Majestic Moments

My life, like yours, is made up of a long string of moments.  Most of them seem to escape my notice.  Too often, I’m thinking about something else or dreaming about somewhere else.  And that’s a great loss.

So what can I do about this?  Right now I’m in Mai’s Café at a tiny table for two near the front door.  I’ve written about this spot before – it’s just so cozy and cute.  I’m looking out on the shops of Wortley Road and watching folks roam by on their feet and in their cars.  Across the street, a young couple sit at a window table, looking at their menus.  So those people are momentary in my life.  Moments like this, when I’m alone, allow me to feel my environment, including the inner one.  (My tummy is delightfully full of pad thai and banana fritter!)  I can animate these solitary moments by shining a light on them, having them glow.

Even better are my times with other people.  The same environmental noticing is available but there’s something extra.  Last night I joined Louise and Jeff for supper at Chaucer’s Pub.  It’s warm and dark and quiet.  No big screen TVs showing me the wide world of sports (although I often enjoy such settings).  My back was to the fireplace and the warmth toasted me all over.

We talked of life, of music, of adventures, of community.  We talked of real people in our lives.  We talked of them with appreciation and tenderness.  Through all of this, we created a special time.  But I knew there could be more.  I’ve been studying the insights of Patricia Albere, about what’s possible when two or more people are together.  With Patricia in mind, I looked at my new friends.

Jeff and Louise are good people.  I could feel that.  As I listened to them speak, I threw my consciousness inside each one, trying to feel them from within.  And for a second or two, now and then … I did.  It wasn’t me being with them.  It was me being them.  Oh.  Completely different from other mealtime conversations I’ve had.  “Goodness.  Where does Bruce end and Louise begin?”  I didn’t know.  “Who is Jeff?”  Somehow I was part of the answer.

Our shared words continued … but there was a shift.  I was inside.  What if I could create this majesty at will?  What if another human being chose to join me in this experience of touching and being touched, of living inside each other?  The words “Heaven on Earth” come to mind.

It appears that I’m not here and not now for a fair slice of my day.  Nothing to get all grumpy about but I dream of what could be. 

Time for a grand experiment, perhaps?

Community of Music

Since I moved to Belmont 18 months ago, I’ve been creating communities for myself.  Now that the worst of my grieving for Jody is over, I need to be out there in the world.

I love going to the Belmont Diner three times a week for breakfast.  The horseshoe-shaped lunch counter means that I get to talk to lots of folks.  Then there’s the elementary school where I volunteer in a Grade 5/6 class.  Kids and adults know me there and being known is a blessing.

And there are more gathering places: the Barking Cat pub, the Belmont Library, community events in the upstairs meeting room at the arena.

I often go to brunches and concerts at the church on Toronto Island, 200 kilometres from home.  I’m a familiar face there.  Also in London at the Cuckoo’s Nest folk club, Wellington Fitness and the Aeolian Hall concert venue.

Last night was a new opportunity.  A friend told me about weekly folk music gatherings in an old house by the Thames River.  Why not?  I’ve thought for years how cool it would be to go to a Newfoundland kitchen party, where everyone shows up with an instrument and their voice.  But that’s thousands of kilometres from me.

I got out of Scarlet and walked a little nervously towards the lights and parked cars.  I reached for the door, crossed the threshhold and there was Christine, smiling at the newcomer.  She and her husband John have hosted Wednesday evenings at their home for fifteen years.

The living room was narrow, with a small stage set up along one wall.  Chairs and couches were getting full with music fans, and smiles were aimed every which way, including at me.  I felt warm, included, seen.

The first set featured Jake, a mellow pianist, who shared his melodies, his knowledge of how to play jazz, and the voice of his lovely wife Julia.

Then there were the Back Seat Girls, four women (sometimes 5 and even 6) who loved belting out the fast tunes, many of which were so singable.  I was in heaven, sitting there with instant friends, sipping ginger tea, munching chocolate chip cookies, and throwing in a harmony or two.

Wow.  What’s happening?  Another community … and so effortless to embrace.  I am blessed.

