What I Learned

I just spent five days with eighty open-eyed people.  I was blessed to be in their presence. I knew that I wanted to describe how our time together touched me but I didn’t see the words appearing.  I still don’t.  So allow me to stumble forward into the unknown.

“How am I doing?”  It’s a question that’s haunted me for decades.  It’s so symbolic of my belly button gazing, of looking within, of analysis and evaluation.  At times during the seminar, all of that floated away.  There was service and love, a direction of energy that was out into life, rather than coming from the outside in.  The lowered head in anticipation of incoming danger went on vacation.  The head was high, looking levelly into the eyes of my fellow travellers.

Then all that goodness disappeared.  And then … I was able to locate it again.  I had had an interaction with Patricia, our teacher, in which she asked me a question I couldn’t answer.  I panicked, and blurted out something that sounded halfway reasonable.  Was I touching whatever was just emerging?  No.  I was smashing into a wall that seemed to hide “the right answer”.  No cheese down that tunnel.  I collapsed inside, grew smaller in the badness that I’ve so often chosen as a companion.

The release came as I saw Bruce as a very hard and very small squash ball, sitting on a pillow.  The pain wasn’t inside me anymore.  It was over there, ready to be observed.  In the watching, I came back.  I lost maybe two hours, which is a marked improvement over two days.

The next thing was that I wanted to talk about the process.  I’ve had a couple of coaching sessions with one of the members of the Evolutionary Collective, and she was at the seminar.  I sought her out and told of the journey.  The “going toward” rather than the “turning away” was a revelation.  The mouth opening and disclosing instead of staying jammed shut.

Then there’s the experience of rhythm.  I’ve had this naïve thought that someday I’ll graduate from my pain, and will be this totally together human, emitting a stream of love at every moment – no challenges, no interruptions.  Ha!  Good luck.  Partway through our togetherness, one of the teachers was experiencing a feeling of separation from Patricia.  I had seen this woman as a shining light, and I still do, just not one who’s swimming in perfection.  If she sometimes trips upon the path of life, surely I have the space to do the same.  I can accept my periods of smallness and find my way back to a largeness that touches the world.  Superman … no thank you.

The rhythm of being also showed up in our daily movement sessions.  In one exercise,  we were being “moved” by our partner.  She would flick my wrist, and I had three choices: to let my arm nudge back in response; to exaggerate that reaction – throwing my arm up and staggering backward; or to resist the touch.  Refusing to be moved was so painful.  Refusing to let another influence me.  What remained was a totally right and totally alone piece of armour.  No give.  No take.  No life.  How the body teaches!

The word isn’t just “influence”.  It’s mutual influence.  Despite my moments of rigidity, I’ve often felt the gifts of others coming towards me.  On the weekend,  I saw more clearly that I influence them as well.  Such a long life before I started to let that one in.  I go into the future, perhaps two steps forward and one back, fully capable of giving in a way that allows receiving.

I matter
I love
I act
I change the world

Day Seven: Living Fully

During the Evolutionary Collective seminar on the weekend, I got to experience some attitudes which allow us to make a powerful difference in the world.

***

One participant shared that she often felt like she was squeezed between the luggage on a bus.  Our leader countered that we need to take a seat on the bus.  Hmm.  So … I’m just as important as anyone else.  I belong.  I have a part to play.  I deserve to be here.  Who cares if someone else has more life experience, more smarts, a more open heart?  Not important.  What is crucial is that we talk to each other and allow ourselves to influence each other.

I’m no better than other passengers and no worse.  In fact, the whole comparison business doesn’t serve anyone.  Together we can flow towards the future, sharing our connection while also allowing each person’s uniqueness to blossom.

***

At a social gathering full of adults and kids, a four-year-old girl came to the centre of the action and said “Everyone stand up.”  They did.  “Now hold hands.”  They did.  It wasn’t a bunch of grownups humoring a kid.  It was a natural response to the power of another human being, who just happened to be very young.  Our age, gender, personality and knowledge don’t matter.  We get to throw ourselves out into the world and impact others.  We each have the juice inside to to be forthright and assertive.  Now, can we bring that to the outside?

***

Let’s say you have a negative pattern that keeps repeating.  You’re awfully tired of it.  What’s possible is to quietly say “No.  I’m not doing that anymore.”  A determination without fanfare.  A declaration.  I realize that some deep traumas (such as the ones which reside in me) need a more extensive strategy but others are perfectly susceptible to a sudden stop.  “I don’t like what caffeine does to me.  I don’t like what aspartame does to me.  That’s it.  No more caffeinated coffee or tea.  No more Diet Coke.”  So there.

***

I don’t have to shut myself down.  I don’t have to settle down.  I can be a very big Bruce, even if some folks say that’s too big.  And I can find someone to share my life who won’t back away when I’m being powerful.  She won’t run away.  Instead, she’ll beckon me closer.  “Give me all you’ve got.  I want all of you.”  Sounds pretty rare, both in the giving and the receiving, but why not?  Why should I tone myself down in my passion and commitment because someone might get uncomfortable?  Well … I shouldn’t.  The planet needs all of us to be at the top of our game – to be willing to express, to give, to disrupt the status quo.  If not us, then who?

***

Stand up
Stand up straight
Look the world in the eye

Impact From Long Ago

I was walking in downtown London yesterday and was passing a group of women.  They all had Tim Hortons coffee cups in their hands.  “I could use a coffee,” intoned the inner me.  I approached one of the women and asked where I could find a Tims store nearby.  As she opened her mouth, I heard a voice off to the side:

“Mr. Kerr!”

I whirled around to see a young woman who I’ll call “Monique”.  Long ago, I had worked with a blind child at an elementary school, and Monique was one of her sighted classmates.  She wore a huge smile, as did I.  We hugged.  Sure she’d changed in fifteen years but I recognized her.

It didn’t matter what we talked about.  There was a sense of contact between us.  She told me about her musical career and I mentioned my cross-Canada bicycle ride this summer.  We joyed in each other’s adventures.  Monique’s friends simply watched us, enjoying the reunion.

At one point, I told Monique that a few years ago I decided why I was on the planet: to love people and make them laugh.  Her reply?  “You accomplished that well before then.”  What a sweet thing to say.

Later she said “You were one of the adults who influenced me most.”  Oh my.  I thanked Monique for saying something that I hadn’t heard very often over the years.  We smiled a lot, hugged again and were off into our separate lives.  But we’ll remember each other and our chance reunion on King Street.

May I always tell people how deeply they’ve influenced me.  It’s an act of such kindness.  We all deserve to be on the receiving end.