Just Opening My Mouth

Why not?  What’s the purpose of keeping it shut, worried about what some person might think?  Silly.  Let the real Bruce flow.  Some will love me for it.  Some will be disgusted.  Some will be afraid.  I welcome them all.

Halfway through this morning, the bell rang to announce the beginning of recess.  I mentioned to Jeremy that I was going to Toronto next week to see the same concert twice: a tribute to the Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers, who died of smoke inhalation in a plane in 1983.  Perhaps strangely (you decide), I’m doing the same thing this week, with the target of my affection being Leonard Cohen.

Jeremy didn’t know Stan’s music but immediately went to YouTube for the song I mentioned, one that some people think should replace “O Canada” as our national anthem: Northwest Passage.

Ah, for just one time
I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea

Tracing one warm line
Through a land so wide and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea

Three or four kids had stayed in at recess, working on their poetry homework.  Hearing Stan’s deep baritone voice again sent me away.  I started singing the chorus … full-throated, nothing held back.  It was Stan and me and the kids.  A couple of them gaped.  One smiled.  I kept singing.  At one point, I was so happy that I threw my cell phone about three feet in the air (and caught it on the way down).  Not a wise move, I agree, but the feeling of free coursed through me.  My cells were singing too.

Next was The Mary Ellen Carter.  I sang.  Then 45 Years (Stan’s love song to his wife).  I sang.  Kids watched.  All was well.

***

Tonight was the Quarter Auction at the arena.  Two hundred women and me.  Actually, there was another guy.  He was one of the many vendors spread around the perimeter of the room.  These folks were selling cool stuff for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.  Not a single item for the garage.  That’s okay.  As a general statement, I like women more than men.

Each item to be auctioned required a bid of a quarter or two.  Then we’d hold up our paddles and see if our number was called.  I sat with “Barb” and her two daughters plus two of her friends.  I kept putting too many quarters in the little bowl, just for fun.  When my companions weren’t looking, I’d slip quarters into their little purses, just for fun.  And when the announcer corrected herself from “Ladies” to “Ladies and One Gentleman”, I leapt up with a “Yes!”  That was fun, too.

Towards the end of the evening,  I heard “78”, which just happened to be my number.  I jumped up, slammed my paddle on the table and skipped over a woman holding the necklace I’d won.  People cheered and laughed.  Me too.

There was a gorgeous blue stone set in the pendant.  Since I didn’t have a thing to wear with it, I gave it to one of Barb’s daughters.  She smiled.  Me too.

***

So it’s been a day.

I might as well throw myself out there into the world.  What’s there to lose?  Maybe blending, shrinking, averaging.  I can let those go.  Expressing is far more fun.

 

Being Written

I’ve been doing this blog for more than four years, and 750 posts later I’ve discovered a few things:

1.  Whenever I sit down at my laptop to write, a post is revealed.  Maybe I have a clear picture of the future words, or maybe nothing has come to me.  Either way, I trust deeply that my inner me will express itself in some manner.

2.  I write about what moves me, whether it’s silly or serious.  If the topic doesn’t “sing” to me, why bother?  Sometimes I feel a narrowing of my forehead skin and a pursing of the lips … signs that I’m engaged.   A quickening of the heart.

3.  Increasingly, I don’t care what you folks in cyberland think of my thoughts.  First of all, I have no idea how many of you there are.  “Likes” are nice but that’s just small ego stuff.  Even if you don’t enjoy what I have to say, I figure I’m planting seeds that will somehow enhance life on Earth.  “That sounds egotistical, Bruce.”  Oh well.  I don’t think it is but if I’m perceived that way by some, that’s okay.  I deeply want to contribute but even if you’re all sitting there shaking your heads, I’ll keep writing.

4.  I’ve read a lot in my life, and my posts often reflect what someone else has said.  Works for me.  But beyond that, what brand new things can I bring to this existence?  Yes, brand new.  I think it’s in me, and in you, to bring new flowers to blossom.

All right, how about a quote, from one of my faves – Teilhard de Chardin:

I would like to speak as I think, without concern for what is accepted, with the sole idea of translating as faithfully as possible what I hear murmuring in me like a voice or song, which are not of me, but of the World in me.  I would like to express the thoughts of a man who, having finally penetrated the partitions and ceilings of little countries, little coteries [groups that are exclusive of others], little sects, rises above all these categories and finds himself a child and citizen of the Earth.

Often, such as tonight, the words flow from my fingers without much thought.  It feels like I am being written.  It feels like I’m a conduit for something big.

Okay, Bruce, that’s enough musing.  Just publish the darn thing.

Visible

To be seen or not to be seen? Especially when I have no smile in me and my thoughts seem like bouncing balls in the basement of my mind. Or maybe I’m within the crush of life and the world is pressing down hard. Aren’t those the times when pulling the covers over my head would be prudent?

