Peter Wilson

Profile Updated: December 13, 2016
Class Year: 1960
Residing In: Minneapolis, MN USA
Spouse/Partner: Jim Lawrence
Occupation: retired fed
Military Service: civil service  

My life has been peaceful--just enough adventure to make it interesting. I have been blessed with imaginative & kind friends. I love nature, swimming, Buddhist studies, genealogy and historical research in England, Germany, France, ancient Greece and Rome, Japan, China & India. I returned to Japan 8 times after teaching there in 1975-76. The country and culture are beautiful.
I was reared by my grandparents, William Wiediger and Josephine Kruse. He was born in Posen, Prussia in 1876. His people were Lutheran, generous and direct. She was born in 1889. Her people were Catholics from villages near Heiligenstadt in Eichsfeld, Thuringia. He was one of 12, and she was one of 9, so my extended family included over 50 cousins in Minneapolis, 50 in Seattle, and dozens elsewhere. After both Wars we sent care packages to relatives in Germany. My grandfather never spoke German in front of me.
Grandpa had 3 siblings in Park Rapids-- Ed Wiediger, Emma Wiediger Stone, and Alvina Wiediger Wilson, who lived across Park Avenue from Germania Hall, where I remember a musical gathering about 1947. During holidays a dozen cousins each gathered at Vina's house, the Rainbow Inn, and our house. Then we walked from house to house and socialized.
My extended family and many members of St Peter’s Catholic Church and St John’s Lutheran Church constituted my primary reference groups as a child. This put me two generations out of sync with my peers in HS. I remember the day the National Honor Society was dishing out pins. Jim Sanford commented that an “old timer” was entering the school. It was grandpa, who had never come to school to watch me before, so I figured he had reason. He didn’t seem "out of step" to me, even though he came of age in the 1890’s in a German-speaking region east of Waterloo IA.
My deepest values came from this benign man, who was in his 80’s when I was in my teens. He was frugal, kept his word, and hated no one. Grandma died when I was 6 and mom came to keep house for him till I was 16, when she had to move to Minneapolis to get a real job teaching. I refused to go with her because everyone I knew was in PR. Grandpa was good company, and we ate healthy food. Though I can not recall a single meal, we did not eat out of cans.
Our closest friends, the Moody/Anderson family on Big Sand Lake, were headed by Mary Isobel Beckwith Moody, who I called grandma. She was born in 1874 in Georgia, and had an entirely different world view from others around me. Her husband, a Presbyterian minister, died about 1930 & she had to be extremely resourceful to get 3 of her 5 children through college. I revered her. These primary reference groups all expected me to shine.

I never made much money, but had what I needed. I could pay the rent and travel a bit, often to visit sick relatives & friends. The most expensive thing I ever owned was a computer system in 1984 which cost $3500.00. My second greatest luxury was a small Nain rug for $2500.00. In my whole life I spent a TOTAL of $500.00 on vehicles. People pitied me, and gave me cars. Usually I walked, rode a bike, or took a city bus. I never owned a house -- just 20,000 books, which I must now dispose of. I still shop in dumpsters and pick little treasurers off the road.
Although I don't drive now, and will probably not be here for our 60th reunion, I have been able to explore a bit while I had the energy--Germany, Holland, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Peru, Bolivia--and have learned much from friends around the globe, including my Sanskrit teacher, Pandit Usharbudh, in whose attic I lived from 1969 to 1972, before I married Mary Moody Anderson.
Mary was unique, an artist & poet from Park Rapids whose family lived with us the year she turned three. She died of cancer in 1992. We were always happy, not ecstatic. I expect to die of liver complications from gunshot wounds in 1973, which I received six months after our marriage.
In January 1973 I worked for Pay Less shoes. We opened the store at 8:00 AM with $200.00 in the till. I was putting price stickers on shoes in the shipping room when the manager came back and said there were three tough teenagers from the neighborhood in front.  Would I go out and keep an eye on them? He then locked himself in the toilet.
  As I left the stock room two of them were walking down the aisle to toward the back door.  A third teenager was in a far aisle, trying on shoes.  I asked if I could help the two and they said yes, I could give them the money in the till.
  I was no fool.  I had seen the John Wayne movies and knew what to do.  I said "Listen you kids, I'm not going to give you any money, and you better get out of here before you hurt someone with that gun." [a 38 caliber pistol]
  Eddie Lloyd, scion of a gangster family from Chicago was clearly chagrined.  He shot me twice in the stomach, and once through my left hand.
  Quick thinking, I realized I had been shot and above all else I wanted to avoid getting blood on the carpet.  It would be hell to clean.  Later PayLess Shoes just incised a few squares of carpet and replaced them, confirming my cleaning diagnosis.  I stood vindicated.
  The shots aroused their friend trying on a shoe in a far aisle. He asked what was going down, with one shoe on.  They fled together and were apprehended a block away in a grocery store.
  I lay down on the concrete floor in the back, thinking gravity would not empty my veins so quickly if I were laying down. Ten minutes later I was in the ambulance. When shock wore off and I finally felt like I had been kicked in the stomach by a horse. I was in shock.
  At the hospital I begged for morphine but was refused because it was dangerous be unconscious than in pain. I pleaded with Dr. Claire Wickstrom, who finally anesthetized me.
  After a week the surgeries were complete.  One bullet traveled through 10 kinks in the small intestine, and all were full of crap because I had overeaten the night before. Adhesions had also formed. A week later, when nothing was coming out my colostomy, I realized they would have to go in and separate the twisted guts.
After a month in the hospital I was released for a few weeks of home recuperation and eventually returned to work. One day shortly afterwards I was driving to work and picked up a hitchhiker who had been in the county jail the day the three black kids had been caught after shooting me. My rider told me the one trying on shoes was furious with Eddie Lloyd and the other one because they had not told him what they were coming to the store for, leaving him to flee with one shoe on.
Eventually they were tried. For the Lloyd family, trials were an event for the entire family. They brought picnic baskets to one another’s [frequent] trials as other families might attend christenings and weddings. The Lloyd girls were purse snatchers. They knocked elderly ladies over, breaking their bones, and were so greedy that when caught they often had a medley of credit cards belonging to victims, which was somewhat incriminating. A Lloyd cousin who had driven the get away car from a robbery of a downtown jewelry store 15 months earlier. A clerk had been killed, but he was already out of jail and able to attend Eddie’s trial.
As I walked down the hall to enter the courtroom a large black lady sat on a bench in the hallway with a picnic basket. She recognized me, and was waiting there to accost me. She said something like “Just tell the truth about my son.” I knew instantly whose mother she was, because of what the hitch hiker had said. When I testified I made a special point of saying that the third teenager seemed unprepared for robbery, and was six aisles with one shoe off when the other two confronted me.
  Even in 1975, when I was teaching in Japan, intestinal adhesions gave me trouble, although I had avoided coffee and peppers, which were said to exacerbate the problems. When the doctors could not locate physical adhesions, one doctor suggested the problem might be "functional", an exquisite current euphemism for "all in my mind". The euphemism had been proffered only after careful consultation of how to put it to me most gently. I laughed at their circumspection.
In 1998 I was working at a Social Security office when an SSI representative mentioned the name of Eddie Lloyd. He was being interviewed at that moment for his claim for SSI disability. I had to see him again. I walked through the interviewing area and caught a glimpse. He looked older & more haggard than I did. He was a living advertisement of the cliché that crime doesn’t pay. Then about 55, he looked 75. Who knows how many people he had killed in his drug dealings. He looked angry at the world. I felt nothing but a slight revulsion and sadness at such the waste of his life.
  Now I know how easy it is to die.  Anyone can do it. It requires no practice and there are no tests.  It's like falling off a log.  The Hospice people even make it comfortable. They help people to remember all the little things they meant to say to family and friends.  I became a hospice volunteer in Carmel CA from 1986-1991. Anyway, I've learned the knack of dying. A shame I have so few occasions to exercise it, but now I can leave the world quietly and with kindness.  What could be more appropriate? It’s hard to be intimidated by death now. Since then I've tried, with limited success, not to prejudge people. Everyone has an edifying story to tell.
Since 1998 I've shared my life with another visual artist, James Michael Lawrence. We keep one another healthy and engaged. Who wants to die alone? I am deeply indebted to Jim. He is kind, loyal, sincere & a little crazy.
In the 1984 I contacted my father, Leonard Wilson, then a retired aeronautical engineer and hobby farmer. He worked on the YPPI, flew in the South Pacific in WWII, and was a trouble shooter at nuclear plants. We enjoyed two decades of writing & visiting before his death. I remain in contact with my half-brother, Doug, and Vickie, the widow of my half-brother Greg. Each has two children & all four have begun their own families. Both Doug & his son, Chris, are engineers. I struggle to add 4-digit numbers. So much for genetic skills. Most have to be learned.
By instinct, I am an anarchist. I do not need any organization tell me what to do, think or feel. I try not to hurt anyone, and try to be helpful.
Since Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 312 AD, Heaven has been viewed as a monarchy, mirroring the earthly hierarchy. Previous Christians had viewed Heaven as an anarchy: God and His angels acted in perfect concord because they were of one heart, until a self-cherishing angel broke their concord. Since Lucifer's revolt we and the fallen angels have suffered an aching sense of separation, a longing to be one again. But we still see our selves in opposition to the rest of the universe, utterly separate from other creatures. This feeling of separation is socially divisive and psychologically undermining. When we grasp for control, we sacrifice harmony. To remedy this, we try to force conformity on others, so they will not contradict our cherished illusions. Yet unanimity is little solace in itself. If 90% of a society view things a certain way, that's sufficient. They will be content. They will loose very little if I fail to acquiesce.

School Story:

Ted Allen wrote in my yearbook, "to one of the few people who don't mind being different." In college friends used to say "Earth calling Wilson." My mind is generally elsewhere. Most messages which enter my ears go straight through, unnoticed or undigested. My life has passed like a dream. Am I Oblivious? Obstinate? Perhaps, but I still mistake trivial distractions for Life itself. At least I haven't done too much harm. 20 years ago I could remember the names of all 119 in our class, and recall many good hearts. Now I can't recall why I entered a room.
Our teachers spoke of our class as exceptional: We had a higher average IQ than most classes. A few of us accomplished great things! I didn't, but I have few regrets. Mr Jones misjudged me when he said I'd become a college don, because I learned the Sanskrit alphabet. Dabbler is more like it.
A daydreamer, I made hundreds of crude architectural renderings of buildings, reworked to be more efficient or psychologically spacious. Still working on a 10 story tower city, 6000' wide, a self-contained city which could exist in a desert or on the moon. I'm impatient with ritual and skeptical of authoritarian hierarchies, yet I became a bureaucrat.
If you can't cope with reality, how helpful is it to cope with fantasies? Fantasy is more entrancing than reality, of course. Reality leaves a lot to be desired. We all can imagine "something better". Of course, unrealistic hopes bring inevitable frustration.
I got a BA in 1964 in Anthropology & Psychology, and studied history, psychology & Indian languages at the UM for 6 more years. I never finished my MA. My attempts to study 9 languages were all futile. I had a tin ear. I'm easily distracted and very lazy -- a sprinter, not a long distance runner.
My one practical skill is typing, which I learned from Mrs. Miller. I can't spell. Bless the inventor of spell check! It took 30 years before I got a driver's license and a phone. I gave up both when I was 63. I was not a careful driver, and 85% of my calls were solicitations or wrong numbers. The phone generally rang when I was in the bathroom. "Communication" has been trivialized. Many focus on personal preferences, irritations and comforts, which distract themselves from more enduring concerns.
In college, before I got arthritis, I liked to dance and hike, and later learned to play simple tunes on the Sitar and Koto. I love Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, Heifetz, Django Reinhardt, Amalia Rodrigues, Cesaria Evora, Anouar Brahem and, above all, Ali Akbar Khan, who died in July 2009. They all extemporized. Spontaneity frees us, but we still seek approval & safety in conformity. For me, trying to fit into a stiff old suit stifles my mind.
Hanging out at Schmeiders was my big social event in HS and I still stop there, although Otto is long gone. He used to go hunting & fishing with my uncle Bud on Mantrap Lake.
Once we non-varsity seniors played the faculty. Mr. Mac Dowell kindly passed my rebounds back to me twice, until I finally made a basket on the third try. Other teachers stood by, giving moral support. Pity for the clueless lummox, I suppose.
Despite my resistance to regimentation, I spent almost 30 years, accurately settling claims on the Social Security Admin. It just required an "impartial" civil service exam. Civil servants do not lean back, their feet on the desk like a babba in Chickasaw MS. They have greater responsibilities after each wave of downsizing. As a claims representative for Social Security I wore two hats: As an advocate for the public, I made sure they were paid every penny due them under the law. As a fiduciary agent of the government, I made sure they were not paid a penny more than was due them under the law. It was a challenge, but satisfying, to be accurate.
My intentions are generally good, though they are many & they sometimes conflict. Yet they stick like burrs for a lifetime. I have no regrets about the countless things I didn't know--just the things I was CERTAIN about, which prove false. Imputing motives has been particularly insidious & distracting. When I try to make a 'coherent story' about people, I easily loose sight of our common humanity. Stereotyping causes unnecessary suffering to all. Obsolete paradigms misconstrue the world and the best metaphors have very limited applicability. There is much that we can never accurately model -- including space, matter, time and mind.
If we view the Universe on a human scale, and reduce it to neat sequence of stages--seed, sprout, growth, flowering, bearing fruit, aging and death, we close our eyes to Reality. Paradigms are not direct experience. They just reify a transient moire pattern within an infinite flow.
So far as scientists know, the universe has no edges, no beginning & no end. It is not a ‘container’ because it is not separable from what it ‘contains.‘ Models seem "permanent" to the conceptualizing mind, but everything changes constantly. Views have no permanence, immutability or independence. All parts of reality are inseparable, completely dependent on all other causes and conditions. The universe simply IS. We can't see all its parts, much less put them together accurately to "make an complete model". It's whole already.
Nothing lasts forever. Even mountains are not permanent. They gradually rise, drift tectonically, and gradually erode over millennia. Words, our touchstone for truth, change in their pronunciation, denotation & connotations over decades. Our thoughts and feelings change every moment.
The belief which causes us the greatest suffering is imagining a static personal "identity.” Exactly with what are we "identical"? A nation? A role? An attitude? We are not as simply definable as we imagine but, since we depend on the goodwill of others, we project a public PERSONA which fit with community expectations. We try to maintain this persona despite all upheavals. But "our own identity" is completely dependent on the changing circumstances and attitudes in which we are imbedded.
Waking up to the discrepancy between our limited ideas and unbounded direct experience is the basis of Buddhism. When we view ourselves as separate others, we first name, then define, categorize, dismiss, reject, and finally oppose those them. Whole countries can easily be drawn into war and, finally, genocide, because if others are separable from our selves they are dismissible and, finally, disposable.
If we really want to protect "our own" interests, we must view them in the widest context. How could we be separable from others? Don't we depend on countless unnoticed people for our survival? The idea of separation diverts us from our immediate situation, which we usually take for granted and ignore. We prefer to live a vicarious life through words and TV. We easily loose sight of our dependence on drinking water, exercise, fresh air, a nap and our very breath.

