Open Your Mind [on DR Thursday]

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Peace on Earth is a nice seasonal phrase but I’m willing to bet that most folks think it is pie-in-the-sky. A utopian ideal. So, pondering what to write about Peace on Earth, I flipped open a book and the first phrase I saw was this: An Open Mind.

Horatio is wise. He once told me that in these United States we are divided because we have competing narratives. Narrative #1: Every man for himself. Narrative #2: I am my brothers’ keeper. I think he is right. Generally, you can toss every national debate into one of those buckets. This morning, for my Peace on Earth rumination, I’d redefine those two narratives this way #1: Closed Mind (every man for himself) or #2: Open Mind (I am my brother’s keeper).

The ‘every man for himself’ narrative is predicated on the notion that there is limited pie in this vast universe. The goal is to grab a big piece of the limited pie. It’s necessarily a fight because there’s not nearly enough pie to go around. It’s fear-based and fear closes minds. Every year people get trampled in the national-celebration-of-limited-pie known as Black Friday. Get yours. It’s true, through this dark lens Peace on Earth is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky.

The inverse narrative, ‘I am my brothers’ (and sisters’!) keeper’ is predicated on the notion that there is plenty of pie to go around. In fact, the goal is not to grab but to create and then to give. Not only to share our toys and our gifts but to cultivate the base layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy for everyone: security & safety. Communal self-actualization follows the same path as personal self-actualization. Morality, respect, and generosity are the blossoms of feeling secure. So is an Open Mind. Peace on Earth, through this lens, is like more pie in the oven.

The ‘every man for himself’ story is a great recipe for closing minds. With fear and studied ignorance at its center, this narrative begs us to ignore a simple truth: no one does this alone. We are, in fact, dependent upon each other for our survival, our identity and our esteem. In isolation, a human being cannot thrive. Withhold interaction and love an infant will not survive.

I have a theory (okay, a belief) that the ‘I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper’ narrative is the truth of us. When the chips are down, when another person in peril, firefighters run into the building, they don’t run away. Everyday people leap in harm’s way to save the life of another. It is their instinct. It is our nature.

Like everything, believe it or not, what we embrace is a choice. Narratives are powerful.

An Open Mind is a door into Peace on Earth. It’s possible there’s more pie in this vast universe, this abundant earth, than a closed mind wants you to see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PEACE ON EARTH

 

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peace on earth design/products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Offer Pie [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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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

 

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Put It On A Post [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

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Paul often told the young actors he taught: never underestimate your power to influence or impact another person’s life. Stepping onto a stage comes with a responsibility. I loved his advice and thought it was much more universal and should be heeded everyday. What you do matters and it matters in ways you probably will never understand. We are always and in all ways participants in the butterfly effect.

In a short walk around our neighborhood you’ll discover several Little Free Libraries, an idea that came from Todd Bol as a tribute to his mother. She was a lover of books and his idea to honor her caught on like wildfire. In 2009 he built a little schoolhouse shaped box, put books in it, and stuck it on a post outside his house. He invited his neighbors to borrow them. He had no intention of creating a worldwide movement yet in the 9 years that have elapsed since he built his box, Little Free Libraries have popped up in over 80 countries. It became a movement. An entity with a mission. People borrow books. People share books and ideas. Neighbors stop and check out what might be new. The boxes themselves are often little pieces of art that Joseph Cornell might have assembled. Little Free Libraries are community connective tissue.

Todd Bol died last week. It seems only right on this Not-So-Flawed Wednesday to stop and take note of the very big ripple one small box on a post set into motion.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about Todd Bol

 

 

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Infuse Them With Hope [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Go to the AS YOU IS website and this is what you will find:

As You Is® was created to start conversations… to cause total strangers to smile… to make people think… to get others to feel so accepted they break out in impromptu dance… and to put a serious chink in the armor of racism.

Our hope is one day children can embrace being uniquely themselves, where they feel safe being different and where old people —like our founder Michael Fornwald — can age gracefully or ungracefully sans self-contempt.

Please join us by infecting others with hope one hella cool t-shirt or cap at a time.

It happened to us, just as Michael intended. Strolling down the aisle of the farmer’s market, we saw the shirts and stopped in our tracks. “What is that?” I asked Kerri. She smiled, and then laughed, and finally said, “Let’s go find out.” We talked with Michael for the next 20 minutes. He shared his story. We shared ours. We talked about acceptance of self and others. We talked of the need for hope in these ugly, divided times. And while we talked, others saw the shirts and stopped in their tracks.

We stepped aside and watched as people did double-takes. Some hovered and talked. Some danced and laughed. And talked. Some ventured into the center to talk, as we did, with Michael. The shirts started conversations.

Call it a brand or call it a mission, in Michael’s case, it is both. It’s genuine. It’s based on the premise that acceptance of others begins with acceptance of self. You’d be a fool to argue with the premise.

