Lesson Nine


December 27, 2022- Seemingly everywhere, and handling five tasks at once-one for each finger of her hand-so to speak, the head barista caught me signaling out of the corner of her eye, saw the half- sandwich on my plate and went in the back for a take-out box. She then swept back into the ellipse, and put the box down in front of me, while directing her attention to the couple next to me, who were initially enjoying expensive drinks, but had decided they wanted what I had to eat. ‘E’ had been at work since 11 a.m. and it was now 6:30. Her boss, the restaurant manager, and her assistant barista, a slightly younger woman, were doing the best they could to keep up-but ‘E’ is a force of nature. Petite, brainy, proactive, highly energetic and absolutely gorgeous, she can name her ticket-and I would venture that by time she is 25, she will be her own boss.

”E’ is, inadvertently, one of my life teachers. The lesson she has imparted, seared into my consciousness, is to reiterate that a strong woman, a strong human, needs no initial help from anyone, in reaching for the stars. The ladder is something she will devise herself, as is the team she is building and will continue to build. I have seen, and known, several people like her, over the years. Some have imploded, due to a latent inflexibility in the face of misfortune. Others have gone on and hit the heights. Time will tell into which category ‘E’ falls-but she is both gregarious and stone-faced practical, by turns. I sense she will face whatever comes along, with aplomb.

This is the ninth life lesson, along with several sub-lessons, that living on Earth has brought. The others:

  1. I am part of a family and cannot exist just for myself.
  2. Deciding to just up and walk away from home has its consequences.
  3. It is one thing to have an unusual personality and quite another to use it as an excuse.
  4. Self-loathing is a false modus vivendi. God created no junk.
  5. All the crap I absorbed in my community about People of Colour, and about women, is just that-BS.
  6. No matter how bad a situation is, walking through it will lead to greater strength and a place of peace.
  7. Every person on Earth has a place of truth in the heart. If someone hides their truth, it is on them.
  8. There is but one race: The human race.
  9. Every person on the planet, regardless of age, is capable of wondrous things-even singly and alone.

So often, just watching how people handle their lives is an object lesson in how I might deal with challenges in mine. I am grateful for all the people who have imparted life lessons.

Not So Hard to Handle


May 26, 2022- The truth should not be so hard to handle. There are times when it is not exciting, when it doesn’t fit the narrative that’s in our heads and when it challenges us to rethink our worldviews.

It should not be so hard to comprehend that a living being in the womb, is not a creature whose existence depends on being convenient to others. How much more does that extend to a child who has come into being, breathing on on his/her own! How much more does that apply to a woman who has to make the most difficult decision of her life, without necessarily enjoying the support of those around her! How much more does that apply to a young man who is told, time and again, that he is a worthless piece of crap-but he can still buy a weapon and prove himself that way! It should not be hard to handle the truth, that every being put on this Earth-or sent out into the Universe, is here for a valid reason.

A United States Senator today observed that there is a lack of spirituality behind much of what is going on around us. He is not wrong, in that respect. There can, and must, be a balance between loving our Creator and valuing all that has been given us to enjoy, to treasure. Indeed, it is because the Creator gave us raw materials, intelligence, health and the means to live, in this training ground of the human spirit, that we are free to place value on all that is in, and of, this world-in a balanced way. We are free to value the people around us. We are free to value what has been incorporated in ourselves.

I cannot look upon the faces of those departed on May 24, 2022, without aching for the strength that shines out of their faces, any more than I can look upon the faces of everyone departed on December 14, 2012, February 14, 2018, April 20, 1999 and every.other.date that is etched in infamy. That slaughter, that waste, is what is hard to handle.

It all happens because too many cannot handle the truth.

Tritina for the Masses


August 24, 2021- Beneath the façade of shouting lies a fear. Both genders, and all ages, are shown to stand in the crowd. The trigger is often the very thought that the other side has truth.

A reporter keeps eyes and ears trained on the crowd. Her greatest challenge is to sort out the truth. Making it hard for her is the pile of blankets of fear.

The gathering maintains its own rendition of truth. The sight and smell of this, however, is the soil of fear. The intrepid woman works hard to find a crack in the crowd.

In the end, she convinces some in the crowd to face their fear and to smell at least a bit of actual truth.

As is evident, a tritina is a truncated sestina, with three tercets-verses of three lines each, and each line ending with one of three words. The tercets proceed with ending word order 1-2-3, 2-3-1,3-1-2 and a fourth stand-alone line, containing all three words.

What we’ve seen recently, in many lands, are large groups of people who are seemingly easily manipulated by wirepullers. A caveat, from the French Revolution: Sooner or later, the masses become disillusioned with, and turn on, their controllers.

Keeping the Fire


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.

The Missile of Truth


October 26, 2019-

I got where I am now,

not through glad-handing

and sweet talk..

There have been

times that I needed

to learn from setbacks,

and course corrections.

The Universe made sure that

those things happened.

The lessons were learned.

There were times when

I could have fudged

the truth, but didn’t,

and took the heat

for it.

There were times

that I left things


and just made

matters worse.

So often,

the road to solace.

is manned by

the vicious.

So often, one

must get past

those of unsound mind,

who see things

that are white

and pronounce them


The surest way past them

is to stay one’s course,

and not bend,

in the face of illogic,

no matter how loudly

or brashly

it is expressed.

The surest weapon

remains the missile of truth.