What are the the limits on HOW and WHAT we can KNOW? Here are a few books on the sufferings we incur when we impute causes, superstitiously, to appearances and try compulsively to control them by absurd magic:
DISCOURSES OF THE BUDDHA, Gotama 480-400 BC -India
QUESTIONS OF KING MALINDA, Nagasena, 180-100 BC -Afghanistan
ROOT VERSES ON THE MIDDLE WAY, Nagarjuna, 90-170 AD -Kashmir
OUTLINES OF PYRRHONISM, Sextus Empiricus,160-210 AD -Roman Alexandria
THE ART OF HAPPINESS, the Dalai Lama -Tibet & India
BEYOND RELIGION, ethics for a wholesome world, the Dalai Lama
--comparing scientific & Buddhist ways of knowing
THE JOY OF LIVING, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. -Tibet
WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT, Walpola Rahula. -Ceylon
CAN HUMANITY CHANGE? Krishnamurti -India
THE POWER OF NOW, Eckhart Tolle -Germany
THE ART OF HAPPINESS, Matthieu Ricard -France
THE MONK & THE PHILOSOPHER, Matthieu Ricard -France

Peter's Latest Interactions

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Peter Wilson added a comment on his Profile.
Dec 20, 2019 at 4:42 AM
Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 10, 2019 at 9:05 AM

Merry Christmas, Naidine. Hope you can see your son.

Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 03, 2019 at 3:25 PM

Happy B-day. Relax and let kids do all.

Peter Wilson has a birthday today.
Sep 01, 2019 at 3:33 AM
Peter Wilson posted a message.
Aug 16, 2019 at 5:51 AM

Hi Bill, Didn't realize you were so close to PR. Your family has been a neighbor of mine since at least 1900. Have a photo of both aboutb19005 in front of the Great Northern Hotel, I think it was.
I'm just barely keeping my nose above water these days. 5 falls in March, due to high blood ammonia. Liver & heart problems. How is your family holding up?

Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 22, 2018 at 3:24 PM

Happy holidays for you and yours. Get lots of hugs!

Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 14, 2018 at 10:51 AM


Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 09, 2018 at 8:14 AM

Happy Bday. Merry Christmas. Happy New year etc. Wish them all well for you.

Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 05, 2018 at 11:40 AM


Peter Wilson has a birthday today. New comment added.
Sep 01, 2018 at 11:39 AM

Posted on: Sep 01, 2018 at 3:33 AM

Aug 25, 2018 at 10:47 PM

Giving you a week of good thoughts in preparation for your birthday. Stay in touch

Peter Wilson added a comment on his Profile.
May 12, 2018 at 11:54 AM
Peter Wilson posted a message. New comment added.
Apr 29, 2018 at 5:13 PM

Posted on: Apr 27, 2018 at 2:16 PM

Happy B-day you rascal. Hope it's packed with love.

Jan 12, 2018 at 3:54 PM

You're a good man, Byron. Savor every day.

Jan 12, 2018 at 3:32 PM
Peter Wilson has left an In Memory comment for Jerome Buckanaga.
Dec 18, 2017 at 7:33 AM

Jerome, you lived a decent life.  You were an asset to PRHS and of service to White Earth.  We were all enriched by your example.

Peter Wilson posted a message.
Dec 16, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Happy B-day Nancy. I get very nostalgic about PR and all the people I knew & loved in the 1950s. Have a healthy, busy 2018

Peter Wilson added a comment on his Profile.
Dec 11, 2017 at 4:47 PM
Peter Wilson has a birthday today.
Sep 01, 2017 at 3:33 AM
Peter Wilson posted a message.
Aug 23, 2017 at 9:48 AM

Hi Charlie, Welcome back to 1960. How are you and what the hell are you doing to stay engaged? I am a full time care giver now, and couldn't make it to the reunion. My new hobby has become scaring folks on Facebook. Mostly about nature, science, politics, art and history.

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Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
2010 Ensenada Mex with Bengal tiger cub & Jim. A good heart, he makes making digital art almost every day of the year. An early Minnesota Artists member, his work is displayed 24/7/365 in on-line galleries, including:
www.mnartists.orb/James_Michael_Lawrence and
His images are often nostalgic, melancholy. He excels in color, texture & and design.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1998 St Croix Park by Jim. A fine autumn day.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1995 Tucson AZ, bravely defying the desert sun
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1975 party of American Consul, Spence Richardson, in Fukuoka Japan. We sat opposite our host on the left. She rode an elephant near Rishikesh, India, during Khumba Mela the previous year. Mimi died in September 1992 in Minneapolis MN of ovarian cancer. She quietly savored every moment of life.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1976 Mrs Ogura treats us to a scenic gorge in Kyushu. Mimi was an original, poet & an artist. It never occurred to her to "be" something, much less APPEAR to be something. Consider the lilies of the field. She was interviewed on TV in Fukuoka with Ohba Masao, an distinguished ethno-musicologist and silk screen artist.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1973 Conestoga honeymoon [venturesome, but unconsummated] with Daemon & Toby. Inveterate optimists, we always tried to do the "approved thing," but not at the cost of hypocrisy. Her Presbyterian church once asked her to teach Sunday school. She said her personal beliefs were probably heretical, but they asked her anyway so she just stuck to the essentials, as she saw them -- don't hurt any being if you can avoid it or, if you can't, minimize the damage.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1972 Mimi & I by the kitchen door at Camp. Her grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, built this cabin after 1911. It was the scene of many of my happiest childhood memories, a place where my love of nature was fully shared. A family of chipmunks living under this wood pile would eat out of our of our hands, as did the local chickadees in winter.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1971 Mimi on Daemon & me at Camp on one of Vince Arvik's horses.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1966 painting the porch door with Mimi's aunt Tommie & brother Steve, entomologist etc. and an expert on Chinese postage stamps.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
1951 behind Bishop's store with great uncle Hugo's carved walking stick etc. Grandpa Wiediger had his business across the alley: He bought wild rice, blueberries, potatoes, ginsing, hides, fleeces, furs & scrap metal from local gatherers and shipped them to places as far as NYC & Korea.