Thirty-Nine, and Counting

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September 10, 2021- When I called Mom this afternoon, as it is her birthday, she asked me if I knew how old she was. Having seen a photo of the cake, on which the number 39 was placed, I answered appropriately. Her voice brightened further, and she said “Good boy! I can’t lie, though, I’m 93.”

She said her health is good, and I assured her mine is the same. She has made friends at her new residence, which I am sure accounts for her renewed good spirits, and good health. Having raised us to share, she will do the same with the yogurt-covered strawberries I sent with her flowers.

The best of parents convey life lessons, and she did plenty of that, over the years. Sharing was one of the first-and even my severely autistic youngest brother offered of his food and playthings to us siblings. Meanness was swiftly discouraged, and loving kindness instilled, in each of us. Loyalty and protection of one another has extended, over the years, to the next generations and to those around us. Responsibility has also been a binding expectation, and if one of us got self into difficulty, any money sent was to be paid back-either directly or to the next person who was in a bind.

Mom looks forward to the years ahead, and I applaud her for maintaining the same outlook on life that has gotten us where we need to be. I wish her many more.

The River Flows On

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May 3, 2021- Many times in our lives, there is a welcoming lull-a flow of sameness that seems like it could go on forever. Some of that sameness provides the essence from which a person’s life experiences flow. When the sameness comes to an end, or changes locus, those whose lives sprang from it must be mindful that it is merely a turning point- and it has taken nothing away from them, unless they choose to give it up.

There will, very shortly, be a change in the course of the river from which I sprang. For the foreseeable future, that river will continue to flow, even with that course being altered. I can’t be a whole lot more specific than this, right now. but the second part of May will most likely find me on an unexpected road trip, which will be carefully choreographed, so as to meet prior virtual commitments I’ve made for this month.

I will get more specific, as I become more at liberty to share the situation.

Anime Lessons

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February 8, 2021-

My special assignment, of last week and the present one, has given me continued observance of what matters to high schoolers, especially in the area of graphic arts. Several of the students are talented sketch artists and cartoonists. One of the springboards for developing this talent is the popularity of the Japanese graphic medium called anime (AN-ih-may).

Anime is also valuable for the considered life lessons it offers, with myriad examples of both positive and negative life choices, presented in a manner that is attractive to teenagers. There is an atmosphere of group decision-making, with interludes of individual soul searching.

In the four episodes presented during the course of today’s classes, a young boy wrestles with his guilt and desire to make amends, for a series of events that he regards as his own fault, whilst his friends and sister refuse to let him face matters alone. An older man shows that patience and perseverence, in his time of imprisonment, result in his maintaining a robust physique, while his jailers ignore him as a worthless, spent being. An egotistical village leader learns that mocking his suffering village’s benefactors does him no good, in overcoming an invading force of militaristic industrialists. Only cooperation with the group of helpers rids the community of the bombastic invaders, and humbles the elder. Humility is also the theme of a vain sword master’s comeuppance, at the hands of a his seemingly inept pupil.

These character issues were well-conveyed by the lead teacher, and duly noted by the students. Anime is not a replacement for academic rigor, but it certainly does set young people to pondering about what matters.

A Pair of Visions

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January 21, 2021-

It’s my wont to lie down for a mid-afternoon nap, especially after working since early morning. Just before drifting off, this afternoon, a story I had heard early this morning, on BBC World News, came into my consciousness again. A rural Texan, speaking with a BBC correspondent, had, after a bit of hubris and expression of a desire for his state to become its own nation, showed his visitor a light cannon he had on his property. Loading the cannon, he then lit the fuse and, as the small gathering in his yard looked on, dry brush in his yard and his neighbour’s yard caught fire. The blaze was extinguished with a pair of garden hoses, but left the militia man feeling it just wasn’t his week.

I had a vision, recalling that story, of a tornado sweeping the area in question, and of relief coming to the disgruntled area residents, from the very same Federal government they presently regard as illegitimate. I wish disaster on no one, yet have the knowledge that misfortune is frequently, nay almost always, the bearer of a life lesson, which the learner’s soul needs, in order to get past a block that is preventing the realization of one’s true self. Time will tell.

About an hour ago, whilst listening to a replay of Cosmic Guide Elizabeth Peru’s weekly live broadcast, I heard her mention that one of our foci, this coming week, is to contemplate “What is Your Vision?” That vision thing, again-though it is constantly calling my head into alignment with my heart. I closed my eyes, and the image I saw was my young spirit self looking out over a lush, terraced hillside-which may have been Tuscany (the first word that popped into my head), or Cape Province, South Africa; Napa County, California; northern Luzon, Philippines; the Western Ghats of India-indeed anywhere with misty mornings and a somewhat “Mediterranean” climate, or at least lush, terraced hillsides.

My tendency, as regards my Home Base, has been a bit on the complacent side, of late, and though I know the current national and global state of affairs requires this, there is also a level of comfort I feel here. The trick has been, and will be, to internalize that comfort level, to no matter where I happen to be called. I felt that, late last year, when visiting the prairie of north central Texas (albeit being with family), and even when on the overnight walkabout in a remote area east of here, earlier this month, there was a degree of comfort and surety that stayed with me. I was, somehow, among friends- cattle, coyotes, an intrepid wolf spider that was braving the cold, under a juniper tree-none of them directed anything but caution towards me.

