Unbidden

Words and images float into my brain these days and I don’t know where they come from. It’s not like I’m furrowing my brow and forcing things out from the inside. They just emerge … erupt … bubble up. I don’t even know if this stuff means anything, and I don’t care about that. I’m fascinated with the flow.

Should I be more focused, more intentional? Some small voice within says so. But yes, it is small. There’s a far larger span of being that welcomes the uncertainty, the non-sense, the misty whiteout that often comes close. (I look at the last sentence and wonder at the potential “craziness” there. And I know it’s just fine.)

Lying in bed as the sun rose this morning, I was flooded with the vibrancy of an emerald green field festooned with red flowers. I could smell their breathing. And the dew sat on the shoots poking out of the soil. It was wondrous, and seemed to come not from within me but around me.

Later in the morning, over coffee and a bagel, there came a starry, starry night of village homes, each twinkling on the earth. “This makes no sense,” volunteers the itsy bitsy self that cruises the surface of this Bruceness. (Wow! That doesn’t make sense either. Should I stifle the flow of pictures and colours and words, in an ode to normality? No, I shouldn’t.)

And then there are the words. In their own time, they come by to say hi. Such as “dearly” and “goodly”. I wonder why the “ly”, attached to words that don’t need them. Is there some recess in my mind that provides lots of room for the strange to fall in?

“There are many ways,” offers some far off and yet intimately close being. Or “living in the world at ease”. Or …

The underworld speaks

Love them all … light the world

Stand still in the ocean

Ask them … they know

Follow the drinking gourd [That’s a song, but why here and why now?]

Underwear king

Absent without leave [from some movie]

Sliding away from the vertical

Beckoning you nearer … Please come here

Space walks together, tethered to some immensity

Quiet in the space between your words

Lying on the softness, calling for home

There is no plan, no strategy, no structure. There is simply a broad opening of the mouth, happy with whatever comes forth. And a trust that what emerges will be good, be kind, be of service to … someone.

Communion in the Air

I had breakfast with my friend Imogen on Tuesday.  She’s a hairdresser, and her face shone as she talked about her clients.  I’m clear that Imogen has found one very deep niche in her life.  Hairstyles and perms are just a convenient excuse for her to be with people and shower them with love.

A lot of seniors come Imogen’s way.  Some of them are alone and simply want a caring human being to talk to.  And the dear hairdresser just might be the only person who touches them anymore.

My friend told me about Grace, an elderly woman who’s sliding down the slope of dementia … ever so slowly.  Imogen has chocolate at the ready, a favourite treat.  Plus there’s plenty of time to linger and enjoy a cuppa tea together.  Imogen could hurry Grace out the door and cram another client into the time, but her bottom line is far from the world of dollars.

One day Imogen set off for a pretty little town nearby, and a workshop that she was looking forward to taking.  The teacher asked her what she did for a living.  Hairstyling led to a mention of Imogen’s shop – Shine Salon – and the lovely clientele that she was privileged to be with.  The teacher knew the shop and when Imogen mentioned her favourite customer (Grace), the teacher knew her too.  Actually, the teacher’s mom Florence was Grace’s best friend.  Even better, Florence lived upstairs in the old home where the workshop was happening.  And she was home right now!

When Florence was beckoned downstairs, her daughter said “Mom, this woman takes care of Grace.”  Florence started crying and rushed over to hug Imogen.  “Thank you … so very much.”

Oh, to have been in that room at the moment of embrace.

It’s a good world, isn’t it?
I wonder what forces are at work
so that Florence and Imogen could share their love of Grace
It’s a mystery, isn’t it?

Problems in Doing … Lightness of Being

For most of my life, I’ve done the tasks of life well. Sure, I had to study this and put some effort into that, but I usually basked in the aura of accomplishment. I’m a good teacher. I’m a good writer.

There’s a casualness in doing well. It’s predictable. And I easily fall into a peaceful rhythm. But what if something happened to disturb that rhythm, to knock me off my comfy chair? Would that be a problem? I guess. But maybe not. Perhaps that would open me into the fresh air of brand newness.

