Archive for June, 2012

COMING OF AGE

June 25, 2012

Many years ago, as a budding anthropology major, one of the classics we were assigned was “Coming of Age in Samoa”, a classic study by Margaret Mead detailing the life passages of children ascending to adulthood in the South Pacific. This past weekend’s activities of my 56th high school class reunion caused me to revisit Ms. Mead’s constructs, and tweaked a notion that perhaps she hadn’t gone far enough.

In the first place, there were only 40 or so of our original 272; some of course have passed on but I believe that in general, many had adopted the attitude that I had at the “50th”; I had been in contact through the years with most of the ones, the five or six, important to me during high school. As for the others, I really could care less what they have been doing all these years. In fact, I didn’t know most of them then, and have no urge to “meet them” now. (I probably would have given this a miss also, but I needed to return to KC to pick up some of my Peace Corps artifacts which had been on display at the University of Kansas, having been that school’s first Peace Corps volunteer and the school  was recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps). A reception was held on the top floor of a building owned by one of our class, the Bernstein-Rein building, and which housed their advertising agency on two floors. I discovered that one of their other enterprises is a high end cosmetics firm, “Beauty Brands”, and I attempted to acquaint Mr. Bernstein with the long-ignored Halal market potential I had read about in publications of the American Halal Association, and which is a project of a former colleague.

But to get to my point—–I feel that I personally am still “growing”, continually looking within myself searching for the answer to the question, “Who am I?”.  But as I looked around the room, I wondered, “How many of these folks are still Seeking?”  Is this affair merely another compartment of The Waiting Room as each listens to hear “Next” called out, attached to their name, to enter into the Beyond? Are they like the guys at McDonald’s having coffee every morning, before heading to the golf course or their flower garden, no longer actively contributing to their society and surroundings? I wonder.

Margaret Mead was interested in cultural growth events in the lives of her research subjects, but maybe she should have gone further and looked internally into each one, and far beyond the “I am an adult” level. Every culture and society has events which signify either formally (christenings, etc.) or informally (attaining a driver’s license), that a new level has been attained, but studies usually stop when adulthood is reached. I assert that there remain many new plateaus to be reached, many canyons yet to explore, and many of them lie within. I am realizing that I am still “coming of age” as I continue to explore the worlds within my mind—what is Faith?  Love?  Leadership? Is there a Life Force? Questions, questions, questions. And in wrestling with them, I sometimes feel a deluge of a sea of words, sometimes even poetic, as their revelations wash across my thoughts. Yes, I am a Work in Progress. I am still “Coming of Age”.

I like to drive across Kansas, more so than Nebraska or South  Dakota which have been my routes east and west on other occasions. Contrary to the accepted thought, Kansas is not all flat, and there are many places when one meets new vistas, gazing out across gentle valleys and hills toward a distant horizon. At one point on my trip, I was driving beneath a cluster of towering wind machines, generating kilowatts to spread throughout the landscape for our obese consumption. Each one appeared almost as a living sculpture, each huge blade a graceful curve seeking the slightest breeze wandering by. In contrast was an area of eastern Colorado, where the temperature in my car registered a stunning 113 degrees, and initiated a comment from me that is unsuitable for mixed company.

Throughout my trip, I was preoccupied with new potential health issues seemingly appearing on a daily basis. The neuropathy in my feet and legs is lessening my leg strength and balance, which greatly interfered with my attempt to play tennis with one of my former classmates. I could only stumble awkwardly around the court; me, who used to play in tournaments and sometimes even won! I tried to ignore those conditions along with the continual arthritic pain in my back and neck; my golf game appeared to be on the mend during the front nine when, after a rocky first three holes, I finished out that side with a few pars and a couple of birdies.  Alas, some fatigue reared its ugly head, and I had trouble keeping the right hand out of the shots, the right hand being the source of most problems in the golf swing. What to do? I emailed my doctor immediately and we decided to do a complete onslaught on this citadel, my body, whose failing infrastructure rivals all the bridges and highways in the nation. Tomorrow I begin a series of tests with a neurologist, hopefully to determine that I’m not saddled with one of those diseases that is only known by a cluster of capital letters. Maybe the use of letters instead of the actual name ameliorates the evil that besets the victim.

My computer, formerly blamed for sending out malware, has been cleansed in spirit and memory of the nasty interlopers, and is ready to re-enter society. I’m writing this on my laptop, but am anxious to begin using my newly-blessed desktop for my writing. As a friend observed, the writing process is cathartic, and provides a sense of calm and pleasure as the words flow from the fingertips to the keys. Just another step in my coming of age.

Always Be Happy!                                                                        🙂                                                                          To Our Youth!

FED UP

June 12, 2012

Ah, Summer! That time of the year when we can savor the bounties of Nature, and enjoy the halcyon days of warmth and sunshine! But, in order to do so, one must block out the rest of the world, retreat from all the negative vibrations issuing from every direction. I am currently submerging myself into my little town, along with the other 3000 souls who live here, and experience a rebirth of appreciation for what we have.

