Letting Go

I stood in my bicycle shop today, ready to take ta-pocketa home.  My road bike has served me well for twenty years, but there have been issues.  First the practical stuff:  My bike is too big for me.  I wasn’t fitted correctly in 1997.  And then there’s the skinny road tires.  Ever since the tendon transfer surgery in 2003, my balance has been off and the tires allow precious little room for error.  Second the emotional stuff:  My few days in the Tour du Canada zapped me.  I didn’t have the bike skills for downtown Vancouver and the semitrailers whizzing by on the highway terrified me.

Ta-pocketa has been part of me for so long.  But so had the home I shared with Jody in Union, Ontario.  A year after she died, I knew that I had to leave.  It was too heartrending to sit in the family room and imagine her cooking in the kitchen.  The chapter was over, and so I moved to Belmont.  I stared at ta-pocketa this afternoon and realized that this chapter was done too.  I need to be more stable on the bicycle.  I need to diminish my fear on the bicycle.  I need Betty.

Betty is the hybrid bike I bought a few months ago, fully capable of carrying me over the gravel roads near Belmont, plus the many paved ones.  I’ve never ridden her.

“Goodbye, ta-pocketa.  Thank you for the journey.”  I told Sygnan to sell my dear friend – $1000 firm.  I placed my hand on her top tube and remembered the good times.  But those times aren’t now.  I’m older and not as able as I once was.

The future is pulling me.  I sense that it will include cycling, but a slower version, on country roads.  No hurry to get anywhere.  Just enjoying the rhythm of Betty and me.

We must let go of the life we have planned
So as to accept the one that is waiting for us
(Joseph Campbell)

Transom

This afternoon I sat in my meditation chair looking out the bedroom window, just as I’m doing now.  The window is composed of four five-foot-long panes of glass, three vertical and a horizontal one at the top.  I learned two years ago, as my condo was being built, that the top one was called a transom.

After an hour or so of meditation today, I opened my eyes.  A puffy cumulus cloud was drifting slowly across the transom window, left to right.  A bit of blue was on the left edge.  I decided to stare.  Mr. Cumulus was sure taking his time and I could feel its peace within me.  How about that?  No hurry at all.  “I hope you’re listening, Bruce.”

As I gazed at the sky, I thought of my life.  A couple of minutes later, the left edge of the cloud passed above the middle pane, and I reflected on my 30’s and 40’s.  They were good years.  Jody and I enjoyed each other.  I enjoyed my teaching.  I enjoyed the kids.  And the cloud keeps drifting.

Now it’s over the right panel and other kids paint my life, as I volunteer at the elementary school nearby.  I have a new home.  I’m in a worldwide community of folks who are exploring consciousness.  Life is good.  But now the transom is mostly blue, and the white travels on.  I try to hold onto it but it continues to float eastward, on a mission I guess.  “Don’t go.  Stay with me.”

And then … poof!  The cloud is gone and my world is brilliantly blue.  How peaceful are the endings.

I hope to live for many more years but “the future’s not ours to see.  Que sera, sera.”

What will be, will be

No Willful Change

Let’s say I’m at A
And I like A
Why would I change?

Or

Let’s say I’m at A
I don’t like A
I’m tense
I want to get away from A
I do things to go from A to B

Or

Let’s say I’m at A
I don’t like A
I’m curious about A
I let myself be at A
I feel what comes up
In the spirit of “All things must pass”
The universe draws me away from A
I may end up at B or somewhere else

What if I consistently chose the third scenario, rather than the second?  If I’m tired, I go inside myself and feel it.  I may lie down for awhile but I’m not shaking my head, denying that I’m tired.  If I’ve eaten too much, I let myself go inside the bloating, the pressure.  What’s it like?  If someone has spoken harshly to me, I let my feeling come up, whatever it is … anger, sadness, fear.  I don’t shove it down with TV or by staying busy.

Perhaps I don’t need to move away from anything (with the possible exception of a speeding car!)  The pain of life could be most vivid in the experience of “Not this, not that”, the sense that this moment needs to be improved, avoided, ignored.

