Buckle Up [on DR Thursday]

“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ~ Irving Berlin

There’s nothing like flying in a plane to shake-up and challenge your perceptions. Board a plane on a snowy overcast day and, after a few minutes of lift, punching through to brilliant sun and the curvature of the earth. What was true on the ground is not true in the sky. And vice-versa.

The first time I flew I was 18 years old. I remember thinking that, of all the people who’d walked the earth throughout time, very few had seen the clouds from above. Most looked to the sky and wondered what it felt like to fly like a bird. During our recent flight, looking down at the clouds, I was taken by the fact that the population of humans-on-earth has doubled since the 18-year-old-me first looked out the window of an airplane. Something that has never happened in the span of a single lifetime. If I live an average lifespan, it will triple. The challenges we face, from the migration of people to the warming globe to the crisis of resources, can be traced back to this simple statistic. The stress levers get lost in the rhetoric-shuffle.

From the sky, it’s easy to see that we are one team, occupying one planet. From up there, the wrangling over red or blue, the movement of the fickle markets, the fist-pumping red-faced divisions, all disappear. It’s easy to punch through the dense fog and see a bigger picture. A more perfect union.

I chuckled after I wrote that last metaphor because my inner cynic rolled his eyes and muttered, “Yeah, but first you have to WANT to get on the plane.”

My inner optimist, not to be outdone, replied, “Exactly. It’s human nature to want to see what’s over the next hill or above the fog. Everyone wants to get on the plane.”

Well, there you have it. Scintillating perspectives from the cynic on the ground and the optimist in the sky. Creative tension at its finest. While my cynic and optimist work this one out, I think I’ll fasten my seatbelt and prepare myself for a smooth landing. As the saying goes: What goes up must come down.

read Kerri’s blogpost about CLOUDS

A Prayer of Opposites, 48×48, acrylic

a prayer of opposites © david robinson

Play Back-Up [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Sometimes life imitates art. And, when it does, there’s nothing better. I painted “Helping Hands” almost a decade ago. I lived it last week. Again and again, that rowdy tyke wanted to scale the higher wall. It was pure joy to play back-up to his adventure.

So many are currently playing back-up to my adventure. Scaling this higher wall is infinitely do-able with so many strong hands ready to catch me if I fall. I am most grateful for all of the hands helping me.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HELPING HANDS

Cross Check [on Two Artists Tuesday]

“It looks like a horses head,” she said, snapping the photo from her window seat on the plane. We were on approach to land, coming in over the bay.

I remember teaching myself to draw horses. I had (and still have) a passion for drawing people so my foray into horses was more an academic exercise than an inner need. I thought I should expand my horizons so the 8-year-old-version-of-me acquired a “how to draw animals” book. It suggested beginning with geometric shapes. Two connected circles defined the torso, the head – a circle and a trapezoid.

It was the same technique used by the teacher in my very first art class. See shapes. Arms are two tubes connected by a circle/elbow. Knees are circles, too! Foreground and background, what’s in front and what’s behind was taught using spheres and cylinders. Perspective was taught using a box. Transform a circle into a sphere through proper shading and you’ll know forever the magic secret of artistry. See a dragon in the clouds and you’ll know forever the magic secret of the human mind. It projects. It seeks sense from chaos. It projects order onto nature.

All the while Kerri is snapping photos of the island that looks like a horse’s head, I am pondering the normalization of hurtling through the air in a tube. People chat. Some are reading. The man across the aisle is asleep. “Prepare to land” is ordinary, uttered thousands of times each day. It’s the flip side of seeing dragons in clouds, another key to the human mind. Miracles made commonplace through repetition.

One human child is a miracle. It’s why we are making the trip. To meet a miracle. Yet, 7 billion miracles walking on earth?

“We’re flying,” I said.

“It’s been a long time,” she replied, showing me the picture on her phone, “Look! Doesn’t it look like a horse’s head? Well, like horse heads that I draw. No ears,” she qualified and smiled.

Miracles and magic. All the way around. Seen and unseen. Cross check. Wheels down. Prepare to return to the ground.

read Kerri’s blogpost about the HORSE HEAD

Be There [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“Most of us are frightened of dying because we don’t know what it meant to live. We don’t know how to live, therefore we don’t know how to die.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Today we took a walk in the swirling snow. The wind stung my face and I was grateful for the extra layer I’d put on before we set out. Our destination was the city civic building on the other side of downtown. The Sisu property tax bill was due. We could have mailed it or taken the car. “People must think we’re crazy,” Kerri said as we leaned into the wind and laughed.

On Monday we interred Beaky’s ashes. As I watched the attendant seal the niche, I thought of a famous quote by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And that quote brought to mind two more that I appreciate and stitch together as a single thought: Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings./Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.”

The apathy of human beings. Security is mostly a superstition. Reach your hand and help another; a cure for both apathy and security-superstition.

I only knew Beaky for a brief time but she had an enormous impact on me. She was in a rehab facility the day I met her and I knew immediately that she was special. Every nurse, therapist or aide that came in to see her left feeling better. Beaky was a lifter of spirits. These dedicated people were her caregivers yet, in the midst of her pain, she gave care to them. