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Sunday Scribblings


I took a walk this past week: Out of the office I have occupied for the past two-and-a-half years, out of the position I have held for the past three years, and out of the organization where I have worked for the past seven years. On Monday morning, I will walk into a new workplace, be assigned to a new office and areas of responsibility, and begin getting acquainted with new colleagues.

On Monday, I will begin to walk along a different professional path.

I make it my practice not to write here about my professional pursuits and coworkers, other than to reveal that I am an attorney. That will not change, but I do feel it is appropriate to note this milestone and the new direction my life path is taking.

I was blessed to have spent the past seven year performing work that was meaningful and, I believe, important. But for many reasons, it was time to move on. Fortunately, once I made up my mind, a completely unexpected new opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance to make this change.

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Angels are around us every day, everywhere.

JHSEsq collects angels playing flutes

They are mentioned many times in the Bible, perhaps most notably when an angel appeared to inform Mary that she was not only pregnant, but would give birth to the Savior, and again on Christmas Eve when they sang “Gloria” to signal his arrival. My favorite Christmas carols have always been “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

Hebrews 13:2 reminds us to “entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

In addition to being messengers, angels are also rescuers. Acts 12, for instance, describes how an angel was sent to release Peter from prison. After waking him up and telling him to get dressed, the angel walked him right out of the prison, accompanying him the full length of one street and assuring that he was safe before leaving him. Afterward, he said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me . . ” so he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John (who was also called Mark), and told the people gathered there how he had escaped.

On April 29, 1976, my father underwent open heart surgery for the first time. He was 57 years old; I was 19 and about to receive my Associate of Arts degree from San Joaquin Delta College. I planned was to transfer to a college in Orange County in the fall of that year.

I remember being incredibly frightened because my father had, as far as I knew, been healthy until then. And fathers are supposed to be invincible — strong providers for their families, especially their daughters. He had been ignoring symptoms of heart disease for some time. The local physician who treated him for many years described him once as “stoic” — an apt characterization of a man who stubbornly kept overhauling Lincoln transmissions, despite attacks of angina, because his youngest daughter was set to head off to college. Nothing was more important to my parents than seeing their two daughters graduate from college, secure steady jobs and be self-sufficient.

So it was quite shocking when my father went to the hospital to have surgery for a hernia, but instead ended up coming home that same morning with an appointment to see a cardiologist in Sacramento the next day. At that moment, my world changed forever: It was the point in my life when I learned, as every child eventually does, that my parents were vulnerable beings.

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As I mentioned previously, on July 15, 2007, I was honored to spend the day with Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway at the Master Class in Napa. The way such a class works is this: The first portion of the class is a general lecture and group warm-up. Those desiring to be “participants” submit a professional-quality recording in advance and Sir James selects four players to whom he will give instruction while the audience members — “auditors” — watch and learn.

JHSEsq attended the Master Class in Napa with Sir James Galway

Based upon the various videotapes of other classes that I have watched, as well as interviews, information posted on his website and the e-mails that Sir James sends to our discussion group, I knew that the opportunity to attend the class represented a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from a world-class flutist who has no equal.

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“It was a dark and stormy night” here in Northern California. The drive from Lodi to San Rafael in the late afternoon wasn’t bad, but the drive back home to Lodi was miserable because of the steady, hard downpour which made it extremely difficult to see and fairly treacherous since portions of the freeway were beginning to develop standing water since so much water was coming down quickly. In short, it was a miserable trip.

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What mask do you wear? When do you put it on? For whom? Who is your audience? Do you have more than one mask and change them the way you do your wardrobe, depending upon the occasion? Are you ever without your mask? What is your biggest fear about letting the world see you without your mask(s)?

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My mother, Ethel, left this world on October 13, 2005, but she left her family long before that. She left us gradually, slowly inching further and further away until she finally retreated into her own little universe — a little corner of her own mind where we could no longer connect or interact with her. And eventually, I did something I never would have believed I could do: I wished that she would die.

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I am rooted in reality. That is a double-edged sword.

There is a certain peace, security and self-confidence that comes with understanding and accepting how, where and why your life is anchored. Becoming rooted in who you are and are not, who you were and were not, what is and is not, what will and will not be, what is and is not possible, is empowering because it is no longer necessary to engage in the soul-searching, questioning and experimenting that characterizes our lives when we are in our 20’s, 30’s and, for some of us, even our 40’s.

By the time most of us achieve the milestone I did this past December, we have survived the traumas and confusion of young adulthood — the struggles of acquisition — and become rooted in a career, home, family, hobbies and all the other things that make us who we are.

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