The Essentials

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November 26, 2021, Grapevine- Writing about little stuff, whilst in Texas, is not as much of an oxymoron as one might think. The Lone Star Empire is made up of a mass of minutiae-all of which lend their parts to the legend.

This leads me to the logical codicil to yesterday’s gratitude post: The basic things that warm my heart and keep me going. Here are a dozen such, written Letterman-style:

12. The Cosmos. Any night that at least features the Moon, Jupiter and Venus (at least until February) is a fine one. How much more pleasant is the early morning, with a mass of heavenly orbs! Even the coldest of nights is more comforting, when there are gleaming stars all around.

11. Friends randomly made. The saving grace of seeming inconveniences, like lines, traffic snarls, postponements, crowded conveyances is that they often introduce me to people with whom I may not have anything else, inherently, in common. I recall times, like the three hours spent in the corridor connection of a train going between St. Lo and Paris, in 2014. The families who were huddled there will always be among cherished friends.

10. Friends digitally made. There is a lot of which to be wary, when it comes to social media. One must always be on guard, against the forces of manipulation and invasion of privacy. The upside, though, is the number of potentially close friends who might not have been made, otherwise. I think, especially of five of my closest friends-three women and two men, who were met online.

9. Cozy establishments. Living alone means that gathering spots are important. This is true in my Home Base, and it’s true everywhere I go. A comfortable couch or easy chair, or a well-placed high top table, make for an enjoyable meal, or evening of music.

8. Variety of scenes. The immense number of different landscapes, and seascapes, across the planet, has contributed to my learning and sense of well-being. The same is true of the human landscapes, from crowded cities to isolated farms, ranches and mining sites.

7. Variety of viewpoints. No matter how much I think I know, there is always something to be gained, from encountering a different perspective. Even something that is odious or toxic can, if regarded from a safe distance, show me what NOT to adopt as my own.

6. Health practices. Keeping an open mind about different methods of maintaining stamina and avoiding addiction has led me to a relatively robust autumn of my years. I am ever grateful for those who led me to essential oils and natural supplements.

5. Imagination. My vivid mindset has led me down some crazy rabbit holes, but with the understanding that the way in is also the way out. Imagination leads to creativity, which is often the only key to problem-solving-and God knows, we need that ability, almost on a daily basis.

4. Presence of children and youth. The value of spirited energy to a full life cannot be minimized. Kids have been urgent to my well-being, since I was one, myself. I have never been particularly athletic, but being around team sports and activities has been a tonic. It took me a long time to relax enough, within myself, to take part in group dances, yet when I am among a group of young people who are reveling in their musical surroundings ( except for thing like mosh pits or crowd surges), my body and soul are soaring. The delightful energy and perspectives of children are ever a treasure, even to just watch.

3. Family. From the time I was small, I have liked, as well as loved my parents, grandparents, and siblings. It has not always crystal clear to some, that this is the case, but in my core I stay true to my roots. From family, I have learned that there is always a solution to what life throws at me. Dad, with his emphasis on making responsible choices, and owning them and Mom, with her admonitions about keeping an eye out for opportunity and for loving who I am, are largely responsible for my even being here to this day and time.

2. Spirit guides- Those who have gone on, even those who I never met in the flesh, have looked out for me and constantly send messages. They have prompted me to act, in matters profound and mundane-and have consistently helped me set my path.

1. Faith- This is what ties everything together. All the foregoing items emanate from my faith in a Higher Power, Who I believe has shown us the way to building a unified planet and has been ever guiding Creation in that direction, from the very point in which it was renewed-so many eons ago. All the Spiritual Teachers the human race has ever known emanate from this One Source.

Think of Me As You Will

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November 3, 2021-

Think of me as you will. I will ever rise from my bed, no later than 7 a.m. The day will begin in earnest, with devotions and a health check.

Either work, or service of some kind, will follow. My presence is welcome in many places; in others, not so much. There are friends in whose homes I am welcome with open arms. Others, with whom I must negotiate a visit, are more cautious. They are no less loved.

Home Base is a paradise to me, albeit one whose surrounds are cluttered with the accoutrements of my workaholic neighbours. It is no less loved, for all the noise and clamour.

Think of me as you will. If this life plan keeps me in one place, that is its design. Should the spirit guides say “Go forth”, that is also its purpose.

