Lightening Up

Ajahn Chah, a Buddhist teacher, was walking one day near the monastery with some monks.  There was this great big stone.  He said:

“See that boulder there.  Is it heavy?”

 And the monks said “Yes!”

And he said “Not if you don’t pick it up.”


A stone is one thing … a word is another.  Here are some words that, when put together, are very heavy indeed:

1. I can’t remember names
2. It’s going to be another one of those days
3. It’s just no use
4. I just know it won’t work
5. Nothing ever goes right for me
6. That’s just my luck
7. I’m so clumsy
8. I don’t have the talent
9. I’m just not creative
10. Everything I eat goes right to my waist
11. I can’t seem to get organized
12. Today just isn’t my day
13. I can never afford the things I want
14. I already know I won’t like it
15. No matter what I do I can’t seem to lose weight
16. I never have enough time
17. I just don’t have the patience for that
18. That really makes me mad
19. Another blue Monday
20. When will I ever learn?


Don’t you get tired when you read this stuff?

There’s another way … leave the stupid rock on the ground!


Somewhat Useless

I love words, and I have an aversion to certain words.  I want to say things directly, with no humming and hawing.  I want adjectives to stand on their own.  Take “happy” for instance.  I see no value in throwing an adverb in front to water down the meaning.  “Somewhat happy” just doesn’t do it for me.  I’m on a mission to rid myself of “extra” words – ones that don’t add to the value of the statement.  In fact they detract.

I was watching tennis this afternoon.  The two players were making lots of mistakes.  The announcer chimed in with “It’s been a little bit of a messy game.”  I say just stick with “It’s been a messy game” (which is minus four words).  More impact.  In fact, “They’re both making lots of mistakes” sounds even better.  Or how about “When the pressure was on, with the match hanging in the balance, she double faulted”?  (For each point, a player has two chances to serve the ball into the service box.  If you miss them both, it’s a “double fault”.)

Here’s my personal list of no-no’s:

1.  somewhat
2.  a bit
3.  slightly
4.  quite
5.  relatively
6.  kind of
7.  pretty … as in “pretty good”
8.  a little
9.  just
10.  generally

And there’s lots of time for this list to grow!  For me, I’m going to cut to the chase, say it like a bang not a whimper, call a spade a spade.  When I do that, I stand taller.  Good for me.

Walking With The Message

There’s a hallway downstairs leading to the spare bedroom. I don’t spend much time there … and I miss things.

Four years ago my friend Jane, who’s an interior designer, helped me “stage” my home in Union, Ontario for sale. Then she came up with cool ideas for my new home in Belmont. One day she walked in with the mounted poster you see here.

It’s time to pause and look, to really see the details of my life. If I don’t stop in the hall – usually a brisk walk between A and B – I lose. The “getting to” dwarfs the “being with”.

So lookie, lookie! What do we have here? I’ve always loved the power of a single word to inspire. How about nouns, for instance?


Nouns are certainly cool, if a mite static. We need to colour our nouny friends with broad brushstrokes to bring them alive. Consider the adjective:


Don’t they just make you want to sing? But life doesn’t stop there. Actually life is a continual going … a flow:

Make It Happen

And the next time I’m flowing down the hall, I’ll linger to drink in the words of another … which, if I’m patient, can become my own.


I’m Canadian.  Some of you are American.  In certain respects, that difference is important.  Not so, however, when we broaden our gaze to include us all.

Tonight in Washington, DC, there was a ceremony honoring the 400,000 US citizens who have died from the coronavirus.  It was held beside the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at twilight.  Four hundred lamps were lit along the length of the water.  One commentator called the visual a symbol of Joe Biden reaching out to the American people.  His words stayed with me.

Other words were spoken or sung by these folks:

Kamala Harris
Lori Marie Key
Wilton Gregory
Joe Biden
Yolanda Adams

I could have attached titles and descriptions to each of these people, but I decided no.  There’s a first name and there’s a last name.  Wisdom came out of their mouths … and it didn’t matter who said what.  It was simply important that the words were spoken.

