Tapestry

All is calm … All is bright

 

It’s all here, all the infinite variety of human life …

 

I can dance in the flame and I can rest at twilight

I can tumble words from my mouth and I can let my lips abide in their touch

I can party with all of you and I can joyfully keep my own company

I can knock on your door and I can invite you into my home

I can laugh and I can cry

I can sing and I can be sung to

I can figure it out and I can let it go

I can jump forward and I can fall back

I can breathe in life’s sorrows and I can breathe out blessings

I can soar and I can plummet

I can live and then I can die

Go Ahead and Smile

Am I allowed to laugh in the presence of the coronavirus?  After all, 1.7 million of us have died and 76 million have been infected.  Those are horrible numbers that point to immense suffering among the victims and the loved ones left behind.  But laughter helps me stay sane, so here are some creative responses from the world at large:

I wish Corona could’ve started in Las Vegas
because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator

2019: Stay away from negative people
2020: Stay away from positive people

Going to bed early
Not leaving the house
Not going to parties
My childhood punishments have become my adult goals

People who ask me what I have planned for tomorrow
probably assume that I even know what day of the week it is

Why the hell did I buy a 2020 planner?

Doglike instructions for humans in 2020: Sit … stay

Due to my isolation, I finished three books yesterday 
And believe me, that’s a lot of colouring

The most unused household item during quarantine: bras

“Hello.  Table for two on your outside patio …
Yes, of course I’ll be wearing a mask.  I’m Batman”

Don’t expect Covid-19 to last.  It was made in China

Has Covid-19 forced you to wear glasses and a mask at the same time?
You may be entitled to condensation

(Charlie Brown)  I’m staying in bed, Snoopy.  It’s too peopley out there

Can’t believe we stayed up and screamed “Happy New Year!”
for this mess

You never realize how anti-social you are until there’s a pandemic
and your life doesn’t really change that much

First time in history:
We can save the human race by lying in front of the TV and doing nothing

Let’s not screw this up

Hang in there, folks

The Eye of the Beholder

It was an episode of the black-and-white TV series The Twilight Zone. On November 11, 1960, viewers were presented with a woman lying in a hospital bed, her face covered in bandages. Doctors and nurses came and went, their faces wrapped in shadow, or their bodies turned away from the camera.

“Ever since I was a little girl, people turned away when they looked at me … one little child screaming … I’m used to bandages on my face. I’ve lived my whole life inside a dark cave.”

At the nursing station, the verdict was divided:

“If it were my face, I’d bury myself in a grave someplace.”

“Deeper than that twisted lump of flesh, deeper than that skeletal mask, I’ve seen that woman’s real face, nurse. It’s a good face. It’s a human face.”

On the TV overhead, the nation’s leader is giving a speech:

“Tonight I shall talk to you about glorious conformity … the pleasure of our unified society … We must conform to the norm!”

And now a conversation between doctor and patient:

“We’ll take the bandages off soon, Miss Tyler. You may very well have responded to these last injections … if not, please know that there are many others who share your misfortune … you can’t expect to live any kind of life among normal people … perhaps you’ll move into a special area in which people of your kind have been congregated.”

“You mean segregated!”

Later, the time of reckoning is at hand:

“We’ve done all we could do.”

“If I’m still terribly ugly, could I please be put away?”

“Under certain circumstances, the state provides for the extermination of undesirables.”

The bandages are slowly unwrapped. At the last turn, nurses gasp and cover their eyes. “No change!” Miss Tyler bursts from the room, running down the hall past horrified onlookers.

At the end of it all, Miss Tyler is introduced to Mr. Smith, “a representative of the group you’re going to live with. In a little while, you’ll feel a sense of great belonging.”

***

To help you appreciate this story even more, here are some photos:

The first shows a dedicated doctor and nurse, overwhelmed by the appearance of the patient.

Next is the disfigured Miss Tyler.

Finally, a similar abomination, Mr. Smith, offers Miss Tyler a place amid the untouchables.

Sadness

Obonato

The anthropologist invited the children from the African tribe to play one game.  He placed a basket of fruit near the tree and announced, addressing the children: “The one of you who reaches the tree first will be rewarded with all of the sweet fruits.”  When he signaled to the children to start the race, they locked their hands tightly and ran together, and then they all sat together and enjoyed the delicious fruit.

The astonished anthropologist asked the children why they all ran together, because each of them could have enjoyed the fruit for him or herself.  To which the children replied: “Obonato”.  Is it possible for one to be happy if everyone else is sad?  “Obonato” in their language means “I exist because we exist.”

I don’t know who wrote this.  It’s not important.  We humanity wrote it.  Similarly, it doesn’t matter if I write a particular thing in this blog.  What matters is that it is written.

We lives and breathes and creates.  We brings joy and reverence for life.  is a mere shadow of what life can be.  The African kids got the message.  Can we adult Westerners, older and supposedly wiser, understand … and live from there?  The future is cheering us on: “You folks can do it!”  Let’s prove the future right.

Dark or Blurry

My near and distance vision has been declining over the past few years.  There’s no way I pass cars anymore since judging speeds, especially at night, is difficult.   Tiny words on tubes and bottles might as well be in another language, and buying a magnifying glass has been on my “to do” list for months.

