Listen [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Sage advice someone, somewhere, offered to Kerri: sometimes there’s only one way to get through it and that’s to go through it. No resistance. Turn around and see it, feel it, experience it. All of it.

Once, long ago, I emailed my friend Rob and wrote that I felt like I was lost in the forest. He wrote back that sometimes, when you feel lost, it’s best to sit down, smell the pine, and enjoy the birdsong. That, too was sage advice. Be where you are, not where you think you should be.

Identity crisis is a misnomer. Growth and change only feels like a crisis, mostly because it requires letting go of “the knowns” and stepping into “the unknowns.”

My sage advice to myself, learned from too many experiences of opening my mouth when I had nothing of value to offer: if you’re lucky enough to attend to someone who’s stepping off the edge of their known world: listen. Quiet presence is better than loud comfort.

read Kerri’s blogpost about IDENTITY CRISIS

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Know Secret Things [on DR Thursday]

I wanted to begin this post with a quote from Rainier Maria Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet. As I always do, I opened his book this morning and fell into it. I couldn’t decide which quote to use – there are so many! Finally, I put it down because I concluded that I’d have to place the entire book into this post. So, I begin this day both quote-full and quote-free. Nothing to share and everything to share.

Showing me her photo, Kerri asked, “What do you think of this still life?” I don’t think I’ve ever heard her use the phrase, “still life.” It’s a painter’s phrase, much like the word “garment” belongs to costumers. “I love this,” I said, knowing why she used the painter-phrase. “It looks like a painting.”

My very first art teacher was a jolly older woman named Jackie Fry. She offered oil painting classes at the recreation center. I carried my paint box and canvas boards to Saturday morning classes. I was the odd ball in the class because I didn’t want to paint trees. I wanted to paint people. Not portraits. People. I felt badly about being the odd ball and she gave me the tidbit of advice that has informed my choices for decades: “Tree painters are a dime a dozen,” she said. “Follow your star and not theirs.”

Great advice. She made me paint still life set-ups. “You have to learn to see basic shape and color,” she said when she saw my frown. “People are shapes.”

People are shapes. Learn to see. Follow your star and not theirs. Advice worthy of Rilke, which brings a quote to mind:

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”

Phew. Now you don’t have to read the entirety of his very wise book just because I couldn’t decide which beautiful phrase to use.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE GOURD

john’s secret (pray now) © 2010 david robinson

Fail At The Box [on Merely A Thought Monday]

Among Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements is this gem: do the best that you can.

Through the lens of the Occident, those folks on earth oriented to the idea that their nature is bad and needs taming, the Agreement is a statement of self-forgiveness. Do the best that you can. It’s a good bit of advice when everything on earth seems to come with a measuring stick.

Don Miguel is Toltec so his Four Agreements are rooted in an entirely different understanding of nature. To do the best that you can has little to do with performance or achievement. There’s no judge sitting on the high bench scrutinizing goodness or badness. There’s no book with black marks next to your name. This Agreement is about setting an intention. The other Agreements are about speaking with impeccability, making no assumptions, taking nothing personally. In other words, it’s never about you; you can’t possibly know the reasons why; your words matter. So, do the best that you can.

Circumstances are uncontrollable. Sometimes people are mean. Sometimes the tornado comes through and blows your house away. It’s not personal. You probably can’t do anything to change the tornado and even less to change other people. So, change yourself. Or, better, be yourself. Attend to your story and free yourself from the illusion of living under grand judgment or any of a number of other control fantasies. Do the best that you can.

Lately, I’m pondering the too-tight-image-boxes we squeeze into and try, but can never quite, fulfill. The impossible image; a too tight expectation. The Pleaser. The One Who Knows What Is Right. The Peacekeeper. The Strong One. A step away from the box-expectation, the-role-I-think-I-must-fulfill, is a giant leap into happiness. Inside the box it is virtually impossible to do the best that you can. Boxes are alive with assumptions (what I must do, who I must be); buzzing hives of judgment, and, when in a box, speaking truth is frowned upon, so editing and/or silence rules the day. Just try doing your best when living in a too tight box!

Fear and anger fill boxes. That is, after all, the purpose of the box, the fruit of the impossible mission.

Here’s my advice to myself: fail at the box. Cut it up and put it into the recycle bin. Then, free of the too-tight judgments, it’s possible to set mistake-free intentions. Life as finger painting: do the best that you can.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SOME DAYS

Let Fly [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice For The Young

It is now my opinion, based on life’s experience, that it you don’t find the cliff, the cliff will find you. Wing development is the name of this game. Hide in the closet, bury your head in the sand, drink yourself to oblivion, pretend the monster is not at the door, and you’ll discover in your last moments that looking the other way was, in fact, your cliff.

Master Marsh once asked me why I had the need to run and jump off every cliff. At the time I said, “I don’t know!” My latent response comes straight from Vonnegut: wing development. Apparently my wings took their sweet time developing and needed some extra cliff-age. And, as we all know but are too polite or arrogant to admit, wing development never ceases. There’s always another cliff until there’s not.

