OCTOGENARIAN

OCTOGENARIAN

I receive unto myself
every right and privilege,
every acknowledgement
of my full membership
into this classy club
among my contemporary
Octogenarians.

Merely a
kindergartner in this
decade of distinction,
I respect countless initiations
that transported me
into this family
of wrinkles,
wisdom,
inner playfulness,
total trust,
compassionate suffering,
genuine humility,
inclusive forgiveness,
respectfulness
and refined gratitude.

I experience at once
a disposition of determination
and a spirit of new awakenings—
observing, claiming
and celebrating
every critical, painful pathway
I have wisely and stupidly
co-created.

More often now, I observe,
I am realized by my Self
from a deeper consciousness,
in Love’s omnipresent
Oneness.

Not unlike Rumi,
I more often come into that “field
beyond right or wrong,”
where I receive and redeem
everyone and everything
in creation.

Nineteen years ago
I went on a
Vision Quest,
in the Big Bend Desert.
One of several prerequisites
during my preparation time
was to go into the woods,
get totally lost,
enter my Death Lodge
and bid goodbye
to all those who came
into my presence. Continue reading

Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyworld, Grandpa Story 12

Grandpa Story 12

DISNEYLAND, KNOTTS BERRY FARM AND DISNEYWORLD

Ed Turpin was his name. He was a dedicated, loyal, introverted church trustee at St. Mark’s Methodist Church who fixed our broken parsonage toilet more than once. Every day, in the wee hours of the morning after the last parent and child had left, he swept the parking lots in Disneyland with his huge industrial sweeper. So, guess what? Back in those days we had paper tickets, A, B, C…all the way to J. A was for the Matterhorn ride, and J was for bumper cars and Tea Cup rides!! Ed salvaged tickets strewn around the parking lot, and he gave us a big bunch once or twice every year. Needless to say, there were many more J-tickets left on the parking lot than A’s!!

We lived in Buena Park at the time, in the 60’s, close enough to hear the train whistle at Knotts Berry Farm, and less than five miles from world-famous Disneyland.

Disneyland opened its doors in July of 1955. Six thousand people received special tickets to this gala opening. Unfortunately, twenty-two thousand additional people came with counterfeit tickets. The next day, open to the public, it cost $1.00 to get inside. The plumbing didn’t work; it was a very hot summer day. Women’s high heels sunk in the new asphalt. Thanks to his contracts with movies and TV, Disney made enough money to finance and complete his first dream park. The rest is history.

I remember vividly, December of 1966, when Walt Disney died. Flags flew at half-mast. Tears flowed. One man who shared stories and gave us songs about a duck and a mouse disappeared overnight. Even today at this keyboard little warm tears still hold that moment in memory. And yet, as I walked along Main Street last week and watched the fascinated faces of little children and happy parents, I knew that the soul and vision of that one man was still very much alive…spilling over on all of us.

Living in Southern California was like living in a perpetual vacationland. Countless tandem rides with our young children to and from Knotts Berry Farm, always including the country store with cherry liquorish; plus climbing rocks along the seashore at Laguna Beach; Tinker Bell, Tiki Tiki Room, and Mickey Mouse; sitting among the swallows at San Juan Capistrano Mission; fishing for albacore in the Pacific, visiting Universal Studios in Hollywood, snowball fights two hours up in the mountains, visits to San Diego Zoo and picking deliciously fresh oranges off the trees in Don and Jean Dornan’s orchard. And there were individuals whose lives deeply influenced us.

Continue reading

GRANDPA STORY 10, The Power of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

GRANDPA STORY 10

The Power of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Never neglect every genuine opportunity to say, “Thank you very much.”

Never neglect to learn and to outgrow everything, and finally say, “I am grateful.”

Check it out. How many times a day are you conscious of feeling and saying these words? “Thank you very much.” “I am grateful.” When something or someone gives you something or says something that means a lot to you, do you know the importance of expressing words of thanks, feeling your gratitude?

First of all, please don’t go around saying these words in a careless way. These words are not to be dutiful or casual; these words, when truly spoken from a conscious mind and heart, carry tremendous energy fields!!

Did you know that you can express thanks and gratitude just about anywhere anytime about any 1) mundane, 2) negative, 3) positive or 4) gigantic experience that you experience? (I use that phrase, “experience your experience” because so often, as a child and adult, I HAD experiences without “being consciously present,” without EXPERIENCING that experience in a reflective way. I was there physically but I had no idea I could choose to think about what I was doing or feeling or thinking at the time. So I missed out on what I could have learned from that experience.)

Let’s consider examples of mundane, negative, positive or gigantic experiences that led me to gratitude and thanksgiving.

1) Mundane experience- I turn my head to the left just now and look out through a clear glass window. I realize that I don’t know how to make clear glass! Somebody somewhere else made it, and I get to enjoy my snow-blown backyard with all the birds congregating around our bird feeders. Whoever you are, glass-maker, I thank you for making this glass and for the comfort of staying warm inside while I look through the glass window and enjoy my backyard. Ordinary? Yes. Mundane? Yes. Continue reading

My Brief History of Time

For years I have been drawn into (what little I can understand) the writings of Stephen Hawkins. I recall staying up through the night delving into Hawkin’s A Brief History of Time. His exploration and discoveries relating to black holes intrigued me to no end. His absolute choice to live into his highest potential and to work with unchosen, unwanted and monumental circumstances is more than astonishing. While attending Cambridge in the 60’s he was diagnosed with a disease that gave him two years to live. He, supported by his lovely wife, called forth his innate capacities to defy and harness seemingly insurmountable, inevitable predictions of demise; he called forth the raw courage it took to resurrect those hidden Inner Forces. And he is very much alive to this day.

