Ron Price's Annual Email: 6th Edition
Part A: Introduction
This 6th edition of my annual email/letter was written for the festival of Ridvan in 2012. You can read about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridv%C3%A1n Ridvan is a 12 day period which ended at sunset on May 2nd. This period of time celebrates the commencement of the prophethood of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, in 1863. You can also read about the calendar used by Baha'is, a calendar which began in 1844 & which is used to determine, with the Gregorian calendar, the basis for the dates each year of my annual emails, at: http://www.michianabahais.org/badi.html
I wrote a 5th edition of this annual email in relation to the celebration of Easter on 8/4/'12 by Christians, & the commemoration of the Passover by Jews from 6/4/'12 to 14/4/'12. Earlier editions of this annual email mentioned festivals & celebrations, commemorations & days of remembrance in: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese religion & Paganism but space on this post does not permit specific reference, again & in any detail, to these many special religious occasions, among the many others, around the world. The events in the Christian calendar continue, of course; Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. Among Christians, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-31.
You can read about these Christian celebrations, celebrations which I find many people know little about any more due to the secularization of Easter, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery: such is the conventional story. The Jewish calendar is also little known any more. The repeated overlap of Easter & Passover has historically been a source of tension among some Christians and Jews. That tension is part of what some scholars call the “Passover Predicament." But this post is not a lesson in history or theology. I leave it to readers, therefore, to follow-up on their own interests and intellectual curiosities on that wonderful new tool for the extension of one's knowledge, the world-wide-web.
It would appear, at least it is my considered view after reading the feedback I have received from the 1600 hits at this annual post, as well as feedback from emails I have written over many previous years, that most of those who read this internet post, the annual email written on behalf of my wife and I, are not members of the Baha'i community. Most of the readers of this annual email are also not Christians affiliated with a particular denomination, nor are they Jews, nor people affiliated with other religious communities. Some who read this annual post are Christians, some are Jews; some are members of other major religions, but most who read this internet post would call themselves, theists, agnostics or atheists. Such is my general view. With nearly 1700 hits this annual post has been read, in whole or in part, by a mixed bag of recipients in the time it has been in cyberspace, whatever their philosophical or religious positions.
The first and second edition of this annual email for 2011, for the Christmas and New Year period in the Gregorian calendar, was sent in the first week of December 2011 & in the first week of January 2012, respectively. That 2nd edition can be found at this link: http://www.theforumsite.com/users/ro.../journal/80828 This 6th edition of my annual communication was sent for the friends & associations who have been in my life & my wife's in recent years & in years long gone. I also wrote this 6th edition of my annual email for the many readers I have picked-up during the last dozen years, during the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, scholar and online-journalist---after a 50 year student-and-employment life: 1949-1999. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call that role of online journalist, online-blogger and writer-of-internet posts in the vast commentariat that is the internet.
Many of my blogs and quasi-blogs at an assortment of internet sites can be found at: http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&scli...sm=12gs_upl=28 In the time that this annual communication has been in cyberspace it has received, as I say, some 1600 hits and so I feel that this new form of sending out my annual email is a useful one. My blogs, of course, are another communication tool written with various literary and social constituencies in mind in cyberspace. In my new literary roles, I like to have readers. It's a bit like talking & the need to have listeners, although the desire to be liked and to be popular present their own problems as most of us are only too aware.
I also have several books and literally hundreds of essays and poems at this link:http://bahai-library.com/author Readers have to type the word "Price" into the search box & then click on the word "Search." In our world of print & image glut, readers of this post should not feel obliged to read any of the 50 items & thousands of pages of stuff they will then have access to read!
Some argue that a person's letters are a much more reliable guide to the understanding of a human being than are their essays or novels, their poems or social networking posts, or even meeting them in person. I'm not so sure of this, though, for there is: epistolary disguise, postures which replace relationships, and what might be called a social-literary presentation of self. Letters are seen by some analysts as a place where a part of a person's identity emerges, even a type of theatrical attentiveness with its concern for appearances, or a carefully arranged series of signs--among other roles for their writers. Frank Kermode, a British literary ciritic who died in 2011 at the age of 91 wrote, just before he died, that we have seen the last age of letter-writing. I'm not so sure of that either. Kermode made this comment before the internet got going with the millions and billions of emails now being sent every day. The subject of literary communication is interesting and complex, perhaps more complex now in the 21st century, than in previous centuries and ages.
