This Is No Game

4

August 18, 2019-

Love is not a game.

Caring for someone is a 24/7 matter.

It is not a case of projecting one’s needs onto the beloved.

It never allows for ignoring or minimizing her/his needs,

and dreams, in favour of the all-important self.

 

Leadership is not a game.

Guiding a group, region or nation is the highest calling.

It is not a case of being in the limelight, 24/7.

It is not a matter of keeping people off track.

It is not sleight of hand, or

smoke and mirrors.

 

Faith is not a game.

It does not pick and choose

which Scripture fits one’s

own pre-conceived notions.

It does not hide from what is expected.

It does not bemoan challenges,

or misfortune.

 

Life is just not a game.

Cleaning Up Ashes

4

December 26, 2018, Prescott-

There is always a reckoning,

when one fails to heed the inner voice.

Christmas, 2018 will be remembered

as much for what I lost,

as for what I received.

There will be a reckoning,

sometime this week,

in one part of my life.

Then, I will go on,

though thankfully,

not without a job.

I may have one less friend,

and one less close relative,

in my life.

I will go on, though,

because there is no other way.

On the other hand,

I have a little family,

who  bring me joy,

and will continue,

for a good many years to come.

Prescott may not be the same.

after this week,

but I have my work,

my team,

and my students.

Family may not be the same,

in terms of its extension,

but I have my son,

my daughter-in-law,

and my siblings.

I have my Faith,

my co-worshipers

and my own determination,

to just be a better soul.

Gratitude Week, Day 1: Eight Valuable Groups of Friends

6

November 18, 2018, Prescott-

I am devoting Thanksgiving week to specific reasons for gratitude. Each day will address a theme that is cause for praise and happiness. Today, I want to look at what I’ve gained, from friendships with people in ten different groups.

Senior citizens:  Those over 75 years of age (my arbitrary definition of senior citizen) have accrued the life skills and practice to address even the most anomalous of occurrences.  Those who have all their faculties intact have consistently pointed me in the right direction.

Teenagers: Having worked largely with teens, over the past forty-two years, I find their honesty and energy have been life-affirming and have kept me very much in a place of integrity. A teen’s “BS Meter” is equal to that of a senior citizen.  The current generation of youth, at least those with whom I work, seem to know that much will be expected of them, in the very near future.

Children under twelve:  Like those immediately older than they, the current generation of children has a sense of most likely needing to clean up messes made by others. They tend to have a strong sense of destiny and are the least likely to “be seen and not heard”.  I find their honesty also very refreshing, even when it is seemingly adversarial.

Happily married (both genders):  I have many friends, both male and female, who are at a good place in their marriages.  The perspective brought by a married person, with no ax to grind, actually is a blend of both their opinion and that of their spouse-thus being more grounded.  I am more likely to become friends as well, with the spouse of  a friend who is happy in wedlock.

The firm in faith:   A person who is well-grounded, but not dogmatic, in their faith is most likely to be open to the commonality of spiritual truth.  As this commonality is the basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith, to which I adhere, I find this firmness a compelling basis for my friendships with many who adhere to other faith traditions.

The happily engaged:  Whether in gainful employment or in acts of voluntarism, a person who is happy in what s(he) is doing with time, is an affirmation of my own concept of acts of service.  Happily engaged people tend to be more trustworthy and connected with others.

Lifelong learners:  Students of life, of every age group, present fresh perspectives to any given situation.  They also challenge me to keep on looking into new issues, or to look at old matters, with fresh eyes.

Special Needs people:  Whether simple in nature or full of complexity, my friends of  special need are always up front about what addresses those needs.  It takes intuition, to understand the feelings and wants of a special needs person.  Anything that hones intuition is a good experience.

Having friends in each, and sometimes several, of these categories is largely what has contributed to the richness of my life.

 

 

 

 

Putting My Foot Down

9

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.

One, Two, Three, Four

13

January 21, 2018, Prescott- 

My priorities tend to come in ones, twos, threes and fours.

One, of course, is self-care.

I may even hit the sack an hour early tonight.

It’s been a long, but happy, day.

Two, has to do with friends.

I am at peace with those

with whom I clashed a bit,

last weekend.

I am not half of a couple,

but that doesn’t leave

me lonely.

In fact, my time is rarely

my own, exclusively.

Three of us work,

very closely and

congenially.

My day is divided

into three parts:

Financial venture,

professional work

and Faith.

Oops, that’s where

four actually enters.

The fourth part

of my day is

recreation.

Reading,

writing,

Planet Fitness

and getting

together

with friends.

My schedule will

soon heat up again,

but you saw that coming.

Have a great week!

2018 and the Four F’s

15

January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

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

0

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

10

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

4

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

5

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.