Free

We will begin to marvel that we let ourselves build our lives around the belief that we, the real self, were identified with these various descriptions, which descriptions required so much protection, justification, grief, anger, pride and so on.  So much vital energy.  We exhaust ourselves in the support of our descriptions.

I don’t know who wrote this but I like it.

As soon as I say “I am X”, there’s the opportunity for fear, smallness, defense.  “Could it be that I’m not really X?”  And would that possibility be a problem?  If it is, I better muster lots of energy to protect the truth of my Xness.  There are enemies out there who want to prove I’m actually not X.  I tighten my fists to beat them back.

I am a real man
I am intelligent
I am kind
I am determined
I am handsome
I am mature
I am generous
I am athletic
I am creative
I am popular
I am loved

But what if, sometimes, I’m not?  What then?  If I shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well” without feeding the statement and its contradiction, what would happen in my life?  Would angst fade to the background?  Would a reservoir of energy previously invisible be revealed?

I believe the answer is “Yes”.

Perhaps I’m not a personality riding on the roller coaster of life, raising my head here, letting it slump there.  Maybe I’m a fierce spiritual being who’s vibrant with the energy that flows outwards and unconcerned with the energy coming in.  There might not be any deficit, nothing to be fixed or improved.  What’s it’s all about could simply be expression rather than reaction, giving rather than fending off, flowing rather than damming.

In my better moments …

Bruce, you’re free
Bruce, you’re simply a space vibrating with possibility
Bruce, you’re marvelously sufficient
And did I mention that you’re free?

We Are We

I look back on the last week and an image comes to mind. It feels like a recurring dream but part of my mind says that it really happened in this physical life.

There’s a huge white sheet of paper and in the middle are typed some words … unknown words. Then the mad typist in charge of things writes more words up and to the right of the first group, overlapping them. Then the process continues, overlap after overlap, until the whole page is full. And I still didn’t have a clue about the message.

Okay, clearly this is a dream. So why does my brain keep saying “This is real”? Ah, the mysteries of life.

There was another wake up call this morning (definitely a good thing!). And the voice: “The first words are ‘I am me.'” Oh. Thanks for sharing. “One step out from the centre, in all directions, is ‘You are you.'” I just lay there, waiting for the next revelation. “After that, the words are ‘We are we.’ Then the pattern repeats … endlessly.”

More lying there feeling stunned. The personal story isn’t about Bruce Kerr. A lot of it is to do with all the “you’s” who come my way. But the real message is that I am through the we. I only know Bruce through the relationships he has. I’m no island. I’m an archipelago, with flowery bridges joining us all.

I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight. I hope we all show up.

Energy In … Energy Out

Last Wednesday I was sitting in my bike shop, talking to my good friend and mechanic Sygnan.  He’s done so much marvelous work for me over the years and our conversations are rich.

What are you going to do tonight, Sygnan?

I’ll watch a movie at home.

DVD?

No, I have a box.

And so we began chatting about the wonders of an android box, through which just about every film in existence, including those still in theatres, is available  for home viewing.  Plus it’s legal.

My heart quickened.  I admit I was zeroed in on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but any movie?  What an orgy of delight!  I love love stories … bet I’ll be able to find a hundred great ones.  I love history stories … the whole past of the world will soon be laid out before me.  Night after night of watching the best in cinema.  Heaven.

Sygnan told me where to buy the android box and I headed there forthwith.  The salesman was knowledgeable and friendly and soon I was heading home with my treasure.  I plunked the valuable little device on my washer and knew that tomorrow I’d hook everything up.

Thursday was a busy day and that evening I just didn’t feel like figuring things out, so the box continued its sojourn with the washer.

Friday I had places to go and people to meet.  No time for reading long instruction sheets.

Saturday I glanced at the washer as I was heading out and thought “That’s odd.  I haven’t done a darn thing to make this happen.  Oh well.”

