Energy Spikes

I wonder what I mean by that title.  The words just came to me.  They don’t seem to be about running the 100 metre dash in ten seconds, or lifting twice my body weight.  Some other energy is afoot.  I sense a sudden inbreath of astonishment – a moment that moves me, jolts me, and in some sense frees me.

***

We had a farewell assembly today for the teachers who were leaving, including our marvelous resource teacher, who offers certain kids extra academic help.  At the end of the ceremony, she was sitting right beside me by the wall of the gym.  From the far side, a Grade 5 girl rushes over in tears and gives the teacher a long, gentle hug.  The 11-year-old’s love shone from her.  It was a holy moment, and a privilege to witness.  How we can touch each other.

***

Yesterday a neighbour of mine died.  He was so sweet to everyone, and always interested in how my life was going.  His granddaughter goes to my school and I couldn’t imagine her showing up for the final day.  But she did.  “Emma” sat there in the assembly, looking vacant.  At lunch recess, I knew I wanted to say something to her but the yard was a flurry of kids.  What chance did I have of finding her?  After aimlessly walking around for awhile, I spotted a few kids in a little opening in the trees.  One child emerged – Emma.  I approached her and said what I needed to say.  I believe she felt the love behind the words.

***

Assembly number two featured one of the school’s bus drivers.  “Fred” walked onstage with his guitar and launched into “Puff The Magic Dragon”.  He had a lovely voice.  A song or two later, he began one of his own compositions.  It was the story of his riders.  As he followed his route in the verses, each child’s name was mentioned.  I scanned the room and saw face after face come alight as Fred shared one of their fine qualities.  On one level, I was amazed that he could memorize all this.  Far deeper was my joy as light after light turned on.

***

Last recess.  One of my favourite kids asked if I was going outside.  I said yes.  We walked together for a bit and then sat down at a table.  She and I talked about our summers – camps for her and music festivals for me.  She encouraged me about the early end of my bicycle ride.  The differences in our ages didn’t matter.  It was two people talking about important things.

***

I was invited to this evening’s staff party.  It was so generous of the teachers to include me.  We sat in a big circle and the banter whizzed around.  Usually I love these situations but tonight was not usual.  Just like yesterday’s foray onto the 401, I felt fear, and my hand started shaking.  As the conversation sped up and the laughter grew, I couldn’t handle it.  Too many inputs.  Too much energy whirling this way and that.  I was so much not myself, and yet for these three hours my tense silence was Bruce.  I let myself fall into the fear … and how very unpleasant it was.  I stopped trying to manufacture happiness, and my eyes widened in response.  As I left the party and said a few words of explanation, the smiles on faces said they understood.

***

These are the moments that stood out today.  Whether I enjoyed them or not, they brought me to an deeper vibration, and for that I am thankful.

Day One: Some More

Over the world we flew. On the prairies I came upon a long stretch of tiny lakes. Didn’t exactly fit with my image of endless grain fields. Above the Rockies, fresh snow etched the rocks in pencil-thin lines but bowls above the tree line were flush with a blanket of white. Then the coast, with the Pacific stretching between all those islands. Canada lay beneath me, as it will lie beneath my bicycle wheels in the coming weeks.

At the luggage carousel in Vancouver, I called to a woman to watch out as I swung my heavy bag off the belt. And then we talked. Sarah and Stephanie wanted to hear about my bike ride across Canada. I talked too much, roaming from Canada to the wise words of the Buddha. He essentially said “What you resist will persist.” And that hit home with Sarah. Both women seemed to enjoy my presence, as I enjoyed theirs.

Then it was time for a taxi ride to UBC. Jaswant so loves Vancouver, even with his long hours at the wheel. We searched and searched for the Bike Kitchen, folks who’ll be putting my bicycle back together tomorrow. And … success.

Now I’m at Koerner’s Pub on the UBC campus. A beer or two and a burger later, I’m reflecting with Andrew about the joys of the bicycle. Rap music fills the space … and I’m on vacation on the left coast, where the land is green and the trees soar above. A private party is about to begin and I’m revelling in the freedom of it all.

What will become of me over the summer? Will a book leak out of me in the fall? Will Canadians step forward to say hi as I roll through their town? Will we riders hold each other up through the rain and the hills and the heat? Will I look in the mirror and see a new man looking back at me? I think yes.

On we go.

Little Peaks on the Graph of Life

Today was full of conversations, such as how Belmont survived the ice storm, the performance of the Toronto Maple Leafs and neighbourhood condo issues.  All of these are fine topics of concern.  My ears, however, are usually tilted towards the emergence of other moments, ones that transcend the norm.  And there were a few of those today:

1.  Walking down Main Street, picking up pieces of garbage on the way to the Diner and back home again.  Two small plastic bags full.  Quiet satisfaction.  For the greater good.

2.  Talking to an 80-something Belmontonian at the breakfast counter about raising teenage hell with a friend of his (long since dead).  A wistful look in his eye, and a tiny smile of remembrance.

3.  On my return trip home, a woman calling out from across the street “Thank you for picking up garbage.  It helps Belmont.”  (Smile)

4.  At the gym, a friend and employee looking me in the eye and saying “The future needs you, Bruce.”  (Astonishment.  I’d never heard those words before)

5.  Getting out of my car in the school parking lot and hearing “Hello, Mr. Kerr” coming out of a happy Grade 6 girl.  I felt so welcomed.

6.  Seconds later, a kindergarten girl wanting so bad for me to remember her name, and then the two of us taking turns hiding from each other behind a metal post.  For a few seconds, our gazes held each other.  Contact.

7.  A Grade 5 girl asking how my training was going for the ride across Canada and me telling her that I wasn’t feeling too well lately, and hadn’t been training as much as I wanted to.  Great concern for me in her eyes.

8.  Watching a girls’ basketball game after school, in which our team was being beaten badly.  Wondering at how our players continued to push the ball hard and guard their opponents closely.  No sagging heads.  I was so proud of them.

9.  After the game, telling one of the students that I loved seeing her usual reaction after missing a shot or having the ball taken away from her – a huge smile.  To which she replied with … a huge smile.

10.  Sitting down in the Belmont Arena for a senior citizen dinner – a free meal paid for by the Lions Club to honour us oldies.  What a sweet thing to do, I reflected, as I gazed across the sea of local folks.

11.  After eating, we heard a fellow sing the classics.  And two very senior women at my table mouthed the words to a few love songs.  They seemed afraid to sing way out loud, but their hearts were on full display.  It was a privilege to witness their memories.

***

I was above the usual roll and warble of daily life … eleven times.  Thankfully I often had the eyes to see these radiant blips.  Lucky me.  As for tomorrow, whether it’s one moment or twenty-three, I’ll be there.

 

Loveliness

I’ve witnessed moments of grace over the last few days.  Here are three of them:

1.  I went to a folk music concert at a couple’s home.  My chair was four feet from the piano player and I was immersed in the sweetness of the tunes.  And then the unexpected: A 40-ish fellow got up and approached a woman sitting on the couch.  I’d guess she was in her 70’s.  He extended his hand.  She smiled and offered hers.  She stood.  And they danced to the music – a soft twirling motion accompanied by more smiles.  It was lovely.  The whole was truly greater than the sum of the parts.  We the audience were quiet … and so very present to the sublimity, I believe.

2.  I met a jolly gentleman, really a gentle giant.  He asked me to look at his book.  It was a little thing, with each page headed by a date of the year.  It sounds like a diary, and I guess that was its original purpose, but my friend had turned it into a birthday book.  He asked me to sign it, and give my phone number, on the appropriate page.  I quite naturally chose January 9.  Maybe twenty other human beings were listed there.  Good for us.

The best part is that this fellow phones each of us and sings “Happy Birthday”.  Thousands of folks are serenaded on their special day.  Such a big wow.  Such a gift.