Speaking of which, who ever came up with that word “prudent”? The dictionary calls it “showing care and thought for the future”. Okay then … I disagree with myself. Being prudent sounds like a fine thing to do.

Hmm. Maybe this moment is a good illustration. Shouldn’t I just delete my righteous pronouncement about the word “prudent” in the interest of maintaining my dignity?

Speaking of which, who ever came up with that word “dignity”? (No, no Bruce. Don’t go there again.)

Now, where was I? Getting rid of the prudent and dignity discussion … so I look better. Naw. There’s no value in that. Picking out the good parts and hiding the naughty bits is a strange way to be visible. There’s contraction all around if I venture down that road.

What if I allowed the cool and uncool elements of Bruce to be plastered on some neon sign (such as this blog) and truly got that I’m the same as you – chock full of virtues and foibles, insights and nonsense, transcendence and stumbles? Well … perhaps that would be deeply okay.

Maybe I’m on this dear planet Earth to express myself, and then do it some more. So – write, speak, sing, smile, frown, bliss out and get pissed off. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe some other folks would see me as a worthwhile example of letting it all hang loose.

I’m participating in a global community of consciousness explorers. It’s called the Evolutionary Collective, and members of the group can meet live online as many as five times a week. Last night, Patricia Albere, the founder of the EC, asked for a volunteer to do the “mutual awakening practice” with her. The practice is a 1-1 half hour where the partners answer the question “What are you experiencing right now?”

I froze.

I’d shared in the group many times but this would be hugely different. I’d be groping my way into whatever I was experiencing, with an audience of forty people or so. And I was terrified. It felt just as horrifying as riding my bicycle beside those semitrailers three weeks ago.

I didn’t volunteer and fell into an agonizing pit of self-loathing. I love myself regularly, but not then.

I was not willing to be seen, in all my potential beauty and warts. (Sigh) As the clouds darkened and brooded, I sank lower. Thoughts jumbled. Fear screamed. And then – wonder of wonders – a tiny shaft of sun poked through. Somehow, somewhere, I was all right. The past moment of hiding away didn’t have to create a future of seclusion.

Next Tuesday evening, Patricia will be in the online session again. She expects to ask for more volunteers to do the practice with her. I’ll answer the call. Of course she may pick someone else but my triumph will be clicking the “Raise Hand” button.

On I go in my life. Participate or hide out. Express or fall silent. Live with huge sweeping strokes or tiny jagged lines. I get to choose.

Energy Out At School

The energy that I throw out into the world is infinitely more important to me than the energy that comes in.  People will respond to me as they choose, or not respond at all.  I have no control over that.  But I can create intentions and then follow through with the skillful actions that I want folks to receive.

I was volunteering today in the Grade 5/6 class at South Dorchester School.  It was basically assembly and party day before the Christmas break.  And I wanted to express.

During the carol sing and brain teaser contests, there was room for me to read “Twas The Night Before Christmas” to the 200 kids.  I sat in a rocking chair and moved from page to page, with the illustrations beamed to the screen behind me.  The real action was what comes next.  Many of the children knew what I was about to do but it was a surprise for most.  After I finished reading, I said “You know, I’ve read this story for years.  I wonder if I could do it without the book.  Do you think I should try?”  Lots of yeses from the assembled clan.  “Okay, but you need to be patient with me.”  Gosh, it was a perfect setup.

I got up from the chair and leaned towards the kids and then launched into Twas at superspeed.  My record is 1 minute and 3 seconds.  Young eyes widened as I ran all the words together, and mouths turned into little o’s.  The kids who had heard me before were just laughing.  Such happiness for me, and for many of the young souls I was facing.

I love creating moments, really to animate moments, as in bringing them alive with something special.  This morning’s Twas certainly qualified.  May I have many more such experiences before I exit the stage.

During the class’ afternoon party, while being jolted with cupcakes, candy canes and marshmallow/rice krispies treats, I asked Tiffany if I could sing a song.  I wanted to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, leaving out the verse with a sexual theme.  Tiffany said yes.  A week ago, the trustworthy voice in my head told me that I would sing the song to a roomful of people “in the near future”.  Well, twenty 10- and 11-year-olds certainly is a roomful.

Before performance time I got nervous, worried that I might start the song at too low a note, so that I wouldn’t be able to reach the deep “Hallelujah” note later on.  I told Tiffany that I wasn’t going to do it, and almost immediately my insides started churning.  I had just made a choice that wasn’t life affirming, wasn’t brave, and my body didn’t like it.  A girl sitting next to me (I’ll call her Mary) told me “You can do it, Mr. Kerr.”  So I flipped one more time, this time back to courage.

