Sixty-Sixty. Pass it on. Tell the rich. Tell each other.

We need more signs.

[UPDATE: This first appeared about a year ago, Jan. 9, 2013. I’d nearly forgotten what this piece was, exactly, until a reader included it on her “best of Howdy ’13”. This was a little embarrassing, since when I wrote it I’d been very moved by a dream and vainly hoped this inspiration might affect many more minds than just mine. (I can still find traces of this resolution-from-another-January in my attempts at mindfulness, but I’d lost the main thread. Pretty characteristic, I’m afraid!) It’s a short piece, and it contains an idea for you alongside my own reflections. It is on the long-ish short list for “Best Of”, which is coming soon.]

I had a dream last night, and it’s still with me this morning. Maybe it’s because I’m starting a holiday, and I have no plans. Maybe it’s because I went to bed early and slept almost as long as I wanted. Maybe it’s just time. This is for sure: I want to do a little something with what seemed to be uncovered to me in my sleep, and in the moved but unmoving minutes just after. Maybe you will, too.

Who knows where dreams come from? My wife travelled today, and among other adventures will retreat for an intensive period of Vipassana meditation. There will be no talk for nearly 10 days, just action of an extremely still kind. There’s that. Friends back home in Canada are paying more and more attention, the whole country is, to a grassroots movement of Aboriginal people called “Idle No More”, whose purpose (as I understand it from afar) is to mobilize the hopes and capacities of Native Canadians and those who respect them. Many Aboriginal communities live in shameful conditions, especially in the country’s vast north, and the prosperous wider society is being called to account. That’s been on my mind, too, though it may hold little interest for you.

The famous Sao Paulo disparity. How about your place?

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Robert Frost (on (not)thinking)

“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.

Robert Frost, 1874-1963, American poet, in a quote I’ve saved for years.* It makes for a fine back-to-the-future companion to my own, decidedly-less-concise March ’13 ramblings about the nature of thinking and not-thinking, here. I fear that our predominant culture — infotainment, media saturation, the obsession with the unimportant — makes the mature arts of reflection and profound knowing ever more difficult to cultivate. The Baha’is are doing some wonderful grassroots work to counter this tendency. The more I think about it, the more revolutionary, counter-cultural and necessary it appears. I don’t know much about the great Frost’s spiritual inclinations, but I think he’d dig the methodology, the “promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep”.

* Faithful readers of this site may have noticed that I’m gradually re-posting quotes that appeared over the years on the earlier incarnation of, and we’re up to 2010 already as of March 9, 2013. Hurray!

Grand and Random Musings

I could see it coming down the tracks from a long way away. I’d been preparing for it. But like most of you, I’ll continue writing and thinking in a way that is SO last year. Yup, it’s 2008, though I’ll likely continue to mark ’07 on my cheques. Beyond that, though, I can muse randomly about what 2007 was and what its successor might be.

First, all the blessings and possibilities of the New Gregorian Year to you and your precious crew. (Facebook “friends” don’t count.) As a member of the Baha’i community, I have learned to get more stoked about the new year, the New Day, at the spring equinox in March. It has more sun, for one thing, and the promise of still longer and warmer days not far off. Spring has become my season of hopeful resolution, and the melting and greening give me all the symbolic reinforcement I need for my own mid-life reloading.

But I still like to do a little reflective burrowing in this season, too. Long years in school have made late December a sacred time, even apart from herald angels and good Christian news and renewals. Retreat. Restoration. Stock-taking. A tallying of accounts. What’s good? What needs bettering? Where’ve I been? Where’m I headed? (Did I ask for directions?) I break out the new planner book, and look back at the old one for clues and leftovers. I try to see my life in terms other than ‘what NOW’ and ‘what didn’t I do yesterday’, not to mention the vague and recurring suspicion that I do have other dreams beyond laundry and e-mail maintenance. And so it goes. I love the slightest hint of a fresh start.

They could sure use that in Pakistan. It seems that the Christmas break always brings tragic news from abroad, which perhaps is intensified and given a longer look because of the rampant peace and relative contentment that most people in our part of the world can appreciate, and often don’t. Kenya is now boiling over because of election strife. So while I revel in my good fortune and the chance to reflect upon my deeds, hopes and learnings, there is no shortage of reminders that I should do this with a thought for the larger world I live in. I have a lot to learn about that; a taste for Thai, Indian, Persian and east-African cooking does not, unfortunately, quite qualify me for planetary citizenship. (Gotta be a few global Brownie points in there somewhere, though, dontcha think?)

I found out on New Year’s, thanks to a favourite Web log, that January 1, 2008 also marked the bicentennial of the North American abolition in transporting slaves across the Atlantic. The “peculiar institution” persisted in the U.S. for decades more, of course, but this was a big step. So, happy that! Let’s hope, too, while on the subject of racial harmony and reconciliation, that the banks of the Grand River — where my small-town, southern Ontario roots share soil with earlier arrivals, the Iroquois peoples of the Six Nations — find a renewed sense of brother-and-sisterhood. Whether we’re thinking locally or globally, there’s one human race and one earth. We’ve all got to live together. And that includes my little family, and yours.

When we got back from our Haliburton/Haldimand holiday swing, my backyard ice rink was in sad but snow-muffled shape. On New Year’s Day, it got buried deeper, a sweet and flaky dump that went on and on. But then the scraping and pitching (and back spasms) began, followed immediately by a one-man bucket brigade from the basement. (I’d frozen the outside hose pipe, like a doofus, meaning that I had been flooding our basement bedroom while I resurfaced the rink.) More weight-lifting for the ol’ dude, and lots of repairs, but the rink is strong again. As I write this, a briefly homeward son (Dave, from studies at McGill) is playing his little brother Sam in a goofy, chatty game of 1 on 1 hockey. The sun is smiling, and so am I.

Blessings. Peace. May there be growth and contentment chez vous. Hope you’re looking forward, and smiling, too.