Toronto belongs to the rain today. Its citizens have been driven indoors. The city buildings are backlit entirely by blue gray sky. I am flying home today after a succession of days doing interviews and screening Paola Marino’s new documentary about my life (Open Shadow) and putting on our Synchronization Workshop here.
The workshop yesterday was hilarious from my perspective because of how many people got on stage with problems that were not really problems. It was the theme. At one point, I started laughing and threatened the crowd that at the end of the event, I would stand at the door with a sharpie pen and write “there’s nothing wrong with you” across each person’s forehead with it. It was a collection of people who had become convinced dysfunction existed, where it did not exist. I found the crowd to be so ‘polished’ that it was difficult to get deep into their pain. I came wanting to dive deep and be fully submerged in internal work with each person. I may very well have been getting people in deeper than they had been before. But to me it felt like I was holding their hand and wading them in and when they got to around knee-deep level, they would thank me and suggest they had reached a revelation and then get back out of the water. Just like in England, it was difficult to get people to express anything raw or politically incorrect. That kind of timidity of self-expression is both endearing and tempting. I so wanted to go chair-to-chair shaking everyone out of their inhibition.
The dominant negative vibration of Toronto is: Comfortably Uncomfortable. I’m going to get it out of the way and just say that Toronto has one of the highest vibrations I’ve seen in a major city. Even though you can find trauma and pain anywhere you go in this world, in general Toronto is not a hot spot for negative. In general, the people of Toronto don’t really 'suffer'. This may be why the dominant negative vibration of the city is comfortably uncomfortable. When a person really suffers, they can’t afford to not make a change. The pain catapults them into questioning and trying to find a way to feel better. But when a person is uncomfortable, they often find a way to minimize the discomfort instead of do something drastic to change it.
The people of Toronto are not comfortable, but they also aren’t so uncomfortable that they feel particularly inclined to do something about it. So the dominant negative vibration feels like a mildly irritating dissatisfaction. It’s a bit like an energetic cold virus that simply makes your nose stuffy and eyes watery, but doesn’t prevent you from calling in sick to work. But it is a cold that everyone has caught and that does not go away. If the people of the city did shadow work, it should be an exploration into their ‘dissatisfaction’. However, shadow work would most likely not be a real interest for the average person in Toronto because to face the fear of going into their shadow, a person has to have motivation enough. And like I said before, people here are comfortably uncomfortable.
The dominant positive vibration of Toronto is: Convergence of Diversity. Toronto kind of feels like Europe, USA and the Native Nations of North America all got together and made a baby. Lots of cities pride themselves on diversity. And there are many cities in the world that can say they are diverse. But Toronto really ‘takes home the trophy’. It takes home the trophy because it is one thing to say that a city has a lot of diversity just because people of all different kinds of ethnicity live and coexist there. It is another thing entirely for a city to not even really boast about diversity because diversity is a complete non-issue there. Being in Toronto, the social tension that exists in tandem with differences like skin color and religion and culture cannot really even be felt. There is a convergence of the diversities that exist there. The various flavors of people blend and mix and do not seem to clash like they do elsewhere. It doesn’t feel like Asians limit themselves to only being friends with other Asians or blacks feel oppressed or whites feel a cut above the rest. And it doesn’t feel like when races or cultures meet, the friendliness is forced. It’s so wonderful to feel the total relief of it being a non-issue. Because to be quite honest, in many places where diversity is present, places like New York for example, it absolutely IS an issue that people are fighting to try to make a non-issue.
This convergence of diversity is not just taking place on the manifested 3-D level. I love going out in Toronto because of the diversity within people as well. It is fascinating. The people of Toronto, though unwilling to dive into the shadow, are not shallow people. Each one is rich with an internal world all their own. It is as if there is a fantasy reality inside them where people make their homes mentally. They do not readily express this internal world to others. They keep it inside, like a treasure in a chest. What sets these particular internal worlds apart is that they are full of vision. The people of Toronto have so much vision that they are hiding from the world instead of expressing. When I was on stage, I directly asked the audience to become aware of and express this vision so it can be a tangible reality for all of us instead of something that is kept only for them and restricted only to the realm of fantasy. A part of me feels sad. I feel like if especially the youth of Toronto decided to externally act out their internal vision, they could radically alter the world. They would come up with the solutions so much of the world has been seeking. But they have been disempowered from expression in general. The youth have been taught that to express one’s inner vision (vision for themselves and for the world) is to impose. And the overall culture in Canada treats imposition like a mortal sin.
The social atmosphere of Canada in general is soft. The energy of the collective has a marshmallow like buoyant softness to it. Even in its major cities (like Toronto) the people are non abrasive and polite in comparison to the collective in other places. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where people say, “I’m sorry” more than here. They say “I’m sorry” for everything. If you bump into someone on the street, it is common for them to say “I’m sorry”. If you tell them they can stop saying sorry, they say “I’m sorry” for saying “I’m sorry”. It makes the city itself feel safe. I love how safe Canada feels. Canada is not going to be starting wars any time soon. It’s sort of a wallflower country because of this non-abrasiveness. Its overall neutrality makes it easy for foreigners to forget. It is not a country with a strong ‘flavor’ so to speak. People say that Switzerland is the most neutral country in the world. But from an energetic standpoint, Switzerland is more avoidant. Canada is truly neutral.
I didn’t have enough time on this trip to experience as many things that are unique to Toronto as I would like. I did try a vegan version of poutine (a Canadian staple) a few nights ago. It is essentially a bowl of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curd. I was laughing heartily as I ate it. The idea of it is such a put off. But in the world of cuisine, many combinations that would seem gross are incredible. Unfortunately, this was not the case on this occasion. This time, I can only hope the unethical (original) version of this dish tastes better than the version that I tried.
People who live in cities thrive as a result of seeking out the little specific places in the city that add up to a kind of needs-meeting routine. Those places become familiar and that familiarity makes people feel both identified with their city and secure. Toronto is the kind of city that would become familiar in no time. I am watching people walk down the street invested in their cozy routines. I wish I could follow each one of them to wherever they are going. I would be sure to encounter wonderful things.
In honor of Toronto, and before I board my flight to return home, I am going to end this blog by saying that so often we, as people, go to every corner of the globe trying to find out what is wrong with us. Then we go to every corner of the globe trying to find out how we can make ourselves better. And it never really works. And so we go to every corner of the globe trying to figure out why it isn’t working. When the reason it isn’t working is that the only thing that is wrong with us… Is that we think there is something wrong with us.