Sit In It And Listen [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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When the world seems upside down – as it does often these days – we retreat to one of our favorite sanctuaries, a place of quiet where we can walk for an hour or so beyond the noise and division of the day. Our beloved Bristol Woods.

A few weeks ago, we retreated to the woods and came upon two curiosities. First, something that looked like a large wooden dunce cap, like some bratty giant was made to sit in the corner for disrupting class and, after his punishment, tossed his cap into the woods. We climbed in it and wriggled through it. We sat in it and absorbed the autumn sun. Napping in the dunce cap, we made up outlandish stories about what it could possibly be and how it came to be in our woods. If not a dunce cap then certainly it was a megaphone of epic proportions!

And, it turns out that we were right. The naturalist told us at the nature center it is a nature megaphone. Sit in it and it amplifies the forest sounds: leaves rustling, squirrels scampering, trees swaying, branches clicking, chipmunks darting. Disgruntled, the naturalist said, “They moved it so it points toward the highway and now it mostly amplifies the road noise. There couldn’t be a worse spot for it!”

Curiosity #2. Why would they move the megaphone to the worst spot? To a place where it amplifies road noise instead of the sounds of nature as intended?

Pocking our route through the woods we saw trees marked with red tape. Red and green flags were planted in a line cutting across the woods. Occasionally, trees were marked with ‘caution’ tape. “I think they’re going to tear down the woods,” Kerri sighed. Not possible, I thought. It’s land set aside for sanctuary. It’s written into their slogan: ‘Putting People In Touch With Nature.’

But, it turns out that Kerri was right. An aerial adventure park is coming soon. “The board says it will bring more people -what the means is more revenue – to the woods,” says the naturalist, her face turning red.”Does it make any sense to tear down the woods to bring more people to the woods?” she asks. “It has nothing to do with the woods. Do they think we’re idiots? It’s all about the money.”

And, it turns out I was right, too. Well, I was partially right. A bratty giant is disrupting the classroom but instead of being made to sit in the corner and consider the ramifications of his actions, he is quite simply removing the classroom. No self-reflection  required. He will eliminate Bristol’s reason for being. Horatio jumped into my mind with a simple and sad statement, “It’s all upside down,” he said. “If it doesn’t make money, we don’t value it.”

I didn’t say it. Wittingly or unwittingly, the megaphone is now a metaphor. It is in the perfect place to amplify what is now most valuable in our very upside-down world.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BRISTOL WOODS

 

 

 

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Measure The Distance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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I am surrounded by reminders of how quickly this life passes – or, perhaps, how much has changed in the span of my life.  Joseph Campbell told the story of, as a boy, seeing one of the first flights of a new invention, an air-o-plane. “It was like a flying bicycle,” he said. He finished his remembrance by remarking, “My God, now we are on the moon.” We are among the first human beings to measure our lives according to the blazing changes brought by technological advancement.

What is the distance between three channels, rabbit ears on a black and white television, and HULU available on all of our “devices?” Last night we watched the Barbara Streisand, Kris Kristofferson version of A Star Is Born and laughed heartily at the eight track tape players and telephones attached by cords to the wall. What is the distance between Stars Being Born in 1976 and those about to be Born in 2018?

Kerri and I like to poke around antique stores. It is common for us to stop and point at something, saying, “Hey, we had that.” Or, the more amusing variation, “Hey, those are our mixing bowls!” When a ten year old computer is considered a dinosaur, a 20 year old mixing bowl becomes an antique. “They’d put our stove in a museum,” Kerri quips. And what about those tv trays, Swanson frozen dinners (what was really in that Salisbury steak and those “mashed potatoes?”), the Carol Burnett show, and Gilligan’s Island?

Seems like yesterday. Seems like so long ago.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TV TRAYS

 

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Follow The Trail [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Max Ehrmann died. His poem, Desiderata, was mostly unknown. He did not write it for fame and few poets, unless they are delusional, write for fortune. Desiderata found its way to the light because it struck a chord, people shared it. Today it is known and treasured all over the world.

Vincent Van Gogh died. His paintings were mostly unknown. They were mostly rejected. Only one of his paintings sold in his lifetime.  He did not paint them to increase his fame and few painters, unless they are delusional, paint for fortune. His paintings found their way to the light because they struck a chord, people sought them out. Today, they are known and treasured all over the world.

No one knows the impact of their work. No one controls the ripples that they send. Everyone knows the truth of their intention, the source from which they act. Max Ehrmann wrote his poems during a life that spanned world wars. Vincent Van Gogh endured a lifetime of intense internal warfare and painted in response. Amidst the intensity of chaos they reached for more eternal things.

John told me that my job was to paint the paintings, not to determine how they are seen or received. In this age in which the arts have been detached from all things sacred, I sometimes feel our poems, our music, our dance, our paintings serve as a popcorn trail that point, not in the direction of personal gain or achievement, but to the soul’s home. That place where we sit together and experience the bigger things that live beyond words or names, beyond the nonsense and power games. The popcorn trail reminds us amidst the fighting to stand back and remember that neither side in any fight wins. Not really. The oppressed becomes the oppressor. Ripples and time.

