A Few More Random Thoughts

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February 24, 2021- Today was a day for accompanying a friend around Lynx Lake, which both of us found enjoyable. The lake’s water table is down, as we might expect-given our long dry spell of last year, but the water birds are already coming back- noisy ducks and showy cormorants.

I picked up two of Isabel Wilkerson’s books: “The Warmth of Other Suns”, about the African-American migration out of the South, starting in the 1930s and “Caste”, about the role of that system in the stratifcation of American society-and the true connection between that stratification and Nazism. These ought to be very insightful. I don’t see an immediate tie between “Trumpsim”, which is largely personality-based and Fascism, which has systemic goals-but there are people who subscribe to both-just as there are doctrinaire people, who also are personality-driven, on the other end of the political spectrum.

I have meditated on the mercurial nature of several people in my circle, at present. Having gotten past feeling a personal affront, when those who have been uniformly pleasant over the past several months, suddenly turn icy, I can sense that the sameness of the pandemic-driven regimen is getting to too many people, just a tad too soon. I can also sense that we are getting a handle on the disease- the “variants” aside.

Finally, just an observation: Those who act out of fear are less the problem than those who stoke that fear-and privately mimic their followers. Yes, there are people egging the masses on, who take Lenin’s view of “useful idiots.” They are the true problematics.

Keeping the Fire

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January 29, 2021- One of the things about the pandemic is that those of us who are officially retired from work are still needed in our professions. This is the sort of thing which happens, especially to nurses and physicians, but also to teachers, EMTs and a variety of people in supporting roles. So, I have gone in, to cover for those sidelined by COVID-19, those who have pandemic-related medical appointments and a few other situations.

One of the features of working with children, in the present environment particularly, is what I see as the need to encourage young people to stand their ground, to speak their truth clearly and not be cowed by any attempts, by ANYONE, to intimidate them into letting go of what they know is deserved. This does not mean that a child should be taught to act in an unbridled and irresponsible manner.

When a person, of any age, does speak the truth to a situation, it is the mark of authenticity, for anyone who hears that truth, to have the speaker’s back. In this school, particularly, those who have stood up and insisted, properly, that matters be handled a certain way have been my greatest allies and have made all the difference between the good days I have had and days that might have gone off the rails.

Even in the rough-edged years, of the 2000s, I still recall those forthright children whose outspoken and compassionate manners bridged the gap between my shakiness and being able to pull things together , not wasting the class’s time. With all to which this generation of students is being asked to endure, that forthrightness, that fortitude that flame, needs to be enkindled more than ever before.

I remain on call, for this, and other acts of community service.

Lifelong Learning

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January 14, 2021-

The forthright girl stood at the whiteboard, and explained the same concept, five times, before three of her classmates finally grasped what she was saying. Two very different styles of learning met, grappled with one another and, in the end, meshed.

It is instructive, and advisable, for adults to see, in real time, how children work out problems, step by step. Only in the meat of the solution process can one truly understand the heart and soul of another human being. Only by allowing a person to explain something, from his or her own point of view, without prematurely inserting one’s own input, can there be the beginnings of a bond.

I am, for all intents and purposes, retired from education. There is, however, this lingering, stagnant presence of cornonavirusdisease 2019. This pandemic will, probably for some months yet, continue to affect regular classroom teachers, as it has so many other walks of life. I am, to a certain extent, immune to the virus, and still have the energy to devote some of my time to the elevation and advancement of another magnificent generation. Alphas are given to showing far more patience with selves, surety as to their purpose in life and acceptance of differences, than the generations which came before them, as children. Perhaps it’s just the energy that envelops us all now, combined with the purity of the child. Maybe we are all evolving, and the children reap the benefits of being innocent and bathed in a greater cosmic energy.

In any event, I have been blessed, yet again, with a week’s chapter, in learning from watching others learn.

Keeping Responsibility

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December 16, 2020-

Although, for all intents and purposes, I am retired from teaching, there have been various times of ruminating and reflecting on continued responsibility in the community and beyond. Certainly, everything to do with counteracting the current pandemic remains a duty for anyone old enough to know what a disease is. Thus, my keeping and using a good supply of face masks; researching vaccines (so as to, hopefully, find one that is not dependent on aborted fetuses for content); and maintaining personal wellness. Honouring the concept of not making further trips to areas where COVID is raging even more than it is here in Yavapai County, (to say nothing of staying out of other states, for the next few months), is desperately necessary.

