Look At That!

If I had influence with the good fairy
who’s supposed to preside over the birth of all children

I would ask that her gift to each child in the world
would be a sense of wonder so indestructible
it would last throughout life

Rachel Carlson

What would life be like if all of us gazed upon the simplest things with soft, open eyes?

Of course there are the “big” things:

1.  A man down on his knee, asking his beloved to marry him

2.  A violinist, centre stage, playing the sweetest melody with the passion of the gods

3.  A spider web in the early morning, suddenly revealed as laden with dew as the sun comes from behind a cloud

4.  You sitting by the bedside, holding your beloved’s hand, as she takes her last breath

5.  A sunrise painting the sky

Hopefully it’s not hard for each of us, young or old, to see the majesty of these moments.  But can the 10-year-old and the 40-year-old see the nuances of life, and are they willing to drink them in, with the mouth forming a little “o”?

1.  A flicker of the eyes in delight

2.  The play of light as it curves across the surface of an orange

3.  Watching as a friend does a kindness to someone else

4.  Birds frolicking in the grass, seeking the seeds that have fallen from the feeder

5.  Considering the span of life experience in an elder, perhaps a grandparent

There is much to see
There is much which can cause us to pause
We are better for the lingering


This was to be the evening when I told you about my acting possibilities down the road.  I had lots of say but I’m too weak.  I woke up this morning with a deep cough, wracking myself in a high-pitched squeal as I tried to get the mucus up.  Once, I was having trouble breathing.  I was scared.  In the summer of 2013, Jody had continual pneumonia symptoms.  It turned out that it wasn’t an infection.  It was cancer.

In Emergency today, the doctor told me I don’t have pneumonia … just bronchitis.  No sign of cancer.  Thank God.

Tonight it’s all about coughing spasms, chills and fever.  I feel like poop.  But I want to see if I can write anything of value.  It’s fine to say good stuff when I’m well.  This, right now, is the test.

How do I treat people when I’m suffering?  I got some clue about that today at the hospital.  The triage nurse asked me what colour the mucus was, after I had told him.  So let it go, Bruce.  Not important.  I answered him with no editorial comment.

After triage was the registration desk, and then finding a seat in the waiting room.  I had my mask on.  I chose to sit right next to a fellow, rather than two seats down.  Was that being irresponsible?  I don’t think so.  In life, I simply want to move towards people rather than away from them.  Could my presence right next door be a benefit to him?  I say yes.  In any event, my decision came from a good intention – to contribute rather than infect.

Earlier, in the triage seats,  I talked to a woman who had been admitted to the hospital for a few days and then was sent home.  Back again.  We had a good time.  Eventually I was sent to a smaller waiting room, hopefully to see a doctor soon.  And there was the same woman, with two empty seats to her right.  I saw her nudge her coat over, to allow me full space next to her.  Inexplicably to me, I sat down two seats away.  Immediately, I felt the contraction.  Distance is not what I’m up to in life, so I moved over beside her.  That felt good, and right, and what the planet needs.  We talked some more.  And I knew that I had already forgiven myself completely.

A half hour later, I was alone in that room, when a fellow ambled in.  I wanted to make contact, so I said:  “You just missed the hors d’oeuvres.  A woman came by a few minutes ago.”  He smiled.

A few minutes after that, two women dropped their paperwork at the window and took a seat.  “It seems that they’re serving us in alphabetical order.”  Two smiles.  Missions accomplished.

I’m happy, and sick.  Nothing special.  Just me.





A diligent young student lived across the river from his Master.  One day the student sent an inspired enlightenment poem to his teacher, proudly announcing “Sitting still upon the purple golden lotus, the eight winds cannot move me.”  In response, the Master wrote the word “fart” across the poem and sent it back.

Full of indignation, the student rushed out of his house and ordered the ferry to take him quickly to the other shore.  Outraged, he felt he deserved an apology.  When he got to his Master’s door, he found a note saying “The eight winds cannot move me, and yet one fart blows me across the river.”  Deflated and humbled, the young student realized how blinded he was by his so-called spiritual “attainment”.

As recounted by Kittisaro, in Listening to the Heart, written by Kittisaro and Thanissara

[According to the Buddha, the eight winds are gain and loss, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute.]

It’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of seeing myself as special, evolved and wise.  After all, I’m now an author, right? …  Just so much blather.  Not at all what is true.  I choose to let go rather than puff up, to float rather than press, to smile at the heavens rather than wave my arms.

False modesty?  I don’t think so.  Those words aren’t even in the realm of my being.  All I have to do is look in your eyes, and hold my gaze there for a bit, to see that we’re the same, you and I.  The same wants, the same beauty, the same essence peeking out from behind our worldly clothes.