Roy McDonald

Roy was a longbearded poet who walked the highways and byways of downtown London, Ontario, greeting all who crossed his path. Roy died in February at the age of 80.

Today, on one of the small workshop stages of the Home County Folk Festival, Roy’s friends paid tribute. Love was in the air. The first speaker asked us “What would life be like if all of us were as unique, as thoroughly ourselves, as Roy was?” Oh my. What a fine question. See the power that one human being can have. Are we inspired to let our souls bubble up into our homes and schools and offices? I hope so.

Roy was known as “The Mayor of Richmond Row” – a fun stretch of shops and restaurants. One speaker said that his death left a huge hole in downtown London. Yes indeed. Another told us “Many people loved Roy. Many others didn’t quite get him. But nobody who’s met Roy will ever forget him.” And those words also ring true.

“Did he ever come up to you and offer to do a rendition of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’?” Sadly, not for me. What I remember is a late night conversation at the McDonalds on Wellington Road, sprinkled with wisdom and choice nuggets from his poetry. Lucky me.

Roxanne Andrighetti sang one of her songs for Roy, and the words point to the man:

Did we take hold of each of our days
Before all this passes away?

And to finish things off, another young woman favoured us with Roy’s favourite song – Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Goodbye, dear Roy. Thank you for being in the world.

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Home County

Tonight is the beginning of this weekend’s Home County Folk Festival in London, Ontario. I just showed up at the bandshell in Victoria Park. Maybe thirty folks were scattered among the sea of folding chairs and I did what any self-respecting folk purist would do. I gave a speech.

“Welcome to Home County. This is my 80th time here [the festival is celebrating its 45th anniversary!] I’m happy to announce the results of our draw. One of you lovely couples has won an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico!” I then pulled a nickel from my wallet and flipped it. Looking at a middle-aged couple in row six, I approached them with handshakes. They smiled a lot and didn’t believe me for a second … but it was fun.

And then the music started – a duo of women with lovely voices and sweet lyrics. But all around me people were talking, and they kept doing so song after song. Yuck! What about respect for the performers? I wasn’t brave enough to tell the folks to be quiet and just watched the situation, fascinated with what I was tempted to call a lower state of consciousness. But really, yapping during the singing is just another way of being. I decided to let it go.

And the skies started dribbling. A drop here and a drop there, and suddenly the umbrellas were up in full force. I wanted to feel superior to people who are so protective of their comfort, but I realized there was no cheese down that tunnel. So more letting go. The drops doubled and so did the umbrellas. I was enjoying the refreshing spatters on my arms and shirt and reflecting on the differences among us.

Halfway through the performances, I thought it would be cool to throw my consciousness inside all these festival goers. I tried, which is never a good sign, and nothing happened. Oh well. You’re such an idealist, Bruce.

An hour later, Donovan Woods was wrapping a song, and I looked out over the crowd. Zap! I was there, inside them all. And within the band members too. Bruce was beyond the edges of Bruce’s body. Bruce had spread himself wide. He was inside all those heads.

Then the rains really came and guess whose umbrella was up like a shot? And … the expansion into other folks’ souls had gone poof.

Ain’t life a mystery?

1 … 2

I am me.  Could I be we?

Walt Whitman knew a thing or two about relationship.  His poems often sang with love, and although many words passed through his fingers, my favourite ones are these:

We were together.  I forget the rest

To create a girl or boy, you need a partner.  All the solitary wishing on your part won’t bring forth a new life.  It takes two.  And to create the most exquisite spirals of consciousness, I also don’t think one is enough.  We are meant to unfold each other into realms unknown.  The whole thus revealed is way beyond the sum of the two parts.

Last night, I had a dream
We were inseparably entwined
Like a piece of rope made out of two pieces of vine
Held together, holding each other
With no one else in mind
Like two atoms in a molecule
Inseparably combined

So true.  May we entwine each other.  May ribbons of light float between our eyes.  May we see the beauty.  I sat quietly tonight and waited for the majesty of communion to emerge in a song.  What a marvelous thing – this brain – for the title came to me: Old French Lane.  From somewhere in my past, a very long time ago.

“Yes … this is what I want to share with my WordPress friends.”  But Google was silent on the matter.  YouTube was no help.  And I abided, feeling into the way home.

“Bruce, you wrote about Old French Lane years ago in your blog.  Search.”  And so I did.  And so it is here.

