Make No Mark [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

seagull prints copy

Many generations ago, just after the road was resurfaced, a hearty seagull stepped into the hot asphalt and, doing its best human imitation, left its footprints for posterity.

Everyone wants to leave their mark. A hand print in a cave, a plaque on a bench, an elementary school that carries their name. I was here. I did something worthy with my time. I mattered. I broke a record, amassed a fortune, discovered a cure, left a print in the Hollywood walk of fame.

Once, I painted a beautiful painting and I only know it was beautiful because a woman came to the gallery opening, caught her breath, and wept in front of it. Once, I fulfilled a promise long after it was capable of being fulfilled. Everything changed.

People draw lines in the sand. They take stands. They say, “This matters,” even if, from every other point of view, the scratch in the earth looks insignificant. To cross the line, to betray the mark, is…(fill in your word). My word is untenable.

I mostly wonder what kindness I might be capable of if I was not so concerned with making marks. I wonder what kindness might be afforded me if I were not pressed to step over my lines. What kindness my be engendered?

Time and again I have admired the words and work of people who managed to leave behind the desire for mark-making. They walked through their days, perhaps helping others and, without really meaning to, with no thought of personal gain or guarding of territory or making statements, like the seagull, they stepped and inadvertently left a few footprints for posterity.

 

feet on deck WI website box copy

 

 

Leap And Skid [on Two Artists Tuesday]

dogdog pondering copy

Tripper-Dog-Dog-Dog has now seen some things that only a few weeks ago were unimaginable. His first deer sighting was a revelation. His first pelican experience was monumental, something akin to an alien landing. The world, he is discovering, is much bigger and more vibrant than he once believed.

His new reality has made him something of a contemplative. He gazes at the horizon. He watches the surf. Sometimes he approaches it and jumps back and forth with it. It is a game he plays with the infinite, dancing with the BIG motion.

We take a walk early every morning. This morning the crows were out in force. He’s had previous crow experience but the sheer numbers, a full murder of them, was enough to make him stop and check in with me. “Is this to be expected?” he asked with his eyes. I nodded. They make me nervous, too.

DogDog has never been a fan of steps. There is no way to get into our littlehouse on island except by climbing steps. Our first few days here were problematic for DogDog. How to transcend the obstacle? At first he looked to us to solve it for him. We looked back and encouraged him. Now, the steps are no longer an obstacle. He’s developed a leap-the-steps-and-skid-to-a-stop technique. It has become fun for him. He delights in his new capacity to fly. The skid is great fun, too. Just like his world outside, his new inner reality is much bigger, much more vibrant than he once understood. Change is like that. Hard at first but then comes the leaping.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DOGDOG

 

dogga front yard website box copy

 

 

 

Feed The Fable [on Merely A Thought Monday]

i didn't even notice copy

DogDog is a furry beast. He sheds like a champion. I vacuum every other day to stay ahead of the fur onslaught. In my defense I can only say that it is not my vacuum. We are guests in our little house. I realized too late that the vacuum cleaner bag was full. I realized too late that the replacement bag in the cupboard was the wrong size. I learned too late that, here on island, the mercantile doesn’t carry vacuum bags. I now know that Amazon will have new vacuum bags delivered to us by Tuesday, a full five days after my first vacuum revelation.

While we await the arrival of the bags, Kerri has placed a strict moratorium on visitors entering our little house. No one is permitted to see the mess. When someone walks up our driveway, we meet them in the yard. We steer them around the little house to the lake side chairs. We chirp with anxiety if they make a step toward the house.

I suspect we are not the only people who chirp, who sweep things under the rug, turn the lights low when guests are on the way, clean the house before the cleaners come. Once, on my honey-do list, was this: clean house before the electrician arrives. I did. The electrician, a nice young man, worked in a spotless environment. He inhabited and fully participated in our illusion of clean.

You know who your friends are when you allow them beyond the curtain of clean, when you permit them to see what’s behind THAT door in the basement. You really know who your friends are when they return from the clutter zone and say things like, “It wasn’t that bad,” or “I didn’t even see any piles of stuff.” Your real friends, the people that really love you, support you in your illusions. Or, is that delusions? Either way, thanks Dan. We’re glad you returned from the basement to tell the fable.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE BASEMENT

 

snapchat website box copy

Enjoy Your Dance [on KS Friday]

sweet ballet songbox copy

Standing on the deck, looking out over the water at the setting sun, he said, “Why is it that you have to grow old before you realize that life passes too quickly? You’d think that would be important to know when you were young.”

These days we’re hanging out with lots of parents whose children have grown up and flown the coop. Kerri is one of those parents. The conversation always includes a variation of this phrase: it went by so fast.

A little girl in a ballet class. Not just any little girl. Yours. Learning how to lean into her dream and bumping into a funny adult words: practice. Repetition.

This ballet is indeed sweet. And, as I’m learning, the dance is over in the blink of an eye.

 

SWEET BALLET on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SWEET BALLET

 

slow dance party cropped website box copy

 

sweet ballet/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Start The Ripple [on DR Thursday]

MayYou copy 2

The mantra goes like this:

may you prayer copy

Actually, it is a meditation of ripples. The second round, after the “I”, someone very close  is named. On the third round, someone a bit farther out, and so on until the wish is for all the world to dwell in its heart. The universe. And then, the ripples return, layer by layer, arriving back to you.

It is a peace mantra, a meditation on connectivity that runs through the heart, the place between I and you, us and them. It is the “and.”

This is one of those paintings that jumped onto the canvas fully formed. It is either disturbing to people (“Why is she falling?”) or intensely comforting (“I wonder what she is reaching for.”) It is, in that way, very much like the meditation, an exercise of thought control or an aspirational prayer.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAY YOU

 

MayYou copy 2

may you, 55x36IN

 

feet in ocean website box copy

 

mayyoucopyright2015davidrobinson

welcome flag copy

“The whole island is a welcome sign,” he said. “People here take the time to stop and talk.”

It’s true. This little island is the inverse of life on the mainland. Over there, going slow is an anomaly. Here, rushing to get anywhere is the anomaly. Over there, people get agitated if they are made to wait. Here, people get agitated if they are made to move. Here, people routinely wave as you pass. They acknowledge your presence. Over there, people routinely pretend they don’t see you. Or, they simply don’t see you, their sight so focused on getting to the next thing on the list.

Our neighbors left a note on our door. Came by to meet you. Sorry we missed you. Come over and say hello. So, we did. Two hours and a large glass of mead later, we semi-staggered home feeling as if we’d known our new neighbors forever.

I confess to the disorientation that comes when first entering another culture. This culture, oddly, is not in another country, it is not halfway around the globe. It is a ferry ride just off the tip of Door County. It amused me no end upon first arriving that slowing down, saying hello, stopping to chat, seemed so unusual. So out of the norm.

I like it. It is infectious, this slowing-down-and-stopping-to-talk-to-everyone-thing. It is human scale or, perhaps, it is simply human. Things get done. People get where they need to go and no one gets run over in the process.

Now, in my new culture, stopping to say hello is, somehow, more important than anything I think I need to do; that is to say, self-importance takes a back seat to other-importance. That’s the secret ingredient, I think, the magic sauce to taking time to stop and stand beneath the welcome sign. Plus, sometimes there’s mead! Ahhhh (a coda).

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WELCOME

 

closeup at jonathans website box copy

 

Look Up [on Two Artists Tuesday]

deer in woods copy

An evening sky awash with salmon pink and orange. Walking down the middle of the road. Strolling home.  We heard the snap of twigs and stopped. The deer was very still, suddenly aware of us. We found ourselves engaged in an old Viola Spolin acting exercise: you look at us and we’ll look at you. Who is the audience? Who is the performer? Who is the watcher? The watched?

I’ve been thinking about Quinn lately. He taught me that there is a marked difference between concentration and awareness. Concentration is a narrowing of the mind. A blocking of other thought. Resistance. Awareness is an opening to experience. All experience. An embrace. It’s a thought straight out of Alan Watts, one of the many, many authors and thinkers that Quinn introduced me to.

Walking the roads and beaches of the island, learning the nuance of this community and the needs of the performing arts center that we now guide, for me, has become an active reminder, a literal exercise of awareness, a class in paying attention. Open, not narrow. Experience rather than judge or resist.

I can hear Quinn laughing at the younger version of me who thought he had to contain it, capture and command it. The one who thought he had to know what to do. The one with a knitted brow who thought that being good at something was a matter of controlling it. So afraid to not know. The mirth-tears would roll down Quinn’s cheeks. “Look up!” he’d say. “If you keep staring at your feet you’ll miss it!”

“Miss what?” I’d ask.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE DEER

 

feet on the deck steps website box copy