Who would have thought? It was a simple Diet Doctor Pepper, consumed along with popcorn and a chocolate bar at the Hyland Cinema in London. It’s a ritual I’ve enjoyed for many a movie.

The thing is, I hadn’t had a carbonated beverage for two months – a remarkable stat given my decades-long history of Diet Coke consumption. What’s the problem with a reminiscing slurp of no-calorie sweetness?

Halfway through the movie, there was a pressure on my pants. I reached down in the darkness and felt my belly pressing against my belt. “What is that?” Had I gained twenty pounds as the story got rolling? And the pain was huge.

Many years ago, I had gone on regular visits to a family restaurant in Lethbridge, Alberta which featured prime rib and yummy desserts. Sheltered by a white linen tablecloth, I’d often undo my belt and unzip. Anything to release the pressure. And now I did the same in the Hyland. Darkness covers all sins.

Still the pressure mounted. I tried to remember where my appendix was, and came up short in the knowledge department. Gosh, it hurt! And the film was meandering along so slowly. Had I ruptured something? Were my insides about to be deposited on the outside?

Finally the curtain. As the lights came on and folks streamed by me to the exits, I sat serenely, my arms and hands crossed over my middle, obscuring any view of a languishing belt. So slow was the retreating crowd.

When it felt like the whole place had emptied, I stood up, fixed my hands in pockets to keep my pants erect, and stumbled toward the front entrance. I knew that it’d be dark outside. Except it wasn’t, and several cars were passing in front of me in their exiting. Hastily I zipped and redid the belt, hoping that drivers had to be concentrating on neighbouring cars. My garments intact, if not my psyche, I headed to the sanctuary of Scarlet.

As I sat down, my bloat drowned any well-being. The strategy emerged of slow motion homeward travel. I couldn’t imagine controlling my vehicle at 100 kilometres an hour. So I picked sideroads that would allow me to creep. A serpentine route followed and I finally breeched my front door. Then the bathroom, offering copious amounts of Gas-X. Lie down. Breathe. Continue living.

The pain continued for an hour, and then sleep took over. No ruptured appendix in the morning.

So … dear body. You don’t like carbonated beverages. A new normal has emerged. And the cans of Diet Coke in my fridge will be offered to stomachs who know what they’re doing. As for me, I’ve moved on.

Tined and Mind

I did laundry this morning, which felt like a perfectly normal activity.  And, oh yes, the dishwasher – I should empty it.  Not being at my alertest, I tumbled my hands down towards the cutlery baskets.  I’ve always been a “forks standing right side up” type of guy.  Today I paid the price.  Tines impaled me beneath my right thumbnail and the blood flowed.  Turned out to be not much of that stuff but pain at the 4 to 5 level on a scale of ten.  And I’m still there.

I like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Abe contended that if our basic physical needs (such as freedom from pain!) aren’t met, we won’t be open to transcendent needs, such as loving and being loved.  Well, I’ve had a day to explore that theory.

At 2:00 pm today, I planned to be on a video call with members of the Evolutionary Collective Global Community.  It’s fair to say we explore the consciousness that’s possible between two or more people.  At 1:30, I was lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself and my grievous injury.  I wanted to hunker down and lick my wounds.  No human contact today, please.  “With pain like this, I won’t be able to give to the people on the call, so why even try?”  Such a whimpering and potentially persuasive voice.

At 1:55, I lifted myself up off the bed and onto the couch, laptop in hand.  And something happened when I saw the 17 of us on my computer screen.  I got that my presence was important.  I was one of 17 presences, each with the ability to contribute to the group, to “be with” other human beings.  It’s not about saying something wise or having my empathy reach another member.  It was simply the fact that I was there, damaged thumb and all.

For part of the hour, we are paired with another person for a mutual awakening practice.  Today I wavered between listening into what my partner was experiencing and falling down the hole of physical pain.  Back and forth I went, knowing that I wasn’t “doing as well as I usually do”.  But that didn’t matter … we were together.

