Questions

I was volunteering in the Grade 5/6 class this afternoon.  A community police officer spent some time talking to the kids about “peer relationships”.  How marvelous that these young people got to see a representative of the police force as approachable, engaging and funny.  A real human being, not just a uniform and a gun belt.

Adam asked the students some questions.  And I reflected on my life.

1.  Have I ever punched, shoved or hit another person?

Gosh no.  It’s so far away from who I am, and who I’ve been.  My mouth drops open when I even imagine myself being violent with someone.

2.  Have I ever threatened to hurt someone?

No.  If I have differences with a person, or criticism about something they did or said, I want to talk it out, without antagonism.

3.  Do I ever make fun of others, tease them or call them mean names?

No, except for playful teasing when I know that the other person sees I’m on their side.  But never mocking them for being different than me, whether that’s personality, sexual orientation, age, race or ethnicity.  To call a black person a “nigger” is completely foreign to me.

4.  Do I often make fun of others because they’re different from my friends and me?

No.  I love exploring the differences among us, in learning about folks whose lives are such a contrast to mine.

5.  Do I gossip about other people?  Do I spread rumours about them?

Heavens no.  That’s an act of violence, both towards the other person and towards me.  I can’t be happy if I’m aversive to someone else.  I do talk about people who are not right there listening, but it’s in the spirit of fascination and interest, not criticism.

***

Having said all this, I’m no saint.  Sometimes I don’t give folks enough space in their life, pressing forward in relationship when I need to back off some.  Sometimes I speak without thinking, without really gauging the potential impact of my words.  And sometimes I forget important things that people tell me.  But through it all, through those unskillful moments, I know that my intentions are good.

There’s so much pain in the world and my commitment is to add very little to the total, while adding a lot to the sum of well-being.

Day Sixteen … Maple Leaf and Star Spangled Banner

Yesterday was a totally immense day for me, in one way or the other.  First off, I went to the office of Maple Leaf Adventures in Victoria.  I talked to a woman named Jaz.  I pretended that I didn’t know much about the tall ship cruises.  “What about a trip next June, in the middle?”  “Yes, there’s a sailing from June 11-19 to Haida Gwaii.”  “That sounds good.  Has anyone signed up for it yet?”  “Just one person.”  “What’s their name?”  “Bruce Kerr.”  “Oh, I know him.  Here’s my MasterCard.”  Jaz opens a computer page and asks me my name.  “Bruce Kerr.”  (Stare, shock and slowly … a smile)  “So you just came to visit?”  “Yes.”  Such fun.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat, just to see her face.  I’m so looking forward to seeing humpback whales next June.

Had a marvelous ferry ride from the Victoria area back to Vancouver past some lovely islands.  For some of the trip I chatted with a local couple and their adult daughter.  They were downright silly people!  I don’t understand why some folks behave that way.  Oh well.  We had fun.  I had my bag of almond clusters in hand but the closest gull was probably 500 metres away.  Back in the 80’s when I pitched for the New York Yankees, I could have zipped one over to him, but my arm isn’t what it used to be.

Heading into the States to see the play Jake’s Women (which by coincidence I’ve auditioned for in St. Thomas, Ontario), I was detained at Customs for over an hour, which was fine.  It gave me a chance to meet more people.  (I’m not kidding.  I do see life this way.)  Trouble was, the first US agent was very disrespectful to me.  I eventually was first in line and I saw him put out a pylon as he motioned me to stop a few metres back.  I was dreaming of Jake and then saw him remove the pylon.  So I drove up to his window.  I didn’t notice that the red light was still on.

“Don’t people from Canada know what a red light means?”  It’s fair to say he bellowed.  “You shouldn’t be here.”  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t notice the light.”  My left elbow was resting on the window well.  “Put your arm in the car, away from my gun.”  Such anger.  I just stayed with him, letting him do what he needed to do.  I thought of karma and was sad for the gentleman.  I believe that I have very little antagonism left in me.  I’ve asked myself recently if I have any at all.  I sure can’t find any.  So that’s good.  I get to be a gift to those in emotional pain, even if they don’t realize it.

The border agent quizzed me on why I had all this luggage with me if I was just crossing the border to see a play.  I told him my story.  “Turn left and go into secondary inspection.”  Okay.  I enjoyed talking to two couples and a single guy while we waited in line.  We were all pretty light, even though we had places to go and people to meet.  Hey, nothing we could do about our situation, so lemonade time.

Another agent asked me multi-questions.  He certainly didn’t smile but at least he was civil.  After inspecting Scarlet, he came back, having found everything as I had described it.  Ten minutes later, I was driving towards a security booth for exit.  I stopped, turned off my engine, and said hello to the officer.  No response … just a hand out to take the form that allowed me to go.  (Sigh)  Earlier in the day, humanity’s best qualities were on display.  Last night, not so much.

A couple of hours before, I had been waiting in the line for Customs and spied a Chevron gas station just past the border.  Good, since my gauge said I only had 46 kilometres left in the tank.  After my adventure, I completely forgot about the station.  And there I was, heading down a freeway to my beloved Jake, and somehow the gauge now read “0”.  Next exit 12 miles.  Some more sighing.  Be nice to me, dear Scarlet, and all other benign entities in the universe.  And they were.  I limped into a Shell station.

Gosh … so much writing.  I’m going to leave my rendezvous with Jake till tomorrow morning.  Nice guy.