The music lasted till 11:00, the smiles no doubt much longer.  I got to drive a fellow home.  He just happened to be the king of trivia questions and how to coach people in answering them.  At red lights and beyond, I tackled this one: Name nine pro baseball, basketball or hockey teams in North America whose names don’t end in “s”.  Here’s one to get you started – the Tampa Bay Lightning.

So I got to do a good deed, stretch my brain cells and laugh a lot.  Earlier I got to sing, drum my fingers on my thighs and enjoy a lot of happy human beings.

Wednesday evenings sound good to me.

Hello Traveller

I’m sitting in my comfy meditation chair after a long period of quiet.  Right in front of me is my big bed, with its bedspread of splashy colours.  Beyond is a large window looking out on the backyard, with its recently planted deciduous tree – about 12 feet tall.  Then the land slopes down to a farmer’s field.  Maybe 400 metres away is a creek with a series of trees standing guard, their branches bare.  After that is a field which climbs toward the horizon, with Harrietsville Drive flowing left to right way back there near the end of the world.

And I reflect.

Before I started meditating, I took off my clothes and put on my red housecoat.  Those clothes are piled on the bed, helter skelter.  I look at the pile and realize that they’re my clothes, a symbol of Bruce now divorced from the body.  But I see me there.  I think of all the garments I’ve worn in my life, and I smile.  It’s nice to have remembrances of me.  They help me love myself in the moment.  Sometimes I need reminders that I’m a good person.

Outside of the window but unseen from my current angle are two bird feeders.  A flash of wing often crosses my field of vision and some birdies take turns clinging to the branches of the tree.  Then again, the tree is often birdless … such as right now.  I want my friends to show up, so I can enjoy them.  I sense that a few of them are at the feeders, just beyond my sight, but somehow that’s not good enough.  I want them to be with me.

Way out there on Harrietsville Drive, a car is roaming left to right.  “Hello, traveller.  I hope you’re happy.  Thanks for coming by.”  Too soon, the car disappears behind my bedroom wall.  I long for another to take its place.  A right-to-lefter would be just as fine.

Right now, there’s no vehicle on the horizon.  I feel an odd pain about that.  But I look at the trees by the creek and see that their branches are waving at me.  “Hello, dear trees.”  Unlike the birds and the cars, they’re not going anywhere.  Come the spring, however, their leaves will disguise the waving.

So at times there is no waving, no birdies and no humans in their cozy cars.  And that’s okay.  Part of the rhythm of things.  And I know they’ll be back.

Nothing … Something … Nothing

And how exactly do you write about nothing?  Maybe I’m done right now, but I don’t think so.

I meditated for two hours yesterday morning.  That’s a long time but it’s not new for me.  Usually in a meditation sitting, I have periods of “quiet mind” and others of “monkey mind”.  You get the idea.  Quiet means relatively few thoughts, and those float away quickly.  Monkey means a constant spewing of negativity, and thoughts that pile on top of each other.  Yesterday was neither.

After a few minutes of settling, I went into a lengthy period that was brand new: no movement at all, either physical or mental.  Virtually no thoughts.  No words came to mind, even when I tried to create one, such as “love”.  Probably for the first hour and three-quarters, all was still.  My body slumped to the left and sometimes I brought it back to vertical, but there was no thinking.  Just this big space inside me.  And a supreme sense that whatever was happening was perfectly fine.

One random thought showed up: I should curl my lips upwards in a tiny smile, to beam loving energy to human beings.  But no smile came and instead there was some global sense that the love was right here right now with no intentional thinking or movement.  This awareness was all-encompassing, unspoken and undeniable.  It didn’t seem to be a discrete thought.

Okay, I feel myself moving into censoring mode.  “You’re not making any sense.  People will think you’re crazy.”  But whatever is going on right now as I type, it doesn’t feel “rational”.  Something else is here.  And I don’t care what it is.  I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

One thing I’ve never done is write about a recent meditation experience, then begin another period of meditating, and then write about that too.  So … off I go to my bedroom and my meditation chair.  Will I be thirty minutes or three hours?  I don’t know.  Either way, I’ll talk to you soon.


