Algonquin Highlands Writers

Barbara Rosen: Bruce Cockburn and the Buddha

        Bruce Cockburn and the Buddha


Do you like Bruce Cockburn?  Are you familiar with his ‘Slice of Life’ CD with songs like ‘Where is the soul of man?’ and” If it was the last night of the world?”  I’m practicing mindfulness and meditation these days and  I’m wondering  these days if Bruce Cockburn is an enlightened being.  I turned to my Buddha on my small fireplace temple with the CD ‘Slice of Life’ playing and put it to him, “Do you think Bruce Cockburn is an enlightened being?”

 I attended Bruce Cockburn’s live concert in Peterborough “Slice of Life” in 2008 with my daughter.   And yesterday as I was walking to the Toronto Public Library to pick up the “Slice of Life” CD on hold for me, I remembered my ‘slice of life’ experience with my daughter.   It made me smile and then it made me burst out laughing.

Although my daughter was 34 at the time, she could pass for a high school student, and managed to get a ‘look alike’ cousin’s  high school student card that would allow her to get a ticket to the concert for just $5.  I reserved a ticket for myself at a bargain price of $25 and hers for $5. We drove early from Toronto and planned to have a meal at a restaurantt in Peterborough before the concert.  Just as we entered Peterborough my daughter remarked:

“Mom, what’s going on with the car?”

“I know,” I said stopping and restarting the car every few minutes but managing to pull into the Kelsey’s parking lot in Peterborough.   “It’s the starter.  We’ll get seated in the restaurant and I’ll call CAA.”

“We’re at Kelsey’s having  dinner .  Could you come and check my car’s starter,” I ask CAA.



“Ma’m, I can’t fix this car but I can tow it for you back to Toronto and you and your daughter can sit in the truck with me.”

 “That’s not good about the car and also it’s not good because I’m here with my daughter to see the Bruce Cockburn ‘Slice of Life’ concert.

“I can drop you and your daughter off at the concert venue and if you call me fifteen minutes before you are ready to leave I’ll pick you up and tow you both and the car after the concert back to Toronto.

“Thank you so much.   Amazing!  You are so kind!”

“”What’s happening mom?” asked my daughter when I returned to our seat at Kelsey’s.                                                                                                                                       

“Why did we come here to Peterborough?” I asked her.


“We came to see Bruce Cockburn in concert.

“So let’s go….with our ride.” And I explained to her about the plan.

And that’s what played out.  The concert was so captivating as Bruce sang, demonstrated his musical genius and really connected with the audience.  What was also interesting was that the bus that was supposed to drive him and the musicians back to his home in Kingston, broke down.  He had to wait for another bus to come and  extended the concert until  another bus arrived. 

We got our ride back to Toronto thanks to the kindness and generosity of the CAA driver who towed my car right into Leo’s, my car mechanic’s, parking lot.

And if you’re wondering what the Buddha answered to my question, “Is Bruce Cockburn an enlightened being?   Check Bruce Cockburn out for yourself the Buddha seemed to say with a soft smile.


Barbara Rosen: "The Fine Art of No Suffering..."

  The Fine Art of No Suffering  Amidst the Pandemic of Covid 19 and the Omicron Variant


At 74 I’m often at a loss of a word.  This morning I was pulled out of bed to google the word for the action of a cow when she chews her cud .  ‘Ruminate’.  To ruminate over this and that is suffering and the opposite, of being present in the here and now is the ‘art of no suffering’. 

“Which realm would you choose  to reside in?” I asked myself in the following episode:

“You’re going to Florida with the omicron virus erupting?   Let’s see each other before you leave for a

walk , a talk and for some lunch together.  My treat for your belated 75th birthday .”

“I’m afraid to walk outside before I travel in case I slip and fall on ice.  You come here on Sunday.”

“OK.  What’s your favorite food?  I’ll get us take out?”

“A twister bagel from Bagel World with egg, tomato, onion and lettuce.”

“Consider it done.” I said happy and present and even added, “I’ll stop at Starbucks.  What hot drink would you like?”

“This is feeling pretty amazing.  I’ll have a ‘venti cappuccino’ with two Splenda.”

“Consider it done,” I said still happy and present and added, “What time works?”


“Thank you,” added my friend.

“My pleasure!”

I had two days to organize the above celebration for my dear old friend.  That’s when the ruminating began, the suffering:

How will I get the takeout with no lineup?

How will I keep the hot drink hot?

How will I navigate the drive midtown that I rarely travelled?

The day before the meetup, I called Bagel World and ordered and prepaid the takeout for 12 noon.

