Contraction and Expansion

2

June 22, 2021, Lake Havasu City- In the Spring of 2000, a group of senior citizens, residents of a small enclave on the south side of Salome, AZ, converged on a meeting of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. They wanted to see an ordinance enacted, which would curb the behaviour of the town’s younger residents. Among these seniors was a former resident of San Francisco, whose complaint was with young people who were raising livestock, within town limits. He began, and ended, with “Back in San Francisco, this would never be allowed!” The chair of the Board of Supervisors, in rural La Paz County, cut the man off, merely thanking him for his perspective. The seniors with more universal concerns, about partying and noise, got a fuller hearing.

I am in this city of retirees and service providers to visit for a bit with some friends who have felt isolated for quite some time-and not just because of COVID19. Lake Havasu is at least an hour, in any direction, from any city of comparable, or larger, size: Bullhead City lies an hour to the north; Kingman, the same, to the northeast; Various California retirement havens are an hour away, to the west, and Parker, the seat of La Paz County, is about an hour to the south.

Into the isolation of the Colorado River Valley, in western Arizona, are coming sizable numbers of those leaving California. As is the case elsewhere, people with cash in hand are buying up houses, and vacant lots, “by the boatload”, as it were. Snap-up culture, a peculiarly American phenomenon, sparked initially by fear and loathing of one’s lot-and sustained, later on, by arrogance and greed, is generating a sizable migration out of the Golden State (as well as New York and Chicago)-sometimes pulling the rug out from under people of more modest means, who have come within an inch of securing a home. When this happens here in the U.S., it fosters some grumbling and temporary ill will towards the migrants. When it happens in other countries, the migrants, or second-home purchasers may face reactions from locals that are far less genteel.

I see this from two sides: Mankind has always been on the move. Large populations initially moved north, east and probably west from Africa, very early on. Millennia later, there began several large migrations, in all directions, from the Altai, the Gobi and the steppes of what is now, Kazakhstan, sending Avars, Huns, Mongols, Turks to Europe and southwest Asia; many of who are now known as Indigenous Americans headed, out of the same region, to North America, and thence to its southern neighbour. Northwestward, to the European Arctic region, went those now known as the Sami-formerly the Lapps. What US President James Knox Polk called “Manifest Destiny” has been in our genetic memory for a good long time.

On the other hand, with few exceptions since the original peopling of this planet, there have always been “locals” there to either greet the newcomers, or to resist them. Which is which depends largely on the need, or lack thereof, for new blood to revitalize a community AND on the attitudes of the newcomers. People who charge into a new setting, buy up the property, propagate the worst of what they claim to have left behind, and push the locals around, should not be surprised at the glares and sidelong glances they get from their new neighbours, as these mutter among themselves. Those who, on the other hand, settle gently into their adopted community, with a humble posture of learning, will over time be adopted as bona fide residents. There are plenty of both sorts, among the current groups of migrants, as there have been in such groups, throughout history.

I wish the better angels of their natures to be in the vanguard.

Around Hometown: Day 5

4

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

Staying My Course

6

April 19, 2020-

Sitting in my comfortable abode, I am pondering the various reactions to both COVID-19 and to the policies that have arisen in its wake.  I base my own responses, to the cacophany of  ideas, pleas and outright demands that people are making, of one another and of the powers that be, on my inner voice and on the messages from my spirit guides.

1.  Isolate, or sally forth-  Many say:  Stay put, you’re old and at risk!  Others say:  Don’t let the “guvmint” tell you what to do.  Get out and enjoy life!!   Me:  I have lots to do around Home Base, for now.  I can get out, just a bit, support restaurant friends and the Farmers’  Market, with take out orders, wash my clothes and take a nature walk, now and then.  I will hang close to home, until at least June 1.

2.  Get tested, or lie low-   Mainstream health activists say:  Get tested!  Some add:  What’s so terrible about getting microchipped?  Others say:  Don’t trust Big Pharma-or the Gates Foundation!! Diet and exercise will suffice.  Me:  I will get tested, if the public health experts mandate testing for the whole populace.  I would only get vaccinated IF there was a guarantee that no human body parts were used in the serum, not to mention any heavy metals (Mercury, lead, etc.) .  I will never agree to be Microchipped.  I do have a predominately organic diet, free of GMOs and use only natural supplements, derived from therapeutic grade essential oils.

3.  Open society back up, or extend restrictions-  We basically see that ultraconservatives and people of colour are in rare agreement, in demanding that society open back up, immediately.  Watching white supremacists and Native American activists say the same thing is quite fascinating.  The Other Side says everything from:  “Give this two or three more months” to “Whatever we do, let’s not open schools back up until the vaccine is ready-even if it’s August, 2021.  In fact, let’s keep everything shut down until that day comes.”  This scenario-partly pragmatic, but mostly fear-based, is wishful thinking, and would probably require martial law  in order to be effected.  Me: I go with 1-2 more months, with society gradually opening up, in the meantime.  Schools ought to carefully re-open- one month late, in places, in September, of THIS year.

These are my humble responses, or additions, to the cacophany.

 

 

High and Low Alike

0

March 12, 2020-

Somewhere, a president feels a fever coming.

Two hundred miles to the north,

a soybean farmer lies in bed,

isolated from all save his loving wife.

Far to the north, another country’s

First Lady is quarantined.

Her Prime Minister-husband

is in self-isolation.

A fisherman, in a village,

well to the east,

won’t be casting his net,

for at least a month.

The trader, who was hoping

to make a killing in smuggling

parrots from Brazil,

has just been told “No go”.

The area from which he was heading

is in a Red Zone.

There will be no plane flights,

until further notice.

The parrots can sing

in freedom,

for now.