Seven jewels lie in the channel
South of England’s shores
Where you and I once walked together
Where I’ll walk no more

Hand in hand we would go
In the sun and in the rain
Through the streets of St. Helier
Down the Old French Lane

With Jersey sunshine falling on your hair
Shines in strands of red and gold
And eyes of green like the emerald sheen
Of your ancestral home

That was so long ago
Red and gold turn silver now
But eyes of green will never change
In my memory somehow

 

No Willful Change

Let’s say I’m at A
And I like A
Why would I change?

Or

Let’s say I’m at A
I don’t like A
I’m tense
I want to get away from A
I do things to go from A to B

Or

Let’s say I’m at A
I don’t like A
I’m curious about A
I let myself be at A
I feel what comes up
In the spirit of “All things must pass”
The universe draws me away from A
I may end up at B or somewhere else

What if I consistently chose the third scenario, rather than the second?  If I’m tired, I go inside myself and feel it.  I may lie down for awhile but I’m not shaking my head, denying that I’m tired.  If I’ve eaten too much, I let myself go inside the bloating, the pressure.  What’s it like?  If someone has spoken harshly to me, I let my feeling come up, whatever it is … anger, sadness, fear.  I don’t shove it down with TV or by staying busy.

Perhaps I don’t need to move away from anything (with the possible exception of a speeding car!)  The pain of life could be most vivid in the experience of “Not this, not that”, the sense that this moment needs to be improved, avoided, ignored.

Despite the sometimes existence of bodily pains and spiritual woes, staying inside what’s happening right now could be the road to freedom.

If I let go, will the universe provide?

The Transmission of Love

A few hours ago, a voice in my head said “You will write in your blog tonight about the transmission of love.”  Most of my evening has been about online group calls with likeminded souls in the Evolutionary Collective, calls about deepening contact with other human beings.  We’re done now and here I sit at 11:44.  I don’t know what to write.

I’ve learned over the years to tell the difference between the raucous demanding voice and the quiet one.  I trust the softness that spoke to me earlier.  But now what?

The loud voice spews out an opinion:  “Who do you think you are, some author of personal growth textbooks?  You’re not exactly ready to create a treatise on love, bunko!”  Bunko?  Where did that come from?  Anyway, time to tune out Mr. Loudness.

So how does the depth of love move from one person to another?  Anyone can read a Hallmark Valentine’s card and speak similar sentiments but words without the soul’s participation are meaningless.  You can be a champion at sex, know where all the sweet spots are, and be well equipped for the task, and still have the other person feel like a thing.

I think the transmission of love comes down to these objects:

Two hands … as in holding
Two feet … as in playing footsie
One hand and one foot … as in rubbing
Four arms … as in lingering within a real hug
Four eyes … as in holding a soft gaze for a long time

It’s a short textbook but it’ll do just fine.

We Can

I read an article in the Toronto Sun this morning that laid bare the thoughts of Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, which is the world soccer association.  He was talking about the good that soccer can do, how the game can contribute to a coming together of people.  His words had me thinking about my life, how I want it to mean something to others, and how those others can impact their loved ones.  Gianni was speaking for me.

***

There are many things we’d like to change in the world.  There are many things we are not happy about that happen in the world.  It’s not in one country.  It’s not in one region.  It’s not in one area but in the entire world.

We try to work to do and speak and make things change for the good wherever we can.  But here we are, at the World Cup.  We are focusing on football.  We are focusing on celebrating football.

And actually, I think one of the things we are missing in the world – more and more – is our capacity to speak to each other and have a dialogue.  If there’s no dialogue or discussion … then we cannot go anywhere.

If football and the World Cup can contribute to open some channels and discussions and help those who have to take the important decisions to at least start to speak to each other and realize there are people living everywhere in the world – some in better, some in worse conditions – then we have done something and we have given a contribution.

Football cannot solve all the problems in the world.  Football cannot change the past.  But football can have an impact in the future.  And maybe some people who are taking important decisions for our planet can take a look at what we trying to do in football and take some inspiration to try to address these issues.

We have to look forward, learning from what has happened without denying what has happened, with the respect to those who have been touched personally and directly from what has happened everywhere in the world.

If football can contribute a little bit … then I think it’s already a positive outcome.

***

What if I changed a word or two and really brought this home inside my skin?  It would sound like this:

There are many things I’d like to change in the world.  There are many things I am not happy about that happen in the world.  It’s not in one country.  It’s not in one region.  It’s not in one area but in the entire world.

I try to work to do and speak and make things change for the good wherever I can.  But here I am, in Belmont, Ontario, Canada.  I am focusing on my neighbours, and my friends at the Belmont Diner.  I am focusing on celebrating local life.

And actually, I think one of the things we are missing in the world – more and more – is our capacity to speak to each other and have a dialogue.  If there’s no dialogue or discussion … then we cannot go anywhere.

