Their Whole Selves

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July 3, 2021- The comely young woman set down her blanket, just six feet from where I sat in my foldable studio chair, and proceeded to writhe and shift herself back and forth, finally finding a relatively comfortable position. As she was wearing a fairly short skirt, I felt it seemly to look straight ahead and not make her obvious discomfort even worse. Her two children were off and running, to other parts of the park, so she had that, too, to handle-and was constantly sitting up and looking past me, until finally spotting the kids. Poor soul was definitely stressed and barely able to relax, so after the family had watched five minutes or so of “Grease”, on the outdoor screen, and mother had wrapped herself in the blanket, they stood up and left. Hopefully, she got the rest that was so obviously in order.

Men, especially of my age group, were raised, mostly by the wider society, to hold the opposite sex in a sort of special status-not quite looking at girls and women we didn’t know very well, in a less than whole human perspective. I can say, truthfully, that this was also true of how we viewed ANY stranger, but was especially so in male-female interactions. It has been a hallmark of my married life, and widowhood, that coming to view every human being in a holistic manner has replaced the old “meat market ethic”. Misogyny, and its derivatives, were quite frankly the bane of my existence-and I don’t miss them at all.

My friends, women and men alike, are people I can hug (pandemic protocol permitting) or at l least fist bump, and with whom I can share just about any insights. This, to me, is the feeling of true liberation. I look forward to the day when ANYONE can feel the same about traveling alone as I do, about being where they like to be and not feeling awkward or at risk, and being seen as complete human beings-from childhood onward.

Bobby’s “Bad Day”

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March 18,2021- So, we hear, from a law-enforcement professional, with his own set of race-related issues, that the killer of eight people in the Atlanta area was, among other things, having a “bad day”. We hear, from the accused, that it was not a racially-motivated act, but rather an attempt to deal with his own sex addiction.

Three things come to mind here. First, while three of the victims were not of Asian descent, six of them were. The owners of the two spas that were targeted, both of which engaged the accused as a customer, in prior visits, were of Asian descent. The two Caucasian victims were customers, happenstance victims-as was the Guatemalan man, who wasn’t even connected with the spa-he was a passerby, taking care of other business at a neighbouring shop. He is, at this writing, still alive. The primary targets, by all accounts at present, were people of Asian descent.

Second, when is it ever a workable strategy to deal with one’s own afflictions, real or imagined, by killing other people? We have dealt with this, on this blogsite, once before-after the Isla Vista attacks of 2014. Back then, an apologist for the accused killer tried to deflect blame by lashing out at me for defending the right of a woman to freely choose her own romantic partners. In hindsight, I had a fair amount of work to do, in cleaning up my own act-with regard to how I viewed women. That work has been done-yet it remains that my own travails had nothing to do with the actions of a madman. I have never killed, raped, attacked or manhandled anyone, much less regarded them as being responsible for my psychological well-being; end of digression. The accused, in the most recent case, is every bit responsible, in and of himself, for the mess in which he finds himself.

Finally, and this is the most potentially problematic matter- Asian women have long been hyped as being overly congenial, submissive and alluring. They are not any of those, taken as a group-any more than other people who have found themselves so hyped. Perhaps it is a necessary experience for people who stereotype others, to have to go through one painful learning curve after another-but this much is something I have always found true: Regardless of real or imagined characteristics attributed to people of a certain nation or ethnicity, not everyone fits a given mold. In fact, I have never met anyone whose personal qualities were the result of a socially-prescribed mould.

Bobby’s “bad day” was, in sum, a hoist of his own petard. Even IF one were to happen upon people engaged in acts of prostitution or other sexual conduct, it would not fall to him, or her, to act as judge, jury and executioner.

Larry Nassar

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January 27, 2018, Prescott-

I dropped off my customary load of old newspapers, at a local charity for battered women and their children, as is routine for me, on Saturday mornings.  Next door to the thrift shop, there is a thriving donut shop, run by a young couple and their extended family.  I went in there, as is also routine, and was greeted warmly by the wife, who apologized for not having enough coffee to fill my order, but graciously gave me an extra 1/2 cup, when the brew was ready.  Shortly afterward, feeling the need for a  more substantial breakfast than a donut, I stopped in another young lady’s shop and got an open-faced bagel, with lox and cream cheese.