Tonight I went out to a movie with a friend and the pain was still a 5.  Truly – so what?  She needed my contact, our conversation and our exploring of what matters.  And once again I saw that I could deal with the thumb and be present in the relationship.  We had a sweet time.

Bad stuff will no doubt continue to happen to me but the world needs me to deal with it and move on, experience the pain but not wallow in it, fall down and get back up, and return to my real job … loving people.

Day Four A

I haven’t seen a single minute of the conference live.  I’m usually a day late in talking to you.  But it doesn’t matter.  Wisdom has a long shelf life.

Here are some juicy morsels from the first half of Day Four:

“Projection is the attribution of cause to someone else that makes me feel something.  As in ‘If you changed your behavior I’d feel better.’  Or … ‘You make me feel good.  Without you, I wouldn’t feel good.'”

Hmm.  I think I do this a lot, especially on the positive side.  If that cherished person wasn’t in my life, could I be happy?  The quiet answer is “Yes”.

“If you witness the location of the distress in your body and allow it to be there, you bring energy to the distress.  Instead you can focus on another part of your body that has no pain.  Where in my body am I feeling some energized flow?  I’ll go there.  I’ll leave the pain.”

Hmm again.  I’ve always been told to be with the pain.  What you resist will persist.  And now I’m invited to ignore the pain and go elsewhere.  Taking a new path seems to negate my history, and I don’t want to do that.  But really, shouldn’t my well-being be the main thing here?

“There are iron chains: attachment to money, power or sex.  But there are also golden chains: attachment to our aspirations and ideals … What’s needed is to act impeccably regarding our aspirations while simultaneously releasing any attachment to the outcome.”

I’m training to ride my bicycle across Canada this summer.  Can I visualize and accept being exhausted or injured in Ontario … and leaving the ride?  Yes.  Will I do all I can to prevent that from happening?  Yes.

“Three of the most powerful figures of the 20th century – Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela – had that spiritual, passionate non-attached kind of power that overpowered the power against them.”


“The invitation is towards this deeper integration, to see past surfaces.  Without the integration of our sexuality, you get all this intellectualization and pedophilia.  Or you get these people who can talk such a good line … and are raping women.  How does that work?  It’s because that human being does not have the whole system integrated.”

So I dedicate myself to balance – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  All make me Bruce and all assist in letting Bruceness go.

“I’m not sure if democracy is the last stage of the big game.  Will we be governed by a council of wise people?  Democracy is a mess.  It’s a beautiful mess, and better than anything before but there’s something beyond, something more civilized and intelligent.”

To what extent can I see outside of the box?  To honour what has solidly been the case in the past and present but also ask “What’s next?”

Day Four B tomorrow.

Root Canal

Moments keep showing up in my life, ones that I want to write about.  Such as the astonishing movie I saw Monday about a Tibetan family’s pilgrimage to the sacred Potala Palace.  Or yesterday afternoon, when I started my volunteer work in a local elementary school.

This morning I told myself to get writing.  Start with Tibet and then move on to Belmont.  But I decided to eat breakfast at the Diner and then mosey over to the elliptical at Wellington Fitness.  “That’s okay, I’ll get to those stories after this afternoon’s root canal.”


Here I sit, ready for the Toronto Raptors basketball game, feeling like lukewarm poop.  I’d say my pain is at 4 on the scale of 1 to 10.  Not bad, but there.  Also I’m lightheaded, fuzzy, flat.  So how can I bring forth the joy of seeing the pilgrimage or laughing with those kids?  I want to talk about those things but if I tried right now it would be concepts, tepid words, nothing bringing forth the “Oh My God” freshness of those moments.

Instead, my head says two things:

1. Don’t even write.  You’re too weak.

2. Speak from your current experience.  It’s the best thing to speak of.

Okay, I choose number two.


You can’t even string words together, Bruce.  (Yes I can.  See above)

What if I felt this vagueness 24/7?  Would I still be able to being forth Spirit?

Take the Tylenol, Bruce.  (No, at least not with this level of pain.  How about if I let myself experience exactly what’s here?)

