Exhausted at the Concert

I was going to a house concert last night in London, to hear an extraordinary fiddler and guitarist. During the day, I was feeling good. Before the concert, I headed to the gym for an hour on the elliptical. Since I hadn’t worked out the previous two days, I wasn’t expecting any problem. I was wrong.

Ten minutes in, something was off. My usual speed was pie in the sky. My head was dull. “Maybe I should quit after thirty.” > “No way!” And so I grunted along.

With the luxury of a day later, I see a factor here: no recent caffeine. But yesterday afternoon, I squirmed within a sea of confusion.

Time to hear Mr. Fiddler. I walked in, made a joke with the host, and then sat on a couch with three other fans, right in front of the fellow performing. I felt myself fading.

In my life, I’ve spent a lot of time reinforcing a very solid identity. “Bruce is this. Bruce isn’t that.” Since entering the world of the Evolutionary Collective, my tightly woven sweater has started loosening, even unravelling. I have many moments of disorientation, where I’m so unclear about what reality I’m swimming in. This may sound like a really bad thing but I sense that it’s not.

I sat there not being particularly friendly to my neighbours. I sat there not enjoying the virtuoso violin solos. I sat there unable to follow the artist’s words as he talked about the tunes he’d created. I was in a fog.

Slowly and unsurely, I fell into a state of being okay with my so-called deficiencies of the moment. This too was a part of Bruce. I didn’t need to be alert, communicative and engaged all the time. It was okay to be pooped, fuzzy and simply blah.

It’s such a waste of energy to get down on myself when I’m not flying high. So I will stop doing that. I will embrace the roller coaster, both the dips and the heights. There’s far bigger fish to fry in this life than analyzing and critiquing my various foibles.

I’m here to serve and it’s time to accept that some days I don’t have much to give. So be it. Then there are those other days!

Sweet and sour … together they make a delicious flavour.

What Does That Word Really Mean?

In my last year of high school, called Grade 13, I took four subjects.  One of them was Latin.  “But that’s a dead language,” you say.  Not in my heart, both back then and right now.  I love words, and I love discovering where they came from.  Here are some examples that get me thinking:

1.  Transmit … to send across

We can think of this word in connection with electrical energy and power lines, but there’s more.  We human beings transmit spiritual energy – a giving, a blessing, an including.  Your transmission is sent across to me, and mine to you.

2.  Translucent … to shine through

Perhaps the issues we have in the world are not opaque, not solid.  They might be made of filmy material, allowing the human spirit to penetrate them … and keep on going.

3.  Liberal … free, not tied to

I know we can be liberal beings – untouched by the opinions of others, by the prevailing wisdoms of society and by the walls of the mind.

4.  Fluent … flowing

As I see it, the best public speakers don’t necessarily have vocabulary, tone of voice and confidence mastered.  But they take us on their river of thought so we can see new lands.

5.  Perfection … finished, completely made

I don’t yearn for an end result.  I ride inside a perpetual becoming, erecting buildings that I may disassemble down the road in favour of an emerging design.

6.  January … referring to the Roman god Janus, who presided over doors and beginnings

This brings to mind New Year’s “resolutions”: the power of holding firmly.  For if we are not firm in letting go of the old, there will be no new.

7.  Compassion … to suffer with

Not being outside the person and feeling sorry for them, but really being inside them, sensing the agonies as they do.  Staying there, not walking away.

8.  Love … friendliness, delight in

A reaching out to the other, offering them your goodness so they can see their own, celebrating their unique gifts.

9.  Awakening … to rouse from sleep, to spring into being

And in what respects have we been sleeping?  Having the most toys wins.  Being better than you.  Feeling there’s only so much happiness to go around.  The truth, however, resides in the eyes of the other.

10.  Essence … to be

At the bottom, there is who I am, far beyond the roles, the traits, the appearance.

11.  Flamboyant … a flame, a blazing fire

For that warmth is in us all.  Will we let the passion escape from its tiny prison so others can bask in the glow?

12.  Equanimity … equal mind

“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” will come our way.  So will “the peace that passes all understanding”.  Is it possible to see them as friends?

 

 

Inside You

Jesus offers himself to his companions under the guise of food and urges them to eat and to be filled with his life and energy … He shows that he means to put himself literally inside the other persons, and that he wishes to nourish them.

The basic spiritual practice we do in the Evolutionary Collective offers us the possibility of throwing our consciousness out into space, having it arc upwards and then fall through the eyes of the beloved sitting across from us.  There can be an urging to go “over there” and to know it as home.

Until recently, I’ve thought of home as being inside me.  Over there was a you, with your own home.  We were separate.  We may have loved each other, and joyed in each other’s company, but there was a membrane between.