Tasmania, where I have now lived for 16 years of my life, has the best of the Australian climates & the best of the southern Ontario climates combined--for my tastes. I lived in southern Ontario for the first 25 years of my life with summers hotter than here and winters, to say the least, like living in a refrigerator. My 25 years on mainland Australia had summers like living in an oven. Summer in Tasmania is now gone, long gone. It was a perfect summer for a person like me who does not like the heat. We had, perhaps, two weeks with the temperature over 25 and no days over 30 in what some people in this oldest town in Australia call the French Riviera of Tasmania or even of Australia. The beautiful autumn season in Tasmania is now in its last month with winter less than four weeks away.
I know what it is like to have temperatures over 30 from both my 26 summers in Ontario Canada and an equal number of years when I lived on the mainland of Australia. I lived for the first three years of my life, 1944 to 1947, in Hamilton on a large sandbar called the Beachstrip between Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay. Lake Ontario was the first place my parents used to take me as a child to paddle about. Back then the lake was clean but not now. Burlington Bay was/is a natural harbour. In 1947 my parents and I moved from the city of Hamilton to the town of Burlington where I lived from the age of 3 to 18 and where we joined the Baha'i Faith.
My parents and I were among the first 1000 members of the Baha'i community in Canada back in the 1950s. In 1971, when I arrived as an international pioneer in Australia, there were an equal number of believers Downunder and the temple in Sydney had been here for a decade. I have come to live a whole world away from that Beachstrip and the town of Burlington. Chris, on the other hand, is now ensconsed just 50 kms from the town she grew-up in, namely, Launceston where she joined the Baha'i Faith in 1974. These are just some opening & nostalgic reflections on the nearly 70 years of my life, as I make these additions and alterations to earlier editions of this annual post with the Ridvan festival long gone.
Part B: Means of Communicating These Days
One advantage of writing online, at least at some sites like this one, is the freedom writers have to revise their work. I have been revising this email in the time that it has been here at this internet site entitled ConceptArt.org. Circumstances in my life and the life of the significant others, as psychologists call the members of one's immediate family, among others who take on a special importance to us in our lifespan, are always changing. I have placed this link in the autobiography section of my website so that readers who want a broader context for its contents than just the last year or so---can read the material I have placed in the long autobiography sub-section of my website at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html And, if they have no desire to read stuff at my internet site or, indeed, the rest of this post, they should feel free to do so. In some ways, this goes without saying.
In the last 40+ years, since completing my studies in the mid-1960s and beginning my FT working life as a teacher in 1967, I have moved around a great deal, had many a pioneering post, as Baha'is call places to which they move as part of the global expansion of a faith that claims to be the newest of the Abrahamic religions, since the beginning of the first Plan of the House of Justice in 1964. I had already lived and pioneered in several towns in southern Ontario before moving to Windsor Ontario in 1966, Canada's most southerly city; these moves were mostly part of my summer jobs at university. It was at what is now the University of Windsor that I completed my teacher training. I then married and moved to the Canadian Arctic in 1967, before coming to Australia, as I say, in 1971. My life has taken many directions, as is the case of millions of people who live into their late adulthood, the years from 60 to 80 according to one model of human development.
The exercise of keeping in touch by email is, perhaps, something one tries to do moreso when one has moved around as much as I have and when one never sees anyone whom one knew before about the age of 30, and only a handful one has known before the age of 50! This is a common experience, surprisingly, even for people who never leave their hometown, as I have discovered from my conversations and contacts with people in recent years. Facebook has become, for many, a convenient, and the major, tool for quick backs-and-forths which, when added to the telephone and personal visits is enough of a communication MO for most. I, too, have a Facebook site at:http://www.facebook.com/ronprice9?ref=tn_tnmn I use it to post my writing and, of my 75 "friends" I only know about 20. Many others contact me on the internet due to my Facebook and twitter links. Writers like me want to have readers in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners, and who am I to reject someone who wants to be "my friend" at this most popular of social networking sites with nearly 1 billions users as of May 2012! Popularity, though, has its downside. I am not likely to be either famous or rich even though I now have millions of readers. But the internet has more than 2 billion users, nearly 300 million websites, and 8 billion pages of documents. So my work in cyberspace is but a needle in the proverbial haystack.
Many are the colleges and universities, as well as primary and secondary schools which now have their own websites. There are collective-internet sites like Classmates and Alumni.net where people like me are able to maintain contact with others who attended the schools they attended in their youth and young adulthood. This is also true of many of the work organizations where I was once employed. Even cities and towns where I once lived have their own websites and one can reconnect with them and people one knew there, if one wishes. It is an interesting experience contacting someone whom one has not seen for over half a century, or over 30 years ago in some place one worked or some town where one lived. Life, of course, is a changing kaleidoscope of events for everyone no matter what their MO, whatever the extent of their desire to maintain contact with people from their past. Those who have had a peripatetic life like myself, as well as those who have stayed in the familiar territory of the place where they grew up, they all have their changing life styles and interests, activities and personal needs/desires as they head through the different stages of their lifespan into the evenings of their lives.
I left my home in 1964, where I had lived with my parents for 20 years, and nearly 50 years later those 20 years of growing-up seem now a little like a dream. I try to stay in touch with many of my friends and associations over the last 7 decades by means of emails and letters. I do this partly to try to tie-down the dream- like quality of life, this vapour-in-the-desert, which in some ways can not be tied down. I also try to stay in touch because I am a writer, at least more fully since my retirement from the world of FT jobs in 1999. PT jobs in 2001, and most casual-volunteer work in 2005. Some people to whom I used to write from the 1960s to the 1990s have stopped writing; they have just gone off the radar, so to speak, for a variety of reasons: death, a dislike of the internet, no desire to use sites like Facebook and twitter, no desire to write in general, or a simple preference for other activities in life. After all these years only two people now stay in touch annually by snailmail letters. Half a dozen people send cards. Still others write long emails like this one; some prefer personal contact, and still others are into texting or the telephone: Chris deals with these communication tools. And yet others send periodic emails during the year to tell me and/or Chris what's happening in their lives. Some send simple acknowledgements of a few words, a few lines or a few paragraphs; others send no acknowledgements or responses to this email. Again: to each their own in our now highly variegated world of technological communication.
Just skim and scan the rest of this email, this internet post, if you have read this far, read every line or stop reading. Click this post off and go on with your life. All the words which follow will then disappear into the ether of the internet. In our world of print and image-glut we all have to work out what we can handle, what is meaningful to each of us, and what we want to bother to take in in our own way. Collectively, the incoming messages I now receive keep me busy communicating with friends & relatives as well as associations of various kinds accumulated over a lifetime. I have begun to work out systems to simplify my now extensive correspondence & this exercise is, on the whole, a pleasurable one. Writing is also an activity I prefer to many hours of: gardening & galivanting, sport & socializing, entertainment & exercise, taking care of pets & children, fixing things & fishing, teaching & talking, watching TV & working at earning a living. The task of making money which engaged me from at least 1954 to 2004, half a century, no longer occupies my attention. Now on pensions, the small money supply of my wife and I has a limiting effect on our consumer desires.
Lewis Carroll the author of Alice in Wonderland, it is said, wrote over 100 thousand letters in his lifetime and they were, for him, a source of psychic satisfaction. I also find this to be the case, but I am aware that this is not the case for most people these days. Chris spends hours every week on the phone, and many more hours visiting family and friends as well as taking part in Baha'i activity. She gets much psychic satisfaction in these domains. We all have our ways to achieve a sort of psychic integration, to stay sane and make life comfortable for ourselves in what often seems an insane and uncomfortable world. Of course, life also brings us pleasures and enjoyments along with the mundane routines that are necessary for a comfortable daily existence.
In the world of communication I use the kind of phones that have been in my personal and/or professional life in one way or another, with their several technological changes since the 1950s, and I use them as little as possible. I leave incoming calls, for the most part, to my wife. We can't be utilizers of all the old, as well as all the new, forms of communication. Everyone has their favorite means and modes of KiT, to use an acronym now employed by internet and email posters for “keeping in touch.” There is now a lengthening list which people have as a means of KiT. Of course, who knows what lies ahead in this 21st century in terms of what communication tools any of us may use in the future!?
