Wobbled

The Grade 5 and 6’s often play volleyball in gym class and I get to participate.  I crouch when preparing to return serve.  My eyes bore into the opponent on the far side of the net.  My arms are extended, ready to bump or volley.  Every fibre of Bruceness is alert.

The contrast to athletic focus seems to have started during my long meditation retreats.  Sitting in the hall for as long as an hour several times a day, I sometimes felt a “shimmering down”, the falling of energy on my face.  It settled me.  Long sighs came from some place way deep inside.  Sitting here right now, the descending flow is with me.

More recently, in my work online with the Evolutionary Collective, I get to practice with someone for half an hour.  We ask each other the question “What are you experiencing right now?” and then see what emerges. In the year-and-a-half that I’ve been doing this practice with many different people, there have been transitions.  Away from “How am I doing?” and towards the essence of the person who faces me through the laptop screen.  Away from an urgent seeking for something to say and towards an allowing of the mouth to open, and a pause to see what wants to come out.  Away from doing it right and towards loving my partner.

If the volleyballer in me is seen as a perfectly vertical line, the gazer into eyes that I also am is a tilting, a wobbling.  Sometimes it’s even a gentle fall to the side, while knowing that my landing will be soft.  Often there is a sense of being cradled, of some sweet being crouching low to bring me softly to the ground.

Both while practicing with the EC and also just sitting around home, questions can wash over me:  “What’s happening?”  (No worry, no urgency, just curiosity)  “Where am I?” (Being lost and not needing to be found, okay with having no familiar landmarks)

It feels like some entity is behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain … wobbling me.  And I’m very willing to be moved, to be touched, to be influenced as I amble along.

***

Sometimes I write about things that happened in the past – events, people, experiences, feelings.  That’s good.  Even better, though, is being in the middle of what I’m talking about right now.  And so it is in this moment.  I’m disoriented, buffeted by some grand breeze, slumping here and swooning there.

All is well

Tensing Up … Letting Go

For all my driving life, some unknown entity has tightened my stomach at a certain moment. I’m approaching traffic lights, which are green my way. The orange hand is flashing and there’s no countdown to yellow. There it is, some deep physical worry that I’ll have to stop for a red.

I consider myself a fairly mature person but this gut response has long fascinated me. After all, it’s a hopefully long life. What difference will it make in the span of time if on this day I arrive at my destination a minute later than hoped for? The answer to my unaddled brain is clear: none. But so often the cranium addles itself.

Tonight I was driving on Veterans Memorial Parkway in London. Traffic on this particular road zooms along at 90 kilometres an hour or so. Way ahead of the intersections are lights which come on in a flashing way to show cars that they need to slow down for an impending yellow. Oh, my history of seeing the light start flashing when I’m almost upon it, and then blasting down the gas pedal to “make it”.

Not tonight.

For some elusively mature reason, I let up on the gas in that moment. Some force did it … there was no intention. And then the yellow came on and I stopped, without a heart smashing my chest. Hmm. Perhaps this is wiser. Maybe it’s better to feel into the flow of driving rather than jerking around with the gas and brake.

And then there’s life. I wonder if “making it” happens when I smell the roses. They’re awfully sweet, you know.

A Tale of Two Doggies

Melly is a tiny white bundle of energy, maybe two years old. Ember is a black Cocker Spaniel who’s a lot slower, no doubt due to her nine years on the planet. They’re quite a pair. It looks like Melly rules the roost, what with her yappy barking, but Ember has a quiet dignity that isn’t shaken by the young pup.

Years ago, Ember and I had an extended conversation under a Montana tree while the rest of the family were hiking up to Hidden Lake. Doggie and I wanted it slow and easy. We had lots of time to talk about life.

Although I met Melody when I was in Alberta two years ago, she treated me like a stranger when I showed up for Jaxon’s high school grad a month ago. Just to be clear, strangers are to be yelled at and bitten. It took four days for Melly to calm down and start treating me like a decent human being.

This morning, I had spread out my yoga mat in the living room and was spreading out my body in various contortions. As I leaned forward in an attempt to kiss my knee, a tongue brushed the back of my ear. I was pretty sure it wasn’t Lance. Instead it was my newfound friend Melly, seeking contact. Twenty minutes later, a larger being, this time black, took up residence at the back end of the mat. Ember rubbed up against me. Doggie affection times two.