What if that’s not true?  What if we’re joined into one at the heart, while I still get to be Bruce and you get to be you?  What if, in our entering in, we feed each other the most nourishing of foods?  Salmon, kale, garlic, mussels, potatoes and blueberries pass from your fork to my mouth and from mine to yours.  The nutrients flow out to our fingertips and the flavours bring joy to our soul.

Our bodies lean towards each other.  As our foreheads touch, it’s as though there aren’t any bones.  We simply merge.  And we wonder … are there two beings here, or just one?  I can feel me, I can feel you, but most deeply I can feel us.

Inside you, there is a wonderland.  We sit together on the couch, in a room of dark wood, brightened by the glow of the fire.  We are full together, wanting for nothing, knowing we can bring the world alive.  I am inside you and there’s nowhere else to go.  No need to move our bodies apart, or to get up from the couch, or to burst out into spasms of opinion.  We simply rest in the touching, gazing in wonder at the shimmering coals.

Withdrawal

I was lying in bed just now and the voice inside said “Just be natural.” Hmm. That’s odd, I suppose, but maybe not. And definitely a good idea. I don’t usually lie down in the afternoon but I’m feeling dull, floaty. And I don’t have to search far to see why.

Part of the introductory work with my new trainer was having him take my blood pressure. 154 over 101. Ouch. What exactly has happened there? During my recent adventures with bronchitis, my exercise time plummeted. That’s probably a factor. Derek has been having me look at a whole bunch of lifestyle choices and one prominent word in my recent past has been “caffeine”. Oops. I’ve been glossing over that one.

I figure that for the last year at least, I’ve been consuming about fifteen cups of caffeinated coffee a week. What I’ve noticed is the yummy flavour, not the impact of such a decision, such as elevated blood pressure. I have a BP monitor at home and since the 154/101 moment, I’ve been doing the deed. Yesterday the score was 135 over 92 – a lot better but still not the epitome of health. “So, Bruce, let’s drop caffeine, or at least reduce it drastically.” Okay.

In the last three days, I’ve had one caffeinated cup and I’m in the middle of withdrawal. Feeling slow and not so easy, vacant in the head. It’s such a teacher. Die early because of explosive blood pressure > No thanks. Get off the stuff and go through what the body says it needs to accomplish that, even if it amounts to several days of discomfort > Yes, I’ll take Door Number Two, please.

Sitting here in the middle of this shows me vividly what I don’t want my life to be about. How can I possibly be of assistance to other people if my brain is floating along in super slo-mo? Well, I can’t. And beyond anything, contributing to others is my heart’s desire. “So, dear Bruce, suck it up.”

I wonder what other purifications are needed for me to be of the deepest service. No more alcohol? Not participating in any more toxic conversations? Diminishing the small talk?

I’m on a path here. I can feel it. And the destination? Address unknown … and yet decidedly lovely.

Wall Art

Some changes are gradual.  I’ve gained thirteen pounds over the past few months and my fitness has declined.  Last week, I started with a trainer at my new fitness club.  “Derek” and I are looking longterm to get me stronger, more flexible and trimmer.  I won’t go from 178 to 165 by Sunday but June 3 is doable.

Life, however, isn’t just about increments.  Some changes are sudden, jolting and disorienting.  Transformations.  It’s like yelling “Ah ha!”  It’s being in totally unfamiliar territory, maybe a neighbourhood where you don’t recognize any of the street signs or buildings.  You’re swooning, groping inside a fog, asking yourself “Where the heck am I?”

I like symbols.  They point me towards truths that my brainy mind just can’t grasp.  Such a one showed up yesterday.  My sister-in-law Nona shared a post from designyoutrust.com on her Facebook timeline.  It was called “Before and After Photos Show the Power of Art to Transform Boring Buildings”.

This content is so visual, of course, and my writing is not.  But I’ll give ‘er a go.

Consider the blank wall.  It makes sure the offices and people don’t fall out.  But crazed painters see far beyond the cement.  Here are some jolts:

1.  From two-dimensional to three.  Imagine steps in the middle climbing high between two apartment buildings.  A pub full of celebrators on the ground level.  Folks on the stairs and leaning out of windows.  Flags and flower boxes.

2.  In real life, a small tree grows in front of a bare wall.  And then … Voilà! … a giant redheaded girl in a flaming dress is holding a watering can above the little one.

3.  A three-storey building is painted in robin’s egg blue.  Very nice.  Until one wall explodes as the night sky.  Blue, pink and green nebulae swirl against the blackness.

4.  A mass of grey disappears in favour of two orange stucco homes framing a river, bridges and the sky beyond.  A simple wall now vibrates, sucking me into the scene.

5.  And consider the hills of Palmitas, Mexico.  Whitewashed homes cover the rising land … briefly.  Part Two is a riot of pastel colours that swirl before my eyes.

***

Huh?
What is that?