For perspective, look to the stars at night. Poets and painters try to touch the vastness. The popcorn trail reminds us not to forget the center.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on DESIDERATA

 

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Bring A Little Hope [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“Multiculturalism asserts that people with different roots can co-exist, that they can learn to read the image-banks of others, that they can and should look across frontiers of race, language, gender and age without prejudice or illusion, and learn to think against this background of a hybridized society. It proposed – modestly enough – that some of the most interesting things in history and culture happen at the interface between cultures. It wants to study border situations, not only because they are fascinating in themselves, but because understanding them may bring with it a little hope for the world.” ~ Robert Hughes

I read in my newspaper that tribalism is the new normal [insert eye roll here]. There’s nothing new in tribalism. Fear-full people lost in a very small Us-N-Them tale is as old as the old gods. It’s pulled out and paraded about when power structures are shifting.

I marveled at the utter absurdity of it. No one can deny that our airwaves and e-waves are choked with noisy proclamations of division and fear.  However, it only takes a quick scan through the rest of my newspaper to grasp the undeniable reality of our situation: global markets, global economies, populations on the move, United Nations, NATO, WTO, multinational corporations, Bitcoin, international space stations, satellites, not to mention some of our greatest challenges like global warming, and invasive plant and insect species (made possible through global shipping and the necessity of sharing/exploiting resources). Take a stroll down the aisle of your local supermarket and educate yourself on the scope, depth and breadth of your food sources. Count the countries represented on the shelves.

Tribalism is not new. It was normal a few centuries ago. Nowadays it is a construct, an old dry log to toss on a fire to stoke divisions and create distractions.  It’s a headline to sell newspapers. Division sells. Good theatre requires hot conflict. People are easier to control when divided. There’s nothing new there, either.

There is a truism in change processes: people hold on tightest to what they know just before releasing their fear and walking into the unknown future. They take a step back, temporarily entrench, before answering the call of growth and change. Call that tribalism if you must, or denial, or the conservative impulse. It’s a process step. “Age and stage,” as 20 likes to say.

What’s actually new? All the world is now a crossroads. People with different roots ARE coexisting – that, after all, IS the great experiment and central promise of these United States. Looking across the frontiers of race, language, gender and age – without prejudice or illusion – is the hope in our emergence. It is the cathedral we are building.

The other direction can only bring our decrease. And, as history has taught us again and again, that’s an ugly path. There’s nothing new in that, either.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on EMERGING HUMANS EMERGING

 

 

Dream A Little Dream [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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empathy (noun): the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Yet another insightful insight into the stellar thinking (or lack thereof) of the crack writing team at Flawed Cartoon. Happy Wednesday from our team to yours.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about WHEN ANTS DREAM

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

when ants dream ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Be Second [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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In our highly competitive, goal driven, purpose seeking, we-are-number-one, pyramid topping, dog-eat-dog world, the staff of Flawed Cartoon would like to remind you that sometimes first place is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Happy Wednesday.

 

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read Kerri’s blog about YOU ARE MY FIRST

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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you are my first/products ©️ 2016/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Live Without Fear [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Last week we met my niece and her husband in Lake Geneva for a glass of wine. They’ve been living overseas and were gobsmacked at the recent changes in our nation. “How do you have conversations?” she asked, adding, “Everyone is so angry. It’s impossible to talk about anything important. It’s impossible to discuss or debate ideas or points of view.”

“It’s a minefield,” I said, not really knowing what else to say. There is so much anger which can only mean there is so much fear. The only thing that makes sense to me is that our nation, an ongoing experiment, is cutting through the weeds of our central question: can people of diverse backgrounds come together and live united in a single narrative? If the past two years was your only evidence the answer would be a resounding NO. Thankfully, there is a broader sample. We are a work in progress.

No one can see clearly the times in which they live. And, since the conversation last week has been much on my mind, and an answer to the pervasive fear is no where to be found [and would be a ruse at best], for insight I can only offer A Two Artist Tuesday Quote Collision:

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that aren’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

“The idea of a causal universe and a social order built on universal moral laws is toppled by the uncertainty principle. The absolute is replaced by the relative…. Reality becomes a matter of highly variable conventions, rather than a set of fixed and eternal facts.”  ~Jamake Highwater [Jamake gets the award for consecutive quotes. He also made an appearance yesterday!]

“A lot of lip service gets paid to being honest, but no one really wants to hear it unless what’s being said is the party line.”~ Colin Quinn

It is not an accident that our science, our art, and our politics are roiling in relativity. It IS our current common narrative. Contemporary art, like modern science, began with breaking down the idea of absolutes. Politics and public opinion do not lead but they follow.

The experiment is no longer confined to our shores: in a global economy, in the age of 24 hour news cycles, Facebook, Twitter and Google, in our age-and-stage of relativity, can people of diverse backgrounds come together and live united in a single narrative called relativity? Can we transcend our fear of otherness and step outside of our echo chambers? Can we listen as passionately as we proclaim? It seems that it will require a great deal of respect for otherness with a high degree of empathy and low investment in self-righteousness.

Well, we’ll see.

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read Kerri’s blog post about LIVING WITHOUT FEAR

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

living without fear ©️ 2006/2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson