I loved Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. As Hannibal Lecter, he was deliciously evil.

Today I read something he wrote on the internet. I was blown away. So here it is … with my comments attached:

I know that I have less to live than I have lived. I feel like a child who was given a box of chocolates. He enjoys eating it, and when he sees that there is not much left, he starts to eat them with a special taste.

I’m 74. Maybe I have 20 years left. That’s a lot less than the journey I’ve been on. Oh well. And my tongue savours the days that remain.

I am disturbed by envious people who try to vilify the most capable to grab their positions, talents and achievements.

For some folks it’s a zero sum game. There’s only so much happiness to go around. If you have a lot, I need to take it from you. No thanks.

I have too little time to discuss headlines – my soul is in a hurry.
Too few candies left in the box.

I will not waste my minutes sitting in a café with you discussing the news. I want to know what’s important in your life.

I have no time for endless lectures on public laws – nothing will change. And there is no desire to argue with fools who do not act according to their age. And there’s no time to battle the gray. I don’t attend meetings where egos are inflated and I can’t stand manipulators.

Politics is necessary, and it doesn’t interest me. Flaring egos are boring. And I love my grey hair. It give me a “wise” look. Of course appearances can be deceiving!

I’m interested in human people. People who laugh at their mistakes are those who are successful, who understand their calling and don’t hide from responsibility. Who defend human dignity and want to be on the side of truth, justice, righteousness. This is what living is for.

Show me your blemishes and your shine. I want it all! And I want your dedication to the happiness of all. No one left out.

I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch the hearts of others. Who, through the blows of fate, were able to rise and maintain the softness of the soul.

May your eyes be sweet so they let other people in. And may your beauty enter the eyes of each soul who comes your way.

Yes, I hustle. I hustle to live with the intensity that only maturity can give. I’ll eat all the candy I have left – they’ll taste better than the ones I already ate.

There are so many flavours I haven’t tasted. I will go towards life and its inhabitants to seek their treasures.

My goal is to reach the end in harmony with myself, my loved ones and my conscience. I thought I had two lives, but it turned out to be only one, and it needs to be lived with dignity.

I could die tomorrow, knowing it’s been a fine life, that I’ve contributed to many beings. My head is held high.

P. S. But tomorrow is far too early!


I sold my house in Canada last June. Sometime during that month I gave away my elliptical to a friend. I haven’t been on a fitness machine since.

When I arrived in Belgium for good in late January, I saw my exercise program centering on cycling and walking. But cycling has faded from my soul, and walking doesn’t get my heart rate up enough.

So … enter the Basic-Fit fitness centre in Ghent centrum, only a seven-minute walk from me. I went for a visit yesterday, bought a day pass and listened to a staff member translate the elliptical instructions from Flemish.

I sighed. May this machine before me be smooth. Another beginning.

Ellipticals engage both the legs and arms. The long things do this circular rhythm above the foot pads and the shorter things go forward and back on the handle bars. I love the flow of it all.

My mind was full of memories of restarting fitness activities after a long break. Time and again I’d do too much that first time, then ache for a few days after. “Not today, Bruce!”

I remembered my flaring ego on previous elliptical journeys. For one thing, stay on the beast for an hour. (No thanks) Then, burn at least 600 calories, occasionally stretching to 800. What a man! (Good luck)

Am I older and wiser these days? Yes.

I adjusted the machine to a low resistance (5 of 25) and put my feet on the pads. “Let’s see what works.”

Oh … the return of the rhythm! Sweet moments of the past returned. It felt slow and easy. My ego thankfully was taking a back seat.

After five minutes I’d burned 25 calories, which works out to 300 per hour – half of what I’d done in previous incarnations.

“So what? Who cares?” and words like that. I wasn’t going to be bamboozled this time.

I felt my body after 15 … 20 … 25 minutes. The sweat was here, plus a tiny fatigue. “Stop at 30.” I smiled and agreed. Calories? 175 … including a three-minute cool down. Good for me – in so many ways.


