It So Happens

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October 31, 2021-

Tonight was one of the mildest, and nicest Hallowe’en nights in quite some time. I set out a table with candy in a bowl, and a lit Jack-o’-lantern, in front of Home Base, and ten people took from the bowl. I was also helping out at the American Legion post’s treat distribution, which saw about 60 people and 3 service dogs come through. This is the kind of community we have, where a neighbour watching through a window can monitor treats set outside, while the host is able to offer greater services, in a different location.

There is also the matter of sixty people, lined up on either side of the entrance to our major hospital, engaging in protests against any vaccine mandate. They drew the Far Right “Let’s go, Brandon” crowd, which is distracting from the basic message of letting people decide for themselves, as to their health regimen. I have mixed feelings about the vaccine mandate. I was allowed to decide for myself, and made the informed decision to take Moderna’s vaccine, because I was working around children, in fairly close quarters. I do believe others should have the same latitude, while acknowledging that not everyone takes the time to learn for themselves about this very complex matter. The conservatives are not the only antagonists here. Shaming people, rather than educating them, may be an understandable reaction of frustrated officials-but it is not working and not helping. The only effective tool, at the disposal of those trying to bring the pandemic to heel, is education. That takes time, especially when so much misinformation and distraction is being thrown out by those whose sole intent is to divide and rule.

Then, there is the poison bait of “Let’s blame parents”, also originally tossed out to the frustrated officials, by those same controlling forces-who then turn around and present themselves as advocates for the parents. Parents are partners, not adversaries, of educators. They are not terrorists, even when they lose their tempers. Parenting is the greatest influence on a child’s life. Education is the second greatest.

There is the red herring of “Critical Race Theory”, which is not even a real thing, anymore. I was present when it was being bandied about, in the universities of the 1970s. I have heard threads of it being discussed, in incoherent and disconnected ways, as part of the general effort to tell history in all its messy completeness. That overall mission is laudable-and long overdue. “Old times there are not forgotten”, nor should they be-but they need to be understood in their true light: An economically expedient and morally putrid system, that bankrupted the souls of the ruling class in the South, their economic partners in the North, and all their immediate underlings, as well as terrorizing and debilitating the enslaved. Listen, however, to the demagogues, and you would think that CRT is ubiquitous in middle schools and high schools. I work in some of those schools, talk to others who work in others of those schools and IT IS NOT.

It so happens that, when people at the ground level talk with one another and listen with both ears, they figure out that the demagogues are duping them. They figure out that Demagogue A is more interested in getting rid of Demagogue B, and vice versa, than in really solving problems-which in many cases is akin to making sausage. Thus, the obfuscation, the name-calling, the blamecasting that has come to characterize politics, worldwide. Thus, does it fall to us to start making informed decisions, for (and with) our children, for our communities, for our country and for our planet. We, on the ground, whether “liberal”, “conservative” or “progressive” have more in common than we have different. We need to remind those engaged in the art of distract and rule of that basic fact.

I am no fan of J.P. Morgan, but his tactic of locking discordant people in a room, until they found a common purpose, merits investigation. I’d like to see that done with the demagogues.

Rain, Fading Colours and Certitude

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October 30, 2021- Rain put a slight damper on the celebration of Hallowe’en Eve, in Salem. The last day, or two, of October constitutes a prime commercial windfall for the Witch City. Indeed, October as a whole has emerged as Salem’s prime tourism season. The confluence is that of the city’s being the site of several, but not all, of the trials of people (mostly women and girls) with the American observance of All Hallows Eve-itself a metamorphosis of the early Christian (ca. 4th Century A.D.) honouring of departed saints, and family members of the faithful, for the three days October 31-November 2. British Celts began the custom of disguising oneself as a departed person, and going house to house for small food items. This custom came to North America, with the mass immigration of Irish, Scottish and Welsh people, from the 17th Century onward. It gradually evolved into today’s secular practices of widely varying costume play and the disbursing of treats. Should the rain continue, tomorrow evening, in Salem and environs, it will diminish, but not cancel, the celebration. Having grown up in a town not too far from Salem, I can predict many ghouls, goblins, witches, even 10-foot-tall dinosaurs and skeletons will be afoot-even some in rain gear.

Some scenes from Salem were shared by cellphone, as Hiking Buddy and I drove from Prescott, through Jerome, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, to the overlook at that canyon’s North Rim. The idea was for HB to be able to see at least some of the remaining fall foliage-a bit of which was still bright, despite being still in recovery from an injury. That mission was accomplished, and was a good use of a day which was quite open-ended.