My life is not yours, and vice versa. Should our paths be in tandem, you are always welcome at my side. If they become entangled, let us determine what is best, for both of us.

Dad told me, long ago, “What other people think of you is not your business. If their paths cross yours, each of you has the right to do what is best for yourself.”

Think of me as you will. Long may you live, love and prosper.

The Glass is Swept…

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September 27, 2021-

The quiet voice assured me, “See, your soreness is fading, your range of motion is fine. The car served you well; it is now being broken into re-usable parts. The glass is swept, the tires can be re-sold. The fluids have been drained and the battery is stored safely. Your life is going on, because it must. The bullet points of your mission shall be modified, and the manner in which they are carried out may require different media, but the overall mission is the same. Some friends are cooling in their attitudes towards you because you no longer serve their purposes. Indeed, you probably never did. Others, the ones you see now and then, will stand by you, and you, them, for all time. Be gentle with yourself, as you are with the blessed children. The glass is swept. The body is recovering. The road ahead is clear. ”

Things That Last

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April 24, 2021-

I have built friendships, over the past ten years. Those not founded on money, or any sort of desire, have lasted.

I have patronized several establishments and food providers over this decade. Those which honour me, as a single, older man, and base our transactions on a place of trust and integrity, have retained my patronage.

I have lived in the same dwelling for seven years. The landlord is old-school, “pay as you go”, knowing that I will honour my duty to remit my monthly rent on the first business day of the month and he takes care of anything that needs repair.

Faith and family have sustained me for seventy years. I know that neither is going to let me down. The Creator never will, nor will parents, siblings, spouse or son, whether they be in the flesh or in spirit.

These are things that last.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

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December 22, 2020-

Sir Arthur Helps offered this viewpoint, in 1868. It was an ironic statement, as two years before, Sir Arthur had all but lost his shirt in the Panic of 1866. Since then, the phrase has been tossed out, several times, by snarky commentators, both in support, and in condemnation, of the amassing of personal wealth.

My own idea of success has such an amassing of pecuniary fortune somewhere down on the list of what constitutes actual wealth. I have not yet seen a fabulously wealthy person exude happiness, based solely on the ability to attract coin. There are several more realistic criteria, by which to measure stature.

Friendships are probably the most obvious of these. While in my own life, money has come and gone, (though, at present, it is giving me a modest level of security), friends since childhood are still in my circle, and new people show up all the time.

A secure set of values is even more fundamental to a feeling of success. Secure does not mean rigid, which actually undermines security, by not taking into account the changes in circumstance. Being able to live honestly, while adapting to change, and growing from it, has led to my present homeostasis. It also has enabled a positive response to crises, when they rear their heads.

Baha’u’llah has given us leave to earn financial wealth, as we see fit, and has instructed us to put such wealth to good use, in resolving the ills of humanity and of the planet. Not everyone will amass millions, or billions, yet each can do something along the lines of sharing.

Money has been called “the lifeblood of civilization”. It is love, however, that is the lifeblood of humanity. Nothing succeeds, like the success of attracting and maintaining friendships, and living a life of integrity.

Reflections By A Small Pond

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June 24, 2019, Crossville, TN-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I have had a good long while, both in the company of my friends here and when alone, to ponder my relationships, my reactions to things that have come my way and my sense of how the course of civilization is moving.

I am in a steady state right mow, a bit tired, but still lucid.  I look at this pond, and see a solid ring of vegetation around it.  I see a goodly number of several species of birds.  That means the insects, seeds and nuts are prolific.  There was a Great Blue Heron that flew by the window, about an hour ago (It’s 8 a.m., CDT).  There don’t seem to be any deer around, this year, and only a few coyotes have been spotted.

These things tell me that the land is calling for quiet.  My friends can be quite vociferous, inside the house, but are calm and at one with the environment, when outside-other than running a lawnmower, once a week or so.  There are runoff issues that need to be addressed-by the wider community. Readers know my position on this:  I used no chemical sprays at my Phoenix and Prescott house and refrained from using them when I was maintaining the grounds at the apartment, as well.

I don’t throw noxious substances at my friendships, either. I feel it is best to go with the flow, almost as if I were water.  It is also a good idea to put oneself slightly behind others, in terms of meeting needs.  This has meant devoting more energy to friendships, which makes some people uncomfortable-“Why are you so concerned about ME?”  On the other hand, there are those whose interests in friendship are strictly financial assistance or 24/7 involvement. I feel for such people, but I haven’t that sort of energy, nor do I have unlimited resources.