The day before the meetup, I called a Starbucks to ask if the specialized drink could be later microwaved,

“If you microwave it, the froth will combine with the coffee.”


“That’s not good.”

I realized each time I made a call, I experienced presence and the suffering diminished.

Could I accomplish my birthday mission and could I do it with no suffering?

I woke up pretty early on the morning of the celebration and practiced meditation.  With each breath that included an inhalation followed by an exhalation I let go more and more of the outcome of the mission.  It turned into a spontaneous adventure with a looser plan of how it needed to be.

I took an early morning walk to Loblaws and purchased mini vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles.  Since there were twelve, I helped myself to a few.  “Good taste, not too sweet.”  I went up the escalator to the Dollar Store and purchased a ‘7’ candle and a ‘5’ candle and a journal and gel pen as a gift.

I went home, changed my clothes and decided to leave even though it was a bit early for 12:30 arrival.  It seemed for me that having more rather than less time felt helpful to being in the moment.  Before leaving home, I checked that I had everything I needed and by writing a ‘to do’ list supported my mindfulness at 74.   I got in my car and first drove to the gas station for some gas.  To my surprise when I arrived at Bagel World, the parking area was not crowded and even more surprising, the restaurant was almost empty.  I waited for my order that was done exactly to my specifications a day earlier.  I got back in my car and drove further south to Starbucks.  I parked not far from the store entrance and entered.  To my surprise , Starbucks was almost empty.  I placed my order and sat and waited for it. 

“I’m a little early.  Can I come at 12?”

“Sure.  I’m here.”

“See you soon.”

As I drove south on Bathurst St. south of Eglinton, there was very little traffic.  I found my friend’s street pretty easily and entered the visitor’s entrance of her building.

“Hi, I’m here to visit my friend.”

“I can’t  hear you.”

Funny, usually I’m the one who can’t hear with a louder version  of “I’m here to visit my friend.”

“Welcome.  Just proceed half way down to the visitor parking entrance and be sure to park in the area with the blue marked pillars.”


We hugged each other, we ate , drank pretty warm cappuccinos, talked and even walked a little outside.

After, she lit the ‘7’ and the ‘5’ candles in the cupcakes.  She made a wish and blew out the candles.   


 We sang Happy Birthday that she recorded on her iphone.  We took pictures of us, old friends. 

“Here’s a writing journal and a gel pen if you feel the urge to record your travels.  And please save the candles and gift them to me next year.”

“Of course.”

The next day my friend texted me, “I cancelled my trip.  I’m discombobulated.”

“It’s understandable.  I know one creature who’ll be happy, your bird, Tippy, that would now not be lonesome.

Mindfulness, Meditation, Humour, Space and Time and….Writing are the ‘tools’ that spoke to me at this time about the tools needed to master the Fine Art of No Suffering especially amidst these challenging times amidst the pandemic of Covid 19 and also the Omicron variant.

Barbara Rosen's essay: "Meaford"


Thornhill Day Camp, the Haliburton Cottage, Cuba Retreats, and now Meaford got me thinking about how I have navigated events in my life so far?  This is what I asked myself in order to understand how Meaford emerged in my mind all of a sudden so it seemed.    I believe I can attribute this awakening to the CD I loaned about three months ago from the Toronto Public Library, “Guided Meditation, Six Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom” by Jack Kornfield.   

 “No need to worry about due dates or fines amid the pandemic of Covid 19.  It’s really up to you how long you want to keep material,” responded a librarian to my query about renewal and returns.  “Wow!”    

I have been practicing the ‘Mind Like Sky’meditation on the CD  every morning for about four months.  Jack Kornfield teaches about expanding, relaxing and opening our minds like the open sky to include but not be limited by everything.      One morning, about a month ago, in my Toronto condo my ‘ sky’ opened.   I was awakened very early with the urge to google Meaford condos.    I didn’t know much about Meaford except it was a thirty minute drive from my daughter’s guesthouse in Kimberley in Grey Highlands.    There was only one low rise condo in Meaford and only one two bedroom condo in the building for sale that showed up on my screen.    I opened to the possibility that somehow Meaford could allow me to let go of the twenty year Haliburton cottage, and even the Toronto condo as well.  

I learned that Meaford was on the shores of Georgian Bay.  It had meandering hiking trails and a river.  It had an outdoor swimming pool. I learned  Meaford became famous after Margaret Marshall Saunders published a children’s book, ‘Beautiful Joe’ in 1893,  a true story of an abused dog, rescued by a family in Meaford.   It had become the first Canadian bestseller and there is a park in Meaford called Beautiful Joe Park.   I just signed the book out of the Toronto Public Library.