3.  I’ve been in Toronto the last couple of days.  I usually park at the train station before heading downtown.  This time there was a gate blocking the area of the lot where I park Scarlet.  But there were still some public spaces on the far side.  I went up to the train attendant to find out what was happening.  The woman was behind her panel of glass but she also moved right into my heart.  Her gaze into my eyes was constant and soft.  She explained all the ins and outs of the changes and clarified when I got confused.  But she could have been reciting names in the phone book for all I cared.  I was bathed in her kindness.  I was transfixed by her presence.  I was thankful for her existence.

***

May I continue to attract such moments
May people continue to express their beauty
May I have eyes to see and ears to hear

Experience Squared and Cubed

I wonder if my mathematics is off. I’d say that’s likely. But whatever numbers I choose, I’ll have them point to a hierarchy: okay … good … great.

I’m looking at the moments we have during our days. Most of them seem quite ordinary, hardly noticed in the bustle of life. Then there are the special ones – they get my heart beating faster. But beyond that are moments that defy description, ones that take me to the centre of life, far above the hum and the drum.

I could rank life’s experiences on a “1, 2, 3” scale but that doesn’t seem grand enough. How about “1, 5, 10”? Getting there. No, I propose “10, 10², 10³”, or more simply “10, 100, 1000”.

10 can be life’s ordinary moments: talking to someone about sports, politics or local gossip; doing your income tax; navigating traffic. Ho hum.

100 represents the awesome play in sports, such as a great pass, a long putt or an impossible catch. Transcendent. Or the most exquisite performance of a lovely song. John Lennon’s “Imagine” comes to mind. These are moments that transport me to bliss, thanks to what another human being has brought into the world.

1000 is a different kettle of fish. I see it when I look deep into another person’s eyes and them into mine. True contact, connection, communion … so rare. I’m taking a live course on the Internet about relationships – deepening my moments with any human being willing to “be with” me. Today I gazed into my laptop screen and saw a woman from Oslo, Norway and later another one in Sacramento, California. We told each other what we were experiencing. Words like “comfy” and “cozy” came out of me. And the times of silence were sublime. At one point “Lynne” from Sacramento and I were skydiving – arms and legs all horizontal, floating free together … no fear. Then we were deep in the ocean, dancing. So sweet.

***

There’s no doubt in my mind: the numbers are real
There really are levels here
May I bring myself into a cubed world, again and again

Hello Traveller

I’m sitting in my comfy meditation chair after a long period of quiet.  Right in front of me is my big bed, with its bedspread of splashy colours.  Beyond is a large window looking out on the backyard, with its recently planted deciduous tree – about 12 feet tall.  Then the land slopes down to a farmer’s field.  Maybe 400 metres away is a creek with a series of trees standing guard, their branches bare.  After that is a field which climbs toward the horizon, with Harrietsville Drive flowing left to right way back there near the end of the world.

And I reflect.

Before I started meditating, I took off my clothes and put on my red housecoat.  Those clothes are piled on the bed, helter skelter.  I look at the pile and realize that they’re my clothes, a symbol of Bruce now divorced from the body.  But I see me there.  I think of all the garments I’ve worn in my life, and I smile.  It’s nice to have remembrances of me.  They help me love myself in the moment.  Sometimes I need reminders that I’m a good person.

Outside of the window but unseen from my current angle are two bird feeders.  A flash of wing often crosses my field of vision and some birdies take turns clinging to the branches of the tree.  Then again, the tree is often birdless … such as right now.  I want my friends to show up, so I can enjoy them.  I sense that a few of them are at the feeders, just beyond my sight, but somehow that’s not good enough.  I want them to be with me.

Way out there on Harrietsville Drive, a car is roaming left to right.  “Hello, traveller.  I hope you’re happy.  Thanks for coming by.”  Too soon, the car disappears behind my bedroom wall.  I long for another to take its place.  A right-to-lefter would be just as fine.

Right now, there’s no vehicle on the horizon.  I feel an odd pain about that.  But I look at the trees by the creek and see that their branches are waving at me.  “Hello, dear trees.”  Unlike the birds and the cars, they’re not going anywhere.  Come the spring, however, their leaves will disguise the waving.

So at times there is no waving, no birdies and no humans in their cozy cars.  And that’s okay.  Part of the rhythm of things.  And I know they’ll be back.

Dad

It’s a word that has never been sent my way.  Jody and I didn’t have any children.  That’s one of only two regrets I have in life:  Her early death at 54 is the other.

When I’m out there in the world, I often hear a kid call the man beside him or her “Dad”, and a little bit of me winces.  Oh, to sit on the couch with my son or daughter, watching TV, eating popcorn and chatting about the events of the day.  But it’s not to be (this time around anyway).

I love volunteering in the Grade 5/6 class and sometimes imagine that I’m dad (or more accurately grandpa).  I’ve had many fine conversations with kids, and I like to think that I’ve made an impact on many of them, but at the end of the day they go to their homes and I go to mine.  And that’s okay.  At least we get to talk some on the days when I show up at their school.

Yesterday, the class was on a field trip to a conservation area – a well-treed park surrounded by farmland.  We had fun, especially the geocaching experience, where we used our handheld GPS units to find spots in the woods where tiny treasures were hidden in Tupperware containers.  Our group found one about six feet above the ground in the crotch of a tree.

When it was time to get on the bus for the return trip to school, a Grade 5 kid asked me to sit with her.  I’ll call her Sarah.  We talked about the day we spent exploring both technology and nature.  We talked about the training I’m doing to get ready for my bicycle ride across Canada this summer.  Her assessment of the hours I spend on the elliptical at the gym?  “Crazy!”  Well, maybe I am, but I’m going to be fit enough to traverse my country, starting in June.

Sarah is a hockey player.  This winter, I’ve gone to a few games featuring kids from school, but I’d never seen her team play.  “Next year, I’ll come to a game of yours.”  She smiled.

Apparently, Jayne, the teacher, plays a game with the kids just before lunch every Friday.  Sarah asked me if I’d come to volunteer some Friday morning so I could play too.  I said yes, and was very pleased that she invited me.

Getting off the bus, Sarah wanted to know which car was mine.  “That red one over there – Scarlet.”  She seemed amused that I named my cars.  For me, it’s always felt like a natural thing to do.

These kids spend some time with me and then next year they’ll be off on new adventures.  Elementary school turns into high school turns into whatever’s next.  They’re building their lives, step by step.  Even though my time with them will be brief, I’m happy that I get to have moments like a simple bus ride back to school.

On last fall’s meditation retreat, one of the teachers said “When you’re in the presence of one of life’s wholesome moments … Don’t miss it!”  So true.  May we all be awake to the people who come our way, whether they’re 10 or 82.

 

Dive Deep

I met a woman today, plus her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.  I won’t give you details except that she had dancing eyes and a lovely smile.

Afterwards I watched myself create future worlds, centred on the dubious possibility of happily-ever-after.  I’m such a funny duck (not sure if it’s funny ha-ha or funny ooo).  But really I don’t mind my own company.  My mind seems to have a mind of its own and I’ve decided to give it free rein.

I want to be with a woman who’s spontaneous and giddy with life, and if I can’t find such a one then I’ll go with a man like that …me!  With those standards, am I willing to be alone if no one of such ilk comes my way?  Yes.

I can’t control how other folks respond to me but I can choose what I put out into the known universe.  So …

Bye bye shy
Bye bye grumpy
Bye bye woe

There.  That feels better

Boogie through my days
Welcome the yays and nays
See who stays

Nothing To Say

 

I can’t think of a thing.  What would happen if I just sat here and waited?  Guess I’ll find out.

***

I’m just watching my thoughts … the words that bubble to the surface.  I’ll write them down.

