Day Five: Almost Around

I sat on the steps of the New York Public Library, knowing that a dear friend was about to appear.  And here she comes … our arms open wide to each other.  Carolyne and I hadn’t seen each other for two years.  The moment was sweet.

We were off on a cruise that would encircle the island of Manhattan.  Once on board, we learned that Wednesday evening’s storm had dumped tons of debris into the Harlem River, blocking our way.  We weren’t shortchanged, however.  The ship took us up close and personal with shining skyscrapers and classic old apartment buildings.

At one point, Carolyne and I were joined by a gracious lady.  She was very tall and had a lovely green complexion.  For some reason, she kept her arm raised for the whole trip.  I didn’t catch her name.

Tim was the announcer on our trip.  He was full of good spirit as he told us story after story about NYC.  My favourite was when he pointed out the huge neon Pepsi-Cola sign on the east side of the East River, across from Manhattan. It was built many decades ago.  The story is that the Pepsi folks knew that the Chairman of Coca-Cola had a Manhattan penthouse that faced east.  So they put up the Pepsi sign that would greet him each morning.

You could tell that Tim loved his job.  He laughed a lot.

Carolyne and I had dinner at Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper West Side.  Speaking of which, I told her that I’d been using basic terms like “north” and “south” when talking to New Yorkers, and getting a few blank stares in return.  Carolyne educated me: the proper terms are “uptown” and “downtown”.  Who knew?

Anyway, back to pickles (fried that is).  Delicioso, especially when accompanied by honey chicken, a honey-laden biscuit and grits (a cornlike mush).  Praise the Lord and pass the chicken!  My stomach sang, until it got too tired to do much of anything.

I loved our wide-ranging conversations and our walk to Central Park.  We  passed ancient walkup apartments with scroll work on the stairways and walls.  And … on one little porch sat a husky, his head poking through the wrought iron railing, ready to be petted.  We did, and I’m sure the dog was smiling.  “He’s out here all the time,” Carolyne said. Talk about bringing happiness to the world.

Oh … and here’s a pic of a friend:

Day One: Have You Ever Been to Denver?

I’m sitting in a pub, watching Toronto Airport passengers chow down – some happily engaged in travelling-type conversation and others solitary, perhaps contemplating what their life’s journey will be. Ahh, that’s such a mystery. Out on the concourse, carry-on suitcases zip by with their owners, bound for Gate This or That. Some folks stroll. Others push hard towards boarding times. All is well.

Denver is three hours and forty-five minutes away, Monterey, California a couple of hours beyond that. My layover in Colorado will steep me in airport architecture and the comings and goings of more passengers. I’ll be able to say that I’ve been to Denver, but I won’t. Just like people, it takes time to know the insides of cities. In the same spirit, I don’t know Amsterdam, The Netherlands or Lisbon, Portugal. Name-dropping, anyone?

The five days of the Evolutionary Collective’s seminar in California will offer me the insides of many cosmic travellers. We give each other what is most precious, and we allow the giving to flow well beyond “the group”, for all Earth-dwellers need love. The surface contact of typical social discourse just won’t do on the shores of the Pacific. We’re up for bigger and broader things.


Now I’m in Denver and the last three hours have been spectacular. Not because of the scenery, other than the swoop over downtown Toronto on takeoff. After that, it was clouds. The majesty was in the woman who sat beside me across the States. Her name is Shanti. She’s a podiatrist who lives with her husband in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Those details are fine but they don’t touch the spirit of the person. How is it that I’m so blessed to meet such a bevy of fine human beings? I don’t know but I’m totally willing for this to continue.

Shanti told me so many things. I’m sitting here trying to keep her stories straight … unsuccessfully! We both laughed hard when I admitted my confusion. And it doesn’t matter. If I get the facts all jumbled, it’ll just be more fun to read.

Shanti told me about her once nine-year-old daughter who went on a mission trip to Ecuador with church members. This “girly girl”, who at home had to look perfect, didn’t give a hoot about that in the jungle. The group was building a road and the young one spent her days felling plants with a machete. Mom showed me a long ago photo of one beaming young lady.

Then there was longer ago – a family trip to Barbados. Shanti’s childless aunt and uncle lived there and insisted that everybody stayed with them over Christmas. A fine time was had by all. And … the emerging tradition was repeated for the next twenty years! Longterm joy to everyone.