At 9am I called the real estate agent in Meaford with,

“I’d like to make an appointment to see the condo listed for sale in Meaford.”

“Sure.  I can show it to you.  When can you come? “

“How’s Saturday at noon.”


The agent gave me directions and where to meet.  I was excited for the first time in a long time.  I kept my new idea of Meaford to myself.  As I approached the condo in Meaford, I became more and more mesmerized by the view “Mind like Sky” that opened before me as in the meditation.  The agent walked me through the condo for sale located on the ground floor right next to the shoreline.  After, she offered to drive me around Meaford pointing out all the highlights. 

“I’d like to put in an offer once I talk to my daughter and drive back to Toronto,” I told her.

“I can help you with that online.”

“Thank you.”

“Hi.   I’m near you in Meaford.  I looked at a condo for sale.  Are you free for coffee?” I telephoned my daughter.

“Sure.  Come on over.”

“Mom, this is great that you found a way to let go of the cottage and that we could be closer to each other.  If you like this condo go for it.”

“Thanks, for giving me space.”

I put in an offer guided by the agent and waited.  While I waited, I called a Toronto real estate agent and asked him to come to my Toronto condo and appraise it While I waited, I visited the bank manager about how to bridge finance the condo in Meaford should my offer be successful.  It was a lot in a short time.

“Your offer was declined, Barb, by $5000.  There were four bids.”

“OK, thanks.”

I needed to pause.  I needed to let go of becoming attached to just this place. 

“It’s OK, mom.”

Two days later my daughter drove around the area to check out condos. 

“Mom, there’s a new low rise luxury condo to be built in Meaford ready in September 2023.    It’ll have an indoor pool.  It’s overlooking Big Joe Park and the river.   There’s lots of walking and biking trails .  It’s a short walk to the beach.  There’s a library, a hospital and shopping.  You’re right mom, Meaford is an amazing place.  Live it up mom.  Let’s get it.  I’ll help with the finances.”

“OK.  Let’s buy it.”

It seemed I had put the cart before the horse, in finding a place that would allow me to let go of the cottage.  If I could sell the cottage first instead of the condo, I’ll have the finances to buy the luxury condo.  Amid the pandemic of Covid 19, cottages were in demand.

 The cottage has  sold and closes on August 31.   The Meaford condo will be ready September, 2023.  And I’ll ‘mind the gap’ until then.  Probably show up at Writers at some point after the closing.

Marilyn Waller: These Times!

What a strange, complex, complicated and wonderful world we inhabit! Today the COVID 19 and variant cases and hospitalizations are higher, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the water in the lake is luminous. We live in this bi-polar world of nature creation and human creation.

 My continuous learning is that where my focus and awareness is useful and required is bringing the highest vibrational and loving energy to whoever I am with, and to whatever situation I encounter. To do my part in continuing my personal growth, awareness, and consciousness from fearful thoughts that create my reality, to loving, happy, conscious and aware thoughts that bring confidence and trust into my everyday life is my focus.

 It seems like a life-long journey, living in this culture of fear-based thinking to realize who I really am when I escape from the conditioned ego-thinking that has attempted to train me into a belief system based in fear and a thought form based in protection. It is about surviving rather than thriving. The loving and joyful consciousness feels so much better. The sun is always shining within me when I take away the clouds.

 I find that surrounding myself with the thinking partnerships of Marianne Williamson, Thom Hartmann, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. David Hawkins, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Jack Gibb and a group of writers and thinkers dedicated to helping the world make the shift from Fear to Trust and Love supports me in continuing on my journey. Also, being with friends, workmates, and family and sharing our thoughts and feelings and just Being with each other is the best in realizing that we are all connected, and we can help each other with dissolving the illusions of anxiety and fear.

 Today I am also reading a beautiful picture of what the world can look like when I read my friend Brenda Peddigrew’s book “Finding the Line – Ordinary Encounters in Nature’s Mirror.” It is so connecting to read stories about the nature happenings near my cottage at Hall’s Lake and feel the very real experience of what it is like to be there.

 I will soon make my Northern journey to “God’s Country” as my mom and dad always called the cottage at Hall’s Lake. To be surrounded by this wonderful creation and the peaceful reality of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, water and trees is definitely a blessed place to be. In that community it is so easy to experience my truly happy and joyful Self. J


Baby Owls (Linda Reid)


The Baby Owls and their Loving Parents


For several winters, I spent my time on Fripp Island, South Carolina.  Fripp is a barrier island some five islands out from Beaufort. It’s three miles long and one mile wide – too cold for southerners, but just right for the 400 or so winter residents who come mainly from the north.