We had a rare warm day so took a walk on our favorite trail. The brilliant raw sienna of the empty pod caught Kerri’s eye. While she took photos of the pod I thought about the thousands of seeds it once held that took flight on the wind. A few certainly found fertile soil. Most did not. That’s the idea behind Kurt Vonnegut’s advice. Don’t hoard your idea seeds. Put them out. Audition for the play. Submit your story. Offer your idea. There’s great truth to the advice: your job is to put it out there, not to decide whether or not it is good enough. Explode the pod rather than protect the seed.

Greg recently told me said, “it doesn’t have meaning until it’s published.” He wasn’t speaking about publishing in a newspaper or by Random House. Sending an email is an act of publishing. To text is to publish. Greg was referring to sharing. It has no meaning until it is shared. And, sharing your creations can be -and often is – vulnerable and scary. Giving a speech is terrifying to most people. Dancing, painting, composing a song, playing a solo, offering your idea in a meeting…all are acts of publishing. All are potential cliffs to jump off.

Explode the pod. Let the seeds fly. The wind will carry them. Some will find fertile soil. Most will not. Wing development is easier when you realize that you are a pod of ideas and not a judge of worth or value.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE POD

Travel Here [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

One of the cruelties of multiple daily zoom meetings is that, in addition to seeing other faces, you also stare at your own. “OMG!” I think to myself (of course- who else would I think to), “I look old!” The picture that I see on the screen does not match the picture in my mind. In my mind, I am much younger. “Some old guy stole my voice!” I shout to myself.

Here’s a strange bit of phraseology: I did not know our kids when they were kids. I came into their lives when they were already adults so I don’t have the memories of footie pajamas, bath time or back yard swing sets. During a recent visit with Craig, I realized that Kerri measures her time on earth relative to her children. She’s constantly reconciling the adult son/daughter sitting across the table with the infant son/daughter that she remembers like it was yesterday. “Where did the time go?” she asks, looking at her hands.

We’re all adults now. Well, even staring into the eyes of that dude who stole my voice, I’m cautious about claiming adulthood. I feel as if I stepped into a time machine that thrust me forward in time. I remember myself in footie pajamas as if it was yesterday. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that it’s in the last few laps that you understand the race is all in your mind and the real juice of life is in enjoying a body that can run. Or feel. Or sense. Or love. Or dance. Or hold the hand of the one you adore.

The advice I’d give to our children is the same advice I’d give to myself (and I’d do it, too, if that rat-bastard hadn’t stolen my voice!), “There’s no hurry. This race is not run on a line. It’s a circle. You’re not really getting anywhere more important than where you already are.” It’s a time machine to now.

read Kerri’s blog post about TIME MACHINES

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Take Stock [on KS Friday]

The hurricane swirls all around us. The old familiar is pulled off its foundation and is reduced to dust. People look to the sky for an explanation.

The sky is silent or has furloughed the explanation department.

Standing in the wreckage we look to each other for solace and advice. Know your end game. Don’t dig in your heels. Choose the hill you want to die on. Hunker down. Speak up. Be patient. Give voice to your thoughts. Don’t let them run all over you. Survive. Hold your cards close to your vest. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Live to fight another day.

So many points of view. So many notes to compare. It happened to me once. This is what you need to do. Take my advice. Don’t do what I did. Let me know what I can do. Take a breather. Here’s what I learned.

So much encouragement. Find a need and fill it. Do nothing for awhile. Get going. Dust yourself off. Sit still. Listen for guidance. Try something new! Go back to basics. Still your mind. Don’t panic. Don’t take it personally. Shoot many arrows. You’ve got this. Opportunities abound. Maybe it’s time to let go.

The hurricane swirls. The pod looses its seeds. The wind carries the tiny pips to who-knows-where. Nature sows herself. So what happens next?

read Kerri’s blog post on TAKING STOCK

TAKING STOCK on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes

taking stock/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Use Both Ears [On Merely A Thought Monday]

god gave you copy

When I was young and upset about an issue I can no longer remember, Tom tempered me with this question: “Is this the hill you want to die on?”

Another time, still young, I was very angry, and on a warm spring day in the central valley, Arnie sat with me on the grass and listened to my tale of woe. I wanted to write a letter expressing my discontent. He nodded and, in his gentle way, taught me that sometimes it is sometimes necessary to express yourself because you need to express yourself and for no other reason: “Write it because you need to say it, not because they need to hear it,” he said. This morning, as I write this, I can’t for the life of me remember what made me so angry.

Quinn taught me that there are seven billion people with me on this earth and not a single one cares about what I look like or what I think. Like me, they are invested in what they look like, what they think.

