Reflections on A Day Taken Off

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June 6, 2021- Thirty-nine years ago, today, Penny and I formalized our commitment to one another-and the marriage would last, through thick and thin, for twenty-nine years. I was hoping for at least forty, but we take what we are given. Some people are married for fifty years plus, and are inwardly miserable. We were not either. Speaking of which, as an aside, an indie artist, at a gathering on Saturday night, played a clip of his, on which a local philosopher opined: “”One who claims to be miserable, and at the same time insists he is right, is stating the impossible. It can never happen.”

Processing the loss of one of my closest cousins, I received word that a fellow member of the American Legion Post to which I belong had suffered a heart attack and is in hospital, facing the now de rigeur bypass surgery. He is one of the regulars, at our Sunday morning breakfasts, holding court and waxing eloquent about everything under the sun, in the style of an English aristocrat. That he is of Sicilian descent matters not. T’s heart and soul are rooted in the Merry Old Isle.

My day was otherwise occupied with the mundane-getting laundry done, gluing the front right quarter panel of my Hyundai, with the same substance that’s kept the back left in place, for nearly three years and watching episodes of “The Underground Railroad” and “Peaky Blinders”. Five of us pondered another set of quotes from the Universal House of Justice’s (Baha’i Governing Body) compilation on Social Action. I got in another workout.

In all this, I am looking at what is going on in the wider world, and just shaking my head, keeping up with it all, yet feeling as if it’s all a dream. The most important things in my life are all revolving around family, friends and the children-always, the children.

One of the traits that my cousin, John, had was presence, centering on who was in front of him, for as long as the person needed. That has not been my strong suit, though I am getting better at it. I am still not great at the perfunctory- greetings or conversation for their own sakes, especially online or long-distance. Birthdays and anniversaries are different; they draw my attention, because they matter so much. The rest of it-well, maybe my agenda is too broad and the next thing is always on my horizon. Still, I am making progress at being present, with someone who is in front of me, at any given time.

Twenty-nine years did teach me something.

Small Audience Auditions

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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 Flow

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September 6, 2019-

On any given day, I wake between five and six.

On any given day, I tap into an energy flow,

which tells me what I must do that day.

At any given moment,

there is a task,

which may, or may not,

involve payment.

At any given moment,

there is a sense of urgency,

for what is best done then and there.

With any given person,

there is a special element of his/her presence,

that calls for a certain degree of my presence.

With any given person,

there is a gift that is imparted,

that calls for my own gift, in return.

Tonight, I visited with one whom I regard

as my best friend,

and exchanged the gifts of heartfelt discourse.

This week, I have spent time with

members of my circle of honour,

and likewise have given and received

abundant presents of the Spirit.

 

Underscored

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October 21, 2018, Prescott-

I get the celestial message,

“Cease and desist”.

There is to be no more contemplation,

remarks,

allusions to,

recent negative experiences.

I have people who love me,

who need me to be present,

at work

and at leisure.

A wonderful soul

called me

“sweet friend”.

There is no finer title.

From beyond the veil,

I do get direct messages,

with the caution,

to always weigh

the message carefully,

and not confuse it

with my own thoughts

and musings.

The caveat is underscored.

So is the love I have been getting,

this weekend.

The Thing of It Is

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October 17, 2018, Prescott-

Through my life, I have learned things from friends, which have been very useful.  I have learned things from detractors and haters, which have also been very useful.  The most recent hater in my life has cut off all contact, but not before leaving these tips:

  1.  Presence is something in which I need to up my game, almost to the psychic level, if I want to live out the years I am intended to live.
  2.   Messages can be scrambled.  It is the duty of the reader or the hearer to unscramble them, if one’s true intent is to work for peace.
  3. Unintentionally, this person showed how to turn well-meaning people into adversaries, just by refusing to believe that any failure to provide assistance on demand, however small, was not subconsciously planned.

I could say that, in addition to Aspberger’s, I might have a touch of ADD.   I was raised, though, to not offer excuses.  I do need to make presence an up-game focus for the next 14.5 months, so that there are no more “G’s”, or if there are, that I will be less blameworthy, when things go sideways.

My priorities have been Faith, family and work, in that order.  Those who have none of the above, often cannot understand such logic, or to the extent they do understand it, they resent it.   There are more “hurting people” who hurt others, in spite of their original intent, than society wants to acknowledge.

These people on the margins are going to be part of a convergence, an in-gathering, that is coming, and sooner than we like to think.  Their perceptions will be skewed, their tempers will be frayed and many in the communities will want them to go back out on the fringes.  This will prove a serious mistake.   I already see this happening with people living in the national forests, around commercial structures- and in city parks.

Their anger is troublesome.  Their demands are highly vexing.  Their patience with the rest of us is shot.  I have spent a fair amount of time with homeless people, over the past four years.  In two significant cases, individuals looked at me as being very well off.  The two also saw my scattered attention as a severe sign of disrespect.   In a sense, they were right.  Communication between one who relies on a phone and a laptop, is mostly diurnal and holds down a job, with those who have spotty connectivity, are nocturnal and are unemployed or post-employed, is pretty much one-hand-tied-behind-the back.

It has to happen anyway.  Thinking out of the box,  seeing the skills of those on the edges and tapping in to those skills, from the get-go, is the only way the reluctant convergence will work.

Burning the Mask of Obligation

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October 13, 2018, Prescott-

Obligations are things one takes on, in order to please other people.  They could become passions, which are those things one takes on out of sincere spirit and pure love.   Parenthood, spouseship and a sane and intelligent patriotism are examples of the latter.

In this life, however, there are obligations each of us take on, which raise the person to whom we feel obliged to the status of superior, or master.  Unless one feels passionate about the activity  in which s(he) or he is involved, the obligation becomes a false one.  Many holiday celebrations, for example, become empty rote activities- none of them memorable.  Going to the place of employment, for all too many people, is an empty obligation.  Even having a conversation, if there is no passion, involves putting on the mask of caring, almost a political and vapid exercise.  It fools no one, except, perhaps, oneself.

I have been in the process of shedding obligations, for the past seven years.  Marriage was an act of living love, and never felt like an empty obligation.  There were plenty of moments of misunderstanding, but the passion did not disappear.   Fatherhood is an act of living love, even when miscommunication and physical distance seem to create a sense of discord.  The passion does not disappear.

Working with children and youth is an act of living love, even when their behaviour seems to be enough to drive one to the edge of insanity.  The passion cannot disappear.

Growing as a spiritual being is the greatest of passions- otherwise I would likely dissipate as a person. This means two things:  Do not filter communication, no matter how seemingly drawn out it may be.  Presence is a burden, when viewed in the least obligatorily.  It can only be viewed, from a passionate viewpoint, by not filtering the subject presenting self, in any way.  This requires being totally non-judgmental, as to what is worthy of one’s attention and to what is trifling or frivolous.  How many wars have been started, and fought, because of a perceived or real slight?

So, as I look at obligations, great and small, and bring those that matter to the level of passion-I must chance the burning of the masks of obligation, that I may show the real face that comes with passion.

NEXT:  The Mask of Self-Disdain