Migrant birds come through in March heading northward. Owls and hawks, however, like to raise their young there.

One morning, a friend, Debbie phoned to say that the long-eared baby owls had hatched and both babies were now sitting in the nest looking out. Tom, the owner of the house where the nest was located, said we could come up on the deck for a better view.

Several weeks passed and those of us who were following the progress of the owlets watched quietly with great expectation.

One morning Debbie phoned to say that a catastrophe had happened; the female, the larger of the two, had fallen out of the nest and landed on the palm tree below. The smaller male was out some three feet on a branch on the other side of the nest.  Both birds looked completely stunned.

In the meantime, Tom had swung into action and was getting ready to go over to the Fripp Island Volunteer Fire Brigade.  The plan was to bring the engine over and put the female back in the nest.

I couldn’t believe my ears, so I quickly got dressed and headed to Tom’s house, hopefully before the Fire Brigade.

Tom was inside pacing up and down the living room with Betsy his wife in the corner with her coffee, rolling her eyes as only wives can do.

If those birds are put back into the nest, I told Tom, speaking with all the authority I could muster, they will surely die.  These owlets have to strengthen their wings and learn to fly and then they have to learn to hunt before their parents leave them to fend for themselves.

Most likely, I continued, those loving and attentive parents had pushed the larger female out of the nest. This is part of the fledgling process.  Perhaps they had even built the nest, so that the palm tree was directly underneath. Could we just wait for four or five days and see what happens.

The parents continued to feed both birds, especially the male who needed fattening up. Several days later the female was gone leaving the small male alone on the branch.  We could hear the parents in the forest encouraging and prodding the stronger female to fly. Some days later the smaller male also left.

This same kind of situation can sometimes happen to us spiritually. We get cozy in the nest that we have made for ourselves.  We do all the right things mind you– attend services, read our Bible, do our part in outreach activities and pray as best we can at home. And some of us actually live under A Rule of Life.

But God, our loving parent, may have different plans for us.  In the middle of the night when all is dark, we too can be plucked from our cozy nest, taken to the edge of a precipice and gently tossed into the dark abyss.  Down, down, down we go -feeling that death is not far off. 

Just as the owlet landed on the palm tree, we too land with a thud at the bottom, the bottom of what we are not sure – at the bottom of our souls, at the bottom of our consciousness; we simply do not know. 

At least Alice when she went down the rabbit hole got to experience Wonderland.

Just like those owlets, we too are stunned and quite shaken. It’s dark in there and in moving about we stir up old memories, old situations, unresolved grief and emotional childhood traumas -things that are not in our conscious thoughts, not in our conscious minds. Many things we thought we had resolved years ago come to the surface again.

I found myself in such a situation several months ago. It had been building up for several years. I was bombarded -almost overwhelmed - by things coming from very deep within me - from a part of me I had not known before.  Those old childhood traumas, old memories and things that I had not known about myself came to the surface. But what are we to do with all this garbage?

Let’s go back to birds for a minute.  They can teach us a whole lot. I thought about those two owlets. Young birds in the nest defecate in small white bags which are called “fecal sacks”.  The parent then takes these sacks and throws them out of the nest keeping the nest clean and free from parasites. 

I decided to take some of these new revelations, examine them and put them in imaginary “fecal sacks” and let them float to the top of this long dark hole.

How long will I have to do this?  I don’t know.  Will I ever get out of this hole? Will I ever get out of this darkness?  I think so.  Patience and prayer will help.

“O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”

There seems to be only two paths. The first is - figuratively speaking – to get the Fire Brigade to put me back into my comfortable nest, for I say that I am too old for this; it’s too hard on me. But this will surely mean a kind of spiritual death –just as the baby owls would have died if they had been put back into their nest.

The second path is to just hang in there, waiting and trusting that this is God’s way, trusting it will lead to a deeper conversion in Christ – to a self that is more whole - free from the many conflicting voices within, free from all obstacles that prevent me from resting in the Lord, from abiding in him and serving him with a quiet mind and loving heart.

Is there really any choice?

