Unknown

All the stars, planets and galaxies that can be seen today make up just 4% of the universe.  The other 96% is made of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect or even comprehend.

These mysterious substances are called dark energy and dark matter.  Astronomers infer their existence based on their gravitational influence on what little bits of the universe can be seen, but dark matter and energy themselves continue to elude all detection.

“The overwhelming majority of the universe is: Who knows?” explains science writer Richard Panek, who spoke about these oddities of our universe on Monday at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) here in Manhattan.  “It’s unknown for now, and possibly forever.”

Clara Moskowitz

***

We have an enormous amount still yet to discover and understand.  For instance, science now knows that 96% of the known universe is invisible.  It’s called dark matter and dark energy, and it’s called “dark” because you can’t see it.  But here we are, in the 4% that’s visible, and I say to people: If we’re going to make materialism our life path, we’re essentially giving our lives over to the 4% solution.  Because the 96%, the invisible part, we’re just completely ignoring.

Duane Elgin

***

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns.  There are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns, that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.  And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Donald Rumsfeld, former United States Secretary of Defense

***

Difficult indeed.  And if Duane is right, and we can legitimately move from the physical universe to how we lead our lives, what now?  How do I do, feel and think on this planet if immense mystery surrounds us?  Do I swan dive off the solid cliff into the mists below or do I hunker down in my all-inclusive?

The task of letting go seems monumental.  Maybe I can start exercising my 96% muscle by simply doing one thing in a new way.

I get together several times a week with the online global community of the Evolutionary Collective.  For the latter part of our hour, we can share in the large group.  You simply click on the “Raise Hand” button.  Tomorrow, when the time comes, I’ll click even if I have no idea what to say.  That’s a start.

***

Love is always a leap into the unknown.  You can try to control as many variables, and understand a situation as you can, but you’re still jumping off a cliff and hoping that someone catches you.

Lisa Kleypas

 

Summons

What in your life is calling you when all the noise is silenced
The meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside
And the Wild Iris blooms by itself in the dark forest
What still pulls on your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons
Do you hear it?
Name it, if you must, or leave it nameless
But why pretend it is not there?

Terma Collective

I have no idea who the Terma Collective is, but that’s not important.  I’ll forget about “consider the source” and just let the words move through me.

Am I being summoned?  Are you?  And not to a court of law.  Rather to our highest calling.  Yours is no doubt different than mine and there’s no better or worse about it.  Is it sports, the arts, consciousness, business, travel, relationships?  Good for us in any event.

Do we hear the call in the early of the morning?  Are we lying in bed or sipping tea in a cozy chair or jogging through the neighbourhood?  Maybe enjoying lunch with friends at a sidewalk café, munching popcorn in a darkened theatre or grabbing a coffee at Tim’s.

Are there moments when the world recedes and silence comes upon us?  The eyes widen a bit and there’s some sort of space where before there was none.  A pause … an opening … a glimmer of light.

“What exactly is this?”

Well, “exactly” just isn’t it.  The moment of wonder is worlds beyond any analysis.  It doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t add up.  You can’t reason your way to the truth of it.

Let go
Let in

The Jets Are Fading in My Mind

I love sports, or so I tell me.  I have favourite teams and players and have been known to exalt or wail, depending on the results.

Let me give you a rundown of my heroes:

Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey)
Winnipeg Jets (hockey)
Toronto Blue Jays (baseball)
Toronto FC (soccer)
Toronto Raptors (basketball)
Brooke Henderson (golf)
Denis Shapovalov (tennis)

Enough champions to make anyone happy, wouldn’t you say?  Well … maybe.

Last night I started watching the Jets on TV.  If the team won, they’d be in the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The game was in Winnipeg, where just about all the fans in the building wear white and wave towels like crazy.  So exciting!

Within ten minutes of game start, something happened to that exclamation mark.  It was … fading.  The fans were still jumping up and down, Winnipeg and Nashville were taking turns roaring down the ice, but I was no longer engaged.  Instead I was mystified. “How can I not be excited?  This is the playoffs!”

In my perplexity, I thought of my other sporting heroes.  No juice there either.  Was I becoming a blah blob?

No, I wasn’t.

Some force is moving through me, pushing me towards a deep sense of relationship with human beings.  There’s a beauty and a spirit that I can’t name but it’s lifting me up.  The majesty is far beyond the thrill of a breakaway, a slam dunk or a three-wood nestling close to the pin.  It’s like a 60-watt bulb compared to a spotlight.

Am I becoming the next version of me?  Are the old me’s taking their rightful place in the background?  I don’t know.

I’m open to where this roaring river is taking me.  A destination that I can’t even conceive of.

Not knowing
Not planning
Not a care in the world

On and On and On

I sat down to meditate this afternoon.  In my meditation chair in my bedroom.  And opened my eyes again two hours and fifty minutes later.  I’d never experienced anything like it.

Within a few minutes (I guess), everything stopped.  My head dropped.  I was fully aware but there was this huge space inside my head.  Thoughts would occasionally come but they had no power.  All was quiet.

Sometimes I had the thought “I should stop.”  But why?  I was in my comfy chair.  No back pain.  Slumping into a deep silence.  Keep going.  Keep letting it unfold.

Two hours later, I had to pee, and the feeling built.  Eventually I gave in and opened my eyes.  Almost three hours.

How long could I have gone on?  I don’t know.  With pre-urination, I suppose it could have been hours more.

Everything was so quiet.  I heard the snowplow outside, dealing with the winter dump of snow.  The furnace came on.  Nothing was important.  Time stretched on effortlessly.

Sometimes there were words.  “Love.”  And that brought a little smile to my face.  “I am free.”  And the head bowed again.  The sweetest times were when I was in love with people.  Less so when I felt into my ease.  But all of it was fine.

This is a very long time.  No tension.  Just floating.  “Please don’t have this end” sat beside “It’s perfectly fine when this ends.”  They were friends.

It’s by grace that all this came upon me.  Will it ever come back again, to the tune of 2:50?  Maybe not.  But what a blessing for a Friday afternoon.  Thank you, o mysterious powers of the universe.

Space

I’ve long been a fan of Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut.  He took his guitar onto the space station and favoured the world with a soulful rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

I was just listening to a program on CBC Radio.  Nicole Stott, a retired astronaut, was talking about space.  She thinks that most of her fellow space travellers have a spiritual life.  Something about seeing our little blue marble from the window of a spaceship.  One astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, had a spiritual epiphany while flying back to Earth.  As Nicole says, perhaps we should invite our political leaders to a space station vacation and see if a change in perspective rears its lovely head.

A few days ago, a Grade 6 girl, knowing of my reverence for Mr. Hadfield, lent me a book of his space photos.  Such lovely images and such a lovely thing to do.

Something spacious is calling me and Chris seems to be an instrument of my freedom.  There’s a loosening inside me, some epiphany of my own on the way.  I’ll look out into the vastness and may be very surprised by what I see.

A walk beyond my personal ship beckons.

Love Is …

Well, I’m off.  At least that’s what some people think.  Actually, I don’t start driving until Sunday morning.  I’m heading to a one month silent meditation retreat in Massachusetts.

For the last few weeks, I’ve told folks where I’m going.  Over the years the responses I’ve received have pretty much been the same:  “Oh, I couldn’t do that!”  Only two or three human beings thought they could.

Many people look at me funny when I say I’m going to be silent for a month (three months back in 2015).  When I mention that I’m a Buddhist, some of them really get weirded out.  “You’re not a Christian?”  “No.”

All of this pales before what I’ve decided to tell them in front of this trip.  I’ve only said this to a few because they’ve thought it’s so strange.  I’m tempted to shut up, such as right now.  But that’s no fun … so here goes.

“I’m going to this retreat to love people, to explore what the depths of love can be.”  It will be unlike any I’ve been on.  Usually, I’d have a few hours at the beginning to talk to other yogis, and a few hours at the end to discuss how it went.  On February 1, I immerse myself in an environment where I’ll never talk to the other participants.  I won’t make eye contact with them.  Is it possible to love people whom I won’t meet?  They’ll be near me in the meditation hall and the dining room.  I’ll look at their faces and bodies, from the side.  I’ll see the joy and pain.  There won’t be any contact but I say there’ll be a connection.

Sometimes love is more of an exchange than a communion.  “I’ll keep loving you as long as you keep doing X.”  Happily, relationship can be a world beyond that.

And then, who do you love?  For some, it’s just themselves.  Or just my life partner.  Or my family.  Or the members of my faith or culture.  How about everyone, even the grumpy folks?  How about all beings, from my dear one to a mosquito?  Is it possible?

So off I go, curious about how widely love can spread its wings.

I’ll never meet them
Probably I’ll never see them again
I want nothing from them
Ain’t life grand?

First Date

In thirty years.  At 2:35 yesterday, I sat down in a London coffee shop, waiting for 3:00 to roll around.  I was going to talk to a woman whom I’d met on Zoosk, a dating website.  I’ll call her Erin.  Strangely, I wasn’t nervous.  But I sure was excited.  A new human being, potentially a new love.

As I sipped my tea, a little smile adorned my face.  I was happy.  It’s been 15 months since Jody died, and it’s time for companionship.  From my window table, I watched people cross the street, including several women, none of whom matched the photo on the website.  I realized that 3:00 pm could be a huge moment in my life, or maybe not.  The smile remained.

