In The Meantime

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Yesterday walking up the moist front steps Tammy sniffed some mineral earthy air that her memory associated with the white quartz.  

‘Let’s rent a car.  Take the day off.’ Tammy offers Malik to agree with her fresh idea as she walks in the front door.

Malik stands up straight from his work desk, takes in a big breath and looks her dead in the eyes.

‘Tammy ..?’ His voice, simply saying her name, went through a 2 – part process of getting her attention with a strong ’T’ and dipping at the end trying to bring her back to earth.  Her spontaneous whims always threw him for a loop.  What’s wrong with planning? He says with his eyes.

‘Malik ..?’A It’s-all-part-of-the-package look was how she responded to his need for a plan.

After a two hour drive out of town the next morning they set off on a five km hike into the forest following the curving river lined with attentive cedar and spruce.  On the riverbank the cedars’ gnarly roots suction themselves to the iron infused sedimentary rock that frames the river.  On the forest side of the river bank tree roots delve quickly into the forest floor littered with spongy, green rock cap moss.

It’s a good 5 degrees cooler under all the verdant trees where the river quickly narrows and drops four feet through the effervescent rapids.  Just past the brief rapids as the river widens again slightly is a massive white quartz.   Although radiant and striking, it is so ensconced in the place it can be confusingly easy to miss. Tammy can’t remember how they found out about it.  Malik remembers and relishes holding the mystery. 

A mystery that the quartz holds is its size.  The carpet of bright green moss acts like a receding hairline on the top and also grows on one side hiding where the quartz meets the riverbank rock.  The outlines of the massive white boulder hinted that the beautiful crystal extended some metres beyond what was visible.   In his enthusiasm to find out how far it reached Malik confused it with the pockets of snow clinging to winter under the tree skirts; playing hide and seek with the invigorating rays of the spring sun.  

They came to dwell with the quartz, to remain in its presence, seeking to be transported deeper within and higher up.  The quartz made you wonder. Wonder with confidence. Wonder up.   The massive cool fresh quartz engages you as if you were on time and up to speed on your life trajectory.  It draws your truth out of you.

They agreed to eat lunch in an hour and served themselves some steaming tea.  They sat cross-legged on their yoga mats 10 metres apart on the river bank.  Once settled in, breathing and clear of mind Malik found his faculties subtly intrigued.  He was being pulled to grasp what was going on:  it was the rapids.  As the rapids bounced the water all over the place, they were challenging the river, asking the river how important the flow of water was to it.  The river, regaining its composure a few metres downriver, always answered the same:  I may bend but I will never break.   

Tammy didn’t like a sudden burst of her bubble of connection when they were in nature.  Malik knew that.  But the words just popped out.

‘I don’t think nature…,’ Proposed Malik, impacted by the electrical wash of the huge quartz. ‘… knows the concept of: in the meantime.’  Hearing himself speak he realised he had broken the connection bubble but for him this was a pretty deep thought so he just kept going. ‘Nature is always in the here and now…never waiting… endlessly passionate.’  Malik liked how his poetic kites floated into the early afternoon cool air.  Soaking up the moment with his sense of transcendence he sought, Malik breathed in deeply.  

Tammy, chill, aware and reflective in the robust, rewarding afternoon was shaken by Malik’s declarations.  Hearing him utter in the meantime jolted her out of her cozy emotional vacation and dropped her into an unsettling mental state.  Tammy went from cupping the thermos cup of green tea to strangling it.

In six year old Tammy’s mind meantime was what she called the episodes of her parents arguing.  She instinctively recoiled under her bed in her and Shelly (her half-sister’s) room. Her bookshelf was empty.  Her story books were in piles under her bed.  Tammy lay among the dust bunnies and socks turning pages until the yelling and screaming stopped.   She found a corporeal focus that completely blocked out life in the meantime.   Fifteen  year old Shelly wasn’t around so much so Tammy ended up being the flag bearer of her own safety.  It seemed her parents first had to be mean to each other before they could approach her smiling saying:‘Don’t worry sweetie, come out from under there. Everything is going to be ok. Mommy is happy.’  Nine months and two police visits later there was no more meantime.

Final Excerpt of short story – The Coffin

Photo by Roseanna Smith on Unsplash


His husband love got overtaken by business.  In the moment he justified his focus on growing the business.  And his children’s inheritance will prove he was successful – was his mental argument he would have with himself, as he raked leaves or swept the driveway – as a way to  assuage the discomfort of regret.

Gord felt he didn’t have the connection with his children for the same reason as when they were growing up he was growing his business.  Selling plumbing supplies came easier to him than being there for his children.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there. It’s that if he didn’t grow his business no one else would.  Plus this business put food on the table and would pay for university as long as he kept his foot on the gas and didn’t let up. 

‘There are different kinds of love, sweetheart!’  Gord remembers growling over his shoulder at Linda.  His teeth were clenched down hard perhaps in an attempt to not let these silly words out.  He can see it now.  They were in their bedroom one Saturday morning when he was getting ready for work instead of taking Phil to hockey practice and teaching Martha to skate and buying the groceries with Sue.