Mukin Mutaal's poem 2


             A Dialogue with the Coronavirus
  • Hey dude, what are you up to?
  • What am I up to? What are you up to?
  • I am up to nothing. I am just doing my stuff. My work, my job, taking care of myself, and others.
  • Hey, I am not talking about you as one person. I am talking about you as human beings. You are all spread out on the earth, taking over everything,
  • Oh, I see, you mean, we human beings as a species.
  • Yes, you got that right. You human beings as a species, what you are up to?
  • O God! I don’t know. It is a hard question. As human species, I don’t know what we are doing, what we are up to.
  • So go figure that out before you ask me what I am up to.
  • Hmmm (long silence) … what we are up to? We are up to – creating wealth, making things, making money, just doing, doing, doing …
  • go on, go on …
  • We have all these countries, these states, these boundaries, these odd singularities, archaic divisions, and everyone is looking after themselves, individuals or states and societies. Common humanity is nowhere to be seen. We have created a lot, we have amassed a lot and then there are people who are dying because of lack of food or because of wars
  • Was it for this you were made. Was it for this that the creator created you?
  • No, of course, not …. (long silence) …. You are really making me defensive
  • No I am not trying to make you defensive. I am just asking these questions for your contemplation. So keep going.
  • Yes, we are doing terrible things. We are killing each other; we are destroying habitats for other life forms. We are spending a lot to make bombs, missiles, and other weapons of destruction, for waging wars with each other, and maybe even you too are that weapon.
  • Don’t go there .. just keep going on what you are doing to this earth, this planet, your home, your mother … (whispers imperceptibly – mother fucker) … This home is as much as yours as it is mine. So what you are doing does not stop with you. So continue with your contemplation.
  • (silence ..) Yes, we are creating havoc doing all this what we think are very smart things … what fools we are … we are thinking we can conquer nature, we extract from it everything to make things for our luxury and enjoyment. Our motto is keep the economies growing; produce, consume, more and more, and more … and in this unbridled cycle of produce and consume, we are just worried and concerned about ourselves. Not with humanity, not with nature, with other life forms, not with the mother earth … But wait a minutes, what all this is to do with you Mr. Wiseacre Corona,
  • (Deep Sigh) Look inside yourself; look deep and you may find the answer.
  • But I asked you first what you are up to? And you put it back on me, what you are up to, what we are up to.  You multiply like crazy when you get the host. And you chose us as our host. We did not invite you.
  • Aha … You did not invite me. Think about that a little. Have you heard about the chain reaction? Have you heard about the cause and effect principle. Do you know about Karma. Do you  know the inter-dependence of things? How things are created from one to another. The chain of dependent origination. Do you know Buddha? Go read something.
  • Oh God. Why don't you give me a straight answer?
  • (Laughs) Do you think there are straight answers to convoluted questions.
  • Silence) OK, so this dependent origination has to do with your becoming our guest – uninvited guest – Mr.
  • One way or other you did invite me. If you were taking care of the way you inherited this place, this earth and maybe the creator made you responsible to take care of that and you never realized that. 
  • Yes I know.
  • When you do all those thing is there not a humongous an imbalance. So what happens with an imabalance - an illness, a disease. So you see where the invitation lies and you are my host. My dear host. You invited me. So I am here. And let me enjoy your hospitality.
  • (Long silence) Yes, I see all that. But what you are up to.
  •  I am up to enjoying your invitation. That is all.
  • Yes, I am speechless. I don’t know … don’t know what are the  answers to our dilemma. Our existential angst. As far as I am concerned I try to live my life as much as in balance I can. And I wish that we all wake up and heed to that call to wake up and straighten our act before it is too late, unless it is already. God, I want no poverty, I want no wars, I want no illness. I want no ignorance. I want well being of all sentient beings and their freedom of suffering and their freedom from causes of suffering. I pray for enlightenment and empowerment so we can walk on the divine path and may we co-create again the kingdom of heaven on earth, our paradise lost Amen
  • Amen, may you be safe from the harm of things that get created for a reason. Good bye.

Doug Aldworth "If You Think It Will Help"


If You Think It Will Help


If you think it will help

Take the jab

Without so much as a whimper or a yelp

If you think it will help


However, I am a man

A plain seeker of wisdom

Coming from wild places

And wild spaces where nature holds counsel


Adorned in all her beauty

Smelling of life, with dark fecund soils

Weaving the intricate tapestry of interdependent beings

Yes, I have succumbed to her beckoning beauty and belonging


This same weaver, our Great Mother

Has woven into this tapestry a vast array of viruses

Agents of genetic upgrade

To whose ranks belongs the infamous Covidia


Covidia, she has been here all along

Covidia is the mistress of shape shifting

She is SARS Cov-2 one year, Covid 19 the next, B117, B1351….