It was time to take action.  I made an appointment with my optometrist.  That appointment was today.  The eye doctor is a genial fellow who’s got a vast array of high tech equipment.  His verdict?  “Your eyes have changed significantly.”  Still … don’t worry, be happy.  It’s an age thing.  Okay, I’m getting up there.  I accept the emerging realities of my senior life.

I headed over to Costco, the home of super-sized quantities and very friendly optical employees.  The woman who greeted me was the same person who found my red and purple and yellow frame two years ago.  She remembered me and my glasses.  I ordered the new and improved lenses, but there was one tiny detail: my dear frame had to go off to Toronto or somewhere for about ten days.  Hmm.  Well, what can you do?

The staff member asked if I had a backup pair.  No.  Guess I’m not much of a backup person.  I’ll just wear my sunglasses.

***

I’m several hours into my shortterm visual life, and there are things to say:

1.  It’s dark

How strange.  Everything I look at is muted.  My lovely red EasyBoy chair is less red.  The sky out there feels like an eclipse has moved in.  My world feels lifeless, listless, subdued, tiresome.  There’s a shroud hanging over things, and I can’t seem to remove it.

If it’s not number 1, then it’s …

2.  Blurry

“Just take off the sunglasses, Bruce, and the light will come back.”  That’s true.  But I can’t see the words on the white feather that’s in the soil across  from me: “Dream on.”  I can barely make out the birdies who are perching on my feeder.  And writing this blog post is “by guess and by golly” until I move my eyes to a point six inches from the screen.

Physically is one thing

What must it be like in the heart
of someone who’s spiritually dark or blurry?
Where anger, fear and depression colour the day
Or where all is muddled, disorienting and not worth the effort

May the light and clarity return to us all

It Shouldn’t Be The Way It Is

It was about 1:30 pm today.  I was dead tired.

What’s wrong with you?  You had seven hours’ sleep.

I spent part of the morning wandering patiently from store to store, gathering my necessaries.  Then I was on a lovely Zoom call with twenty-four souls from the Evolutionary Collective.

You should be enlivened by the EC call, not stupefied.

Exhaustion continued.

It’s time to meditate.  Get yourself together and do it.

My bed was calling me.  I pulled back the covers in preparation for a glorious immersion.

No!  Sleeping now will mess up all your rhythms.

Under the comforter … waiting for comfort.

!!! … !! … ! … zzz …

Recently my eyes opened.  The watch said 2:47.  I’m a little renewed, and still dozey.  Happily, the italics voice has quietened.  For the last few days, though, it’s been speaking its mind:

There shouldn’t be a coronavirus.

I shouldn’t be cooped up so much.

I should be sitting at the bar at Boston Pizza, enjoying my nachos and beer while watching large-screen sports.

I should be gearing up to watch my beloved tennis on TV … the French Open in May.

I should be enjoying the presence of the Grade 5/6 kids at the school where I volunteer.

I should be blissfully married, not gazing at the photo of Jodiette on the wall.

I should be an alumnus of the Tour du Canada – a cross-country bicycle ride.

I should be 25 … 30 tops.

I should have kids, and grandkids.

I should be a former Olympic athlete.

Etcetera …

***

What’s true is that I’m well and happy, exploring consciousness with friends, living with a wide-open heart, and knowing that I’ve contributed to the lives of hundreds of children.  It is enough.

 

Words

I’m imagining a world in which the words we use to describe the coronavirus have far different meanings.  Somewhere inside, I trust that this world will come to be.

Transmission

What can we transmit from person to person?  Could it be love, peace, a feeling of deep connection?  Perhaps it will be unspoken, brought into being through a mysterious sense of “being with”.

Viral

What can spread rapidly, frequently being shared among human beings?  Can your kind words propel me towards offering similar messages to the people I meet?  Can the speed increase, so that folks in a meeting all feel the speaker’s goodness?

Distancing and Self-Isolation

How about keeping sixty feet away from toxic speech and actions?  Someone’s complaining, stereotyping and excluding can’t touch me from there.

Quarantine

An ancient meaning is to spend forty days in penance or fasting.  Can we take a month of our lives, and while still getting things done, meditate on kindness … and allow it to flow from us?

Index Case

If we’re looking for the first instance of a phenomenon in a geographical area, perhaps we’ll find a stunning example of generosity, of spiritual communion, of grace.  And we can follow that example.  His or her leadership can be contagious.

Pandemic

Deme is a word in biology which refers to “a local population of organisms of the same kind”.  It is from the Greek word demos, meaning “a district, the people”.  So … what can unite us as we travel this road of life together?  I know.  We all have eyes.  Perhaps in the future we will simply spend a lot of time gazing softly into each other’s.

 

 

It Flew Away

I was pleased with the post I wrote yesterday.  In “Flying to You”, I talked about my two trips to Alberta this June, first to see my nephew Jaxon’s high school graduation and the second two weeks later to visit my friend Sharyn, and later Jaxon and his family.  The highlights of the intervening time back home will be a Grade 6 grad and a Grade 8 one.  I’m happy about being with the people I love.