We are all united in the sorrow we feel today

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord

Let us shine a light in the darkness

To heal, we must remember

The Lord has promised good to me

As long as life endures

Awareness of our common humanity

The Presidency is a moral office

Tonight we grieve and begin healing together

My abiding hope is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom


You could have spoken these words
Me too
I trust that they’re true in all our hearts
We don’t have to be famous or smart or pretty/handsome
We just have to be kind
We can do that
It’s a simple thing

Animating Life

I’m thinking of two different perspectives:

1. Things stay the same, becoming solid and dull over time
2. Things change, flow and brighten

While it makes sense that things evolve, gradually becoming new versions of themselves, it seems to me that we don’t act that way.  If I tell you, “I am a teacher”, it’s likely you have a stable image of what that means, due to your life experiences about teaching.  And it’s easy to become so firm in our perception of something, such as a maple tree, that the original beauty of the object becomes lost.  The spreading branches in the backyard, adorned with lovely reds and oranges in the fall, simply becomes “a tree”.

When we use adjectives, such as “humble” or “endearing”, the aliveness of the word is so often invisible to us.  To be “not full of oneself, without pride” shows me a person with a glass half full – lots of room to discover the new in life.  To be “lovable, precious, making dear” shows me a person who shines as the light plays over the jewel, someone who deserves to be held as you would a baby bird, someone whose glow touches others.

Some of us use a lot of words, almost a barrage at times.  The flood of verbiage doesn’t give us time to pause, and reflect on what has been said.  Compare the land as perceived from a car to what the cyclist sees.  I also think of black soil after a rain.  If I really pay attention, I see the lovely seeping of water into the earth … so slow and exquisite.

I have two favourite words.  The first no doubt would be the choice of many.  The second I likely share with virtually no one.


Did I guess right?


How about this time?

If your first thought is something like this: “the technique of photographing successive drawings of models to create an illusion of movement”, I understand.  My joy, however, is in “the process of giving life to, of making alive”.  The words we choose, the moments where we pause and behold, the creation of an alive space between us – these are what we give and receive.

Indirect Speech Interpreted

He was sort of saying …
He was trying to say …
He was saying …

There’s been a uptick in cases
There’s been a surge in cases

They maybe opened a little bit early
They opened too early

I’m not a big proponent of …
I don’t like …

She seems to do …
She does …

I tend to disagree
I might not agree
I disagree

I’m inclined to agree
It seems somewhat reasonable to me
I agree

I would hate to say anything about … that would be perceived as negative
I’m critical of …

He’s almost sending a message
He’s sending a message

It doesn’t seem that it’s happening
It’s not happening

(In response to a yes/no question)
Not exactly
I don’t think so
I’m going to say probably not
I think so
Most likely
If you look at all the factors here, you see that an analysis is difficult

I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant
I didn’t understand what he meant

She should have, I think
She should have

His words, frankly, seemed out of touch with reality
His words were out of touch with reality

We have come to a stage where we cannot help but consider things including postponement
We’re thinking about postponing

In the coming weeks
Seven to ten weeks from now

I think it’s fair to say that there will be an impact
There will be an impact

It’s fatal
People will die

Fiery Words

And how do I do that … set the world on fire? Somehow the essence of me needs to escape my body and fly out across the land. There’s a presence I can show my neighbours – quiet eyes embracing the eyes of others. A hand reaching out to comfort and be kin. An action here and there that shows I am with you.

Another vestige of communion are the words that travel from me to you. Some soft words, some surging words … all vibrant words. Here is a long list – each one with an edge, vibrating like a fine tuning fork, zooming between beings at supersonic speed. See if you recognize yourself in what follows. See if you can feel the fire.

heavenly triumph unbelievable legendary epic mesmerizing sublime stunning alluring overcome relentless master delightful deep gripping intense ultimate emerging untapped glamorous decadent shocking release strange blast light captivate riveting honest surefire obsessed ravenous magic revolutionary reveal unique delirious launch uncovered free now unleashed barrage forever huge create awesome heartwarming authentic miracle new transform bona fide swooning essential unlimited tenacious stop rowdy tantalizing exposed promise wild unseen priceless weird belonging crazy tricks irresistible naked fierce bold unforgettable alive ironclad ridiculous sacred dangerous fantasy profound inspiring definitive remarkable explosive spellbinding rare suddenly hidden unadulterated ignite exquisite uncontrollable catapult brilliant defying beautiful massive forbidden hilarious secret startling unconventional incredible genuine thrilling undeniable extraordinary sensational intriguing gigantic breathtaking astonishing fascinating gorgeous effortless amazing adorable dazzling unstoppable astounding

I Wonder If The Words Will Come

What if I just let my fingers do the walking?  What if I just open my mouth and see what pours out?  Let’s give it a try …


The unfolding of layers of wonder

Absent from the swirl of damnation

Flowing over the world, picking up compatriots along the way

A firmness, a resoluteness, in the face of smallness

The unknown beckoning me, welcoming me, to the mist beyond today

No opinions of “I’m right and you’re wrong”, no comparison, no big deal

Being buffeted, gently thrown to the left and right, and accepting it all

A slowing inside, a softening of the face, a descending to the earth

The colours blend so beautifully – no sharp lines as blue becomes turquoise and turquoise becomes green.  There is an artist here with pastels and a soft cloth for rubbing.