You get the gist


She is here to bust the ramparts

Of oppression and control

Annihilate the commodification

Of what is sacred and lacks integrity


But don’t take my word for it

Look at the stats, perverse profits

Over-the-top galactic Sunshine Lists

Of those leaking the poison


And then ask yourself

Preferably, before you take the jab

Is Covidia all we are making

Her out to be?


Is She spraying the pesticides

That are killing our soils

Killing our pollinators

Killing our gut linings?


Is She the one responsible

For the almost exponential growth

Rates of Autism, Auto Immune

Cancer and Cardio Pulmonary dis- ease?


Let’s not forget

The absolute mind blowing

Rates of opioid overdose

And mood-altering drug use


Oh-yeah, but who really cares

Who really wants to dig deeper and meet the blank stares

Of a million junkies; after all these are the flunkies

The one’s who “don’t belong” – am I summing-up the collective response?


Look at us, tearing ourselves apart

Fighting over diminishing bread crumbs

It can be another way

We can go forward another way


“Hi, my name is Covidia and I am here to stay

If you think I have not been here all along

Or somehow, you can hunt me down

Extirpate me like some unwanted vermin


Think again!”


But seriously, let’s get real

Isolate, populate, dominate

Do what you need to do,

Numb-out the feel, take the jab

If you think it will help.





Mukin's Poem: Is it I or Is it Thou?


Is it I or Is it Thou?

Call: How do you live your Life?
Response: I do not live my life...
no, no, I don't ... it is not I

It is, it is Life that lives me
It lives like a flowing stream
over pebbles, stones,soft sands
meandering through stumbles,
straight through the open lands
it persists on its path and carve its ways
it shapes the rocks, the shores, the mud, the clay
sometimes it is quiet like the falling snowflakes
sometimes it sings the rapids and the waterfalls
sometimes it echos in hills,valleys and upon fields of grass
sometimes it does not have a song and murmurs some talk
no one can know what it is up to, where it will go, how it will run
stream is a stream, made up by thousand drops that are spun
and are brought together by thousands invisible hands
what a bliss to host the pains and pleasure of this magic band
the roller coasters, the orbiters, the spins, the trains
the pavilions, the treehouses, the boats, the islands, the trails
Life lives through me; I am just a kid in a candy store
With yearnings, with heartbreaks, with awe and joys untold

Writing for the Self
Resilience in Transitions
Mindfulness Way to Wellness

Connie Neil's reflection on these times

                   YEAR ONE OF 50 (by Connie Neil)

North America was only two weeks into the CoVid19 pandemic when governments bowed to the CDC guidelines and emptied the streets of all but masked persons.

     A woman was charged a $100 fine for simply being in a public park that police said was closed. I found it hard to believe and thought where do the homeless go? Our local library ran a book chat group that was voluntarily cancelled.  I complained that we could still meet but sit apart. But, no. Then they closed all the libraries.

     It happened so quickly, so completely, nobody was sure they were doing the correct thing, but in the main people cooperated and stayed home. Although the school teacher strike in Ontario was active CoVid19 made no difference to the students learning online and finally home-school activities took over and all levels of education closed. Would they have complied so willingly had they realized the closure was permanent?

     I was alarmed staying home, pleased the TV cable added free channels of no-ad movies to entertain the populace. Was this the leading edge of the fifty dark years that spelled finish to the most future-looking civilization this world had ever seen? Or would ever see again?

     The books by Hank Wesselman tell the story of his sudden meeting 5000 years into the future with his descendent, a servant to a Chief then located on the western shore of what was a California inland sea –a newly-formed sea.

     Descendent Nainoa has a height near seven feet like the ruling class but has no royal family connection. On their first meeting Hank sees the Hawaiian scatterlings, (who canoed in 130 years previous, forming land divisions ruled by chiefs), are vacating the land to avoid invasion by a threatening neighbour: they prefer to leave rather than battle. Nainoa is ordered to travel inland to see if there are any horses on the other side of the barrier mountain.

     This is a highly disciplined culture: men and women eat separately, live separately. Women make all ruling decisions: men increase status through marriage to high-born women. Women inherit and carry all lineages. That's the society from Hawaii that settled on the coast – took them several voyages to make it to the mainland. And Nainoa's chief hopes he will bring back news of more civilization, not only the needed horses.

     As we join Nainoa on his explorations we learn what our world became 5000 years hence. No metals survived—all rusted away. Nothing is manufactured. Although he is well-suited to the land, a roving long-horn bull attacked and tossed the wounded man through the air and, fortunately, raced away leaving Nainoa to tend his wounded thigh. And in that wounded condition he is approached by several dogs, or perhaps prairie wolves.

