Hair Loss

I have lots of hair. My challenge is not about growing it, but getting rid of it.

I look in the mirror and see this mass of grey on my head. “That’s big hair!” And I’m fine with that. My TV screen suggests some chemical that will reduce the size of my forehead by filling in the upper reaches with new roots. Also available is shiny black or perhaps a rich dark brown. Not for me.

I’ve always had copious hair. I just spent twenty minutes searching for an old photo of me but I can’t find it. (Sigh) When I was 25, my hair was curling up on my shoulders. Bruce then, Bruce now.

That’s what I should do … take a right now photo. See you in a bit.

Yeah, that’s me.

In mid-December, I saw my hair starting to grow every which way. But that was okay. I had an appointment with my stylist for December 30. On December 26, the Province of Ontario locked down. My haircutting options were reduced to the grocery store and the pharmacy. Undeterred, I phoned the hair salon and made an appointment for February 3. “I can last that long.” Sadly, Ontario has extended the lockdown to at least February 11. So … I’m now figuring on sometime in 2022.

This morning I decided against a repeat of 1974. Amazon, the purveyor of all things wise and wonderful, would surely come to my rescue. And they did. I ordered a hair trimmer kit that had lots of 5-star reviews. It’s due to show up on Saturday.

I can read a manual. I can maneuver a trimmer through my golden locks. And I can’t wait to see what I’ll look like. Maybe I’ll start a new trend!

An after-photo will be coming your way.

After You Die

Imagine the day of your death. May it be a long way into the future. Imagine the sadness of your loved ones. You touched them. You’re probably not famous so the mourners won’t number in the millions, or even the thousands. But every single one will feel a long exhale in memory of you. They’ll take to Facebook or Twitter. They’ll speak to your family at the funeral. And here’s what they’ll say about your uniqueness:

There was no one else like you

You understood human triumph and frailty equally well

You shall be missed

Thanks for all the laughs

You had an insatiable curiosity about people, and a real sense of humor

Your legacy will live on

It was an honor to watch you do your thing

You really, really did listen

It was your generosity of spirit that drew the world to you

You made everybody feel comfortable

I’ve never known anybody who made a bigger deal out of the slightest kindness

You were always interesting, gracious and fun

You had a great sense of humor and a genuine interest in people

I’m going to miss all of our great conversations

You were a friend through thick and thin

It was always a treat to sit at your table

You loved what you did and all of us loved you

Thank you for listening

You always made me feel as though I were the only person in the room


Well done
You’re living a good life


I sat down at 5:55 pm. Just now, at 7:08, it was over. A few minutes before, some unknown part of me knew that was true, and my eyes opened. I took the wooden mallet in my hand and tapped the side of the singing bowl. A pure ring started as a solid tone and then slipped into a wave … and slowly faded into silence. There’s a moment when I know the tiny vibration is no more. I tapped the bowl three times.

“Should I write about this?” a small voice calls out in the night. “Nobody’s going to understand. Some folks will see your words as ‘hogwash’, as mom loved to say.” It was a funner word than “ridiculous”. Oh, what the heck, I’ll start writing and you the reader can react as you will. I see now that I don’t need agreement about my meditation experiences. If you don’t like it, I’m sure you’ll find something else to read. What’s clear is that I want to share what my last hour was about.

I’ve meditated for fifteen years or so. Sitting for an hour has become ordinary, certainly not an achievement. For the last month, another version of ordinary has been consistently showing up. Within minutes, or perhaps even seconds, I can’t speak. I think of my favourite phrase – “I love you” – but I can’t say the words in my head. I get to the “I” and there’s an extended “ah” that shows up. If I open my mouth to say the words aloud, they don’t come. Today it took maybe ten seconds for me to slip into this realm. It appears to be a signpost that love indeed has embraced me.

If you can slip in, you can slip out. And that happened today. Without any thoughts showing up, I saw “I love you” in my head and they were said, easily. I smiled. And that smile made me happy. Holding on to some cool state is not the way life works. Tonight I said “Bye bye” to the sublimity, trusting that it would return in its own good time. Sometime later in the hour, it did.

