Suspend And Rest [on KS Friday]

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Kerri took a fall earlier this week and broke both of her wrists. For a professional pianist there are few injuries more debilitating and frightening. Needless to say, our world stopped. We’ve stepped out of time.

Judy once told me, after her husband suffered a terrible stroke and she became his full-time caregiver, that she could not think about tomorrow or even an hour ahead. The moment at hand, the task immediately before her, was all that existed. I understood in an abstract way what she was experiencing. The weight of presence. The unbearable lightness of presence.  All that exists is now. Today, I understand what Judy experienced beyond a simple abstract appreciation. At this point, there is no sense in thinking ahead.

A sip of coffee through a straw. Move the hair from her eyes. Help her sit up. There is the task at hand. That is all. And in “that is all” comes a great gift: instant perspective on what has actual importance and what does not. In these past several months everything has felt like a fight to swim upstream. Today, since Monday, there is no fight, there is only stream and it carries us where it will. We let go and are resting. A whole rest.

It is ironic to me that since her fall, in addition to the pain and the real fear of losing her capacity to play the piano [read: lose who she understands herself to be], we have laughed more in four days than in four months. We have let go. We look at what-this-time-last-week appeared to be so heavy with importance and merely shrug. Not important. It floats away. Or we float away from it. In this whole rest there is no capacity to push, no desire to paddle or resist. Suspended, we rest. We take this bite, sweet or savory, and that is all.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHOLE REST

 

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Take Heart [on DR Thursday]

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I dipped into the Flawed Cartoon archive to find this one. Not only is it is one of my favorites, but it describes perfectly this time of my life. In my case, the scarf is for warmth and not fashion. I have no explanation for the hat.

My inner-misguided-philosopher whispers, “Take heart, all are made of the same snow!” I wince but scribble a note because that would make a great groan-inspiring cartoon if I ever jump back into the Flawed pool. Who knew snow could inspire bad philosophy!

I remind myself that every great knight probably looked pathetic and skinny when not in their armor. All that chain mail and shiny metal hid the truth revealed in tights and tunics. I suspect that knights avoided mirrors unless encased in polished alloy! I scribble another note. A good seed for a sumpin-sumpin someday.

“Take heart,” my inner-misguided philosopher reminds me, “Sometimes the best possibilities come wrapped in a scarf wearing a goofy hat.” I roll my eyes. Always the optimist.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on THE POSSIBILITIES

 

 

 

 

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flawed cartoons ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

 

 

Circle [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Perhaps the most true phrase I’ve read about The Circle is that its symbolism is inexhaustible. It is universal and the ultimate cross-cultural sign. No beginning, no end.

Wholeness. Unity. Infinity. It points to the mystery. Cycles of life. Endless movement.

It also has a meaning-making-flip-side. It can be as vicious as it is virtuous. A closed community. The shape that distinguishes us from them. Loops of reactivity. An energy eddy. An inescapable whirlpool. A widening gyre.

Ask a circle, “What does it all mean?” and the circle will ask in return, “What does it mean to you?”

It is a radically different action to search for meaning than it is to make meaning. And, most likely, the search for and the assignment of meaning are dancing partners. All of us seek. All of us assign meaning.

We can’t help but ask, “Why is this happening?” A few curious scientists and seekers go beyond their circles of understanding and look for answers. They inevitably find more questions. Another loop.

The artists always live on the edge of the circle precisely so they can see in. When the community asks, “Why is this happening?” they scribble lines, make music, write poems, and dance. Communing with what is on the other side of the known. Making meaning. Perhaps incapable of approaching an answer to the question, “Why?” but certainly opening the circle of possibilities to what we might come to understand together. Creating a commons. Another loop.

 

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Stand Out [on Two Artist’s Tuesday]

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You be you. If you think about it, who else can you possibly be? As trite as it may seem, this appeal on the side of a bus captures in simple marketing language one of the greatest paradoxes of living life in the most individualistic culture on the planet. We are reinforced to be hyper-unique but hammered repeatedly to fit in. It is the ultimate split intention. It is why we have such a ubiquitous self-help industry and so many preachers-of-purpose-seeking. Asking, “Where do I fit in?” is a terribly hard question to answer when the expectation is to stand out.

I suspect our current dedication to division is, to some extent, built upon this paradox. Split souls are generally angry souls and anger is an easy organizing principle to exploit. Tribes of anger need nothing more than enemies to bridge the split. A good enemy, real or imagined, can provide to an angry tribe both a sense of individual purpose and a place to belong.