‘Of course there are different kinds of love.’  Linda was paused by her absolute frustration that her good husband still didn’t get it.’  That’s the point!’  Linda schooled Gord looking him right in the eyes as he buttoned his shirt.  Linda’s abstention from swearing gave her message that much more ummph.  She was no longer in an argument with him but had already transported herself to how it was going to feel in the car later that morning as she drove Phil to Saturday morning hockey practice instead of his dad. Gord could feel Linda’s disappointment but he couldn’t somehow say he was sorry.  Because, he told himself in the moment some 35 years ago, he wasn’t sorry because he was supporting his family.  This memory, and others, were the life recordings that went through Gord’s mind as he would slowly sweep the clean front walk of its minimal weekday dirt.  

In the few years since the death of his wife Gord had this urge to connect with his family so they know their unique value.  Therefore his anchored vision project.  Yes it would have been easier to say he loved them.  And that if he had failed in some ways as a father he was sorry.  But that would have been like the first route he walks in the mornings: short and simple and gets the job done without complications.

Mercifully Gord heard the toilet flush all the way down the hall which yanked him out of his swamp of regret. 

‘It’s all very spiritual and transformative and, and, and earthy.’  Cedar vibrated her hands at her sides as she sat back down to show Gord how she was impacted by their chat.

‘Yes but without the sweat lodge.’  Gord fake laughs quickly. ‘ Or if you want the sweat lodge go for it.  That was never my thing.’  Gord was trying to be funny in case he was coming on too strong.

‘What was your thing GG?’ Cedar asked, using her position as the preferred grandchild to be so direct.

‘I …’  Gord’s shoulders briefly pumped up and down as he gazed out the kitchen window looking out over the driveway and leaned back into his personal journey.

‘My thing would be whatever my thing was at the time.  One thing at a time.  When your grandmother was sick, that was my thing.  When I started my business, that became my thing.  When each child was born, that was my thing.  But, as the years went on, with each child it was less of a thing.’  Gord paused and looked into Cedar’s eyes because Cedar’s mother Martha was his third and last child.  They could both feel that this could be taken to mean that her mother’s  birth and existence amounted to less than the birth of her two older siblings.  

“You mom being the third wasn’t loved less by any means.  There was just, I don’t know, more going on and as parents we weren’t petrified as we were when your uncle Phil was born.’ 

Cedar was the third child as well.  By 7 minutes.  Her twin brother Red went to the light before she did.  

Was I less of a thing? Cedar had never even thought of it.  In the moment she felt good about being a twin, or having Red as her twin because of how it echoed her existence.  Gord saw her face quickly disappear inside of herself but didn’t grasp she was cherishing her birth not feeling any anger for getting the bronze medal.  She was very happy to be on the podium.

‘You and Red were born at the same time so you were a big deal.  A lot of diapers.  Jack loved being your older brother, he was like a mini dad organizing your toys, helping you walk.

‘Actually when your mom told me she was having twins I thought it was great.  But then she said, I have to confirm it with the doctor.  And that always stuck with me.  How did she know?  Now Gord was lost inside his mind where fireworks were going off of beautiful family memories.  And then, as it had come to be a recent habit, it circled quickly back around to Linda.

‘Your grandmother always loved the whole mystery of giving a child a name.  It gave her joy and energy so for me I couldn’t see how others saw it as overbearing or imposing.  Anyway it would be an innocent imposition.  She would bring her little notebook and look into her child’s eyes for a clue – then look to the sky for inspiration. She really loved doing it and thought it was her role to participate.   Martha says it was the only time she saw her mother write.  That wasn’t true.  Martha just felt that they were her children and she, plus her husband, had the ability to name them.’  

‘So how did she know?’  Prompted Cedar for more information on her mother being a young mother.  She wanted to admire her mom as the young, dynamic woman she could see in family photos before she was transformed into a bossy mom.

‘Know what?’

‘That she was pregnant with twins?’  The juicy confessional type of conversation with GG was so novel and satisfying.

‘I didn’t really capture that.  Martha came up with your names before your grandmother could really process that there would be twins and get her motor running, so to speak, on what could be possible matching names.  And truth be told, the names Red and Cedar that your mom had already come up with were so far off Linda’s screen that, well there was nothing to say really.’’

‘So my mom came up with the idea for our names?’  Cedar couldn’t remember asking and hadn’t really ever wanted to get into it.  Her brother had a bit of a hard time because his name was Red but as life would have it Cedar got the red hair of the two.  It confused people that a guy named Red didn’t have red hair but he had a twin sister who did.  So they would get bullied in high school.  That’s what teenagers do when they are presented with something that is beyond their grasp.  They would stand up for each other but he was basically a wimp so he got brushed aside.  Guys would even just hug him instead of beating on him.  Beating on Red was so easy, it was comical.  

As a result, sometimes they would play down they were twins, and a few times even siblings.  There was no abandonment of one by the other.  It was actually an effective teenage social strategy.  It was a way to avoid ridicule.  They would retreat into the fact that they were twins born Geminis.  Twins squared.  It made no difference to anyone who wasn’t them but it just made the route to get to them emotionally more convoluted so it provided an extra layer of protection.  