I haven’t had many thoughts during meditation recently, but when they come, sometimes in spurts, I like welcoming these old friends. Grunting and groaning, trying not to have thoughts, is a fool’s errand. I’ve been that fool many times. But not lately.

Even when it’s impossible to speak, there are nuances. For part of the time, I felt a wave flowing behind my eyes. I was being carried on that wave, feeling the pulse. Then there was a spell of “shimmering down”, the sense of something bright falling from the top of my head down my face. Later, as if by magic, both of those disappeared and what was left was stillness. No movement at all, no thoughts, and yet keenly feeling the presence of my bedroom. It’s tempting to see cessation as the goal, the shining peak of the whole climb. In my experience, though, there is no goal – no better or worse. There’s simply choosing to sit, and being open to whatever comes by.

At one point tonight, it felt like I was waking up from a deep sleep. My head had fallen way off to the left. As I brought myself back to vertical, I felt a sharp pain in my side. I didn’t remember falling. In some other sessions, I’ve had the sensation of jerking myself out of sleep, the whole body jolted. And now I’m smiling again. Meditation is such a delightful mystery.

So that’s how I spent a recent 73 minutes. I’m grateful to the psychologist who introduced me to meditation way back when. I’m grateful to the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts, the site of several silent retreats. And I’m grateful to … what? I don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s here. Time to smile once more.

We Wait For The Next

The notes soar to the morning sun
As the wings of democracy remember their flight
Captive too long within the bars of steel
We can sing again

Faces twisted into the lies of stolen things
Faces crushed as the family sinks low
The scourge of disease beside the list of “others”
And we sink into the morass

There is much to say about the morrow
There is more to touch when we can touch again
I look in your eyes of whatever hue
And see myself looking back

There is me and there is you among our unknowings
Your clothes, your religion, your party intrude
But we can look past the left/right, the red/blue
To see the purple dress of the arriving one

I’m not of your country … I’m of mine
But we share so much across the borderline
We see the face, we hear the words, we sense the soul
And know what’s true

On we all go through the stories of country and soul
On we go as friends or foes … but not enemies please
The listening will come, the speaking will be soft
And prevailing in peace will be ours

What Do We Love?

I was plastered to my television today, watching history unfold.  The span of Donald Trump leaving and Joe Biden arriving enthralled me.  I loved Lady Gaga blasting out the national anthem.  I loved Amanda Gorman’s passionate poem about America … plus her yellow suit and red hat.  And I loved Joe’s speech.  At one point, he quoted St. Augustine:

A people are a multitude
defined by the common objects of their love

What might these objects be?  I could say I love pizza with anchovies while you salivate over pesto pasta.  Yes, we enjoy food, but those are shallow objects of our love.  I could say I love independence while you favour interdependence, and that therefore we’re unlike each other, but that distinction feels like it lies on the surface of our lives, in the realm of personality differences.

If we go deeper, beyond conscious thought for many, what unites us?  I vote for these things:

We all want to be happy

We all want to be loved

We all want to love

We all want to hear the truth

We all want to tell the truth

We all want to receive a helping hand when we’re down

We all want to extend a hand to those who are suffering

We all want the wild creatures of this world to continue living

We all want to look into the eyes of another with peace in our hearts

We all want to be treated with kindness

We all want to be kind

We all want hard work to be rewarded

We all want our dear planet to remain healthy

We all want widespread illness to be eradicated

We all want to witness inspired performances, whether in sports, music or drama

We all want to be ourselves, not a copy of someone else


May we express our loves to each other
We need to speak and we need to listen


I’m Canadian.  Some of you are American.  In certain respects, that difference is important.  Not so, however, when we broaden our gaze to include us all.

Tonight in Washington, DC, there was a ceremony honoring the 400,000 US citizens who have died from the coronavirus.  It was held beside the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at twilight.  Four hundred lamps were lit along the length of the water.  One commentator called the visual a symbol of Joe Biden reaching out to the American people.  His words stayed with me.

