Every Stone, A Different Shape


September 9, 2021- The little boy, resting his head on his father’s shoulder as the family came through the door of Wildflower Bakery, looked intensely at me while I held the door for them. He grinned at me, across the room, until his family’s breakfast came-then the toddler had a very healthy appetite for scrambled eggs. It would not be presumptuous to conclude that he had a certain level of appreciation for that small act of courtesy. Small children, and infants-even fetuses, can pick up on sounds, gentle touches and, once born, facial expressions.

After my dental cleaning, the itinerary led to a visit to Penny’s grave, where I noted that a cent coin had been laid on it. Casting about, I noted that all other gravestones, at least for three rows, also had at least one penny laying on them. Some had several coins, but no matter. It was someone’s gesture of kindness.

Next was lunch at Local Jonny’s, one of my two favourites in Cave Creek-and my most likely stop for a light lunch, on the way back from a Phoenix errand. The ladies were gracious and attentive, as ever, with everyone getting prompt and considerate service. It was too hot, even for misters, on the side patio so I stayed indoors. A young woman and her daughter, who looked to be about five, took the table to my left. There was alternately a tension and camaraderie between the two, with sternness followed by happily sharing photos. Confusion is sometimes the price we pay for seeking comfort from those who want to both please their loved ones and yet exert a level of independence.

Every atom, grain of sand, snowflake, stone, oak leaf, ant, tree sloth, elephant and human being is different from every other among their kind. It has been said that a heart-shaped rock is a special act of God, as is a person who acts angelic. In reality, the Creator does no mix and match. We are, each and all, beloved at the time of our conceptions, from the onset of our existence. Each is unique, and is thus, for reasons known only to the Supreme Being.

So it was, that I encountered and drew the interest of two very different children, and a host of varied adults, in the course of what was a routine day. I see this partly as the heightening of my own awareness and partly as the intensifying energy of a planet-wide human bond. The days of being alone in a crowd are finished.

Walking Gently


March 24, 2021- This morning, I introduced a hiking buddy to Thumb Butte, one of Prescott’s majestic surrounding promontories. I chose the route that allowed a gentler ascent, thus giving her a good first experience on the butte, which also offers a steep climb on its other main route.

In any encounter with other people, it is most often the best course of action for the individual to take a gentle tone. Of course, there are times when a firm “NO!” is, in the long run, the true gentleness. The key is always to attend, carefully, to the person or to the group. Intuition is far more important to me now than it ever was in times past. Maybe the times are tougher, but I doubt it.

I simply find that, day to day, my path and that of any given person who crosses it are intertwined, in ways that never occurred to me, even a dozen years ago. I find that a lot of the cues I missed, when clouded by both preoccupation with Penny’s state of being and my own baggage, are front and center now. If those situations that were so problematic, seven, eight, ten years ago, presented themselves again, at least I would know to tread a gentler path-both with myself and those I am sure that were hurt.

Coming out of the pandemic, which I feel we are now, I sense myself staying more in tune with those around me. The gentle path feels the better, stronger way.

The Little Truths


March 12, 2021- In the course of becoming a better person, there is an ongoing process of uncovering, remembering small incidents and minor actions that form patterns over time. It is in the burial of those details, that growth becomes stunted, difficult- if not impossible. It is in their acknowledgement, that incremental changes can take place and growth suddenly takes off.

I have experienced both, in this fairly long life. It took a lot of introspection, and even more forgiveness, of both myself and others, to reach a relatively strong level of equilibrium, enhanced intuition and ability to recognize who is truly in my corner-and who is best cut out of my life.

Fortunately, no family members are in the last category. There are some, who I trusted- in some cases for years, who are in my rear view mirror. There are others, a few of whom are members of my Faith, who are more or less in a state of suspended animation-so as to let me have time and space to work through those parts of myself that have been triggered by their mannerisms, jabs and ability to find my weak spots.

I am reminded of this aspect of my persona, by certain events of the past week, especially last weekend. Thus, I know what I must continue to do, to strengthen myself and shed even more of those aspects of myself that bring about limitations-while keeping a distance from those who would drag me down.

Little truths can be positive, shiny and growth-enhancing. It is better to find, and promulgate them, than to wallow in their opposites.

