Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And The Beat Goes On. . .

The hardest part about breaking the travel routine is returning to a city in such a tragic swamp it cannot lift its mudboots out of the slop. I hate to admit I live in a town of political virus and corruption, where each day someone is shot or wiped out by gang affiliates and each day the "city fathers" broadcast their salvation ideas in the media (God told me to.....), but shirk their responsibilities and collect their pay checks, evermore increasing.
Not only has the city government decided to slice in half the funds for city schools - which the state of Tennessee leaped upon and said, if you do that, then we won’t send the millions of dollars we fund for the city’s public schools either. But above that the Department of Children’s Service has cut all funding for the two prisons for juvenile delinquents that were filled to the brim in Memphis. Both were successful and useful enterprises. Thus now serious delinquents have to go to violent 201 Poplar, the disgraced city jail with a juvenile tank, or to Nashville’s state prisons for imprisonment, separating these children completely from their families. I found out the state girl’s prison offers only 34 beds - we had 24 occupied beds at our Memphis facility where I volunteered - remember the girls who made Christian prayer flags which I hung in the base camp zone of Mt. Everest? That’s them. Plus DCS is rapidly returning foster kids to trepedous situations by removing them from their foster homes (where they pay foster parents a monthly sum per kid) and tossing them back to incompetent or problem parents, which is why they were removed in the first place. As if that was not enough, our city mayor claims he is the victim and although he had promised to resign in July, assured us he could be reelected for a sixth term if it was on his mind to do so.
And the kids? Does anyone care about the kids? If things keep moving like this, teens won’t have a place to go to school nor a discipline facility when they break the law. Parents might even have to take responsibility for their children and help with their homework.
Maybe I should return to a simpler life where God surrounds you with hope and goodness and people care about and serve each other without labels or threats of racist mind-sets. I’m spoiled by the cultures I learned to respect in my foreign treks.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken a blog breather. I must shake off my political anger. My country is a mess. Gas is outrageous, tempers are high, everything is falling into an abyss that experts can no longer predict and the box is being tied shut with thick rope.
So cowardly as I must seem, although I had returned to a hefty exercise routine and volunteering at juvenile court, and had embraced my dearest friends, I flew away from the sweltering Memphis heat to mountainous Colorado with part of my family. We are hiking through sage and wildflowers - blue lupines, wild pink roses, wild columbines - a swell as sad pine forests deadened by an invasive beetle (they had this problem in Bhutan as well) and deep breathing cool cleaner air - although I must admit the mountains of Colorado have been scarred by construction, condos, and high living. The Snake River rushes in a hurry over our feet, and tourist crowd the streets of Brekenridge and I’m sure other hip towns like Aspen and Vail, to unload their hard earn vacation money in funky coffee shops, expensive restaurant (plan to pay one hundred dollars for four as a minimum for a sit down meal) and on lodgepole carved bears with smiles on their faces for you to put in front of your door. Real bears come down from the still present snow to raid garbage dumps, but it’s only hearsay. I haven’t seen one.
We are planning a horse trail ride (for which I have to buy a cowboy hat - again), a zip line ride, and a white water rafting ride interspersed with an occasional hike (alas, I forgot my poles.) and Pilates class. Oh, and one meal at The Dam Brewery in Dillon. (With a name like that, even when you don’t drink beer, it has drawing power. Breweries are major in these parts.) Snow plowed scenes are pretty, alright, but I have been to The Mountaintop (or close to it) and have the Himalayas and the Tetons in my soul. Everything else seems midget.
Just to note, there will be more blogs to come with overall re-thinking the incredible journeys I took between the end of May 07 and the first of June 08. Did I learn from these diverse adventures more about my soul, my struggles, and my fate? Does anyone care? Happy Independence Day.
Photos: The web woven gets tighter; a lot of praying going on; ooh mask found in a restroom in Colorado.

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