This morning I awoke with no soreness. I’m sitting in the waiting room of Solidaris, an organization that’s going to give this Canadian some health care coverage. After I’m done here, it’s off to Basic-Fit. I’m going to become a member! And I’ll get on the elliptical again.

If I only burn 150 calories, I promise to laugh


I burned 226 … and still I laugh. I figure I need Basic-Fit to help me expand my musical life. There’s a mysterious connection between exertion and expression. I’ve been out of balance for a year. It’s time for the physical and the spiritual and the musical to entwine.

I’m a member. Plus I got a free Basic-Fit backpack. Here’s what I looked like before elliptical time. The smile remains.


I did walk into the Poel music school yesterday afternoon and found out about the music training program that starts in September.

Frank at the front desk was so helpful.  He said the first thing was to reserve a weekly spot with one of the cello teachers.  He thought there weren’t many openings left.  Frank gave me directions: out to the street, turn left, go in another school door maybe thirty metres away, first right and then the first door on the left.

There stood Lieven.  He was to teach a class in fifteen minutes.  I spilled out my story – I haven’t played cello for 56 years … and I want to.  There followed a flurry of conversation.  He seemed happy to have me.  I needed to get back to the main office, go through the process of registering for the program, then e-mail Lieven to confirm that I’ve paid.  Only then was my spot in one of his classes safe.  There were only two places left.

The application was in Dutch.  I couldn’t read it but Frank sped to the rescue.  Together we got the job done.

I’m in!

Each week from September to May (I think) I’ll have a one-hour cello lesson with three other students and a two-hour music theory class.  A new life!

Frank was happy for me … and concerned.  “The music theory class is in Dutch [really the dialect of Dutch called Flemish].  You need to know the basics by September.”


Almost a year ago, while I was in Canada, I bought the book you see.  I haven’t broken the cover.  I knew it was important to learn Flemish but that understanding wasn’t enough to get me started.

Neither was the fact that my one-year Belgian visa is up for renewal for a second year in February, 2024.  My kind of visa is rare.  I have to prove that I’ve taken steps in my first year to integrate into Belgian society.  Learning the language is considered to be the prime way of doing that.

So … I’ve been procrastinating.  Frank woke me up.  I have three months until classes start.  Yesterday I committed to do what it took to register for the Poel program.  I also committed to play my cello on a certain bench, in public view, on July 7 at 5:00 pm.

Now there’s today.  You can count on me to play my cello for an hour today … and to study Dutch for an hour!

Here’s what the authors of Dutch For Dummies have to say about me:

They’re right. I want to learn Dutch “in a life that [I] have already started”.

It is a new life. I begin

Samba … Cello

I walked into the Gregor Samsa bookshop last night not remembering the type of music I’d be hearing.

Two smiling guitarists greeted me.  They were warming up for the show.  Marcel from Rio de Janeiro played lead.  Zander from Ghent was the bass player.  (I hope I haven’t spelled his name wrong.)

I was immediately engaged.  May all performers be nice people.

And then they began playing and singing … mostly samba tunes.  It was magnetic.  I was drawn so easily into their world.

Zander’s eyes were only for Marcel.  He did incredible bass runs without looking at the strings.  Sometimes his eyes rolled so only the whites showed.  Zander was lost in the music.

Marcel sang with such passion, in Spanish I believe.  I understood no words and I understood everything.  And when he sang about Rio, all three of us melted.

I was sitting with my friend Anouk before the concert started.  We caught each other up with the events of the last month …  me Amsterdam, Springsteen, Core Festival; her writing songs, rehearsing, giving a talk on archives.

Anouk asked me “How is the cello playing going?” I cringed. “I haven’t done much.” > “Why not?” > “Fear.” (That I won’t be able to resurrect the quality of playing that I had as a teenager – but I didn’t tell her that.)