Ha!  I lasted 26 minutes.  I fell asleep three times and a brightening consciousness kept saving me from toppling to the floor.  Not exactly an experience of “nothing”!  I started analyzing why today’s meditation was so different and came up with zero other than my recent overzealous caffeine consumption and the fact that I haven’t had any coffee today.

I decided to go to bed.  “Too tired for meditation.”  An hour later, after lots of coziness but no sleeping, I’m up again.  And how strange – I’m very happy.  The word “symphony” is flooding me, that my life is made up of so many different experiences and they blend to create a perfectly fine whole.  Did I want to repeat yesterday’s nothingness?  Yesiree.  Am I devastated that this didn’t happen?  Nosiree.

What now?  I think I’ll read my book.  And maybe return to my meditation chair a bit later.

To be continued.


I’ve just come out of another period of meditation – 70 minutes this time.  And the nothingness returned … unbidden, unforced.  I just watched.  After awhile, partial images came.  At the end, I looked back at the hour and the picture of a blob showed up.  The blob was nothingness and occasionally a something would poke its head up, covered in blob goo, and then recede.  The appearances had no staying power.  They would partially form and then dissipate, gently fall apart.

First there was a fragment of a moment.  It was at night.  I was stepping off the sidewalk to cross the street.  A car with headlights on was heading towards me from the right.  Then … Poof!  Gone.  Next was a series of faces, barely formed and unrecognizable.  Each in turn faded away, to be replaced by another silhouette which also dropped from sight almost immediately.  Just the blob again.  Then a thought would start, but couldn’t resist the gravity of the blob and would sink down again.  Also a word or two, I think.

For the last few minutes, it was just the nothingness again.  And then, without thought, it seemed to be time to go.  I opened my eyes.


Well, isn’t this a wonder?  I’m soft and quiet and open to whatever’s next.  I hope nothing comes back.  It may or may not.  I’m all right with either.


Planning My Life

I sat in front of the gym, wondering whether I should get out of Scarlet.  My body was off … dull and weak.  But it was time for me to ride the elliptical.  I had it all planned out.  Do what you say you’ll do and all that.

On Friday, before we all headed out for March Break, I told the kids that on Monday I’d be going for five hours on the elliptical.  I asked them to spare a thought for me as morning turned to afternoon.  A Monday marathon means a Sunday off.  And a Saturday on, maybe two hours.  I wanted to sense the Monday cheering from afar.

But there I sat late Saturday afternoon, with my body politely saying “No”.  The angst ran through me and I made no move for my backpack.  I just stared at the building.  Thoughts came:

You’re a bad person if you don’t go in

Uncommitted, mentally weak, abysmal

No chance to ride across Canada if you let a little weakness stop you

You can’t have those kids cheering on the wrong day

If you don’t exercise today, you’ll gain a lot of weight [!]

And so floats my mind.  Sort of laughable, in a tender way.  I said no to the elliptical.  I said yes to sitting in Scarlet and watching a spiritual web seminar on my phone.  It was fun.

So today I’m feeling much better and two hours on the beast are in my afternoon future.  Tomorrow I’ll hang loose while some children are wondering how tired I am.  And Tuesday I’m aiming for the five hours.

Then there’s the rest of my life.  Goals are fine.  There’s a time to stretch towards them, and a time not to.  Schedules are cool.  There’s a time to follow them, and a time not to.  May I be wise enough to know when it’s a yes and when it’s a no.

Cabin Fever Reliever

It was play day at school on Thursday … all afternoon.  Kids from JK to Grade 6 had eight activities to choose from, and they got to pick three of them.  What a marvelous thing for the school staff to create.

I decided to roam around the various rooms to see what tickled my fancy.  And “Minute To Win It” was my fave.  First there was “Elephant March”.  Imagine a pair of panty hose with a tennis ball bulging from one foot.  The waist band goes over your head, with the ball hanging in front of you.  Then the trick is to knock over two rows of plastic cups and water bottles.  If your elephant trunk swings are gentle, you can do it.  Too much oomph, however, and you get wildly out of control – about a zero chance of  upsetting anything.  It was hilarious.  Tiny kindergarten kids and confident Grade 6’s – it didn’t matter.  Everyone looked silly and laughter filled the room.

