You Must Unload

I was streaming home from my hair appointment, feeling several pounds lighter in the head.  As Southwestern Ontario moseyed by, I was remembering CBC Radio after having no radio in my life for six weeks.  This morning I was enjoying two hosts: Matt Galloway on The Current and Tom Power on Q.  Leading into a commercial break, one of the guys said “I’m going to play a song by Ry Cooder.  I’m not really sure why he wrote it.”

My new-to-me red car Ruby and I were getting reacquainted, and it took me a few seconds to grasp the lyrics.  When I did, they seeped inside easily.  The reference to “Christians” didn’t really hit home but the rest sure did:

Now you fashion-loving Christians sure give me the blues
You must unload, you must unload
You’ll never get to heaven in your jewel-encrusted high-heel shoes
You must, you must unload

And you power-loving Christians in your fancy dining cars
You must unload, you must unload
We see you drinking whiskey and smoking big cigars
You must, you must unload

For the way is straight and narrow and few are on the road
Brothers and sisters, there is no other hope
If you’d like to get to heaven and watch eternity unfold
You must, you must unload

Woh.  It’s not just hair that needs to be shorn once in awhile.  There is tightness in holding on to the image I’ve created for myself.  Bruce is this.  Bruce is not that.  There are “have tos” to the left and right, urging me down paths that are untrue to my essence.  There is owning this, learning that and including only certain other things.  There are cherished opinions, righteous indignation, and a Bruce-central approach to living.

Oh … there is much to unload so that I may watch eternity unfold.  And not only watch, but to fully participate in the revealing.


A diligent young student lived across the river from his Master.  One day the student sent an inspired enlightenment poem to his teacher, proudly announcing “Sitting still upon the purple golden lotus, the eight winds cannot move me.”  In response, the Master wrote the word “fart” across the poem and sent it back.

Full of indignation, the student rushed out of his house and ordered the ferry to take him quickly to the other shore.  Outraged, he felt he deserved an apology.  When he got to his Master’s door, he found a note saying “The eight winds cannot move me, and yet one fart blows me across the river.”  Deflated and humbled, the young student realized how blinded he was by his so-called spiritual “attainment”.

As recounted by Kittisaro, in Listening to the Heart, written by Kittisaro and Thanissara

[According to the Buddha, the eight winds are gain and loss, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute.]

It’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of seeing myself as special, evolved and wise.  After all, I’m now an author, right? …  Just so much blather.  Not at all what is true.  I choose to let go rather than puff up, to float rather than press, to smile at the heavens rather than wave my arms.

False modesty?  I don’t think so.  Those words aren’t even in the realm of my being.  All I have to do is look in your eyes, and hold my gaze there for a bit, to see that we’re the same, you and I.  The same wants, the same beauty, the same essence peeking out from behind our worldly clothes.

An Inside Job

I wonder what we look like on the inside.  I’ve turned the pages of anatomy textbooks and seen the jumble of muscle, blood vessels, organs and bone, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

If Spirit fills us all, it’s often not visible to the outside world. With many people, however, it does leak out into the atmosphere some.  But you have to be an alert observer to see it walking by you on the street.

Let’s say most of Spirit hangs out inside us somewhere.  Would it be in the brain, in the heart, tucked under my kneecap, or just spread liberally throughout the bod?  I wonder if an autopsy has ever come across patches of essence.

For the pathologist to catch sight of Spirit, it had better be some colour. How about red?  (That’s my favourite.)  Might get confusing, however, with all the blood that’s usually in the immediate vicinity.  Isn’t purple a common New Age colour? Perhaps that’s it.  Or … maybe you could reach under the spleen and find a pocket of rainbow – the full spectrum blended together, from Red to Orange to Yellow to Green to Blue to Indigo to Violet.  Maybe that’s how Spirit abides. And another thought: Is it possible that it can only be found in one human being on Earth – a certain Roy G. Biv?  No, that’s silly. Spirit is in all of us.

I also wonder whether the light of Spirit vibrates inside of me, or flashes, or if it’s a steady beam.  Relying on my knowledge of Christmas lights, I vote for steady.  The flashing types bother my brain, while a string of solid white lights looks so pretty in the falling snow.

These could be deep thoughts, or maybe shallow.  Whichever the case, please don’t go cutting into yourself to find the colours. Makes a mess and it hurts. Far better to let your pores shine out your goodness to the waiting world.