I needed a napkin for my pumpkin tart so I headed to the counter.  A woman was making a purchase, her back to me.  “Is that her?” I gushed on the inside.  No.  Her hair was curly and Erin’s was straight.  But my heart did a few flippy-flips before I figured that out.

Back to the sanctuary of my table.  More human beings outside, slow slogging through the snow.  The neighbourhood was an older one – classic brick buildings with most of them turned into restaurants or shops.

There!  That’s Erin.  Oh my goodness, she’s probably coming into the coffee shop.  She’s probably going to order.  She’s probably going to come looking for me.  Now the smile has turned into a laugh … aimed at moi.  And sure enough, a woman named Erin is soon walking down the aisle towards me.  I wave.  We smile.  And so it begins.

Erin is a lovely person, full of energy and with a smile that shows up easily.  We both enjoy meditating and yoga.  When she used the words “opening the heart”, I jerked.  Oh my.  Another person who says stuff like that in everyday conversation.

We talked for an hour-and-a-half.  It was easy.  It was fun.  We agreed to meet again sometime soon.

The mystery will continue to unfold.  I will continue to smile.  Whatever happens, I’m so glad to be walking this path.

 

Unseen

The substance of things hoped for
The evidence of things not seen

What beauties are hiding in this world, so we puny human beings aren’t aware of them?  Well, if I’m not aware, how can I possibly write about such unknowns?  I don’t know but it’s worth a try.

1.  Lines of connection between people who walk by each other on the street … maybe fine red strings that entwine

2.  Roaming at night over the world, visiting friends old and new, alive and dead

3.  Whatever’s under the ground … roots that go way down, insects that scurry to and fro, moles that construct long tunnels

4.  What goes on inside of dogs, cats, horses and dolphins

5.  The future laying itself down as we wind our way through the present

6.  Blood coursing through my body over 60,000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries

7.  The marvel of the brain, allowing me to suddenly relive moments from decades ago.  (As I wrote this, I was transported back to kid-dom, lighting firecrackers in the back alley, and being terrified of the noise)

8.  My friend gravity, constantly keeping me from zipping off into space

***

Simple stuff, really, but fun to imagine

 

 

New

Well here I am on Zoosk, a dating website.  I’ve sent messages to several women who appealed to me.  So far, no one has expressed interest.  Oh well.  I’m sensing that whether it’s from Zoosk or some other source (such as Cuba in April!) a new love will be entering my life.  Someone unknown to me today will be by my side within the next year.

New.  What a concept.  A letting go of the past to some extent.  My love for Jody and for my friends will always be there but there’ll be some type of breakthrough.

1.  A new human being.  Maybe shy or maybe assertive.  Maybe athletic or not so much.  Older than me?  Younger than me?  Likes to travel or a homebody?  A great cook or “Let’s eat out”?  Action movies or romantic ones?  A cyclist like me or a swimmer not like me?  Oh, what mystery.

2.  Your home or mine?  I’ve lived on Bostwick Road in Union, Ontario for 21 years.  It’s a big place.  Lots of upkeep required and I’ve never been good at home maintenance.  Maybe it’s time to let go of all that.  Perhaps my future love lives in a downtown condo.  Neighbours on the other side of the wall.  Someone else cutting the grass.  Take off to the Caribbean without a worry in the world.

3.  Your city or my village?  I could find myself living in Toronto, the city where I grew up.  Or near the forks of the Thames River in London, Ontario.  Walk to cool places to dine.  A city park just a stroll away.

4.  Europe?  I’ve never been.  All those ancient buildings.  Sitting in a sidewalk café on a cobblestone square.  Trying out my high school French.  Why not?

5.  Family  The only close family members Jody and I have had are her brother Lance and his family in Alberta.  I especially love my nephews out there.  But in Ontario we were alone.  What if I discover a prospective partner who has children and grandkids?  I would love that.  To perhaps be a grandpa-type figure!  I miss all the fine school conversations I had over the years with young people from Grades 1 to 12.

***

I’m open to whatever beckons me

In Its Own Sweet Time

I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out.  I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient.  I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it.  I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life.  The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled.  The wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them.  Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath.  In vain.  It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings needed to be a gradual process in the sun.  Now it was too late.  My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time.  It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

And so it is with me … or could be.  I cry every day for Jody, often several times a day.  A part of me wants the crying to stop, the grieving to end.  Thankfully just a small part.  The wisdom eye knows that I will cry when I need to, for as long as I need to.  And if my weeping for my loved one extends over months or even years,  then that is the rhythm I must honour.  People may talk about me needing to move on, but there is a far deeper mystery that calls me for as long as it does.  I will listen.