Sorrel Season's Greetings

The 16th Northern Winter Solstice Epistle
December 2013

As the last child in my family, what we call the wash beli, i suppose i always had somewhere in the back of my mind that at some point, barring any fatal accident, that i'd be the only one remaining. When Lily died in 2009, there was only Gwen and me left; now she has gone. There is no one any more to call me son or brother. That sole survivor status has come much earlier than expected, though i must insert a reservation here — as far as i know — since a young woman introduced herself as my sister Patricia many years ago, her claim bolstered by an undeniable resemblance to my eldest sister Margaret, and my father's acknowledged oat-sowing. I have not seen or heard of her since.

Now the last link to my parents and my early childhood is lost. Our shared memories and nostalgic recall brought us closer together. She who had been my disciplinarian and invigilator became an anchor, a mirror, a source of pride and continuity. We bonded over family lore and culture, recipes and idiosyncracies, helping each other recover fragments of the Hakka language of our early years. When she discovered Facebook she was like a child in a candy store, reconnecting with people from the past, making new friends and learning about her native country beyond the traditional-family and small-town limitations that had bound her before her migration and pre-WWW.

Death gives value, and in a sense almost infinite value, to our lives,
and makes more urgent and attractive the task of using our lives to achieve something for others ...
which apparently embodies more or less what is called the meaning of life.
~ Karl R. Popper ~

Life goes on and we pick up the pieces and continue. It was so wonderful to see so many relatives and friends at Gwen's celebration. Thank you for being there. We are all separated by circumstance and distance, never knowing when next we will meet again.

Nieces & Nephews
With nieces and nephews at Gwen's commemoration, June 22 2013, Celebration, Florida:
Ric, Suzanne, Colin, Betty, Carolyn, Melanie, Mary, Gillian, and grand-niece Alexa.

Apart from that, this year has gone by smoothly and uneventful, not surprising really since i have more or less withdrawn from public life and become somewhat of a recluse. I've let my hair and beard grow (a first, elicitng surprising reactions all around) in the ancient tradition of hermits and sages. I can understand why they did it as they became less concerned with the vanity of appearance and the non-importance of grooming. My motivation was much more practical, to save time and money going to the barber, but then i've found i end up spending the same or more time just washing the longer hair. In any event, my forays in the job and dating markets having been fruitless and warranting no further investment, i no longer feel constrained to keep up conventional appearances. As the de facto patriarch of my father's line, i can begin to look the part.

My days are spent mostly at the computer, social networking, researching and working on a patois text which i had hoped to publish this year but has taken longer than anticipated. I'm indexing now so nearing the end of the editorial phase. It is titled Biesik Jumiekan: An Introduction to Jamaican Language. I'm very happy with it so far but anxious to get past the publication hurdles as i have yet other book projects that i am itching to get to.

My main focus and concern is to get something going, someone interested in PANACEA , my proposed economic system idea. I have risen to the extent of my incompetence and can take it no further. Person or persons with expertise in systems design and algorithms are needed to come forward but until that comes about, i'm keeping busy. Besides working out at the gym every other day, food acquisition and preparation take up the rest of the time as my challenging and specialized (plant-based, whole-food, no-added fat) dietary regime demands. Reversing atherosclerosis and preventing heart disease more than justifies this effort. I now feel as if i've been given a reprieve, a few more years at least, in which to complete projects and deliver whatever messages i am to convey.

May 9,1938 - June 5, 2013.






Gwen and me 812
Orlando, Florida, August 2012,
last time we were together.






Biesik Jumiekan suuh kom


Here's a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.
~ Richard Bach ~
Commodity: Sugar
Commodities: Sugar
Digital composition
Commodity: Tobacco
Commodities: Tobacco
Digital composition

Postgenetic Series: Papishuo,
combining genetic and postgenetic codes


Pipe smoker
Pipe smoker with rooster
Digitally colored print

Started the year ambitiously enough, upgrading my digital imaging skills and producing the Postgenetic series. I completed only two of a planned six-part "Commodity series" which were conceived as part of my critique of current economic orthodoxy. Part of this particular campaign was to promote and publicize PANACEA, document it in a book on alternative economics, and raise some funds to ease my genteel poverty through crowd-funding. The campaign was a resounding flop which demoralized me and took the wind out of my sails which is why i never completed the planned Commodity series. Out of the experience though i have honed my digital manipulation skills, made my first video uploaded to Youtube, all of which will be applied in present and future projects. Wa jrapaaf a ed jrap pah shuolda. I'll be going back to crowd-funding when it is time to print Biesik Jumiekan.


In May i was honored by JFLAG holding the First Annual Larry Chang Human Rights Symposium marking International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHOT). The main proceedings were held at Knutsford Court Hotel, Kingston. I joined the DC section participating by teleconference.

DC participants in the symposium

The subject of the conference was homelessness among MSM which has become sensationalized in the Jamaican press. There are many pressing problems vying for attention there but basic compassion and regard for human rights should be given some priority. In the absence of input from government or the NGO community, an effort is being made by activists led by Maurice Tomlinson and Yvonne McCalla-Sobers to provide a shelter, Dwayne's House, named for a murdered transgender, for those affected. If you can contribute in any way, please consider doing so. The background story is here .

This is the true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.
~ George Bernard Shaw ~
Those who wish to keep their illusions can do so and will remain frozen in place.
Those who fear them will recede into safer illusions, while those of you who see through them move ever forward.
~ Wu Hsin ~


So happy to have come across recently the work of Wu Hsin who joins my pantheon of advaita/Zen masters.
My wish for you is the gift of awareness as you make your choices — good, bad and indifferent.
Those are merely interpretative labels we attach. Awareness is all.
To borrow Hillel's phrase, all the rest is commentary.
Watch what you add, the ADDverbs and ADDjectives you apply to what is, for they will determine your experience.


Washington DC, Year-end 2013

These annual epistles have been archived for ready retrieval:
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Quotations from Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing except where otherwise noted.

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