Small Audience Auditions


November 23, 2020-

As near-milestones fall, I look for the special bounty that comes with a day, regardless of what lies ahead. Today, my last teaching assignment as a sixty-something was with a couple of sonnet-writing classes and three levels of drama class.

I am not much at writing sonnets, so thankfully, the students were all well along. in their own writing. The Beginning Drama class was studying silhouettes, throughout history, so we had a fine discussion on the appearance of women, and men, through the ages. Most said they are glad to have not been around when full corsets were in vogue. One objected to the very idea of what he called “grotesque exaggeration” of female body parts-such as the Victorian-era depiction of the buttocks, all by way of hyper-couture. I share his disdain; women are given to a variety of types of beauty. Putting one’s body through torture, in order to meet someone else’s expectations, is never an even trade. Ladies, you are just fine, the way you are.

The next class, consisting of four people, saw each student present a particular sonnet that had been individually assigned. I have never assessed a dramatic presentation before, but using a clear rubric, the students could not tell that I was a novice. Much depends on intuition and presence. There was some embarassment, on their part, at auditioning to a small audience, yet one pulled self together nicely, infusing a perfect blend of emotion and enunciation. Even reading off a page, a gifted actor can stir deep feelings.

Lastly, the set-builders came in, and showed finesse with carpentry and prop painting. Their work was simple, yet wondrous. I see no “trade deficit”, in the sense of young people taking to crafts and the building professions, despite anecdotes of older contractors bemoaning the lack of ambition among the rising generations.

I value in-person education, and getting in there and working WITH the kids seems to build their self-confidence and drive, more than just reading instructions aloud, and retreating to the isolation of a desk-or an office.

The Z’s, the Alphas and Evolution


April 16, 2019-

Yesterday was a bear, for many.  The damage to Notre Dame Cathedral (which I have only seen from outside) and to Al Aqsa Mosque (in which I had the honour of praying with the Imam, in 1982) was serious, but in both cases, not irreparable.

For me, it was a productive day- visiting the new Cuppers Coffee House location, attending a Baha’i study circle and getting in another exercise session were pluses.  A new online acquaintance asked me what I was doing for the day, and my response was “Tending to my personal affairs”, which at the time was weighing on me and not what I wanted to detail, to a relative stranger.  Turns out, the whole process took less than ten minutes, and all’s as well as it can be, for the time being.

I was brought further out of my shyness and awkwardness, at Cuppers, when several young people chose to sit down on either side of me.  Something refreshing about Millennials, and more so about Gen Z people, is their overall forthrightness.  Growing up always questioning my worth as a human being was a real pain.  The younger generations see no reason why anyone should do that, though I’m sure they have their moments of insecurity. Nonetheless, Gen Z’s mantra, “I got you”, obviating any lengthy explanation of one’s feelings or opinions, is actually a treasure.

I see intuition becoming a hard-wired thing.  Yesterday, there was a post about five teenagers who helped an elderly man get up from the sidewalk, where he’d fallen, walking home with him and cleaning his wounds.  Goodness prevails here, and is more common than its opposite.  The media has a label ready for those born since 2010:  Generation Alpha.  I haven’t had much contact with younger kids lately, but judging from the intuition levels and cooperative spirit of my grandnieces and nephews, and online friends’ children, I would say the label, as contrived as it sounds, is actually spot on.  They, with their immediate elders, will be the ones working to reverse a host of problems that foolishness and greed have bestowed on the human race.  All this makes New York’s recently enacted “nonmedical abortionist” law that much more ludicrous, besides being downright menacing.  The world needs its rising generations, even those who have some physical or mental flaws.

So, on we go, and I feel more confidence than at this time last week.

Burning the Mask of Self-Disdain


October 14, 2018, Prescott-

I have revealed much of myself, recently, to a person who, to the best of my intuition, wishes the best for me, albeit through instilling a very high standard of discipline in our interactions.  What this soul doesn’t know is that, for much of my life, the very same words, angry reactions to some deeply ingrained behaviours (which I, admittedly, need to, and have a specific plan to, root out) and putdowns which I hear now, have been used by far less well-meaning people, earlier in my life.

What I have been doing, and what I need to accelerate doing now, is to destroy the self-loathing that also was deeply ingrained on me, by the words and actions of certain people in my youth, and throughout my career in education.

