my son, not as often as I would like, but when our mutual schedules permit. I communicate with my immediate and extended families, again not as regularly as is desired, but often enough that we know we are there for one another. I visited with an elder in Colorado, at the beginning of this year, attempted to spend time with another elder in Florida, though to no avail, and did visit with people I regard as family, in Alabama, Mississippi, California,Nevada, Washington and Alaska. Family loves, quarrels, understands, misunderstands, hides, seeks and ultimately stays in bond. Family matters, indelibly, and yes, to answer an online friend’s plaint- family includes friends.
Central to all has been Faith. Looking back at the past 6 1/2 decades, I could never have survived my own missteps and foibles, or the trials sent my way, without knowing that there is something greater, Someone Indestructible, always seeing and caring. Belief, and the Faith Community, matter, in primacy.
So, my road to 65 nears an end. It has been vast, long, alternately wide and narrow, by turns straight and curving. It started at the end of a year of intense expansion of personal boundaries and ends at the beginning of a year of unknowns. Decisions made by others will figure greatly in my course of action. Time goes on.