Laugh Together [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“Why don’t people care?” I frequently loop back to Stephen’s question – asked so many years ago – about art. He’s a prolific and gifted painter. I have so many responses, mostly contradictory. Everything from ‘People do care, it’s just inaccessible,’ to ‘Why should they care, it’s so personal to the artist (not communal, not inclusive) that it’s not accessible.”  The common word in all my inner-Stephen-musings is ‘access.’

My pot was irrevocably stirred during my time in Bali. There, the arts are practiced in the temple – a place, the central focus – for everyone and everything in the community. Every aspect of life is rooted-in and practiced-through the temple. That is to say, all things are still considered sacred – even and especially ‘the arts.’ As sacred, the arts belong to everyone, not just the artist or the elite who can afford it. They are accessible because they are not a possession, they are a sacrament. Additionally, the temple does not stop at the end of the compound. The whole world is the temple. In this temple, the arts serve as the binder, the carrier of the story that holds the treasure of the community: its identity.  The arts are not only accessible, they provide access. They affirm belonging.

In this temple, through this sacred story, laughter is highly valued. Laughter, foible, whimsy, – all reminders that, 1) we should not take ourselves so seriously, and 2) laughter is a potent force, like gravity. It joins us. It cuts through division, turns fear into powder. It provides perspective. Laughter is the sound of appreciation, the music people make together when worshiping the great mystery of life.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE NOBLEST ART

 

 

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Savor Good Moments [on KS Friday]

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When you find yourself wondering what it’s all about, play this game: fill in the blank, “In this life I have….” Fill in the blank again and again and again, searching your memory banks for all the magic, mysterious, and miraculous experiences you’ve enjoyed. The good moments.

I like this game because, inevitably, I arrive at the realization that the good moments are the smallest of moments. Although swimming with whales or seeing the northern lights are miraculous, the really good good moments are first kisses, watching your baby sleep, holding hands after the storm passes. Laughing hysterically with friends just because.

Kerri’s composition, Good Moments, is a musical river of small moments, quiet yearning, tender touches, the smell of autumn leaves. Play the game and begin with Good Moments. It will transport you back. It will unlock the door to your memory bank. It will also help you realize that this moment – this very moment – is a very good moment, indeed.

 

GOOD MOMENTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD MOMENTS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 2

 

good moments/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

KS Friday

jackettpotjjpegIn this age of brevity, tweets, freeways, fast tracks, efficiency and ubiquitous worship at the alter of time-is-money, I find this piece of music to be heart-full and hopeful.  It reminds me of the simple truth in this life: the important stuff lives in the fields beyond the achievements and striving. It’s A Long Story is beautiful and evokes a profound paradox: each moment is a long story  – especially if I choose to live IN it rather than rush to pass THROUGH it.

I listened to this album long before I met Kerri in person. I listened over and over again to this track, It’s A Long Story, and knew we were kindred. It asks you to stop and listen. It asks you to take time, to surrender any nagging efficiency, cost cutting race through life and sit in your moment. It’s a warm bath in the simple appreciation of living. It has made me smile and sometimes served as the soundtrack to my weeping. It always serves as a siren call into the present moment. That’s the heart of the artist’s gift and Kerri, my wife is a remarkable artist. On this KS Friday, hear her call from the melange, and fall into your Long Story.

ITS A LONG STORY from the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY (track 1) iTunes

KS FRIDAY

www.kerrisherwood.com – buy the album

read Kerri’s thoughts about IT’S A LONG STORY

www.kerrianddavid.com

IT’S A LONG STORY from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

See Your Angels

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Products with this and other images available at society6.com

One of my favorite rituals is the reading-of-the-calendar on the last day of the year. It is no ordinary peruse through an ordinary calendar. Kerri, every day, writes in her calendar the events, the important calls, the amazing sightings, the simple and the profound moments. The day we first spotted the owl, the ice circles in the harbor, the generosity of the clerk at the store; they find a spot in the calendar. The tough stuff is in there, too. It is a habit she picked up from her mother. Calendar-as-diary. With a hot cup of coffee and nothing but time, we read through and talk about the days of our life.

It is probably not surprising that our most common exclamation is, “I’d forgotten about that!” I’m always amazed at how many of the years happenings are lost in the stream of time. The review not only helps me remember but also refreshes my appreciation for all that we navigated, discovered, survived and created in a mere 365 days.

At our gathering that night I laughed when Mary Kay told us that she dislikes New Year’s Eve because it always makes her feel as if she hasn’t done enough. I recognized Mary Kay’s disdain because earlier in the day I’d levied the same judgment against myself. The ritual reading of the calendar put my self-judgment to rest. After reviewing all that we’d done in a year, Kerri looked at me (tired of hearing my endless self-criticism) and asked, “Now, doesn’t that give you a greater respect for what we’ve done?” Yes. It did.

Although we didn’t say it this way, we told Mary Kay and Russ, Linda and Jim, John and Michele that they had made it into the calendar. This year was tough for us and when I was ill, when things were going badly, they brought us food, they offered to carry some of our load, they showed up to shovel our walks. So, rather than thinking of the year as bad, in our ritual we read about year of generosities extended to us.