Other words were spoken or sung by these folks:

Kamala Harris
Lori Marie Key
Wilton Gregory
Joe Biden
Yolanda Adams

I could have attached titles and descriptions to each of these people, but I decided no.  There’s a first name and there’s a last name.  Wisdom came out of their mouths … and it didn’t matter who said what.  It was simply important that the words were spoken.

We are all united in the sorrow we feel today

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord

Let us shine a light in the darkness

To heal, we must remember

The Lord has promised good to me

As long as life endures

Awareness of our common humanity

The Presidency is a moral office

Tonight we grieve and begin healing together

My abiding hope is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom


You could have spoken these words
Me too
I trust that they’re true in all our hearts
We don’t have to be famous or smart or pretty/handsome
We just have to be kind
We can do that
It’s a simple thing


The Buddha said it well 2600 years ago: life is both gain and loss. You can be the smartest, richest, kindest, most emotionally stable human being … and your life won’t be an unbroken surging of happiness. Jolts will come.

There are so many big losses, and a myriad of smaller ones. But even if it’s a paper cut, there’s a slumping of the soul. The reaction could be soft and slow or it might be a burst of “Why me?” “This isn’t fair” or “Life sucks!”

One of my conclusions is that every person I meet on the street or on Zoom is dealing with some painful issue. And our list of defeats, burdens and sorrows can so easily pile up. We get to choose how we respond.


In the realm of “biggies”, let’s start with death. Our loved ones die. With respect to Covid, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently spoke anguished poetry:

The smile that will now only be a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table
the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one

And then there’s one’s own death … my death. All the Bruce accumulations, whether physical or spiritual, will be gone. My writings will remain but who knows if anyone will read them. I feel sad when I think of me ending.

Dying may be long and agonizing or a closing of the eyes at night. The approaching end may be vivid or just some vague thought of the future.

Physical pain cuts like a knife or pulses in the background. It may be in spurts or a lingering throughout the day.

Emotional pain may be full-blown terror or sorrow. It may be a vague feeling that I can’t find my home. Or I’m not much of a human being. Or you don’t like me.

Financial demise may mean not being able to feed your family and keep a roof over their heads. Bankruptcy perhaps. Or it may mean no Christmas presents under the tree, no hope for future family travel, or even not being able to afford the magazine you want to read.

There are many other diminishments that may come our way:

Someone breaks their word with you

Late for an appointment, you run into a string of red lights

At a friend’s home, dinner includes a vegetable that you can’t stand

You love snow, and it seems like this winter we’re hardly getting any

Your Internet connection magically disappears. It comes back hours later

Nobody sends you a Christmas card

You’re scammed for $600 while you thought you were helping a friend

The ache in your shoulder just won’t go away

The last time you looked, you were 25

Covid is keeping you physically away from the ones you love

You can’t speak much French to the folks you care about in Senegal

You were born female but you really think you’re a man

You’re still feeling the PTSD years after the incident

You wish Monday was Friday

You know the work you’re doing doesn’t make a difference

The U.S. Capitol was attacked


There are so many woes
There’s no clear winner in the land of joys and sorrows
So let’s stay close to each other


Grace means giving.  It’s a lovely name for a woman and a fine quality for a human being.  We in this world need to be generous with each other, empathetic, kind.  I don’t think we’ll survive if the dominant force on Earth is “I’m better than you.”  We need to be inspired by examples of true human goodness.

I have one for you, or rather Paul Begala does.  On January 11, 2021, he wrote an article called “The Last Time America Fired A President”.  It’s about George H. W. Bush.  In November, 1992, H. W. lost the US presidential election to Bill Clinton, becoming one of the very few US presidents to last only one four-year term.  Donald Trump is another.

Here are some excerpts:

This is where Bush’s amazing grace came in.  He was a wounded politician, but more than that he was a patriot.  “Among the many memories from my first inauguration that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” Clinton recalled to me, “is the extraordinary graciousness that President and Mrs. Bush showed to Hillary, Chelsea and me on what had to have been an incredibly difficult day for them.”

