Step Forward [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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In story terms, before leaving home, before walking into the dark woods, it is necessary to take a moment and wander from room to room to remember. One last time, to touch the life you are about to leave.  Just as ‘how’ something is done can only be known after the fact, so too, ‘who’ you are can only be seen at the moment of leaving.

Isn’t that why we look back? To put a period on the sentence before stepping into the unknown. Each run up to the new year, amidst the celebrations and hoo-haw, we review the traveled path. We touch it,  label it, put it on the shelf, let go, celebrate and grieve, and make resolutions based on who we want to become. And then, we turn and step into the unknown woods, the new year.

This week, Kerri and I have been wandering from room to room in the melange. Lingering in a spot, laughing about some of the things we tried to do, amazed at some of the things we achieved, letting go of the ‘should-haves’ and lingering in appreciation of the ‘what-is.’ In a year, we did not achieve what we set out to achieve. In a year, we discovered what we never could have imagined.

Last year, at this time, the melange was the dark woods that we stepped into. We had no idea what we’d find. We had intentions and dreams and ideals (oh, those pesky resolutions!). We started with some good advice. It came from Beaky and was our very first Two Artists Tuesday design. Live Life, My Sweet Potato. Step into that dark wood. There are bears and swamps and mountains to climb. Experience all of it. The celebrations and grieving, the lost-ness and found-ness. Life is not found on the other side. Life is found in living of all of it.

That’s what we found, touching back to the first week of the melange. An affirmation. Step forward. Live it all.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MELANGE, WEEK ONE

 

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Fly Above The Clouds [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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I was eighteen years old the first time I was above the clouds. It was a revelation. Even then I was in awe that I live in a time that I can see above the clouds. In the history of humanity, that makes me one of the few. One of the fortunate.

Miracles become the new norm and so, routine. Unseen.

Last week I was once again above the clouds. The sun was rising and the colors magnificent. I was propelled back in time to my first flight, my first sight of the thing Leonardo da Vinci could only dream about, what Van Gogh could only touch through imagination. I was revisited by my eighteen year old self and was once again awash in awe.

The cloak of routine drops and the miraculous is revealed. It is merely a matter of seeing it.

As I sat buckled into my seat, I wondered how much of my life I lose to the notion of ‘routine’ and, so, miss the obvious crackling truth: I’ve never lived this day before. I’ve never experienced this moment before. I am flying above the clouds every day. I have no idea what is about to happen, what I am about to see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FLYING ABOVE THE CLOUDS

 

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Walk To The Other Side [on DR Thursday]

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There is a ping-pong table in my studio that is piled high with paintings that are not yet stretched. And, because these paintings are constantly moving, pulled and tacked to the wall to be shown then placed back in the pile, they are stored with no particular order. This process of random stacking and re-stacking allows us to see the pieces from many different points of view; what was top is now bottom. It affords new perspectives, it helps me see again as if for the first time.

PileIt is such a simple thing and yet so hard to do – to let go of what we think is right, allowing a new perspective of something that we think we understand.  The word I’ve learned to pay attention to is “think.” The skill of an artist is to see beyond what they “think.” The gift of the artist is to help others see beyond what they think. To pop open new perspectives and make space for new possibilities.

It is easy to confuse thinking (interpretation) with ‘seeing.’ They are not the same thing. It is so easy to believe ‘stuck thinking’ is ‘being right.’ It’s a good practice – a healthy practice – to spin things around a bit. To doubt what you think so you might have a more direct experience. So that you might see. So that you might learn. So that you might experience today as different from yesterday.

Life, as they say, is always found in the direction of not knowing.

Kerri calls this morsel BLOWING WISHES. It’s what you see if walk to the other side of the ping-pong table.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BLOWING WISHES

 

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greet the day/blowing wishes ©️ 2011/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Catch The Small [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Chasing Dan and Craig through Copley Place in Boston I was amused by the ENORMOUS holiday ornaments either hanging from the rafters or well placed in the walkways by giant designer hands. We were cutting through the mall to avoid the cold. I felt as if I stepped into the movie,The Incredible Shrinking Man. Either that or Richard Serra had taken over the universe and large-scale was the rule-of-the-day.  I became the guy that people avoid, giggling my way through the vigorous sea of shoppers.

I delight in experiences that shock me into SEEING. Moments that take me out of my monkey mind, that jettison me beyond the veil of my incessant (and ridiculous) inner monologue are priceless. To marvel. To laugh. To see with clarity our investments in all the BIG things that do not really matter and catch the few precious small moments that do matter.

Later on the train out of the city, Kerri and I did not talk about the monster ornaments or the massive decorations and ubiquitous lights adorning everything. Selling the season with such gusto! We talked of the moment that Craig slowed down and put his arm around his mother. Just for a moment. Such a small priceless thing to happen amidst so many monumental lovely displays.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BIG ORNAMENTS

 

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Choose To See Them [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I love my morning ritual. Babycat bumps my legs, guides me to his bowl. DogDog springs from his crate for a brief pet before bounding outside to clear his zone of squirrels. It is the same everyday. It is always new and different. Both/and.

Something happens when the expectation flips, when the wondrous is sought not in the monumental but in the small, day-to-day experiences. I know it reads like a cliche’ but it is no less true. My morning ritual, your commute, the day’s chore, in truth, is never the same. Each day is new even when we brand it with ‘routine.’

The wondrous sparkles in the routine as well as the profound. Doing the dishes today is not the same as doing them yesterday. It seems obvious. This day of life is not the same as yesterday. Another cliche’ with a truthful center: ‘sameness’ is a lens, an expectation worn on the eyes of the mind. It dulls life before life happens. It is the expectation of tedium. Why expect tedium? Why cultivate apathy? The marvelous, the wondrous becomes visible everywhere when we remove the same-old-same-old lens, the been-there-done-that expectation.

Wondrous things are everywhere. All we need do is choose to see them.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WONDROUS THINGS

 

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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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See The Hands [on DR Thursday]

I just googled the phrase “helping hands.’ Depending upon your world view you may or may not be surprised by the extraordinary number of services that appear. People helping people. Food pantries, home caregivers, support for people with spinal cord injuries, disaster relief, charity donations, hunger relief…. It’s a lengthy list. For a moment, if you can imagine – or better yet, realize – the reality represented by the list, you might get a tiny view into that part of humanity that is not often reported. People helping people everyday. It’s everywhere, all year, everyday.

Feel good stories don’t generate the same size audience as the horror stories so they populate less space in the news cycle. It’s possible to see, if you look away from your many screens, that vastly more people are helping people than are people hurting people. It’s possible to see it.

In my town, there is a woman who feeds the hungry twice a day, winter-spring-summer-fall. She doesn’t stop feeding people after the giving season passes or when the cameras are gone. That is true of most of the people helping people on this earth. They help. There is no limelight. They help because they want to help. They help because they feel compelled to help. She is one of a legion of people in my community living life as helping hands. I am surrounded by givers and helpers. So are you.

Ann used to tell me to find a need and fill it. Sage advice. Deeply human. It is true that you will see what you decide to see. Where you place your focus does truly matter. Hands that help. Hands that hurt. Both are out there. One vastly out-populates the other. Can you see it? Do you want to see it?

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on HELPING HANDS

 

 

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‘helping hands’ in all it’s forms ©️ 2018/2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood