The Long Ride

I don’t know if you were reading my WordPress posts two years ago. If you were with me in June, 2018, you saw a man collapsing. I had just started riding my bicycle across Canada with seventeen other Tour du Canada cyclists. Aerobically I was in pretty good shape but my bike skills were woeful. I had ignored the advice from the Tour’s organizer: take a cycling skills course.

Within the first three days of the ride, I crashed three times and was continually terrified of the semitrailers passing within three metres of me. I couldn’t make the slow motion moves that were needed in downtown Vancouver traffic. Near Abbotsford, B.C., I misjudged the speed of a hillside left-turning car and just about had it all end.

I quit.

I spent two nights in a hotel with my bicycle propped against the wall. My hands shook, and they kept shaking for two weeks. “I’ll never ride again.”

Now it’s two years later. I still have remnants of the PTSD but they’re mild. A friend recommended I look at a video of a Bob Newhart TV sketch. A woman comes in for counselling since she’s terrified of being buried alive in a box. Bob says he’ll give her two words and then the therapy session will be over. She pulls out a notepad. Bob leans forward over his desk … and yells “Stop it!”

Woh. What? No months of therapy to deal with my now deepseated agony about being on the bicycle? No reliving my fear of impending death? No “processing” my life?

Okay. I went to my bike shop a couple of weeks ago. I had bought a more stable bicycle than the one I rode in 2018. Wide knobby tires instead of narrow smooth ones. Inside me was a fluttering but also a strange calm. Step number one: show up at the shop and tell my friends (manager and employee) the true story of June, 2018. They listened. They didn’t turn their backs.

Step number two was four days ago: I put on my cycling jersey and shorts. (Scary) I had my friends put the new bike on a stand, and I got on. I gulped … but there I was on the saddle. I pedaled. I changed gears. My heart was fast. I agonized about how to get the bike going and how to stop it. (Which foot goes where?) I couldn’t remember. I blasted myself for not being able to remember. And then I calmed down. I made an appointment to come back yesterday and ride in the big parking lot behind the shop, with coaching from my friend. I went home.

“Just stop it, Bruce!”

Yesterday came. I hadn’t slept much. The two of us moseyed out back with my bicycle, “Betty” by name. I tried squeezing out love for her but nothing came. My friend showed me how she gets on and off a bicycle. I got the “on” part but was still jangled by the “off”.

And then it was time for me. “I’m actually doing this” inside. Left foot on the ground, Right leg swung over the bike. Right foot on pedal, up high so I could push down mightily. “A ten-year-old kid knows how to do this!” > “Stop it!”

Push. I was up. I was going. “I didn’t catch my shorts on the saddle!” (Something I’ve done so many times in the past) Feeling Betty. Feeling the sensitivity of the brakes. A swooping left turn. The mouth opening in wonder.

And then the dark: “Which foot do I put down?” I just couldn’t remember. I decided the right one. Wrong choice. Brakes touched. Bike slowing … then lurching to the right as my right foot sought the pavement. I hopped. I stayed up. And I had my answer: left foot down.

Another few loops of the lot. “I can do this.” Brakes squeezed. Left foot down before I was going slow enough to do that. Another hop, but a good one this time. Going again, my friend watching with a little smile. Braking … slower … body lean to the left … foot falling through space … a gentle press on the pavement. Sweet.

There is much more skill needed. And I have time to do that. Betty and I have become friends. We will go places together.

My mind is being freed. My eyes face outward, seeing the unknown bends in the road rather than gazing at my belly button.

“Well done, Bruce.”

Indirect Speech Interpreted

He was sort of saying …
He was trying to say …
He was saying …

There’s been a uptick in cases
There’s been a surge in cases

They maybe opened a little bit early
They opened too early

I’m not a big proponent of …
I don’t like …

She seems to do …
She does …

I tend to disagree
I might not agree
I disagree

I’m inclined to agree
It seems somewhat reasonable to me
I agree

I would hate to say anything about … that would be perceived as negative
I’m critical of …

He’s almost sending a message
He’s sending a message

It doesn’t seem that it’s happening
It’s not happening

(In response to a yes/no question)
Not exactly
I don’t think so
I’m going to say probably not
No
I think so
Most likely
If you look at all the factors here, you see that an analysis is difficult
Yes

I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant
I didn’t understand what he meant

She should have, I think
She should have

His words, frankly, seemed out of touch with reality
His words were out of touch with reality

We have come to a stage where we cannot help but consider things including postponement
We’re thinking about postponing

In the coming weeks
Seven to ten weeks from now

I think it’s fair to say that there will be an impact
There will be an impact

It’s fatal
People will die

The Hand

It’s quite a miracle, really.  I could list all the sweet things that hands can do for us but you know those already.  Besides, it doesn’t feel like the way to go tonight.  There’s a mystery to this object that goes beyond its function.