But in the same breath, in high school her name gave her a way to sound different.  Which she liked because it mirrored the way she felt.  It also spiced up how she dressed and helped her come into her own style.  Tall with her long, wavy red hair she took on a Boho look that seemed to work for her.  

‘I remember your mom saying that she loved the red cedar trees because…’  Gord started.

‘Wait GG.  Actually, I think I will ask my mom about our names.  If you don’t mind.’  Even though she was eagerly soaking up the downloading of family history from her grandfather she stopped him.  

‘We haven’t avoided the conversation, we just made sure we never had it.’  Cedar explained to her grandfather.  As it came out of her mouth she could hear how lame it sounded, but it was basically true.

Cedar was glad she had dragged their good-byes outside because in that way it broke the proximity of the two of them that had grown around the kitchen table.  She didn’t want a hug so Cedar fumbled with buttoning her coat moving toward the door.  Cedar skipped down the stairs and they waved good-bye.   Cedar put in her ears buds as she turned right to catch the bus uptown.   As Gord stood on his front steps breathing the cooling November evening Cedar was reconnecting with the sound track of her generation.  Gord, GG, dad, daddy, hesitated.  He stood on the front steps of his fully paid off house, where 3 beautiful children knew innocence  and joy; where Linda, his wife would bring each of them home from the hospital and nurture them with sincere service that inspired and humbled Gord.

Waiting till after Cedar had turned the corner he then headed back to his garage.   The same garage where he started his plumbing business.  The same garage that was his first warehouse for his plumbing supply business.    This old man was in a negotiation with his own shoulders to determine if he walked back with the hunched shoulders of a defeated man who had nothing better to do than to test drive his coffin.  Or if he was an aging man engaging the role of elder as he addressed mortality with humility/fear/awe/respect.   

Gord was comfortable in his coffin.  It was only the second time he had laid down in it. He kind of felt like a Formula 1 driver slipping into their sleek race car. He had used his yellow measuring tape to get his height and width and depth.  Then he added 6 inches to each measurement.  It was snug, not cramped. 

Next excerpt of the short story – The Coffin

Photo by Ramazan Tokay on Unsplash

‘Or’  Gord, trying to ease the blow of any rejection coming his way said ‘Maybe I have too much time on my hands’.  Being retired and widowed it wasn’t exactly untrue.

‘Wow GG!  That is cool.  I like that.  And I get to choose my own phrase?’

‘Yes!  Of course you write it’

‘And my object’

‘Yes that too.  But.’  Gord put up his right index finger to emphasize his point.  ‘Preferably it is not your phone.  You know something organic.  I suggest a crystal.

‘So the process I go through is write down on a piece of paper the name of one of my children, get out their crystal, then I list some of their good qualities and dwell in them’

Normally he leaves his washed dinner plate in the sink, and puts the electric kettle on. While the water was boiling he would put on his pyjamas and get out his crystal set.  He kept it in a shoe box in the drawer in the cabinet in the dining room. 

Sitting at the dining room table with his cup of chamomile tea, cozy pj’s and comfy socks he would choose one of the three crystals.   Today was: Sue – Rose Quartz.  It isn’t everyday that he does his crystal ritual but the last time he did, it was Phil’s turn: Phil – Amethyst.  After today the next one would be: Martha – Larimar.  

‘Sue got the rose quartz because apparently it helps to enhance self-love.  And Sue needs that.  She has always needed that.  She kind of fell in the space between your grandmother and me.  She didn’t want to impose on anyone but she got so good at it you forgot she was there.  The one time that Phil and I go out for a beer to watch the hockey playoffs at the pub is the night Sue was going to prom so I wasn’t home to see her in prom her dress and meet the guy and do all that dad protecting his daughter stuff.  This was in the era before cell phones but I still don’t know how I missed that.  So when I got home my wife didn’t know what to do with me.  I had finally gone to spend time with my only son and I missed a once in a lifetime event for my daughter.  My point is I am aware that I was not the steel to Phil’s flint.  He wanted to light up life, get stuff done.’

Gord felt cleansed having explained his reasons and ritual to Cedar so she could see the importance of her role and be strong in case anyone tried to minimize the activity (Phil), take ownership of it (Martha) or just take the crystal and put on her windowsill and call it a keepsake of dad.’  As Gord mentioned each of his children’s names his body would contort in such a small, unconscious reaction to how they lived in his mind.  Thinking of Phil, his back would straighten.  When talking about Martha his head would tilt upwards and with Sue his shoulders would drop.  With Phil Gord felt a challenge between men more than a sense of being a guiding elder.  Martha she had always had big ideas that could make you wonder.  Sue wasn’t fat but Gord’s body gave way to the weight of her lack of initiative.

‘Intense – there is a lot going on.’ Then came another pause.  Gord was relieved to see Cedar processing the idea.  He might have been surprised by the dichotomy of her feelings in the moment. She was amazed by her grandfather’s creativity.  Yet at the same time Cedar was confused about why he was making such an intricate ritual instead of just talking directly to his children.’ 

