Clothes Make The Man

Last week it was super cold in Toronto.  And I walked outside a lot.  In my pocket, and soon rolled up on my head, was my red balaclava – a knitted hat.  When the mercury really plunged, I did something that I hadn’t done in 25 years: I aligned the eye holes and the mouth hole with the appropriate body parts, placed my glasses into the contraption, zipped up my coat and headed out into the frozen world.  And I did the same thing today.

Walking down main street Belmont to the Diner, I noticed faces sitting behind passing windshields, faces that were tilting my way without saying hi.  As I entered our convenience store, the owner looked at me, I thought fearfully.  Someone asked if I was going to rob the place, the same comment I got twice in Toronto.

My entrance into the Diner was met with a group silence until I disrobed and revealed my inner Bruceness.  I wondered why folks didn’t seem to understand that it was darned cold, and that I wanted to keep my nose from freezing.  Instead, everyone was on high alert, wary of the intruder.  As a society, are we really that afraid of each other?  I hope not.

Farther along in my day, it was time for the gym.  The elliptical beckoned.  I had pulled a t-shirt from my dresser drawer, the one on top of the pile.  It was black with a white script: “Lovely Is Your Heart”.  It’s one of my favourites.  I don’t think I’ve worn it to the gym before.

Well … did I get some stares from the muscled gentlemen working out on machines!  No vomiting, but the disapproval of some was clear.  I’d often worn the same shirt during last fall’s meditation retreat, and at the end, when we could talk, two yogis mentioned how much they appreciated the message.  But the gym?  Another animal.

What were the athletes thinking?  That I’m gay?  (I’m not)  That I’m hopelessly sentimental?  (I am)  That I’m weird for having “Love” plastered on my chest?  (I suppose I am, but who cares?  Certainly not me)

I walk through life, choosing to be visible.  I know no other way.  It feels healthy not to be slinking around, out of the public view.  I talk a lot and no doubt many folks take issue with that.  I say silly things and perhaps some see me as the height of immaturity.  But one thing I know – I am pretty thoroughly myself.  And that makes me happy.

What a shame that it’s too cold for me to wear my Speedo!


Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

I set off today to do some rediscovering.  I started with the gym.  Two weeks of bronchitis have left me weak, lethargic, and constipated.  I know that balance is key … physical, emotional and spiritual.  And that man does not live by Buddha alone.  So off to the  elliptical I went.

As I packed my gym clothes this morning, I selected a vibrant t-shirt that Nona and Lance gave me for Christmas.  It’s a greenish lizard flashing a peace sign on  a mottled purple background.  So cool!  But my reaction today?  Fear.  Fear of what the workouters will think of me.  How strange.  I love wearing funky clothes, especially t-shirts with funny sayings on them, and today’s purple shirt went exceedingly well with my bright orange shorts.  Has Bruce gone on a vacation, sort of missing in action?  I guess I’m allowed that once in awhile.

Happily, I didn’t adjust my wardrobe, and apparently went unnoticed by varied exercisers.  Soon I was flinging all body parts around on the elliptical.  I could feel stats rearing its lovely head (such as total distance covered in 30 minutes), and I tried to get my convalescing body to take it easy.  I was doing a moderate pace on the machine when I realized that I was feeling good.  “But, Bruce, what about an hour later?”  Ignoring this well-meaning but irritating voice, I sallied forth, and ended up doing 4.22 kilometres, the most I’ve done since Jody died.  “Okay, Bruce.  Now moderation.”  Well …

A few years ago at Gold’s Gym (now World Gym), I started loving Jacob’s Ladder.  You strap yourself in and step on a wooden rung, then the next one.  Basically you climb in place.  And it’s a workout.  So early this afternoon, there I was – attaching the belt.  Back in the good old days, the max I had been able to do was 400 feet.  Today I decided that 100 would be a worthy goal.  “Oh, Bruce.  Don’t wreck yourself.”  And I didn’t.  But I did do the 100 feet.

There’s the experience of being in the moment and then there’s pressing towards a goal.  This nice little Buddhist guy has decided to embrace them both.  Why not?  The world of Spirit (what I’ll call the formless) and the world of form (all the people, places and things we run into every day).  Let’s celebrate it all.  So yay for 4.22 and 100.  Nice round numbers.  And they look so good on me when I’m a lizard.