I haven’t memorized the words to “Hallelujah” so I stood up with cell phone in hand and gave ‘er!  I started on a note that was a bit too high, so no worries about the deep note later but some wavering on the high ones.  It didn’t matter.  I didn’t care and the kids didn’t care.  They sung the choruses with me.

I survived.  I thrived.  I expressed … with an energy that I believe reached some of those kids.  It feels like I’m building up the “out there” muscle.  And that makes me happy.  The world needs more personal expressions, more inspiration  and more courage.  I’m willing.

Dive Deep

I met a woman today, plus her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.  I won’t give you details except that she had dancing eyes and a lovely smile.

Afterwards I watched myself create future worlds, centred on the dubious possibility of happily-ever-after.  I’m such a funny duck (not sure if it’s funny ha-ha or funny ooo).  But really I don’t mind my own company.  My mind seems to have a mind of its own and I’ve decided to give it free rein.

I want to be with a woman who’s spontaneous and giddy with life, and if I can’t find such a one then I’ll go with a man like that …me!  With those standards, am I willing to be alone if no one of such ilk comes my way?  Yes.

I can’t control how other folks respond to me but I can choose what I put out into the known universe.  So …

Bye bye shy
Bye bye grumpy
Bye bye woe

There.  That feels better

Boogie through my days
Welcome the yays and nays
See who stays

Jolt In The Darkness

I went to a movie yesterday at the Hyland Cinema in London.  It’s such a cozy place and shows real stories with real people.  I was settling into the Coming Attractions.  And then …

“We can hear you talking from over here!”

The voice from behind was female and snarly, and was aimed at someone on the far side of the theatre.  I forgot about the upcoming movie.

What washed over me was sadness.  It was such a violent outburst.  And I don’t want any violence in my life.  But nor do I want to hear chatting moviegoers while I’m sinking into the film.

One choice is whether to speak up when something’s not right.  I say yes.  Suppressing myself surely withers my internal organs along with my psyche.  I’ve spent too much time in my life not saying what’s true for me.

But how to do it?  I fear confrontations.  In this situation, I would have left the theatre and asked an employee to speak to the yapper.  Once, at a concert, I said “Please don’t talk while the singer is performing” to the people beside me, and that felt good.  Plus nobody hit me.

If I’m to continue making a difference in this world, I need all of me available for the next person I meet.  Shutting myself down won’t get the job done.  So I will express, with caring and without antagonism.

 

Handwriting

I’ve often wondered about my handwriting and what it says about me.  I look back at some of my high school textbooks, and the notes I made in the margins.  Everything is sharp angles, sort of tortured-looking.  I remember being pretty happy as a teenager, except when it came to acne.  Boy, I had a case of it!  Is that what all those straight and fractured lines were about?

As an intinerant teacher of visually impaired students, at least before I had grown a laptop on my fingertips, I walked around countless classrooms with an 8.5 x 11″ lined pad of paper as my weapon of choice.  Okay, not a weapon, but I sure scribbled like a madman.  Reams of paper, with the script unintelligible to others, and sometimes to me.  I created frantic slashes of ink, afraid to miss a single salient point about the Grade 5 kid with cataracts.  Somehow, I later wrote reasonably cogent reports about said children.

Another venue for my pen-like expressions were, and still are, 3 x 5″ index cards, on which I have purported to record the collective wisdom of mankind, as revealed in a ton of spiritual and philosophic books.  Sitting in my man chair, relaxing through chapter after chapter, I knew there’s no hurry, so I expected that my handwriting would flow like the blessings of the universe.  Nope.  Instead, another type of penmanship showed up.

Despite the peace which I’ve usually felt as I’ve contemplated thoughts for the ages, my hand does not follow suit.  Too often, I cross t’s and dot i’s before the whole word has been revealed.  I have trouble with the “ng” combo at the end of words.  Recording those letters should be a graceful experience.  Instead, my hand stutters as I try to make the end of the “n” reach towards the top of the “g”.  My pen dives down rather than up, in a spasm of jerkiness.

As I near the right end of the card, I try to cram more words in, while I could just leave lots of space as I wander onto the next line.  The same when I’m nearing the end of the whole card.  More!  More!  Stuff it in.  How very silly, and worrisome, to me.  What kind of spiritual path am I on if I can’t let go with a pen in my hand?

I decided yesterday not to worry about the beauty of my script.  “Just go slow, Bruce, and see where that takes you.  Feel the essence of pen peace.”  But then I glimpse the possibility that any flow or non-flow of my writing is fine.  Let it all be there.  Be a “jerk” if that’s what your hand leads you to.  So I’ve chosen to do exactly that.  It’s all groovy, even though I have visions of a highly evolved soul and hand working in blissful tandem.  Maybe next lifetime.