Gord was happy with himself because he felt he was right in explaining his anchored vision to Cedar first before approaching his children.  She could be his marketing department.  Her mother was in the marketing business so Cedar would have it in her blood.  By skipping to the next generation there would be less rejection than with his own children – Gord had figured.  At this point he seemed right.  He assumed his children would listen to Cedar.   And Cedar loved being chosen.   

‘Where in the world did you come up with this idea GG?’

‘Well at my stage in life and … with your grandmother passed away I just started reading about, you know, life.  Death, what have you.  It’s not fair, that if someone wants clarity and preparation about death they come across as a cold funeral director.   When my time comes I want things to be ready and clear so all the emotions like sadness and grief, disbelief and regret, love and appreciation, admiration and forgiveness and acceptance don’t get absorbed by funeral arrangements.  That’s not fair to the person or the process.’

‘Hmmph’  Cedar was getting overloaded with new info, powerful concepts and the emotion they were connecting to.   

‘So’  Gord continued,  ‘So my idea is really not that new.  In the past, I have discovered,  people have used the mind to heal and travel and see things in other parts of the world.  And I came across this whole idea of epigenetics from a guy named Bruce Lipton talking about genes, DNA and belief.’  Gord’s hands were carving the air as a means to capture the impact of what he wanted to transmit.  

‘It was really, really amazing to hear and challenging to read.  Did you know what the word generation says? It says gene – ration.’

What?  

Yes, the word generation can be split into two words – gene and ration.  So …’

Cedar had reached her maximum of what she could take in.  She pulled up the blanket and didn’t hear a thing Gord was saying.  

Her mind quickly wondered what her inheritance would be, just hypothesizing it was in the next 2 years or so, she could go travelling before going to university.  Her mom had studied marketing and it seemed cool.  But stressful.  Marketing and all that was super important in the moment but rendered meaningless days or weeks later by the same market that had made it vital..  But Cedar liked the psychology part of trying to figure out why people do what they do and seeing if you can be in the future of their own decisions before they are.

‘I can see your mind has gone elsewhere, Cedar.’  Gord observed

‘Oh sorry, so sorry GG.   Cedar sipped her tea and looked Gord in the eye to show her sincerity.    ‘I am just…  Well I am really surprised by all this and it’s a lot to process.’

‘I agree.  Death is a funny topic.’  The cool air of Gord’s house turned cold as the afternoon aged. ‘ It’s an even funnier experience.’

‘Wait, how is death funny GG?’  Cedar says not really ready for more information but a little insulted.

‘Well death itself isn’t funny.  I agree with you.   You are right.’  Cedar hadn’t said anything about death not being funny but Gord was using his sales techniques to put himself, and his goal, on the same page as Cedar.

‘What I mean is how we react to death, the passing of the person, the emotions of the past and next steps.  It is a process that we all go through – so in that there is no freedom of choice.  But.’  The right index finger appeared again.  ‘There is a complete freedom in how we think about it.  And this is what led me to this idea of an anchored vision thing. Gord threw on the ‘thing’ word at the end as a kind of hook to make the concept less heavy.  More portable. Gord still hadn’t explained why he said death was funny but Cedar didn’t want to get into it.

‘I need to go to the bathroom.’  Cedar announced as she put down her mug of tea, grabbed her phone from the kitchen table, stretched her arms and neck and walked down the hall from Gord’s kitchen. She loved this house where they had spent years of Thanksgiving Sundays and Christmas dinners.  

Linda and Gord never renovated their home like lots of people in the neighbourhood did.  By the time they had the money Linda didn’t see the point with their children on their way out.  It would be just the two of them living in the house in a few years.  The one thing Gord insisted on was putting in a door from their bedroom to the bathroom so now it was an ensuite washroom that continued to have access from the hallway.  

And for a guy who had his own freakin’ plumbing supply company, why did he still have one of those antique porcelain sinks?  Gord figured Linda wasn’t into modern bathroom fixtures.  So he simply took the best sinks and bathtubs when other people renovated their bathroom.  Linda saw the satisfaction in her husband when he salvaged (with the help of a few of his plumber friends/clients) the best old school taps and faucets and towel racks and tiles.  So the taps in his bathroom had the black letters H for hot and C for cold on the little white porcelain cap. In between them was the cast iron fawcett.  It was white tile with a black tile border throughout.  Elegant but sturdy, just the way Gord liked it.  

To the right of the fawcett was a short tumbler with a single bamboo toothbrush.  Another gift from a grandchild.  To the left of the fawcett was the small yellow box of baking soda Gord used as toothpaste.

In Cedar’s absence Gord thought how he saw the anchored vision was an expression of the Art of War.  The Art of War, for him, was to secure peace and harvest the opportunity that peace provided.  Which is exactly what Gord wanted.  Some peace.  It wasn’t like his life was hectic.  On the contrary.  He woke up every morning without an alarm and made coffee.  When it was light enough out he would go for his walk around the neighbourhood.  He had two routes.  The short loop which he would do if it was raining or cold or that was the energy he had that morning.  The second loop meant he had to cross at the traffic lights so he could get to the park and see people with their dogs and smell the earth and leaves.