They do care, however, that I listen. Isn’t it the case so often in this life that the opposite of what we believe is actually where the power lives? Aren’t we under siege in a raging war of opinions, a constant bombardment of competing points-of-view? So many mouths and not a single ear in the mix.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what made me so angry on those days so long ago. I can’t remember the hill I chose not to die on. What seemed so important was, in truth, not even worth remembering. I do, thankfully, remember the sage advice of so many mentors, teachers and friends. I’m so grateful that in the midst of my red hot self-righteousness, I was capable of listening.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about EARS AND MOUTHS

 

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Be The Storm [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

inspirationisa WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

“It is a sacred art that deals with revelation rather than observation.”~Jamake Highwater, The Language Of Vision

Tom used to say, “A writer writes and a painter paints.” Those are wise words grounded in the mechanics of art. Simply show up. Do the thing. Nuts and bolts. That’s the first step. Show up at the easel, on the dance floor, at the piano, at the writers desk and begin. Tom was a teacher and over his life heard an overabundance of excuses, reasons ‘why not.’ Said another way, he advised his students to stop thinking about it and do it. “Get out of your own way,” he’d counsel. That’s the second step. Horatio calls this step ‘trust-your-work.”

Show up. Do the thing. Get out of your own way. Trust your work.

And, what happens with trust? When the artist can get out of his/her own way, the sacred art, the art of revelation becomes possible. It’s a beautiful paradox. Show up and get out of the way. And, between those two actions, those crackling oppositions, a greater force, inspiration, gathers and releases like a storm.

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read Kerri’s blog post about INSPIRATION IS A GATHERING STORM

 

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Chase The Butterflies

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

Wisdom butterflies that have recently fluttered across my path:

Soaking up the morning sun and drinking coffee from the deck of Common Grounds, 20 said, “You’ve heard this one, right? There are three sides to every story.”

Standing on the side of the road peering into Judy’s car, she gave us some sage relationship advice. She said, “That’s the secret to life, you know: listen before you talk.”

Kerri was composing a song. I asked her how she starts, how she knows where to start. She said, “I don’t know. Sometimes you just need to put your fingers on the keys and follow the music.”

There is an aging pink post-it note stuck (permanently) to the desk. It reads, “Make The Adventure.”

On a recent phone call, Skip offered wise counsel about how I see my role in a new business, “Find your own metaphor,” he said. ”What is the metaphor that will keep you energized, that taps into your 10,000 hours?”

Sitting behind his drum set, waiting for rehearsal to begin, John said, “Our job is to make the art, not to determine its reception.” And then he said, “What do you think?” and laughed.

Josh took a belly punch from the universe yesterday. He said, “I want to be angry but anger does me no good. I have better things to do with my life than get angry.”

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

P-Tom weighed in with this: “Faith is scandalous,” he said, “It pushes back against everything we experience.”

Dog-Dog raced across the yard in hot pursuit of a butterfly. I’m wagering that he knew he would never catch it, but the chase was glorious.

Give Yourself Some Advice (3)

A younger version of myself rehearsing for The Creatures of Prometheus. The tats are fake!

A younger version of me rehearsing for The Creatures of Prometheus with The Portland Chamber Orchestra. The tattoos are fake!

[continued from GIVE YOURSELF SOME ADVICE (2)]

Here’s the third and final section of Horatio’s Advice To Myself. He sent it to me in an email last week. Horatio is one of my dear companions in art and artistry and I was so moved by his words that I asked him if I might post his thoughts. Were I still teaching young artists, this would be required reading:

Do not make work that attempts to control others. That is only advertising or propaganda and sustains no one. Make work that connects to others. That is sustaining. 

Do not make work that exalts yourself alone. That separates you from others.

Walking is good for you. Eating and sleeping are good for you. Loving is good for you. All those things sustain and heal you. Make your work like those other things. That kind of work is good for you, and for everyone.

Bragging is not good for you, or for anyone.

Never work in order to be famous or get rich. Never confuse your work with either one of those false goals, even though either or both may come your way.

Fame and riches are burdens and require a whole set of tools and abilities not at all related to the work that may have brought you fame and riches. No one but a very small minority of the rich and famous and a few visionary souls who are not rich or famous understand this. It may be the greatest false idol of human self-fulfillment of all time.

Time is the only asset that really matters. Value and prioritize it. You also need enough food and shelter, which usually means money. But enough is enough. That’s all that matters.

Having enough money for food and shelter is a necessity of doing good work. You have no choice but to figure something out. There are many paths. 

You will make bad choices. Learn from them. Forgive yourself so you can make other choices. Keep pursuing the real work.

You will waste effort and time. You will do work you don’t like. Everyone does. Try again.

All good work contains a discovery, something necessary for human life, even if it’s only that you need to drink water. 

All good work shows how we are all human, both you and your audience, that you connect, that you are the same.

All good work shows that it matters that we are all the same.

[to learn more about Horatio’s films or to read the complete Advice, visit www.Fidalgofilms.com]

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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