The Hip … A Step Forward

It’s intermission time at London’s Aeolian Hall. I’m here to see The Strictly Hip, a tribute band for Canada’s great rock group The Tragically Hip. It’s been decades since I’ve been to a rock concert (other than dancing to Five Alarm Funk at Sunfest) and here I am in the front row.

Straight ahead of me, fifteen feet away, a young man wields an impossibly long bass guitar, his head bobbing and weaving. The lead guitarist plays some incredible licks with a macho flair that has the girls swooning. The drummer is brilliant. Still, the star of the show is the Gord Downie lookalike, complete with cowboy hat. I can barely make out the words but he’s belting out the hits as folks wearing Hip t-shirts move their bods in front of the stage.

Sometimes I close my eyes and feel the pulse of the drum in my heart … it moves right through me. The guitar runs, the deep bass parts and Gord’s strident vocals flood me with the juice of life.

***

And now it’s later. A little girl is jumping up and down by the stage and Gord reaches down to shake her hand. She bounces giddily back to her seat. The way ahead of me is crowded with dancers. A couple slow dances for a slow song. Friends jump straight up and high five for the fast ones.

I don’t know the songs but clearly just about everyone else does. I don’t feel like dancing and I wonder if that’s because of my recent ankle and knee problems. I take a second to poop on myself and then that smallness magically disappears.

I’m loving the energy in the room but then a thought comes: this group surge is nowhere near what I feel when I’m online with members of the Evolutionary Collective global community. That energy bubbles up from within. Tonight’s source is the wild band in front of me and their songs – some raucous and some tender. The truth is that I don’t need rock concerts to expand. Just give me a few open-hearted folks and I’ll bring forth love. A subtle and yet immensely powerful surge.

I continue to change in the world. Old versions of me are honoured and included in what’s emerging. Thanks, Gord and friends, for being on the journey with me.

Tomorrow?
A delightful mystery

Next year?
Perhaps a Bruce I can’t even imagine

Bring it on

A Natural Exit

When I drive into London from Belmont, I usually take the 401, our Southern Ontario freeway, which has a speed limit of 100 kph (about 60 mph).  After ten kilometres or so, I’m ready to take the Wellington Road exit.  The ramp goes straight for maybe a kilometre, and then around a slight bend is a 50 kph (30 mph) sign.

As I veer off onto the ramp, I lighten the pressure on my gas pedal and gradually decrease to the 50.  I sense I’m in a natural rhythm of blending with my environment.  It feels good, like I’m flowing from one chapter of my life to the next.

Other drivers disagree.  Usually I’m tailgated on the ramp and the crowd of cars behind sometimes reaches double digits.  Once a fellow swerved onto the paved shoulder to get by me.  At the 50 kph sign, a second lane appears, with traffic lights shortly thereafter.  If the light is red, a vehicle or two has time to blast by me on the left and then slam on their brakes.  If it’s green, a convoy flows past, with most of them then flashing into my lane, since lots of us are turning right at the next light.

I let myself feel the pressure of the tailgating, and my fear.  It’s definitely a part of life.  But it’s very sweet to maintain my flow in the midst of impatient drivers.  I’m the source of my actions, not them.  Overall, the whole thing is a meditation and I’m pleased that I choose to experience it regularly.

***

I ask myself if I’ll have the same grace as I leave this planet.  Will I let myself feel the body diminishing and the mind clouding?  Will I let the words of William Shakespeare linger?

Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace!
And lips, O you the doors of breath
Seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death

Or will I vote with Dylan Thomas?

Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

The ramp awaits
Soon, or not soon, my turn signal goes on

Energy In … Energy Out

Last Wednesday I was sitting in my bike shop, talking to my good friend and mechanic Sygnan.  He’s done so much marvelous work for me over the years and our conversations are rich.

What are you going to do tonight, Sygnan?

I’ll watch a movie at home.

DVD?

No, I have a box.

And so we began chatting about the wonders of an android box, through which just about every film in existence, including those still in theatres, is available  for home viewing.  Plus it’s legal.

My heart quickened.  I admit I was zeroed in on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but any movie?  What an orgy of delight!  I love love stories … bet I’ll be able to find a hundred great ones.  I love history stories … the whole past of the world will soon be laid out before me.  Night after night of watching the best in cinema.  Heaven.

Sygnan told me where to buy the android box and I headed there forthwith.  The salesman was knowledgeable and friendly and soon I was heading home with my treasure.  I plunked the valuable little device on my washer and knew that tomorrow I’d hook everything up.

Thursday was a busy day and that evening I just didn’t feel like figuring things out, so the box continued its sojourn with the washer.

Friday I had places to go and people to meet.  No time for reading long instruction sheets.

Saturday I glanced at the washer as I was heading out and thought “That’s odd.  I haven’t done a darn thing to make this happen.  Oh well.”

And then there’s today.  As I allowed my eyelids to part in the early hours, and as my brain started to put two and two together, it came to me:

I don’t want to watch endless movies

I lay there and thought deep about the person I’ve become.  My excitement as I drove from the bike shop to the computer store was an unconscious variety.  An old version of Bruce was gung ho for an old version of what was fun … prolonged sessions of absorbing the best in cinema.  Apart from my aberrant interest in the latest Mamma Mia, I don’t want to sit on my couch letting the energy flow into me.  I want energy to flow out of me … to my fellow human beings.  I want to participate with other voyageurs in the Evolutionary Collective Global Community.  I want to sit down and have heart-to-hearts with local folks.  I want to write these blog posts, every day if I’m up to it.

(Speaking of “Bruce’s Blog”, you’ll be happy to know that, on average, I’ve posted every day for the last 69.  Occasionally I’d miss a day, but in the spirit of anality perhaps, I’d double up the next day.)

So, for the remaining 38 years of my life (good luck on that), I intend to put things out there far more than drawing in movies, books, newspapers and TV sports.  And if I’m reading a book or watching some remarkable recently released musical, I’ll do so in the spirit of being nourished so that I may nourish others.

Who I was yesterday is not who I am today
Who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow
I wonder who that person will be

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.