The world now shines

I Don’t Know Things

There was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Captain Picard and friends came across a slow-talking, slow-moving group of humanoids.  They didn’t appear to be very intelligent as they kept saying “We know things.”  It turns out they were crafty beyond measure.  Today I felt the opposite.

“Jeremy”, the Grade 6 teacher, had the kids read about the history of St. Patrick’s Day, and then answer questions about the passage.  I was doing fine with all that.  Then he challenged them with word scrambles – decoding twenty terms from the reading.  Pairs of kids worked diligently to rearrange the letters.  Looking over many shoulders, I saw the lists gradually being filled in.  A few kids came over one by one, to ask if I’d figured out #11 yet, or #4.  I said no and suggested they look for the possibility of a silent “e” at the end of a word, or search for consonant blends such “ch” or “st”.  I sounded fairly intelligent, at least in my own hearing.

But what was true?

I didn’t have a clue.  Eleven-year-olds were proceeding merrily towards completion of the twenty but all I’d accomplished was “iswh” is “wish” and “camgi” is “magic”.  Sweat piled up on my brow as I realized I was unable to solve “Ieardnl”, “rogaen”, “evlorc” or “enrge”.

As they say, my whole life flashed before me … times when I clearly wasn’t good enough, times when everyone else seemed to be better.  Failing a French test, falling down continually in my version of skating, piddling around the shallow end while my classmates did laps in the pool.  It’s so powerful, this pull of assumed inferiority.  Today I didn’t have the eyes to see my many good points.  They simply didn’t exist when I couldn’t recognize “clover” within the jumble of my mind.

I was asleep to what’s real.  The challenge for me is to wake up ever more quickly rather than thinking I can eliminate the moments of ignorance, deficiency and angst.

Now, with the benefit of hours between there and here, I smile.  Actually I chuckle.  What a silly goose to be defining my self-worth on my ability to turn “rogaen” into … into … “orange”!

Ahh.  There’s hope for me yet.

Come Closer

I’ve felt a flow of energy for weeks, bursting out from my heart to human beings. Parallel lines of light stream off in all directions – ahead, behind, left, right, up and down. It’s a surging, sometimes an explosion. But no one gets hurt. It could be that nobody in Belmont and London notices the movement of Bruceness towards them, and that’s just fine. But I sure feel it.

And there’s more. I feel my arms reaching out, my fingers curling, and me beckoning folks to come into my world. “Come over here. I want you close.”

Plus it’s not just people I feel warm and fuzzy about. I want everyone near! How strange and wondrous. Even the mean ones, the distant ones, the emotionally flat ones … my hands are motioning for them to come forward.

Here’s the strangest: my local freeway is three lanes in each direction and I mostly drive in the right one, at the speed limit. For the last few months I’ve been tailgated while doing this, even though there’s lots of room to pass me. Then there’s the Wellington Road exit ramp, which is long and straight. Where it curves at the end, the speed is 50 kilometres per hour (30 mph). Cars pile up behind me as I slow, and there’s no room to pass.

What’s weird is that I’m willing these drivers to virtually nudge my back bumper with their front one. Woh. This does not compute. Whatever happened to my commitment to personal space?

There’s no sense in trying to make sense of this. Just float with it, Bruce. See where it leads.

I think I’m unusual.

There Is No Loss

Things go wrong.  I saw that vividly today … for me and other people.  But it’s possible to see these deficits as no deficit at all.  Please locate a human being who just soars through their days, not a care in the world, no intrusions, no smallness aimed at them – just bliss.  No one that I know.  How I hold the challenges is quite the other matter.

Here’s today:

1.  I was on a bus full of kids, heading to see a play at a school a half hour away.  I was looking forward to the trip, sitting beside a child or two, seeing what they want to talk about.  I ended up squeezed into a seat with two boys who were hunched over for the whole journey.  Any guess about what they were looking at?  Apart from learning their names, the contact was non-existent.  I was sad.  Still, my life goes on quite nicely.  There will be many moments of communion before the road comes to a dead end.

2.  The play was The Beauty and the Beast, presented artfully by elementary school students.  Mostly, however, I couldn’t hear them.  The main characters had microphones over the ear, but the sound was muffled for me until late in the proceedings.  As for chorus members who had speaking parts – Good luck!  So I was missing most of the verbal stuff.  But the story kept unfolding in movements and facial expressions and costumes.  I was not bereft of understanding but I did pout a bit.

3.  One part of the set was a fireplace, and for some scenes the idea was to cover it with a dark sheet.  I saw a hand appear, intending to do a full covering job, but one corner was stubborn.  The stage hand pulled a little harder and the whole thing fell to the floor.  He or she was no doubt aghast.  After all, fireplaces don’t usually appear in the woods.  Still, the assistant was putting in maximum effort to get it right.  Life sometimes just doesn’t co-operate.

