“Less Than” Is Archaic

This is me. I’m different than you. I’m older, or perhaps younger. My hair is grey … yours may be a chestnut brown. I like t-shirts. You may prefer a suit and tie or a vibrant dress.

In the photo, my eyes are wide and my mouth agape. That could mean I’m angry, or excited … both normal expressions of being human.

In the deepest sense, I believe I’m the same as you. I bleed when I’m cut. I’m grumpy when I haven’t had enough sleep. I love and am loved. I yearn for peace and happiness and I want to be kind to my fellow man.

So … different and the same. Good. But nothing to do with good and bad, unless I’m hurting someone. There’s no evaluation of my value compared to yours. We all simply want to be happy.

A world away from such tenderness is the contraction that arises from “less than” – seeing some individuals or groups as inferior. A convenient target is the colour of our skin. How strange. I don’t revere people based on their covering. I cherish them based on their good hearts expressed as good deeds. Beneath the surface is where the truth lies.

We easily pick skin colour. Why not eye colour? “Mine are blue. Yours are a muddy green.” Or how about thickness of hair, breast size or penis length? It’s so ridiculous.

Maybe I should be a horse. As I hang out with my equine fellows, I can peacefully rubs shoulders with a massive Clydesdale and a tiny Shetland pony. Racehorses will come by to say hi and so will pack animals from the Rockies. Who cares how many hands high you are or the length of your mane?

Let’s just go run together through the fields.

Blast

I just watched a video of planes flying really fast, really low. It was exciting. It brought back memories of many air shows. Throngs of people with lawn chairs and picnic baskets, trying to avoid sunburn for hours on end. You could feel the crowd’s energy as all sorts of pilots spun in the sky.

The pioneer planes were fun, as were the huge transports that carried a load of jeeps and tanks in their bellies. But the stars of the show were the fighter jets … blasting by us at the speed of wonder, assaulting our eardrums. So cool. I especially enjoyed it when they’d sneak up on us from behind. The sudden noise and the immense pull over our heads.

I’ve spent many hours in the stillness and silence of meditation. The quiet nourishes me. At one point, I convinced myself that this was the bubble I’d enclose myself in for the rest of my life. But the yin really needs her yang. The sweet moments of communion with another human being are balanced by the thrust to have an outrageous life, with bursts of the supersonic, wild dancing and singing unknown songs at midnight.

The trickle and the flood … I welcome them both. Soaring and zooming low to the ground, I fly.

A Good Question

My walks take me by the homes of many kids whom I know from school. I wave at houses, hoping that some child will burst out of the front door with “Hi, Mr. Kerr!” Sometimes that happens.

Yesterday I was approaching a home and saw the family sitting together on their back deck. It was supper time “and the living was easy.”

Two of the three chidren left their plates behind and came to say hello. They were a 7-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. She had just celebrated a birthday and I was giving her extra attention.

Suddenly, the young man had something to ask:

Why are you different?

My eyes stopped. I wasn’t sure I heard the word right.

Did you say “different”?

Yeah.

There was no thinking. There was just blurting:

Because I like to have fun.

The boy nodded and bounced back to supper on the deck.

A few minutes later, after the girl had shown me the remnants of horse poop on the front lawn, I was heading down the road again … wondering.

Seems a lot older than five. What does he see in me? Am I okay with being different? (I know I am.) Am I willing to really stand out on the scale of public visibility? If I don’t live large, why exactly am I here? (To have comfortable friends, nice meals, cool vacations, and the aura of normality? No thank you.) Is one purpose of mine to awaken kids to the majesty of life, to encourage them to tell the truth, to wonder, to break past any barriers that tall people put in their way? Can I be special without the trappings of ego? What’s going on in this mysterious living and dying?

And here I thought my afternoon was about aerobic fitness and the beauties of nature. Who knew that a short mystic would leave his fried chicken for a brief rendezvous with an ambling man?

Sanctuary

When it’s time to go to bed, I close the door and draw the blind. I’m alone in a sheltered space. The world is far away. Sleep beckons.

On my long walks beside fields and woodlots, long views invite my eyes. Old two-storey farmhouses often lie at a distance. I think of the people inside, wondering what their lives are like. I don’t know much about farming but my years have shown me a few things. I get that I and my rural friends are far more alike than different. We smile and frown, jump up and lie down, go towards and go away from.

I see windows from afar, especially those high up under the gables. Someone sleeps behind those windows. Someone seeks sanctuary at the end of the day. Alone with oneself, hopefully at peace with oneself.

I look way over there and say “Hi” to the human beings within.

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be free from danger
May you live with ease

Faces In Rectangles

I was on a Zoom call today with about 170 other human beings. Patricia Albere was introducing the work of the Evolutionary Collective to the folks who were new. She points to the evolving of consciousness from individual concern (How can I be a better person?) to a “We-Space” (a deep connection that’s available between us).

A few quotes:

Separation is the real global pandemic.

Communicating across the distance between us is exhausting. [But true contact is liberating.]

There’s the possibility of a shared circuitry between us that we’re orchestrated by.

Something else [beyond the individual] is being given.

I was letting Patricia’s words sink in, without having to make sense of them. There’s something new that can bring us together in love. Any two people. Romantic or otherwise. Actually, any three, four or five people.

As my eyes softened, they took in my laptop screen. It was full of humans – 48 of them in their individual rectangles. But the lines were blurring between the faces. There was a joining at work here.

A click showed me 48 new faces. And then page three – a few folks here didn’t have their videos on. Page four merely showed names – no alive beings.

Spread before me were perhaps 130 people from the corners of the world. Different rooms, different clothing … races, ages, personalities. An infinite variety of us. Some faces glowed. Some leaned forward. Some seemed “flat”, not engaged. A few folks clicked the “Raise Hand” button because they had something to ask or share.

I was in awe of the display. The collective smiles when someone said something funny. The unease when Patricia talked too long at a stretch. I was in the presence of my brothers and sisters, and I wanted more. I tried to will the blank rectangles into life – to transform a name into living flesh – but that didn’t happen.

Oh, the power of us together. We didn’t know each other, in terms of being familiar with our lives, but as the time flowed on, there was a knowing. I looked into eyes and saw common joys and sorrows … a sharing.

You’re so different than me
And you’re just like me

Bearded (Or Not)

From Friday till Sunday, I was in an intense retreat online with the Evolutionary Collective.  My brain cells were mightily scattered – in a good way.

I woke up this morning felling pretty darned tired.  It became apparent that my commitment to life amounted to pressing the power button of the TV remote.  I decided to pig out on a few hours of coronavirus coverage.  Some of it was gloomy stuff but heroes of every ilk were also there for the viewing.

I’m fascinated with commercials, with what they say about our “modern” life.  After a run of four or five of them, I had a wee “Ah hah!”  It was about the men.  Some guy was peddling car insurance, looking sporty in his close-cropped beard.  Then a fellow was waxing poetic about dog food “with real meat and veggies” … also bearded.  And how about having a new car delivered to your home with no physical contact needed?  The delivery driver was smiling beneath his ample facial hair.

“Hmm … they all have beards.”  I flashed back to a visit in Alberta with Jody’s brother and his family.  Lance said something like “They’ll spot you as a tourist right away.”  Curious, I piped up with “How?”  >  “No beard.”

This morning, I pulled out a piece of paper and started a tally of men in commercials.  You’ll be happy to know that 92 of them pranced across the screen, trying to sell me something.  And 59 of those souls wore beards and/or moustaches.  64% in favour of facial hair.

I got to thinking: What does it take to be a man?  Clearly, marketers see hairy faces as highly desirable … but I think not.  My occasional days of not shaving just made my face itch.  I don’t need that.  As far as I can tell, the only requirement for manhood is the possession of a penis.  There’s no blueprint.  Not appearance, personality or occupation.  Not height or clothing.

I know I have the basics, and that’s good enough for me.  We men are patches on a coat of many colours.  And the garment shines!  Vive la différence.

Unbearded, I continue my walk in the world.

Letters and Words

This series of photos sits above my stove, to remind me of the miracles of life. I love letters. More accurately, I love how they come together into words. Numbers don’t enthrall me so much but I do enjoy analyzing the performance stats of women tennis players.

I enjoy stringing words together … into sentences, paragraphs and ultimately stories. There is a grace to the English language which sometimes allows me to ride on her shoulder. When the thoughts flow, I am supremely happy. This is my 1,218th post on WordPress. I think I’ve made a difference here.

There have been some long gaps between posts over the last six years. Was I still Bruce during those times? Of course. Other projects magnetized me for awhile. But I’ve always come back home.