Despite the sometimes existence of bodily pains and spiritual woes, staying inside what’s happening right now could be the road to freedom.

If I let go, will the universe provide?

We Can

I read an article in the Toronto Sun this morning that laid bare the thoughts of Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, which is the world soccer association.  He was talking about the good that soccer can do, how the game can contribute to a coming together of people.  His words had me thinking about my life, how I want it to mean something to others, and how those others can impact their loved ones.  Gianni was speaking for me.

***

There are many things we’d like to change in the world.  There are many things we are not happy about that happen in the world.  It’s not in one country.  It’s not in one region.  It’s not in one area but in the entire world.

We try to work to do and speak and make things change for the good wherever we can.  But here we are, at the World Cup.  We are focusing on football.  We are focusing on celebrating football.

And actually, I think one of the things we are missing in the world – more and more – is our capacity to speak to each other and have a dialogue.  If there’s no dialogue or discussion … then we cannot go anywhere.

If football and the World Cup can contribute to open some channels and discussions and help those who have to take the important decisions to at least start to speak to each other and realize there are people living everywhere in the world – some in better, some in worse conditions – then we have done something and we have given a contribution.

Football cannot solve all the problems in the world.  Football cannot change the past.  But football can have an impact in the future.  And maybe some people who are taking important decisions for our planet can take a look at what we trying to do in football and take some inspiration to try to address these issues.

We have to look forward, learning from what has happened without denying what has happened, with the respect to those who have been touched personally and directly from what has happened everywhere in the world.

If football can contribute a little bit … then I think it’s already a positive outcome.

***

What if I changed a word or two and really brought this home inside my skin?  It would sound like this:

There are many things I’d like to change in the world.  There are many things I am not happy about that happen in the world.  It’s not in one country.  It’s not in one region.  It’s not in one area but in the entire world.

I try to work to do and speak and make things change for the good wherever I can.  But here I am, in Belmont, Ontario, Canada.  I am focusing on my neighbours, and my friends at the Belmont Diner.  I am focusing on celebrating local life.

And actually, I think one of the things we are missing in the world – more and more – is our capacity to speak to each other and have a dialogue.  If there’s no dialogue or discussion … then we cannot go anywhere.

If my friends and I can contribute to open some channels and discussions and help those who have to take the important decisions to at least start to speak to each other and realize there are people living everywhere in the world – some in better, some in worse conditions – then we have done something and we have given a contribution.

We cannot solve all the problems in the world.  We cannot change the past.  But we can have an impact in the future.  And maybe some people who are taking important decisions for our planet can take a look at what we are trying to do in Belmont and take some inspiration to try to address these issues.

We have to look forward, learning from what has happened without denying what has happened, with the respect to those who have been touched personally and directly from what has happened everywhere in the world.

If we can contribute a little bit … then I think it’s already a positive outcome.

Yay for us

Moving On

Last year I volunteered in a Grade 6 class. I loved those 27 kids, and I still do. They’ve gone to another school and I rarely see any of them.

Today was a regional track meet for elementary schools in the area. I watched our Grade 5’s and 6’s in the morning and stayed to see some of my old conversation partners in the afternoon. They’re 13 and “on the road to find out”. Adults are okay but they need to be with their friends.

At various times, eight or nine kids came up to say hi. Last June they approached with hugs as we said goodbye for the summer. This time no hugs but still big smiles. Mostly these new teenagers didn’t have much to say. That’s okay. When I asked what they were most enjoying these days, shrugged shoulders were the norm. And that’s okay too. I was so pleased to see them. Soon they were off with their best buds, getting ready for their events or just hanging out. I smiled as they walked away. I know I’ve touched their lives but I’m of the past and the present has so many wonders to behold. May they have eyes to see.

Some of these kids may reappear in my life … or perhaps not. I’m fine with both. Go see what’s out there, dear ones, and who’s out there.

Mid-afternoon, one of the Grade 7 girls came over to talk. We yapped about this and that for fifteen minutes or so. It was lovely. And then she was bouncing away.

Remembering the past is pretty cool. Imagining the future widens my eyes. But any gifts I offer to the world are only in this very moment, repeated over and over till I die. Just like the kids, I’ll move on to the beings who choose to grace my doorstep.

Emerging

A few weeks ago, I was leaving the Aeolian Hall in London after a concert when a young woman said hi. I knew Noelle fifteen years ago when she was a Grade 6 kid at the school where I worked with a blind student. I also remember her sister Renee and their friend Hillary. Noelle told me that the three of them have formed a music group called The Pairs, featuring homemade songs and strong vocals. She told me they were part of a concert on March 23 and invited me to come.

My brain went into compute mode. March 23 was smack dab in the middle of a five-day trip to Toronto although nothing was on my schedule for that evening. The commute time was about two hours.

I said yes.

I would drive to London, take in the show, and then drive back to Toronto, no doubt getting in at midnight or later. Some people would see such behaviour as weird but not me. Seize the day, as Robin Williams told us in Dead Poets Society.

I stood at the front, listening to the girls sing. Except they’re 28 now. Young women. Great harmonies, great songs and a lovely caring among them. I smiled and clapped a lot. The Pairs are finding their way in the world and who knows where their musical path will take them.

The concert was a fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Noelle talked to the crowd about how important it is that we be good to each other. She spoke of “relentless kindness”, a sweet turn of the phrase I thought. It was clear to me that these three women were becoming full human beings, contributing to the world. And it became even clearer when I heard them sing “Woman”:

Oh I’m woman, hear me roar
Oh I may not fit where I’m supposed to be
But I do what I need to make my heart soar
Oh I’m woman, hear me roar
And I won’t let you make a man outta me

I talked to Hillary, Renee and Noelle after the music. They were all pleased I had come. Me too.

Reconnecting with folks who were once young students is rare for me. Last night was a privilege. Many kids who were in my life have now stretched their wings in ways I’ll never know about. Good for them. I like to think I’ve made a contribution to many 12-year-olds. Actually, I don’t have to think it. I have.

Day One

I’ve watched the first session of the “What Now?” conference.  My laptop beams me to the ballroom of the Omni Interlocken Resort in Denver, Colorado.  Some of the world’s most expansive thinkers are tackling the issue of unprecedented change and how to create a more inclusive world.  Issues on the table include spirituality, consciousness, business, technology, culture, race, sexuality and politics.

As I listen to the speakers, it feels like coming home.  Consistently, their attitude mirrors mine:  Love, kindness, compassion and respectful assertiveness must win.  Here are some quotes:

“Your mind will be stimulated
Your heart will be opened
Your views will be challenged
Your time will be well spent”

“To lead from a place of love, presence and fearlessness”

“To move beyond our mental and emotional powers and into a realization of who we really are”

“What a wonderful thing to be together with likeminded souls”

“If the world that’s unfolding is not the one we want, what is our generative response?”

“How can I be a generative force that moves the ball forward?”

And in response to social ills:

“We get to fight
We get to be fierce
We get to say no
We get in the game
It’s not just about being an observer
This is not okay”

So today, Sunday and Monday, I immerse myself in fostering the good, the true and the beautiful in the midst of chaos.  I welcome the journey.  I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

 

What Now?

I’m in Colorado for the next four days … sort of.  I’ll be attending (sort of) a conference on the future of the world.  Actually, I’ve subscribed to the webcast of all the presentations in the main ballroom.  Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world will be addressing topics such as:

Spirituality
Tribalism versus globalism
The disparity in wealth
Fake news and hate propaganda
The misuse of sexuality
Racial abuse
Environmental degradation and the denial of climate change
Immigration and protection

How do we deal with massive change?  How can we create an inclusive world in which we accept our differences and see them as an opportunity to build something new?  “What’s next for human evolution?”

The older I’ve become, the more I’ve been living in “I don’t know.”  Sure, I’m smart enough to think through complex issues but multiple mysteries of life continue to present themselves.  Perhaps the rational mind is only a part of the puzzle solving.  Can I open to insights that seem to come from elsewhere?