For a long time, I’ve thought that it’s easy to be happy when the world is honouring your words and actions. Far more of a challenge is to continue going towards people when I lack skill, when I fall short, or when the environment seems to be conspiring against me.

Ahh … how life teaches its lessons. Such as today.

I enjoy my work with the Evolutionary Collective. There are opportunities to meet online many times a week with folks from here, there and everywhere. A couple of months ago, I decided to start the training for being the support person in these calls, the one who organizes everything – managing the technology, putting people into breakout groups, unmuting and muting them when they share in the large group, and handling special requests. Today my job was to do the whole thing, while being coached by an experienced tech person.

I started well in the welcoming but then I piled mistake upon mistake. I forgot important parts of the sequence of tasks. I went into overwhelm when faced with the job of moving twenty-two folks into pairs in a way that followed certain guidelines. I panicked more than once, and was grateful when my friend rescued me. I had studied all the details but performed poorly in the heat of the action.

After all the participants left, we two did a debriefing session. Lots of feedback, communicated with kindness. A recognition that I’m nowhere near independent in this role. As my coach and I ended the call, there was laughter … and then quiet smiles. We were together, on a journey.

I left home soon after on my way to the gym. Behind the steering wheel was a man fascinated with the lightness that surrounded him. There was peace. My goodness, how can this be? Why am I not beating myself up, a skill which I had honed to perfection over many decades? Why was my head high, looking straight out at the world? Why was I happy?

It doesn’t seem to be about me – positive thinking, determination, a commitment to do better. There’s no doing here. Something seems to be washing over me in the face of apparently distressing conditions.

And I smile.

Upside Down

I’m a fairly intelligent person and I know how the world works.  You start with A and get yourself to B, whether that’s an easy task or something that requires great effort and creativity.  After that, it’s on to C.  Etcetera.

Or … maybe I’m wrong.  Life just might present us with stuff that doesn’t make any sense, that’s bereft of logic, often just plain weird.  Could it be that these moments are immense windows into another way of being?

I’m looking back at jolts, discontinuities, strangeness.  One happened a couple of days ago, when I was doing a Mutual Awakening practice with someone online.  I can’t even remember who that someone was, which is a bit of a jolt in itself.  In these practices, images often bubble up.  I’ve let go of figuring out where they come from.  This time, I saw a man looking at me with his eyes closed.  I could tell they were about to open.  Instead of the eyelids rising to reveal the eyes, they came down from the top.  When the eyes were fully visible, the lids didn’t stop at the bottom.  They continued down his cheeks, gradually showing an iridescent turquoise interior.  It was shining and it was huge.  Seeing into the man’s eyes, I realized that he was me.

My lips tightened.  My head tilted.  And I was transported to another place.  I knew almost immediately that I would talk to you about this mystery that takes the breath away.  Here it is Sunday and I’m talking.  It doesn’t matter how you react to this.  It’s clear to me that this break in normal reality needs to be communicated.

***

I’m thinking back to a vacation that Jody and I had in the Dominican Republic.  The dining room was close by a lovely pond bordered with tropical colours.  Long-legged pinkish birds walked in the shallows, seeking a fish buffet.  After a minute of watching the birds tense into their pouncing, I noticed their legs.  My mouth opened and I stared.  Their legs bent the other way … folding backwards.  What ever happened to A, B, C and D?

***

Last night, I went to a BeeGees tribute concert in London.  Towards the end, many of us were moving and grooving on the dance floor that was the narrow space between Row A and the stage.  One young man danced like … I don’t know what.  His fingers were jabbing in time to his neck moving back and forth, sort of like a chicken but not really.  More staring from me.

***

When the breaks in reality flood me, I get disoriented, wavery, hanging not so loose in some in-between space.  The questions explode in my head:  “Where am I?  What is this place?  How come I don’t recognize any landmarks?”

