1000

We interrupt these California musings for a public service announcement: Bruce Kerr is currently writing his one thousandth WordPress post.

Hmm. What do I do with this fact? Just let it be there, I guess. No shouting from the rooftops. No “Look at me!” Quiet.

I don’t know how many of you read my stuff. I don’t get many comments. I don’t know if my thoughts “land” in many. Both of those are okay. There’s a sense of walking into the unknown, hopefully with many friends beside me … but maybe not. What’s important is to keep throwing myself into the universe. If my heart falls to earth over the horizon, may it be a soft landing. May someone over there stop, look around, and ask “What was that?”

How do I celebrate 1000? Create a party for myself? Eat rich food and drink fine wine? Hop a flight to the Caribbean? No, no and no. Maybe just show up tomorrow in the Grade 6 class, and volunteer me to those kids. How those moments will show up … who knows? Just being in the presence of 12-year-olds will be enough.

And here’s another thought: if no one reads my experience of daily life, would I keep writing? I’ve always said that a diary is of no interest. Is it possible that, readership or no, I influence people in mysterious ways? I certainly glimpse how human beings touch me. So … whatever happens out there in my world, I will keep writing. Why not?

One thousand is feeling small right now. Not worse than two thousand. Just not important in the immense scheme of things.

There is magic to behold, and to create together. Let’s do it.

It’s Been Awhile

I’ve enjoyed blogging so much in the past year that I never thought I’d go five days without doing it. But here we are. I’ve been on lots of trips where my writing started with Day One and ended as the plane touched down back at Toronto Airport. Not this time.

As much as I’ve loved being so regular with the posts, there’s a rigidity to it that doesn’t serve me. ‘I don’t have to” could be my mantra. Actually, I am free. On any given day, I can focus on pleasing myself rather than reaching out to you. And I love reaching out to you!

There’s no wisdom in feeling guilty about a five day absence. Truly a waste of energy. The Evolutionary Collective seminar was immersive and very challenging. I felt my power … I felt my weakness … I felt my love for other human beings … I felt my need to be loved, noticed, included, accepted, communicated with. I felt the whole darn enchilada! And I chose not to write to you about it.

Hmm. This feels good – writing again. I knew down deep that I wouldn’t be gone for long. It’s too much fun to put thumbs to screen. Writing “sings” to me. It makes me smile.

There’s no need to “catch up”, to remember something that happened on Day Five, etc. So … a ten day trip that seemed to end on Day Four but really was just hibernating for a bit. I wonder what else I need to say. A few hours from now, I’ll be in the Pacific Grove Library – a perfect spot to share some more stuff. Stay tuned.

Being Written

I’ve been doing this blog for more than four years, and 750 posts later I’ve discovered a few things:

1.  Whenever I sit down at my laptop to write, a post is revealed.  Maybe I have a clear picture of the future words, or maybe nothing has come to me.  Either way, I trust deeply that my inner me will express itself in some manner.

2.  I write about what moves me, whether it’s silly or serious.  If the topic doesn’t “sing” to me, why bother?  Sometimes I feel a narrowing of my forehead skin and a pursing of the lips … signs that I’m engaged.   A quickening of the heart.

3.  Increasingly, I don’t care what you folks in cyberland think of my thoughts.  First of all, I have no idea how many of you there are.  “Likes” are nice but that’s just small ego stuff.  Even if you don’t enjoy what I have to say, I figure I’m planting seeds that will somehow enhance life on Earth.  “That sounds egotistical, Bruce.”  Oh well.  I don’t think it is but if I’m perceived that way by some, that’s okay.  I deeply want to contribute but even if you’re all sitting there shaking your heads, I’ll keep writing.

4.  I’ve read a lot in my life, and my posts often reflect what someone else has said.  Works for me.  But beyond that, what brand new things can I bring to this existence?  Yes, brand new.  I think it’s in me, and in you, to bring new flowers to blossom.

All right, how about a quote, from one of my faves – Teilhard de Chardin:

I would like to speak as I think, without concern for what is accepted, with the sole idea of translating as faithfully as possible what I hear murmuring in me like a voice or song, which are not of me, but of the World in me.  I would like to express the thoughts of a man who, having finally penetrated the partitions and ceilings of little countries, little coteries [groups that are exclusive of others], little sects, rises above all these categories and finds himself a child and citizen of the Earth.

Often, such as tonight, the words flow from my fingers without much thought.  It feels like I am being written.  It feels like I’m a conduit for something big.

Okay, Bruce, that’s enough musing.  Just publish the darn thing.

The Heart Speaks

I received a handwritten letter yesterday from my friend “Angelique”.  It was 30 pages long.