And then there’s today.  As I allowed my eyelids to part in the early hours, and as my brain started to put two and two together, it came to me:

I don’t want to watch endless movies

I lay there and thought deep about the person I’ve become.  My excitement as I drove from the bike shop to the computer store was an unconscious variety.  An old version of Bruce was gung ho for an old version of what was fun … prolonged sessions of absorbing the best in cinema.  Apart from my aberrant interest in the latest Mamma Mia, I don’t want to sit on my couch letting the energy flow into me.  I want energy to flow out of me … to my fellow human beings.  I want to participate with other voyageurs in the Evolutionary Collective Global Community.  I want to sit down and have heart-to-hearts with local folks.  I want to write these blog posts, every day if I’m up to it.

(Speaking of “Bruce’s Blog”, you’ll be happy to know that, on average, I’ve posted every day for the last 69.  Occasionally I’d miss a day, but in the spirit of anality perhaps, I’d double up the next day.)

So, for the remaining 38 years of my life (good luck on that), I intend to put things out there far more than drawing in movies, books, newspapers and TV sports.  And if I’m reading a book or watching some remarkable recently released musical, I’ll do so in the spirit of being nourished so that I may nourish others.

Who I was yesterday is not who I am today
Who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow
I wonder who that person will be

Who Is It That I Say I Am?

Who is this Bruce, anyway?

Conventional wisdom points to what I’ve done, what I’ve said … an accumulation of the past.  Sounds logical.  Perhaps, though, I can choose to move beyond reason.  Could it be that hidden beneath “unreasonable” things, the truth abides?

Maybe “Bruce” is fresh at every moment, a flow leaning into the future.  Nothing to do with my mistakes, insensitivities and misadventures – all stuff that’s dead because it’s in the past.  Beyond the reality that society honours, I could simply be a spiritual presence, moving in love.

What if a thousand people said to me “Don’t be silly.  You are your history, your body, your ideas, your joys and sorrows, your relationships, your home … the sum of your life experiences.  There is nothing else!  Grow up and march to the music.”

And what if I said:

No

I seek companions on this journey and I believe I’ve found one.  Her name is Beatrice Bruteau.

The emotional personality may feel like life to us.  The life story that is called by our name may seem to be our only way of conceptualizing our life.  That is why it seems that we would be losing our life if we were to give up identifying ourselves in these ways.

[The word “metanoia” means “a transformation of the heart”]

Metanoia is a shift in our sense of where our selfhood is located, from the dead periphery of the personality description to the living core of transcendent and creative freedom.  The metanoia is said to be like dying and being reborn.  It is a shift in our sense of real being, our sense of being alive, from the emotional personality to the transcendent spirit … By seeming to die, we release ourselves from identification with the dead, and by realizing ourselves as transcendent persons, we establish ourselves in true life and can begin to do divine things.

Airy fairy … dumb … pie in the sky … true … ridiculous … infantile … lost marbles

***

Is the pull of the past so strong that brand new things can’t enter the world?
Is the pull of collective opinion so overwhelming that anything else is rejected?
Am I strong enough to stand with Beatrice?
What could happen if I did?

 

Majestic Moments

My life, like yours, is made up of a long string of moments.  Most of them seem to escape my notice.  Too often, I’m thinking about something else or dreaming about somewhere else.  And that’s a great loss.

So what can I do about this?  Right now I’m in Mai’s Café at a tiny table for two near the front door.  I’ve written about this spot before – it’s just so cozy and cute.  I’m looking out on the shops of Wortley Road and watching folks roam by on their feet and in their cars.  Across the street, a young couple sit at a window table, looking at their menus.  So those people are momentary in my life.  Moments like this, when I’m alone, allow me to feel my environment, including the inner one.  (My tummy is delightfully full of pad thai and banana fritter!)  I can animate these solitary moments by shining a light on them, having them glow.

Even better are my times with other people.  The same environmental noticing is available but there’s something extra.  Last night I joined Louise and Jeff for supper at Chaucer’s Pub.  It’s warm and dark and quiet.  No big screen TVs showing me the wide world of sports (although I often enjoy such settings).  My back was to the fireplace and the warmth toasted me all over.

We talked of life, of music, of adventures, of community.  We talked of real people in our lives.  We talked of them with appreciation and tenderness.  Through all of this, we created a special time.  But I knew there could be more.  I’ve been studying the insights of Patricia Albere, about what’s possible when two or more people are together.  With Patricia in mind, I looked at my new friends.

Jeff and Louise are good people.  I could feel that.  As I listened to them speak, I threw my consciousness inside each one, trying to feel them from within.  And for a second or two, now and then … I did.  It wasn’t me being with them.  It was me being them.  Oh.  Completely different from other mealtime conversations I’ve had.  “Goodness.  Where does Bruce end and Louise begin?”  I didn’t know.  “Who is Jeff?”  Somehow I was part of the answer.

Our shared words continued … but there was a shift.  I was inside.  What if I could create this majesty at will?  What if another human being chose to join me in this experience of touching and being touched, of living inside each other?  The words “Heaven on Earth” come to mind.

It appears that I’m not here and not now for a fair slice of my day.  Nothing to get all grumpy about but I dream of what could be. 

Time for a grand experiment, perhaps?

Jody and The Athletic

The Athletic is a very cool website that gives me fresh insights about sports teams, especially the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The ranks of sportswriters at some daily newspapers have been decimated lately, and The Athletic has scooped up some really fine journalists.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a letter to the editor but now I can comment on stories online whenever I want.  Except for one thing: reader comments at The Athletic are linked to any existing Facebook accounts.  I deleted Jody’s account months ago but when I pressed “Send” my words appeared under the banner “Jody A” accompanied by a lovely photo of my dear wife.  I stared at the screen in shock.

So what’s happening here?  Do I want to eliminate all remembrances of Jody from my life?  Not at all.  Do I want to be my own person, with an identity separate from being half of a couple?  Yes.

It feels like there’s a time and place for everything.  And now is not the time to be perceived as “Jody A”.  There was a time when I’d laugh at such things but not now.  Way back when, during my first marriage, I got a chuckle one day when I was digging letters out of the mailbox.  “Mr. Rita Kerr” said the envelope.  It was strange, though, the same oddness women used to experience a lot, to the tune of “Mrs. Bruce Kerr”.

After that first jolt at The Athletic, I haven’t let myself make comments on stories with Jody’s face looking at me onscreen.  Silly, I guess, but powerful.  Staff at the website worked hard to get rid of her photo, and they did it, but I still let “Jody A” stop me.

I was awake this morning at 3:00 am.  Very unusual for me.  I wasn’t tense about anything.  I had worked out on the elliptical yesterday and was quite tired.  “Oh well, guess I’ll check e-mails.”  And there was Andrew’s message: “I’ve updated your account to remove the name.”  Oh, supreme joy!  I opened The Athletic and searched for an article, any article, to comment on.  Found one comparing the progress of the Leafs to the Buffalo Sabres.  That’ll do.  The accompanying photo was striking so I talked about it.  And then the magic “Send” moment.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear … but “Bruce A”!

I am not Jody
I am not half of Jody and Bruce
I am me

Boston Pizza Epiphanies

I’m in Cambridge, Ontario for the LPGA golf tournament.  I love watching women hit the ball down the middle and sink curling putts.  Plus most of them are friendly … just nice people.

Tonight I went to Boston Pizza for supper.  I enjoy watching sports on their large screen TVs.  I keep searching for myself onscreen but no luck so far.  I ordered the spinach and artichoke dip that comes with pita wedges.  Yummy.  I was chowing down and not being very observant about my remaining pieces.  Oops.  Three pita bits to go and lots of dip.  Oh well.  A few spoonfuls of dip would go down just fine.

And then Adrianne the bartender comes over and says “Would you like a few nacho chips to finish off your dip?”  I stared for a second, and then smiled.  “Yes, that would be wonderful.”

I fell into the moment of kindness.  It seemed to represent all the kindnesses that have come my way in life.  It was lovely.  Adrianne was lovely.  I believe I thanked her three more times.