There are some indicators of a more fluid life, come May. I was recently blessed with a backpack that will serve as a one-size-takes-all travel bag, thus eliminating two of my customary luggage items. A routine medical appointment has been scheduled for early May, rather than it usual late-month date. COVID will be the ultimate determinant, of course, yet the vision I had this evening likely counts for something.

It will be, in the meantime, a fascinating rest of winter and early spring.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 9: And It’s Still So

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June 9, 2020-

I have had more energy, in the past three months, than in the previous ten years. It is likely a combination of things: Essential oil-based supplements, better sleep, being more present in the moment, paying more attention to celestial connections. COVID19 restrictions have kept me mostly around Home Base, but my activity levels have not dropped, appreciably.

Just a few other thoughts, about what I was taught as a kid, and how it has never mattered more than now.

I was taught to look beyond a person’s outer frame-and focus on his/her character.

I was taught that every person matters, ESPECIALLY if other people treat that person as if (s)he doesn’t.

I was taught to be kind to animals, and how much more to other people.

I was taught to stand up to bullies, try to understand their deeper message, make any changes in my behaviour that are warranted and accept a former adversary as a friend, once the tormenting behaviour has been outgrown.

I was taught to honour other people’s lifestyles and traditions, but not encourage those things that demean other people.

I was taught to respect my elders, but not to abide their foolishness.

I was taught to plan ahead.

Most of all, I was taught to love, unconditionally.

Had I not been taught these things, and held them close, I would not be alive today.

What Mom Said

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May 10, 2020-

My mother is the last person to want gratuitous or “obligatory” sentiments, on her important days.  Either MEAN it, or leave it unsaid.  Our gathering, this morning, brought the majority of extended family to their screens and a delighted matriarch was honoured by each.

I recall the things she said, along the way, that have impacted how I face life, even to this day.

“Look beyond the length of your nose”.  This appeal to carefully investigate truth and to not be impulsive, in seeking to find answers, has paid countless dividends.

“Strong arm stuff never wins any victories”.  So true, the use of force does not breed the sort of loyalty that brings the rewards one truly wants.

“A man was once killed by ‘I thought’ “.  Acting upon assumptions can often be woefully counterproductive.

“Staring at the tree won’t get you any fruit.”- Getting up and acting upon one’s desires is the only real way to achieve anything.

“Have adventure in your soul”- She told me this, with regard to being bold enough to get out of my shell and approach girls, for friendship, in my teenage years.  I have taken it  more broadly, in my maturity, in looking far afield at what I can do in life.

“A male is not a man until he’s forty.’- She saw that men need a broad variety of both successful and adverse life experiences, before becoming truly mature.

“Drinking gives false courage”- Isn’t that ever the truth!

There were many other admonitions that my mother has offered, in her ninety-one years and eight months on this Earth.  I look forward to hearing at least a few more.

Fatherhood

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June 18, 2017, Prescott-

The little girl told her father that she wanted to go over to an open area, at the memorial service for one of her school mates, so that she might do flips and somersaults.  “Go ahead”, said the man, while casting a wary eye about the grounds, “I’m watching you.”

This is among the fastest moving years I can remember.  Even staying closer to Home Base, for much of June, there has been no end to full days of activity, geared towards the betterment of the world.  That’s what we are expected to do, though- leave the world a better place than we found it.

I believe I have made a step in that direction, by raising a human being to adulthood, and pointing him in the direction that seemed most sensible to me- and most importantly, to him.  He has not disappointed me, once, since taking the vow of service to his country, and moving forward as an intelligent, hard-working young man.

My Dad saw me through some tough times, never giving up.  I miss him, yet I’m glad he didn’t have to see the difficulties through which we lived, in the first ten years of this century.  On the other hand, I will do all I can to support Aram, if trials and turbulence come again his way.

As to those hard ten years, 2001-11, commitment as a father means commitment as a husband.  I stayed true to Penny and did everything possible, to make sure she was in charge of her own life, to the end, no matter what pressures were brought on us by “experts” and well-meaning people, who just wanted to “get ‘er done”.  We honed our consultation skills, which were more something I, more than she, had to develop. It’s academic, as to whether we would have been better-served by using a debt reduction service, rather than filing for bankruptcy, but we chose the latter, and it’s all in the past, now.  Good life lessons were learned, late, and not lost on our son.

I see the vast majority of fathers, at least those with whom I have some contact, being wonderful, dedicated men.  None of us walks on water, yet we are producing fairly well-grounded young people.  Some are intensely vigilant; others, like the man mentioned above, are cautious, but relaxed enough to let their sons and daughters step out on their own, according to ability.

Fatherhood, even when children mature, and seem a million miles away, is an eternal blessing.  I look forward to many more years of that blessing and, if God wills, to its logical outgrowth:  Grandfatherhood.