Unexpected Beauty

I was picking at myself last week, literally.  I found a hard nub in my left eyebrow, a tiny mountain of distorted flesh (or so I perceived it).  Without thought, I simply wanted it out of there.  And so I picked.  After three days, I finally got the sucker.  The surface of my skin was a bit sore, but thank God it was smooth.

This afternoon I was lying in bed, trying to figure out why I was so tired.  I touched my eyebrow and remembered the previous excavations.  “What’s with this thing of needing my body to be smooth?”  Now there’s a question.  I crossed my hands over my heart and waited.

“Smoothness is a symbol of perfection.  No blemishes.  Unsullied.  Pure.  That’s what you want.”  Alrighty then … thanks for the quick response.  Have I been sucked in by the surface perfection of famous models?  If so, isn’t that a pile of wayward thinking?  Yes, I think so.  Do I really want the ultra-smoothness of a naked mannequin?  After all, they’re made of plastic – not the most natural state for someone like you and me.

I’m a human being, alive with mental imperfections – false assumptions, subtle insensitivities, blurting out words that can hurt.  My intention is to nourish others but sometimes I do otherwise.  And occasionally my body gets into the act, sending me a rough patch of skin or a pimple or a swollen ankle.  Include it all, Bruce.

While lolling on my bed contemplating recent disruptions of my skin surface, I looked at my right hand with its fingers extended.  I examined the row of knuckles halfway down those fingers.  Lots of lumpy skin!  And the long bones of my hand were highlighted.  Then I closed to a fist: smooth knuckles and no bones.  In the spirit of ah-ha, I sensed that hands are most beautiful when they’re open and relaxed, instead of being balled up with tension.

So … the mountains, the knuckled folds of flesh, and the bones of the hand – they all have their place.  They show the details of a person.  They’re beautifully me.

Day Thirty-Two … What Does It Mean?

Things happen.  I make conclusions about those things and about what it says about me.  Oh well.  Sounds like a human being.

1.  Yesterday was a snowy day (in August!) and I was mostly feeling dopey.  We watched several episodes of “Border Security”, about Canadian officers dealing with people who smuggle stuff into the country.  It’s a show that I never would have chosen but so what?  I started studying the officers.  Some seemed more humane than others.  And I became fascinated by someone trying to get $1.5 million of heroin into Canada in the packaging of a painting.  What are those lives like?  Are they happy people?  And as I let myself fall into the shows, it became irrelevant that they weren’t “my thing”.  What’s important is that I was with my family.  And then I started wondering what exactly my thing is.  Does it exclude all those other things?  Mostly no, I’d say, but it still omits any acts of belittlement and violence.

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Interlude:  Jagger just came up to me and shoved a handful of raisins under my nose.  What’s happened to the young people of today?

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2.  Jaxon and I played the NBA video game last night.  It was his Chicago Bulls against my Toronto Raptors.  I fell behind early, amid a wash of wrong controller button choices.  At any given moment, I couldn’t figure out which player I was controlling.  So I pressed the triangle button.  That makes the player jump up into the air, trying to block the opponent’s shot.  So there was my guy in the middle of the court, nowhere near another player, leaping high in the air again and again.  Jackson’s player would block my shots effortlessly, it seemed, and then his teammates would rush down the court in a flurry of passes, culminating in a sweet layup into the basket.  I could feel my whole body contracting as the score mounted.  Gosh, what was this saying about Bruce Kerr – the real human rather than the computer-generated player he was controlling?  At the final buzzer, I looked up and saw that the Bulls had just squeezed by the Raptors 67-28.  And I let my sadness just sit there, alongside the litany of deficiencies that my brain applied to reality.

The Buddha talked about each of our moments being either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral and asked us not to get all wrapped up in any of those realities.  To hold it gently, no matter what was happening.  So I choose to do just that concerning points 1 and 2, as well as the dreaded number 3.

3.  On my road trip, I’ve partaken of much beer and many nachos, resulting in a net gain in  my … body.  To the tune of 5-10 pounds, I imagine.  Sort of on the unpleasant end of things.  You might expect that a nice little Buddhist guy like me would take the high road here, realizing the impermanence of weight gain (especially when you consider the decline of life towards death).  To take a mellow approach, in which the poundage has no impact whatsoever on the essence of Bruce.  Hmm … well, I guess I’m not ready for the monastery quite yet.  My vision has been centred on my belly leaking out over my belt.  In fact, that’s not even been accurate on my trip.  I’ve studiously avoided wearing jeans so far, instead favouring loose-fitting shorts, all to conceal my personal growth.  Maturity, wherefore art thou?

This morning, it was a cold one, and I had an appointment in High River to get Scarlet serviced.  So on went the jeans, and overboard went the tummy.  Oh, time for a gigantic “So what?”  Rather than indulging in a spasm of belly consciousness.  Truly, I am often humbled by life and my frequent choices in response.

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Sit with all of this gently, Bruce
You’re a thoroughly imperfect human being
And it doesn’t mean anything