The rabbit just stares at me, he with his wrinkly nose.  “Who are you, Bruce?”

The fire consumes … but then again maybe not.  Does the eternal flame reside within?

The books pile high, with much to say.  Perhaps I will strike a match and be warmed.

I move my index finger just a bit and the world turns in response.

There is much to be done in having us come together.  How shall I give?

Ahh … it is such a river.  The rocks have no chance.  The surge is inevitable.

Someone is calling the threads of the shirt to loosen, the skin to part, the bones to make way.  A heart is coming out.

Wandering seems like a good idea.  Wobbling and stumbling are just fine.  And there is a direction which my human eyes can’t fully see.

The skin is torn open.  The blood flows.  Friends hold the ice to my head and bandage the wound.  It’s what the world needs.

I see the pulsing of the vein in my wrist.  There’s life here.

Giving is the answer.  Not exchanging.  Not being owed.  The freedom of wanting nothing in return.  Not even love.

I look up at the windows of the homes passing by.  Some dark, some light.  What are those lives like up there?  Do they have the same joys and sorrows as me?  Yes, they do.

The grains of sand flow through my fingers.  There is no stopping them.  They are falling to where they need to be.

How can a cello be so mellow?  How can those deep tones vibrate so profoundly through my bones and muscles?  Something is calling me.

It’s dark now.  Merely the silhouette of the little tree out back.  It’s time for all of us to rest awhile.  Still.  Silent.

There are spaces here – within my body, between you and me, among the hours and minutes.  It’s a joining, not a distance.  And so I smile.

The moment of the peacock spreading her feathers, of the flamingo taking a step with his backwards knees, of the raised eyebrows

What if I just fell apart – not in mental illness but in disappearance?  What if no solid Bruce remained, but if instead some sweet energy disguised in a body touched here and there?

It’s the eyes.  They hold the most beauty.  No matter whether the skin around them is smooth or baggy.  Look inside.

We need hugs.  Not the crushing ones, not the backslapping ones, just the gentle holding that stays, a sublime pressing that loves.

I wonder if you see me or if I’m merely a thing to your gaze.  Please don’t make me a means to an end.  Please see the light that’s shining.  And may I always see yours.

What’s possible is so much more lovely than what’s probable.  What if the future could be so radically different from what’s past?  What if I can’t use any of my experiences to guess what’s next?  What if “not knowing” is the ultimate adventure?


Hmm.  I’m done.  The words came.




What Does That Word Really Mean?

In my last year of high school, called Grade 13, I took four subjects.  One of them was Latin.  “But that’s a dead language,” you say.  Not in my heart, both back then and right now.  I love words, and I love discovering where they came from.  Here are some examples that get me thinking:

1.  Transmit … to send across

We can think of this word in connection with electrical energy and power lines, but there’s more.  We human beings transmit spiritual energy – a giving, a blessing, an including.  Your transmission is sent across to me, and mine to you.

2.  Translucent … to shine through

Perhaps the issues we have in the world are not opaque, not solid.  They might be made of filmy material, allowing the human spirit to penetrate them … and keep on going.

3.  Liberal … free, not tied to

I know we can be liberal beings – untouched by the opinions of others, by the prevailing wisdoms of society and by the walls of the mind.

4.  Fluent … flowing

As I see it, the best public speakers don’t necessarily have vocabulary, tone of voice and confidence mastered.  But they take us on their river of thought so we can see new lands.

5.  Perfection … finished, completely made

I don’t yearn for an end result.  I ride inside a perpetual becoming, erecting buildings that I may disassemble down the road in favour of an emerging design.

6.  January … referring to the Roman god Janus, who presided over doors and beginnings

This brings to mind New Year’s “resolutions”: the power of holding firmly.  For if we are not firm in letting go of the old, there will be no new.