Yes, it took me awhile for that to sink in.  And the letter wasn’t “I did this, I did that”.  Instead, it was an outpouring of the woman’s soul.  And I was privileged to be on the receiving end.

Page after page, my writer friend was naked, open to my gaze, no doubt realizing that I would hold her heart gently.  As I ended my journey on Page 30, I felt overwhelmed.  Fear ran through me.  How can I possibly reply to this?  I still don’t know what to do.

Angelique previously gave me permission to quote her words anonymously on WordPress, hopefully as a gift to you.  So I’ll continue that today.  But before sharing her thoughts, I’m sitting here stunned.  How often does another human being show you everything?  How often do they trust you so deeply?

I’ve begun to study the ideas of Patricia Albere.  She talks about “mutual awakening”, in which two people (family, friends or lovers) look way deep into each other’s eyes and feel the divinity there.  Angelique, I believe, held nothing back.  The eyes of the printed page seeped beneath my skin to the deepest parts.

Is it possible that you, reading some of her soul-filled comments, will feel that union as well?  Let’s find out.

When I write letters, I truly enjoy the writing itself, which is a kind of artistry.  I might start using a more beautiful pen with a plume (!) and dip it in ink or something more artistic, to truly enjoy writing to the maximum and to create a more beautiful letter (as a gift) to whomever I am writing.

I went to Plum Village in France, where Thich Nhat Hanh’s monasteries are … Everything became meditation practice and the three monasteries and the grounds surrounding them are filled with this energy.  And it is powerful! … When people first arrive and sit down to eat, many start crying because that strong energy of mindfulness brings them down to the pain inside themselves they have been ignoring being busy.

Whatever I do now is better, more profound, more meaningful, more satisfying and better received by my colleagues, friends and family, and I am much more relaxed, happy and feel as if I am always in touch with the divine, God, consciousness as I experience it – the wisdom and consciousness of the cosmos!

Sometimes I fail, and mindlessness emerges and messes up things.  I do my best to be alert and make amends right away and to change, to grow, to evolve and be more mindful.  It’s a practice, and I am committed!

My beloved father, who passed away in winter, 2007, all but physically appeared.  I could feel the heat of his body next to mine when I went for walks.  One morning, I awoke with his breath whispering in my ear “I love you” and since then I have known he is always with me.  It is impossible for us to be separate.  I often see his beautiful physical form in my mind’s eye, happy and contented with my behavior.

I appreciated the concern you expressed.  I felt it was God speaking actually in the present moment and that all was as it should be.  I knew good judgment had been used to break silence in that moment.  Thank you for allowing yourself to be an instrument of the divine at that time.

***

Angelique’s last comment, about a moment we shared during the meditation retreat, is such a gift to me.  I feel seen.  My intentions are understood.  I’m not just a separate “thing”.

We can be such blessings to each other … in the written word, while we stand face-to-face, and in our thoughts.  Thank you, Angelique.

 

Returning to Words

Well, well, well.  I just discovered that my last post on WordPress was nearly six months ago.  And here I am, finally interested in talking to you again.

I have no idea if anyone is still out there in Cyberland.  Maybe I’ll just be talking to myself.  Oh well, I do that regularly anyway!

I came home ten days ago from a three-month silent meditation retreat in Massachusetts.  A fellow participant (we’re called yogis) wrote me a long e-mail a few days ago.  I responded to the first part of her message and asked her permission to share it with you folks.  She just said yes.  Tomorrow, I’ll reflect on more of her message, how her words fit with my experience of the retreat.  So here we go.  Back on the horse.

“__________ – what a brilliant letter.  It must have taken you an hour to compose.  I too feel honoured – that you would talk to me so deeply and extensively.  Thank you.

What am I feeling now?  Fear … that I won’t be able to respond to your written journey in a complete way.  Oh well, Bruce.  Let that go.  “Complete” isn’t it.  Just open your heart and write.

I don’t know how to deal with people calling me “amazing”.  How about with simple grace and thanks?  That will do nicely.  I struggle with the idea of being special.  It feels like a big flaring ego when I go that way.  I prefer “ordinary”, in the sense that all of us have inside the love and peace that often leak out of me.  And then there’s the possibility of letting the comparing mind take a vacation, that “special” and “ordinary” just aren’t relevant anymore.  Maybe I’ll try that one on for size.

Thank you for calling me your teacher.  That’s very gracious of you.  I am a teacher, but perhaps not at the front of the room.  I know that my loving and peaceful energy reaches some people.  To think that I contributed to the lives of many of you on retreat gives me great happiness.  And then there were the times during sittings when there was no sweet energy at all.