I told Anouk that I’d been intending to walk through the doors of the Poel music school but I hadn’t. Staff there had told me to come back at the end of May to find out more about their music training program which starts in September – group cello lessons, music theory and music history. And perhaps to register. More fear.

Anouk just looked at me, softly but with purpose. “Okay, I’ll visit Poel sometime this week.” She smiled.

As Zander and Marcel were about to begin, in walked Anouk’s friend Ann. She sat with us. At the break between sets, Anouk introduced us.

The topics ranged wide but eventually returned to playing the cello. “I have a dream: to sit on the bench in the tiny park by the Oudburg … and play my cello.”

Anouk: “Let’s set a date when you’ll do that. I’ll come.”

Ann: “I will too.”


I opened my phone calendar. I glanced at July. The 7th spoke to me.

“Friday, July 7 at 2:00 pm.” (Central European Time)

Anouk: “Can you make it at 5:00?”

Bruce: “Yes.”


So there you have it, dear friends:

1. Poel’s office opens at 3:30 today. I’ll be there.

2. Wherever you are in the world, think of me on Friday, July 7. Do the math for your time zone.

3. There’s a lot of cello practice between now and then!

Not Knowing

I love being in the Evolutionary Collective.  We meet on Zoom for 55-minute sessions.  During part of the time, each of us is paired randomly with another participant.  Together we do the Mutual Awakening Practice (MAP).  Usually a profound sense of connection emerges.

Newbies need to learn the practice.  They enroll in a four-session course.  Last night was the first of four and I was invited to be a support person for the new folks.  I love doing this, welcoming people to something brand new.

The teacher and we support people were meeting twenty minutes before the session started.  I logged in.  Before me in their rectangles were about eight supporters.  The teacher started talking.

No sound.

I don’t thrive in the world of technology.  I know how to navigate Zoom.  I know the basics of how to fix problems.

I contracted.  I also acted because I needed to keep my word.  I left the meeting, turned off my computer, turned it back on, and returned.

No sound.

I chatted with the Zoom host, the person responsible for the technical part of our meeting.  She suggested doing what I had just done.  The next step was to leave again and reboot my modem.

I exited, wondering if the faces on the screen sensed what was happening.  My facial expressions were incredulous … and I kept disappearing!

I turned off the computer and unplugged the modem.  I waited ten seconds.  Probably should have been longer.  Replug, wait for the internet to return, start my computer and rejoin the meeting.  By this time the session had started.  There were many more rectangles than before.

No sound.


I knew I couldn’t participate without talking and listening, and that my continued presence would mess up the Zoom host’s job of having people paired up.  I chatted with her that I was leaving.

Bye bye.

I e-mailed a techy friend in the Evolutionary Collective, describing my problem. And I realized that I had done all that I knew to do.


I was sad that I couldn’t contribute to the human beings who were knocking on the door of MAPs.  I’ve learned to let the emotion be there, to fall into it, and that soon it will lessen.  A few hours later I fell asleep in peace.

It’s so tender to not know.  My heart is open, my brain is active … and the solution doesn’t appear. And now I’m smiling. There’s an immensity here.

In the world of doing things, I’ll continue to problem solve today. We’ll see if my friend knows what to do. And I wonder if Zoom Customer Service is open on a Sunday. I hope so.

In the larger world, I am fine, and I’m being held by spiritual friends within my not knowing. I’ll be there for Session Two.

All is well

Not De Krook?

De Krook is the modern central library in Ghent.  It opened in 2017 and is now considered to be “the place of inspiration for knowledge, culture and innovation”.  And here I am.

I have a problem.  It’s called the ego.  I’ve written for 63 days in a row on WordPress and Facebook.  I feel the drive for 64!

I was walking in Ghent this morning and came upon the immense architecture of De Krook.  So began a spell of wrong thinking.  “This would be a good subject for today’s writing.”  I could feel the forcing even as I thought the words.  The truth was that I wasn’t drawn to write about the library.  My rule has been “So don’t do it!”  But there was the power of 64 pulsing in my mind.

Sitting in De Krook’s coffee shop with my latté, I decided not to write about this spot.  If nothing magnetized me for the rest of the day, my streak would end.  Take that, dear ego!

After the sipping had ceased, I reasoned that since I’m here, I might as well tour the seven floors. One floor down from main was devoted to “Kinderen” so I started walking down to see what welcomes the kids.

As I descended, there were levels of cushions to my right. For the children to sit and think and read. Very cool.

Then, in the spirit of very important young people, this magnificent object presented itself to me:

A chair for royalty … young royalty. I could have sat down but the chair wasn’t meant for me. I thought of all the children since 2017 who have rubbed the leather arms. Good for them.

More exploring led to a wall with large openings full of soft curving comfiness, perfect for leisurely reading. In one large hole dad and daughter were cuddled with a book. So sweet.

Many steps later I got that De Krook was my subject of the day … the kids’ section. Adults (and hopefully children) had given their input about what they wanted in a library and … Voilà! It came to pass.

So I took the photos that accompany my story. Here’s the last one:

What happens on this floor makes me happy

And I like being happy

Keeping My Word

About forty years ago I was in a leadership program of the organization Werner Erhard founded … “est”.  It offered retreats and courses to foster personal transformation.  We had homework to be completed before landing in Vancouver, Canada for a weekend of training.

We were asked to be “flat” with our lives before showing up in the meeting room.  If we knew we had problems – large or small – we were to address them so that our energy would be fully available for the learnings of the weekend.

For instance, if had a “withhold” with another person – something I wasn’t saying – the homework was to express that to them.

Then there was the “hands on” stuff to deal with.  What messes were there in our home that called for fixing?  And so … behold the refrigerator.  Foods after the “Best Before” date were to be thrown out and the whole appliance cleaned.

I remember grousing about the fridge.  “What does this have to do with transformation?”  But I did it anyway.  I had a responsibility.  I had agreed to keep my word.

Werner was right.  I felt light on Saturday morning, ready to open.


Now I’m in a leadership program of another organization – The Evolutionary Collective.  There are about fifty of us who have agreed to a heightened level of commitment.  We’ve agreed to attend certain meetings unless there’s an emergency.

In Europe I’m six hours later than eastern North America.  We fifty can either attend a Thursday Zoom meeting from 6:30 till 8:00 pm my time on Week One or from 2:00 till 3:30 am on Week Two.  The hours are more gentle for North America because that’s where most of our members live.

For us Europeans, the choice is clear: Week One.

Thursday, May 25 was Week One.  It was also the night of a Bruce Springsteen concert in Amsterdam.  I went.

Which brings us to Thursday June 1: Week Two.

I know what’s needed for my life to be unencumbered.  I’ve had many successes and a few failures in that realm.

Thursday evening, an internet technician was in my apartment until 8:15.  I lay down in bed at 9:00 and set the alarm for 1:30.  At 1:50 the coffee was brewing.  At 2:00 there I was – one of many rectangles on the Zoom screen.

Twice the leader asked us to close our eyes for five minutes.  Red flag. “Uh oh. Don’t fall asleep, Bruce!”  And I didn’t.

I did my best during the meeting but my mind was dull.  Actually I think my presence inspired a few of the North Americans.

By 3:45 my head was on the pillow.  So was my smile.  And I slept.

I’m still a bit wayward in the head. And that’s okay. I learned long ago what works. May I continue remembering.

The Next Love of My Life

I’m laughing as I contemplate my words of today.  Is this merely an advertisement – something that would show up in the “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper?  Also, I like including a photo or two in my posts.  The obvious choice would be a picture of a woman.  But who?

