Moments With a Senior

d985f93d22de83265dd90148f1edc2f5I had a moment in a Walmart store two days ago. Having forgotten to pick up laundry detergent, the main thing I came for, and finding aisles for drinking water completely bare.  On advice, I headed over the next morning at the store’s opening hour. I didn’t realize items stocked in the morning became cleared shelves on a daily basis until I witnessed water and disinfectant products urgently disappear. Walking up the detergent aisle, the shelves were largely empty and in unsettling disarray. Two or three of the last jugs of off-brand chlorine bleach were strewn in a way that removed them from their respective price markers. At just 7:25 a.m., it was actually eerie to see.

She looked at me asking “how much are those?” An elderly woman seeming in her eighties pointed to the last two bottles of bleach as the third whisked away in front of us. “$3.99” I told her. There was a change purse in her hand with a few ones protruding out the top. Snapping it shut and pausing for a moment, she just sort of stood there gazing toward the floor.

I waited to see if she needed anything else. “Well, I’m not paying that for bleach!!” as she raised her head. “Thank you“ she said evasively, turning away and then stopping. Turning back around to me, I recognized a look of sincere disappointment on her face crowded by words of self-reassurance. The kind we’ve all heard one time or another when something important to us wasn’t panning out. “They said this whole thing was overblown anyway, didn’t they.” That’s all she said, then turned again pushing her cart off down the aisle. It struck me because it was obvious by her peering into her change purse that she couldn’t afford the bleach. It stuck with me because it was even more obvious she was uncertain and clearly becoming afraid.

Leaving the pasta aisle, it was a deciding moment when I saw her again standing at shelves the rummaged-through disinfectants once occupied. The rest of this story is the obvious stuff. Like most of you, I don’t make a habit of posting good deeds or mitzvahs. They are private and just something you do. In this case there’s a pattern however, one I think is worth talking about.

I grabbed disinfectant cleaner and paper towels off the shelf and hand sanitizer and a small bottle of chlorine bleach I already had in my cart. She was just finishing up at checkout, so I abandoned my cart and rung the four items through the self-checkout line. It’s a good thing too, because old ladies get rock star parking with handicapped placards and she was just getting in her car when I got to her.

I handed her the bag and told her the whole thing has not been overblown. That people like us, older or with compromised immune systems or predispositions to respiratory problems really need to pay special attention. We talked about hand washing and face touching and commonly exposed traffic areas like mailboxes, doorknobs, laundry room counters, delivered-item packaging and the like, that are now special risk for some of us. She asked questions and offered comments making it clear she only recently became aware this could be serious for her. I don’t think I remember in recent history doing something more appreciated by someone than this conversation we shared. But that isn’t why I am writing this today. I had another similar moment stopping at Dollar General on my way back home from Phoenix last night. An elderly customer having been told they were out of disinfectants of any kind, asking a stocker if it was necessary to sanitize hands. I was glad to see the stock clerk lean into the question with some answers longer than just a few words.

What this has me recognize are several important things. The first of course, when noticing a senior or anyone for that matter struggling to pay for small items – it’s a great place and a great time to be aware of opportunities to help – whether food or household items when we can. The cupboards might be a little barer, with visitors and helpful observers a bit more scarce than usual. Secondly but not secondarily, it’s very much worthwhile to show up if you hear questions from seniors about this pandemic. It occurred to me leaving the second store with a second occurrence  that there had been an even earlier conversation in the post office – an elderly man misinformed about the severity and the seriousness of this virus that brought on group conversation by those waiting in line. I live in a largely upper-senior neighborhood so this three-time occurrence inside a week may be more prevalent or opportune in my world. Still, what also appears largely in play is the right-wing media misinformation unchecked. Fox News median viewership is age 65. There is a lot of misinformation out there currently misdirecting a lot of vulnerable seniors.

Even though the president is now beginning his save-face efforts in an epidemiological turnabout – and Fox cancelling Trish Regan for ridiculous rants of conspiracy – Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Jesse Watters, Fox and Friends and Ed Henry responding to Fox’ top brass memos concerned with toning down the tone deafness probably for liability concerns- and of course the Juniors Trump & Falwell along with the ever right turning Dr. Drew pulling up the Trumpian rear by playing down reality.

Having a conversation with a senior who asks what may seem a minor question, might be all the difference in the world – in their world – a fact-free world fostered by the flagrantly fakest of news. 

Portraits In Black Speak Truth To White Adults And Children Of Color

Michele Obama presented these personal thoughts at the unveiling of her portrait by Amy Sherald;

“I’m also thinking about all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place and they will look up, and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”


Of course her words are true. It is profoundly important also that white America see these portraits hung in this great American institution. That we hear and find the extraordinary introspection within ourselves that the Obama’s inspired for America as a collective of human beings. They did, you know – model the virtuous act of introspection. Search for a statement made by either President or Mrs. Obama directed to this nation that did not include a vital look inward. You won’t be able to find one. Such altitudes of clarity are often lost to lowlands of privilege we white folks cannot recognize even within the dispensaries of all that milk and honey. White people as a body of citizens seldom if ever look inward collectively as to who America is – and more, what we might become.