Shanti and I share the blessing of community. For her, it’s the church in Albuquerque. For me, it’s the worldwide members of the Evolutionary Collective. We’re both immersed in the deepest sense of family. In 2020, Shanti and her husband will travel to somewhere in the US for a retreat for church members from probably 90 countries. Maybe more than a thousand folks in this family. Truly a wow.

Do you get the sense of this person? I sure do. She lives her life in a reaching out, a being of service … a bottomless love.

Blessings abound.


A 21-year-old athlete and a 6-year-old girl … friends.  Mitch Marner is a magician with the puck in the National Hockey League.  Hayden Foulon has battled leukemia for most of her life.  They’re each other’s heroes.

Mitch met Hayden in 2015 when he played Junior hockey for the London Knights.  He and some teammates visited kids at the Children’s Hospital.  And a bond with a very young human being was formed.

“She is my hero,” Marner said, his eyes welling up.  “What she has gone through and the way she has fought in her brief life is an inspiration for all of us.  All I want to do is try to bring some happiness to her life any way I can.”

He gets it.  This life is not about fame and money and status.  It’s about love.  It’s about looking over there and seeing a person who’s undoubtedly dealing with some big issue – whether it’s health, self-esteem, relationships, money or the death of a loved one.  They need our presence.  Not necessarily wise words.  Just being there.

On tonight’s hockey telecast, we saw a video message from Hayden to Mitch:

“I love you, Mitch.  I miss you.  Please score a goal for me tonight.”  And then she blew him a kiss.  I bet millions of us were pulling for him to put a puck in the net for Hayden.  I had all my digits crossed every time Marner took a shot.  Alas, no goal.  But look what did happen: Hayden got to watch her hero.  Mitch got to think about his.  And we at home were warmed by their friendship.

Oh, how powerful we can be.

Day Two: Friend in Flesh

This is so cool. I’m sitting in the Waffle House south of Cincinnati, Ohio, eagerly waiting breakfast. I’m in a booth facing two lines. On the left, I see the profiles of five hungry guys wearing well-used jackets, some sporting toques on their heads. Man, do they know how to eat!

The right line features busy waitresses almost yelling detailed orders at the cook. He repeats the details and gets to it. The grill is right beside me, crackling away. My active friend is stirring eggs, flipping hashbrowns, and in general bouncing along. Food smells waft to my nose and soon a big waffle is entering my mouth. The place is nearly full and the atmosphere is so alive.

Hours later, my world has been filled with three lanes of speeding cars, impossibly steep hills, and the glory of coloured leaves. It was such a long day of driving and my right arm has been majorly sore. I think I jerked it madly to get away from yesterday’s tiny dog and then I held it rigidly all day at the steering wheel. Oh well.

I made it to Asheville Airport about thirty minutes before my friend “Derek”‘s plane landed. We arranged to stay at the same B&B as we experience the Evolutionary Collective orientation together. I’ve talked to Derek many times during our online practices but I was about to meet him in the flesh. I gazed down the arrivals corridor with great joy. And here he came, looking just like my laptop said he would. I first just stood and stared … here was one of my beloveds. We looked into each other’s eyes and then reached forward in a slow hug. Hello, my friend.

I was fascinated to see Derek in front of me. “You’re real. You’re three dimensional.” Yes he was, and I laughed at how marvelous it was to have him with me. This moment will be repeated several times tomorrow morning as EC Global folks show up at the registration table. Yay!

Derek and I got into Scarlet and started exiting the parking garage for our trip to downtown Asheville. Only one problem: I couldn’t figure out how to leave the building. There were gates, but no obvious place to pay and those ornery gates refused to rise when Scarlet nestled close to them. We did circles in the garage, seeking the Holy Grail of release, but none was to be found. Derek headed into the airport to seek professional advice but came back essentially empty handed. While he was gone, I watched vehicles in my side mirror approach a gate – and it magically went up for them! With Derek back in Scarlet, I tried to replicate others’ behaviour but the darned gate still stuck its tongue out at me.

There were two gates beside each other. Finally I figured that while my mirror had shown a left gate, I should have approached the right one in real life. And so I did … and up it went. Thoroughly humbled, we discovered that the true toll gate was outside the garage at the far end of the parking lot.

Defeated by a parking garage, we ventured into the world of animated discussion, a classic old B&B with wraparound porch, and a delicious meal at the Mountain Chef Bistro in Burnsville. Ahh.

See you tomorrow.