The outgoing president and incoming President-elect meet for coffee at the White House before the swearing-in, and one can imagine that the coffee comes with a quite a bit of tension – especially when you must depart the White House for the last time in the company of the guy who kicked you out.  But the Bushes cut through it, Clinton told me.  “They treated us with genuine kindness, and expressed a real hope that our country would be successful over the next four years, and that our family would be happy in the White House.”

Former first lady Barbara Bush, herself a fierce competitor, shifted into loving grandmother mode.  “I’ll never forget Mrs. Bush praising Chelsea, who was 12 at the time,” Clinton told me, “for the way she handled herself so maturely through the crucible of the campaign.  Chelsea replied, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Bush.  I tried.’  And Mrs. Bush said, in her direct, classic way, ‘Oh, we all try.  But not everyone can do it.'”

I asked Clinton about the car ride from the White House to the Capitol.  He declined to reveal specifics – some secrets are, apparently, kept in the Presidents’ Club – but he told me, “As we spent the final moments together before the peaceful transition of power, the theme that came out again and again was gratitude – for the remarkable democracy in which we live, and for the chance to serve its people so well and so long.”

The choreography of an inauguration is precise.  The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court is called forward.  The President-elect recites the oath, right hand raised, left hand on the Bible.  As the words, “So help me God,” leave his lips, the Army fires a 21-gun salute, a bracing signal that he now commands the most powerful military in human history.

All went according to the script on that frigid January day in 1993.  After the oath, Clinton hugged his wife and daughter, and waved to the crowd.  Then, in his first act as President, he strode across the platform and shook his predecessor’s hand.  The two former foes had a brief but warm public greeting.  A deeply empathetic man, Clinton was profoundly attuned to the pain his predecessor felt, having been rejected himself in his first bid for re-election as governor of Arkansas in 1980 – and did his best to acknowledge the difficulty of the moment.

And just as Clinton’s first act as President was a tribute to Bush, his first few words as President included this praise for the man he had defeated: “On behalf of our nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America.  And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression, fascism and communism.

On that day, the presidency was in transition.  But so, notably, was Clinton’s relationship with Bush.  Clinton never knew his father, who died in a car accident before he was born.  Over the years, he and Bush formed a bond that was nearly familial.  Bush himself suggested that perhaps he, two decades Clinton’s senior, had been the father Clinton never had.

After Clinton’s term, the two teamed up for disaster relief efforts, and Clinton made regular pilgrimages to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where the elder former president would impress the younger by slicing through the ocean at high speeds on his beloved boat.  President George W. Bush [H.W.’s son] has said his family’s relationship with Clinton is so close that he is “a brother with a different mother”.

For his part, Clinton clearly misses George H.W. and Barbara Bush.  Thinking back on the warmth they showed him on that chilly January day, he said, “President and Mrs. Bush were wonderful people and true patriots.  I’ll always be grateful for their friendship and example – and especially how warmly they treated us that day.”


I hadn’t heard from “Bob” for more than two years, and I was thrilled to get his e-mail a few days ago:

Bob Brown <……………….@………>
How are you doing ? I hope this Email finds you well?
I need a little favour from you.
My first thought?  Bob!  Of course I’ll help you.  I answered immediately.
Hi Bob,
I’m glad to hear from you. It’s been so long.
Sure … ask away.
And then an immediate reply:
Thanks for your response.  I am sorry for bothering you with this mail.  I need to get a Google Play Gift Card for my friend’s Daughter, It’s her birthday but I can’t do this now because I’m currently away and I tried purchasing online but unfortunately had no luck with that.  Can you help purchase it online or from any store around you?  I’ll pay back as soon as I am back.   Kindly let me know if you can handle this. I promise to refund as soon as I’m back. 

I so much wanted to be helpful …
Yes, I’ll buy the card.  How much money am I putting on it?
Quick like a bunny came a response:
Thank you very much.  The Total amount needed is $300 ($100 or $50 denomination ) you can have it purchased from any store around you (Gas station, Walmart, Drug Store) or Online.  I need you to scratch the back of each card to reveal the pin, then take a snapshot of the back showing the pin and have them sent to me via my email.  So I can forward them to her with some Birthday Wishes.