This afternoon I couldn’t resist – I had to find out how many folks had viewed my words.  “Wow!  That’s quite a lot.”  So much for not needing people’s feedback.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll be empty of ego.

One of the WordPress pages gives me the stats.  Another one simply lists my recent posts, with the first sentence or so shown.  I looked back on my week.  There were “Daddy!”, “Fresh” and “Skaters”.  Above was “Flying to You” but something looked different.  Hmm.  Then it hit me – no first sentence.  I clicked on the title …

BLANK

No words.  All gone.  Bye bye.

My heart leapt up.  My muscles collapsed into my bones.  My mouth gaped.  Bottom line: this was a disaster.  Four hundred words that I was proud of were no more.  I thought of the damage to me, and I also thought of the loss to folks who enjoy reading what I have to say.

I felt violated.  There was a huge gap ripping through me, plus a compulsion to recall the words of twelve hours past and put them into a new post – “Flying to You 2.0”.  I was leaning towards the laptop keys, shaking below the surface.  Isn’t there an “Undo” button here somewhere?

And then … I sunk back into the couch.  I loosened, all over.  I smiled.  My heart rate fell back to 60 or 70 beats a minute.  I was at ease.

So what happened?  How is it that I let go of thoughts that were “mine”?  That it didn’t matter if anyone will ever read them in the future.  That I have peace.

Are the possessing parts of me starting to break up, being shuffed off like dead skin?  Is there a new, far broader identity emerging, one that stretches far out into the world?  Or is it that I just don’t give a poop anymore?

Whatever’s happening, I sense it’s good.  The unravelling is something I can trust.

***

And how about these sentences that lie before me right now?  Just for laughs, should I press “Delete” instead of “Publish”?  Naw.  A guy can only have so much fun.

A Small Truck

I told the kids today that the oldest object I own has been around for 64 years.  It’s a small blue truck, a Dinky Toy.  As a five-year-old, I loved going to grandma and grandpa’s farm near Lindsay, Ontario.  So different from the speed of Toronto.  Every summer, we’d spend two weeks there.  I’d hang out with the cows and walk the fields with dad and Uncle Orville.  In the evenings, I played with my Dinky Toys under the big shade tree in the front yard.

One time, mom called me in after sunset.  “Time for bed, Bruce.”  >  “See you in the morning, cars and trucks.”

I rushed outside before breakfast and saw that my blue truck was … white.  “Someone’s painted my truck!” I screamed, in the general vicinity of the parent types.  I remember being furious.  It was my truck.

A year or two later, mom explained what had happened.  “A bird went to the bathroom on your truck.”  Huh?  No way.

Yes way.

I asked the kids to look back on their lives.  Did something happen at age five or so that was totally weird?  And you made up a story about it that turned out to be way off the mark?

We had a very cool discussion, ranging through the fears of children – snakes in the toilet, the dreaded disease TV (really TB), shadows on bedroom walls, the boogeyman lurking outside the door.

My favourite came from “Tessa”, who had been watching a TV program at a young age.  Somebody was hurting someone else, and the girl knew this had to stop.  She called 911.  She already knew her address.  The police arrived.  Parents sighed.  And then all was well again.  Who knew that television could be so real?

We ran out of time for me to ask this question, but I wonder:

Is there some idea in an 11-year-old mind today
that the passing of years will show to be ridiculous?
Or maybe in a 69-year-old mind?

I wouldn’t be surprised

Without Skill

I was walking on Bloor Street in Toronto yesterday. My ankle was sore and I was going slow. Just ahead was a woman in a flaming yellow dress, carrying a parasol on this most humid day. Beside her was a boy of 10 or so, on his bike. The sidewalk was heading up for an extended climb and it looked like the boy was matching his mom’s pace. She was taking her time.

The distance between us never narrowed or expanded. There they were, always thirty yards ahead of me. And I wondered: “How is this possible?” How is that young man staying upright? What an immense gift of balance.

Finally they crested the hill and turned down a side street. Gone from my eyes … not from my heart. I felt a sweep of marvel and a generous helping of “less than”. I thought of the unbalanced state on my bicycle ta-pocketa in downtown Vancouver, and the sadness came.

“Bruce, you’re so unskilled, so awkward, so obvious to others.” Then, magically, the arrows withdrew and the response was sure: “Yes, you’re right, and it’s all okay.”

Almost immediately, I was reminiscing about tendon transfer surgery in 2003 and my many weeks on crutches. Stairs were impossible, fatigue was constant, and self-esteem hung by a thread. Again and again … “I can’t do this.”

Another time, I was so weak after some physical debacle that on my return to the gym, when I went to wash my hands, I didn’t have the strength to push the lever on the soap dispenser. (Sigh)

Then there was the meeting at school about a certain visually impaired student. The topic was his computer hardware. As the discussion revved up, I realized I had no idea what my fellow staff members were talking about. Despair descended.

***

Not being able to do something
Feeling the pain of the deficiency
And yet …
Glimpsing the beauty of being undefended
Naked
Cracks opening to receive the light