Part C: Holidays, Festivities and Celebrations
The 5th edition of this annual email served as an Easter and Passover greeting. The Easter weekend ended on 9/4/'12. This 6th edition served as a Ridvan greeting, as I also said above. The 4th edition served as a Naw-Ruz greeting, the third edition as an Ayyam-i-Ha greeting, and the first & second editions as my annual greeting to those celebrating Christmas and the Gregorian new year some 20 weeks ago. I’ve been involved with these two sets of annual festivities for nearly 60 years. Many used to send cards but, in recent years, sending cards at least for Chris and I and those whom we have got to know over the last several decades, is not as frequent an occurrence. Electronic cards seem to be an increasingly popular communication tool that some enjoy sending. Each year Chris and I get 4 or 5 electronic-cards and a similar number of snailmail cards for all, but not each, of these annual festivals. We have not, ourselves, sent out cards, electronic or otherwise, for years. Our main communication is this annual email and, to a small handful, this email/post is sent as snailmail.
Part D: News About A. Family and B. Self
Some of the following information will be relevant to some readers and some will not. These annual emails are written to scatter the recipient net wide, so to speak; some of the fish, the recipients, get caught in the net and enjoy the read; some swim away from the net to avoid getting caught in its mesh of information, I have little doubt. Here is a summary below of the lives of some of the significant others in my life:
1. The situation of Chris’s daughter and my step-daughter, Vivienne, now 46, has not changed since my last email and so I will not write the details about her life as a mother and a nurse. I have already written about her life in the last few years. In December 2011, though, her husband Andrew began a new job in Launceston in the IT industry, with a company called IT Solutions. It is a job he clearly prefers to his previous job in George Town for several reasons not the least of which is that he does not have to make the 60 minute drive each way every day. He is as fit-as-a-fiddle and at 45 has taken-up road bicycle-racing. He recently took part in a 230 kms ride on the west coast of Tasmania and said that he did not even feel tired when he finished the race!
Vivienne and Andrew's two children, and my step-grandchildren, Kelsey 16 and Tobias 18, continue with their busy lives. Kelsey is still in her high school years, grade 10, with more activities in addition to her studies than you can shake-a-stick at. She loves dancing and singing; she also has a part-time job in a bakery; this has been, and will be, a useful learning experience for her. Tobias has three part-time jobs as he ponders what step to take to begin his career. Both of these step-grandcildren always seem to be coming or going and doing something or other as reports continue to flow-in to me here in this little old(the oldest in Australia) town some 60 kms away from where they live at Relbia on a rural property outside the city of Launceston. Some who get this email may not know Vivienne or even remember her since, in 1982, she stayed in Tasmania with her father, Chris's first husband, when Chris and I moved from Tasmania to Australia's Northern Territory.
Many who read this email will not know anyone whom I mention . Some readers may remember a little of what I have written in my annual email in previous years, even though they may never meet some of the people whose lives I am surveying here. I also get long letters from people some of whose lives have slipped to the periphery of mine, or were never central in the first place. Their long letters often tell me about the details of their family's lives. I skim & scan them to save me from getting print-glut, as I'm sure many do with the long posts of mine---like this one. I must add, though, that long annual emails are getting rarer in the last decade in part, I'm sure, due to the many other means of communicating that have come into our lives.
2. Chris’s second daughter, Angela, & the younger of my two step-daughters, had her first baby, George. He is now 20 months old. Angela is 41 and lives in Launceston. Her partner, Connie, is a Brazillian & a resident in Florianopolis, the capital city of Santa Catarina State in southern Brazil. He is a businessman engaged in selling wholesale jewellery. Ange and Connie separated in 2011 in Brazil, and they are slowly working out the arrangements for bringing up their son, George. As the years go on, as those who are separated do and must, Ange's and Connie's life will change as will the process of bringing up little George. Connie visited Ange and George for one month in December 2011. He is now back in Brazil due to his employment and since Brazil is his home. Since the two don't live together, Ange has the demanding role of being a single-working-parent. She has a part-time job centred in Launceston in the field of public relations and event management for Tasbreeders. This organization represents Tasmania’s breeding interests at national & local breeders' meetings through representation on a range of committees.
3. Daniel is now 34 and has been married for more than two-and-a-half years. Daniel's wife Zuriash is an Ethiopian from Addis Ababa and she is 32. She has a degree in economics from the university of Addis Ababa, and is as far removed as is possible from the image people in the West have of starving people in the Horn of Africa. She, like Dan, worked at the Baha’i World Centre until December 2010. They are now living in George Town. Daniel & Zuriash moved to Hobart after staying with Chris & I for the first 10 weeks of 2011, & after leaving Israel when their years of service came to an end in that major port city of Israel. Dan was offered a 3 year scholarship in early 2010 in oceanography. At the end of that three year scholarship he would have been granted a PhD. After more than two months in the program, though, he pulled out since he did not find the contents of the study of sufficient interest for him to devote three years of his life to its pursuit.