If impersonating a huge mammal isn’t your style, how about “Junk In The Trunk”?  Strap an empty Kleenex box just above your butt, fill it with eight ping pong balls and try to get them all dislodged in a minute.  Good luck!  Kids were upside down, right side up, jumping up and down, twisting and shouting.  Fun, fun, fun till the clock said 60.

I’m a pretty good spectator, but it was time for action.  My task was to keep three balloons aloft for the minute.  “I can do this.  I’ll pile the balloons on top of each other and then throw them straight up.  They’ll therefore be close to my body as they descend and it’ll be no sweat to send them vertical again.”  Ahh … the delusions of seniorhood.  How long did I last, you ask?  Three seconds.

Not everything was indoors.  The scavenger hunt covered the snowy schoolyard.  125 painted stones littered the landscape, apparently stuffed inside the bodies of deteriorating snowmen, hidden at the base of a climber, tucked into a little hollow – everywhere!

I told Jayne, the Grade 5/6 teacher, that I was on a mission to find one of those stones.  An hour before, I had watched a group of kids refine their search skills, and I vaguely looked around to locate my own personal treasure.  But I didn’t find anything.  Now, refreshed with preventing balloons from touching the earth, I knew this was my moment.

I told a gaggle of wandering children about my quest.  Immediately, I was deluged with:

“I know where there’s one, Mr. Kerr.”

“Come over here.  Look right there!”

“Let’s find one together, Mr. Kerr.”

So I was out and about with this short human being, then that one, and somebody else again.  Following speedy legs to all sorts of destinations.  But I still hadn’t located a stone on my own.  As the bell rang, signalling the end of the session, I trudged back towards the school, happy about my time with the kids, but sad with my empty hands.  And there, steps from the tarmac, sat a little snow drift, with a spot of yellow peeking out.  I too am a successful treasure hunter!

It was a smiley afternoon – for me, 15 adults and 200 young’uns.  Good for us.


I’m sitting in a downtown Boston Pizza, wearing my TFC scarf.  That’s the Toronto FC soccer team for the uninitiated.  They dominated Major League Soccer (MLS) last year but tonight they’re playing Tigres, one of the best teams in Mexico, and TFC are the underdogs.  It’s two-and-a-half hours from game time.  I’m a 45-minute walk from BMO Field … and I have a ticket!

I bought my team scarf last year and I still don’t know how to wear it “right”.  Tonight I tied it in a knot around my neck and walked down the street.  It didn’t feel good but then again who cares?  So I held my fan head high as I strolled towards the stadium.  And … the knot just came undone and my adornment now hangs down from my neck.  Perfect!

Okay, I just entered BMO Field and found my seat, about 2700 stair risers up from the gate.  I’m getting high!  And my next door neighbours are a family from Mexico.  They respectfully suggest that TFC doesn’t have much of a chance.  We’ll, we’ll see about that.  The good-natured banter has already started and I’m sure I’ll have fun sitting beside them.

The Mexican fellow next door laughs a lot and so do I.  Lovely.  I like  bugging his son, a dedicated Tigres supporter.  And son laughs along with me.

Okay, it’s really cold in this open air stadium.  The wind brings the effective temperature to well below 0 degrees Celsius.  I bundle up and then bundle up some more.  How are those Mexican players coping with our Canadian deep freeze?

Tigres dominates the first ten minutes.  It seems like they have the ball all the time.  No big scoring chances though.  Both teams pass the ball magically, like it’s on a string.  The crowd leans forward, perched on the edge of our seats.  Zoom this way, zoom that way … and then it’s halftime.  0-0.

As soon as the referee blows his whistle I’m out of my seat, praying that a urinal has my name on it.  Trouble is, hundreds of other folks seem to have the same idea, unless they have a yearning for hot dogs.  The trek down the stands reminds me of the 401 at rush hour … a slow go.  And I thought it was just women who lined up at washrooms.  At least 50 guys were waiting their turn.  So much for that stereotype.  By the time I was back in my seat, the teams were five minutes into the second half.  (Sigh)

Tigres scored a gorgeous goal early in the second frame.  The folks beside were up on their feet in a shot, highfiving each other.  Being a curious type, I asked why they were so happy.  We chuckled.

All through the night, the TTC supporters behind the goal banged their drums and chanted their chants.  So exciting!  It’s how I imagine European sporting events to be.  And we amateur TFC supporters responded with “TFC, TFC, TFC!”  Lots of noise.

Jozy Altidore blasted home the tying goal later in the second half.  We stood as one, with the wave of sound no doubt reaching Niagara Falls 130 kilometres away.  My seated companions smiled (and grimaced a bit).

On and on the game went, with each side taking turns pushing the ball forward.  There were “oohs” of joy and “awws” of despair as the deadlock persisted.  And then … in the very last minute, a pass was slightly behind Jonathan Osorio.  He twisted around and nudged the ball home with his heel.  I was up.  My arms made a sky high V.  And 20,000 voices hit a note of ecstasy.  We win!

I shook hands with father and son.  Dad was still smiling.  Such a good sport.  We fans walked off into the night to our various cars, trains and streetcars, most of us with smiles plastered on our faces.  The wind had frozen us.  Sport had warmed us from the inside.  All was well.

Jody and The Athletic

The Athletic is a very cool website that gives me fresh insights about sports teams, especially the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The ranks of sportswriters at some daily newspapers have been decimated lately, and The Athletic has scooped up some really fine journalists.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a letter to the editor but now I can comment on stories online whenever I want.  Except for one thing: reader comments at The Athletic are linked to any existing Facebook accounts.  I deleted Jody’s account months ago but when I pressed “Send” my words appeared under the banner “Jody A” accompanied by a lovely photo of my dear wife.  I stared at the screen in shock.

So what’s happening here?  Do I want to eliminate all remembrances of Jody from my life?  Not at all.  Do I want to be my own person, with an identity separate from being half of a couple?  Yes.

It feels like there’s a time and place for everything.  And now is not the time to be perceived as “Jody A”.  There was a time when I’d laugh at such things but not now.  Way back when, during my first marriage, I got a chuckle one day when I was digging letters out of the mailbox.  “Mr. Rita Kerr” said the envelope.  It was strange, though, the same oddness women used to experience a lot, to the tune of “Mrs. Bruce Kerr”.

After that first jolt at The Athletic, I haven’t let myself make comments on stories with Jody’s face looking at me onscreen.  Silly, I guess, but powerful.  Staff at the website worked hard to get rid of her photo, and they did it, but I still let “Jody A” stop me.

I was awake this morning at 3:00 am.  Very unusual for me.  I wasn’t tense about anything.  I had worked out on the elliptical yesterday and was quite tired.  “Oh well, guess I’ll check e-mails.”  And there was Andrew’s message: “I’ve updated your account to remove the name.”  Oh, supreme joy!  I opened The Athletic and searched for an article, any article, to comment on.  Found one comparing the progress of the Leafs to the Buffalo Sabres.  That’ll do.  The accompanying photo was striking so I talked about it.  And then the magic “Send” moment.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear … but “Bruce A”!

I am not Jody
I am not half of Jody and Bruce
I am me

The Journey Begins 

I’m sitting in Scarlet on the main street of Alliston, Ontario.  I’m way early for the Annual General Meeting of the Tour du Canada.  The TdC is the organizer of the cross-Canada bicycle trip I’m going on this summer, with 19 other riders.  I’m not super keen on motions and policies but there’s one thing that has my juices flowing – the possibility that I’ll meet one of my fellow cyclists at today’s meeting.  Right now I know not a one of them.

I’ve been on the Tour’s website.  Two people have introduced themselves.  I look at the print on my laptop screen and see a name: Joe somebody.  But in a few months, Joe will be my friend and we’ll share many adventures and no doubt numerous obstacles.  Joe will be so very real to me.

Okay, this is a more reasonable time to knock on the door.  Here goes.