Mary Kay said, “But that was nothing.” Kerri responded, “That was everything! It changed our world.” We were reminded in our ritual that the world is changed for the better everyday, not by the grand gesture, but by the small things, the passing kindnesses. From the point of view of the doer, they are often too tiny to remember. From the standpoint of the receiver, they are monumental. Opening a door can change someone’s day. And who knows how far a kindness-ripple will travel?

From the archive: 'Angels At The Well.'

From the archive: ‘Angels At The Well.’ This painting is available at zatista.com

Fun products featuring details of my artwork are available at society6.com.

 

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Release The Edge

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Usually, there is a lake….

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you dont give up. ~ Anne Lamott

Sometimes the fog hangs heavy all day along the shore of the lake. The sun tries in vain to penetrate the fog so the air glows. When, in combination with the fog, the lake is still, like it was today, it becomes invisible, inaudible; the lake disappears. Standing on the great rock barriers, staring into the void, it feels as if you have arrived at the edge of the world.

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looking the other direction

All of my life I have been fascinated by edges. What is the line between wild and tame? Most good stories require a stride beyond the boundary, a movement into territories unknown. And, at the end of the story, what was once known becomes unfamiliar. Every ending is a beginning. What is the line that distinguishes the known from the other place? A good dose of reason will assure us that most things can be understood but a walk through a spring meadow or a night spent gazing into the stars will remind us that understanding is illusive or at best illusionary. What do we understand?

Once, working with a group of teachers, we had a terrific discussion about beginnings. Where does a story or a life begin? There is always an easy answer, “Once upon a time,” a birth date, when two people meet, the day the crisis arrived on the doorstep. In fact there is always a multitude of easy answers, of possible beginnings, and none of them are definitive. Which beginning point is the beginning point? At what moment did success arrive? Or, when did failure begin? Does my life begin with my parents or their parents or…? Edges are esoteric!

There is a long tradition in the arts of Dances with Death. Paintings, dances, compositions, plays,…; Hamlet ponders life as he holds poor Yorick’s skull. It passes all too quickly. Most spiritual traditions carry the notion that life cannot be understood, valued, or fully appreciated without first grasping that this life-ride is limited. Living a good life, a fully appreciated life, demands a nod to the edge. It’s the ultimate paradox.

I’ve courted a bundle of trouble in my life because I rarely see the black-and-white of things. Where is the line between hope and hopeless? What wall delineates faith-full and faith-less? Like happiness, edges are made, not found. Ask a physicist if it is a particle or a wave and they will uniformly answer, “It depends upon where you place your focus.” Even in the era when people believed there was a hard edge to the world and finding it meant falling off, sailors supplied their ships and sailed toward the horizon to find it.

 Icarus reached for the sun.

Icarus

Appreciate It

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#5 in the process shots

Spring came fast. At this time last week there was a four-foot drift of snow on the back patio; it was Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog’s favorite plaything, leaping in and out of the snow monster. Today, a mere seven days later, the monster is gone, the back yard is snow free. Dog-Dog has already found a new favorite game: plucking leaves floating in the pond and then racing the circumference of the yard as if the newly plucked leaf was valuable treasure.

John’s dad passed yesterday. His passing was both sudden and not a surprise. His dad was an artist, a brilliant painter, and the celebration of his life will include much of his life’s work. “That’s what he would have wanted,” John said. After the call with John, Kerri looked at me and said, “There’s no time to waste.” Life happens so fast.

 

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#6

I went down to the studio and worked (yes, Skip, these are the next two process shots and the sketch;-). While I worked I listened to Kerri’s album, This Part Of The Journey. She came down to see how the painting was progressing and heard her music. She asked me to listen to a moment, a swelling of the strings, and told me of the day she and her producer mixed the track. It is a moment of music that can break your heart or make you yearn for home. “This is a piece I wrote for Wayne,” she said. Wayne was her brother; cancer took him many years ago. We listened in silence, appreciating the fullness of the moment, appreciating the power of her music, appreciating the painting that was emerging; appreciating life happening.

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from the sketchbook.

 

Feel The Day

My favorite face of exuberance.

My favorite face of exuberance.

And so, the sun! These crisp, bright fall days bring pause. They make us slow down and pay attention to the small things, the sensual things: the smell of coffee, the sweet taste of butter on warm toast, the gentle music of the leaves, the blue sky vibrant through the luminous yellow leaves.

These are the days of easy appreciation; gratitude stands close-by. With senses heightened and deep inner quiet rising to the surface comes the simple acknowledgment that this day will never come again. It is precious, like all days, but on these days-of-the-senses, when reason, explaining, and justification take a break, the obvious becomes apparent. Every moment of life is this rich, precious. Wisdom comes through the senses, when tight reason takes a break. This life is passing. This life is bigger than any one of us. It is as vast as a human heart.

Turning my face to the autumn sun, I close my eyes and with great relish listen to the exuberant life celebration of Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog, barking because he can, digging holes to bury treasure, racing around the yard for no other reason than it feels really good.

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