     Ready to defend himself he hears a whistle that the animals alert to and turn away. It is a woman with skin paler than his, minimally dressed in an apron-like leather skirt. Lurching up to stand Nainoa said his name and placed his hand on his chest and smiled. So fascinated by this tall wild-looking woman he failed to notice an older man seated under a tree who rose, with his hand on his own chest and announced, "Gwil-yom", so like the English William, a hint to the tribe's source. He pointed to the woman and said "Ken-o-je-lak", the mistress of the pack. They prepared a branch sling to drag him back to their family encampment for healing and much more. These nomad people are made up of Ennu combined with French Canadian stock living in tents, moving on when food runs out.

     To learn the story of these three future personalities from two separate cultures, read the Hank Wesselman trilogy that is available on the internet. I find it hopeful that there is a viable planet, animals, people and culture that places women in leading roles and that meditation and harmony are valuable practices of that future world.

     As these three books chronicle life 5000 years hence we see that the hunter-gatherers on the prairies and the one-time Hawaiians on the west coast are all who are left on the North American continent –and although Hawaii was declared part of the USA—there are no Americans. What happened to them in the fifty dark years that these two historians try to discover? Visiting back and forth in each other's body they are curious as to what happened to completely wipe out that population. Mind you, all they can experience is North America. It is probable that small groups of people, like the original Hawaiians on their home islands, have survived and form communities in other continents.

     I too am most curious about what happened.

     It isn't just that CoVid19 shut all socializing down:  there were already problems with the environment, the rising sea levels, and refugees streamed from incompatible land and violence for a number of years. In the United States the antagonistic President damaged the spirit of his people and enraged international leaders with broken agreements and rude behavior. Race riots and protests by abused females further brought chaos into their beloved marketplace. Wars everywhere blossomed anew. Psychiatry orchestrated a flurry of ad campaigns over all media urging upset people to accept mental health problems as stigma-free, and to come in and be treated, and always to donate. Police and other militaristic forces, who previously refused any therapy for the horrors of their work because they were bullied and lost jobs for seeking help of any kind, over-reacted: suicide numbers for this group soared, and were ignored again.

     Transportation of every kind on all levels was reduced to essential travel. Borders closed to all but imperative use, usually market-driven need. Churches close. Ditto entertainment. No lounging over restaurant meals and drinks. The bulk of business operations are run from private homes for those who have the equipment and the drive.

     And another winter brought vaccine hope: spring greens the fields.

Mukin Mutaal: Last Sunset of 2020

 Last Sunset of 2020

 When I was young, very young in the 60s, I recall how I wondered if I will be alive to see 2000. And how it will feel about writing the year that does not have 19 in it. 

 Today it has been 20 years since 2000 has passed. And one-fifth of 21st century is ending by the end of this day

 Now I am thinking about how it will feel to see 2050. What about 2100?

Who knows what is possible and what is not. And in what way? 

 Are we just our bodies? Or there is more?

 The depth of the mystery of life is way beyond the numbers conjured by the shrewdness of the human brain. 

The calendars, the clocks, the time captured in the frames created by mind. 

 Is there really a thing called time? 

 What is time anyways when the mathematics of Einstein shows that it can be turned backward.

 But we all know it does not turn back the way things move.

The same water does not run under the bridge twice.

So either the math of relativity theory is wrong, or it just shows that time is an invention of human ingenuity to organize itself in the societal fabric.

 If we had no civilization, will we need time? We will not have crops to sow and harvest. We will not have to keep track of seasons. If we had no commerce and ships to sail, who will need to keep track of time. 

 That is how human consciousness works.

Once our forefather and foremother, Adam and Eve, ate the apple from the tree of knowledge, we became the tools of consciousness that creates all kinds of webs, and they are only like cobwebs in the bigger scheme of things. That is why they were warned to not eat from the tree of knowledge. 

 The heaven of natural living was sacrificed at the altar of the consciousness, which had rebelled as it wanted to manifest itself. 

So here we are. Our eternal dilemma that stares straight into our eyes is how after foraging the pasture of consciousness for millions of years, we can bring back a balance to our existence. A balance where the consciousness grows beyond the mechanics of existence and move into the biology of living. 

 The 2020 of the Gregorian calendar is only a small mark on a long unmeasurable path that we are traversing.

 And so are the other calendars that various civilizations have developed, forgotten or layered over by the calendar of the dominant culture in this world of infinite diversity. 

 By Mukin Mutaal

December 31, 2020



Creative Writers Write!

Welcome all who send me their writings from our Algonquin Highlands Writers Circle. During this time when we cannot meet, especially, you are welcome to post your writings here by sending them to me first; then other circle members can offer comments.

Jane Braithwaite's Speech

Our Changing World - Education is the Key


Children are our most precious gifts!

Like seeds BURSTING with potential,

born to grow, to flourish, to blossom.  

Children require nurturing caregivers, like gardeners, who passionately tend their gardens daily.

Children are inquisitive, full of questions,

no preconceived ideas.They like who they are and feel good about themselves.




Until what?


Until their roots are damaged by outside forces.


Put downs




Blossoms die.


I left occasional teaching  in an ethnically diverse city  in the late 90s to

teach occasionally in an ethnically starved City.  


Shortly after my move I had a kindergarten assignment. I met the kinders at the outside door and took the leader’s hand. I 

led the class down the hall to their room. We were nearing the classroom when I heard a little voice ask me “Are you dirty? Why are you that colour?” I looked down. The child who’s hand I was holding was carefully studying the back of my hand. “No”, I replied, unabashed,  “I am not dirty and if you wait ,I will tell the whole class why I am this colour.” 


Can you walk in the shoes of a 4 or 5 year old Black child? Could  you imagine how they would feel fending those questions? 


After we had finished  morning classroom routines I gathered the students on the carpet in front of me and proceeded to give them an age appropriate African history lesson. 



I am happy when students ask me questions about my race. Those are the teachable moments I relish.


Education has changed. Diversity is included in the curriculum..  (Whiteway)

I remember my grade 7 social studies teacher in the 60s, during the civil rights days in the U.S. He thought the world would be better if everyone was beige. Hmmm? 

Bor- rrring. 


Thank goodness times have changed. Celebrating diversity builds strong self confidence roots. Diversity makes a beautiful garden!


I live in Canada’s  most diverse province. In 2009 the Ministry of Education launched an Equity and Inclusive Education Plan..


 Equity  recognizes  we all don’t start from the same place and acknowledges fairness as treating people differently according to their needs.

The plan created an education system,  fairer and more inclusive for all students, educators and staff, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other factor related to individual identity.”


Today’s curriculum is more  inclusive than it has ever been as a result of that plan. 


I clearly remember teaching  a grade 6 math class.  I asked the students to take out their math textbooks and turn to the lesson their teacher had left for them. 


All of a sudden I heard a student shout “Look!  He’s wearing a turban”  That was the first time I had seen a South Asian person in a textbook.. The student who yelled out BTW was the only South Asian student in the class.  


I GOT IT! I empathized with that student. I knew exactly why they couldn’t contain themself. I attended school in the 50s and 60s. I never saw anyone looking like me in a textbook.  



There is more to this story.  WHO DO YOU THINK THE  MATH TEACHER LOOKED LIKE? 




IMAGINE! A BLACK MATH TEACHER WITH AN AFROAND  she waswearing glasses. It was surreal!  When I said I had never seen myself in a textbook I meant a Black person.. Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered seeing my real self  as a teacher in a text book. 


There was a student in a wheelchair in that same math lesson.   THAT’S WHAT INCLUSIVE EDUCATION LOOKS LIKE AND FEELS LIKE.

February is Black History Month in Canada. It’s  the celebration of the  achievements, accomplishments and contributions to the world made by people of African descent .


Schools now celebrate it. A warm feeling floods through me when I walk into schools with visual signs of Black History Month. I see Black students stand a little taller and bloom brighter when they learn about the achievements of their people. 


 YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL FEB  to Attend a Black event, watch a Black documentary, read a black author,  or do anything to learn more about Black people. Some day there will be no need for a  Black History Month. 

Our world IS changing. People who were never seen years ago are now becoming part of the mainstream. There is still room for more inclusion.  I have faith in this generation, ROOTED in inclusive education, to make  space for everyone. 


Nobel Peace prize winner Nelson Mandela said “Education is the greatest weapon we have to change the world’  

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Latest comments

23.11 | 19:20

Hi Marilyn...can you share your writing when there's a chance? Love to read some!

04.01 | 19:04

Thanks, Andie...that's it exactly ! So glad you experienced it!

04.01 | 18:36

'Whatever you need
and wherever you go next -
will come to you'
My holiday experience.

28.12 | 15:12

Hi Brenda,
I've just finished reading The Choice - got it from the public library. What an amazing story and an unbeatable spirit. I'll check out youtube now