Back at home he would make breakfast and read and follow up on emails.  The afternoon included a nap and some kind of outdoor chore around the house for the fresh air and as a strategy to see one of his neighbours for a chat.  He spaced out his day with activities so he could never get too lonely or get caught spiralling down into a funk of missing Linda.   It has been almost 3 years since she died.  An x-ray of his sadness would have revealed that he was not missing Linda that much anymore as a person but of having the role of her husband.  Of being of service to her well being as his wife.   What didn’t let him live in peace was some feeling that he should have or could’ve done more in their marriage.  Should have taken the time, could have filled out the moments. 

Second Excerpt from short story – The Coffin

Photo by Fabio Traina on Unsplash


‘The prize I want for my children is for them to experience generating their own vision.’  Gord nodded towards Cedar.   ‘So that they don’t forget to teach their children to have a life vision.  You are included in this, obviously.   It’s like an inoculation against conformity so you can be loyal to your weirdness without having to feel alone.’  Gord was applying his visionary skills he had used to grow his business now to generating some sort of family vision.  The word alone resonated too long in the air.

‘Once my wife died, I made the monetary aspect of my will known to my family about 2 years ago now.  That way everyone knows the percentage of my wealth they would receive.  Basically enough to buy a small house in a small town.  As long as I don’t live another 20 years.  If I tack on another 2 decades to this life that house purchasing power might diminish into more of a healthy deposit on a house, or a university education for the children, your generation.  But without saddling anyone with that demoralizing debt of a student loan.’  Gord explained as much to Cedar as to himself.  

‘I realized that something was missing.  I don’t know if I felt it was missing in me or in them to some degree, but for some reason I wasn’t able to provoke some sense of vision in life in my 3 children when I was …,  in my role as their father.’

He didn’t want there to be unclarity for them to get their medium-sized inheritance.  His children’s inheritance for Gord validated all the time he spent making money and not making connections with them.  But he did have one condition that he hoped would be fulfilling for everyone involved.  At this point he really couldn’t see them falling into a fight over his money.  At the same time something told him they wouldn’t follow through with his wish if he wasn’t proactive.  That’s why Cedar was sitting in front of him now.  

According to Gord, he didn’t think what he wanted wasn’t complicated or demanding.  Boiled down to what in essence Gord’s wish is, it’s to live in a real relationship with his family up to, during and after his death.

Probably not that unusual of a wish (except for the part after death).   It was just unusual to articulate it, have a plan of action and make it happen before he died.  The challenge for Gord at this point was connecting the moment with his emotions and the words they petitioned.  And he needed help.  

The silence was brief but rotund.  If earlier things felt a little awkward then now they had become almost adversarial.  

‘Wait. So then you want me to learn your,...your life vision and explain it to your adult children, because it didn’t take the first time round?  Sorry GG but is that my role here?’  Cedar was confused, hated bullshit and hadn’t signed up to be anybody’s therapist.

‘Ok, okay.  Listen.  Let me explain.  I have arrived, over the years, at a motto for what a father’s role is.  What I believe.  Basically it’s this:  to give his family things they couldn’t buy.  And that is exactly what I did.  I gave my family a solid upbringing.  A life with respect and reliability.  A home with encouragement and acceptance.  All with the stalwart work of their mother, my wife, your grandmother.’  His voice resonated with the assumption that it was understood that the father, or a man, was the sole source of these qualities.

‘So then.  GG.  What is a mother’s role?  What Is your motto for that?’  Cedar injected quickly before Gord kept rolling.  

‘Well, she um … She does the same thing.’  Surprised, Gord responds. ‘ It’s the same but somehow different.’   More than Gord’s definition of a mother’s role Cedar was really curious about her own motto for what a mother should be.  And how it would apply to her mother.  

None of his children; Phil, Sue or Martha had wanted to continue the family plumbing supply business.  It wasn’t glamorous but it made him what he was.   

The fact that no one wanted to continue with the business hurt his feelings.  It took the wind out of his sails for a while.  Of course he didn’t learn this until his children were well into their 20’s.  He figured they would try working elsewhere and learn they prefer to be a business owner rather than an employee.

In the case of his oldest son Phil that was true. But instead of taking on the family business he started his own tire business.  He had learned a lot from growing up in his dad’s business.  He especially learned from watching his dad that he didn’t want to run after people who hadn’t paid their invoices.  He figured that if he had the key to his customer’s car, they would pay him or they weren’t going anywhere.

Martha pursued a career in marketing where she could apply her creativity on a scale much broader than a small plumbing parts distributor.   Sue pursued her husband which turned out not to be a good strategy because he ended up pursuing someone else and left Sue and their two boys.   All this to say the company that Gord built from the ground up was converted from a family business into a plumbing parts supply business.  

