Access Information at: Home – Steinbeck Center
We live in a time of conflict. It is a time when lies that have been repeated for years have led to confusion and darkness. Fantastical lies are part of the belief system of many who do not want to think for themselves. There is a famine of critical consciousness in the world. Recently I was reviewing a manuscript for an academic journal, where I am an assistant editor. The observation of a homeless woman in Pakistan elegantly summed up what many believe across the globe:
“People no longer care; everyone has lost their humanity.”
She looks like someone with a story that John Steinbeck may have written about. This led me to visit the National Steinbeck Center and John Steinbeck’s grave. Where is John now that we need him? We are fortunate John is a light across time with a message for all ages through his memorable stories.
Let us ponder how we treat our brothers and sisters. When we treat others as Objects (Subject > Object relationships) we diminish who we are, and they are, as human beings. When we treat others as Subjects (Subject<>Subject relationships) we are on equal standing and everyone wins. More than ever we need to find the path of truth where we are all part of the human family. We need to come together in a metaphorical Tent of Meeting where, as equals, we work together to build good will among all humans.
What follows is a tour of the legacy of John Steinbeck’s literature at the National Steinbeck Center, Steinbeck House, and a visit to his grave.
Steinbeck House is not part of National Steinbeck Center
Access information at: The Steinbeck House
This is the birthplace and childhood home of John Steinbeck. It is a restaurant and offers tours of the family home.
Sampling of John Steinbeck’s Works
As a student at Monterey Peninsula College in the early 1970s I was introduced to John Steinbeck’s work The Long Valley as part of an assignment in an English course. His focus on the human condition, of light and shadow, and cruelty among humans is something to ponder. We have entered into another time where the frightful energies of the past appear to have grasped this moment. One can hope and work for a positive transformation of our society. I have decided to read these short stories again to discover new meaning, and figure how our Tents of Meeting may expand to include all people.
This was one of the first novels that I read. There are no longer Canneries in Cannery Row. The Steinbeck Theatre of the 1960s was replaced by a restaurant.
In life we are always confronted with change. Change is part of living. Forgetting does not work and has us repeat familiar cycles that are painful and threaten our learning from experience. This ignorance of the past threatens our ability to compassionately embrace hope and wellbeing of humans, other sentient beings, air, water, land, fire/energy, trees, and the planet in general.
While the Nobel Prize was awarded for Mr. Steinbeck’s whole body of work. The Winter of Our Discontent demonstrated to the Nobel Prize Committee his ongoing contribution to literature.
Travels with Charlie
May all of our trips that take us on an odyssey of discovery be as rich as the Travels with Charley in 1962
Honors and Awards
The 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature
Presidential Medal of Freedom – 1964
Commemorative Postage Stamp 1979
John’s Best Friend
Visit to John Steinbeck’s Grave
In regard to the quote at the beginning of this blog.
“People no longer care; everyone has lost their humanity.”
The soil of John’s stories throughout his life may be a path to assist us in reflecting on care of others who do not have access to the resources necessary to meet their basic needs. Compassion for others may be the successful way forward. Caring may be a way to recapture our authentic humanity if we have lost our way.
In December 2019 we arrived at Havana on an MSC Cruise in the Caribbean. We went on a tour of the city in a vintage car, and then walked around the main part of the city located near the Cruise Port. The locals were friendly and we were not met with pressing crowds of people selling their goods as in other ports in the Caribbean. We felt safe and engaged in pleasant conversations with city residents. The cars of my childhood and adolescence were in remarkably good shape. The Tropicana Nightclub was a highlight of the trip. It was part of an MSC excursion experience. The food was good and the entertainment most memorable. Great singing, music, and dance on a massive stage in the outdoors under the tropical stars.
The essence of life’s journey is found in its meaning and purpose, not merely reaching one’s destination.
From May 13 through May 26 we visited Italy. The first part of the visit was with Gate 1 Travel with tour manager Linda L. Linda is the apotheosis of tour managers. She is convivial, anticipates visitors needs and a font of kindness and information.
As I began this journey I realized I had entered a crucible of tension in religious history. One must ask: How did we get from the Gospel of Peace shared by Christ to Crimes Against Humanity when the church gained political power (e.g., realities such as inquisitions, genocides, papal bulls that created slavery and domination of nations to pillage and rape resources)? The Inquisition was not abolished until the 19th Century, and more recently Catholic Church clergy participation in the Rwanda genocide of 1994. I realized the beauty of some of the art was a distraction, or alternative faux reality, the result of more sinister intentions. The following is a photo essay of the high points of the trip including special memories of the experience, juxtaposed against the Light and Shadow of human nature.
We spent an evening of wine tasting and dinner at Villa Machiavelli a transformative atmosphere. A true Tuscany treasure!
Brief visit to Pisa
From Venice to Florence we visited the Leaning Tower. Pisa is a wonderful place to visit with several features in the Leaning Tower property. Plan to spend a few hours. The church and baptistry interiors are a must to experience as well as the museums.
Thanks to Nany Barnes, Photographer For this Photo
I had hoped that the trip would include some moments where a brief moment of solitude and spirituality would ensue. For a few minutes gazing at ceiling art and sculptures offered a connection with the bigger pictures. Pisa did offered some space to reflect and connect with numinous energy.
Florence offers a range of experiences that would require more than our day and a half visit. The Duomo and sculpture and art museums require more time to view than was available. The Basilica of Santa Croce was a wonderful find with memorials to Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Dante and several others who have left their treasures and wisdom for history. The city tour was a relaxed and an informative walk through the neighborhoods of the city made the visit enjoyable, in light of the huge number of visitors that fill the city. We were able to experience the ambience of Florence while stopping at important sites along the way.
