Day Four: Indoor/Outdoor

I’m sitting in Louis Armstrong Stadium at the US Open.  It seats 14,000 people but the ranks have been considerably thinned out tonight.  New York City is experiencing one heck of a rainstorm, and Louis Armstrong is … dripping.

There’s a squad of employees armed with 3-foot-long blowers, trying to demystify the court.  Seemingly a hopeless task.

The architect had a good idea to cope with the city’s sweltering summers.  Have two facing walls be louvered – like blinds.  So metal pieces are angled – low to the outside and high to the inside.  The cross breeze will cool off the spectators, and of course no rain can get in.

Except during this evening’s monsoon.

News flash!  The bowl of the stadium has been evacuated.  I put my umbrella up fast when the rains really busted through the levers, and within seconds it was inside out and angled to the wind.

Now I’m in an entrance to a washroom, huddled with about ten other folks … and not being rained on.  Convenient if ever I need to pee!

Now we’ve been ushered down to a lower level.  “It’s not safe up here!” says a staff member.  I consider that an exaggeration but who knows?

I figure that there’s no way that play will resume tonight so maybe I’ll mosey over to the subway.  Of course I haven’t looked outside recently.

Downpour!  Hundreds of us splashing through puddles and holding fast to our umbrellas.  Perhaps a thousand of us swishing our MetroCards and squeezing onto the subway platform bound for Manhattan.  No exaggeration.

Next in line for the day’s events is an announcement: There’s so much water on the tracks that we have to move to another (safer) platform.  So we slowly proceed there.   No shoving, and even a laugh here or there.

When I climb the stairs, I’m greeted by a subway train as full as you can imagine.  I have no idea how they’ll get the doors closed.  And – get this – the sardines on those cars stayed that way for a good twenty minutes, packed in, train staying put.

Finally the doors closed, squeezing folks in even more tightly, and they were off to the west.  Soon another train appeared and it was my turn.  We were pleasantly full but not within kissing distance.

I asked my neighbour how I would navigate the flow of humanity between me and the door when it was my stop.  She smiled and told me no problem – “New Yorkers move over.”  She was right.

There’s a pub called PJ Horgan’s a few doors down from my Airbnb and I’d wanted to visit. I walked in, talked to the bartender for a minute or two and then realized … “You’re soaked through. You’re cold. Go home.”

I followed instructions.


Large Family

I like being on FaceBook. I like watching movies on Disney Plus. Last week, I saw a way to unite the two … naturally the Disney Plus Facebook page.

I’m already on the Evolutionary Collective page. There are about one hundred folks doing this work (EC Core and EC Global – and I realize that most of you don’t know what that means. Another time.)

My second group appears to have 109,000 members. That’s a step up, at least in quantity. As I lay in bed last night, I asked myself what it means that I’m a part of something so immense. I noticed that lots of folks have posted, talking about some movie or asking questions of the multitudes. So … why not me? I’m good at asking questions.

I’m looking for movies on Disney Plus that portray kids as smart, kind and brave human beings. What do you suggest?

In the eighteen hours that followed, I’ve received about seventy responses. I wonder where in the world all those people live. I thank them all for making me real in the Disney universe and for extending a helping hand.

The first response I read was this:

That’s rather specific. I’m curious why. Anyways, luckily I can help. Big Hero 6, Meet the Robinsons and The Incredibles come to mind.

I volunteer in a Grade 6 class. I want to tell them “Go watch this”.

I answered a few more:

Iron Will. 17-year-old saves his family’s farm and gets the money for the college he was accepted into by racing and winning a sled dog race. Based on a true story. Highly recommend and don’t forget the tissues.

Thanks. The kids I volunteer with would have their eyes glued on a young person brimming with determination and love.

I adored the new Timothy Failure movie. Don’t judge the movie by its title lol, but it’s such a heart toucher. Had me in tears before the movie was even half over.

These kids need a heart toucher or two. Thank you.

Big Hero 6, Meet the Robinsons. And I don’t think it’s on Disney Plus but Shazam was pretty cool … kids (in their adult bodies but still kids) saving people … I loved it.

Thanks. I’ll find Shazam.

There is a short film Float … my daughter found it and habitually watches it every morning. Me being a teacher, I naturally cried, but she adores it and I think it’s very powerful in its message.

Perfect. Maybe the teacher will let me show it in class, especially since it’s short.


I just watched Float. Breakthrough! I’ll ask the teacher if the Grade 6’s can watch it.

Holes. That’s if you want something more realistic. It’s about a group of kids at a prison camp and focuses on the character Stanley Yelnats the Third.

Realistic is good. Thank you.


I just watched the trailer. There’s some huge power in that young boy.

I’m glad it grabbed your attention. I read the book in Grade 3 and in Grade 5 or 6 it came out. I was really impressed.


Mulan, Meet the Robinsons, Holes, Moana, Big Hero 6, Coco, Tangled, Queen of Katwe, Pocohontas, Pete’s Dragon (new version), Remember the Titans, Cool Runnings, The Incredibles, The Color of Friendship, Chronicles of Narnia.

Wow … that’s a lot! Thank you.

Ruby Bridges is about the first African-American child to desegregate a school in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960. It’s a great fit for African-American history month in the U.S.

Wow! I just watched the clip from Ruby Bridges. Immensely powerful. Thank you so much. I’ll find a way for the kids to see this.


So …

There’s a community of support here
Generous souls from who knows where
Just wanting to help

The kids thank you

Day Four: Giving and Receiving

As the Evolutionary Collective met this morning at Asilomar, I looked around the room at the beauty there. More than eighty of us sat as a coat of many colours, fine examples of both unity and uniqueness. I love the image of an ice cream cooler full of different tubs. I’d grab a spoon and dip into Rocky Road, then Pistachio, and how about some Pralines and Cream? All delicious.

Just before lunch, Patricia announced that we’d be receiving a gift. One member had created “bracelets for the women and key chains for the guys”, each emblazoned with the words “Awakened Love”. I smiled and then frowned. My heart wanted the bracelet. I don’t care about key chains. In January, Ali, a young Senegalese boy, had tied a glass bead bracelet around my wrist, a gesture so clearly of love. The first two nights I took it off to shower but then it hit me: this symbol will stay next to my skin till the day I die.

Today I approached the giver of jewelry and asked if I could have a bracelet instead of the key chain. She thought she had an extra one in her room so the future looked bright. Minutes later, a woman showed up with just what I wanted. Turns out that one of the female participants wanted a key chain! Later, at lunch, Cindy rushed up to celebrate. She had her treasure and I had mine. Both of us had been brave in asking for a change … and the universe smiled on our intentions.

Other moments of grace:

1. I had a big sunburn from yesterday, and no sunscreen. Denise noticed my dilemma. Seeing that I was about to head to the beach after lunch, she pointed to the goop that she had kindly brought to the meeting room.

2. On an evening walk, Lara played us a phone call she just received from her young daughter back east. “Goodnight, mommy. Please come home soon.” It’s a keeper.

3. I’ve been seeing a counsellor to deal with past traumas. She’s at the conference. When I was feeling so very small this afternoon, I reached out to her for five minute of coaching. I left her with compassion for myself that I sometimes get triggered and immediately go into a knee jerk collapse. I celebrated that I brought myself back within a couple of hours.

4. About thirty of us went down to the beach this evening to see the sunset. The big ball popped below the cloud cover just before diving beneath the horizon. It wasn’t a grand show. The grandness was in our eyes, which often turned from the sun to each other. We were together. That was enough.


Simple moments, full of grace. Enough to fill a day with quiet satisfaction.

Day Three: And So We Begin

I walked out of my door this morning to the scent of wood. There’s a pool at the motel and workers are erecting a fence around it. It’s redwood, and the smell was sweet. I just stood and breathed it in, and life entered as well. There is great beauty available on the inhale.

The fence is composed of long horizontal boards, with a few inches of air separating each piece. From the window table of the breakfast room, I gazed at the design. The walls create the feeling of sanctuary but the openness allows contact with the world beyond. And we humans need both: a sense of home, of safety, as well as the need to reach out to others. I love symbols.

Kaitlyn and Ryan were back for breakfast and I was looking forward to talking to them again. Although they were friendly, they said no to my request to join them. As I watched them head to their room, I was sad. I felt the intentional distance. And I wished them well, knowing I’ll probably never see them again.

This afternoon, we members of the Evolutionary Collective begin our adventure. We’re at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a collection of old stone and wood buildings created by Julia Morgan, one of the first women to break through the glass ceiling of architecture. And breakthroughs in our lives are possible for all of us over the next five days. Perhaps one hundred people will share the consciousness that is both personal and global, timeless and evolutionary, raucous and sublime. What will come to be? I don’t know.


I walked my suitcase to Asilomar this morning, and greeted kindred souls in the lobby. I knew there would be an online mutual awakening practice at noon, where we see each other in little rectangles on our screens. I decided to bolt for the beach with my smartphone. One boardwalk looked like it would go there, and I sallied forth. Sand dunes full of tiny exotic plants came my way. As I walked at some distance from the resort, I finally figured out that the boardwalk was climbing. 11:48. Push on or admit defeat? I stood for a bit, and soon was retracing my steps.

Another boardwalk seemed to be seeking water. 11:54. I trotted across 17 Mile Drive and there was the expanse of sand. Rocks to the right at the water’s edge. I plunked down on a fairly flat one and checked out what the worldwide folks would see, using selfie view. Yes! Waves rolling ashore and bubbling up on rocks. At 12:00, my friends from here, there and everywhere got to see the Pacific.

I could only hold up my phone for so long and then I dropped my arms, leaving people seeing me and the sky. After a little rest, here came the seascape again. And the pattern repeats. I was determined to give my best, to have the world see the beauty. Along the way, young families strolled by. I loved the wee little kids. And surfers in wet suits. And a school class eager to dig for tiny crabs. All of us together.


Now it’s late. There were 86 of us in the room, including 13 newbies to this depth of the work, including me. We did a practice where groups of five EC Core members would beam love to us new guys. All told, I got to stand and sit in front of thirteen groups of fine souls. At the end of it all, I knew I belonged, in a way that also thoroughly respected my uniqueness.


I am very tired. Time for bed, my friends. See you on the morrow.

Day Six: Lost and Found

I spent much of Saturday in a compression, feeling the world crushing me.  I was small, almost invisible, and the dangers of life were towering over me.  Traumas of the past came rushing in and the future was invisible.  All was lost.

I woke up early Sunday morning and just lay there for an hour.  In my mind, I saw a little boy sitting on the floor, arms pressing upwards to ward off the terrors.  I lay there and loved him.  I didn’t furrow my brow and force him to lower his hands.  He was doing what he needed to do.  It was such a new experience, not trying to fix things, to turn my world into roses and champagne.  Just being with what was true in the moment.

And lo and behold, there was peace.  There was breathing again.  Within the slowing, the little kid remained, still pressing hard.  I smiled, the first for many hours.

When the seminar started a few hours later, I spoke to the group about little Bruce.  I told the folks that I was scared of them.  “Scared” says it so much better than “afraid”.  And my friends in the chairs were with me.  One person said “Your voice if different.”  Over the day, I received several “Welcome Back”s.  I was alive again, powerful again, connected again.

I need to address the drowning eight-year-old boy, to look him straight in the eye.  One of the leaders of the Evolutionary Collective is a psychologist and I will meet her on video conference for as many sessions as needed to make friends with my moments of terror.  I’ll do this not to be a better person but to ensure that far more of me is available for other human beings.

On I go.


It’s the flow of it all that’s so magical.  I’m in awe of the leans, the little jumps, the tentative spins.  Tonight was the Carnival presented by the young people of the Belmont Skating Club, and I got to be there.

Parents, grandparents, friends and the rest of us seemed to cheer every little glimpse of excellence in the routines of the four-year-old and the fourteen-year-old.  There were tumbles.  There were ending flourishes held high before the applause.  It was just plain lovely.

I watched “Jenny”, a twelve-year-old girl in the class where I volunteer.  She swooped and swirled on the ice, bending her body every whichway as she moved to the music.  There was grace and power and dancing hands.  A few minutes later, Jenny was back out there as a “program assistant” , encouraging the tiny ones dressed in green.  For me, her cheering was just as special as the flow of her solo work.  Create beauty and then assist others to do the same.

I love several of the solo skaters.  I know them.  And after tonight I also know them in a new way … expressing their passion, telling stories with their legs, their arms and their smiles.  I was so proud of my young friends.

A visiting troupe of synchronized skaters graced the ice as well.  These twelve- to sixteen-year-olds formed three trios and  pushed forwards and backwards together like the Snowbirds precision pilots in air shows.  The movements backward especially took my breath away.  Those were such symbols of transcendence.