The joy of finding a mind extremely sympathetic to my own

The spiritual excitement of making contact with a soul
full of enthusiasm for the world

The satisfaction of realizing that the questions I’m concerned with
are indeed those that have animated the deep-rooted life of humanity

Teilhard de Chardin

So I search for a life companion, and for friends who are moved to their core by the majesty of living.  I search for people who are willing to open their heart as we talk.  I search for men and women who feel poised on the edge of the future, wondering with all their wonder about what human beings can become.

I know some folks like this, but for one reason or another they are not deeply present in my life.  The ones whom I see week in and week out no doubt have the stirrings of possibility inside them, but they don’t often speak it.  Or maybe they never speak it.  And that’s fine.  I’ll take any conversation and usually bring forth a silent blessing for both of us.  Still, I yearn for the dialogue.

Someday, within my red and yellow condo walls, a fellow imbiber of the spirit will sit with me in meditation and communion and emergence.  Friends of the journey will gather for food and drink and sacred dialogue.  Just not yet.

What astonishments can we create together?
This to be determined in the fullness of time

Hiding and Emerging

I’m sitting under a tree in the Tottenham Conservation Area in Southern Ontario, waiting for Tour du Canada riders to show up. I’m hiding. I left the tour on June 23, exhausted physically and emotionally. But in the few days we had together, we formed a bond. Even though I was closer with some of the 19 folks than others, we all are forever linked in a mysterious way. And now I want to surprise each of them as they arrive.

I stroll over a little rise from the parking lot and see that Chris has shown up. And there’s Grant, who drives the truck. Their eyes brighten as I approach and then we are three smiles. We chat about the ride but it doesn’t matter what the topic is. We’ve shared a journey, even though my physical part of it was brief. So how much time is needed for deep human contact? I say not much.

Now Jim! Now Ruedi! Now Keith! Hello, my companions of the near and far. For each of them, “Glad to see you” is a two-way street.

After each greeting, I retire to my comfy green lawn chair under the tree, ready to burst upon the next unsuspecting cyclist. Oh, it’s so delicious being sneaky!

Weeks ago, in a member’s blog, I learned that one of our riders had fallen on the highway and broken her collarbone. So sad to hear that she’d left the tour … and I didn’t even know which woman it was. Today I found out it was Jane. She’d fainted on the bicycle and was motionless on the tarmac until a Good Samaritan truck driver stopped to help. Now she’s recovered enough to rejoin the group on Monday. Good for her to be so brave.

I just said hi to Dorcas after she rode in. We shared panting lungs and assorted cycling worries in June. Now she’s supremely strong, it appears. Waydago, Dorcas. She just got in a car, heading to Toronto for the evening. Our eye contact was all that needed to be said.

This morning, I’d vowed to keep a secret: that I’ll be showing up in St. John’s, Newfoundland on August 31 to cheer the riders up the final hill. For the last couple of hours, as I renew friendships, I’ve been choosing my words carefully:

“I wish I could be in St. John’s. But cancellation insurance is a marvelous thing.”

There. I didn’t lie, just gave the folks the impression that I had taken out cancellation insurance for the flight from St. John’s to Toronto. But I hadn’t. Wanting to surprise the cyclists on the 31st, I went the devious route.

Many conversations later, my mind turned. “I want to tell them that I’m coming.” So I did. Dorcas! Sorry for sort of lying to you. Go for the gold!

My evening ended as the sun declined. A group of us sat near the tents, chatting about I don’t remember what. Ken, Terry, Keith, Jim, Mike, Paul … fine folks all. Ken asked me if I wanted to hear a favourite tune on Spotify. Soon his little speaker was wafting “The Wings That Fly Us Home” and “There’s A Lift” over our campsite. (Cool. I just said “our”.)

Yes … the we includes me.

Razzed Reunion

I was backing Scarlet out of the garage when my cell phone went off.  It was my old friend Cam.  He’s 68.  We’ve known each other for 52 years.  Cam has always been a jokester.  Actually, so have I.  “Hi Bruce.  I’m at the Belmont Library.”  (BS)  “I passed by the Diner just now.”  (BS)  “I drove around Robin Ridge Drive but I didn’t know how to find you.”  (Supreme BS)

“Cam, you’re in Richmond Hill [near Toronto, 200 kilometres away].”  “No, Bruce.  I’d never lie to you.”  (More of the same)  Back and forth we went, me almost believing he was here in my new village.  “Okay, I’m driving to the library.  I’ll see you in three minutes.”  (He won’t be there.  Sucked in again, Bruce)

Three minutes later, I turned left off Main Street into the library parking lot.  The only car was a souped up jobbie … definitely not Cam.  Darn, he got me one more time.  I whipped out my cell phone and started dialing his number, brow all furrowed.  When through the windshield, what to my wondering eyes should appear but the figure of said Cam Clark.  With a frizzled brain residing in my head, I leapt out of Scarlet and gave my friend a hug.  Gosh, I’m supposed to be the kidder, not the kiddee.

