3P Random Reflections Blog

One of the beloved regular visitors to the hangout at the homeless shelter is a quiet, gentle man who is always full of thoughtful questions, but who is also always willing to look toward the unpredictable, incomprehensible, and intrinsically interconnected nature of life.


We often get to a conversation about all the things that had to happen for me to appear at the shelter, for him to see the sign for the hangout and make the decision to stop in, and for both of us to be sitting together in the room we are in right now, with its walls and ceiling and floor and door and window and pipes and wiring and vents and light and heat and air and paint and furniture and decorations and books... and even everything else within the building and city in which we and this room are contained... EACH tiny component of it ALL having had a mostly unknown and mostly untraceable and incomprehensibly complex journey to get from a raw resource to the form and place it is in right now.


What are the chances of any of it and all of it? And how does all this inherent chaos, and dominoed history, and interconnection of the infinite threads in the web of life, somehow manage to work?


As I was reflecting on this today, it made me think of a child's line of questioning...


How does that balloon stay in the air?
It's full of helium.
What is helium?
It's a gas that is lighter than air.
Where do they get the helium to put in the balloon?
It's part of some gases that are found underground.
How did it get underground?
I'm not sure... it's a geological thing that happened over millions or billions of years.
What's geological?


We eventually lose our patience with the endless line of questioning, while being completely oblivious to the deep profundity that the child is seeing and pointing to... right in front of our very eyes.


As the questions are asked, we think we are the teacher, but we are completely missing the lesson that is being taught to us...


"Hey you! Open your eyes! SEE and REALIZE the incomprehensible miracle of everything around you! All the things that just work and happen even though you have no real understanding of the depth of why or how!... Each infinitesimal speck of life that somehow comes together in a cooperative form to HOLD YOU as you navigate throughout each changing moment of your entire life from long before your birth to long after your death... much more like you are the bouyant flotsam and jetsam flowing along the currents of life, rather than the silly and innocent delusion that you are the sole captain of your ship, requiring no cooperation from anyone or anything."


Yes, our human form is "doing stuff"... but... any and every single ability to "do", requires a mostly-invisible-to-us cooperative network of life both outside and inside.


Gaining any sense of the expansive significance of this in any way in any moment is "the gift of understanding", and something worth reflecting on from time to time. I forget all of this quite often, but with every next realization of the truth of it, I feel a sigh of relief, and I rest in wonder and gratitude.

"Don't be concerned if you see us roughing them up a little bit. That's what we need to do to keep them under control. You won't likely have any safety issues with them living next door, since break-ins are not what they tend to do, but maybe keep a bat at the back door just in case."


It was early Spring in 2013. We were having concerns with the new neighbours who had moved into the house next door. They showed a few moments of happiness (connection, care, conversation, laughter), but I didn't really notice that. All I noticed was their many moments of suffering, and their desire to ease that suffering in the form of behaviours that we were becoming increasingly afraid of... intoxication, yelling, physical violence, and all the chaos that accompanies them.


As a consequence, the police, the paramedics, and the ambulance services, were occasional visitors to the home.


Many of our new neighbour's behaviours appeared to be related to drugs and gangs and illegal activities. There were also a lot of strange events and behaviours that we couldn't comprehend or make sense out of. For those first few months, with our growing concern and my keeping an eye on all that was going on, I began to feel like a not-so-funny Gladys Kravitz. My husband became the researcher, looking for any information he could find on local gangs, which just compounded our concerns.


A few months after our new neighbours moved in, we finally decided we needed to go to the local police to find out what was going on and what the risks were. I don't know if I have some level of insecurity with authority, but I was nervous about having to speak to them. However, it was necessary... we were seriously wondering if we needed to sell our house and move.


The officer who greeted me at the local police station, didn't seem to be that happy himself. He looked lethargic and sort of inconvenienced by my arrival and didn't really make much eye contact. He wasn't that chatty, but he listened to what I had to say, and then spent about 5 minutes silently looking at the computer, reviewing the reports he had for the address that I gave him.