Do some people, not in pain, feel this way throughout their lives?  I suppose.  How can they possibly conjure up love, joy and peace?

It’s getting worse.  It’s now a 5.  (I don’t think so.  You’re making it up, just so you can get some drugs into your system)

Oh … here comes a headache.  (So?)

I figure, as I move towards my 70s, that physical pain will become a larger part of my life.  Maybe not.  But if it does, and my strength, endurance and flexibility decline, should my contributions to the world also diminish?  (No)

The game’s coming on.  Wrap it up.  (No.  I’ll keep looking to see if there’s more I want to say)

Maybe you should write about the Tibetan family and all those Grade 6s tonight.  Just keep going.  (No.  Heroism not required.  I’ll get to those topics when I have more energy)

You just counted the number of points you talked about below the asterisks.  It’s nine.  Why don’t you stop at ten?  (That’s silly.  It’s not a sporting contest.  Stats don’t matter.  Just look a bit more – a few more important things to say or not?)




What’s with all these injury posts?  Maybe I’m just seeking attention.

My friend Adele and I went out to dinner tonight at Boston Pizza on one of those cozy and rainy evenings.  I’m marginally addicted to their cheesesteak nachos.  Adele is in a wheelchair and after we maneuvered ourselves to a booth I looked for a staff member to tell me where to park our vehicle.  Katie saw my situation and took me to a spot just inside the front door.  Using my best parallel parking skills, the deed was done.

I was heading back to our booth just as a couple was leaving.  I twisted my wet shoe to avoid them … and down I went.  I cushioned the fall with my right arm but my head found its way to the floor.  I stayed in a slump for a bit, taking in my confusing surroundings.  I looked up to see a whole bunch of people standing sideways.  Well, perhaps I was the sideways guy.  “Stay down, ” someone said.  “Should we call 911?”  “No,” I said.  In my best John Wayne rendition, I told everyone that I was okay.

In a fit of inspiration, I asked the gathering “Was I graceful?”  I don’t know what they said in reply.  I sat up.  My knee hurt.  My head hurt a bit.  But I was fine, I assured myself.  I got up and returned to Adele.

Do I share my story with her?  Of course.  She was super concerned.

A bit later, Katie came by.  “How are you feeling?  I know first aid.”  Such a sweet person.  Then she brought me chamomile tea for my headache.  Thank you, Katie.

A couple of hours later, I have a wee touch of head pain but you’ll be happy to know that the combination for my new padlock is 36-38-32.  (See yesterday’s post for an explanation of this apparently strange comment.)

The human body is a resilient little piece of protoplasm.  I will live to fall another day.


The Body Speaks

I was back to Hugh’s Room last night, this time to hear Sean McCann, formerly of Great Big Sea, a very cool Canadian music group.

One great thing about Hugh’s Room is that you can have a drink and a meal in the cozy venue.  My choices were a McCauslan draft beer and squid, more tenderly known as calamari.  It was delicious … for awhile.

As Sean rolled through his first set, and I was moving and grooving with him, I became aware of gooey teeth.  It’s one thing to have a healthy piece of spinach caught in there but squid was another matter.  I rolled my tongue over the offending spots but no go for the supreme release.  Discreetly, or perhaps not, I shoved my right hand inside and grinded away.  Nyet.  At the break, I talked to my server Lina about the angst of octopus teeth and she kindly brought me a shot glass full of toothpicks.  Over the next half hour, I used about ten of them.  The epitome of reserve, I retreated to a stall in the men’s washroom and commenced my day surgery.  Goo remained.

Not to be defeated by a sea creature, and feeling a bit queasy, I decided to get some air.  I walked outside to Dundas Street West, turned right, and ducked behind a brick wall, hidden from Hugh’s but open to inspection by the folks walking in the other direction.  A slender piece of wood emerged from my pocket and began its plunging work.  I was a shadowy figure in the shadows, clearly a druggie, or so I imagined people thinking.

Finally … success!  The coast was clear.  Thank God.

