When I’m driving in London towards downtown, there’s a spot where the speed limit drops from 60 kilometres per hour to 50. It’s two lanes in each direction. I stay in the right lane, doing 50 or a bit more. In my better moments, I feel the world and my place in it.
Usually traffic bunches up behind me and there’s a steady flow of cars zooming past in the left lane. Their speed is around 70 kph. Vehicles behind me look for an opportunity to jerk left. The car directly to my rear is probably right on my bumper.
I feel the pull of the 70 and the urge to fit in. It’s a powerful force. Be like them. Don’t have them honk at me. Be invisible. So seductive. But there’s another pull that’s far sweeter. Be thoroughly myself. Feel Scarlet move at 50. Fell the rhythm that doesn’t seem available at a far faster speed. Feel a sense of uniqueness. Feel myself flowing with life, in sync, carried by a force that I can’t name.
And then there’s the rest of my day – away from roads and traffic. Can I feel into the rhythms that support me in conversation, in eating, walking and volunteering at school? Or do I let myself be pushed into someone else’s version of reality?
I choose to avoid toxic talk and the sense of being rushed. I choose to linger with my fellow man and woman, to give the truth of the other person time to emerge. My eyes can settle on other eyes rather than swerving from target to target. My reality isn’t all crammed together. I feel space around me. I move with grace.
The pull of the left lane has largely faded away. I’m happy.
I sat down to meditate this afternoon. In my meditation chair in my bedroom. And opened my eyes again two hours and fifty minutes later. I’d never experienced anything like it.
Within a few minutes (I guess), everything stopped. My head dropped. I was fully aware but there was this huge space inside my head. Thoughts would occasionally come but they had no power. All was quiet.
Sometimes I had the thought “I should stop.” But why? I was in my comfy chair. No back pain. Slumping into a deep silence. Keep going. Keep letting it unfold.
Two hours later, I had to pee, and the feeling built. Eventually I gave in and opened my eyes. Almost three hours.
How long could I have gone on? I don’t know. With pre-urination, I suppose it could have been hours more.
Everything was so quiet. I heard the snowplow outside, dealing with the winter dump of snow. The furnace came on. Nothing was important. Time stretched on effortlessly.
Sometimes there were words. “Love.” And that brought a little smile to my face. “I am free.” And the head bowed again. The sweetest times were when I was in love with people. Less so when I felt into my ease. But all of it was fine.
This is a very long time. No tension. Just floating. “Please don’t have this end” sat beside “It’s perfectly fine when this ends.” They were friends.
It’s by grace that all this came upon me. Will it ever come back again, to the tune of 2:50? Maybe not. But what a blessing for a Friday afternoon. Thank you, o mysterious powers of the universe.
I haven’t felt like writing for several days, and so I didn’t write. To just let that be is difficult for me. What if in the next year I only blog once a week? I struggle not to label that as “bad”.
In my worst moments, I visualize having nothing to say for the rest of my life. But I know me … that simply is not true. Something out in the world will get my attention and then I’ll find a way to relate it to my life. So there.
I was driving in St. Thomas yesterday when I noticed a little black object way up high straight ahead of me. A squirrel was scampering along the power line that stretched across the road. Then he stopped, apparently eating something. In a flash I was under him and gone, but he has stayed with me.
Mr. Squirrel was so calm up there. Just dipsydoodling his way above the madding crowd. I imagined myself on a rope, suspended above the gorge near Niagara Falls, holding on to my long pole for dear life. Absolute terror! Now it’s true that I don’t have the skill, and that I could possibly develop it, but to perform such a feat with my new friend’s ease? Impossible.
What if I could hum my way through some activity that many people would find hugely difficult? Do I do anything like that? Well … now that you mention it … I’m writing this blog post. Some folks, in contemplating the creation of words that will later fly off into cyberspace, would feel the same terror. And although I’ve been in a scribing lull lately, when I do sit down with my laptop, I trust that I’ll have something to say, that the words will come. Such as right now. This paragraph is over. I don’t know what the next one will be about. And that’s okay.
“Celebrate, Bruce, that you can write with ease. It’s all right if the quality is not so good on a certain day. There’ll be plenty of really good posts. Just let those fingers do the walking.” And so I will.
I woke up this morning with the most vivid dream in my mind. You were in my mind, my dear Jodiette.
I seemed to be at a world’s fair, lots of pavilions and shops scattered over rounded green hills. Exquisite. But I had lost my shoes. I searched through lots of them at store entrances … but nothing. I was sad. Strangely uprooted.
But there was a beautiful girl with me. (I do believe that her name was Jody!) She smiled at me so warmly. Our eyes met for so long. She didn’t care that I was shoeless. It didn’t diminish me at all in her eyes. I was Bruce, and that was just fine. We held hands in the shops and we meandered from display to display. Sometimes, in a big store, Jody went one way and I went another. Just as in “real” life, I was happy, knowing that Jody was somewhere in here and sooner or later I would round a corner and there would smile my beloved.
As we roamed the aisles of one shop together, I reached over to examine some article. I turned to Jody … and she was gone. I searched the whole place. Still gone. And the neighbouring shops. Still gone. Such horrible sadness to lose my beloved.
Still wandering, I came upon a tight space. It was a dead end, surrounded by rough wooden walls. And then I was face to face with a bearded gatekeeper. He was a gruff guy who started lecturing me about the need to invigorate. Huh? And then he let me pass.
Awakened. Unexpectedly happy. After all, I had just lost my wife in L.L. Bean or some such place. I lay there in bed, knowing that I had only lost the physical form of my dear girl. The gatekeeper had let me pass through … to where? Some realm, I know, where Jody and I are together – right now and always. A realm where I don’t even need any shoes. For I’m walking on air.
“Some days are diamonds.” So sang John Denver. And I had one of those days just before Christmas. It all happened at Costco.
I walked in feeling light and left the same way. It’s such a mystery why this happens. Mostly my life has been heavy lately, crying and crying for my wife Jody. But then …
I walked over to the photo department, hoping to bug my friend Tara. But she wasn’t working that day. Instead I said hi to Melissa, a woman I hadn’t met before. I was carrying my trusty chocolate waffle cone, and licking copious amounts of the good stuff. Suddenly, with no thought involved, I threw the cone into the air, I watched it peak at maybe twelve feet and come plummeting down … into my right hand. Nice catch. Part of the cone shattered and the ice cream flowed down my hand. Another employee got a paper towel and offered me the use of their sink. I just stood there, though, marvelling at what had happened. I’m not interested in knowing why I did it. I’m just happy that I did. As for Melissa, she seemed fascinated with the moment.
Earlier I had been sitting at the snack bar, enjoying a hot dog and Diet Coke. A woman sat at the next table, with her three young granddaughters. After a few minutes of conversation, I asked the older girls if they’d heard of the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. They said yes. “Would you like me to recite it to you?” Yes again. I told them that I had learned to recite it really fast. “Fast or slow?” “Fast.” And so I launched into Santa’s story. My record is one minute and twenty-eight seconds. The girls’ faces were full of antonishment, but nowhere near as much as grandma’s. After a rip-roarin’ “And to all a good night”, it was smiles all around. I’ve said the poem to thousands of kids and they always loved Speedy Twas.
Sooner rather than later, it was time to leave my blessed Costco. There was a woman sitting at the front, collecting money for the Salvation Army, I think. I made a contribution and got talking to her. From out of the blue, a question poured from my mouth: “Would you like to sing ‘O Canada’?” She said yes. So we serenaded the incoming and outgoing shoppers with our national anthem. As I remember, no one smiled … except us!
And then it was off into the twilight, humming along. An hour of ease and fun. Would that all my days be so.