I have said, recently, that I am single by choice, these past eight years.  That’s just where I am, emotionally, psychologically and aesthetically.  I won’t apologize for it. Just know that I am more able to do what my spirit guides tell me, in meditation and reflection, without taking on the day-to-day needs of one specific person, or another.

That said, this place could very easily, with the consent of the friends here, be my place of refuge.   I would do my share, and then some-but that’s all down the road a piece.  There is someone, not that far from here, who could easily be a person of interest to me, so to speak.  That would also be a few years hence.  My little family’s needs are also, as I keep saying, a major factor.

I have had some vivid and somewhat unsettling dreams of late, which I will describe in a few posts form now, as they have specific contexts.  Until then, the road will once again unfold, in a few hours.

NEXT:  Where Chattanooga’s Choo Choo Won’t Go

 

 

 

 

Obliqueness

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May 16, 2019-

Just some random thoughts, on a blustery but otherwise laid back day:

  1. I contacted my employer, and found there is one person doing the work of three.  Sound familiar?
  2. May is seeming more like March, around here.  Higher elevations in the Rockies may get snow, over the next few days.
  3. I would weigh in on Game of Thrones, but-a) I’m still watching Season 7; b) The outpouring of dissatisfaction is a perfect distraction from real-time events; c) The outcome is not subject to popular opinion.
  4.  No sooner did I wonder what on Earth I was doing here, than three different projects presented themselves.
  5. One of those projects involves an All-in-One Printer.  Guess what has gone kaput and needs replacing?
  6. I’ve said it a few times:  I count many different people, all ages, ethnicities, creeds, orientations and body types, as friends.  That stands, because it’s who I am.  If you are kind, considerate and honest, I am your friend.
  7. Romantic interest, though, is my private domain and no, I won’t “consider all the possibilities”.  Nor will I intrude on anyone else’s business, in that regard.  We are each entitled to our own preferences, and I am drawn, in that way, to some women, but not to others.  I guess that makes me neurotypical, in that respect.  I don’t think it makes me mean.
  8.   No offense is intended, in any of the above remarks.
  9. Life is sacred.  Consider the safety and well-being of others.  These two statements are not contradictory.
  10. The planet and its parts, including living parts, deserve to be honoured.  It’s possible to make a living and still be honourable.  Let’s figure this out, together.

Alpha and Omega

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January 1, 2019, Prescott-

It is bright, beautiful and 18 degrees outside, on this first morning, of the last year, of the second decade, of the Twenty-first Century since the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Life has not changed much, outwardly, from yesterday-other than that the storm has moved eastward.

Thus far, this decade has brought both great joy and intense pain.  The pain came first, and Penny spent 2010 in agony and decline, before being delivered from all suffering, in the early part of the following year.

I have since left my Phoenix home, gone through the recovery phase of Chapter 7, lived in, and sold, my in-laws’ Prescott home-at their behest and settled in this comfortable, one bedroom apartment, which will remain my residence until it is time to move on, at the point of my retirement from education, likely in December, 2020.

I have seen our son, Aram, blossom into full manhood, going full force up the enlisted ranks in the United States Navy, though he currently plans to return to civilian life at the end of this enlistment.  He’s a husband now, with he and his wife, Yoonhee, affirming their marital vows in a sacred setting, this coming March.  They have fine examples, of dedicated marriage, on both sides of the family.

I have said farewell to my parents-in-law, in 2014 and in 2018.  Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have gone on, also, though many remain.  I am also blessed that my mother is still keen of wit and able to live on her own, in the very home in which my siblings and I were raised.

I have always been a wanderer.  The first time I can remember going off on my own involved crossing a street unaided, which earned me a few strokes of a hairbrush, on the backside.  My subsequent sojourns have not been quite so problematic.  While some of my travels have left family members, and others, shaking their heads, nothing has befallen me that was not able to be rectified in fairly short order.  To be sure, even greater adventures are, God willing, in store.

The same is true of my friendships.  Since being on my own, I have found just what a fallacy “on one’s own” is.  Hundreds of people have come into my life.  The best of them have remained, even if some of them are only present electronically.  The worst have, thankfully, moved on.  All have taught me valuable lessons.  There are good friends across the North American continent, in Europe, India and Africa- and I would be overjoyed to visit with them, at least once.  For now, we can see one another here.