Back in the club, Sean was blasting out some anthems to the delight of the packed house.  The woman at the next table was gushing with her remembrance of the lyrics.  She would throw her arms in the air and then clasp her hands to her heart.  Two tables farther, next to the stage, a young woman in red also knew the words.  My angle to her was different – all I could see was the line of her cheek, and the curve was high, suggesting a big, big smile.  And lots of moving parts as the words poured out of her.

Before the break, I was thigh slapping and singing.  Afterwards, something was wrong.  Nausea grew.  I tried letting it be there, like a nice little Buddhist guy would.  Quite something when occasionally I would be all right with the pain.  Even okay with it continuing for as long as it was happy being there.  But then there were all those other times.  “This is bad.  This must end.”

My oomph was gone.  Neighbours rose to their headtops in bliss.  I rolled into a ball.  “Don’t vomit on this nice tablecloth, Bruce.”  Thankfully, I didn’t.  But “this isn’t me.  I’m zestful and vibrant and over the top.”  Except when I’m not.  “Okay.  This is also me.”

The pain eventually led me to drastic action.  Trusting that no one was watching, I pulled up my sweater, undid my belt, let down the fly a bit and replaced my wooly garment.  Ahh.  Or at least a lessening of the pressure.

At the end, folks rose in a standing ovation.  I slumped.  “But you’re always one of the first to stand, Bruce!”  Goodness gracious.  Will you please be quiet?  I’m having a different drummer day.

I feel some better today, just a little sickly.  No more beer for awhile.  And in the spirit of scientific investigation, down with squid and up with salad.  How about that, Bruce body?




Flying Like a Bird … Dropping Like a Stone

I loved walking by the water’s edge in Cuba, dipsy doodling along the sand.  Nowhere to go and no hurry to get there.  And I enjoyed saying “Hola!” to the people I met.  It was such a blessing to meet and greet, even if many folks gave me a very tight “Hola” in return, or sometimes no greeting at all.  Not being attached to the other’s response created a lightness that I wish all human beings could experience.

Then there were words from Jody on one warm afternoon: “I’m so glad you’re dancing up a storm in the disco, husband.  You’re having so much fun.  Why don’t you try some moving and grooving on the beach?”

Hmmm.  Well, I guess I could dance a bit by the waves.  Sing a few lines from a favorite song or two.  But my goodness, what would people think?  >  Who cares what they think?  >  Well, I do … sort of  >  Will you still be alive at the end of the dance, with all of your body parts intact?  >  Well, sure  >  What’s the worst that could happen?  >  Some of them will think I’m drunk  >  So?  Are you?  >  No, of course not  >  So, how about if you start shaking a leg?  >  (Pause)  Okay

A sudden tightness in the step.  Furtive glances to the left and right.  Waiting for a moment when very few folks were near.  Blah, blah, blah …  Just do it.

So I did.  The singing came first, and then the arms lifted … oh so little.  They floated to the sides, to up and to down.  Rotate that trunk.  Loosen those wrists.  Dip down for the chorus.  Tilt that sexy head of yours … And I was off, soon lost in the melody.  I held Jody like a bird and we floated over the world.  Pirouette.  Bow.  Smile.  For a few yards … till the next beach bar … for three miles or more.  My love and I, tripping the light fantastic, so deeply joined in spirit.

Sunbathers watched.  Strollers noted the mystery couple.  There were smiles, frowns, grimaces, high fives, looking away, looking into, communing, disowning.  Fear, love, anger, peace … the whole enchilada.  And I was fine with it all.  My beloved and I graced the world.

I was lighter than goose down, as rhythmic as Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Lucky me.

And then I pulled a muscle in my right calf.  Pain shot up and down the leg.  I staggered.  I plodded.  I hobbled.  The dance was dead.  I was old.  I was feeble.  I was pretty much extinct.

Such a long walk back to my hotel room.  Sunbathers watched.  Strollers noted.  Sympathy, apathy, fear that it might become them.

Floating and bloating
Reaching to the sun and crumbling to the earth
In God’s green heaven and in the devil’s fiery furnace

All in a day’s work