I just have to close my eyes.  Energy is either flowing all over my face or there is nothing.  During those flat times, I for awhile gave up on making any difference in the hall.  Late in the retreat, however, the quiet voice who has been with me for many years said “Bruce, all is well.  It appears that you can’t reach the expansive state that reaches out to people right now, but there is one thing you can do.  Open your eyes and wish all these folks well.”  And so I did.  I simply looked around and sent my favourite phrases outwards, hoping at some level they were received.

You are loved

Dearly beloved

Dear ones

Loved ones

Darlings

Loves

Dears

Getting to the sweet space of peace is such an experience of letting go.  Trying for it is useless.  Strive away, world.  I won’t be joining you.  Also, I’ve discovered that my life has to be impeccable in the moment for me to reach this state.  If I’m angry or fearful, there’s no way.  If I’m lusting after someone or something, the same.  And ditto if my body is exhausted.  Wow.  There’s a personal development program for you.  Bliss through purification!”

Hmm.  It feels good to be back.

A Long Dry Spell

It’s been twenty-four days since I’ve done WordPress clicks.  Not so long ago, I faced a similar, if shorter, dilemma.  I just didn’t want to write.  I’m tempted now to look back and see what I expressed last time, and not to repeat myself.  But that would be silly.  I’ll just say what’s true in the moment.

I’ve been busy doing this and doing that, going here and going there, watching electricians, plumbers and bricklayers doing their thing.  But none of that is an excuse.  And I really don’t need an excuse.  I’ve simply done what I’ve done.  My small brain says that it’s better to write but a larger perspective allows all of life to unfold.

I’ve had nothing to say.  And in the times when that’s not been true, I haven’t had the oomph to say it.  Both are beyond the realms of good and bad, I feel.

I’d like to write that today’s post marks a resurgence in Bruce’s interest in communicating online, that I’ll return immediately to my rhythm of blogging about every two days out of three.  But that would be dishonest.  I simply don’t know what will draw me tomorrow.

I’ve just spent five days in the heat of Chicago, and four more of the same in Toronto.  The first was a marvelous experience of women’s golf – the top eight countries in the world and the top four players from each one, battling in head-to-head duels.  Then it was men’s tennis – some fierce matches between top echelon players.  Stunning moments in both locales, worthy of writing about.  I found, though, that all was coloured by the humidity … some physical and much emotional.  And so no words passed these fingers.

Enough for today.  Maybe more in days to come.

Waiting For The Light

One more time I couldn’t think of anything to write today on my blog.  So what did I need?  Some sort of stimulus that I can then reflect on.  Okay, where do I find that?  “Get in Scarlet, drive to the nearest convenience store, buy a copy of The Toronto Star or The Globe and Mail, head to Wimpy’s Diner in St. Thomas for an early supper, find an article that moves you, and write about that.”

So who am I to argue with a voice like that?

I had just started my pursuit on the front page of The Star, perusing an article about two teens who died on the Olympic bobsled track in Calgary.  They snuck in overnight and launched their toboggan.  So sad.  I was sitting here in this booth half an hour ago, wondering if this was “the one”, when I glanced up at the TV.  There sat Barack and Michelle Obama, being interviewed in what looked to be the Oval Office.

I watched transfixed, leaving Calgary far behind.  Barack and Michelle sat on a love seat, facing the female interviewer.  Their arms were touching.  What a couple is supposed to do.  When each of them smiled, often at each other, their faces were genuine, thoroughly so.  No beauty contest winner show of teeth.  No brief raising of the mouth that disappears in the next second.  Instead … lingering love.  So sweet to see.

Did I mention that the sound was off?  I didn’t know the topic, but since it was a pre-game show for the Super Bowl, I had my guess.  In fact, though, I didn’t care what they were talking about.  The visuals said all I needed to know.

One might expect the President of the United States to do most of the talking but not so.  The three of them shared the floor pretty equally.  Mr. President often reached over and took Mrs. President’s hand in his.  Just folks … really caring folks.

***

Time to go.  No wi-fi here so I’ll go home to publish my post.  I’ll take my copy of The Star.  Didn’t really need it.

Nothing In My Fingers

I’m written 380 posts in Bruce’s Blog but it feels like I’ve dried up.  Here I am right now creating a post about not being able to write a post.  And that’s not what I want to do.  I don’t want to delve into whatever’s happened to my writing … I want to write – about stuff that’s important to me.

This can’t be the end, can it?  Have I exhausted all topics that interest me?  I sure hope not.  But all writers hit the wall sometimes, don’t they?  And sitting with my silent laptop on my knees for an hour just isn’t it.  Maybe I should watch TV (but I don’t want to).

The voice inside is saying that 380 is a pretty good number, that within all those posts is enough food for thought to please anyone.  But what about the future?  Maybe I’ll go somewhere tomorrow that moves me to communicate, or someone will say something that I just have to share with the world.  But apparently not tonight.