This is all okay
Just embrace the fog
Walk inside
It’s safe

A Dream, I Guess

It’s morning.  It feels like the night had several chapters.  Early on in the proceedings, a woman came into the room.  She was young and dressed in black – a long dress or a robe.  As she wandered around, her head was down and her mouth was missing.  Everything was very slow.

As I fell into and out of consciousness, the woman always seemed to be there, in no hurry to get anywhere, apparently satisfied by hanging out with me.  In my more aware moments, I asked if this was real or was it a dream.  And it didn’t matter.  Nor was it important to analyze the thing.  No, the lesson was elsewhere.  There seemed to be such space around things, and she walked near me so slowly.  I felt transported to her meandering path, seeing whispers, drinking in the flow of her robe.

And then I slept for hours, deeply.  On awakening half an hour ago, another image flooded my bedroom.  Apparently I own a van, and I was returning to it from an errand.  Seven or eight drunk teenaged boys were occupying the space.  Nothing was broken but garbage was everywhere.  In quick order they disappeared, with no urging from me.  The old house nearby was also a mess – beer bottles, hamburger wrappers.  I was alone, picking up everything, putting it into bags, wishing that someone was with me to share the task.

Now, looking back at the two, there was no dilemma in my overnight.  Strange yes, problem no.  I’m still floaty, untethered.  The tasks of the day remain but they’re blended into the background.  Everything seems merged – no clear boundaries.  And my fingers on the laptop keys fall in super slo-mo.

Is this spaciousness real?  Is this a new normal approaching from the horizon?  I don’t know … and I don’t care.  Just let it be here, Bruce.

Kenosis

I’ve been strange lately.  There’s some peaceful crumbling going on, a sense of skin cells falling off.  I don’t see any danger but there’s huge mystery.  “What’s happening to me?  Where am I?”  Sometimes I seem to be enshrouded in a fog.  I reach into it and grope around for familiar shapes, often finding none.  At times I feel in free fall, but with no worry about the landing.  Or that I’m rubbing up against something unknown, something so very soft.

I suppose this sounds pathological but I trust that it’s not.  There’s often a great feeling of space around me.  At those times, there aren’t any landmarks that I recognize but somehow I feel at home.  The solidness of “who Bruce is” is fading … expanding … and fading again.

Within my waveriness, there are sometimes losses of memory.  I sat down on my yoga mat this morning, ready to do the exercises I’ve done for months.  There are eleven of them, and for five minutes at least I couldn’t remember the first one.  Yes, there was a little blip of fear but it was soon replaced in the unknowing by a little smile.  Not remembering was not a problem.

For the last few days, I haven’t felt like writing a blog post, and so I haven’t … feeling at ease around the silence on the screen.  A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my 1000th post on WordPress but now the number seems meaningless.  There will be writing when writing feels like emerging.

A woman I know and trust told me recently that I’m going through kenosis.  Tonight I looked up a conversation on the internet on that very topic between Patricia Albere and Debbie delaCuesta.  I made some notes and here they are.  Some of them shine a light on my recent days, in which the experiences are so different from my past ones, and yet magically not problems.

Kenosis is self-emptying.  The ways in which I’ve identified myself are merely constructs, things I’ve believed in, and they don’t define who I am.

Releasing the attachment to who you thought you were  CF.  “I’ll die if I’m not somebody”

You feel like you’re being erased and you can’t find a sense of identity

Uncharted, uncertain, ever-changing

Who I am is this kind, compassionate person [or maybe I’m far more vast than that]

Being less attached to the higher … spiritual experiences come and go

Too solid, too much of a something

Achievement and growth lose meaning

Letting things melt away

I get taken into things where I have no idea what’s going on

When people are in transition, it may be transformation and not pathology

Releasing attachment to the self that we’ve earnestly built

Oh, I’m not any of those things?  There’s something deeper and vaster that has nothing to do with any of what I’ve done, any way I’ve shined up my personality?

***

I wonder if most of you are sitting there saying “What gobbledygook!  This guy’s crazy.  Being a better me is what’s important.”  If so, fair enough.  But there’s something happening here.

 

 

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.