2018 and the Four F’s


January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

The Road to 65, Mile 56: Expectations


January 23, 2015, Prescott- Over the past several years, I’ve learned it’s best to hold high expectations of my own performance and behaviours, while not expecting specific acts of others.  I’ve mentioned this before, and of course, taken flack from those whose view is that we ought hold each other’s feet to the fire.  The problem with that is, burnt soles make for hard walking.

I am working with a transient man who has rejected all solutions, thus far, regarding his getting permanent housing.  I sense he’d prefer to be out of doors, permanently and that’s fine.  I have pointed out, though, that  others who are helping him. and I, are not available 24/7, given our other responsibilities.  He is congenial about that, and doesn’t give us any flack.  There is one thing about expectations, though.  High hopes are admirable, yet need to be tempered with patience.  Keep your sights high, dream big, AND prepare to move forward slowly.  The progress of mankind will be constant, yet tempered by setbacks, largely due to the scarcity mentality of the financial sector and other aspects of commerce, by the limited understanding and fear of change that affect both the guardians of the status quo AND those who say they believe in new ways of doing things, even as they also believe that the bottom has to drop out of those new systems, eventually.

I believe that our expectations will lead to our future.  If you think that God provides, “kind of, sort of”, then you will get exactly what your doubt and fear are telling you will be provided.  If you believe that while, yes, it’s cold today, people might die, tragically, tomorrow and there may well be fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and cyclones in the months and years ahead-maybe even WWIII, there will be civilized life beyond all those, then your efforts will be towards recovery and regeneration, not the doom and gloom of virtually every current religious and political system presently operating.

When the latter happens, are the pessimists going to be pleasantly relieved, or will they still look under rocks for “dark days ahead”.  Expectations do best to  seek the light, even that which lies beyond the storm.

The Road to 65, Mile 47: First Come, First Served


January 14, 2015, Prescott- Those who know me in Prescott, know I have been paying back the kindness of strangers from 2011, by taking a man who is down on his luck from one place to another, over the past four weeks, as my own obligations allow.  It’s worked for him, thankfully, though he’s run into one road block after another, in trying to secure a residence.  My lease doesn’t allow me to put up anyone who doesn’t have a domicile of their own, but he’s been in out of the cold, one place or another, elsewhere.

The man has tried to obtain government assistance, only to be told that others worse off are getting priority.  Yesterday, we came within five minutes of getting him a rental, only to be pushed aside by another person flashing a wad of cash.  This was not exactly a case of the Golden Rule of Greed:  “He who has the gold, rules”.  It did get me to thinking, though.  Competition, real or perceived, has been the source of so many divisions in the world, from time immemorial.

This, to me, comes from a scarcity mentality coupled with a personal sense of urgency.  I have fallen for both unfortunate fancies, which of course ended with blaming the other, raging against “the system” and hiding in a corner.  I am reading a book called “The Slight Edge”, by Jeff Olson.  In the chapter I read most recently, it’s pointed out that one may take either of two approaches to a failure or setback:  Move forward and try again and again, as an infant does when learning to walk, or move backward, and settle for obscurity.

In reality, there is enough to go around.  Some may have to wait for a re-supply of certain things, be it money, a certain kind of food, a particular model of car or a job.  The necessities of life, however, do, from my experience and observation, appear to those who are persistent and proactive.  That may sound like balderdash to those who are suffering.  Look around, though, and examine three things:  1.  How much are you doing to further your own well-being and how flexible are you in doing so?  2.  If there is a roadblock, is it something artificial or bureaucratic?  If so, have you explored all ways around, under, over or through the barrier?  Have you met the bureaucrats involved, starting with the low person on the totem pole, and working upwards as needed?  3.  Are there, in fact, other people who are more in need than you, and are you prepared to wait your turn, within reason?

I have had to recognize this fact:  God and the Universe meet everyone’s needs.  That we can’t all have what we  want, simultaneously, but do have our needs met in a timely fashion (unless we interfere in the affairs of the Celestial), is a logical result of living in the physical frame.  The queue is a democratic, and fair, system.  It is worth honouring.