‘The fact they didn’t want to take over my established business and the fact that I am now retired and widowed created a lot of space in my life.  Space and time in me.  So now, I have ended up reflecting a lot on life.’

‘I think that’s a good thing.  I have my introverted side too.’  Accompanied Cedar

Of course’  He said with a chuckle

‘We all recoil, and you know – repair and recharge.  It should be normal’  Insisted Cedar

‘You’re …, you make a lot of sense.’  Another chuckle from Gord.  ‘Getting through those teenage years is a real journey, if I remember correctly.’

‘Ya definitely.   It’s like every moment, every word you say, everything you do, every outfit you wear, every person you associate with creates this watershed that either includes you with or separates you from someone else’s definition of cool.  It’s exhausting.’  Cedar took her turn at using the conversation as therapy. 

They sat in an empty, scratchy moment and took a sip of their tea that had been cooled in the late autumn air.  Cedar brought her feet up onto the chair and hugged her knees.  She had kept her scarf on as she knew GG’s house was going to feel friendly to an arctic fox.

‘Oh sorry did you want a blanket.  Let me get you one.’  Gord got up and Cedar didn’t say no.

‘I just can’t  justify heating this whole house when my daily routine uses up such a small part of it.’

There had been no family conversations of downsizing.  Yet.  Without needing conversation, it was known that it would be Martha’s task to stickhandle that conversation with dad come the day.  But the children knew and respected that time had not yet come.  And it may never arrive.  

Martha, in conversation with Phil after their mother’s death had commented effortlessly, 

‘The only downsizing he’s going to do is from the house to his casket.’  She had no idea 

how right she already was.

The pain of leaving would be just as much about leaving the house as leaving his garage.  The garage was his man cave, his power pack, his church, his cocoon, his therapist, his studio, his laboratory.  He felt it is where he could be himself and not make a mistake and be in the flow of his thoughts and projects.  He hadn’t felt he had that freedom outside his garage.   No doubt this urban retreat would also have functioned as a prison.

‘I am telling you all this now in case, at some point, my health deteriorates quickly and I, I don’t know, I forget or simply lose the courage to follow through with it all.  I am telling you as a way to take the path of least resistance.  And because I trust you.  I trust my children too but, how do I say?’  Gord scanned internally a moment for the words to hang on his sentiment.  ‘I trust my children will do as they have taught me they want to do.  Which isn’t bad but it isn’t naive.’  Gord liked how he felt as if he was a functioning elder, sharing wisdom with the following generations.  

‘It’s so edgy …, new agey of you GG.  So what you are offering is a Vision Quest?’  Cedar looked for clarity.  She hadn’t quite grasped GG’s request for what he called an anchored vision.  He said it was a written intention that is associated with a physical object. 

‘It sounds intriguing but how does it work?  This anchored vision thing?.’  Cedar made air quotes around anchored vision   Cedar was getting pulled into his idea.   ‘I have never heard of that before.’

‘I know. I made the term up.   I want it to mean you write out a phrase and you associate it with an object.  You repeat the phrase and mentally send your intention encased in the phrase to the object.  To come true.’

This was the first time Gord had said his plan out loud so he was a little surprised how coherent it sounded.  He and Cedar had always had a good relationship but there was no guarantee she wouldn’t think this was the stupid rumblings of an old fart and a sure sign of onsetting senility.

Burn My Coal!

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Our collective human race behaviour imposes a pervasive impact on the well being of planet Earth. 

If someone insults us or a loved one we become instantly indignant.  Can we overlay that indignance onto our role in the quality of life of the planet?  Can we use our emotion for how we want to be treated and share it with the planet?  It might cause us to elevate our action of compassion.

If I said to you that someone is really ‘burning my coal’ what does that mean?

It means my past is being made more important than the present and the future.  

Let’s back up a little bit.  60 Million years, more or less.  Coal used to be a tree.  The coal we burn is getting power from dead plants and animals.   That tree died and during decomposition mixed with other ingredients as it was covered by successive layers of organic life.  

Plant Some Trees – Burn Less Coal 
Breathe More Air – Live Your Life

That tree is now participating in the transition of carbon into petroleum.  To us that petroleum is used for gas to run our cars, tires so our cars can move/planes can fly, our plastic pill bottles, synthetic fibres in clothes and vaseline.

To the planet, what is petroleum?  As we keep withdrawing petroleum from the viscera of the planet – her temperature has risen?  What’s the correlation?  Is it the burning of carbon that is the reason?  Well, we can say yes.  

Without diminishing the need to transition to renewable energy sources there is also another consideration.  That the planet had its own carbon offset program – by design.  More accurately the planet had control of its own thermostat by being able to cool itself.

Is it possible that the planet’s ability to remain cool has been impacted by the extraction of her coolant?  Is it possible?  We don’t even know?  

Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what HFC 134 (this gas replaced freon) is to your fridge.  Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what freon is to your air conditioner in your house.  Imagine your car on a hot summer day with the windows up and you have a leak in the hose from the condenser to the vents in your car.  It’s going to heat up pretty quickly.

Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what blood is to your heart. Imagine your heart with diminished blood flow?  That’s called a heart attack.  Is it possible that is what we are thrusting upon the planet?  Cardiac arrest!  We don’t even know?!

Let’s plant some trees so we can breathe fresh air.   Let’s use our past as a foundation for perception about what tomorrow needs.  Let’s align our satisfactions in our current Life Stage with our many communities (family, marriage, business, soul, body).  This way we can translate perception accurately so our actions today are congruent with a human development journey.  By definition a development journey is congruent with respecting the Great Mother, planet Earth.

A Poor Excuse for Real Initiation

To highlight the reality of the ongoing stupidity of hazings that still occur in university fraternities and sororities there is a new TV program just released.

https://www.oxygen.com/true-crime-buzz/from-timothy-piazza-to-jordan-hankins-real-hazing-deaths

Dying to Belong is the name of the program. And it hits the nail on the head. We all want to belong but humiliating people and endangering their lives to generate a sense of exclusivity is juvenile.

Hazing is defined as the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation. So the greater the humiliation then the club you are being initiated into should be that much more exclusive. Or provide a transcendent feeling of belonging. I am not sure that university frats get to that level of, well fraternity. Basically it is supposed to earn you a loyalty towards you when you need it. And your loyalty to your fraternity will be asked for when it is needed. In the meantime you have the status of saying you belong to this or that frat.

The thing is people die in these hazings that new recruits or pledges are submitted to. Why? Why does it have to dip to a level of life threatening humiliation?

To belong to the Jeep driver’s club all you need is to make a down payment of a few thousand dollars to buy your Jeep Wrangler and then keep up with your monthly payments. And as a result every time another Jeep drives in the opposite direction you get a cool and subtle wave as you drive by each other in your Jeeps. It’s silly. But it provides a sense of inclusion/acceptance/belonging in and among all the random traffic. And it is warming not demoralizing. It is simple not nefarious.

Initiation is the process of crossing the threshold into the next stage of life. And in some cultures they can be extremely demanding rite of passage like a vision quest. Or it can be a celebration like a bar mitzvah.

The idea of initiation is to create a mark that a person is entering into a new possibility in their life. Witness it. Make the ceremony and the person being initiated important. Generate in them the concept of upholding their dignity as they pass from child to young adult; or from adult to elder. So when we cross the threshold of death, from elder to ether, we have had practice knowing how to cross into the next realm and what is of value there.

While initiation helps the same person elevate in their development trajectory a distinct aspect of their life is being accessed in this new platform for life that encourages curiosity and perception.

If you are not religious then recognition of the next life stage might not be so ceremonious. It can be conversations to show appreciation of the person for what they have become up to now based on their challenges and opportunities. Appreciation coupled with respect for their version of responsibility as they grow. Reminding them to harvest from their past the milestones won by the vigour of their youth. Merging these lessons with the awareness being petitioned of each person to grow into the unknown.

The New You Series – Advice – Guidance and Wisdom

There is a well known adage that perhaps was coined by Confucoius or is alluded to in the Bible.  Either way it goes like this:

‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’

It would appear to hold true. This is very much the Rich Dad/Poor Dad juxtaposition.

Perhaps, in hindsight, there is a line missing:

Forget to demand respect for the planet from the man and he will destroy fish stocks and end up giving his children farmed fish full of chemicals. 

Let’s look at the adage through the lens of: Advice, Guidance and Wisdom.

At the level of advice is ‘give a man a fish’

At the level of guidance is ‘teach him to fish’

At the level of wisdom is ‘demand respect, from yourself and others, on behalf of the planet’  

Advice

Is for guys

Application is to work life, guy life, ego buoyancy, for not looking stupid, to the now

Forms of Advice – tips, sayings, phrases, guyisms, answers, encouragement

Advice provides timely ideas for someone to make decisions to get results.

Advice for any person, at any age in any stage in life.  It is useful to daily life and can stand the test of time. 

Provenance – brain

Relevance – bridging the moment with what you want

Photo by Anaya Katlego on Unsplash


Guidance 

Guidance is for men.

Application – Guidance is a resource for learning to deal with fear, for growing awareness, for understanding others, for facing the future.

Forms of Guidance – story, map, the legend on a map, questions, challenges

Guidance hints at the man you become if you listen to it and let it impact your life

Provenance – heart

Relevance – love, the need to love and be loved

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Wisdom

Is for The New You,

Application is for participation in service to something bigger than you, curiosity and reflection

Forms of Wisdom – crystalized, dense yet light in its transmission, mysterious and confusing and settling

Wisdom is the language of the instinct talking about finding meaning and integrating it into life

Provenance – soul

Relevance – magnetizing to the truth and electrifying to action

Practice all 3 (Advice – Guidance – Wisdom): Know the difference so advice doesn’t get passed off as guidance; and wisdom doesn’t get reduced to guidance.

Demand advice from your peers, guidance from your parents and wisdom from your elders.

