Okay, a skill-testing question:

What’s my favourite type of music?

If you know my history, you’d probably say Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga. I love those two … but you’d be wrong.

If you knew of my soujourns in Koerner Hall in Toronto, and my youth as a cello player, classical music might come to mind. I love symphonies with a full orchestra. But again you haven’t found the mother lode.

Are you ready?

Techno or EDM.

Driving beats, all electronic. Fabulous light shows. And dancing! I love the DJ Tiesto and the tunes he spins.

I’ve never been to an EDM festival. I suppose everyone will be twenty. I’ll dance like them but I’ll get tired faster. More breaks. And then back at it.

I arrived in Belgium ten days ago with visions of Tomorrowland in my heart. That’s the techno festival in the appropriately named town of Boom, in eastern Belgium.

Awhile ago I registered for Tomorrowland so I could have a chance of getting a ticket. The pre-sale (with discounted prices) was on January 28. Regular prices on February 4

“I’m going to Tomorrowland” sang in my heart.

I was all set at 5:00 pm on the 28th. I entered the ticket shop beforehand and then the process was random. I lounged on the sofa while staring at my Samsung screen. I waited. Eventually a sign showed up saying that all the discount tickets were sold. Come back next week.


On Saturday I was ready again. Surely they’ll be many thousands of tickets this time. Bruce and Boom sounded so good.

When I entered the ticket shop before 5:00, a sign told me not to refresh the page or I’d be shunted to the end of the line.

“I’m a smart guy. I can do that.”

5:05 … 5:10. Nothing. I got up to do something, phone in hand. My time in history was approaching!

As I sat down again, I glanced down at the screen. It was the Tomorrowland home page. I guess my jiggling and wiggling had refreshed the page.

“You, Mr. Bruce, are at the end of the line.”

(Sigh again)

The end of the story is that I’m not going to Tomorrowland in 2023.

What I am going to is a smaller EDM festival – Core, which will be for two days in late May in Brussels. What the hell! I’m going to dance with a few thousand fewer of my best friends.

Give me the dance, the lights, the bass notes roaming through my body. I’ll take Brussels, thank you.

Seeking the Past

A few days ago, when I was visiting Sharyn in Mannville, Alberta, I asked her if she’d be willing to drive me to Myrnam. Later, she told me that her first thought was “Why does he want to go there? It’s just an ordinary village.” Ha, ha! Perhaps this makes me strange, Sharyn.

Maybe thirty-five years ago, I was in this area of Alberta, visiting family. I crested the hill west of Myrnam just before sunset. A vast vista of rolling hills and ponds greeted me, bathed in a warm pinkish light. I was stunned by the beauty. And I’ve carried that sublime vision with me to Ontario and beyond. “Myrnam. Ahh.”

Now it’s 2019, and I’m approaching that hill once more, this time in the full light of day. But something’s wrong: there’s no vista, the light is flat, the gazing down seems blocked by trees. Where’s the magic? In response, I’m so disoriented. Did I make all this up? Have I held onto a lie all these years?


Yesterday, I drove down from near Edmonton to Lethbridge to visit Jody’s uncle Ray. Five hours of big sky and the sweet contours of the land. I booked a room in the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, a place of memories: Jody and I having a cocktail in the lounge in an interior courtyard full of towering trees and splendid flowering plants. The breakfast room full of conversation and slanting sun.

The current truth was different. The hotel is under reconstruction. Towering blue tarps reduce the lobby to a temporary front desk. The lounge in the courtyard is gone, replaced by rectangular tables apparently only used for the breakfast buffet. The room of vast windows is now an Italian restaurant, with tiny panes bringing in only a small fraction of the outside world. Who pulled away my memories?

And now I smile. Clinging to images of the past … and then letting them go. Silly goose. I vote for the future. After all, my eyeballs do point forward. What moments can we create together just beyond the horizon?

A Little Adventure

Why not create moments of oomph in my life?  And why not do it every day?

On Wednesday, I got an idea.  My neighbours Borot and Petra were about to leave on a 12-day Caribbean cruise.  They’d be spending a few days on the road before walking up the gangplank and they were so excited about it all.  Borot told me that they’d be setting off this morning sometime between 5:00 and 6:00.

So I did what any normal human being would do.  I bought a 20-pack of Timbits from my local Tim Hortons coffee shop.  They’re tiny donut balls – majorly yummy.  I went to bed early, setting the alarm for 4:15.  But I was too excited to sleep much.

After a morning shower, I brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed the Timbits, pulled on my winter coat, toque and mitts and sat down on the porch at 4:55.  I couldn’t wait for Petra’s garage door to start climbing.  I was ready to rush over with a Fare Thee Well present.

5:15.  Not a peep from two houses down.  Oh well.  The coffee’s good.  5:30.  The coffee’s cold so I rushed inside to the microwave, somehow believing that I could hear the garage door from my kitchen.  5:33.  Local human being bursts onto his porch, cup in hand.  Walks down the street.  Sees that there aren’t any lights on in Borot’s home.  Gosh, they better start showering soon.

5:45.  Nyet.  Those Timbits start looking good.  Then a possibility hits me: my friends left before 5:00.  Strangely, though I felt a twinge of disappointment at the prospect, I was almost giddily happy.  I’d never sat on my porch at this hour, watching pinkness grow in the east.  I was on a heroic quest but it didn’t seem to matter whether the result was produced.  The journey was lovely.

6:10.  Silence everywhere.  I imagined Petra and Borot zipping down the highway.  I thought of the Grade 6 kids I’d be visiting this afternoon.  I bet they like Timbits.  Twenty-seven children … twenty donut balls.  Oh, we’ll figure something out.

And we did.  Three kids were away.  A couple who were there didn’t want a donut.  The rest lined up in front of me and almost everyone thanked me for their little sphere of pleasure.  Two Timbits were left.  What if all three kids come back tomorrow?  Ahh, we’ll handle that too.

It was a fun day.  Here’s to many more.