I simply found myself weeping, watching the previews of this forthcoming film portraying his life. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, with Hawkins played by the British actor Eddie Redmayne, comes to the movie theaters on November 7. If the film is anything close to the previews, it will touch the psychic depths of our generation and deliver a well deserved Oscar. See you at the movies.

Okay, stay with me now. My memory banks are bristling and enlivened!! I am at once taken back in time to my boyhood when my dad was THE manager of the only movie theater in Ayden, our eastern NC village of 1000, where I was born (and lived in the same house until I was married). This little post-Depression, pre-war Southern village was getting off the ground, thriving economically in the middle of countless tobacco farms. The “Show” was THE entertainment center of our town, jam packed every weekend, and it was located two blocks from my home. The electric energy influenced by movies was palpable. The collective influence of many movies at that time excelled any technological device available today. I vividly recall the trance-like feeling of seeing Bambi in technicolor!! At times, all was euphoric in that southern “Pleasantville” —as far as I knew.

GONE WITH THE WIND came out in 1939 when I was five years of age; I felt so proud to see my dad standing on the stage before the show started, personally speaking to a packed house. Movies became my open window out into a wider world. I watched countless movies two or three times a day, memorizing and quoting certain phrases, from the time I was 5 until I “graduated” from my various jobs at the show. I sold my first bag of popcorn to a customer when I was in the third grade; the kind black gentleman gave me a dollar and I gave him $1.65 in change, for a ten cent bag of popcorn. He quietly walked over to the ticket booth and talked to my Dad about something. My dad came over to me and said, “Sonny boy, you can bring me the money from now on and I will help you make change, okay?”

I worked at the show during WWII, watching my dad divvy out gas rationing stamps and sell war bonds. My mind was riveted by the gruesome Hitler-dominated war pictures on “Time Marches On,” the regular newsreel updates. My identity in that small community hinged on my being the oldest son of the manager of the local show. By the time I was in the 8th grade I got up the courage to tell my mother than I wanted to stop working with Daddy at the show, and she knew it would be quite a challenge for my dad to get this news. “You go tell your father,” she encouraged me. It took a few days but I got up the courage to say the words. Indeed, it was a traumatic paradigm shift to bravely announce to my dad, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch, that I was going to work somewhere else. He silently sulked, feeling abandoned by his oldest son, and I “broke away” and got a job washing cars at a filling station; then I worked at the local hardware store. Those were huge decisions for that 8th grader, believe me!

I find myself taking a nostalgic, spontaneous trip back into those post-Depression, pre-war, war-time and post-war years in the South. While I am “there” in my mind, sitting here with you now, I must say that I grew up in what I now realize was a pitifully unconscious “Christianized” racist bubble, and working at the “show” slowly helped unravel and awaken my naivety.  Our black brothers and sisters at that time sat upstairs in wooden seats in the balcony; we whites sat below in the cushioned seats. I felt an overwhelming sense of unfairness that “they” did not have restrooms and they would come downstairs to literally beg (holding themselves in agony) my dad for permission to run out behind the building to go to the bathroom. Feelings of injustice and unfairness coiled up inside my confused heart. An encounter with Deecie, my beloved black mammy, finally blew me open when she took a switch to my white behind and said, “Hal Junior, don’t you ever again call me a nxxxer, you hear that!!? I’s a person just like you!!”

I didn’t know until years later how that single backyard encounter knocked something loose inside my little head. I was thoroughly brainwashed by an entire culture and, because Deecie confronted my unconscious innocence, I somehow realized I had a choice—to remain locked into prejudice or begin to deal with my own stuff. In retrospect I can now see that I truly experienced a radical change in my perception of reality, and I came to realize how Deecie’s vulnerability and agony came through her words, “Is a person like you.”

I thank Deecie for setting me on my own personal “road less traveled” as a southern white boy. That woman, God bless her dear soul, loved me and she ushered me out of that limited Southern cultural mindset when she voiced those words.

I think, because of that early boyhood encounter, I later found myself drawn to sit upstairs in that tiny hometown theater, alone, near the stairwell, among my black “family.” Sitting there, wondering how they felt about me being there, I felt odd and I felt something healing deep in my soul before I could even begin to put conscious words around it. Something, far deeper and beyond any rational thinking, drew me upstairs time and time again. I never told any white person about this. When Daddy found me upstairs he would gently touch my shoulder and tell me it was time to go home.

These are happy and grateful tears I feel when I trevisit my Gone with the Wind years with Deecie and boyhood movies (thanks to the energizing nudges provoked by this new movie trailer depicting the dedicated life of Stephen Hawkins). This man’s dedication to find and follow his life mission reminds me that a greater and more important world continues to evolve and challenge us into that mystical Oneness where “…all things belong.” (1 Cor. 3:21)