The day started with my consideration, again, of the balance between serving this community and following insights from my spirit guides. It is, in my condition of certitude, a question of balance. There are those whose mantra is: “Bloom where you’re planted!” There is also the mantra of “Follow your own path!” The truth, for me, means following a path that incorporates both time spent in one place, serving those living here, and extending one’s network to people and places further afield. My path to certitude thus does not subscribe to the dictates of even the most well-meaning of those around me. Rather, it derives from intense reflection and meditation.

Even the most open-ended day can bring sunshine into the lives of others.

The Eve’s Eve

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October 31, 2020-

Some nights bring almost an altered state of consciousness, even when one has not indulged in mind-altering substances. Last night was one of those nights.

Hallowe’en (All Hallows Eve) is one of those evenings which has grown so much in popularity, that it has its own Eve-especially when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. So, yesterday featured many people in workplaces, in costume.

After a quotidian day of paying rent and bills, it was time to head over the mountain, to Synergy, where the Friday musical gathering, these days, typically offers a more balanced energy than the testosterone fests of Saturday night. It was anything but disappointing.

The Real– At first, it was a quiet affair, with a few of us musing about the need for both social companionship and for space to recover from a dissolved relationship, as one of my young friends is experiencing now.

The venerable drummer came in first, almost as a herald. We exchanged thoughts about the general atmosphere of the community. He allowed as how he missed the presence of children, in the transitory neighbourhood, in which he lives.

The flood tide of people came in, in wavelets of 3 or 4, first sitting and engaging in several conversations, whilst sipping their drinks and nibbling artisan chocolate or cookies. The music began in the back, and I stood tapping on the door sill, for want of another instrument. When the owner of a cajon drum left it and went away for a while, I borrowed it and joined in accompaniment to two guitar players and a flautist. Upon her return, and subsequent departure with the cajon, I used a table top for a while. This let me know that I need to get a drum of my own-preferably before my next visit to Synergy.

Going into the front room, I sat in a swivel chair, and fell into a meditative state, whilst still tapping in unison with the rising crescendo of a group that had gathered in the area outside the shop. So much joyful noise, being made by loving beings, and I have not felt this level of positive energy in a large group, since the Convergence at Arcosanti, in September, 2018.

I left, around 11 p.m., as an hour’s drive homeward remained. One of these times, I will spend the night in a small motel not far from Synergy, and thus be part of the gathering until it is finished. The drive home was serene and uneventful, but for a brief stop by a police officer who was doing sobriety checks.

The Dream– Sedona, Bisbee and Boulder, Colorado mashed up, as I was sitting in my car at a curb. A man and his little daughter got in the back seat, thinking I was an Uber driver. They asked me to take them down an alley. When I stopped to wait for another vehicle that was backing up, I turned around and there was another man sitting by himself in the back seat. I asked what had happened to the other man and little girl. He said, “They got out to go to the grocery store. Could you take me to my neighbourhood?”

This was getting interesting, and did not leave me disconcerted. For some reason, though, the road was closed, after a few minutes. I got out and started walking, with the man beside me. Three pit bulls appeared, with one of them leashed, I took the leash and walked the animal, while the other two were alternately licking my hands and playfully tussling with one another. The two unleashed dogs spotted a cart, which had several caged parrots. They headed towards the cart, but I called out to them, while Passenger # 2 just stood, staring blankly into space. The leashed dog followed my command to stay away from the cart, and just before one of the others got to one of the parrots, a window opened, from a room overlooking the street. A small boy called to the parrots, startling the pit bulls. A light came on, the front door opened, and a robust man came out, speaking firmly to the dogs, in Spanish, and holding a hose, from which he shot water towards them.

I received a call from Uber, saying a small amount had been paid them electronically. I explained that I was not an Uber driver, and had no idea which of the two parties who sat in my car would have made that payment. By then, the stoner had disappeared, but along came the first man and his daughter, apologizing for their abrupt disappearance, while he asked for his $40 back. When we walked back to my car, the owner of the three pit bulls came and apologetically took his animals back. I looked in my cup holder and there was $40, along with a credit card receipt, for $14.78. The dream ended, then and there.

It must have been the chocolate beverage that I had at Synergy. Please, though, if you have pit bulls, keep them away from othe rpeople’s parrots.