We had a great talk back at my red, blue, yellow, green, teal, purple, reddish brown and cream home.  Just like many, many old times.  I showed him around, including the developed basement.  I was first upstairs again and turned to notice Cam apparently struggling up the steps.  I felt sad.  His life has included tennis prowess, a love for skating and a golf swing almost as erratic as mine.  “Back problems.  No golf.  Still good for cycling, however.”

I’m heading to Toronto on Thursday and hopefully Cam and I will get together on Friday.  I’d love to go for a walk around a tree-shaded lake near his home.  We’ll meander and reminisce and make plans for future adventures.  Fifty-two years is a delightfully long time.

Haida Gwaii … Islands Of The People

I was aboard the schooner Maple Leaf for seven days in June.  Thirteen of us experienced the wonders of Haida Gwaii, north of Vancouver Island.

Part of the learning centred on humpback whales, sea lions, black bears and many species of birds.  But there was more.

Haida watchmen are the guardians of ancient villages and their totem poles.  We got to visit five of these sites.  Many years ago, there were hundreds of villages scattered among the islands of Haida Gwaii.  Then came the white people.  Then came smallpox.  Ninety per cent of the Haida died.

For much of the 1900’s, another reality was residential schools.  Kids were removed from their homes and sent away, as far as PEI.  They weren’t allowed to speak their language.  If a brother and sister were at the same school, they weren’t allowed to talk to each other.  Their long hair, a deep symbol of identity, was cut.

At one of the villages, I stood beside Ken, a watchmen in his 30’s.  Do I ask him what I really want to ask him?  Yes.  I mentioned the smallpox and the residential schools.

“You folks seem so happy.  Have you forgiven us whites for what we did?”

Ken smiles.  “Oh yes.  We welcome everyone.”

Oh my.

The people are alive and so very well.  It was a privilege to spend time with them.


I’ve owned a small backpack for 20 years or so.  It’s been my faithful companion … in the Rockies, on the beach in Cuba, and in the gym.  If an inanimate object can be a friend, this is it.  But my maroon and grey Bruce attachment is showing its age.  The rubberized coating on the neck of the bag is pulling away in big messy globs.  Plus one of my beloved liquid black pens gave up the ghost a few months ago, spilling ink over big parts of the exterior.

I decided today to replace my pack with something bright and new, and give the old one to Goodwill.  It’s not like I’m recycling a person, of course.  I would never do that.  This is an object, and I’m willing to let it go, with sadness.  So many adventures we’ve shared.

So off I went a couple of hours ago to Mountain Equipment Co-0p to see what 20 years has wrought in the world of daypacks.  Turning down an aisle, I was welcomed by countless packs of every size, hanging proudly on their hooks.  My eyes fell on a bright red jobbie – my favourite colour.  The salesman owned this exact model and waxed poetic about its virtues.  On MEC’s website, here’s what I encountered:

What sets this full-sized daypack apart from the rest is the unique Aircomfort suspension system.  A powder-coated steel frame tensions a mesh back panel between the pack’s body and your back.  The result is a narrow air space that allows continuous ventilation and airflow, which leads to greater comfort for the wearer.  The pack also features two sets of zippers and an internal bag divider that can be quickly removed.  This means that you can access the bag from the top or bottom and retrieve items without unpacking the entire bag.  It’s a great size for long day-hikes.

Who am I to argue with such praise?  Maybe with the price, though – $160.00.  Ah, what the heck?  It’s an investment.  I grabbed my red treasure and headed to the till.  When what to my wondering ears should appear, but a totally unexpected dollar figure – $49.00.  The supervisor told me that my choice was “on clearance” because of the colour.  People didn’t want a red pack.  They were all for Granite/Black and Forest/Emerald though.  How strange, I thought.  Red is so passionate.  Granite/Black is so trendy.  I’ll take passionate any day.