Getting past the health crisis, there are other areas of responsibility: Helping out in the schools, when needed, during the January-May semester; supporting local businesses, especially those where younger workers are themselves supporting families; volunteering with Red Cross (still the only thing, other than family emergency, that will take me across state lines; and consoling sick and bereaved families of friends and relatives. Making an effort to be a comforting presence, in general, is also vital.

A legacy work, my memoirs of 1950-2020, is in the hands of its editor. This afternoon, I sent out the “Beta” copy to my mother, who is 92. It may be the only time I’ve ever given her a Christmas gift made with my own hands-except perhaps a birdhouse that I made in Eighth Grade woodshop.

Responsibilities will continue to arise, either by my own search or by the circumstances of community life. As long as I am physically and mentally competant, they will be welcomed.

Leaning In

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November 15, 2020-

What had been planned as a two-day visit to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert was interrupted by work, at the end of last week. Yesterday’s visit to Homol’ovi State Park sufficed, in its place. I have about a month or so left, of being available five days a week for subbing. In the second semester, my officially retired self will cut back to 2-3 days a week, and then because there seem to be so few people willing to take on the work. I am not doing any long term travel anywhere, until this pandemic lightens up enough for people to not feel leery of visitors. Right now, there is a return to Stay-at-Home orders in most neighbouring states-at least for the next two weeks. Thankfully, I can at least fly in and out of Dallas, and visit my little family, next week.

This week, though, I will be maintaining at least three days of work. Today, though I might have lazed the time away, was actually no different. A pallet-dismantling project, the eventual goal of which will be a winter residence for a homeless man, brought about twelve of us together, in a mountain community, south of Prescott. So, for nearly three hours, I busied myself with moving planks and removing nails from those planks.

The most effective way to remove nails from a board is to lean into the effort, thus putting extra pressure on the claw part of the hammer. Using a small piece of wood, as a brace, also speeds things up greatly. Of course, if I were really efficient, I would go out and get a pneumatic nail remover. The exercise was good for my upper body and forearms, though.

Leaning into any endeavour, with attention and perseverance, is the only way to approach a task. I am getting better at this practice, in my late middle age, and certainly feel an increase in satisfaction at each day’s end.

Treading Water

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November 8, 2020-

Many people are holding back on any plans,

even of short-range span,

because they fear the pandemic will expand.

Yet, is that really the plan?

Many people are treading water,

not engaged in doing what they ought,

for fear of the renewed onslaught,

and not wanting to look like robots.

Still others throw caution to the wind,

offering a conspiratorial spin,

imagining the virus to have been sent by djinn,

and enhanced by the descendants of the Ch’in.

I see my road as set by my guides,

altered only temporarily by the viral tide;

I refuse to run and hide,

and so trusting in science, I abide.

Three Comforts

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November 6, 2020-

My faith in the Divine has brought me three consistent comforts, over the decades. As I sat in the second night of a four-night evening retreat, focusing on Divine Light, I saw an emanation of the first of these: The golden light in a neighbour’s window.

The glow of amber light, often lighting my way in a dark night, has reassured me-whether the street lights of my childhood-saying it was time to go home or the light in a window of a house in a forest, saying that in a time of need, there would be another human soul who might be of aid.

I have spent the past three days working with students in need of self-sufficiency enhancement. The second comfort to me has ever been the voice of a child asking: “May I do this myself?” My answer is always the same: “Go for the gold!” Whether it was a young girl tying her own shoes for the first time, or a little boy writing his own letters and numbers on a page, being present when independence results in genuine strength is a true honour.

The third comfort is the joy of being with others in a gathering, in whatever form the needs of the time provide. In many cases, electronic gatherings are the only way, either because of public health issues or because of the need to communicate with those who live far afield. I have carefully participated in physical gatherings, and as long as precautions are taken by one and all, I will continue to do so, in a limited manner, until the global health emergency is brought under control-in a real sense.

There are many comforts in my life. These are three of the most enduring.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 58: Transitions

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July 28, 2020-

I formally put in for my full Social Security, this morning, so that it will take effect on my seventieth birthday. There’s always a chance that the upper 5 % will move to cut back the amount, but right now, that seems mainly a scare story.