***

“Where in the world am I going?”  February 26-29 – Toronto.  April 1-15 – Cuba.  June 7-10 – Vancouver.  June 11-19 – Haida Gwaii.

***

“Why am I going there?”  To meet people, maybe to meet that very special love.  To watch people, in their infinite variety.  To talk to people, to learn about their lives and what makes them “fly”.  To love people, and then let them go.

***

“What kind of person am I?”  Curious, caring, open, determined, sad, happy.

***

“What’s important?”  People, including me.

***

“Will I live a long time?”  I don’t know.  I hope so.  So many moments to sit in.  But maybe I’ll die tomorrow.  It’s been a great life and I know I could happily let go of it (but even more happily enjoy the continuing ride).

***

“Do I want to be with a woman … to give love and receive love?”  Yes.

***

“Is that relationship near or far away?”  I don’t know, but it’s coming.  In its own sweet time.

***

“How come I was never a sports hero?  Or a singing hero?  Or an acting hero?”  I don’t know.  Perhaps none of that is important.  I still want to act but celebrity is not the way I want to contribute.

***

“Okay.  How exactly do I want to contribute?”  It doesn’t feel like a doing.  It feels like a momentary thing … over and over again.  Just show up in people’s lives and stand there … with love.

***

“Do I want to keep talking?”  Actually no.  I can’t think of anything to say.

Four Moments

I like moments.  When I pay attention to them, they slow me right down.  And some of them are magical … like these ones:

During my meditation retreat, my job was to stay present with what was happening in the now.  But sometimes I looked forward to next summer, when I’ll be crossing Canada by bicycle with an organization called the Tour du Canada.  Twenty-five of us will roll eastward from Vancouver, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Registration opened in October, but I was in deep silence then, and had no contact with the outside world.  Before I left for Massachusetts, I e-mailed the staff of the Tour and they assured me that I could register in December.

So a couple of days ago I filled out the form and wrote a cheque.  I had some of Jody’s books to send as well so I went to a post office in London.  There I was, envelope in hand.  I reached out to the postal employee, the paper was transferred to her … and the first step of riding the length of my country was complete.  Inside, I was transfixed.  My outsides handled the details of mailing stuff.  Within, though, time stood still.

***

Yesterday morning, I was at an elementary school, reciting “Twas The Night Before Christmas”.  As I signed in at the office, I noticed another name -an old friend of mine.  She was substitute teaching for the day.  I found out where her room was, and just before morning recess I walked in.  “Stephanie” was at the desk, hunched over some papers while a French teacher was finishing up a lesson.  I snuck up on her and just stood there.  She looked up, and the biggest smile crossed her face.  Up out of the chair, arms open wide, and we were hugging.  The moment of reunion.

As recess started, I noticed a Grade 7 girl standing near Stephanie and me.  I looked at her.  (Here comes another made up name.)  “Erin?”  She nodded through her smile.  It was the girl I auditioned with in September, for Jake’s Women.  Erin told me that she got the part of Molly and was so disappointed that I wasn’t chosen for Jake.  Her woe flooded me, and again time stood still.  Seeing Erin, I let my sadness come.  We hugged.

***

Later in the day I was at the workplace of a woman named “Dawn”.  I’ve thought about her many times over the last few months.  As of today, I’ve given away 790 copies of Jodiette:  My Lovely Wife.  Only once did I feel bad about the gift.  After I had left the person, I thought, “She didn’t want the book.  Why didn’t I pay more attention to her body language?”  I’ve lived by the credo “Do no harm” for years, and even more so after the retreat.  The person in question was Dawn.

I was sitting at a table, looking down at my snack, and became aware of someone standing in front of me.  I looked up.  Dawn looked down.  “I read your book this summer.  It really touched me.  Thank you for giving it to me.”

Oh my.  You never know if you’ve truly reached someone.  Until a moment like this.

***

Momentary snippets of life
May they keep coming