If my friends and I can contribute to open some channels and discussions and help those who have to take the important decisions to at least start to speak to each other and realize there are people living everywhere in the world – some in better, some in worse conditions – then we have done something and we have given a contribution.

We cannot solve all the problems in the world.  We cannot change the past.  But we can have an impact in the future.  And maybe some people who are taking important decisions for our planet can take a look at what we are trying to do in Belmont and take some inspiration to try to address these issues.

We have to look forward, learning from what has happened without denying what has happened, with the respect to those who have been touched personally and directly from what has happened everywhere in the world.

If we can contribute a little bit … then I think it’s already a positive outcome.

Yay for us

Every Act

Everything you do counts forever

I don’t know who said this but I’m glad they did.  I’m imagining the building of a gorgeous temple – stone by stone, wooden beam by wooden beam, stained glass by stained glass.  This edifice is in my hands.  Every kind act from me adds a bit and every meanness or distancing takes something away.  There’s a worldwide village under construction, about 4.5 billion homes.  Will we create a city of light or a ghost town?

When I was 18, I asked a girl out on a date.  We arranged to meet on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.  At the appointed time, I didn’t show up.  Years later, while I was on yard duty at school, a young girl cut herself badly.  I applied pressure and love until the ambulance came.  What if those two moments are just as alive today as they were when they happened?  What if the entire world still vibrates with that fear and kindness?

If that’s true, do I become hypervigilant, walking through life looking over my shoulder to see who’s watching?  Do I tighten, immersed in the fear of doing something wrong?  Do I roam around trying to find opportunities to be good to people?  I say no to all of that.  There’s a flow in the universe that I can launch my raft into.  Natural moments will draw natural responses from me.  May there be far more of building up than tearing down.

At the end of this lifetime, I hope to gaze out on shining streets from the window of my sweet sanctuary.  Until then, I act, again and again, trusting in the person I have become so far.  For, in a Christian context, which is as fine as any other …

Let us build the city of God
May our tears be turned into dancing!
For the Lord, our light and our love
Has turned the night into day!

Over There

I’m part of a global online community based on the “mutual awakening” work of Patricia Albere. One of the relationship principles that Patricia talks about is being “in and for” the other person, to move my consciousness inside you, to feel the sacred space between us. There’s a practice we do in pairs that has the power to bring forth great contact, great love.

A couple of weeks ago, Patricia told us about a grandmother who was familiar with mutual awakening. She was babysitting her infant grandson and the kid was upset about something. Grandma moved her consciousness inside the young man’s head – no force of energy, just being there. And immediately he stilled. Hmm. Is this really doable? What if I took a day and gently placed my consciousness into everyone I met? Today, for example.

So I’m giving it a go. And I’ve had my moments, such as during the classical music concert I just attended. Young adults took their turns on stage – singers, pianists, violinists, violists and cellists. I went inside them, sporadically, and just rested there. I wasn’t beaming love at them. It didn’t feel like I was beaming anything. I simply hung out.

Back and forth I flipped, resting over there and stumbling over here. So brand new. I thought about my favourite colour – red, absolutely! It felt like I was now saying yellow was the best and was awkwardly trying that on for size. But the pull of red was enormous.

Now I’m in a Tim Hortons, sitting beside a young couple enmeshed in a political discussion. I feel myself moving away from their content, and being thoroughly inside me. Abiding in them seems worlds away. My distaste for politics is clouding the migration of my soul. Fair enough. My red tendencies continue to have a powerful magnetism.

When I walked in, I was hungry and my left foot was sore. Any possibility of yellow was gone. In fact I wasn’t even aware of the colour. But really, what else would I expect? What does it take to bring something new into my world? A lot, I’d say.

I’m going to three short concerts today. Just left the second one. During it I almost fell asleep, and again yellow was nowhere to be seen. “That’s okay, Bruce. Who do you think you are – Superman?” Well … no chance there.

What to do? Just begin again, over and over. This isn’t like the mutual awakening practice, where both of us are committed to going inside each other. I’m sitting in a pub and it’s time to try again. The other person will have no idea of what I’m doing, and that’s fine. So here goes …

The bartender and I were talking about the Greek salad that’s just arrived. I put myself inside her. No fireworks in me or her, no reaction at all coming my way. Not like the kid who went quiet. Maybe I’ll just keep throwing myself outwards with no expectation of anything coming back. Yes, let’s do that.

Then there’s Marvin on the next stool. We talk about the World Cup … and I’m inside. I decide to tell him what I’m doing. He smiles. “I knew something was happening.” Thanks, Marvin. Connection.

I’m in concert number three. There’s no pressure to do anything but I’ve floated inside the musicians again. The feeling is soft and yielding. Think I’ll stay for a bit.

Where is all this going? I don’t know. But here I am in Oz. I don’t feel like the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow or the Tin Man but I’m definitely here to find what I need. Might Kansas fade away in the rearview mirror? We’ll see.

Swollen

I’m sitting in the Bloor-Gladstone Library in Toronto, watching the life of the city unfold before me. So many folks heading to so many places. Very cool. And now my gaze moves downward … to my left foot. It’s quite swollen and a challenge to walk on. I’m tempted to analyze the heck out of the situation, to come up with the hows and whys, complete with action plans and a furrowing of the brow. But no. Instead I just look long at my foot, with love. And with curiosity. The arteries and veins are hidden beneath flesh and the ankle bone is similarly obscured from view. There is no sorrow, no fear and actually no problem. I’m going to a concert tonight and I’ll simply take a short subway ride rather than hoofing it.

The word “dictionary” comes to mind and then “larger than usual” emerges. More looking, more feeling into. Perhaps I’m becoming bigger than the reality I’ve known. Maybe old versions of myself are moving to the background and a birth is in process. It could be that the bubble of Bruceness is beginning to stretch outwards, so that the surface of my skin isn’t the end of me.

How much of life, how much of humanity, will I choose to include? Will there even be a boundary? It sounds pretty scary not to have one. Will I continue to exclude certain life experiences and certain people or will all of that fall away like snow off a steep roof on a sunny spring day?

Will the voice inside cease its fearless roar of “Not this, not that” in favour of “Yes please”? Will I share my resources with the homeless fellow on the street? Will I let fear and sadness blossom when they knock loudly on my door, demanding my attention, and bid them “Arrivederci” when it’s time for them to go? Will I look deeply into the eyes of the folks who come my way and welcome the souls peeking out? Will I embrace the differing hues and intensities of the rainbows who stand before me?

Will I fall into the moment, again and again, letting the thoughts float away in favour of the boundlessness of it all? Will I listen to the music of muses, rejoice in the smiles of strangers, bless the acts of kindness that are all around? Will I float above the Earth, arms and legs spread wide, letting the air currents take me where they will? Will I jump into the flame of transformation, feeling the burn and the shock of things totally new?

Will I be alive, in my body and soul, throwing streams of light into the world, exploding with other human beings into the vast unknown?

The Spirit that animates us all needs me to swell, to meet the emerging planetary consciousness face-to-face, to evolve with all those interested into a fuller humanity, where love moves past achievement and intelligence and wealth.

Young children will inherit what we adults choose to create.

Traffic Jammed and Released

It took me a long time today to drive from London, Ontario to Toronto.  Near Kitchener and again while approaching TO, it was often bumper to bumper.  No big deal … I’ll get there when I get there.

I was creeping forward in the middle lane.  Ahead of me a semi-trailer on the right jerked wildly to the left, causing the car already occupying that space to slam on the brakes.  Yuck!  That’s how people die out here.  Peace withered away as I blasted the trucker from the safety of my insides.  Just like that, I had created an enemy.  What a dumb thing to do.  Maybe he or she was having a body reaction that caused the sudden movement.  Or the boss had blasted them an hour earlier.  But empathy didn’t seem to be my strong suit today.

Enemies need to be defeated, I reasoned.  The driver was back in the right lane and the seas suddenly parted for anyone over there.  Those folks sped ahead of those of us who were crawling in the middle or left.  Grrr.  (Look how easily my equanimity can be replaced by battle mode.  So humbling.)  Minutes later, the truck reappeared on the right, gradually being pulled back to me.  My heart soared.  Here was the true meaning of life – beat the other fellow.  All of my sinews thrilled as I edged past the bad guy.

And so went our slow motion back-and-forth tussle.  I bet it took me forty-five minutes to realize that I had given all of my power to Mr. Trucker.  His ebbing and flowing was controlling my life.  Why, oh why, didn’t I see this right away?  Guess it’s just my rampant imperfection.

Finally, I let the fellow or gal go.  I let the contest go.  They were just doing their job, probably being pushed by some supervisor to get from A to B 10% faster.  My body calmed.  My soul smiled.  Let’s be friends.

Ten minutes later, I was still in the middle and the trucker was on the right, virtually even.  And then … poof! … they were gone.  In my rearview mirror, I saw the truck pull off on the shoulder, flashers on.

I looked back and I was sad
Goodbye, companion of the road
No more waging war
Fare thee well