The design of the hand just begs for reaching out, for beckoning, for drawing the other close.  Of course we can do that with words but there’s something magical about the curling of the fingers.

The palm is pretty cool.  There are all those lines and the stories they apparently tell … about me.  Then there’s the fact that the whole thing is a cup.  It’ll hold water.  It’ll hold anything that’s precious.

Growing up, I had no clue what a “whorl” was.  I do now, and it’s a pretty funky word.  Staring minutely at my fingertips reveals all these curved lines.  I wonder where they’re going.  I love how they meander across the skin … my skin.

The backs are immense as well.  I stretch my hand upwards and all these bones appear, in a fan shape.  I often look at the backs of my hands.  They remind me that I’m physical – an animal, full of bones and veins.  Blood is reaching every little bit of my dear body.  Nothing is left out.

I like the four and one nature of my fingers and thumb.  They get to embrace each other in a universal “okay” sign.  When they spread apart, there are lovely spaces between.  If I’m paying attention, I see that the space around things, and people, is important.  Room to breathe.

Then there’s the mirror effect – the left hand and the right.  They teach me the inner wonders of symmetry.  Plus I love it when they cuddle together, and when they fly apart to the sky.

And now my hands rest.

One hand I extend into myself
The other toward you

Wavery

I’m thinking of the adjectives that seem to fit me these days.  Here they are: tipping, untethered, woozy, disoriented, toppling, floating, soft, falling, yielding, loose, crumbling, unravelling.

Woh.  Guess that hodge podge sounds pathological.  Apparently here’s a man who’s lost, who’s coming unglued, who’s losing touch with firm reality.  Except I don’t see it as pathological at all.  Something is changing.  There’s a morphing into newness.  There’s an innocence, a sense of not being protected, a welcoming of all life.  There’s a relaxing of my analytic mind, of opinion, of having a solid place to view the world from.

I woke up in the wee hours to a dream.  From age 12 to 18, I played cello in orchestras.  Last night, I was in the concert hall, searching for my instrument.  I found myself in the middle of the flutes, wondering why they weren’t cellos.  Actually, was I in a concert hall?  I wasn’t sure.

I wandered aimlessly, sensing that home was somewhere in the vicinity.  I just couldn’t point my finger in that direction.  Finally, I found an instrument that sort of looked like a cello.  Its neck wasn’t rounded but instead flat and hugely wide.  “Is this a cello” I asked the hall.  No one answered.

I never did find home.  I never even became confident that I would find it some day.

Just before waking, the wall behind the stage opened up to the sky beyond, and I was being sucked out into space, just like in those thriller airplane movies.  The concert disappeared … and so did I.

***

Not knowing
Not caring about not knowing
Floating free in the starry, starry night

Dad and Me

I was watching a life insurance commercial yesterday.  A couple in their 60s or 70s were sitting in the backyard, each with open arms as their grandkids ran across the grass towards them.

There was a closeup of the man and I paused to look.  “He’s familiar” roamed into my head.  And then an older gentleman came rushing through … my father.  Dad died in 1988.

I remembered all that well-combed grey hair.  And then I paused again.  The fellow on TV also reminded me of someone else … me.  In this world of coronavirus, I’m long and grey.

“I’m just like my dad.”

How did this happen?  The last time I looked, I was 25, fresh off a summer at the Prince of Wales Hotel in the Canadian Rockies.  A hippieish young man.  Had long hair back then too.

Mom always described Dad as a “card” and she was right.  Big smiles and silly jokes.  I used to cringe when the family was out driving in Toronto and we’d be approaching a cemetery.  I knew what was coming: “People are just dying to get in there!”

In the years since, I’ve been known to say a dumb thing or two myself.  (Me with a friend: “I’ve been working out a lot lately and my arms are getting really big.  But I’m worried that I’m becoming … biceptual.”  Folks groan with me just as I did with Dad.)

Dad used to dress up for kids’ parties.  All sorts of weird colours and costumes.  Hmm.  I know a similar guy who donned a pillow-laden Santa suit quite a few times.  Or created truly strange getups for elementary school Halloween dances.

Dad is long gone and also absolutely here with me.  I believe he’s proud of who I’ve become.  I honour him for his contributions to his family, his church and his community.

I love you, Dad

Ties

As a kid, I had to wear a tie almost every Sunday because that’s what a boy needed to do in the Presbyterian Church. Dad taught me how to get the job done. I never really got the hang of the task, however … pulling too tight, I guess, and the result had a strangled look. Oh well. Kids aren’t bankers and executives.

Many years later, I spent a summer backpacking through Rocky Mountain parks. I was a man of the wilderness. In September, I was invited to attend the wedding of an old friend. As the day approached, I had an epiphany: I had forgotten how to tie a tie. I smile now as I remember my fascination around that. It was such a symbol of freedom, of being untethered. I did, however, figure it out before the ceremony.

Many more years later, I looked at my tie job in the mirror and shook my head about the squelched look. The previous man of freedom went online because he wanted to look like guys in fancy clothing commercials. The ties were perfect! I learned that the triangle look was called the Windsor Knot. A video would guide me to the promised land. Boy, it was a lot of twists and turns of fabric but I was determined. And eventually … Voilà! I was a gorgeous dude. My later versions of the Windsor have been less than perfect but still pretty good.

And now there’s today, watching CNN. I have learned that, when making a presentation, handle all the small details so there’s nothing to distract the audience from your message. Anchors and guests were talking about the coronavirus and the racial protests. I was leaning intently into … how their ties looked! Some were crooked, some were too tight, some were big blobs of looseness. And then here comes a fellow sporting a perfect Windsor Knot. I managed to get distracted by his neck as well. (Sigh)

It’s okay, Bruce. Your foibles are showing. I still love you.

Two Men

1933 – 1945

2012 – 2020

I want today to be a prophet again: if international Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and therefore the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.

Radical Left Governor Jay Inslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!

:::

Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy.

Our Navy is now the smallest it’s been since, believe or not, World War I. Don’t worry. It’s going to soon be the largest it’s been.

:::

I don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequities … Everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?

:::

God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence, we are defending His work … Therefore, it is all the more necessary on the twelfth anniversary of the rise to power to strengthen the heart more than ever before and to steel ourselves in the holy determination to wield the sword, no matter where and under what circumstances, until final victory crowns our efforts.

In 2016, evangelical Christians went out and helped us in numbers never seen before. We’re going to blow those numbers away in 2020. I really believe we have God on our side.

:::

Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows – at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example – as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.

Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice … There’s absolutely no choice. Some really bad things are happening and they’re happening fast. Certainly a lot faster than our president [Obama] understands because he doesn’t understand anything. He doesn’t get it. Refuses to even call it by its correct name: “radical Islam” … Interestingly, after Paris all of a sudden they start bombing sites that they knew about for a year and a half. But they started bombing them after the tragic events of Paris. So, so many things are wrong. We need leadership in the world now. You know, it’s really a worldwide leadership, but boy, do we need leadership in our country.

:::

I will tolerate no opposition. We recognize only subordination – authority downwards and responsibility upwards.

When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.

:::

Mutinies are crushed in accordance with eternal and unchanging iron laws.

Our great National Guard Troops who took care of the area around the White House could hardly believe how easy it was. “A walk in the park”, one said. The protesters, agitators, anarchists (ANTIFA) and others, were handled VERY easily by the Guard, D.C. Police, & S.S. GREAT JOB!

:::

Shoot Gandhi and if that does not suffice to reduce them to submission, shoot a dozen leading members of Congress and if that does not suffice, shoot 200 and so on until order is established. You will see how quickly they will collapse as soon as you make it clear that you mean business.

These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

:::

In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power, it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face.

It is amazing how often I am right, only to be criticized by the media. Illegal immigration, take the oil, build the wall, Muslims, NATO!

:::

We have suffered so much that it only steels us to fanatical resolve to hate our enemies a thousand times more and to regard them for what they are: destroyers of an eternal culture and annihilators of humanity. Out of this hate, a holy will is born to oppose these destroyers of our existence with all the strength that God has given us and to crush them in the end.

And some people – look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us … And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.

:::

It is not truth that matters, but victory.

We don’t win anymore. When was the last time we won? Did we win a war? Do we win anything? Do we win anything? We’re going to win. We’re going to win big, folks. We’re going to start winning again, believe me.

:::

I want war. To me all means will be right. My motto is not “Don’t, whatever you do, annoy the enemy.” My motto is “Destroy him by all and any means.” I am the one who will wage the war!

America is always fighting. We’re the one that wants to go to World War III with Russia over Ukraine. So we’re the ones always fighting.

:::

A girl of eighteen to twenty is as malleable as wax. It should be possible for a man, whoever the chosen woman may be, to stamp his own imprint on her. That’s all the woman asks for.

I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

:::

All who are not of a good race are chaff.

[Syrian refugees are] trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful ISIS is, and how wonderful Islam is.

:::

The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.

The line of ‘Make America Great Again,’ the phrase, that was mine. I came up with it about a year ago, and I kept using it, and everybody’s now using it. They are all loving it. I don’t know, I guess I should copyright it. Maybe I have copyrighted it.

:::

The American president increasingly used his influence to create conflicts, intensify existing conflicts, and above all to keep conflicts from being resolved peacefully. For years this man looked for a dispute anywhere in the world, but preferably in Europe, that he could use to create political entanglements with American economic obligations to one of the contending sides, which would then steadily involve America in the conflict and thus divert attention from his own confused domestic economic policies.

PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that “US tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!

:::

My generals should be like bull terriers on chains, and they should want war, war, war … But what happens now? I want to go ahead with my aggressive politics and the generals try to stop me. That’s a false situation.

Mattis was our Country’s most overrated General. He talked a lot, but never “brought home the bacon”. He was terrible! Someday I will tell the real story on him and others – both good and bad!

:::

Ein volk. Ein Reich. Ein Führer! [One nation. One empire. One leader!]

[Re Vladimir Putin] The man has very strong control over a country. Now, it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader. Far more than our president [Obama] has been a leader.

***

Heil

Heil

Who Needs Love?

Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time.  Hatred ceases through love.  This is an unalterable law.  (The Buddha)

But I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.  (Jesus)

Nonviolence is based on the assumption that people respond to love and kindness.  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness.  Only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that.  (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things.  It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.  (Jean Vanier)

People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.  (Barack Obama)

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.  (Mother Teresa)

***

Now, as for the question …

Donald Trump

Derek Chauvin  (the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd)

Gabriel Wortman  (the Nova Scotia shooter in April, 2020)

William Barr  (the U.S. Attorney General)

George Wallace  (the Governor of Alabama in the 1960’s)

Looters

Speakers of hate

***

I have decided to stick with love
Hatred is too great a burden to bear  

(Martin Luther King Jr.)

Assassination

It’s a horrible word.  No leader should have their life snuffed out at the end of a gun.  Agree with their politics or disagree, “an eye for an eye” is inhumane.

I know the word.  I know November 22, 1963.  U.S. President John Kennedy travelled to Dallas, Texas to make a speech.  Mid-morning in Toronto, I was a Grade 10 student heading to String Music class.  Our teacher was a fiery one, passionate about music and about us giving our all in class.  She was late.  We were tuned up and ready to go.  Ten minutes we sat.  “She’s never late.”

And then the door burst open.  Our teacher smashed into the room, crying.  “Kennedy’s been shot!”  I was fourteen, plenty old enough to have the shock blast through me.  Disbelief, sorrow, anger – all were swirling among us.  “This can’t be.”

I went home for lunch and sat glued to our black-and-white TV.  Kennedy was fighting for his life in Parkland Hospital.  My face was ash, my mind swirling.  Then it was my job to go back to school, so I did.

We the students got to watch TV some.  The CBS anchor, Walter Cronkite, filled the screen after a commercial:

From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.

The rest is a blur.

Some 50 years later, I walked into the String Music room at Lawrence Park Collegiate to find a choir settling in at the beginning of a period.  I introduced myself to the teacher, told him I was a graduate of the school, and said that something stunning happened in this room a long time ago.  “May I tell the students?”

And I did.  Many 17-year-old faces softened and saddened.

***

May young people and old people never have to live such moments
in the current day

Just a Wee Little Boy

I want it.  I will have it

I will build a great wall – and nobody builds better walls than me, believe me – and I’ll build it very inexpensively.  I will build a great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.  Mark my words.

I’ll call you whatever I want to call you

Dumb as a rock … lazy as hell

I’m better than you

I have a much better apartment than they do.  I’m smarter than they are.  I’m richer than they are.  I became president and they didn’t.

You’re an idiot

Look, you’re a third-rate reporter.  And what you just said is a disgrace, OK?  You will never make it.

I win

Our country is in serious trouble.  We don’t have victories anymore … When was the last time anybody saw us beating let’s say China in a trade deal?  I beat China all the time.  All the time.

I’m so cool

I just start kissing them.  Just kiss.  I don’t even wait.  And when you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.  Grab them by the pussy.  You can do anything.

I’m a stud

My fingers are long and beautiful, as (it has been well documented) are various other parts of my body.

I’m the smartest

My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it!  Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure.  It’s not your fault.

You’re different and useless

Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.

I’ll beat you up

You have to dominate.  If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time.  They’re going to run over you.  You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.

You’re a loser

Rudy, you’re a baby … They took your diaper off right there.  You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed.  When are you going to be a man?

It’s not my fault

I don’t take responsibility at all.