The salesman told me that there was one more of these red packs in the store.  Another $49.00 and it would be mine.  First I said no.  “Let someone else buy it.”  Even if I intended the second one to be a gift, the double purchase seemed excessive, another example of knee jerk consumerism.  Planning out my future.  Making sure I have enough.  But that’s wrong.  The second one’s not for me.  It’s a gift for a special someone in my future.

So I paid the guy $98.00 plus tax.

I now own three daypacks.  One will always be in my heart.  One will be on my back tomorrow and will gradually work its way into my heart.  And one will help someone else move through the world.


Day Thirty-Eight … Cameron Lake and Missoulan Friends

The whole family was having fun on the rocky beach of Waterton Lake, with the somewhat smoky view down into Montana still spectacular.  Nona found some cool rocks, a couple of them with a heart shape imprinted.  She took a sharp stone and carved messages on a few of the tablets, such as “Live. Love. Laugh”.  “I’m hoping people walking on the beach will find them.”  What a marvelous idea.  The boys and Lance were skipping stones and in general hanging loose.

It was time to head back to the camper and the family left the beach before me.  As I roamed over the stones, here came a family: mom, dad and their daughter, perhaps 20-years-old.  I couldn’t resist saying something silly, so I looked at dad and said “How about if you and I have a race, swimming to the end of the lake?” [7 miles!]  Dad laughed.  I conveniently forgot to mention that I couldn’t swim.  Anyway, we stood there blabbing about the mountains, the trails and other good things.  I talked about myself too much but these folks laughed easily at some of the stuff I said.  That made me happy.  I told them about Jody dying last November and that I had written a book about her.  Theresa (mom) immediately said that she’d like a copy.  Emily and Kevin seemed keen too.  Oh my, I was happy some more.  I had new friends – from Missoula, Montana.  We agreed that the next night I would come over after supper for a visit, with a glass of wine a possibility.

Early the next afternoon, Lance started driving up the steep highway from Waterton townsite to Cameron Lake.  I remembered the first section of road.  In the early 70’s, some Prince Of Wales Hotel employees created the PWSJMA, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, means the Prince of Wales Slow Joggers Memorial Association.  I created the “Memorial” part.  I was actually quite proud of my contribution.  Many evenings, the group of us would run (jog, walk, totter …) onwards and upwards to a big rock on the edge of a pullout.  As far as I know, none of us ever died.  Yesterday, I kept looking out the window, searching for that rock.  My goodness, did we really run that far?  I must have been a man of steel!

We were all in the van, with Nona in the front passenger seat, Jace and me in bucket seats midway, and Jagger and Jaxon goofing around in the back.  I thought of my dear wife Jodiette, and of our travels with the family in 2011 and 2012.  Jody was always in the front, and Nona at the back.  I looked at the back of Nona’s head and saw Jody instead.  It was lovely.  It was loving.  I was sad.  How I miss my wife.

Up at the lake, Lance and the young guys decided to rent a canoe.  While Nona was doing her thing somewhere nearby, I strolled onto another rocky beach and saw three familiar human beings – my friends from Missoula.  I was happy to see them.  They were happy to see me.  How can it be that I’d only known them for less than a day?  Such comfy folks.  We talked about mountains, I guess.  The topics didn’t matter.

Now, back to family doings.  The guys were off, smiling into the wild blue yonder.  Nona and I wandered down the lakeside trail and stopped at a beachette.  We sat down.  We talked about how we each had traumatic experiences in swimming pools.  We watched the canoeists from Longview head way down Cameron Lake.  Later, we strained to see the little canoe shape, wanting our loved ones to be safe.  Mostly though, Nona and I sat there in silence, comfortable.  A woman came by to cuddle Ember.  Another woman and her young daughter walked past us on the beach.  Ember didn’t like them for some reason.  Lots of barking.

That evening, I walked over to site A2 and saw Kevin sitting at their picnic table.  A bottle of red wine was also in place.  Emily and Theresa soon joined us.  We talked about how Theresa and Kevin met.  Emily told me what she was doing in college.  All of them were missing Elyse, the older daughter, who lives near San Francisco.  It was natural.  I had fun.  I do hope I see the Finnegans again.

After darkness had come visiting, I got up to leave.  I hugged Theresa.  I hugged Emily.  I looked at Kevin and we decided to hug with a laugh.  I waved goodbye, turned towards the home camper, and felt my eyes moisten.

Oh, what wonders can appear in the space of a day.  Lucky me.