TOWARDS THE SEASON OF HARVESTS: 2021 — contemplativeinquiry

In the northern hemisphere we will soon be entering a quarter of harvests and waning light, starting with Lughnasadh/Lammas. In the south there will be the energy of rising light and growth. In the manner of the yin/yang symbol. a taste of that energy is present here too. As I approach Lughnasadh/Lammas this year, I […]

TOWARDS THE SEASON OF HARVESTS: 2021 — contemplativeinquiry

Pioneer The New You

The following is an excerpt from my new book Satisfaction: How A Man Elevates His Skills And Qualities To Generate What He Wants. The book highlights men’s Emotional Agility. Emotional Agility here refers to a person’s capacity to synthesize daily and devotion emotion. This is the degree to which a person can cultivate their own sense of meaning while integrating the sense of peace this brings into their daily life. Emotional Agility is the way a person is able to rise up above the grind of daily life to recognize higher realms of awareness.

Pioneering implies going into the unknown. That is scary and can cause us to retreat into our habits when we actually can feel a need to grow. Pioneering the New You requires us to be brave and creative, perseverant and sensitive.

From page 108 … “The New You doesn’t exist without the old you. Yet the New You uses the past and resists being used by it. By standing firmly on your past with eyes into the future you invoke perception about what to do now. Each day, for each of us there is always a New You available. A version of you that comes with a higher level of intention.

Your New You grasps that a man changes as he is processed through the succession of Life Stages. He also realizes his spouse will experience a corresponding change thus the New You is nimble in the moment to update himself with the intricacies of her growth. the New you isn’t scared of the moment because he has no need to control it. the moment is free to flow into the future. So is the New You. Free to stop, smile and tell your wife she looks great.

The New You accesses his agility to get satisfaction. He is tune to his finesse to facilitate Fulfillment in others. He declares what he wants and has the humility to do the work to make it a reality.

The Post Apocalyptic Mind Set

Tallahassee, Little Rock, Wichita, Madison, Columbus and to a lesser extent Albuquerque and Berkeley.

Said in a Canadian way: Point Pelee, Flin Flon, Moose Jaw, Sault Ste. Marie, Calgary and to a lesser extent Charlevoix and Tofino.

Photo by Some Tale on Unsplash

The American locales are the names taken by the characters in the violent and witty post-apocalyptic movies Zombieland and Zombieland: Double Tap starring good old Woody Harrelson. The Canadian names are perhaps the names of the characters for Zombieland 3! Regardless they might be places worth a visit for some fabulous wine, awesome skiing or dinosaur bone hunting.

So Tallahassee, played with gusto by W. Harrelson, and his fellow small U.S. city companions are fighting a daily battle to be normal as they stay alive despite the persistent zombies with a thirst for their brains. Frighteningly similar to our Covid covered daily lives!

You too can star in your own post apocalyptic film too. Actually you probably already have. It is the fall out from any big argument you have with anyone, usually family – especially your wife. We all argue and disagree.

The idea here is to plan for the apocalypse. It’s not so much to be a prepper who has all their tins of chicken soup and bags of lentils stacked nicely in some pantry. Or to be a ready survivalist with their mental checklist and go bag with: knife, beef jerky, water filter, compass, rechargeable headlamp, small tarp and wire (to trap small animals).

The thinking is to have something to think about after the Big Bang of a heated emotional argument. Because if you yell and scream, shout and stamp and bang then once you calm down you will be emotionally emptied out. This can feel quite good actually. To have cleaned yourself out of that backed- up stress and nagging frustration. However it is a wise one who curates what fills their empty emotional bucket. Because either way it is going to get filled zip-zoom fast.

We have to know we are going to have disagreements. That’s not bad. it’s that some of those disagreements turn to arguments. Some of those moments of poor understanding we reduce to fights. So prepare. Yes avoid the arguments you can avoid. But fights seem to come out of nowhere. Like a tax bill, or a hernia, a mother-in-law.

Have your formula for instantly, cleverly creating your own life line out of the confusion of anger and pettiness that pollute the planet during and after a fight. To do this, you sincerely want to have a good relationship with the other person as a foundation. Then write the phrase you want to mentally/vocally be saying to your wife in the wake of the anger and frustration. Maybe you are with her – both quiet, tired and hurt. Or maybe you have jumped in your car and have tunes cranked as swear words and insults are swirling in the ether ready for you to launch them in your wife’s general direction.

The suggestion here is to substitute something like the following:

“I am your man, forever and always. I know it. You know it.”

“The moment was a blackhole for my patience but I know I love you.”

Phrases like these can slow and reverse the downward spiral that is so darkly magnetic.

“I seek to be understood by you, at the same time I seek to understand you”

That was not what I want. I want us to fight together for something; not fight against each other.”

Season 3 Episode 30: Julie Riso on Awakening to Nature — Wish I Were Here

“Each day brings a new surprise – another songbird’s voice, new buds emerge, and, finally, wildflowers. Marsh marigolds first, then violets. The … Season 3 Episode 30: Julie Riso on Awakening to Nature Rebecca Budd, some of you know her as “Clanmother”, was one of the first bloggers I met on WP. This is going […]

Season 3 Episode 30: Julie Riso on Awakening to Nature — Wish I Were Here