When it was time to pay, I reached for my wallet.  But an empty pocket greeted my hand.  Panic … but just for a second.  I remembered that I’d left the wallet in Scarlet’s console this morning.  I didn’t want to lug it around all day on the course.

To Adrianne:  “I have a problem.  My wallet’s in the car.” > “That’s fine.  We’ll chase you if you don’t return.” > “Back in three minutes.”

So off I went into the night.  I stopped walking halfway across the parking lot.  I realized that there was no possibility of me getting in Scarlet and leaving.  That’s not who I am.  Choosing to go back in and pay my bill had nothing to do with the prospect of being caught if I didn’t.  Acting with integrity is simply essential to my being.  I couldn’t live with myself if I hadn’t paid.  (Oh.  That’s me.  How ’bout that?)

No need for a place of worship
No need for a mountain top
A chain restaurant will do nicely

Who Is Bruce Kerr?

I Googled myself yesterday, but sadly I didn’t exist, at least not within the first 20 pages of “Bruce Kerr” listings.  Oh well.  I’m pretty sure that I do exist.  Guess you’ll have to take my word for it.

I did, however, find many versions of me on the Internet.  So many different lives.  Occasionally, I had pangs of jealousy, but really not much.  I like my rendition of the BK melody.

Here are some folks worth meeting:

***

Bringing more than 20 years of executive-level experience to his role as SVP & President, Bruce applies his expertise in customer management, analytics, loyalty marketing and international markets to build successful corporate and brand partnerships.

***

Bruce Kerr has been a familiar face of Australian film, television and theatre for more than thirty-five years.  His film credits include The Man From Snowy River and Compo (1989 AFI Awards entry).  He has appeared in almost every major Australian television drama including Blue Heelers, Corelli, Neighbours, Prisoner, The Sullivans, Cop Shop and Homicide, and the miniseries The Anzacs and I Can Jump Puddles.  Bruce has also worked extensively in theatre and radio serials.

***

Whether it is the unique light of a winter sunrise across a frozen Midwest pond, the color of a fall leaf against a cobalt sky or the inner workings of the atom, all are subjects for Bruce Kerr’s keen eye.  He has been designing, painting or drawing for most of his life.

***

Loose Bruce Kerr is a songwriter, performer, and music producer living in Northern California.  A native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, Bruce took 20 years off from his legal career to tour the country and the Caribbean, performing as a solo, in a duo with Steve Hoeft, or in his band in New England, “Spud City.”

Following that 20 year span, Bruce resumed his legal career and now is a lawyer working for Oracle in Silicon Valley.  His songs & videos can be heard & viewed on YouTube and here on loosebrucekerr.com.

***

Bruce Kerr, of Monewden, near Framlingham, one of 2,000 UK growers, produces early crops for processing and loose skin Maris Peer for supermarkets on soils ranging from sandy to heavy clay.  He says the council’s research work is important to his business and others in the region.

“Potatoes are an extremely valuable crop to our region,” he said.  “The industry is a large employer locally, so there’s great importance to the wider economy in having a robust and sustainable industry producing potatoes.”

***

Bruce joined the ambulance service in 1972 before working with ARHT, firstly as a rostered ambulance service paramedic in 1993 and then permanently in 1997.  He has participated in over two thousand ARHT rescues and was recognised for this achievement in 2010.

***

Bruce was a humble man who would always lend a helping hand whenever he could.  He was very proud of the students he had taught and in turn they openly expressed he was a great role model.  He was a loving husband and father who will be greatly missed.

***

 Who, me?

Content Analysis

When I was in teacher training, one of our profs asked us to look at scholarly articles and see if there were certain words that showed up a lot, and whether examining all those words which were frequently used created a context for the writing.  Was the atmosphere of the writing suffused with love, deficiency, joy, comparison, openness, division or any other ways of being?