The white-American-collective-social-consciousness is an extrospective view. It is an assembly of assertions rather than biding assessments tempered by recollections and pauses for self-examination. Ours are moth-balled insights in dire lack for our attention, as to who we are and where have been – what we have led – and least of all, what to do now.

This is America now. Whether it is present in our consciousness or not, the broadest view – the aerial view – the Blackest view – of our human landscape is and will increasingly become the height of contemporary American wisdom. It already is the fulcrum for a tipping point still teetering in the ambivalence of white-mindedness. White suffering is a phantom we try to wallow in as our objections reveal themselves to be mere holograms – substanceless and devoid of redemptive cause. It’s a shooting pain, blindingly white, but take comfort – it will ultimately pass, though for some it could deservedly linger. This is fact in our human condition, despite what we may be conditioned to believe. No amount of white denial will shoo this reality away.

White people are no longer the purveyors of societal wisdom, as so many hover to guard a withered dynasty. There is a newer and truer wisdom. One many of us are ready to embrace. Whether instruction for this wisdom comes from women of color, as they bear their burdens a second and third time trying to educate white feminists to the depths and reach of amassing intersectionality – or as men of color reflect what love of country actually looks like – where the preservation of human dignity is not encapsulated in a recruitment poster or the waving of a flag emblematic only of the cost of conquest, incognizant of the blood of the conquered. His is offered to us gently and on one knee. Still though, in our fragility it remains too unthinkable to bear. It is here however – make no mistake of self-deception. It is calling, and it beckons for open and wide celebration.

Swing low sweet chariot coming for to carry me home. It is time for supremacy to die – to rest among its many unmarked graves. Time to take down the homage to a lie we no longer have to live. We can either wither or enlighten, that’s entirely up to us. Perhaps Barack Obama said it best, and even prophetically as to the evolution and enlightenment of governing power. It is tucked away neatly in his summation of artist Kehinde Wiley’s angular view.

“But, what I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits, was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power, wealth, privilege and the way that he would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives, and put them on a grand stage,” he said. “The people in our families, people who built this country, built this capital, served food, took out the garbage.

Thank you President & Mrs. Obama. Thank you to those who have long suffered for this moment in time. It is almost bigger than the presidency and the occupancy of a White House for eight years graced by the Obama’s. This vital historic landing is forever immortalized in these halls, and stands like a lighthouse illuminating the jagged coast of a transatlantic heritage rising to the glory of its own.


The Simplicity Of Privilege


I am stunned each time I learn that someone I know and admire does not believe or accept the existence of white privilege. Not men who lack empathy, intelligence or discernment skills – but brilliant men. One a doctor specializing in children- One, a life coach who teaches wellness, fitness, conservation, and modalities of healing and consciousness. Another, a friend and highly accomplished colleague. None of whom comprehend White Privilege within the world they see around them. And each of whom otherwise carry integrity and honesty worthy of modeling. How does this occur?

It is invariably white males who cannot see the privilege with which their lives have patently and unerringly endowed. Particularly those who have worked hard, or see evidence of poverty among white people – both of which become argument against having inherited any benefit in any form, above or by way of others. But mostly, it presents as though we can’t accept the accountability that exists in the admission that America’s opportunity-bearing wealth has been built upon the backs of people of color and the free labor their exploitation, servitude and enslavement bore.

What would we better resolve with our undue enrichment, by generational depletion of families and communities who have been denied the same opportunity for accumulation of wealth, self determination and education. Where do we place it, but in its own saving grace of denial. A right of denial, which is only afforded us through the very means of privilege being denied.

Why is this, and how is this possible – that otherwise compassionate men would choose not to learn our history and our responsibilities to it? I can tell you why and how. It is designed this way. Other than those who knowingly perpetuate privilege and false supremacy, there is another category. The category of ignorance. It is this simple.

Privilege depends upon your not being aware

Of the things that do not happen to you

Because of inherent access you are not denied

Illuminable Extrospection

Bruce Rolff

Humans experience energies much like other elements are perceived.  You do not see wind, you see the debris and particulate it conveys.  You do not see light, you see its reflection- the side that is not shadow.  You see fragments of spectrum as carbon variations reflect the reds, the yellows, the blues and the greens, and the vastness of beauty by their limitless combinations.  Still ….. this is merely a reflection.

That which you see in the physical, we tell you, is neither their infinite array nor their incomprehensible spectacle of glory.  As much as physical sight will allow, it is dulled to the infinite geometrics of that which is not merely reflection, and yet remains unseen.

You feel the warmth, but not the structures transporting light and energy, nor the speed or wakeless force which delivers its comfort and utility.  Neither do you see the envelope from within which humans comprehend a relationship to the universe relative to time- another composition of which only its reflection is perceived.  It is a concept only beginning to seep in, and contradict the idea that you are separate from anything else, or that confines perception to a sequence of passing moments, making time the reference to your existence, and eternity the illusion in your mind.

~ Image Artist Bruce Rolff ~