When I voiced that "we were concerned", he eventually confirmed, with his eyes still on the screen, "Well, you have a right to be concerned." I don't know if that made me feel relieved for realizing we weren't exaggerating things, or if it made me feel more concerned for our safety... perhaps it was a bit of both.


The officer didn't give me too many more details, other than letting me know that the police were aware of problems at the identified address. He then gave me a telephone number for what I think he referred to as "community police"...a few officers assigned as liaisons to our community for this type of issue.


When I phoned the number provided, the first officer I spoke to was much more energetic and very talkative. He shared information about the situation and gave us his advice.


I appreciated having more information about the occupants and activity in the home... I think it gave me the illusion of some control in a situation that appeared out of my control. "Oh, at least I understand better exactly what's going on now and why"... a breath of relief.


Unfortunately, at the same time, I was given a new concern... Although I appreciated all of the information, I sort of felt that this officer told me more than I probably should have known about other people's lives. And, he also shared one thing I really didn't want to know... "Don't be concerned if you see us roughing them up a little bit. That's what we need to do to keep them under control".


I had no idea what to say. I didn't have the courage to either address it or ask more questions to better understand it. I just stayed quiet, and allowed the conversation to continue, as if what he said was OK and normal, even though it was not OK and normal in my mind.


Although I was shocked by what the officer said, there was also a part of me that maybe wasn't surprised. Perhaps that was because of cop movies I had seen or occasional news items of some officers being violent. Perhaps it was also knowing that some members of our community are routinely seen and treated as less.


And although I didn't realize it at the time, I was also seeing my neighbours as less than me in some way as well. I may have had compassion for their suffering, but it came in the form of, "wow, their issues and addictions are bad, and thank God I don't have that".


What I didn't at all see, was my intrinsic connection to them... I completely missed seeing any of their beauty, and I held no reverence for their humanity or our common humanity. I saw that they had problems, but it NEVER occurred to me that they and their problems belonged to me in any way. I saw them as completely separate from me.


The bigger part of my surprise with the police officer's admission, was that it appeared to be so easy and safe for him to share something with me (a stranger) that was clearly neither legal nor humanely acceptable. I didn't really explore that in my mind any further at that time. My mind was on my own problems and it never occurred to me that this issue of police violence toward others was also my problem.


With all the recent attention on the insecure state of our systems and structures of society and law enforcement, this whole experience seems so much more prescient. It's a reminder to me of how easy it can be to look away when I think the problem isn't mine... and when I think that any other human being standing in front of me, or living next door to me, or policing in my neighbourhood, doesn't belong to me.


During that Spring, the issues next door continued to escalate. The warmer weather meant open windows and louder music, and it meant that our neighbour's suffering could more easily spill out onto their front lawn and throughout the neighbourhood.


And then one day, out of the blue, I had some sort of profound experience that gave me a new set of eyes with which to see the world. My husband's and my experience of, and our relationship with our neighbours, completely changed, and my life and career was set on another path... but that's another story.


In the meantime, my reflection on this experience is not something I'm ashamed of. At the time, I had no idea how to listen deeply, either to myself or to the world. I was completely blind to the illusory nature of insecure thought and feeling, and how it informed my sense of self and drove my behaviours and separated me from my fellow human beings.


Seven years later, I'm much more connected to humanity and much more at peace with life, but I'm still learning to listen. And what could be more important than for me to keep listening deeply? After all, we all belong to each other.

A few years ago, I had a significant realization, that "I was my community, and my community was me". ALL OF IT.


It wasn't just an idea, or an interesting perspective, or a nice thought... It was an awareness of an intrinsic connection to everything and everyone around me.


In a more LOGICAL sense, I became very aware that every single one of my every day behaviours (what I don't do, what I do, and how I do it) creates the soil for whatever is allowed to grow within me AND in the community.


And in an INCOMPREHENSIBLE sense, I became aware that I AM ALL of the community... I AM all of the bad in the community, just as I AM all of the good... I am the racism, the addiction, the violence, and the righteous judgment, just as I am the beauty, the balance, the cooperation, and the love (even in my logical mind, I can easily see the seeds of all of these within me).


I saw that EVERY time I was pointing a finger... it was equally and unreservedly and wholly, pointing right back at me.


I still find myself pointing my finger... it's an unwelcome habit, although I have grown to appreciate it's presence... for each time my finger points... it inevitably reminds me I still have so much yet to learn, or perhaps more appropriately... to unlearn.


The resources at the link below are just one of many that can offer me some perspectives for reflection... perhaps they may offer the same for some others too...



I've had a variety of physical health issues over the last few years (nothing critical... although I do expect to eventually die some day 😉), and it has been fascinating to notice my experience of it all.


Whenever my relationship with the pain or discomfort shows up as resistance, impatience, frustration, confusion, anger, anxiousness, or depression, the experience of the pain feels amplified and tends to last longer.


Whenever my relationship with the pain shows up as gentle awareness, curiosity, acceptance, neutrality, or humour, or when it's not on my mind at all, the pain is less (sometimes nonexistent) and it tends to pass by more quickly.


It's kind of a subtle game that my thoughts and feelings play between wanting to control the pain in some way VERSUS simply navigating the appearance of the pain in whatever way makes best sense in the moment. The pain and action could be the exact same for both ways of playing the game, but it's the underlying understanding and thought-created story in the moment that informs my moment to moment experience of it.


For example, taking a pill for a migraine because I desperately want to get rid of it, versus taking a pill for a migraine because it occurs to me as the best remedy in the moment, are two completely different experiences.


I don't see myself as in "control" of any of this, in that the energy of life is much bigger than I can ever fathom... there's no real way to fully comprehend the infinitely complex systems of life and the human body, let alone the working mechanics of our thoughts and feelings.


I've also noticed that no specific action has ever led to any consistent result, and what leads to any specific result is always an incomprehensible amalgam of all the complexity. However, there's something incredibly powerful in appreciating just that.


This world and life and body I experience is exquisite and beyond wonder in its ability to function and create, despite all of the perceived resistance and interference... or perhaps in light of it? Whenever I fall back into the felt embrace of understanding that, peace always appears, even when the pain is still present.

No one ever told me about the value of knowing nothing.


Well, maybe they did, but it's likely I wasn't listening at the time because I thought I knew something.


Knowing nothing is incredibly freeing.


Whenever I know that I know nothing, there's no need to be right, no ego to protect, nothing to reason, defend, or justify, and nothing to fix or change.


Whenever I know that I know nothing, I simply navigate life from moment to moment with whatever common sense arises... and maybe I do a bit of fixing here and there, but my eyes are always left open to the next new moment that inevitably happens.


Whenever I know that I know nothing, I get to observe and enquire and reflect and wonder and imagine and create and appreciate. I get to play.


Whenever I know that I know nothing, I'm actually much kinder and much smarter and much more at peace within the depths of my soul.


In contrast...


Whenever I know that I know something, I suffer. I have to reason, justify, and defend everything that threatens it... I have to hang onto it for dear life... and so I can't help but create within me the rumbles of anger and judgment and righteousness... I can't help but start wars.


I wonder if that in order to live peacefully, the only thing worth knowing is to truly know that I know nothing... so that instead of building fortresses, I get to explore possibilities.


And I wonder what the world would be like if everyone knew that they themselves and everyone else, knew nothing too?


P.S. The next time I inevitably think that I know something, please kindly and gently remind me otherwise. After all, I think world peace might be at stake here.

Latest comments

22.11 | 18:05

You're very welcome Frances! Thank you for your kind words. ❤️

22.11 | 15:12

Thank you so much Jonelle. You are an angel sent from heaven. Such a truly inspirational piece.

08.01 | 00:46

Thank you Jonelle, I'll do that. Best wishes, Conrad

07.01 | 19:22

They're not available publicly as far as I know. Maybe try reaching out to Linda Quiring? I don't have an email, but she's on Facebook.