(These thoughts came to me, upon watching a program about a man who reminds me of myself.)



Seventeen Analogies


May 1, 2019-

Baha’u’llah ends his advice to the reader of the Tablet under discussion by listing seventeen analogies, which I repeat below.

“Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

In physical terms, my current Home Base is a tiny spot, though big enough to offer 3-4 other people space to sleep.  Yet, I like it when people feel at home in my presence.  I work to relieve suffering, in both physical and social terms.  It is always best when  errant people can stop running, on their own.  I have walked with them, and tried to guide, using whatever time is needed.  Being a pillar of the temple of righteousness, the name of my blogsite aside, is more problematic.  We have all had feet of clay at times. I will own mine, and certainly have either been sent, or have sought after, people who will take me to task for them.  Truth, even by, or especially by, admission, is part of what Baha’u’llah calls “spotless purity”- a goal He has set for each of us to pursue, in the course of our spiritual development.  Inculcating wisdom, the valuing of knowledge, the maintenance of humility in a boastful society, each serve to invigorate not only one’s spirit, but the collective spirit of one’s generation.

So, as Ridvan draws to an end, with tomorrow’s commemoration of the Beloved’s departure from that sanctified garden, and His long overland journey to what is now Istanbul, I take stock of all the ways in which advancement, in these virtues He offered us, as divine gifts, is being manifested and the still further way that I have to go, in that regard.

I have learned, since last Ridvan, that even when life does not roll out in a tight plan, it has the most exquisite of offerings to place at one’s feet.  I sense it will be thus, in the next twelve months.

Desiderata- Part 1


April 11, 2019-

Having woken this morning, in need of reassurance, I found myself looking at a copy of Desiderata, which I first present in its full text, before relating its words to my own state of being.

“GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

This past week, there has been little noise and even less haste, yet I recall being often viewed as too slow and benign, when there was commotion.  There is a lot of peace in my silence, especially when that silence pertains to inside my head, as well as in my surroundings.

I have done better, these past few years, at speaking my truth in a quiet manner-and at listening, even to the most insipid nonsense, without interrupting.  It most likely has to do with being more secure in myself.

There will always be greater and lesser persons than me, and I’ve felt this for a long time. Loud and aggressive people have never like me much, nor have I liked them.  This has always seemed to end up as my undoing, as such people are frequently favoured, at least outwardly, by many in our society.

I’ve enjoyed those achievements of mine that were genuine, and I have had more of them than my critics care to admit.  If I had it to do over, I’d have stayed a counselor, and not given in to the false ambition that brought me down.

I’ve learned to be careful in business, and with my generosity-as yes, the world is full of trickery.  This learning has been, a few times, accomplished through trial and error.  I’ve seen true heroism and practiced it myself, a few times.  The world is full of virtue.

Thus are the thoughts which come to mind, in reading the first half of Max Ehrmann’s inspired verse.  I will continue, with the second five paragraphs, in the next post.

In The Blood


February 14, 2019-

It’s been a rough few days- with a dear friend falling and suffering some serious injuries, another friend diagnosed with cancer and still others with chronic illnesses, not getting any better. The weather here has been rambunctious- soaking rain, a good thing in the long run, has fallen steadily for the past thirteen hours.  More is on the way, followed by snow in the latter part of this weekend.

I have had much time to reflect on the nature of love, on this day of cards and chocolate.  I have to look at myself, as always. I don’t hold grudges; if a person who savaged me later comes to me in need, I find a way to help meet that need.  I have made terrible errors in judgement- and find it critical to make amends to the person, where possible.  I don’t always feel loved, and have to then look at what I am projecting outward.

Love shows itself in a myriad ways-the bottom line being that the beloved feels the goodness of heart.  Words alone are not one of those ways.  Neither is merely providing a place of residence: Slavemasters, after all, provided a home of sorts, for those who were frequently brutalized.  Constantly abusing another, and getting by with apologies, is NOT love.

Love is in the blood.  My parents’ love for us came naturally and never receded.  The same is true of my love for my late wife, and for our child.  Suffice it to say, any children coming from his own marriage will find three truly loving grandparents standing behind their mother and father.

Love is in the blood.  Any way I can help a suffering friend, I will.  Grand gestures, though, have to be kept to a minimum.  Those are the first things, upon which a hater or critic will seize, as evidence of one’s fecklessness.   I’ve had that thrown in my face, more than once, and sometimes rightfully.

Love is in the blood, and thus can’t be erased easily, if at all.

Sacrificed Pants


October 17, 2016, Prescott- The small boy wasn’t supposed to show today at school.  He is being disciplined, for an infraction, committed before Fall Break.  As that wasn’t clear to him, he came anyway, ready to make amends for what he’d done.

When the truth was made clear, he asked to work off his frustration and anger with a walk up among the rocks on our campus.  Being his designated minder, in this anomalous situation, off the two of us went.  I have wanted to go up among these granite boulders for some time, so the pretext was perfect.

I kept pace with his small frame, clambering among the rocks, and going around one bend or another.  Then, in the last little slide down a long granite slab, I followed my inclinations since boyhood, and tore the bottom of my back pocket, on the rough surface.  No harm came to me, or to my young charge, but I will have to get one pair of work pants to a tailor shop, in a few days’ time.

The little man will, hopefully, serve his days away, and we’ll see how things go, when he returns in earnest, next week.  Meanwhile, the rocks stand guard, and serve this overgrown kid a warning.