Every day is a transition of some kind. The amount of daylight increases or decreases, depending on where one lives. Some people enter this life and others leave. Some catch the virus, others recover. Most of us have not done either.

I follow the passage of time, even in the relatively unchanging weather of Arizona, fairly easily still-a wall calendar is one of the first things I see in the morning, upon waking; the newspaper is of different sizes and has a different feature section, each day and my Zoom calendar shows different meetings, depending on the day of the week.

Transitions of a wider scope are bound to continue this year, and for several years to come. COVID19 is all that those who are trying to get a handle on it can see, so the WHO and others are shouting that it, alone, will dominate world affairs, for 5-10 years. No pandemic has lasted that long, though some return 50 or 100 years after their first go round.

There are many other sea changes that are sure to come, socially, economically and politically. The ones that take, will be those with a spiritual basis.

The more things change, this time they just may not stay the same.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 17: Dealing With Upside Down

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June 17, 2020-

So many people are finding that all to which they became accustomed, took for granted and lived by, during the Age of Business-as-Usual, has been upended.

The novel pandemic has “broken every rule”, which those who are used to crises of no more than a month’s duration have formulated. The explosion of pent-up rage has not followed the course of times past-and even the occupied zone of Capitol Hill, Seattle, and the fluid night sweats of New York City and Portland, may not play out, by the rules of the two-week news cycle. Wild fires are hitting the Southwest, may well spread to other parts of the West ahead of “schedule”, and no one can predict the course of cyclones, in any of the world’s ocean cover.

This has been a year, a summer/winter, fall/spring, like no other in memory. The winter/summer, and probably spring/fall that are on the horizon, will bring ever more in the way of challenge. It will neither be a return to business-as-usual, nor will it be the decade of gloom that a certain morose writer in “Medium Magazine” conjures, nearly every other day.

It is an upside down, that calls for each of us to carefully tread our way along the horizon, to the point where we are upright again. We each must carefully thread the needle of safe haven and tie that tether to the tethers of others, that none is left hanging in space.

Some laugh at the term “Aquarius Rising’. All I can say is, wait be astonished and stay safe, in the meantime. Ther eis so much more to come.

In Whose Name?

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April 28, 2020-

The current pandemic, like any previous crisis, has brought out the best and the worst of human nature.  There are those in this country who are convinced the ONLY reason that there is a big deal being made about COVID-19 is to keep their favoured candidate(s) for political office from winning.  Their opposites are saying pretty much the same thing about the handling of emergency funds. The bottom line: It’s about ME!

Yes, and no.  Every human being has to take stock of a situation, no matter how widespread or dire, with regard to his/her personal circumstances.  That’s fine, but then. the considerations must become more community-focused, then nation-focused, and, finally, globally-focused.  To their credit, there are people at all points along the political spectrum, and in all Faiths, who see the big picture.  Christians recognize that God is calling us all to the Altar.  Buddhists are having global chants via digital platforms. Muslims have, by and large, not insisted on in-house gatherings, during this season of Ramadan.  We Baha’is, likewise, are thriving with digital meetings, of various kinds, as well.  There are those, in both the conservative camp and the liberal camp, who resist the loud voices calling for “liberation” and defiance of any regulation, on the one hand, and for open-ended quarantine and forced digital identification, on the other.

The future course of action will be decided, in my humble opinion, by conditions that exist at the ground level.  I also feel, very strongly, that the length of the pandemic will be determined, to a huge extent, by how much of a community dedication there is to revamping the way we go about our community life.  Do we respect those who have no choice but to go to work?  Do we respect our children enough to find ways to honour their needs for exploration and activity-indeed, do we respect those needs in EVERYONE? Are we willing to stop the daily dogpiles on those who see things differently than we do, and just listen for once? Do we want to honour the health of our elders and those whose immune systems are compromised?

One of my advisers says that we are rapidly approaching a fork in the road, as to how our society, how all societies on Earth, will go forward.  There will be a choice between communal thinking, based on “the hurt of one is the hurt of all”, and a positive view of the future AND a greed-based, control-oriented mindset (seen on both right and left), with a cynical, negative view of this life.  I, for one, think the choice is quite clear.

The hurt of one IS the hurt of all.