I heard a term the other day that frightened me: low information voter. Years ago I heard an economist speak at a conference and his message was profound. A healthy democracy requires an educated populace. Without the capacity to sort through the heaps of rhetoric, pull apart the agendas to see beyond the manipulation, without some simple capacity  for analysis, or a bigger picture, then votes will be cast from simple, uninformed and often angry belief. In other words, democracies fall when its members do not care enough to know what they are voting for. Power will always corrupt. The brilliance of a democracy is that the people are meant to be the ultimate check on power. In order to be the check, they have to look beyond the political party line and ask, “What really happened here?”

The leaders of angry tribes need low information voters. It’s the only way they can stay in positions of power. It feels good to fit in. But, in a culture known for its individuality, it feels all the more satisfying to stand up, to stand out and ask, “What’s really going on here?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about YOU BE YOU

 

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Spin Off Center [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I’ve always been a bit mystified by the hyper-charge surrounding the word ‘change.’ It doesn’t matter which way the word slices, it will either evoke great fear and trepidation [we’ve always done it this way!] or it will reach to the deepest depths of yearning and impatience [we need to be different!]. Guard the bastion. Explore new worlds.

Organizations try to manage change. Yet, organizations sell their products as cutting edge. They promote themselves as leaders of change.

We celebrate change-makers. Game changers. We also honor the keepers of the flame. Rule keepers. We pride ourselves on our innovative spirit while pondering the loss of tradition.

Creative tension. Push, pull. It’s a balancing act, yes? A continuum. Where exactly is the hard line between progress and tradition?

Stepping into the unknown is never easy though, isn’t it true that each day of life is, in fact, a step into the unknown? The wheel spins on and on and on.

Growing old is not for wimps. That’s what Beaky said. We all do it. Movement is life and life is change.

We live in an interesting time. Everything is recorded. Evidence of change is everywhere. Actors get old. Politicians vehemently defend the opposite of what they vehemently defended 20 years ago.

The question is not about change or not change.  It is more about what we desire to be  steadfast in the midst of change. Circumstances change. Opinions change. Beliefs change. Traditions change. But, what is in the center of the wheel? Values like ‘honesty’ and ‘truth?’ Agreements of decency? A constitution?

What happens when those hubs are manipulated and simply fall away?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHANGE

 

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Take Another Step [on KS Friday]

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We spent some time last week talking about our beginning. We’d written a post and it prompted us to remember. It was surprisingly necessary to recount our story. To revisit our genesis.

In the guest room in Kerri’s parent’s house was a wall of family photographs. Many were pictures of weddings. A proud man in a uniform about to leave for the second war to end all wars, arm-in-arm with his bride in her wedding gown. A generation back in time, stiff collars, seated brides. There were more recent grooms and brides, too. Kerri’s sister and Bill. Wayne and Jan. Wendy and Keith. Heather and Brian. Beaches and rains of rice. When we stayed in that room, I’d sit on the bed and study the pictures. People standing together on the threshold of a new life. All of the unknowns, the triumphs and tragedies, the obstacles and stories of overcoming, waiting to be lived. But, in this one photographic moment, the vow, the unsullied togetherness, shines: we will walk hand in hand through thick and thin. I promise.

I loved looking at those photographs. The people in them are focused on all good things. There is not a hint of future fear. It’s as if the camera crew at the edge of the mystery was taking snapshots of the bold adventurers on the day the expedition set sail. Anticipation. Hope.

Our photograph is on a wall now. Not Beaky and Pa’s, but on our wall. In our picture, we stand toe to toe. In another, we are skipping out of our ceremony just as we skipped out of the airport the day that we met. Ours, we remembered last week, is a story that began with skipping. With wine on a roof top. With burgers and champagne. With a mystic Taize.

Kerri wrote this song for her niece’s wedding a decade ago. So much life is being lived! So many roads walked. So many adventures ahead.  What would the camera crew at the edge of the mystery capture in their photographs today, at this stage in the adventure? Anticipation? Hope? Holding hands, squeezed in affirmation. Let us take another step together, my best friend.

 

 

the single, MY BEST FRIEND is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MY BEST FRIEND

 

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my best friend ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Look Beneath [on DR Thursday]

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What’s beneath? It’s a question all artists learn to ask. It’s the same question good coaches ask of their clients. Seeing is not a superficial affair.

What’s beneath? What alchemy of color was brewed to make this image or that painting? What alchemy of experience was brewed to make this belief or that perception?

Sometimes “what’s beneath” supports and enlivens the surface layers. It’s magnetic and makes you stare – even if you don’t know why. Sometimes it dulls the painting, pulling the life from it. The same holds true for how a life is storied. Sense-making is as dynamic as color.

Color is a miracle. It is never passive. It is only understood by what it is relative to. That is, color, like a relationship, is fluid, moving, spirited.

What’s beneath all those layers and layers of color?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about UNDER PAINTING

 

 

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under painting, like captain underpants, is under copyright. ©️ 2020 robinson david