I applauded eleven soloists and several group acts, which were mostly young kids.  The individual skaters were all girls.  I enjoyed their artistry immensely.  At the same time, I missed the presence of boys.  I know they’re off playing hockey but I dream of the time when they also explore the melody of dance.

“Marcy” is a student I volunteered with two years ago.  She performed to the music of “Always Remember Us This Way”, from the movie A Star Is Born.  The lyrics skated beside her:

Lovers in the night
Poets trying to write
We don’t know how to rhyme
But, damn, we try
But all I really know
You’re where I wanna go
The part of me that’s you will never die 

Marcy told the story.  We looked on in wonder.

Day Twelve: It’s All About the Kids

When I’ll remember this trip to Senegal, it’s possible that the overwhelming image in my mind will be looking deep into the eyes of the children. Such as today. Lieselot, Sabrine, Anja, Curd, Camille, Olivia and I are staying at the bed and breakfast, and this morning we walked over to Lydia and Jo’s home. As we came through the gate, Iced Tea’s daughter Nima was sweeping grass off the dirt of the front yard. The broom was so much bigger than her, but she was brushing for all she was worth.

The big group of us walked over to the store. In front stood an old man named Moustafa and his donkey Black. On the cart behind were many bags of rice, to be distributed by us to fifteen families whose children Lydia and Jo sponsor.

We set off to the first home. I said hi to lots of people throughout the morning, some of whom spoke only French and a Senegalese dialect, and others who only knew the local language. No matter. We made meaning.

Aziz, one of Jo and Lydia’s kids, took my hand as we walked and held on for half an hour or more. Father and son in my mind. Wow. Aziz’s older brother Ansou walked with us for awhile, often flashing a wide smile.

In front of one home, the family had a darling little girl. Several of us took turns holding her. Me too. What a treasure in my arms.

Mareama helped me yesterday to have a pair of Senagalese pantaloons made, and today she and I picked them up from the tailor. As you’ll see from the pic, I’m basically a handsome African fellow.

We’ll talk again soon.

Light Without … Light Within

I’m so much enjoying being online with members of the Evolutionary Collective Global Community.  We often reach a consciousness together that includes all and loves all.  Really, it’s addictive to be with other human beings in this expansive way, where I look through my laptop screen and see my brother or sister.

So … I was going to a concert last night at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in downtown Toronto.  It was a fundraising event for the Wounded Warriors, an organization committed to supporting veterans of combat, and first responders, who are walking the rough road of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The concert started at 8:00 pm.  Our EC call was scheduled from 7 to 8.  Google Maps showed me that there was a small park across the street from the hall.  “I’ll go there, be with my friends for fifty minutes or so, and then rush to my seat.”  How strange, part of my brain said.  Sounds like an addiction to me.  And I guess it is – an addiction to loving.

I found a bench in a well-lighted area of the park.  The Selfie view on my camera showed me that there was a lot of light falling on my face.  In fact, there was a lot of light everywhere.  The buildings were aglow, especially one which had a huge mural on its side, suggesting gift wrapping paper being pulled away to reveal the treasure within.  Yes, the image was surreal.  I thought of rearranging myself to offer a more neutral background but some deep part of me said no.

Just as the call was starting, with folks from all over showing up on my screen, a fellow came up to me:

“Can you spare some change?”

I said no.

“How about $20.00?”

“No, I don’t want to do that.”

“You need to give me money.”  (A louder and closer voice)

“No thank you.”

His face contorted and he moved still closer.

I walked away … briskly.

I was carrying my phone as I escaped and no doubt the online folks experienced flashes of pavement and grass.  A minute later, I was back to my spot and my aggressive companion was nowhere to be seen.

I guess my sudden departure scared people.  Sorry, folks.  “Nicole”, our hostess for the call, asked me if I was okay, if I was safe.  I said yes, with a big sigh bubbling up.


Soon it was time for the 1-1 portion of the call.  As I talked to “Ben”,  my fear began to fade.  We both marvelled at all the folks who were strolling by my bench.  I worried that me holding up the phone would look like I was videoing them, but then that contraction also floated away.

Somehow, and magically, both Ben and I experienced Toronto strangers as a flow of brothers and sisters.  They were with us, not against us.  And the lights of all these buildings in downtown Toronto seeped into our collective hearts.  I was the source of my well-being.  The gentleman wanting money didn’t carry the day.  I did.  And there was goodness all around me.

I say no
An inclusive future beckons us

Day Seven: Honorary American

I was so taken with the Waffle House restaurant that I decided yesterday to visit another of their stores – on the way from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio. Maple syrup and me!

I walked in the door and was soon greeted by all four employees: Jess, Juanita, Annabelle and Ashley. Four smilers. Beyond my menu choices was true contact – American to Canadian and right back atcha.

We joked around, I sang “O Canada” and other customers joined in the chuckling. How can I feel so at home in a chain restaurant hundreds of kilometres from home? Easy, when it’s populated by human beings.

As my mouth is waffling its way through breakie, Juanita appears with … a gift. It was a little paper hat, adorned with the stars and stripes. I was being declared an honorary American! Thank you, Juanita. I wore it proudly, both then and in Scarlet on the freeway.

And then it was time to hit the road. I exhibited the beginnings of wallet-emerging behaviour but Annabelle cut me off at the pass. “It’s on us.” I felt the twinges of protest but they blew away in the breeze. “Thank you.” We all waved goodbye … honorary and honoured, planetary human beings.

On to Columbus, a smile firmly planted on my face. Partway there, I pulled into a Shell station to get online with Evolutionary Collective folks. “Wear the hat, Bruce.” So I did. Soon, five other people were placing hats atop their heads – a ball cap, a couple of toques, a wide-brimmed jobbie and (from our friend in France) a beret. Well-hatted, we opened the hour with our companions. Sweet.

We affect each other
We see each other
We love each other

Day Six: The Riders

Today has arrived. I’m here in St. John’s to welcome the Tour du Canada riders as they climb Signal Hill and complete their cross-country trip to the tune of 7600 kilometres. These cyclists are my heroes.

I’m sitting in the Bagel Café, a few blocks from the start of the climb. I have my lawn chair and my feet are ready to go. I’ll talk to you at the top, or earlier if I’m pooped.


At the top! Complete with a pounding heart. It’s so humbling to be far less fit than I was two months ago … oh well. It’s still a fine life.

I’m pretty sure that Webster, when he was doing research for his dictionary, found the definition of “steep” on Signal Hill. An old gentleman, not from the tour, was riding his bicycle up the 10 to 15% grades. Later I saw him descend and I tried to warm him with applause. He didn’t acknowledge me at all. Once I was settled beside the ancient tower at the very top, I glanced over to the parking lot and saw him again. My goodness – he was doing laps!

On my way up, I passed lots of folks walking down. I decided to say the same dumb thing to each one of them: “You’re not even breathing hard!” Most of them smiled. That’s the thing about people new to me: they’ve never heard my silly lines before.

A few minutes after plunking my lawn chair down out of the wind, I see two more bicycles crest the parking lot. And these ones have the telltale TdC reflective triangles under the seats! I hurry down the path to the smiles and handshakes of Tony and Chris. So glorious to see them again. Neither has words yet for what the tour has meant to them. That’ll come.

Jim from Colorado is the next rider to top the hill. I head out into the wind with my hood up and sidle up to him. “Nice day to finish riding across the country.” “Yes it is, Bruce.” So much for surprising him. We stood on top of the tower and talked about the journey and about how very much Jim longs to be back with his wife Margaret. A little smile.

An hour later, there’s a whole string of cyclists climbing the hill. As they reach the top and dismount, the world is full of smiles and hugs and handshakes. I join in. “So happy to see you.”

The wind whips letters off a poster that family have created. “Congratulations, Carolyn” becomes “Con ratulatio s, arolyn.” A great family portrait ensues.

Then there’s Paul’s crew, all the way from Nanaimo, B.C. Large orange signs laud the achievements of “Paul/dad”. Three women are beaming at the man.

Soon it’s time for the group portrait. Nineteen cyclists, Bud our tour director and Grant our truck driver pose in front of the tower. I look on from afar, bittersweetness filling my mouth. Congratulations, my friends. May your monumental achievement touch the rest of your lives. I was part of your family for awhile. In fact, I’ll be part of your family forever.

Tonight’s the Tour du Canada banquet. I’m going. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Sleep tight.