4.  Belle is the heroine and she graced us with a lovely voice in her first song.  Later on, as the plot thickened, she started coughing.  For a second, I thought this was part of the script, but alas that was not true.  The music swelled and I sensed it was time for a song.  I was correct.  Fear shot through me for her, and no doubt she was coming unglued inside.  But Belle held her head high and started in on the melody.  There was just one little cough in the verses.  What a champion of commitment and perseverance.

5.  Gaston was the dashing young hero, eager for the hand of Belle.  His compatriot was really funny.  At one point, this fellow retreated to the left curtain while continuing to deliver his lines.  Odd.  Only his head was showing.  I think his microphone pack was falling apart.  It looked to me that some enterprising assistant was making the necessary adjustments just out of sight.  Oh, the show must go on!  Soon Gaston’s friend was front and centre again, apparently unfazed by his sojourn on the periphery.

6.  Later in the day, I was on an internet call for two hours with perhaps sixty other folks.  If you wanted to share, you pressed “1” on the keypad.  I jabbed that sucker three or four times and the leader never called on me.  Lots of people got to speak – one guy three times!  Arghh.  What about me?  I went into disaster mode, but a half hour further on, with the help of the person I was paired with then, it morphed into no big deal.  Towards the end of the call, the leader called out my name and I spoke to the group as the big deal flooded back.  I got to tell my story.

***

All these imperfections, frustrations and abominations are what life often tosses our way.  In some small recess of my mind, I get that all is well.  We are meant to have these blips on the radar.  We are meant to be jolted, buffeted and humbled.  And hopefully we get to see the world as so much richer than the moments of despair.

 

B-ball

Today I went to the lunch hour practice of the recently named girls’ basketball team at school – a whole bunch of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds. They’re such nice kids, each very much her own person. Some of them are shy and some are a force of nature. Both are perfect. They’ll all be fine adults.

Most of my life is medium intensity – no incredible spurts and no lolling around. Today was different in the presence of these girls. Take defense for example: arms full out, fingers inches from the opponent’s face, eyes wild. Unlike an NBA arena, I got to be intensely close to the action. And it was exciting. It mattered not a whit that these players were 4’10” rather than 5’10”. The fire burned … and there was no way the opponent was going up for an uncontested basket.

On offense, there’d be stutter steps and surges to the left or right of the defender – blasting into another gear. The ball would go high off the backboard and either clunk off metal or swish in the middle of things. It was all speed … and at such close range for this guy sitting on the stage.

Isn’t it supposed to be true that when I get “older” I settle into being mellow for the rest of my life? Perhaps not. Maybe there’s lots of room for explosions, sprints and orgasms of the spirit.

Bring ’em on.

It Flew Away

I was pleased with the post I wrote yesterday.  In “Flying to You”, I talked about my two trips to Alberta this June, first to see my nephew Jaxon’s high school graduation and the second two weeks later to visit my friend Sharyn, and later Jaxon and his family.  The highlights of the intervening time back home will be a Grade 6 grad and a Grade 8 one.  I’m happy about being with the people I love.

This afternoon I couldn’t resist – I had to find out how many folks had viewed my words.  “Wow!  That’s quite a lot.”  So much for not needing people’s feedback.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll be empty of ego.

One of the WordPress pages gives me the stats.  Another one simply lists my recent posts, with the first sentence or so shown.  I looked back on my week.  There were “Daddy!”, “Fresh” and “Skaters”.  Above was “Flying to You” but something looked different.  Hmm.  Then it hit me – no first sentence.  I clicked on the title …

BLANK

No words.  All gone.  Bye bye.

My heart leapt up.  My muscles collapsed into my bones.  My mouth gaped.  Bottom line: this was a disaster.  Four hundred words that I was proud of were no more.  I thought of the damage to me, and I also thought of the loss to folks who enjoy reading what I have to say.

I felt violated.  There was a huge gap ripping through me, plus a compulsion to recall the words of twelve hours past and put them into a new post – “Flying to You 2.0”.  I was leaning towards the laptop keys, shaking below the surface.  Isn’t there an “Undo” button here somewhere?

And then … I sunk back into the couch.  I loosened, all over.  I smiled.  My heart rate fell back to 60 or 70 beats a minute.  I was at ease.

So what happened?  How is it that I let go of thoughts that were “mine”?  That it didn’t matter if anyone will ever read them in the future.  That I have peace.

Are the possessing parts of me starting to break up, being shuffed off like dead skin?  Is there a new, far broader identity emerging, one that stretches far out into the world?  Or is it that I just don’t give a poop anymore?

Whatever’s happening, I sense it’s good.  The unravelling is something I can trust.

***

And how about these sentences that lie before me right now?  Just for laughs, should I press “Delete” instead of “Publish”?  Naw.  A guy can only have so much fun.