Ordinary and Sublime

Being hungry is ordinary.  It happens every day to all of us.  Going to McDonalds for supper is also ordinary.  Hopefully it doesn’t happen every day for any of us!

We wash the dishes, brush our teeth, ride the bus or drive the car, talk to our family members.  I see a danger that our whole life be swallowed up by the “usual”.  The routines and the schedules take over … and we don’t notice the brightness of life anymore.

No thanks.

I was in a McDonalds mood a few nights ago.  I got my food and sat at a counter, looking out a window.  And this is what I saw:

My burger and fries were animated by the glow of St. Nicholas Church. I was sipping far more than Diet Coke. The air shook. My view transformed from 2D to 3D.

What are the textures that may be revealed right now? Who am I connected to as I gaze out at the life on the street? When will I wake up to the beauty that is always here? To the majesty of the moment?

I choose “Now”

Be Here Now

If you can drive safely while kissing someone
you’re simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves

Albert Einstein

I think Albert was on to something here, whether it’s about romance or doing your taxes.  We tend not to go all out, not to throw ourselves into an act with the total oomph it deserves.  But what does it mean to give 100% in the moment, rather than the tepid 50% we often manage to express?

I’m partial to kissing.  Let’s go there:

1.  Harder … More pressure:  I don’t think so.  The vacuum action doesn’t bring forth intimacy

2.  Faster:  No, it’s not a race to the finish line

3.  Wetter:  Sounds good but it ain’t necessarily so.  Slobberiness can get in the way of the connection

4.  Longer:  Now this is promising.  I wrote a few days ago about a couple’s wondrously extended kiss in an airport

We’re in the wrong territory here.  It’s not about technique, physical stamina, or the drive to make love.  Those are fine but actually the eyes know what real kissing is.  It’s the communion that lives when two people enter the same sacred reality.  The 50% approach won’t do – a brush of the lips on the way out the door, a peck on the cheek while you check your texts.  No.  Going into each other’s eyes please, and all the way through to where the loved one’s essence lies.  That’ll do nicely.

When we drive, our hands are on the wheel
When we kiss, our hearts are in each other’s hands


In any given moment, such as this one, what is wanting to be born? What is just over the edge of the horizon, beckoning to me? I wonder … and wondering is so uncertain, not solid, unknown. I like the not knowing.

I’m sitting in the beer garden at Sunfest, a world music festival in London, Ontario. When I arrived with my trusty cell phone, I had made up my mind to blog about the wild group I danced to last night – Five Alarm Funk. I was going to talk about my wounded knee and still my determination to move the body. But sitting here right now, the story of yesterday isn’t on the tip of my tongue. It’s not pulling me forward. Since Five Alarm Funk isn’t alive in me right now, I don’t want to tell the tale.

And so I sit, watching what I’m drawn to do. Fifteen minutes ago, the musicians on the stage moved me to tap out the rhythms on the table. There was no thinking, just my hands starting to caress the wood. Soon all that morphed into playing table piano, and then this Samsung phone found its way into my hands.

There are about ten people in front of the stage, dancing. I look inside and see that dancing is not emerging, and so I’m still at the table.

What’s real now? The leader of the group onstage has just invited all of us to dance to their last song. What’s bubbling up is leaning over to the woman sitting to my right and saying “I don’t want to dance.” She smiles and says she doesn’t want to either, but she’s happy to tap her toes. Smile returned.

What if I felt into each moment and looked for what wanted to express itself? No judgment, no have-to, no contraction. That sounds like a very sweet way to lead my life. Let’s do it.

Now there are about forty folks dancing in front of the stage. Good for them. I love dancing and I don’t want to join in. Good for me.

And the next moment is about to burst forth.

Bigger Than This

To me, “this” refers to the present moment, as opposed to “that”.  It might be joyous or sad, inspiring or frustrating, or everything in between.  It has adventures and it has movement from one thing to the next.

A couple of days ago, I experienced stillness, no movement, just being here now.  It was so sweet, and then it faded.  I figured it was by grace that such sufficiency showed up and I vowed to simply wait until this light shone on me again.  Trying to make it happen, such as by feeling into the current event and trying to make it stop, was a useless endeavour.  Effort doesn’t lead to the timeless.

Then there was this morning.  What if I found a mantra and simply repeated it throughout the day, hoping that it would trigger the downward flow of energy that I was experiencing recently?  Sounds like a strategy but not really effort.  That might work.  But having things “work” seems contrary to the letting go that came upon me before.  Still, I decided to do it.

How about “Not this”?  I tried that for awhile but no sweetness came my way.  Then I realized that negating the present moment wasn’t it.  I needed to honour present happenings while opening to something beyond them.  Maybe “Bigger than this”.  Worth a shot.

I was driving into London, going with the flow of the traffic, when I let “Bigger than this” seep into me.  Immediately the quiet flow of energy fell softly from my throat to my stomach.  And I was there, fully aware of the cars, but absolutely quiet inside.  I started congratulating myself and right away lost the immense space.  “Just watch the fullness (or emptiness), Bruce.  No analysis or conclusions.”

I got to my bike shop, to pick up ta-pocketa.  Unmindfully, I had broken my pedal last week.  “Come in.  We’re open” said the sign.  A smaller, handwritten one said they had to close unexpectedly for a few hours.  After a minute of grousing, I remembered my mantra … and the world opened once more.  The frustration of driving to Lambeth but not getting to take my bike home was still there but it was … small.  I smiled.

My afternoon was at South Dorchester School, volunteering with wonderful Grade 6 kids.  Right away, I had a conversation with two girls about drawing, and my mantra disappeared.  It stayed disappeared until I remembered it while talking to two women at the end of the day.  In between, I had many glorious moments, such as staring at a computer screen, surrounded by 12-year-olds, trying to guess who’s who from 27 baby pictures.  I got one right!

You could say that I was present for all these interactions with the kids, and I was, but how deeper could the moments have been if “Bigger than this” had augmented the already beautiful?  I don’t know, but I’m thrilled with the possibility that I can access the infinite often within daily life.

Tomorrow there’s more daily life on the schedule.  The Grade 6’s have a class trip to Western University in London.  We’ll be playing 4 or 5 different sports and “new” games.  And I have a challenge:

Stay present
Stay open
Stay fully alive

I can do this

Hiatus Ending

It’s been so long, WordPressers … twenty days actually.  Some of my absence was out of my hands – there’s no Internet within the wilds of Haida Gwaii.  Still I’ve been home for almost a week and no digit has touched a key.  I’ve had so much to say and so little willingness to say it.  Strange.

Certainly, there are the seasons of a life.  In 2015, I was X.  In 2016, it’s more like X – Y + Z.  And that’s okay.

I went to B.C. with my tiny Nikon camera, knowing that I would chronicle my adventures.  On Day 2, I took a cool skyward shot of the ivy that covers the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver.  And that was it.  Both before and during my tall ship trip, I kept seeing awesome photo ops but always the answer was “No”.  “Let go of the recording, Bruce.  Just be in this moment.  A year from now, you may forget most of the Haida Gwaii happenings, and that’s all right.  The conversations, the whales, the eagles may slip away from conscious thought, but they will have seeped inside in some mysterious manner.  And they will always be with you.”

I listened to that voice.  Over the next few days, I’ll share marvels with you.  I guess that having them show up in my blog means that in 2031 I can look back on my journey, but still there is a great big letting go.

See you tomorrow.


Two Men

I was having breakfast at a restaurant this morning and the TV monitor on the wall facing me showed Washington, DC.  There were uniforms, a band, fluttering flags … one of which was Canadian.  Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was visiting Barack Obama.

The two of them strode to the podium.  They stood still, not speaking.  The sound was off but I knew what was happening: the band was playing our national anthems.  I was moved.

First of all, it was just two human beings who stood before me.  Each doing their best in life to be happy.   Then it was two men, not puffing out their chests and uttering a Tarzan call, but instead being in the moment.  Then it was the leaders of two nations, with all the responsibility and heartaches that this entails.

I was glad to be watching.  I felt a part of it.  I’m no less nor more than the brothers I saw.  And I say “brothers” knowing that the two leaders have policy disagreements, differing personalities and divergent histories.

Justin and Barack walked over to a small crowd of onlookers who stood behind a flimsy barrier.  They walked down the line, shaking hands with young and old.  I smiled.  I also gulped.  My brain created a memory of Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.  1963.  Smiling faces greeted a smiling president as his motorcade proceeded down Elm Street.  The rest is history.

Many times in my future life, I will stand beside another person.  May I be present for the humanity near me, glimpsing the beauty within, thanking my lucky stars that I am not alone.