Amidst our divided national narrative it is a serious and legitimate question to ask: would you rather infect others with hatred or with hope? Michael’s answer is clear and he’s doing more than talking about it.

We are the proof that it’s working. We walked away infused with hope, stepping just a little bit lighter, and the conversation he inspired in us hasn’t stopped in the weeks since we happened upon his shirts.

as you is website screenshot copyGO HERE. BUY SHIRTS. SUPPORT THE INFUSION OF HOPE

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AS YOU IS

 

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SHOP KERRI’S ‘Be Kind’ DESIGNS

 

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be kind designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

Believe In The Impossible [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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All of my life I’ve been surrounded by people who believed in the impossible. At a school for developmentally disabled children, there were therapists who believed against all odds that they could help a child catch a ball. And, one day, after ten thousand tries, extraordinary therapies on frozen muscles, endless encouragement for the child and for each other, those little hands closed around the ball at just the right moment. A catch. Cheers, celebration dances and tears erupted, this feat greater than winning a Super Bowl. The impossible became possible. And then, as if there was not a moment to waste, the next impossibility was named: ball catching could become routine!

Artists, who go day after day to the studio or the stage, their lives an impossibility of economic headwinds and community disinterest. They create. They find a way. They keep the doors of deep humanity open, mythology alive. In this age of dedicated differences and echo-chamber-information, they reinvigorate the experience of a shared story. The impossible becomes possible, even if only for a moment. And the next day, they do it all over again, refreshed with inspiration and improbability.

Teachers who walk into classrooms every single day, their budgets cut, their student load swelling, their hands tied with standardized-testing-madness, and yet they reach. They try. They inspire. Like icebreakers, they cut new paths through impossibly frozen circumstances to locate and nourish the minds and hearts of their students. To free them from disbelief. To embrace the challenge of an obstacle. To encourage discovery of self and other. The impossible becomes possible. And, the next day, they do it all over again.

Inspiration. It’s all around us. It makes people do crazy things.

 

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inspiration makes people do crazy things ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Be Kind [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Guitar Jim told me that he doesn’t trust this world littered with aphorisms. Words are so easy to say. Papering the walls with happy sentiments of love, kindness, community, teamwork,…, can mask the absence of those qualities.   I translated his adamant adage-doubt into a pithy phrase (just to torture him): actions speak louder than words. His point: if we tell ourselves often enough that it takes a village to raise a child we might just believe this village actually cares for its children. All of its children. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

He has a point. Adages are everywhere, placed in stores, office walls, kitchen shelves. Begin anywhere. This life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is short, break the rules. For fun, first take a quick scroll through Facebook. It is an immersion into Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King.  We’re all in this together. Then, open your news app. Fall from grace. Try your best to be a saint and see how far you’ll fall.

There is another side of this bleak coin. We live in the age of the sound byte. The short attention span. The eCommunity. Sometimes while rushing to the next thing I stop for no apparent reason and stand still on the street. Something divine intervenes and asks me to step out of the play and, for a moment, breathe and simply be the audience. Every time I step out I see more kindness than aggression. I hear more laughter than shouting. I see people wanting a different world but armored against the threat of the moment, the fear of the day. Lost in a story of division. And, so, on the walls and in the subways they (we) post aspirations. Yearnings for more experience of our better nature. Hopw wishes. Possibility mantras.

Beaky’s parting words were always, “Be kind to one another.” It was her maxim and she meant it. This powerhouse woman would look you in the eyes and send this phrase-arrow to the center of your being, “Be kind.” To one another. An action, not an empty sentiment.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

be kind collage with color font copy 2this link will take you to the BE KIND large print t-shirt options. scroll down to see the entire line of good stuff.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BE KIND

 

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be kind product line ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Imagine Peace [on KS Friday]

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When I first met Kerri I was still pitching ideas to Yaki, a conductor/artistic director of  symphonies. We’d created a few projects together. Yaki is a visionary, one of my favorite past-collaborators. He knows that symphonies, like all performing art forms, must reinvent themselves to attract the next generation audiences. Our projects were rooted in both new and traditional compositions. They were multimedia story-tellings, explorations of arts crossing disciplines.

So much of Kerri’s work lends itself to a symphony. Listen to the strings in PEACE! There is a cello line that  breaks my heart every time I hear it. I sent PEACE to Yaki with two statements and a question: Listen. Imagine the possibilities. What could we do?

It was a different time then, or, perhaps, it is a different time now. Have we ever needed peace more than now? And so, on KS Friday, I send you this PEACE with the same two questions I asked Yaki but with a much greater imperative: Listen. Imagine the possibilities. What could we do?

 

PEACE on the album AS IT IS available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post on PEACE

 

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peace/as it is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood