Day One

I’ve watched the first session of the “What Now?” conference.  My laptop beams me to the ballroom of the Omni Interlocken Resort in Denver, Colorado.  Some of the world’s most expansive thinkers are tackling the issue of unprecedented change and how to create a more inclusive world.  Issues on the table include spirituality, consciousness, business, technology, culture, race, sexuality and politics.

As I listen to the speakers, it feels like coming home.  Consistently, their attitude mirrors mine:  Love, kindness, compassion and respectful assertiveness must win.  Here are some quotes:

“Your mind will be stimulated
Your heart will be opened
Your views will be challenged
Your time will be well spent”

“To lead from a place of love, presence and fearlessness”

“To move beyond our mental and emotional powers and into a realization of who we really are”

“What a wonderful thing to be together with likeminded souls”

“If the world that’s unfolding is not the one we want, what is our generative response?”

“How can I be a generative force that moves the ball forward?”

And in response to social ills:

“We get to fight
We get to be fierce
We get to say no
We get in the game
It’s not just about being an observer
This is not okay”

So today, Sunday and Monday, I immerse myself in fostering the good, the true and the beautiful in the midst of chaos.  I welcome the journey.  I’ll tell you more tomorrow.


What Now?

I’m in Colorado for the next four days … sort of.  I’ll be attending (sort of) a conference on the future of the world.  Actually, I’ve subscribed to the webcast of all the presentations in the main ballroom.  Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world will be addressing topics such as:

Tribalism versus globalism
The disparity in wealth
Fake news and hate propaganda
The misuse of sexuality
Racial abuse
Environmental degradation and the denial of climate change
Immigration and protection

How do we deal with massive change?  How can we create an inclusive world in which we accept our differences and see them as an opportunity to build something new?  “What’s next for human evolution?”

The older I’ve become, the more I’ve been living in “I don’t know.”  Sure, I’m smart enough to think through complex issues but multiple mysteries of life continue to present themselves.  Perhaps the rational mind is only a part of the puzzle solving.  Can I open to insights that seem to come from elsewhere?

Starting tonight on my laptop, I intend to fall into “beginner’s mind”.  With the glass close to empty, what will Spirit fill it with?  What connections will emerge over the next four days?  What moments of serendipity will say hi?  To what extent could I have been a presenter at the “What Now?” conference?  I do know that I have a part to play.

Tomorrow through Monday, I’ll give you my take on what I’m hearing.  Perhaps windows will open for all of us.

If you’d like to join in, go to  On the dropdown menu, choose “Live”.  Scroll down to “Upcoming Broadcasts” and pick “What Now?”.  Scroll some more until you see words in orange: “Click here to purchase the webcast.”  It costs $125.00 US.  If you become an Integral Life member, it’s $100.00.  You need Google Chrome or fancy browsers that I don’t recognize.  Internet Explorer won’t work.  The first session starts at 7:00 pm tonight.

See you there?

First Aid Insights

Not what you might expect.  There weren’t any great revelations about doing CPR or dealing with breathing problems.  Instead, Sarah was a very funny instructor.  She could be a regular at the Yuk Yuks Comedy Club.  How refreshing to have a teacher who wanted us kids to have fun. along with learning a whole bunch.  And the first aid manual seemed topnotch – up-to-date, with clear explanations.

I got to experience what I’d experienced before … a sadness at not remembering what to do.  Sarah spoke fast and moved fast and I couldn’t keep up.  When it came time for the hands on, I was often lost.  After my initial panic about this, I found myself sinking into the rhythms of the day, absorbing what I could in the short term, knowing that the manual would help me for many tomorrows.  Contentment washed over me, knowing that I’m a work in progress about addressing emergencies.  I accept my foibles and celebrate my desire to assist human beings when they’re injured.

Sarah was not just a fun machine.  She knew her stuff.  She complimented us on our effort.  She thanked us for our good natured spirit.  And she looked right in our eyes and said, “Do what you can.  If you freeze, maybe your contribution will be to call 911.  And it may be that sometimes all your good efforts won’t save the person’s life.  Honour yourself for trying.  Be good to the human being who wants to help.”

So when I ride my bicycle across Canada next summer, I may keep an injured rider alive until medical help arrives.  I may fall short of that goal.  Or the worst incident may be a small cut.  Whatever the story, all my being is ready to serve.

Johnny Bower

Johnny died yesterday at 93.  He was my hero in the 1960’s as the goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  I loved hockey and I loved watching this 40-year-old make spectacular saves on TV.

In those days, the first period of Saturday night hockey games wasn’t telecast.  Mom and dad let me soak in the tub with my radio nearby, cheering on Johnny and the Leafs.  I was so happy, and even more so when I got to come downstairs, all scrubbed clean, to watch the rest of the game.

For so long, I wanted to meet Johnny.  I read that he’d walk out of his house most mornings and pick up the garbage that showed up in nearby Johnny Bower Park.   I made plans to show up there sometime to thank my hero for making me a happy kid.  Sadly, I never did that.

For the past couple of years, I’ve walked past Johnny’s statue in downtown Toronto on my way to concerts on the island.  I put my hand on his forearm and say “Thank you, Johnny.”  And I’ll keep doing that.

I wonder if I’m a hero to any kid in Belmont.  It’s possible.  So I get to be the best Bruce possible when I’m in the presence of those marvelous young people.

Passing it on.

First Aid

Before I venture forth into the topic at hand, let me talk about right now.  I’m sitting in the restaurant of the Husky House on Highway 401.  I picked a window table because I wanted to have a view of the gigantic Canadian flag that soars above the lanes full of cars.  Minutes ago, I looked out the window to see the pole but the high-flying flag was beyond the overhanging roof.  (Sigh)  My urge to be up close and personal with the symbol of my country was blocked.  Feeling sorry for myself, I again looked lazily out the window.  A car was parked in front of me.  And wonder of wonders, the windshield reflected a flag, stiff in the wind, and brilliantly red and white in the sun!

I’m tempted to go deep into an analysis of what this means but some wisdom is saying not to.  Just smile.


Many topics entered my mind on my recent meditation retreat.  One was first aid.  Over the years, I’ve taken many courses but the knowledge faded.  And apart from small cuts, I never used what I learned.  People told me that in an emergency I would know what to do but I never bought that argument.  I’m sad that I can’t remember much of the course content.  I comforted myself with the thought that since I didn’t have opportunities to practice first aid, naturally the “what to do’s” flew out of my mind.  But that really was no comfort at all.

Tomorrow and Thursday, I’m taking a first aid course in London.  “Oh, Bruce, it’ll be just another in a series of failed attempts to absorb the knowledge.”  Well, that’s a rather silly voice.  I don’t think I’ll listen to you, friend.  How about something completely new?  How about forgiving myself for not being committed enough to have first aid principles stay in my mind?

I am committed this time.  “Why?” I ask.  Because my life is about service, about being present with every human being I meet, about loving without fetters.  If that’s my commitment, then I need to include the times of emergency.  Blood scares me.  So what?  Help anyway.  No breathing scares me.  So what?  Get in there and do what you can.  Not knowing what to do scares me.  Okay … and now it’s time to do something about that.

For years, I’ve called myself a determined person, and I am.  “Suck it up, Bruce.  Bring that determination to all avenues of your life.  Be ready when a fellow human being is in physical trouble.  It could be a dear friend.  It could be my nephew.  It could be a stranger.  All are to be revered.  All deserve to have their life continue.”

I’ll let you know tomorrow night about Day 1.



Christmas Eve

My goal yesterday was to go to four carol services and one lovely dinner with friends.  It ended up being 3 and 1.  And what adventures I had!

Stop number one was a service at Belmont United Church at 10:45 am.  Oh we sang, as did the choir.  My favourite moment was when the minister stood in front of us.  He’s retiring next week.  He told the church members that he had made mistakes as their spiritual leader, and with his hand on his heart, asked for their forgiveness.  A stunning moment in time.  He was so genuine and so naked before us.

Service number two was out in the country near Belmont, Ontario, at St. James Presbyterian Church.  I didn’t expect to know anyone.  As I sampled the goodies laid out before the service, a fellow in a clerical collar approached me in welcome.  A lovely thing to do.  He was perhaps 70.  Minutes later, a woman probably in her 30’s came by to talk.  Her last name was the same as the minister’s, and I blurted out unthinkingly, “I just met your husband.”  “Oh … that was my dad.”  My yappy internal voice launched into “Bruce, you’re so stupid.  Look at the age difference.”  But then a remarkable thing happened:  My quiet voice simply said “It’s all right, Bruce.  You’re a human being and you made a mistake.”  And poof!  My embarrassment and fear disappeared.  Magical.  And I’m so blessed that sometimes I can pull myself out of prolonged pain.

An old colleague of mine invited me to sit with her and her family during the service.  More bold singing filled the sanctuary.  At the end, Elizabeth asked me what I was doing on Christmas Day.  I said “Nothing”, which is true.  After an exploratory conversation on her part, she invited me to Christmas dinner.  My mind raced.  I sure didn’t want anyone feeling obligated to have me.  At the same time, here was a woman offering me a gift.  What a disservice it would have been to say no.  So 5:00 pm today finds me in a lovely home with an old friend and some new ones.

Dinner at Leah’s place.  What an amazing chef she is.  Drop the librarian job, my friend, and open your own restaurant.  I had a great time with her family and a “bestie” couple.

My wife Jody and I enjoyed watching “The Polar Express” just before Christmas, but since she died I haven’t seen the film.  It makes me sad.  So what does Leah do after supper but pull out the book and read us the story!  Someone somewhere (my dear wife, I expect) is looking after me.

I had a phone call scheduled with my friend Sarah in New York City.  We met during the three-month meditation retreat.  I had promised to recite “Twas The Night Before Christmas” … normal speed and super fast.  So I did it, drawing forth little squeaks and laughter from Sarah and her roommate.  It made me happy to make my friend happy.

We were having a snowstorm and I decided during the call to skip my last plan of the day: going to a carol sing in the Old St. Thomas Church, circa 1824, 20 kilometres away.  It’s a beautiful old white building … and unheated!  After I hung up, I sat on the couch, my face tightening.  I remembered when Jody and I were visiting her brother Lance and his family in Drayton Valley, Alberta one winter.  We were staying in a motel and one night around 3:00 am Lance phones and says “You have to get up and see the Northern Lights.  They’re spectacular!”  Drowsily, I thanked him and pulled up the covers.  (Sigh)

“Not this time, Bruce.”  So I headed out into the weather, armed with a toque, mitts and four layers of warm stuff.  An hour later, thirty of us held candles and songsheets.  I blasted out the bass part of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with breath before my eyes and heart soaring.

It was a day.

Friendly Reflections

My friend writes very long e-mails.  Here is my continuing reply to her:

“Dear ______,

Thank you for talking to me about Jody [my wife, who died of lung cancer in November, 2014].

‘I saw that you and Jody were not separate. That she was inside you, there with you, or vice versa, but I thought I saw or felt that you two were truly one, and that death had not rendered you asunder. That was the feeling that I experienced. And I felt that when I met you, I met Jody as well, and that she was not gone. She was well alive in you. It was so beautiful and inspiring and soft and true feeling.’

Jody and I talk every day.  I realize that most people don’t accept this as a reality, and I wish them well.  But our conversations are real.  How marvelous that you’ve met Jody standing beside me.  When you receive a copy of the book I wrote about her, you’ll see her beautiful face on the cover.  She’s cheering me on, ______, wanting me to experience all the beauty that life has to offer.  Jody also knows that I will continue to have the dark times that show up for all of us.  She tells me, though, that I am bigger than the fear and sadness.  And I believe her.

It makes me happy to realize that my lovely wife continues to give, in the pages of our book, yes, but also in some mysterious ways unknown to the rational mind.  And I wonder if she has been reborn in some two-year-old who will enter my life soon with gifts to give.

‘I feel my father’s presence. He was such a wonderful man Bruce, not unlike yourself. He and his whole family adopted me before I was born, because my mother had gotten pregnant from another man who had then run away. My father, who had always had a crush on her, stepped in and was there when I was born. He was a very good man as was his whole family. Not rich. Not super educated, but good, humble people who were able to love! And so I was able to have a wonderful father!’

How lovely, ______.  It’s so clear that your dad was able to love.  He wasn’t  going to have a young girl grow up without a father.  It makes me think of all the generosity that lives in the people I meet on the sidewalk, at school, in the Belmont Diner.  Perhaps there’s a veil covering the quiet heroism but maybe I can pull it gently to the side to gaze upon the shining soul within.  I need to have the eyes to see.

‘Everywhere people are trying to save their lives from delusion and aversion and embrace love, understanding and forgiveness and the beautiful reality underneath “the world”.’

I was talking to a farmer today. He loves his life on the land.  He’s 78 and knows he’d die soon if he let go of his work.  He struggles with taxes and the market for his grain and the vagaries of weather, but he’s home.  He doesn’t go to retreats.  He doesn’t read spiritual books, I’d guess.  But he’s touching the beautiful reality of which you speak.

What a gift your e-mail is, ______, and your friendship.  I love sitting down with one other person and talking about stuff that matters.  You are one of those people.

With love,



Energy Out At School

The energy that I throw out into the world is infinitely more important to me than the energy that comes in.  People will respond to me as they choose, or not respond at all.  I have no control over that.  But I can create intentions and then follow through with the skillful actions that I want folks to receive.

I was volunteering today in the Grade 5/6 class at South Dorchester School.  It was basically assembly and party day before the Christmas break.  And I wanted to express.

During the carol sing and brain teaser contests, there was room for me to read “Twas The Night Before Christmas” to the 200 kids.  I sat in a rocking chair and moved from page to page, with the illustrations beamed to the screen behind me.  The real action was what comes next.  Many of the children knew what I was about to do but it was a surprise for most.  After I finished reading, I said “You know, I’ve read this story for years.  I wonder if I could do it without the book.  Do you think I should try?”  Lots of yeses from the assembled clan.  “Okay, but you need to be patient with me.”  Gosh, it was a perfect setup.

I got up from the chair and leaned towards the kids and then launched into Twas at superspeed.  My record is 1 minute and 3 seconds.  Young eyes widened as I ran all the words together, and mouths turned into little o’s.  The kids who had heard me before were just laughing.  Such happiness for me, and for many of the young souls I was facing.

I love creating moments, really to animate moments, as in bringing them alive with something special.  This morning’s Twas certainly qualified.  May I have many more such experiences before I exit the stage.

During the class’ afternoon party, while being jolted with cupcakes, candy canes and marshmallow/rice krispies treats, I asked Tiffany if I could sing a song.  I wanted to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, leaving out the verse with a sexual theme.  Tiffany said yes.  A week ago, the trustworthy voice in my head told me that I would sing the song to a roomful of people “in the near future”.  Well, twenty 10- and 11-year-olds certainly is a roomful.

Before performance time I got nervous, worried that I might start the song at too low a note, so that I wouldn’t be able to reach the deep “Hallelujah” note later on.  I told Tiffany that I wasn’t going to do it, and almost immediately my insides started churning.  I had just made a choice that wasn’t life affirming, wasn’t brave, and my body didn’t like it.  A girl sitting next to me (I’ll call her Mary) told me “You can do it, Mr. Kerr.”  So I flipped one more time, this time back to courage.

I haven’t memorized the words to “Hallelujah” so I stood up with cell phone in hand and gave ‘er!  I started on a note that was a bit too high, so no worries about the deep note later but some wavering on the high ones.  It didn’t matter.  I didn’t care and the kids didn’t care.  They sung the choruses with me.

I survived.  I thrived.  I expressed … with an energy that I believe reached some of those kids.  It feels like I’m building up the “out there” muscle.  And that makes me happy.  The world needs more personal expressions, more inspiration  and more courage.  I’m willing.

Belmont Aglow

I love my village.  Belmont hosts 2800 souls in Ontario, Canada.  And tonight it’s snowing, about an inch so far.

Down Main Street, about 15 glowing snowmen look down from power poles, ushering me towards Belmont Community Park.  It’s a cozy place … paths through parkland surrounding a pond, with land climbing sharply towards an arc of backyards.  Around the pond, spotlights show me wondrous displays:

A replica of Belmont United Church, and a wish for Christmas peace

Another of St. Andrews United Church, with little boxes of Love, Hope, Peace and Joy – some of my favourite words

A mini fire truck from the Belmont firefighters, the cab light flashing

A mom, dad, daughter and son … all bundled up and singing merrily

The red outline of a huge star perched on the far hill, guiding us on our way

Santa’s workshop in full toy-making force

Big Peace, Love and Joy signs beside the path, reminding me of my recent retreat

Santa and his reindeer, caught midflight in the minds of childhood

Moving white lights bringing a horse and carriage to life

Neon outlined gifts, ready for Christmas morning


And through it all, the snow keeps falling
Happy am I

Red Light, Green Light

I love my cell phone.  It allows me to reach out to the world … talking to friends, buying concert tickets while standing in the most unlikely locations, reading the words of Ken Wilber or Stephen King.  Plus it has a cool red case.

I was charging my lovely device yesterday.  But it was time to go.  The light was red, indicating that charging wasn’t done.  I detached the cord and the display said “100%”.  And I thought, “I’ve never seen that light switch from red to green.  Think I’ll replug and sit for a few more minutes, and gaze lovingly at the light.”  So I did.

And so the mind proceedeth.  I was focused on my object of meditation for 30 seconds and then roamed off to another world.

“You’re not a very patient person, Bruce” … Return

“What’s wrong with you?  You just spent three months in a meditation hall.  How come you can’t maintain focus for more than a few seconds?” … Return

“What’s with all this self criticism?  I thought you came home with lots of love for yourself?” … Return

“This is silly.  You’re staring at a light” … Return

“What do these lights mean about change in your life, Bruce?” … Return

“I’m tired of this.  Why doesn’t this light turn green?” … Return

“It’s a plot.  That’s what it is.  Unseen forces are conspiring against me” … Return

“Let go.  Let it all go.  Green will appear when green is ready to” … Return

“Don’t look away!  You’ll miss the moment of change” … Return

“Concentrate!” … Return


Maybe eight minutes on, happily when I was looking at the display, red turned to green.  I caught the moment I wanted to catch.  And received a deep education about the wanderings of the mind.

I’ve learned that change in my life happens little by little.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that.  But the lights show me something else.  If I’m mindful of the moment, could there be instants of transformation just waiting for me?  I think so.  And now I’m watching for them.  Thank you, dear lights.