Everyone has their share of bullies, and many turn around and bully others. “Hurting people hurt people”.  It gets us nowhere.  So, part of burning my mask of self-loathing will involve keeping a distance from those who view me as either a threat to their well-being (out of common courtesy) or as beneath their contempt (out of self-preservation). I have learned, through the period of caretaking for Penny and in the years since, that I am a far better person than ANY of my detractors, including those who have recently come into my life, can remotely imagine.  While I will strive to make specific changes in my living space, according to the better of the messages I have been getting, I will not abase myself again, ever.  Life and love go on.

NEXT:  The Mask of Overactivity


The Road to 65, Mile 360: In-Gatherings


November 23, 2015, Chino Valley-  There are all manner of get-togethers this time of year, and this little town will have its share, including one that I will visit only briefly, on Dec. 5, before I head down to Tucson, for another brief visit.

Time is tight, in the Christmas season, as both celebrations and the business of the day must get their fair share of one’s attention.  Then, there are online and telephone “meetings”, to which I devote myself for 15,30 or 60 minutes, based largely on my intuition, as to the other party’s state of mind.

From time to time, I come back into contact with people I knew as a child and teen.  Old friends from Xanga and long-lost relatives also surface, when least expected.  Each of them has done me some good, just by having been in my life, at some point.  It is interesting to see how each of them are doing, as well.

I spent about thirty minutes, on Saturday, messaging a childhood neighbour, back and forth.  He has had his share of hard times, and it sounded like life could be better for him, even now.  This all made me feel far more fortunate, despite the travails of 2003-11. If I ever get to his neck of the woods, I will certainly call on him, and he’s always welcome here.  Heck, you all are- just not all at once. 🙂

The Road to 65: Mile Two- and The Books That Guide


November 30, 2014, Prescott- This was a quieter day than I expected.  The invited house-guest never called, or showed up, despite my TM and follow-up phone call.  It was a good day anyway, though.  I had breakfast with fellow American Legionnaires, courtesy of our Riders (veterans who ride motorcycles and do a wealth of charitable work on behalf of other veterans).  There has been plenty of time today for me to indulge in rest, and in healing foods and beverages, along with my essential oils.

An online friend noted, with regard to my post from yesterday, that my life couldn’t possibly be that organized.  He’s right- plans and goals are worth making, but none of us should be overwrought if the plans and goals don’t all get met.  After all, last year, eastern Canada was on my planned itinerary.  Life happened, and the area  will be a goal for another year.  The bottom line is always “God willing”.

I read fewer books this year than previously- a fair amount of attention was spent on Lonely Planet Guidebooks:  Belgium & Luxembourg; France; Germany.  Then there was The Discovery of France:  An Historical Geography, by Graham Robb.  In anticipation of next summer’s activity, I purchased and read sections of Lonely Planet Guides to  Alaska and to Canada. Looking further still, at 2016, brought me to delve into Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galeano.  It’s an examination of the abuse of that part of our world by both colonizing nations and by those who came along after independence was achieved.  I read the biography of Geronimo, by Angie Debo, Awakening Intuition, by Mona Lisa Schulz and Survivors, a novel of a possible dystopia, by James, Wilson Rawles (comma inserted by Mr. Rawles).  This last is intriguing, as it offers hints as to how one survives in a time of total economic and transportational calamity.  I don’t put much stock in tea-leaf reading, when it comes to catastrophe.  We do need to have at least two game plans, in case it does come to pass.  Dwelling on the worst case scenario, though, tales away from living intelligently.

As for the twelve months I have just started, I will finish reading Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen.  Then, it’ll be time to dive into: The Science of Skinny, by Dee McCaffrey; The Biology of Belief, by Bruce H. Lipton; Free Radicals:  The Secret Anarchy of Science, by Michael Brooks; The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; City Repair’s Placemaking GuidebookEcovillages, by Karen T. Littfin.  These will take me through summer. In the Fall, Gandhi, An AutobiographyJohn Adams, by David McCulloughand Killing Kennedy, by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard will occupy my quiet hours.

Yes, it’s true that everything, or just a small something, could serve to keep my goals unrealized.  Still, working towards something discourages indolence, as Benjamin Franklin might have said.