Take this paragraph, for instance:

Daily training in aikido allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter.  Keep the mind bright and clear as the endless sky, the deepest ocean, and the highest mountain.  Do not be calculating or act unnaturally.  Keep your mind set on the way of harmony, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions.   Aikido never restrains, restricts or shackles anything.  It embraces all and purifies everything.

I want to live with these verbs inside me: allow, shine, keep, embrace, purify

And not these: criticize, restrain, restrict, shackle

These adjectives: inner, bright, clear, endless, deep, high

Not these: calculating, unnatural

These nouns: divinity, sky, ocean, mountain, harmony, all, everything

Not these: (Actually, I couldn’t find any)

***

Maybe I should do a content analysis of my heart.  How about strapping a recorder to me as I wander in the world or sit in meditation?  I wonder what would come up?  Well, I have a good idea of the top sellers:

Love, kindness, compassion, empathy, peace, integrity, generosity, humour, acceptance, spontaneity

As for the formerly strong but now middle of the road:

Fear, sadness for me, frustration, laziness, pride, competition, greed

And the ones that have faded away:

Antagonism, anger, guilt, depression, boredom, criticism, jealousy, pity, repression

Just me.  Nothing special

Applying For Jobs

In November, 1993, I had just failed as a life insurance agent and was grasping at the straws of my future life.  Twenty years later, I’m a retired teacher.  Last week, I came across some letters I’d written to employers at the time, seeking that elusive foot in the door.  Here are excerpts from three of those letters, plus one I wrote to an author of a book on selling skills.  The results that came back to me from these efforts was zero.  No one replied.  I don’t want to analyze the paragraphs for what went wrong.  I’m more interested in seeing if the person I am today was peeking out from letters back then that were meant to get me hired.

In the employment positions I have had, I’ve always wanted the person I was meeting
with, whether it was a client, a volunteer, a patient, a student or a fellow staff member, to leave the interaction feeling better, rather than worse.  I’m convinced that the road to company success starts and ends with seeing the other person as a human being, listening to their needs, and finding solutions for them, all within the context of both caring and assertiveness.

Did the employer care if the customer felt better after talking to me?  I don’t know.  I sure did.  As a 45-year-old, that was already important to me.  Also, what are the other person’s needs, and how can I contribute to their life?  Guess I threw in “assertiveness” to make myself more marketable but actually it wasn’t important to me.

I know that I have the ability to inspire the people around me – in this case the employees I supervise.  People working with the public must have energy and must like other human beings.  I certainly see myself as having these attributes.  I can select quality employees in the first place, and help them keep in touch with the “people values” that are essential for any successful retail operation.

Today I’ve come to realize that I’ve inspired some of the people in my life.  Looks like I had an inkling of that many years ago.  Then and now, I did and do like other humans – in fact I love them for doing their best in this life of joys and woes.

The number one thing I offer is my ability to build trusting relationships with teens.  I do this through being a good listener, giving the kids positive feedback whenever it’s earned, and implementing a “keep your word” classroom management program, delivering effective consequences within a context of caring.

This letter was from 1997 as I tried to get myself back into the classroom.  Then and now, I trust people.  I’ve been ripped off a few times as a result of being naive, but actually I really like the word.  I also enjoy “innocent” and “silly”.  And I do keep my word to people, sometimes with a little delay, but I get the job done.

I’ve been an agent for 21 months and am struggling to make enough sales to stay in the career.  I don’t have much money to spend right now on training programs, but I want to get coaching on how to apply your ideas to the life insurance industry.

I see myself as coachable, open to learning from the life experiences, thoughts and behaviour of others.  In some sense, those folks aren’t on the outside, looking in at me.  They’re already inside.  I’m also willing to admit what’s true in my life.  Many a time I do struggle, and not just financially.  Being willing to be vulnerable with people who have the power to benefit me has been my way for a long time.

***

So, that was from the 90’s.  Maybe I should now head back to 1954, and see what my kindergarten finger paintings had to say about Bruce in 2014.  Doubt if they’re hanging around in the basement, though.  I’ll just have to pretend.