No apologies.  But some regret.  I’ll say goodnight.  I hope we get to talk soon.

My Meditation Retreat … Part 3

Another aspect of my day on retreat is walking meditation.  The typical plan is to take a 20-foot span of lawn or floor and walk back and forth.  I suppose that sounds pretty boring.  The yogi is not looking around and saying, “Wow, that’s a great tree!”  Instead they’re staying present with the rhythm of the footsteps and noticing the thoughts and feelings that come up.

There’s a walking room in one of the buildings.  At the far end is a large statue of the Buddha.  Many times, I’ve walked towards the Buddha, stopped in front of him, turned around and continued in the opposite direction.  I see in this a rhythm of my life: moving closer to the man’s wisdom and then turning my back on it, over and over.  This walking path is one of many examples in my life of taking something in the physical world and having it be a symbol of something larger.

Another favourite route of mine isn’t a straight line.  Rather it’s a loop … the circular driveway in front of the center over to the edge of the front lawn near the road.  My meditation is to walk down the very middle of the driveway, symbolizing the value of moderation.  I glance up occasionally to see if anyone is coming.  If they are, I move towards the side of the drive and let them continue on their path.  Your needs first, without sacrificing mine.  I need to be on the driveway, “on the path”.  I don’t need to always be in the middle.

And then there’s my rock.  It sits on the lawn, conveniently along my way.  It’s rounded, about two feet high, and partially covered with lichens.  Or is it moss?  Guess I’ll find out on Saturday.  I stop, lay my right hand on my solid friend, and pray for someone I love:

May you be free from danger
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

***

I don’t know what I’ll be like after three months of silence.  I know I’ll be a good person.  I already am.  But some other version of a good person, hopefully with a heart ever opening, a touch for those who need it, a smile on my face.

Time appears to be marching on.  And it’s time to stop writing … for 87 days.  I love writing, and I’ll miss my blog and you readers.  I hope my words have sometimes helped you in your life.  I hope you’ve laughed.  I hope you’ve cried.  I have.

I’ll be home on December 7.  I’ll write a blog post on December 8.  I hope you remember me.  Thank you for tuning in to my meanderings.  It’s been a privilege to talk to you.

Categories – Part 1

It all started back in 1973.  I had just moved to Vancouver and was hanging around used book stores.  I found myself gravitating to the “Religion” section, with an emphasis on “Eastern”.  I bought a book called The Importance of Living, written in 1937 by Lin Yutang, and was enthralled.  Many more purchases followed.

At some point, I began to write down quotations that resonated with me.  And I’ve never stopped.  By the mid-1980s, it was time to computerize all these little pieces of paper.  Jody and I had bought a desktop computer (no laptops then) plus the WordStar word processing program.  I started typing.  Many months later, all the insights I’d collected were on my hard drive.  I backed them up on 3.5″ diskettes.

Next, I needed to organize these thousands of ideas.  So I created my categories, an effort to make the world’s wisdom (or my view of it) accessible.  Here were my A’s:

5     Abiding, Standing, Resting, Stillness / Motion
10   The Absolute
15   Accepting, Letting, Allowing / Resisting, Rejecting, Analyzing, Judging
20   Action, Doing, Expression
30   Always Already, Prior To
37   Anger, Upset
38   Animation, Life, Aliveness
39   Annihilation / Survival
43   Appropriate, “Right”
55   Attention
75   Awakening, Being Awake / Being Asleep, Dreaming
77   Awareness, Sensitivity, Being Conscious, Listening, Hearing
78   Awe, Wonder

Perhaps some explanation would be appropriate.  “Always Already” refers to a state of being spiritually awake, one that we don’t need to reach for.  It’s within us at all times, waiting to be uncovered.  “Annihilation” points to a letting go of a sense of “me” or “mine”, while still acknowledging that I need to navigate through the challenges that society presents.

The task then before me was to plug each quote into a category, or maybe more than one.  I called them “Transformational Subjects”.  I don’t know how long that took, probably more than a year.  What I was left with was two huge blue binders full of thoughts, each page cradled within a clear, yellow-bordered page protector.  I remember asking Jody if she would buy me page protectors for my birthday.  She did.

Sometime in my past, one of the binders disappeared.  So sad.  Just now, I looked through the one I have left … 248 pages of double-spaced vibrating words.  When Jody and I eventually bought Microsoft Word, I used to wonder how I’d convert the old WordStar files.

Last fall, I found all the diskettes, but when I inserted them into the disc drive of our desktop computer, all I saw on the screen was gibberish.  WordStar was long gone.  What intense sadness.  Why, oh why, had I done all this decades ago?

The story continues tomorrow.