Finally, there is the question, “Where is home?”  I could choose the grandiose answer:  “Why, all the Earth is my home!”, and I would be telling the truth-as I feel relaxed, anywhere.  Practically speaking, Prescott is home, for now.  After this phase of my life comes to an end, “home” could be in the Pacific Northwest, in the Heartland, in southeast Alaska, on the East Coast or, for a time, on the road-with my permanent possessions largely in storage.  My little family, good friends and the needs of the wider community will all play a part in where I find myself.

For now, let’s enjoy the sunlight.

The Cusp

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November 27, 2018, Prescott-

As I look back on being 67, living my 68th year, there have been some delirious high points- The wedding gathering of my youngest niece and nephew-in-law, the marriage of my son and daughter-in-law, the deep, loving welcomes I received at some friends’ home in Mishawaka, IN; at Auberge Bishop, in Montreal; at the above-mentioned gathering, in Philadelphia; in my in-laws’ home, in Florida; at a friend’s house in Salisbury, NC;  at a family gathering of some friends, in Crossville, TN; at Convergence at Arcosanti.

These loving environments almost overwhelmed me, but they shouldn’t have.  I have been very well-treated, for many years now, by the vast majority of those closest to me.  I am not sure why the shadows, the relatively few dark episodes of the year now coming to a close, seem to loom so large.  In objective terms, they pale beside all the times I have been greeted by my dear friends, at regular events around our area.

My steadfast friends range from those I see daily, at work, to those I see 2-3 times a week, at faith events, to those who, for whatever reason, I rarely see or with whom I seldom speak.  Then, too, there are the thousand-plus fields of people who regularly read my posts, and who have showered so much love on me, some for nearly a decade.  There are those I have met, who have become friends for the long term and others who are nice enough, but whose inner pain has taken them out of my life, after just a few encounters.  I last saw one of those people, not two days ago.

As with any year, there were farewells:  My mother-in-law and her older sister; one of Penny’s maternal cousins; a dedicated staff member at a Baha’i Institute, northeast of here; a long-time friend in New Zealand and several friends and elders from my childhood, most prominently an upstreet neighbour, who was virtually one of my surrogate fathers.

There were also hellos, some fleeting- like the woman who got me to put Penny’s and my wedding bands on my right ring finger and another woman who got me to attend a Game Night at a local coffee house. Neither were very long in my life. There are also the hoop dancers of Phoenix and the crews at Ms. Natural’s, Cuppers and Rustic Pie, here in town. These friendships are more likely to last.

The year brought me to California, in late winter, and from Nevada -to Quebec -to Florida and back to Arizona.  I camped in both rain and clear sky, spent a night in a private condominium,   stayed in four hostels, a business hotel, seven motels, three comfortable homes and slept one night in my car.

It has been a year of risks and rewards, more so than some years. It has prepared me for more.

Just Because…

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July 23, 2108, Prescott-

Of course, my accounts of my travels will continue, later today.  My mind was roiling, earlier this morning, with a feeling that someone was silently accusing me of prejudice, for not settling into another relationship, for not ending my widowhood.  Penny appeared to me afterward, in my mind’s eye, and told me:

“You love, intensely.

Just because you have no romantic feelings for anyone in your present Baha’i community does not make you callous, unfeeling, prejudiced.

You are there for each person, helping each as needed.

That does not require you to fit into a niche.

You love, intensely

Just because you have a strong friendship with a woman who is of entirely different mindset, in terms of Faith, does not mean you are disloyal to Baha’u’llah.

Conversely, as I’ve told you before, you and she are steadfast friends, no more, no less. You would gladly see her find someone who will cherish her, forever.

You love, intensely.

You see your younger co-workers as if they were your own daughters.  Their struggles are your own and you help them where they need help, taking nothing from their dignity.

You love, intensely.

Each day, whether on the road or at what you call Home Base, the needs, large and small, of women, men and children who cross your path have as much urgency as your own.

Just because some are, occasionally, put off by what they see as your shortcomings or errors, does not mean you are unworthy of respect.  They have their own burdens.

Carry on, my love.  As time continues, your true destiny will keep on unfolding.  You have miles to go.”

With that, my angst subsided.