My long-lost golf game is finally coming back, scores dropping down to the low 80’s, and I’m coming to terms with the age factor—-I can no longer hit my drives as far as I used to, and it makes about a 4 or 5 stroke difference for an 18 hole game.The days when I had a 6 or 7 handicap are long gone.  But I’m hitting the ball well, as long as I remember to keep that damned right hand out of the shots. Yesterday’s 82, and today’s 83 make me think I’m right on the cusp of something special!  My goal as a semi-elderly person is to average 40, per nine. And I’m close!

Then there’s my new boat, a 115 hp. Open bow ski/fishing assemblage, and one which I have yet to use. Having been gone for five weeks on an around the world Odyssey, I finally tried to take it out last week only to be confronted with whitecapped waves at the nearby lake. But, being Mr. Intrepid, I’ll try again this Thursday, and hopefully get lots of practice in preparation for the arrival of our two young grandsons at the latter part of July. Someone had better warn the walleye and trout that I’m in the area, and to keep their children locked up safely.

Another item is looking toward our son’s planned marriage in early November; helping with the preparations provides me additional focus, and generates some excitement about the road trip to California, mixed with visits to numerous old friends in that state and in Arizona and New Mexico.

But what about “that outer world”? Politically, I’m a registered Independent, leaning  to the left, and I’m fed up with all sides. As an Obama supporter, I fault him greatly for not having recommended the conclusions of HIS appointed, bi-partisan commission, to Congress. I have not liked the way he has stood down from perceived threats by the Republicans in the House, and gone to compromise. I’m tired of the Republicans playing games of “Win” instead of doing their jobs, and I’m tired of hearing that Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress and couldn’t get things done. They neglect to point out that he did not have a filibuster-safe majority, and that they have blocked every potentially fruitful proposal he has made about the bad economy, which they created. He’s done lots of good things for which he hasn’t received any credit.

And who is Grover Norquist? I don’t remember anyone voting for him.  Our own congressional representatives are mere parrots of the GOP line, and two of the three generally do nothing constructive. While I’m at it, I need to say that we should do away with the electoral college crap. Since I live in a strong Republican majority state, my vote for any non-Republican presidential candidate doesn’t count.

I have to admit to being somewhat in favor of what the Wisconsin governor did, against the public employees unions. I have no problems with unions, unless they recognize that in general, public boards and commissions have little to say about increasing their  sources of revenue, and thus are often “held hostage” by unions who want more for themselves. I applaud the way that the auto makers unions stood down on their contracts, recognizing the economic atmosphere prevalent throughout the country. But I’ve often sympathized with entities such as local school boards, confronted with unreasonable and unaffordable demands by teachers; again creating a hostage situation.

I’m tired of religions. All these folks that hide their heads in the sand, denying evolutionary FACT, are essentially saying that man doesn’t have the ability to reason, even though each new discovery is a step toward understanding or knowing that Supreme Being that they all accept. They keep projecting their values onto others, whether they are evangelical Christians or fundamentalist Muslims. The so-called Islamic terrorists are merely a mirror of our own, beloved Ku Klux Klansmen, albeit with more sophisticated weapons. Hatred they share in common. Don’t they know that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity share the same roots?

And those people who spend a lot of energy fighting abortion and gay marriage, all they need to really do is decide it’s “not for me” and let the rest of the world decide for themselves. Instead, we’re spending lots of time, money, and effort in our state legislatures, on these social concerns rather than economic issues, which directly affect everyone.

I thought that state legislatures have the responsibility to consider proposed legislation as it is drafted—is there really a need to have a constitutional amendment against Islamic Sharia law, as is happening in some states? How stupid can we get? Don’t they know that most Muslim-oriented countries don’t follow Sharia law, themselves? I have spent quite a bit of time in the Middle East during the past year, and can verify the fact that most folks, like ourselves, want the same things we want, and are very nice people regardless of their religious orientation. The Al Quaeda’s of the world are an aberrant faction based not on the tenets of their espoused religious beliefs but rather on hatred and self-gratification. I doubt if any of them could hold a real job.

Well, I best should return to repairing the screens on our back porch.  For years, we had no door mounted in the doorway, and the does would bring their fawns onto the porch in the winter, to sleep. When startled, they would jump through the screens into the backyard. Once we even had a 7-point buck snoozing there. I’m not a hunter; in fact, I’m opposed to guns in general, although if only used for hunting I guess they are necessary to control the game populations. I’ve had too many students and other persons I know, killed in gun accidents, and I’ve even had a sawed-off shotgun jammed into my stomach when I worked years ago in the inner cities of the Midwest.

I was never a supporter for reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone, 2 hours from here; my “reasoning” was that the environment there is not the same environment that it was when there were native populations of wolves in the area; man has changed that and that there would ultimately be confrontations between wolves and ranchers. And have been.

Maybe next week will be better. I’m attending the 56th reunion of my high school class of ’56, in the Kansas City area. I’ll try and keep my XM radio on Oldies music instead of talk radio, as I travel, remaining in my protective cocoon away from that “real world”. For the time being, it sucks.

ABH                                                                                                                                     TOY