My canine companions sometimes loll around on the living room floor. Occasionally they come over for a pet. Mostly though, they wander over to Lance or Nona for loves. Such an ultimate letting go for me. Come close when you want to. Stay away when that feels right. I’ll be fine either way.

Goodnight, my dear four-legged ones.

To Give a Gift

The Evolutionary Collective meets in California for five days starting next Thursday. And I’m going! We’ve received e-mails to prep us for the proceedings and one sentence grabbed me and wouldn’t let go:

Bring an item that holds special significance for you that you are also willing to give to another Core member.

The Core folks have been immersed in this consciousness for years and are no doubt eager to welcome us newbies to the fold. The context of it all is love.

Something that’s significant to me. Perhaps you’re guessing that I entered into a cost-benefit analysis of my homebound objects, furrowing my brow to see what I’m just willing to let go of. And you’d be wrong.

I’m sitting in a pub, gazing at a small wooden statue of an adult and child, their eyes locked. As I read the e-mail, these two presented themselves to me immediately. I knew I loved this piece of sacred art and I knew that it would be in someone else’s living room in two weeks. I smiled. How strange. How new. Not wrapping my fingers around the wood in a death grip. Instead an open palm. Something is moving in me.

In December, I was so struck by the humanity of the Senegalese people. Their smiles were genuine. Their joie de vivre was real. I wanted to take them home with me. Instead I sought a symbol of the connection I saw. There were lots of artisans in Toubacouta but for days nothing “sang” to me. Many creations were exquisite but I needed more than that … I needed the depiction of relationship. And then I came upon the parent and child. The statue said it all. I could have it in my home. But there was a problem. I had lots of Euros but the local artists needed to be paid in CFAs, the Senegalese currency. And the money changer wouldn’t be by for a day or two. So I waited, and watched my lovelies in the shop, wondering if they’d be scooped from me by some other tourist. I could feel the wanting, the pull to make the statue “mine”. Many hours later, it really was.

Now there’s the letting go of beauty, of communion. Another object of the heart will come into my life. “All is calm. All is bright.” All is wonder in the mystery of what’s flowing.

Kenosis

In Christian theology, kenosis is the self- emptying of Jesus’ own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

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Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us.  There is nothing to be renounced or resisted.  Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing.  You let it go.  You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing.  And grounded in that fundamental chastity of your being, you can then throw yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself.  That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell.  Very, very simple.  It only costs everything.

Cynthia Bourgeault

***

Alrighty then … I’ll just fall into a life of contribution with no thought for the reward, no need to achieve anything or to be adored.  “Just give, Bruce, moment after moment, until your breathing stops.  Have your life be a symphony, with all those marvelous folks flowing beside you, playing with you, creating magic together.”  And no need to have them live in your house, to be enclosed by the constraints of your mind.  Enjoy them, and let them go.  Over and over.

***

What am I willing to let float away?

Being in Senegal
Being loved by Ali and Mariama
Being loved by my Belgian friend Lydia
Being healthy
Being in the Evolutionary Collective
Living a long time
Listening to concerts from the front row
Eating pesto pasta
Volunteering with 11-year-olds
Watching Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again for the umpteenth time
Picking up garbage on my way to the Belmont Diner
Sitting at the counter or at “the women’s table” at the Diner
Travelling … anywhere
Making people laugh
Writing these blog posts
Having another life partner
Living past tomorrow

***

Quite the list of things to let go of
Quite the opportunity to give without restraint or expectation
Quite the smile on my face

Ten Dollars

I’ve written before about my hobby: picking up garbage on the sidewalks and gutters of Belmont.  It makes me happy.  Today I left home for the Diner on Main Street a half hour early since I knew there’d be an aftermath from Sunday’s Santa Claus Parade.

I was right.  I picked up about 130 cigarette butts on my trip south, plus assorted candy wrappers … and one complete chocolate bar!  My goal used to be to find lots of butts, sort of like a sports event.  Now I’m older and wiser.  The goal is zero.  However, today it wasn’t meant to be.

On the return journey, I found that the northerly citizens of Belmont were just as prolific as the southerly ones.  I was in mid-stoop when I caught a glimpse of a mauve rectangle ahead, nestled against some wet leaves in the gutter.  My eyes widened.  It was a ten dollar bill.  On previous trips, I’d stumbled upon a quarter here, a dime there, but this was verging on the miraculous.