Daniel was at the Bahá'í World Centre for nearly three years first as an engineer and then as a statistical analyst. Daniel is currently working part-time, three days a week, in Launceston for Tas-Gas, a private company which retails gas in Tasmania. He has been employed as a technical writer now for six months. He is enjoying his job, a job which allows him to help Zuriash in this first year after the birth of their child. Zuriash and Dan had their first baby on 21/9/’11; mother, father and baby are all progressing well.
4. I keep in touch by email and snailmail with several members of my family back in Canada, a family I have not seen since the 1960s, except one of my cousins and his wife for one day several years ago when they came to Melbourne from Canada on a holiday. I also write regularly to my first wife, Judy. She and her South Australian husband, Evan, had three children and now have one grandchild just entering primary school. The many people both in these two families in Canada and in Chris’s extended family here in Tasmania have lives which are filled with potential news which I could relate. But the news of the people in these three families and their extensions, my consanguineal and affinal families as they call these two types of families in sociology, is not really of interest to the people who read this email and to whom I now send these periodic emails. Of course, should anyone want more information about anyone or any topic I raise in this email, they need only ask.
B. Chris and I
On average, 3 or 4 times a month, Chris and I have between 1 and 8 people in for purely social or family reasons on the one hand or as part of some Baha'i function on the other. Long gone are the many meetings with many people that Chris and I have had both in our home and in other places as far back to the 1970s. I maintain an element of my previously extensive social existence, and Chris more than an element. I have a far-less active social life than I had, for example, in the 1990s in Perth Western Australia with its Baha’i community of over 2000, and with my full-time job---before retiring after 32 years of teaching and another 18 as a student more than a decade ago for this sea-change to Tasmania. Half a century in classrooms was enough and, by the age of 55, I wanted to be in places other than schools and do something else with the remaining years of my life. For a brief overview of the towns I lived in and the jobs I had during that half-century go to: http://au.linkedin.com/in/pioneeringoverfourepochs
New medications for bipolar disorder in the last several years have had the effect of limiting the extent of my social interaction. Chris gads about far more than I do and has many a meeting, social visit and drive hither-and-yon to some family, community or Baha'i activity while I take care of the home front. Most of what you might call my teaching and meaningful interaction is now in cyberspace. After the limited socializing in our home, and my/our visits in the homes of others, our several Baha'i activities in our home in George Town and attending to visitors in our home, I have little energy or interest in anything more of a social nature. Chris and I, therefore, don't often take part in Baha'i, family and other activity outside the George Town locality. This is also because our health is not that good and we don't like to drive at night any more.
Part E: Concluding Words
I trust your life is a comfortable one even if busy & demanding in its various ways as most people’s lives seem to be these days. If you enjoy a more leisurely lifestyle now in your retirement, as some who receive this email do, may such a leisurely pace continue & with it good health and plenty of energy to enjoy what some call the declining/reclining years of the evening of life. If you are still jobbed & raising a family, we wish you well in coping with life's many demands.
At 50 kms away, Launceston has been “the big smoke” for us in George Town at what is now a half hour drive. I arrived in Launceston the first time back in 1973 to be interviewed for a job that had the title "senior tutor in human relations." I have been learning about human relations ever since; haven't we all! Those 40 years seem to have gone by swifter than the twinkling of an eye. If you are not inclined to write in any detail in the busy tournament that is life not to worry. "Such is life," as Ned Kelly is reported to have said on his way to the gallows in NSW in 1880.
In the time that this email has been in cyberspace I have received several lengthy replies and several short and medium length ones. Fewer and fewer people are inclined to write in detail these days. We all have our own likes and dislikes, tastes and tendencies & personal activity preferences when it comes to what we do with our time and the means and extent to which we want to communicate. So whatever you do with your time, and however you want to communicate, indeed, if you want to communicate at all, may your activities give you pleasure & meaning. Chris and I trust your world is a harmonious one and that it will remain that way until I write again on our behalf. My email for 2012, which updates the contents of this email, is found at this link:http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...39#post3452639