I shake hands with Bud and hug Margot.  They’re the two sources of the TdC, which they created 30 years ago.  Soon, about 10 other faces are saying hi.  All except one are veterans of the ride.  But sadly no other 2018 cyclist is at the meeting.  I smile to myself.  I can wait another 3+ months.

The meeting is about lots of issues unfamiliar to me.  Doesn’t matter.  It hits me, more than once, that these human beings in front of me mean that the Tour du Canada is now real.  Websites and correspondence and Skyping are fine but now I’m looking folks in the eye.  Again and again, I’m brought to silence when this reality hits home.  It’s not just a long-held dream, a “maybe” – it’s 20 of us setting off from Vancouver on June 22.  And I’m just as valuable a team member as anyone else, probably slower than most but so what?

During the meeting and the supper afterwards, folks tell their stories of the road.  One woman did the ride 29 years ago, but her description of a long ago moment is relived vividly in her eyes.  Actually, every person who spoke transported themselves back to a magical summer, full of joys and heartaches.  The weather, the hills, the aches and pains.  Exhaustion towards the end of the day and then a road sign appears announcing the campground is still 16 k away.  Being on the road for the sunrise.  Eating impossible quantities of food.

I heard about the tremendous feeling of achievement in reaching St. John’s.  About the couples who met on the ride.  Might that include me in 2018?  About the lovable quirkiness of a rider or two.  And smiles all around.  “Do you remember that morning when I looked at the schedule and told you ‘Oh good, only 130 kilometres today’?”  And then we laughed and laughed.”

Advice came at me from all directions.  “Buy $200 cycling shorts.”  (What?)  “Buy a really good tent that won’t fall apart in a fierce storm.”  “Buy three different brands of excellent shorts so the edge of the chamois [padding] isn’t always rubbing away your skin in exactly the same spot.”  (Who would have thought?  Not me.)

As we left each other and walked out into the darkness, everyone wished me good luck.  A few said they were jealous.  And I just said “Thank you.”

I think I’m doing a remarkable thing come June.  Just like hundreds of other folks have done.  I’ll be creating another community for myself, and that makes me happy.  The nineteen other riders deserve my best.  I’ll give them that.


Sometimes I wonder if I’ve left a lot of life’s goodies behind.  “Sure I did this in my 20’s but not anymore.”  To which I say “Why not?”  Take dancing for instance.

Last night woke me up.  I went to hear Angelique Kidjo sing.  She’s a dynamic songstress from Benin in Africa.  She strode out onstage with a huge smile, wearing traditional garb – a red, yellow and white “sari” and a headdress that matched.  I know that “sari” isn’t the right word but it’s all I know.

Angelique belted out all these fast African songs, each with a great beat.  And she danced!  Throwing her head back and zooming all over the stage, arms and legs moving every whichway.  And she was so happy!  I marvelled at the expressions of a full human being.

And then … towards the end of the concert, Angelique invited us all up on the stage to dance with her and her band!  1100 of us.  About 100 human beings took her up on it.  And there I was, boogieing my butt off in close quarters with dancers of all ages (including one 7-year-old girl, a whirl of limbs).  The music blasted, the audience wowed.  I looked out from the stage and took in all of Koerner Hall … such beauty in the walls, on the ceiling, in the seats.  And I too was happy.  I remembered other dancing times and smiled beneath the sweat:

1. Jody and I at an evening street dance in Vieux Fort, a tiny town in St. Lucia. We all were so packed in at that intersection that the only place to move was up and down.  So I bounced!

2. A staff Christmas party at a fancy restaurant in downtown London.  Jody later told me that people stared as I vibrated all body parts at a frantic pace in some skewed version of dancing.

3. Last summer in London’s Victoria Park, I threw everything around with hundreds of others to the music of Five Alarm Funk at Sunfest, our world music festival.  I looked around at a lot of 20-somethings, and precious few 60-somethings.  Too bad for those who missed out.

The truth is … I don’t want to miss out!  I want to dance.  If I’m to be with a lovely woman again, may she love to move and groove.  And if no such blithe spirit comes my way, I’ll dance alone through my remaining years on the planet.

So there.