The visit to Assisi was a pleasant surprise. While crowded and over built, there was a sense of peace. One is able to experience the historical energy of the place while working around the tourist shops. The Church of St. Francis is a spiritual treasure chest of religious art.
Rome is a GREAT city. On the way to the Vatican I reflected on my childhood understanding of the Corporal Works of Mercy as I observed homeless people and elderly women begging. This poignant picture leaves one to ponder church teaching and application. In the midst of great wealth and treasure have we forgotten the directions in Mathew 35? This week (May 15, 2022) St. Charles de Foucauld was canonized and his message from the teaching of Christ was, “As you did to the least of these brothers and sisters you did it me.” This continues to beg the age old questions: Are we responsible for the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters?
St Peter’s Basilica
Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel was an experience of wall-to-wall people and difficulty seeing a appreciating many of the master works that had been taken from all continents. The flow of traffic did not allow much time to snap photos. The following are a few of the items I was able to capture.
Picture taking was not allowed so I am relegated to offering a picture of a picture. Walking from the Vatican Museum into the chapel we passed through a door and entered a crowded room with hundreds of others, like pieces of a broken hologram, each of us were looking from a different lens at Michelangelo’s masterpiece. As I was pressed toward the middle of the room I felt like a wobbling weevil trying to gain balance as I looked up to enter into the moment of the creation of humans. I was not so stressed by the crowd as I realized we were all in our own trance space reconstructing our own images viewing and connecting to the stories above our eyes.
The Surrounding Area and Coliseum
Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon
San Pietro in Vincoli
Basilica S. Maria degli Angeli
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola
This church was one of the high points of the journey. Magnificent images with plenty of space to sit and enter into the dreams depicted. These ethereal images literally took my breath away! I was able to sit quietly and enter into the multiple stories of Jesuit encounters across the globe. I also realized that the Jesuits and others embraced the Papal Bulls of the 1400s that set forth slavery and pillage of foreign lands as the missionary standard. In light of the long history of this religious order, this is no doubt the repository of some of the finest art in Rome.
Art from Several Museums
Palazzo Massimo National Roman Museum in Rome
Amalfi Coast Sojourn
From the Termini Train Station we took a 2 hour high speed train to Salerno and boarded a boat tour of the coast stopping at Amalfi and Positano. It was a mixed sunny and overcast day and a relaxed experience. The two stops involved encountering a large number of tourists through crowded streets. The tour boat captain was informative and provided a leisurely and memorable experience.
We are grateful to Nancy Barnes who shared these photos.
Closing Thoughts and Photos
A couple of closing photos and thoughts. The church San Martino ai Monti – Rome, was most fascinating as the current church sits on several levels of earlier non-Christian and Christian places of worship. I particularly liked the level where the crypt picture is located here, I think it was 4th century. Curiously the Madonna’s model was a contemporary priest known to the artist. This journey was one that forced an encounter with the intersection of alternating realties requiring me to examine my sense of meaning and purpose related to organized religions. The journey was filled with many fond memories and good feelings about the people we traveled with, and a new perspective on great art in the context of historical tides driven by human Light and Shadow in the places we visited.
Coaching is different than therapy since coaching focuses on the future and planning on how to reach goals. Therapy focuses on the past and working toward resolution of past experiences and conflicts.
Many social workers across the country have been adding coaching to their repertoire of serves. It is important that practitioners clarify their role as coach or therapist. Coaching is about empowerment as well as planning for the future. Coaching skills borrow from the generalist skills used by social workers with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.
Coaching has been an aspect of social work practice since the beginnings of the profession. In the settlement house movement social workers coached various groups of clients around life skill development, organizing communities to bring about social change, and educational efforts as well. These skills predated the clinical direction that the profession took in the early to mid-20th century. The focus of many social work interactions is to assist clients in seeing their situation differently to get unstuck and move forward with life. Coaching intersects with such activity in that it assists clients in carefully planning how to reach a goal that they set for themselves.
Once goals and plans are established the coach often acts as a cheer leader and task master. In meeting with clients, the coach focuses on the client’s progress in reaching their goal or goals. The coach helps the client incrementally put together a step by step plan to reach the desired goal.
|A case example of a client utilizing coaching services from a social worker is Darius. Darius is a 45-year-old Caucasian male who was given a year severance package from a computerter firm in San Jose, CA. He was referred to the social worker Coach by a social worker who had been doing psychotherapy with him. The psychotherapist needed to refer Darius since it would be confusing to Darius if his therapist shifted roles to offer him Coaching services. He had seen the therapist for several months working through his depression regarding the loss of a job he planned on staying with until retirement.
Darius is ambivalent about his life and wants to focus on the future. He wanted to work with a Coach who focused on Life Planning. He asks to take a vocational interest test since he wants to pursue a new career helping people. He had a BA degree in Sociology and wanted to pursue a graduate degree in social work or a mental health field. The Coach reviewed with him various options and they decided that Darius would meet with the MSW program director at university. After his meeting it was decided he would pursue an MSW degree. He continued to meet with his Coach monthly. His Coach helped him make it through a couple of times when he wanted to drop out. Darius successfully graduated after two years of full-time study.
There are a number of training opportunities for mental health practitioners who want to coach. One of the providers that offers the Certified Professional Coach (CPC) credential is GROW Training Institute, Inc. 5045 Harrison Dr, Ste 332, Las Vegas, NV 90120 or at http://www.growpublications.com/. Most of the GROW training can be done without having to travel to continuing education events. There are many other organizations that train coaches.