Look Up [on Merely A Thought Monday]

i'm trending copy

Lester struck up a conversation with us on the train to Chicago. Sitting across the aisle, fresh from a job interview, he was chatty with relief. He has the gift of gab and our chat  was easy and wide ranging. Kids. Art. Relationships. We talked about how difficult it is for people to talk, how guarded we’ve become in our modern world, how armored we are against simple dialogue. We reveled in how unusual it is for strangers on a train to share life-stories for an hour without distraction or wary suspicion! We bemoaned how our political circumstance makes every conversation a mine field, how topic-avoidance defines many of our relationships.

We looked around the compartment and noted how social media is a double-edged sword, providing easy access to our children a thousand miles away but also a ready escape from the people sitting 3 feet away. Lester laughed and shared a moment he recently had with his girlfriend who is addicted to her phone. “She’s constantly looking for what’s trending on Facebook and Instagram. She’s forever lost in what’s trending.” he said. “The other day I told her, ‘Hey! I’m right here! Put down your phone! I’m trending!'”

Many years ago, when texting and social media were new forces in our world, my business partner and I had an ongoing debate about whether a real relationship was possible through social media. I was solidly in the ‘no’ camp. She was an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ Over the years, as the technology has evolved, I’ve stepped back and forth across that debate. The sword remains double-edged and I will most likely dance across that line forever. But I know this: nothing takes the place of reaching out and holding my wife’s hand. Having lunch with Kirsten or Craig is infinitely more rich than any text exchange. I can sit in a room while Kerri reads a book or scribbles notes for a song and not feel left out but all the time feel alone when the person I’m sharing space with is lost in what’s trending.

What’s trending will wash down the streaming river in moments and be replaced with yet another wave. Manufactured importance. It’s breaking news that constantly breaks, a drug that requires bigger and bigger doses. Immediacy is not necessarily substantive.

Lester might well have said, “Hey! I’m right here! I’m with you now. Isn’t that enough?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I’M TRENDING

 

closeup at jonathans website box copy

 

Reach With Wonder [on DR Thursday]

CloudWatchers morsel 2 copy

“One of the reasons that we wonder is because we are limited, and that limitation is one of the great gateways to wonder.” ~John O’Donohue

I loved this canvas before I painted Cloud Watchers on it. It was old and used. Chunky with layers. I can’t remember how it came to me but I do remember thinking that it was the Velveteen Rabbit of canvas. Loved. Well worn. A long history – that is to say – filled with lots and lots of story. Perfect.

And, how appropriate that it is living a next chapter as Cloud Watchers, part of a series that  I call ‘narrative.’ All narratives – inner and outer – are projections. Life’s stories are image transfers, meaning imposed just like the meaning we place upon the movement of clouds. There’s a duck! Look! There’s a dragon, a dinosaur, an elephant. A fear. A goal. An opinion. Mr Magoo! Belief! There’s Thomas Jefferson! The Buddha.

We reach with wonder from our isolation. We touch through imagination. We are cloud watchers full of story, filling the air with our stories. We are glorious creators all!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CLOUD WATCHERS

 

star website box copy

 

cloud watchers/morsel ©️ 2002 – 6/2018 david robinson

Juxtapose [on Merely A Thought Monday]

NYE copy

 

I come to this eve of the new year holding two images, two art experiences juxtaposed. One is a review of the past. The other a resolution. Together they resonate.

The first, the review of things past that influence things to come, is Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary film, And They Shall Not Grow Old. It is a miracle of film making (stay to see the segment about how it was made that rolls after the credits. You will shake your head with wonderment). It takes you into the trenches and horrors of war.  We left the theatre both wowed by the film-making and shocked by the utter senselessness of war. Wowed by the human capacity to innovate and despairing at our capacity to willingly destroy ourselves for imagined gains. Both are technical achievements.

The morning after seeing the film I opened Brain Pickings and, given the film, I was smacked by a photograph of Earth taken from The Voyager spacecraft in the mid 1990’s. The Pale Blue Dot. It brought instant perspective to war – and everything else we imagine to be so important. Within the vast expanse of space, “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” I had to look twice to see the speck that is Earth. Our imagined importance is out of perspective with the realities of our circumstance. The fragility (the miracle) of our existence is generally lost in our daily myopia.

Two images.  Juxtaposed.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on THE NEW YEAR

 

trinitychristmasphoto website box copy

Be The Magic [on Two Artists Tuesday]

birdy feet copy

A modern dinosaur hopped by our car. It left tracks in the snow otherwise we might have never known! What I love most about the local dinosaur population is that we never tire of seeing them or evidence of their travels. We have a dinosaur feeder just outside our sun room window and have wiled away more than a few hours watching them fly in for a seed fix.

I believe we are all the time surrounded by magic and miracles but remain largely blind to their existence. Birds are ancient. If you want to take a step back into the Mesozoic Era, just listen to the sound of a Sandhill Crane. Magic and miraculous.

Every time that I hear that there is only one true religion I’m tempted to take the speaker by the elbow and lead them outside to look at the night sky. If they understand what they are seeing – indeed, what they are experiencing – they should laugh aloud and clap their hands with glee at the utter absurdity of their smallness and the enormity of their unimaginable existence. “Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! “  In the midst of millions upon millions – an infinity beyond any of our smallish brain pans to comprehend – might it be a bit of hubris to claim ownership of the one true anything? Go outside and consider it. Miraculous. Magic.

The dinosaur tracks were gone the next day. Melted. My 30’s and 40’s are gone, too. Passing. Tracks merely.

I suppose it is our lot to squeeze ourselves into these too tight boxes. Rushing life most certainly will have you focus on your long list of things to accomplish, on the empty places pocking your wall of respect, the plaque engraved on your legacy. In the face of so much track-making, it takes a bit of effort, an intention of slowing down to pay attention, to listen to the bird song, to see that the dinosaur recently hopped by, to turn your face to the stars and fall with abandon into the night sky. To be the magic. Miraculous.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SWEET TRACKS

 

jumping squirrel tracks website box copy

 

Wait For It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

text rest stop copy

Nothing I have to say or will ever have to say is of vital importance. Therefore, your reply, if at all necessary, need not be immediate. Unless, of course, your name is Wendy and are considering whether or not you miss my face as much as Kerri’s. I was hopping up and down waiting for THAT reply. For everyone else, take your time. Get off the road.

Look up the word ‘immediacy’ and this is what you will find: the quality of bringing one into direct and instant involvement, giving rise to a sense of urgency or excitement. As painful as this is, here’s the truth of the matter: the sense of urgency is largely manufactured. And, most likely, it is waaaaay out of proportion. It’s true, we live in the age of direct and instant involvement. A good question to ask is instant involvement in what? With ‘breaking news!’ a constant fixture in a screaming 24 hour news cycle, hyper-short attention spans leaping this way and that, ubiquitous “buy now’ buttons flashing from every direction, and the ever-present fear of missing something in a never-ending stream of…what? There’s a lot of reinforcement in the notion that our input cannot wait. It can. None of it, none of what we have to say, is really all that important. If it was, truly was THAT important, we’d pull off the road. We’d stop splitting our attention so we could focus. We would eschew immediacy and become present.

Giving your full attention is a good test of importance.

What is important: living another day. That is important. Also, having a sense of perspective about the injected sense of urgency or excitement pervasive in this, the age of immediacy. After all, immediacy and presence are not the same thing.

[although I did not intend to write a public service announcement, I did… so for more, go here to read the 25 scariest texting and driving accident statistics]

 

read Kerri’s blog post about IT CAN WAIT

 

cupsontheroad website box copy

 

Offer Pie [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

lincoln quote copy

Kerri flew through Denver on election day and stopped to snap this photo. These days the papers and airwaves are filled with stories of our national dedication to division. They are rife with incivility. We are rife with incivility.

A house divided cannot stand. It reads like a cliche’ – because it is – yet, apparently needs to be put to the test (again). There are a few more things true of a divided house, the reason they cannot stand: They are easy to manipulate. They waste their best energy on division (the tail wags the dog). They are deaf to the obvious paths out of division (when the only tool in your box is a hammer…). The foot they shoot is their own (the house they destroy is the one they are living in).

Above all it infects us with a bad case of Chicken Little Syndrome.

Sometimes the absence of middle ground is made civil when we step into the commons with a dedication to politeness. Courtesy. Graciousness. There are other words that probably sound like so much impossibility. Cliches? Pie in the sky?

Well, tomorrow is a day of thanks giving that usually comes with an abundance of pie!  Perhaps the sky need not fall if we can sit still for a moment and reach across the table with an offer of pie. Nothing else need be decided. Just pie. And thank you. There are few better places to begin the mend.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CIVILITY

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

Light A New Hearth Fire [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

HalloweenTree copy

Even during the summer we call it the Halloween tree. An ancient oak, gnarled and twisted, surely a home to gnomes and sprites, a rest stop for wandering spirits. An inciter of wild imagination. It watches our passage through the seasons, our walks though the woods.

Halloween has a history, an origin story. It has evolved and changed from a sacred to our now secular celebration. It once marked the end of the year, the line between the end of harvest time and the onset of dark winter, the day when the boundary between the living and the dead became soft and permeable. A liminal day when the future could be seen and told. Ghosts returned. People donned costumes to fool the spirits and speak for the future. Mischief was made. The hearth was stamped out and then reignited from the communal flame. With the sunrise came the new year and the boundary between worlds and the future was restored.

Costumes and carved pumpkins. Neighbors coming out of their houses for trick-or-treating. Corn mazes and haunted houses. We are not so different, not really. In this way, whether we acknowledge it or not, through our coming together to carve scary faces, through our meeting on the street to watch our children walk the neighborhood and perpetuate this yearly ritual, through our parties and dressing up, we light a new hearth fire to keep us warm and full of hope through the cold months of dark winter.

KDot Halloween Tree

k.dot at the halloween tree

read Kerri’s blog post about THE HALLOWEEN TREE

 

halloween box copy