7.  Compassion … to suffer with

Not being outside the person and feeling sorry for them, but really being inside them, sensing the agonies as they do.  Staying there, not walking away.

8.  Love … friendliness, delight in

A reaching out to the other, offering them your goodness so they can see their own, celebrating their unique gifts.

9.  Awakening … to rouse from sleep, to spring into being

And in what respects have we been sleeping?  Having the most toys wins.  Being better than you.  Feeling there’s only so much happiness to go around.  The truth, however, resides in the eyes of the other.

10.  Essence … to be

At the bottom, there is who I am, far beyond the roles, the traits, the appearance.

11.  Flamboyant … a flame, a blazing fire

For that warmth is in us all.  Will we let the passion escape from its tiny prison so others can bask in the glow?

12.  Equanimity … equal mind

“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” will come our way.  So will “the peace that passes all understanding”.  Is it possible to see them as friends?



Other People’s Words

Sometimes, such as right now, I can’t think of anything to say.  That’s all right.  There are 7.7 billion of us with things to say.  I should listen.

I still get to participate in this post.  I’ve chosen quotes that move me.  If words don’t “sing” to me, I don’t pay much attention.  Let the music begin:


I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

Mahatma Gandhi

Yes, I don’t have time to deal with toxic people.  There is much to be done.


There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision.  The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.

Teilhard de Chardin

I am pulled towards the beauty of open hearts.  “Resistance is futile.”


Make peace with silence, and remind yourself that it is in this space that you’ll come to remember your spirit.  When you’re able to transcend an aversion to silence, you’ll also transcend many other miseries.  And it is in this silence that the remembrance of God will be activated.

Wayne Dyer

Listen … the heavens are singing.


Who can say if the thoughts you have in your mind as you read these words are the same thoughts I had in my mind as I typed them?  We are different, you and I, and the qualia of our consciousnesses are as divergent as two stars at the ends of the universe.

And yet, whatever has been lost in translation in the long journey of my thoughts through the maze of civilization to your mind, I think you do understand me, and you think you do understand me.  Our minds managed to touch, if but briefly and imperfectly.

Does that thought not make the universe seem just a bit kinder, a bit brighter, a bit warmer and more human?

Ken Liu

Oh yes … we know each other, even if I’ve never seen your face.  It is a bright world, full of sisters and brothers.


Hell, in my opinion, is never finding your true self and never living your own life or knowing who you are.

John Bradshaw

I feel such sadness when encountering the flat ones – where money, power and ego rule.


I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks.  It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool.  It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love.  And it happens most when we connect with other people.  I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments.  Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities.  Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.

David Brooks

Oh, the bliss of entwining with the countless beloveds!


You are here to evolve and make your consciousness high.  You are here to dance, sing and celebrate life.  You are here to help others to make their life happy.  We are here not to compete, but to learn, evolve and excel.  We are not here to make divisions in the name of prophets and religions.  We are here to encompass the world with love and light.

Amit Ray

May we fall into knowing every one of us – beyond space and time.  For the people of Senegal and Belgium, and the people of long ago, are with me now.


In each of us there is another whom we do not know.

Carl Jung

And perhaps I’ll never know this other Bruce, but he guides me nonetheless.


The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.

Yasutani Roshi

Actually I am over there in you and you are over here in me.  We merge in peace.


When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life form — or a species — will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.

Eckhart Tolle

We are not 1 … 2 … 3 …  We are 1 … 7 … 229 …


Creativity is the state of consciousness in which you enter into the treasury of your innermost being and bring the beauty into manifestation.

Torkom Saraydarian

What can I draw forth from me during my remaining time on Earth?


Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most.  Because they, bless them, are asleep.  They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a “dream” is going crazy.

R.D. Laing

I’ve been seen as weird, strange and airy fairy.  I’ve also been seen as transparent, loving and sweet.


The language of light can only be decoded by the heart.

Suzy Kassem

Be still, my rampaging brain, my keen intellect.  There is much to learn.


Don’t seek love externally, it’s fleeting.  Go beyond the ego and awaken the love that already exists within; it will encompass everyone and everything in your life; it will permeate your very being.

Danielle Pierre

Love them all, Bruce.  Light the world.


The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child’s words and child’s deeds didn’t make much difference.  It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn’t observed, even pressed his cheek against it.

Karl Ove Knausgård

Companions linger to the left and to the right, above and below.  And we are the richer for them.


Lots of words
I like them
And they like me