Both young women are gorgeous, brainy, hard-working, and very much in love with their mates.  I am there to support their dreams, and their families’ dreams, period.  In the face of the recent conviction of former sports medicine practitioner Larry Nassar, for the serial abuse of young female athletes, a few observations:

Many people have an intrinsic fear of certain among life’s features- Financial wealth, personal success, good physical health and the presence of good-looking members of the opposite gender.  I get all of this.  “I used to be among the crowd you’re in with”, to quote Bob Dylan (“Positively Fourth Street”).  Financial wealth eluded Penny and me, largely due to life happening, but also because of my own lack of financial intelligence.  I didn’t think I deserved personal success, and lo and behold- there were plenty of movers and shakers who were glad to oblige me, in that deprivation.  Physical health has been my strong suit, though the dental part of it had to be recovered, after putting my own needs on hold, during Penny’s long illness.  I was blessed with a beautiful wife, and stayed with her, long after both of us found our good looks fading- because in my family, a marriage is for life, and besides- I love her spirit, still.

Outside of my marriage, though, there was a time when I felt myself undeserving of the attentions of attractive women.  Some attribute such an attitude to misogyny.  Perhaps, but I think that criticism is way too simplistic.  No fear is about the thing that is feared.  It is about the lack of self-worth, in the beholder.  Beyond that, however, is this:  Women have always been complete human beings, with dreams and goals that are every bit as worthy as those of men.  That we men have often overlooked or discounted those dreams and goals is no fault of the dreamers.

I get that the condemned Mr. Nassar may have started off wanting to serve the population of teen women athletes.  He may even have had twinges of conscience, when he first gave in to his lower cravings.  Yet, it didn’t last.  Women who should have been able to pursue their athletic goals, without hindrance from a source that should have been trustworthy, found themselves being treated like toys.  Mr. Nassar’s reaction to their needs, and to their presence, became despicable.

I have worked with teens and young adults, pretty much continuously, since the late 1970’s.  The bottom line has ever been, honour and respect; build, not destroy.  If I inadvertently wronged anyone, to the “extent of a mustard seed”, that person got full amends.

I can only hope that the frightened, ravaged young gymnasts go on, to recover, to dream again and to live in fullness.

An Eastward Homage, Day 7: A Paris Walkabout- Part 1, Tuileries

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I had started Monday, June 2, intending to tour the Louvre.  Several things transpired which made that not practical for this morning, so I switched Monday’s plan with Wednesday’s.  Thus, I spent 2 1/2 hours on Monday morning, walking Tuileries, the gardens and sculpture areas which were the grounds of the Bourbon dynasty’s Paris place of residence. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were confined here, after the Revolution of 1789.

Confinement is a relative term.  The expanse that is Tuileries fronts a greater expanse, that we know today as the Louvre.  Here are some scenes from this fine garden area.  Actually, this statue of Jeanne d’Arc is across the street from Tuileries.

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The scenes below are in the park, though.

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I thought about not including the sculpture below, after being attacked online, as a “misogynist”, earlier this evening.  You know, though, unless a WOMAN comes on here and says that’s how she sees me, I’m not going to change who I am.  A man calling me “misogynist’ is like a white person calling another white person a racist, or a straight person tripping out on another straight’s “homophobia”.  I’m saying it here, all people are beautiful in the sight of God, and using terms of endearment towards people of the opposite gender is not wrong.  Both genders admire each other’s physical features, and both genders, at least among those of good will, value the WHOLE of another person.  THAT is what I believe;  end of rant.

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This lawn evoked “Alice in Wonderland”.

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This grove is indicative of the actual forest of the Bourbons’ time.

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Next, I will share the rest of the walk, at Place de la Concorde, along the Seine and at the Tour Eiffel.