Sixty Six for Sixty-Six, Part LXV: It Doesn’t Matter

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October 31, 2017, Prescott-

Happy All-Hallows, to those who celebrate it as an evening of festive family and community enjoyment.

It doesn’t matter to me,

if you are Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, or some sort of hybrid.

It is superfluous,

if you are conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive.

It is inconsequential, in my view,

if you claim adherence to the oldest of Faiths, to the Faith founded

two-thousand years ago, to the newest Faith or to no Faith at all.

It is of passing concern,

if you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual or just plain fed up with it all.

Male, female, “hybrid”;

child, adolescent, young adult, midlife, early senior, advanced senior, centenarian-

I have much to learn from you,

and much to offer, in return.

What matters is your spirit.

Who I am,

in this final month

of being sixty-six,

is largely who I have

ever been.

My labels do not define me.

God sees beyond the superficial,

the fleeting,,

the limited.

 

Only In Indio

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June 11, 2017, Indio-

Before leaving Prescott, this afternoon, I called my very inspirational youngest living brother, on the occasion of his birthday.  He’s legally blind, yet has never failed to work, steadily, over the past thirty-five years since his college graduation.  His work has always involved a high level of responsibility, and on he goes.

A nice little brunch party followed my conversation, this one in a lovely garden patio, in Prescott Valley.  The conversation there centered on the fine line between creative thought and following one’s own path, versus the “right” to be willfully disobedient to the institutions of one’s chosen Faith.  I am no one’s idea of a Yes Man, but breaking a covenant is as far from where I want to be, as the proverbial Hell  itself.  The person who conjured thoughts of having one’s own sect, gingerly retreated and hopefully will remain so.  The party continued, a pleasant, lovely affair.

I headed out, towards southern California, around 3:30 PM, successfully avoiding whatever back to LA traffic slog might have ensued.  Dinner at a fine, best-kept-secret place, Nichols West, in the tiny old mining town of Congress, certainly helped in that avoidance.  Run by an acerbic, but somewhat cordial, New Zealander, Nichols offers a variety of burgers with unusual toppings, intense salads, exquisite Mexican fare and a surprising variety of seafood.  I chose the brie & avocado burger, with a modest helping of shoestring fries.  The burger was fabulous, grass-fed beef, crispy bacon and moist, ripe avocado wedges, held together by a generous coating of melted brie.  A lovely, very pleasant team of waitresses didn’t hurt the occasion, either.

I digress, though.  I decided to stop here, at City Center Motel, given that what lies ahead of me is I-10, CA 57 & 22 to Highway 1.  At the end of that jaunt lies Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I will make the hike from a gorgeous overlook, down to the shore.  Then, it’ll be a fair drive, with stops at Long Beach’s pier, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, before securing a spot in one of the state beach campgrounds, en route to Crystal Cove.

“Only in Indio”?  That is an ubiquitous sign, along Hwy. 111, and Business 10.  It alludes to the Coachella Music Festival, held in this area every April.  Then, this area fills to the brim with alt-rock lovers from all over.  Now, however, it’s a cool night in June.  Motel rooms cost less than $ 100 per night, and I gratefully parked my carcass in a nice one.

It happens, in Indio, that one can walk, safely, along the 111, for two miles, and not find anywhere, other than an AM/PM., to get a cup of coffee.  This is, as much as anywhere else in southern California, a city designed for the automobile, while those whose fortune, or whose choice, it is to be without wheels, manage to walk along wide and well-kept sidewalks, taking the time they need to get from A to B.  Somehow, I enjoy being among them, walking the flat surface of the Colorado Desert cityscape.

Now, it’s bedtime.  I pray for a little boy who didn’t survive a beat-down, allegedly at the hands of his stepfather.  It’ll take some time before I can pray for the stepfather, and all I can do right now is resolve to be ever better at being kind and loving to those children I, myself, encounter, every day.

It’s Time

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November 10, 2016, Prescott-

It has been two days, since this time of transition began.  People on the Left have vented their frustrations and spoken of their fears.  People on the Right have expressed their joy at being “vindicated” and spoken of their annoyance.

It’s time to start listening, hard, to one another.

It’s time to really take stock of how we’ve really been, towards one another.