I notice that I have no interest in a diary. Even if it’s only a few folks, I want my words to touch people. Could I be happy on my deathbed if only ten people over the years were impacted by what I said? Now I’m smiling because the answer is “Yes”.

There are times of mellow union when I let go of the words. They still rise up out of my mouth but then seem to separate in the air. Love becomes four letters drifting apart, mingling with other ones that have come floating by. What remains is shining dots of light … a celestial blessing.

I have my rhythms but may I return again and again to writing. I give. I receive.

***

And by the way, if you want to know the subject matter of the art work, Google “rhopalocera”.

God At Work

The word “God” holds so many meanings for so many people. For me, God is not a being who’s higher than us humans. God is not a he or a she or a supreme person at all. For me, God is the spirit of love that resides in each of us. The spirit may be hidden beneath layers of ego … or it may shine brightly for all to see.

I know a fellow who runs a tire store near me. I’ll call him Rick. He doesn’t preach from a pulpit or meditate in a monastery. He sells tires, and stores my winters when it’s time for my summers. Anybody with a basic knowledge of tires could do the job, I suppose. But only a few could turn the waiting room and shop into an arena for love.

Rick’s voice, in person or on the phone, has a lilt – a lightness, a welcome. He speaks softly and pulls me in. It’s like he’s beckoning me to join him. It’s just so easy to feel connected in his presence.

I’ve watched Rick talk to customers who are in a hurry. Rick and his staff are very efficient but each job takes the time it needs to. I can’t even remember what he’s said to these folks but invariably the car owner mellows. The voice transforms from staccato to ballad, from harsh to easy. “How did he do that?” I ask myself.

Rick loves the classic car that sits in his garage. He’s spent many hours renewing the old girl. And he gets a faraway look in his eyes when talking about her. He’s beholding the beloved.

It’s been said that God works in mysterious ways. So true. And sometimes he hangs out in car bays … in the world of lug wrenches, tire gauges and hydraulic lifts.

Who knew?

An Unbounded View

I’m sitting in my red man chair, looking across my living room and out into the world. The sun is preparing to say goodbye. The field of winter wheat beyond stretches to trees bordering the faraway creek. It’s home I see.

The tall panes of glass reveal a young tree in the foreground and a slope of newly-mown grass. It’s quiet out there.

Awhile ago, the windows showed me the soaring of a hawk … such lovely curves in the sky. I stared. Then my airborne friend flew to the left and out of my world. I was sad. “Come back, new companion!” I cried inside my head, but it was not my call to make. I know the hawk is somewhere nearby, and his path through the air is still etched in my mind. There is “hawkness” here, the remembrance of gracious flying. And that’s enough.

On the left edge of the photo, you’ll glimpse the dome covering my nyger seed feeder. Birdies come and go in search of the good stuff. The male goldfinches are so yellow! Sometimes the feeder (and its nearby sunflower seed cousin) are frantic with the wings of visitors. Sometimes the feeders hang limp and alone. Such rhythms.

Way to the north is the left and right expanse of Harrietsville Drive. Cars are so tiny from my living room. And they look so slow. I wonder who’s going where, who’s happy and who’s tormented … all brothers and sisters of mine.

See the glass on the window sill? It’s full of little pebbles of couscous. I see them as the citizens of Belmont, my village of 2800 souls. It’s convenient to wish them all well in one spot. The glass is dead centre in my view.

It’s nice being home.

Across the Divide

“In every friendship, hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

***

“Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.”

***

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness.”

***

Love is hard work. In tough times, the temptation is to turn the back rather than meet the eyes. Everyday life presents us with challenges to our union. For the last month this has not been everyday life.

Today was to be their wedding day. But Savannah lives in Abbotsford, B.C. and Ryan lives in Bellingham, Washington. Two hearts in two countries, and for the time being “never the twain shall meet”. No cross-border travel.

Facetime is lovely but more was needed. Savannah and Ryan found a stretch of Canada/US boundary that was not defended by customs agents. On each side ran a little road … two parallels. Ryan and Savannah find each other there – six feet apart – although their smiles and tears are closer than that.

One hundred and fifty dearly loved ones were to join them today. Four eyes were brimming this morning on TV as they thought about what could have been and what surely will be some day. Will it be some day soon? Looking at their love through the television screen, I sure hope so.