Freedom of Choice

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July 3, 2022, Saugus- A spirited discussion took place, on social media today, involving several members of a family in another part of the country, all of whom I love very much-regardless of their varying political views. It was said that things got out of hand, in private messages going back and forth, and I will leave that as it is. Private is private.

We are, in fits and starts, coming out of the Coronavirusdisease 2019 pandemic. Some, including friends of mine, are still getting the scourge, and hopefully their experience will be brief. Some have reported that it is horrific, and I pray for their swift recovery. My point here is, though, that after nearly two years of restriction, a sense of oppression and all manner of obfuscation, smoke and mirrors and the like, we, the People, are gingerly getting out and about. I took 2020 off from the road, and may have done so last year as well, but for the necessity of getting our family home ready to transfer to another family. (Who seem to be well-settled in, by the way.) My family and friends hereabouts are also finally getting to enjoy life again. One set of cousins is busy with cookouts, all weekend. Another couple are going off on a long-delayed journey to somewhere special. Yet a third cousin is kayaking, on a lake up yonder.

That we are exercising our freedom to travel is not a bad thing at all. There are benefits and drawbacks to travel, and one must accept both. We also have choices to make in many other areas of life. There are benefits and drawbacks to those as well. The right to do with one’s own body what you will, is sacrosanct-so long as it does not impinge on the rights of others. It is a matter of debate, at times fierce, as to whether a fetus is a human being. Some religious scholars say it is; others say humanity begins with birth. Some lay people take the first view; others, the opposite. I say, as a man, that the final, hopefully informed and measured, decision, rests with the mother-not with the courts, including that of Public Opinion, or with the Legislatures of different states, or of the nation at large.

The right to defend oneself is also sacrosanct. The Creator put us here, and it is up to the Creator as to when we leave. There is, however, nothing that says anyone has the right to end the life of another, in a random and capricious, or even intentional and malicious, spate of violence. So, I do not subscribe to the credo that says possession and use of assault weapons is a God-given right. (As I write this, six more people died at the hands of an out-of-control lunatic, in Highland Park, IL and an indeterminate number of police officers used what looks like excessive force, to end the life of a gunman, who had thrown his weapon into a car, before attempting to flee, in Akron, OH). Violence begets violence.

Every act we do in this life has benefits, and has consequences. I have learned to accept both.

The Second Half

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July 1, 2021- The first six months of this year have produced some rather significant changes in my world. Chief among them was Mother’s changing her residence-thankfully of her own accord-after 66 years in the same house. With all of us pitching in, the gargantuan task was broken into a hundred fairly manageable pieces. Now, Mom is happily ensconced in a small, comfortable apartment, with her basic security set.

The other changes are more internal. I have jettisoned a few personal demons that, while not interfering in my life very much, did cause a certain tension to arise, unnecessarily, between me and certain people in the wider community. I have already noticed how much more relaxed things are, when I am in my favourite places around town.

There were, as always, journeys during the period January-June. One was not planned-but going to Massachusetts in May was never in question. Going to Carson City was a year overdue- one of my best friends, and her blessed children and grandchildren are like family to me.

The second half of 2021 will be similar, with most of July being on the road-again largely making up for the lost contacts of the pandemic year. I’m not worried about a variant-the masks and hand sanitizer will be with me, and I have been fully vaccinated. Variants will be around for decades to come, as they are with Ebola-and influenza. Life cannot and should not stop. August and September will mostly find me here in Prescott, save for a memorial hike on the Navajo Nation, on August 16 and a four-day visit to southern California, September 17-21.

In mid-August, I will determine the prudence of going to Europe, for four weeks in October, and plan accordingly, Much depends on any lingering quarantines at that time. November and December will again be Southwest-centric, with my serving as host, around Thanksgiving, hopefully attending a resumed Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, around Christmas, and making a journey to southern New Mexico for a few days thereafter.

There will also be visits, at least once a month, to the Baha’i friends living along the Colorado River, in western Arizona, and always an eye towards getting up to Navajo and Hopi, as those areas open back up. The Red Cross is also opening its programs and services to in-person situations and meetings, starting within a few weeks, and I will remain open to helping in the schools, for special substituting activities.

Thus, the second half of this year will mirror, and expand upon, the first.

Around Hometown: Day 5

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May 21, 2021, Saugus- Mom gave me my marching orders. I am to do several sit-ups, every day, henceforth, eat smaller portions and get out on the trail more often. While she is still very concerned with COVID variants (she is fully vaccinated, but frets about the deniers causing havoc), she knows I am not at risk for the disease. Thus, taking care of the Septuagenarian Sag is to be one of my main focuses.

This comes with her own promise to me, to engage with her fellow residents and end her long self-imposed isolation, which came to an end with her move of last week. There are several activities she can join now, so I look forward to the resumption of her letters-which she stopped, out of annoyance at being stuck in the house, for so long.

Today is the twenty-first day of the fifth month, in the twenty-first week, of the twenty-first year, of the twenty-first century. Twenty-one is the Industrial Age’s hallmark of maturity. This, in and of itself, means little to actual maturity, which varies from person to person. When I was 21, I was in the throes of adjusting to a rapidly-changing set of circumstances, in my life, but using the methods of an adolescent. Maturity, for me, came around age 40. The century, though, has begun heading into its maturity, with the human race, likewise, being dragged kicking and screaming into its own maturity. Forces like nationalism, racism, misogyny, sectarianism, patriarchy and material jealousy are bound to fade-though not before each goes through its “wounded predator” stage.

My current visit to my hometown will come to an end, tomorrow morning, and the road southward, then westward, will occupy me-and this blog. I have my marching orders, though, and my filial sense has not faded, even as mother and son share the status of advanced age.

Farewell, childhood home, and may you become the place of memories for another family.

My childhood home
The old backyard
Our dogwood tree

Hometown Bound: Day 1

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May 12, 2021, Moriarty, NM- This time, I planned things out ahead of time, started packing the day before and was out the door, with everything in place, by 8:30 a.m. Even the houseplants being placed in suitable amounts of water was a thing that was done last night.

This is not a routine summer jaunt, nor is it a breakout from pandemic restriction. My mother made her own decision to move to a different residence, after 66 years in the house where her children grew up and where so many family memories were made. I told myself that when this day came, I would not be absent from the clean-up and moving of keepsake items from the house. It would be a gargantuan task for family members who live closest to the house. I’ve said that no one should ever have to take on a humongous task alone-and this is one such time.

The day brought me through breathtaking backcountry to Winslow, where a leisurely lunch at Sipp Shoppe, made slower by staff shortage, was what I needed, in that I had to relax and not concern myself with The Timetable. Ditto, for the construction-induced slowdowns on I-40, between Gallup and Grants. There were no long lines or gas shortages along the way, as there were reported in the Southeast.

I am in this mountainside town, east of Albuquerque, for the night. A lone server at Double C Diner was earnest and attentive-a young mother, taking care of all aspects of the restaurant-except the cooking, whilst tending to her toddler daughter. This is what happens in small towns; people just go to work and do whatever needs to be done, without complaining. I would patronize Double C, anytime I pass through Moriarty. The food is superb and the little family deserves support.

Day 2 will bring me through familiar turf, as well: Lunch in Amarillo, a zip across the middle of Oklahoma and hopefully, an overnight stop in southwest Missouri. All I feel, going through places in the heart, is love for the people who have made this life so very worthwhile.