It’s time to stop blaming one another.

Black Lives Matter did not create the recent round of violence against police.

The Tea Party did not create the outpouring of hate against transgender people.

It’s time for the common people, of all backgrounds, to recognize that we each achieve more, shoulder to shoulder, than we do nose to nose.

It’s time for those of us deemed “little”, by the media, to know wire-pulling and manipulation, when we see it.

It’s time for people of faith to expect elevated behaviour, from our leaders and from one another, rather than to overlook base actions and coarse speech.

Make no mistake: I love my friends in  Christianity,in the Baha’i Faith, those devoted to Judaism, Buddhism,Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, because their faith defines them;

I love my friends whose sexual orientation and gender identities differ from mine, because they are honest people, trying to make sense of  complexities that few of us in the “straight” world can really understand;

I love my friends who are young, gifted and from hundreds of ethnic backgrounds and dozens of religious traditions, because they will inherit the Earth, and need all the encouragement they can get;

I love my friends who live in small towns and crumbling cities, in the Northeast, Midwest and South, because they do not deserve to be cast-offs;

I love my friends who live on Reservations, in ghettos, in barrios and in ramshackle mountain hollows, because they do not deserve to be stepping-stones for the callous and the greedy;

I love my friends of colour, and of pallour, of youth and of age, because the blood that keeps each of us alive is the same, and too much of that blood has been shed, in the name of falsehood.

It’s time to share our Home, our America, our Earth.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 364: The Stuff That Matters

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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.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 223: Cataracts of the Mind’s Eye

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July 9, 2015, Prescott- Random reactions to ill-considered provocations:

She- “You  don’t lust for me, therefore you don’t love me.  So, I hate you!”

I- “There are four kinds of love.  None of them requires lust.  I hate no one, actually.”

Another- “Religion is darkness.  It is domination of one by the others.”

I- “Dogma, man-made divisiveness, is darkness.  Faith, purity of heart, is Light upon Light.”

A cursory reader- “You are being redundant.  Who cares about Chinese people in darkest Idaho?”

I- “There is something to be learned, to be treasured, in each place, or circumstance, in which we find ourselves.”

Who’s In Charge?

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I know for sure that the election season has started.  The crazies are trotting out the rumours of Obama being a Muslim (“One of his college classmates even said so!”), wanting to be President-for-Life (That’s one way to lower one’s life expectancy.) and of both Romney and Obama being handpicked by the Club for Growth (Wowabunga!)

People don’t seem to have a hold on their senses, when it comes to dealing with other people or institutions in which a great deal of power is invested, by statute.

In reality, though, those same people who fear “the powerful”, “the rich”. “the liberals”, “the conservatives”, “the Christians”, “the atheists” are not exactly being proactive when it comes to exercising their own power.  Each of us is given strength in at least one key area.  Another writer in Word Press pointed out this morning that we are learning about ourselves, and growing, throughout our lives.  I am still finding out things about myself, at the age of 61.

Today, I was challenged by one reader on another blog site, regarding my Faith.  I was also threatened by another reader on that same blog site, also for mentioning my Faith.  In neither case did I insult or denigrate the other person’s beliefs.  Each of us is responsible for, in charge of, learning the truth for ourselves.

So often, of late, we see people of limited self-awareness and excessive sense of entitlement, imposing themselves into the lives of others.  Ironically,  the post in which I was threatened was written by a friend, who was making that same point.

An example of the above is about to occur on the tiny Dutch-owned Caribbean island of  St. Maarten.  A young woman, with the approval of the Dutch government, set sail alone some two years ago, and has sailed nearly around the world.  As she makes ready to land at St. Maarten and complete her mission, there is word that a grandstanding Dutch school official    plans to have her arrested upon docking, for not keeping up with her studies to his satisfaction, while on her journey.  This has had the effect of causing the young woman, who has bothered no one, to want nothing further to do with the land of her forebears.  She has hinted strongly that she will move elsewhere, to the land where she was actually born.

Who’s in charge?  It seems each person needs to approach this carefully.  There are too many of us, coming from too many backgrounds, with too many genetic makeups, for a “One size must fit all” take on life.  Perhaps the overriding theme of this century will actually be “The Death Throes and Demise of Fundamentalism”.