Once again thanks.
Oh, I’m such a nice guy!
I’ll get some gas today and pick up the cards.  Stay tuned …
“Bob” was totally tuned in:
I will be expecting.  Once again thanks
I got to work on the task at hand …
Here you go, Bob!  You friend’s daughter will be very happy.  (complete with a photo of six $50 Google Play Gift Cards, with the codes revealed via thorough scratching)
I imagined the girl’s squeal of delight.
Thanks so much.  I really appreciate it.  I have forwarded the card to my friend’s Daughter, she was very happy you need to see her email but kids will always be kids she is really holding me to my promise because i told her i had do anything for her on her Birthday.  she just emailed me that the cards weren’t enough to complete what she had to do with it .  Please can you render me one more favour and I promise to pay back as soon as I am back.  I need you to help me purchase another gift card worth $300 ($100 or $50 denomination) so she could complete what she has to with it.
Thanks once again let me know when you purchase them and I promise as soon as I am back I will refund your cash. 
That’s enough of the sordid details.  I remained completely oblivious to what was really happening.  Somehow I’m smiling as I write this.  I was so eager to talk to Bob again and help him out that my rational mind went to sleep.  I do believe that the word for me is naïve … thoroughly so.
Here are the clues that blew right by this clueless human being:
1. “Bob” never called me “Bruce”.
2.  Throughout the correspondence, “Bob” showed an unusual use of capitalization (or lack thereof) … e.g.  Daughter, Total, Gas station, Birthday Wishes, i told her i had …
3.  “Bob” was “away” but why would he have “no luck” with buying these cards online?
4.  “Bob” was giving his friend’s daughter a gift of $300 ($600).  That sure sounds excessive.
5.  Unusual phrases within the e-mails, not the way Bob would speak: e.g. I’ll pay back, I will be expecting, i told her i had do anything for her, so she could complete what she has to with it
I am humbled
I still trust my fellow man and woman
I need to have my eyes open

Speaking Truth To Power



Trump: We have won this election in Georgia based on all of this.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.  You know, I mean, having the correct – the people of Georgia are angry.  And these numbers are going to be repeated on Monday night.  Along with others that we’re going to have by that time, which are much more substantial even.  And the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated.  Because the 2,236 in absentee ballots.  I mean, they’re all exact numbers that were done by accounting firms, law firms, etc.  And even if you cut ’em in half, cut ’em in half and cut ’em in half again, it’s more votes than we need.

Raffensperger: Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.


Trump: Big Tech is on your side, you know.  I don’t even know why you have a side because you should want to have an accurate election.  And you’re a Republican.

Raffensperger: We believe that we do have an accurate election.

Trump: No, no you don’t.  No, no you don’t.  You don’t have.  Not even close.  You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.


Honesty is the rarest commodity in the 21st century.  No one looks to the political class or journalists for truth these days.  The average Joe seems to spend most of their time peddling a ludicrous, flawless Facebook version of their lives.  The peer pressure of political correctness forgoes truth for the sake of groupthink.  It seems that comedians and writers represent the last bastion of candour out there today.  (Stewart Stafford)

To say nothing is saying something.  You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not.  (Germany Kent)

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.  (Leonardo da Vinci)

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.  (Audre Lorde)

You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.  (Aung San Suu Kyi)

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.  (Czesław Miłosz)

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Fools multiply when wise men are silent.  (Nelson Mandela)

And speak the truth.  Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth.  Say what you feel.  Let your conscience be your guide.  Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions.  In your deeds your intentions count.  (Caliph Umar)

These days, a sling of truth can still make Goliath fall.  (Tom Althouse)

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  You have to say something.  You have to do something.  (John Lewis)

When the President decides that he knows better than you know what’s good for you or your family, we’ve got trouble in this country.  (John Barrasso)

The one thing I’ve never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind.  I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president.  (Leymah Gbowee)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (You)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (Me)