Gratitude Week, Day 7: The Finest Fruits

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November 24, 2018, Prescott-

I have decided to end this week of gratitude, by looking back at the ten best choices I ever made.  I am grateful to the Universe for having placed these in front of me and I have a measure of self-gratitude for having made them.

10,  Serving in the Army– At 18, I had little to show for my life. There was no discipline, of which to speak and my world consisted of drooling over girls and imbibing too much alcohol, too fast.  Other-imposed discipline gave me a regimen, which I could add to the work ethic that my parents instilled in each of us and it set me on  a course of self-reliance, which I still need and use.

9.  Studying Psychology- It didn’t make me wealthy and barely got me a job, but knowing something of what makes the human mind tick has given me insight into myself and has made me more understanding of others.

8. Living on the Navajo Nation- I have a strong genetic memory of the Indigenous. I am not much, in terms of blood quantum, but my nature fairly burns with the feeling that I belong in the woodlands; that I am a gatherer and a sharer; that I am one with the Universe. Being on the same page, day to day, with Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi people reinforced that unity.

7. Blogging-   Writing is a skill that three of my four high school English teachers saw as a talent that I needed to sharpen.  They gave me the tools to keep on sharpening that talent.  College brought it up another notch.  As a caretaker, and then as a widower, far from extended family, blogging gave me an outlet, one step up from journaling  (which I also still do) and a wider appreciative audience.

6, Returning to work, full time- In 2016, having been a substitute teacher, with a couple of other jobs, whilst being Penny’s caretaker, I found a niche at Prescott High School.  My place there was, more or less, secure and I was urged to return full-time, for the years leading up to my retirement from education.  That work has been fulfilling, and will remain so until I reach 70, two years from now.

5.  Working as a counselor- As a school counselor, I was able to impact thousands of lives, over the span of eleven years, between Tuba City and Keams Canyon/Jeddito, and some of those lives were saved.  I am haunted by  a few lives that weren’t and by those I couldn’t reach.  The majority, though, learned life skills and resilience, and knew that someone had their backs.

4. Settling in Prescott- The job aside, moving here after Penny’s passing was a lifesaver.  I had the anchor of a house, for the time I needed it, and of a Faith Community with whom I was already familiar and who were not intimate with Penny’s suffering.  That last was important.  I could not have the constant reminders of all that we had endured together.  Since then, I have made many new friends and branched out in several directions-all healthy.

3. Widespread travel-Besides going back and forth from Arizona to the East Coast, for family visits, my wanderlust has taken me to western Europe, Hawai’i, the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska.  I took in a small swath of eastern Canada, last summer and am likely to cross our northern neighbour again, in the summer of 2020.  California, Nevada and Colorado have also seen a lot of me, these past seven years, as have the South and Midwest.  This is an essential part of who I am.

2.  Getting married- I have always been crazy about girls and women.  There isn’t much about the opposite gender that I don’t like, though I am proud to be male.    Self-dislike got in the way, though, when I found myself drawn to one young lady after another.  Penny didn’t fall for any of that, and we built a solid foundation, by which both of us were able to tame most of our demons and raise a fine young man, who has taken his full place in the world.

1. Recognizing Baha’u’llah- I received a solid spiritual foundation, having been raised in the Roman Catholic faith. As I matured, though, the rituals and practices began to feel automatic to me, and I have always known that there is a continuity to Divine Revelation, superseding any one of the faiths or denominations that are commonplace.  In 1972, I heard of Baha’u’llah, and the Baha’i Faith, for the first time.  Nine years later, I embraced Baha’i as my own.  I have found its precepts teach everything in which I already believe, and the teachings regarding health are exactly what I needed, to tame the demon of alcohol dependence.  Far beyond those, however, are the vision of planetary and human unity-dispelling the darknesses of racism, nationalism and excessive materialism.

I am sure I will have other choices to make, in the coming days, months, and years.  Perhaps a life-changer will be among them, as well.

The Moon Is Green

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March 16, 2016, Prescott- I’ve had an affection for things Celtic, since long before things Celtic became trendy.  My half-English mother forbade the playing of Irish music in the house, but she’s come around to at least allow its play, on the music channels of her cable service.

My own affection for such is part of a lifelong connection with those who are close to the soil.  So, I feel bonds with the indigenous- not only my Penobscot ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s line, but all Native Americans, Inuits, Siberians, Hawaiians, Australian aboriginals and those whom I called, in my childhood ignorance, “the natives” (tribal Africans).

I associate Celts, ancient Teutons, Slavs and the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe with the land, also.  It seems they ravaged one another, in wave after wave, and usually just as the one group was settling into sedentary life, there came the next horde.

That’s been the way of humanity, since we headed up, out of Africa, and wherever else we may have mastered the art of upright mobility, and spread across the continents.  We have so often looked to the other’s yard, for prosperity- or at least for a change of scene. Indigenous people had these conflicts, too, though when the Europeans came to these shores, with visions of commerce and gain, the American peoples were in the process of establishing a peaceful network of trade routes, from southeast Alaska and the taiga of Canada, to Tierra del Fuego, and so many points in between.  It is highly likely that there was trading between the Aleuts and the people of Japan; between the Greenland Inuit and the peoples of Scotland and Norway (even before Iceland was settled); and, possibly, between the seafaring people of what is now northeast Brazil and the kingdoms of western Africa.   Then, too, nobody could hold a candle to the masters of the ocean:  Those who went east, from the Malay Peninsula, and became the Micronesians and Polynesians, or west, and became the Malagasy.

We face, possibly in my lifetime, if not in my son’s, a decision about the proper use of the resources on our planet’s Moon, then those of at least the near planets of our solar system.  Green- the colour of many of our wardrobes, tomorrow, will continue to have different connotations to different people.  Mean green, or gentle green?  Commerce, at any cost, or careful stewardship?  It seems this has gone on, since Croesus minted his first coins, or even since the nations that pre-dated the Great Flood, if one believes in such things.

Where are you, in this debate?  (My Xangan friends, in particular, please know that I don’t take umbrage at contrary opinions, even if I get a little spirited once in a while.)  Express yourselves, and Erin Go Bragh!