After I’m Gone

After sunset then, I’d just finished meditating in the quiet of my bedroom.  My tradition is to ring the singing bowl three times as I come back to this rational realm of living.  That’s a touch that I witnessed many a time during meditation retreats … but I do it differently.  In the hall of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, the teacher rings the bell a second time before the sound of the first strike fades, and the same with the third.  I wait until the flow of each has fallen into silence.  It feels right so I do it.

Headlights passed before my window left to right and right to left, way off in the distance on Harrietsville Drive.  I rose from the chair … and lay down on my bed – an unusual choice in such a moment.  I rested on my back in the darkness and closed my hands over my heart.  There was no intention.  My hands merely found their way to the centre.

A perfect coffin dweller, I thought.  So there I was, feeling into my life.  My casket time may be next week or thirty years down the road.  Either way, it’s coming.  I wondered if I’ll leave something behind.  Would it be so awful if I didn’t?  No.  But I think I will.

A Grade 6 boy approached me at home time today and whispered “Don’t tell anybody, but I think you’re the best teacher in the school.”  I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder.  “Thank you.”  I’m actually a volunteer in the class, but I appreciate his thought.

On the way home, I stopped at the local arena to vote in Canada’s federal election.  On the way out the door, I saw a school bus come to a stop, and out came one of my favourite students from three years ago.  She’s in high school now.   We walked towards each other.  I know I made an impact on her back then but she was nervous with me today … a little distant, a little formal.  We traded news and said goodbye.

One kid, one teen.  I like to think I’ve touched both of their lives, even if that wasn’t so clear today.  And now I smile as I write.  The answer has bubbled up:

Yes, you have

 

Say Something

I was sitting in a movie theatre tonight when those two words floated into my brain.  For two-and-a-half months, they’d been silent.  The last time I wrote to you was in early August, a post about my Belgian friends Baziel and Olivia playing basketball in Toronto.

Strange.  I’ve had no desire to write.  I told myself that my recent travels to a golf tournament in Toronto and visits to San Francisco and New York City left me with precious little time to tap on the keys, but the truth was that I simply didn’t want to.  I may have had the occasional twinge of guilt about this in August, September and October, but virtually nothing.

I knew I’d write again but I was giving myself infinite space to do what drew me and not do what had no current oomph.  Pretty cool, actually, to be so kind to myself.  Right now, there’s a tiny smile on my face as I honour the person I’m continuing to morph into.

So … tonight.  I watched a documentary called Aquarela, which offered stunning visuals about the power of water.  Cars slipping under the ice during an early spring in Siberia.  Hurricane Somebody lashing the streets of Miami, leaving the trunks of some palm trees flat and others curving under the force of the gale.  A small sailboat crossing the Atlantic with its crew of two, riding the immense swells of the ocean.  (In August I threw up three times on a little boat on Lake Erie, and tonight I could imagine a fourth.)  Building-sized chunks of ice breaking off from the mother ship and bobbing like corks in the water, while sounds like gunshots filled the space.

Awesome stuff.  And yet for me such natural drama doesn’t hold a candle to looking at someone’s face, to gazing into their eyes.  I’m a mite biased that way.  Give me people every time.

316 words.  How about that?  I’m back.