Starting tonight on my laptop, I intend to fall into “beginner’s mind”.  With the glass close to empty, what will Spirit fill it with?  What connections will emerge over the next four days?  What moments of serendipity will say hi?  To what extent could I have been a presenter at the “What Now?” conference?  I do know that I have a part to play.

Tomorrow through Monday, I’ll give you my take on what I’m hearing.  Perhaps windows will open for all of us.

If you’d like to join in, go to integrallife.com.  On the dropdown menu, choose “Live”.  Scroll down to “Upcoming Broadcasts” and pick “What Now?”.  Scroll some more until you see words in orange: “Click here to purchase the webcast.”  It costs $125.00 US.  If you become an Integral Life member, it’s $100.00.  You need Google Chrome or fancy browsers that I don’t recognize.  Internet Explorer won’t work.  The first session starts at 7:00 pm tonight.

See you there?

Just a Glimmer

Well, I woke up this morning [Sunday] and that feeling of immense space was still with me.  How about that?  I felt some energy moving down my body, towards my stomach.  A very quiet energy.  The moments were there and there was nothing to add to them.

The morning cold was bearable but my body really turned it on in the p.m.  No nose breathing that I could discover.  And I was zooming along the 401 at 110 kph.  Those two facts would normally have completely dominated my consciousness.  But not today.  There was a subtle current of ok-ness below.  Scarlet was going so fast but I was very slow inside.

The space would often close in just as my nose did, sometimes as a car changed lanes right in front of me.  But the stillness kept edging back into my drive.  Sweet.

Now I’m watching the Nashville Predators battle the Pittsburg Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.  In the spirit of doing something about my problems, I’m shoving gobs of mentholatum up my nose.  But still precious little breathing.  And then there’s my stomach again – not a pain but a fine awareness down there.  It’s as if my body is helping me recenter myself, again and again.

And now the softness is gone and I’m my closed nose again.  Still I think of nasally normal moments in my future.  Will I be able to access yesterday’s peace at will when my body isn’t distracting me?  Maybe.  But it seems to me that I can create other distractions pretty easily.

And so what if I’ll often be able to reach an open state of being?  How can that better the world?  Assuming that I’ll be able to do this (without effort), perhaps other people will resonate with the same energy.  Maybe our minds will be so calm that our doing becomes a blessing.

Then again, all these musings could be so much horsepucky, the meanderings of a deluded one.

***

Shortly after the reference to horsepucky, I’d had enough vertical life and went to bed.  Where I slept for the next twelve hours, nose and all.  I’m up now and the spaciousness is gone.  Well, let’s see.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I’ll go searching.  But searching isn’t it.  That’s just more effort.  Peace is as clear as the nose on my face or it’s not there.  No.  Nothing.  But that’s okay.

Y’all come back sometime …

Ramping Down

I think driving is such a metaphor for life, and what someone does on the road is a fair indicator of how they treat their family and friends.

I often take Highway 401 from Belmont into London, Ontario.  It’s a freeway, and I usually go about 110 kilometres per hour (65 miles per hour).  The Wellington Road exit ramp is a long one, maybe half a kilometre.  It blends into a city street, where the maximum speed is 50 kph (30 mph).

When I move onto the ramp, I take my foot off the gas and coast towards the 50 kph sign.  Invariably I’m tailgated and at busy times there are four or five cars bumper to bumper behind me.  I’m curious about this but not really surprised.

Life is full of transitions from one condition to another.  I enjoy blending from the first to the second, instead of jolting.  On the 401, it’s the coasting rather than the slamming of brakes.  At the dinner table, it’s a pause between the main course and dessert, rather than launching into pie as soon as the dinner plate is empty.

Life for sure has its twists and turns but I’ve never been keen on the hairpins.  It seems that my spirit is happiest when I embrace the changes and let myself flow through them.  Abruptness will come my way, such as the morning I woke up with a blood clot in my leg, but overall the transitions feel smooth.  It’s like a dance – and a waltz instead of a frantic disco tune.  A soaring symphony rather than the smashing of a drum.  A film full of love rather than the latest shoot-’em-up thriller.

Am I “right” about this?  Not at all.  It just feels good.