Cost and Effect

2

February 25, 2020-

It is evident that, the more people become accustomed to finery, wealth and relative comfort, the harder it is for many to accept when misfortune hits.  We in the “developed” nations are now being asked to sacrifice a fair amount of our wealth, and possibly some of our comfort, as several countries,  of both advanced and aspiring economies, deal with possibly the worst epidemic of disease since the Influenza of 1918-19.  This is no random panic over who Tweeted what about whom.  This is a phenomenon that is closing factories and schools, and keeping people isolated, in the affected areas.

There is a cost to any progress, to any advance, in any given realm, whether material or spiritual.  This is the latest assessment made on a civilization that has experienced a goodly amount of growth, in the past ten years, but especially in the most recent three.

Yet after the cost is paid, there is a recovery. There will be growth and prosperity again.  The world recovered from the Spanish Influenza, though there was an over-exuberance, coupled with unequal treatment of nations that had been vanquished in World War I, that largely contributed to the Great Depression.  It is well that safeguards implemented, upon the recovery from that Depression, will serve to both temper any rush to exuberance, following the end of the current pandemic and to mitigate any long-term economic ill effects of the phenomenon.  Add to this, the very fresh memory of the economic crisis of 2008-10, and it is likely that many have either set aside a sum of money they could afford to lose, temporarily,  to a Bear Market or have established a network, on which people may tide one another over, in times of sacrifice.

So, we will learn, and re-learn, our true priorities;  refresh our consciences about what truly matters, in a well-lived life.  We will survive and thrive.

 

Glimmering

10

November 9, 2018, Prescott-

I woke in  darkness,

both physical and emotional,

wondering what to do,

with a feeling of isolation.

“Well, self”, I have to say,

“you made the choice to live

far from birth family

and remain far from

family- by- marriage.”

As the daylight glimmers,

and my prayers have been said,

I feel my heart is with

family in Florida,

in Korea,

and those clustered

in Massachusetts,

in Pennsylvania

and in Georgia.

We are scattered to the winds,

yet there is still not  a day,

without some sort of connection.

You are always in my heart.

The Road to 65, Mile 67: Deferred Attention

7

February 3, 2015, Prescott- Television stayed off today.  I did not go to morning prayers, nor did I even get out of bed until 10 AM.  Of course, getting home at 3:30 AM had everything to do with that.  My respite at home will be brief.  Some here in Prescott will wonder, again, why on Earth I even bother coming back here.  There were three key elements at play:  I took part in the commemoration of the deaths of four Navy Chaplains, in the sinking of the USS Dorchester, off the coast of Greenland,on February 3, 1943.  This is an emotional time for those who served in World War II, and many who served later, in the Korean Conflict.  It is significant in that four noncombatants gave the ultimate sacrifice, choosing to die, alongside 653 others, rather than mount a lifeboat.  They set their own hopes and dreams aside.

The other two tasks that need doing here are left for tomorrow and Thursday.  They involve quality attention to dear friends.  So here is a key aspect of the changes that became apparent to me, as I drove home last night:  I am leaving isolation behind.  That’s the scary part, but it’s also the satisfying element.  When I focus on a person, or a task, I am all in.  It may not suit the people who are on the sidelines, and have to wait until a later time for me to attend to THEIR needs, but that attention is only deferred, not cast aside.

I am also getting better at deferring, not casting aside, my own needs for rest and rejuventation.  So, I got up at 10, not 6 or 7.  Early rising will return tomorrow.

The Road to 65, Mile 50: “You Are Not Alone”

2

January 17, 2015, Prescott- Since I was small, I could not envision forcing anyone into a solitary existence.  Pariah-hood does not become us, though there are some who need a period of isolation from those they hurt or deceive.  I thought a lot about these sorts of issues, over the past couple of days.  Like anyone else, I can get caught up in emotionally-charged issues, and come down on one side or another.  When the issue is properly resolved, though, all parties are clear with one another and there is either compromise, or full resolution.

If we look upon those who oppose us or try to force our hand, it’s easy to wage war on a personal level.  In the quiet of the night, or the ensuing early morning, though, personal war rings hollow.  I’ve had a few conflicts, of late, one of which is at least at the live-and-let-live stage; another, which occurred this afternoon, was resolved by both of us learning what we did wrong and taking the right lesson going forward.  A good friend has been there for me, to help in processing what is right by everyone, and in reminding me of how not to handle an issue.

I spent this evening at Planet Fitness, then by watching “Into The Woods”.  I will admit it, I am a schmaltzy sort, when watching sad parts of a film, even when the sadness is punctuated by hokeyness.  I laughed when a little girl in the audience mockingly joined in, when the two princes (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) offered a full-on rendition of “Agony”, complete with ripping their shirts open.  Tears formed though, when the Baker’s Wife was reported dead and their baby cried.

The Baker and Cinderella reassure the orphaned Jack the Giant Killer and Red Riding Hood that they were not alone,  a theme song that reverberated throughout the musical, and serves as its saving grace.  I thought more about that, also.  No isolation need be forever; no loss need go unreplenished.  Any obstacle can be faced by people, of all ages and backgrounds, and both genders, forming a united front.  This is all too easy to forget, when our individual personas clash with others.

I am coming up, in another 1 1/2 months, on the fourth anniversary of my wife’s passing.  Losses differ, in type, in circumstance and in aftermath, and no one loss is greater than another, except for a parent losing a child.  The common thread in all, though, is superbly laid out by Stephen Sondheim:  “You are not alone”.  I’m not, and neither are you, no matter how it may seem in the dark night, the early morning, or any time in between.  To everyone reading this:  Speak, be heard, but also be willing to listen. You matter.