The thought came … find the owner.  Okay, now how exactly am I supposed to do that?  Knock on a few doors, have folks check in their wallets and purses, and figure out if they’re short a ten spot?  Ah … no.

Nearby, two fellows were talking on the sidewalk.  I held up the bill, looked at one of them and said “Would you like this?”  And from what deep recess of my mind did that thought come?  I know I’m altruistic, but still.  The gentleman laughed and replied “No way.  You deserve it.  You’re the one picking up litter.”  Okay, point taken.  I returned the smile and placed Sir John A. Macdonald in my back pocket.

As I finished my walk home, that little piece of plastic money weighed me down.  “You don’t deserve it, Bruce.  It’s stealing.  Give it to charity.”  And other mumbo jumbo.  Finally I just accepted its presence in my life.  It’s a gift from the ether.  Some unknown force wants me to have ten dollars.  I need to accept it with grace.  By the time I put key into lock, the money was truly mine.

I think of other gifts, especially people’s kind words and deeds.  “Put them in your back pocket too, Bruce.  And say thank you.”  Hmm.  Good advice.

 

Not About Me

Here I was, fresh off my trip to Newfoundland, full of memoried moments about the people I’d met. It was time to visit Julia, my hairstylist, to get my locks shorn. Our history together is that she loves hearing me tell my stories but usually doesn’t have much to say when I ask about her life. Well … history doesn’t need to be repeated.

Sometimes I don’t have many words either but there’s nothing like a vacation to replenish my supply of tales. As Julia was shampooing my hair, I wondered what picture I should paint first.

And then I looked at my friend. “C’mon, Bruce, what’s coming up in Julia’s life?” I gulped as the answer hit home: her son Kyle is getting married on Saturday, September 15. She deserves the stage. She deserves to be the painter of motherly love, far more than I deserve to describe the sight of 18 cyclists climbing Signal Hill.

So I asked about her family’s special day … and I listened.

Julia is so proud of her son. Kyle and his soon-to-be wife are foster parents for dogs, helping them recover from illness or injury before passing them on to adopting humans.

Julia is thinking and thinking about what she wants to say at the reception. The plan is to go up there with her hubby Kevin and build off each other’s words of love. Sounds good.

The rehearsal dinner is the first thing and Julia is grappling with the details. Just lasagna and Caesar salad or should she add some chicken? Frozen or fresh? The details need to be handled but my friend is revelling in the prep of it all, for it’s all for love.

Julia is guessing that the blessed couple will be starting a family soon, and she’ll be a grandmother! “I’ll be a good one.” Yes, you certainly will.

I stayed with Julia through her wedding twists and turns. She’s worried about being nervous. I tell her that my wish is that she savours the beauty of the moments, from the rehearsal to the wedding to the reception and to the couple opening gifts on Sunday morning. She smiled.

I’m so happy for you, Julia
Thank you for sharing your joy
And thank you, Bruce, for stepping back
And letting your friend speak her love

Letting Go

I stood in my bicycle shop today, ready to take ta-pocketa home.  My road bike has served me well for twenty years, but there have been issues.  First the practical stuff:  My bike is too big for me.  I wasn’t fitted correctly in 1997.  And then there’s the skinny road tires.  Ever since the tendon transfer surgery in 2003, my balance has been off and the tires allow precious little room for error.  Second the emotional stuff:  My few days in the Tour du Canada zapped me.  I didn’t have the bike skills for downtown Vancouver and the semitrailers whizzing by on the highway terrified me.

Ta-pocketa has been part of me for so long.  But so had the home I shared with Jody in Union, Ontario.  A year after she died, I knew that I had to leave.  It was too heartrending to sit in the family room and imagine her cooking in the kitchen.  The chapter was over, and so I moved to Belmont.  I stared at ta-pocketa this afternoon and realized that this chapter was done too.  I need to be more stable on the bicycle.  I need to diminish my fear on the bicycle.  I need Betty.

Betty is the hybrid bike I bought a few months ago, fully capable of carrying me over the gravel roads near Belmont, plus the many paved ones.  I’ve never ridden her.

“Goodbye, ta-pocketa.  Thank you for the journey.”  I told Sygnan to sell my dear friend – $1000 firm.  I placed my hand on her top tube and remembered the good times.  But those times aren’t now.  I’m older and not as able as I once was.

The future is pulling me.  I sense that it will include cycling, but a slower version, on country roads.  No hurry to get anywhere.  Just enjoying the rhythm of Betty and me.

We must let go of the life we have planned
So as to accept the one that is waiting for us
(Joseph Campbell)

Allowing It to Emerge

I’m in a global community called the Evolutionary Collective.  All told, there are probably two hundred of us exploring consciousness within a structure created by Patricia Albere.  Fifteen souls were on a live video call this afternoon.

Part of the experience is in pairs, with eyes open and connected.  For ten minutes, one person answers the question “What are you experiencing right now?” while the other silently moves her consciousness inside the speaker.  Then the two switch roles for the second ten.  During the third segment, the partners talk back and forth, responding to “What are we experiencing right now?”

It’s a mysterious process.  It’s easy to rattle on about concepts and ideas, feelings and bodily sensations, but Patricia is pointing elsewhere.  I was with “Mary” today and here’s where I went for my ten minutes:

I’m experiencing a lake, perfectly smooth.  I’m swimming with my head up – it’s the breast stroke – and you’re beside me doing the same.  Our motions are so smooth, so effortless, and we smile at each other.  Ahead is the horizon.  It’s a simple line between sky and water.  There’s no land.  I look around and see the same horizon everywhere.  I don’t know where we are but there’s a great sense of ease, of safety.

And now I’m diving, my hands touching ahead of me … down and down into the dark.  Hundreds of fish, of all shapes and hues, come to say hi.  They dive with me, with little smiles on their faces.  The water is cool and lovely and I can breathe easily.

Soon all is black and I continue to descend.  No fear.  Just a sweet sinking towards I know not what.  And now I’m experiencing a light way down below and I’m excited to see what’s there.  As I near the ocean floor, there it sits – a tiny gold ring.  Magically, I move my hands and arms and head through it and it settles around my waist.

I’m so happy to have found a golden friend.  Yes, the ring is alive.  It holds me gently on my stomach and back, just a tender pressure that’s so comforting.  I gaze down in wonder at the glowing and pulsing entity encircling my waist.

“Who are you?” I ask.

No words come back but the ring smiles just a bit and holds me some more, a touch firmer now.

***

Mary and I don’t analyze.  There’s no figuring out.  No evaluating.  Just the sense of something opening, inviting us to explore.  And we’ll continue to do that.

 

Traffic Jammed and Released

It took me a long time today to drive from London, Ontario to Toronto.  Near Kitchener and again while approaching TO, it was often bumper to bumper.  No big deal … I’ll get there when I get there.

I was creeping forward in the middle lane.  Ahead of me a semi-trailer on the right jerked wildly to the left, causing the car already occupying that space to slam on the brakes.  Yuck!  That’s how people die out here.  Peace withered away as I blasted the trucker from the safety of my insides.  Just like that, I had created an enemy.  What a dumb thing to do.  Maybe he or she was having a body reaction that caused the sudden movement.  Or the boss had blasted them an hour earlier.  But empathy didn’t seem to be my strong suit today.

Enemies need to be defeated, I reasoned.  The driver was back in the right lane and the seas suddenly parted for anyone over there.  Those folks sped ahead of those of us who were crawling in the middle or left.  Grrr.  (Look how easily my equanimity can be replaced by battle mode.  So humbling.)  Minutes later, the truck reappeared on the right, gradually being pulled back to me.  My heart soared.  Here was the true meaning of life – beat the other fellow.  All of my sinews thrilled as I edged past the bad guy.

And so went our slow motion back-and-forth tussle.  I bet it took me forty-five minutes to realize that I had given all of my power to Mr. Trucker.  His ebbing and flowing was controlling my life.  Why, oh why, didn’t I see this right away?  Guess it’s just my rampant imperfection.

Finally, I let the fellow or gal go.  I let the contest go.  They were just doing their job, probably being pushed by some supervisor to get from A to B 10% faster.  My body calmed.  My soul smiled.  Let’s be friends.

Ten minutes later, I was still in the middle and the trucker was on the right, virtually even.  And then … poof! … they were gone.  In my rearview mirror, I saw the truck pull off on the shoulder, flashers on.

I looked back and I was sad
Goodbye, companion of the road
No more waging war
Fare thee well