Okay … I found an image.  The first thing you readers will see is the title and this woman.  Maybe you’ll think she’s the one.  Except all I know is that she lives somewhere in the world.

Enough analysis, dear man …


I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.  But this morning I got it one more time that I’m not willing to settle.  If “The One” never shows up then I will remain single till the end comes.  Oh, I feel good saying that!

Look at that face.  Look at those eyes. Laugh lines. A real smile. Yep … that’s who I’m looking for. Someone who’s in love with life. Someone who brightens easily.

I bet she sometimes skips down the street. She’s often mistaken for a kid despite her long flow of years. There’s a lilt in her voice. A wonder in her words. A sense of “What if?” What if we do and say whatever is yearning for expression? Possibility.

I don’t know how old she is. I suppose 60 and up would be good since we don’t know how many years I have left on the planet. Or how many years she has.

She loves music. She hums along to songs. And she dances. It would be particularly wonderful if she loved techno music but my small brain wonders how many women in their 60s do that. But really it doesn’t matter how many. I just need one!

She needs to love Ghent because I’m not going anywhere. Is she in Ghent right now? I bet she is. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

She enjoys sex. Not just the physical union but the passion, the communion, the sense of touching something together that’s vast. And don’t forget cuddling and foot rubbing.

And … she loves to be of service. Her family is the world. She sees the suffering of other human beings and responds with compassion.

I could list a whole bunch of adjectives describing my future beloved but you get the idea.

Oh, and I’ve named her … Elise

The Perfection of the Moment

The moment … right now. What is there to say about it?

I could evaluate it on a scale of good/bad, better/worse, up/down. I could compare it to previous moments. I could yearn for future moments.

Or … perhaps this moment is perfect because it’s exactly how it is.

I just finished meditating. I have a long history of sitting quietly and letting life open me. I know all about “a good sit” and “a bad sit”. I sense that it’s time to let that go.

I choose to embrace whatever happens. Here are some possibilities, all of which showed up in the last hour:

1. The mind quietens.

2. The flow of energy behind the eyes ceases. All is still.

3. I nod off several times, on the edge of sleep.

4. Thoughts crowd in for awhile.

5. Saliva grows in my mouth and leaks out.

6. I hear the noise of someone walking up the stairs in my apartment building.

7. The shoulders drop away, the body slumps down into the mystery.


And it’s all included. It’s all exactly what’s here in the moment. It’s all the meditation.

As Nike says, “Just do it”

The fullness of now will reveal itself

My Hometown

As I look back on the Bruce Springsteen concert last Thursday, there’s a loved song he didn’t sing. It’s one of my two favourites.

There is such sadness here … racial violence, vacant stores on Main Street, companies closing, young people leaving.

There’s the love of your home. Saying goodbye to all you’ve known. A chapter ending. Years later you remember.

Here are the lyrics:

I was eight years old
And running with a dime in my hand
To the bus stop to pick
Up a paper for my old man
I’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick
And steer as we drove through town
He’d tousle my hair
And say, “Son, take a good look around
This is your hometown
This is your hometown
This is your hometown
This is your hometown”

In ’65 tension was running high
At my high school
There was a lot of fights
Between the black and white
There was nothing you could do
Two cars at a light on a Saturday night
In the back seat there was a gun
Words were passed in a shotgun blast
Troubled times had come
To my hometown
To my hometown
To my hometown
To my hometown

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows
And vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody
Wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill
Across the railroad tracks
Foreman says, “These jobs are going, boys
And they ain’t coming back
To your hometown
To your hometown
To your hometown
To your hometown”

Last night me and Kate we laid in bed
Talking about getting out
Packing up our bags, maybe heading south
I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel
And said, “Son, take a good look around
This is your hometown”

This is your hometown … your hometown

And here is the song, performed by Bruce and the E Street Band in London in 2013. Especially listen to the last minute, to the audience joining in.

I wonder what was in the heart of each person who sang along