Just This

I’m sitting on my back patio, facing the farmer’s field.  I get to be in the shade in the early afternoon and my lawn sprinkler is waving its way across the lawn.  All is well.

Tiny corns are starting their summer’s journey and the traffic on Belmont Road to my left is carrying souls to their destinations.  Way in the distance, past the trees at the end of the field, Harrietsville Drive stretches left and right.  My friend Barry’s barn pokes above the leaves.  A weathered barn and a probably unused silo say hi off to the right.  When I first moved in, verging on two years ago, I was disappointed that there were roads and traffic and buildings out back.  Not any more.  Now there are friends out there, some stationary and some moving, reminding me that we are part of a very large family.

And there are birds.  When I got home from my long meditation retreat last December, I was also disappointed that the builder had planted deciduous trees every twenty metres or so along the back edge of our separate condo homes.  “They’ll wreck my view.”  How silly my brain can be.  Those trees are now twelve feet high and love fluttering in the breeze.  My view is still supreme.  And there are birds sitting on the branches.

My two bird feeders are about two metres away from my loveseat, slightly to the left.  As I tap away, a couple of brave souls hang off the sides, rooting out the seeds.  Oops … now they’re gone.  But how marvelous that they came to visit this up close human being.  Sometimes the moments of bliss are so fleeting but I thank God that they happen.

I think I’ll pause the writing and see if any feathered ones return to their food.

Five minutes later.  One male goldfinch (brilliant yellow!) sits on the tree beyond, sizing me up.  Now he flutters to the feeder pole.  Now he descends to the sunflower seed sanctuary.  I worry that my tiny typing will scare him away – but no – he’s still there, craning his neck to get a better view of me.  At least five other birdies are zooming around but so far he’s the only brave one.  Pretty special to make a new friend from a distance of two metres.  May I always be a benign human.

Three metres straight ahead, at the edge of my patio, sits an 18-inch statue of the Buddha.  He’s in full lotus position, something I can’t do (but who cares?) and his hands touch.  His eyes descend.  Mr. Buddha is simply here, and now, and he’s silently cheering me on.  Smart guy, Mr. Buddha, up there with Jesus in figuring out what leads to happiness.  Right now he doesn’t have much to say.  Just sitting will do fine.

A few minutes ago, I noticed two flutterbys in the grass – one large and grey, one itsy bitsy and white.  But now they’re gone too.  That’s all right.  I trust they’ll be back, just like I trust moments of transcendence will return in their own sweet time.

Did I mention that all is well?

 

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.”

Sure.

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?)

Not.

Disconnect

This afternoon, the Grade 8 students at St. Mary Choir School (graduating tomorrow) put on a cabaret for family, friends and younger kids.  All those sweet voices.  All those smooth dance moves.  And tons of smiles from the performers.

However, I was stunned by one reality of the gathering.  As I looked around at the adults and high school students nearby, I saw six people spending a fair slice of the concert on their smart phones – texting, I guess, and cruising the Internet.  Oh my.  Here we have lots of performing 14-year-olds, and as they’re giving it their all, they look out at the audience and see many heads down.  When a loved one was singing, I saw phones pointed at the stage, videoing the performance, but most of the tech use was not that.  How sad.

Why is there so often a huge gap between the present moment and what people are focusing on?  The here and now is precious – often joyous and sometimes painful, but all of it life.  And we need to experience it.

I remember a few years ago, sitting in an airport lounge, waiting for the boarding call.  A family of four took the seats directly across from me … mom, dad, a boy (about 12) and a girl (about 10).  With nary a word, they each pulled out their handheld thingies and started tapping away.  It could have been 20 minutes of silence and knitted brows.  (Sigh)  No eye contact either.

May we find a better way.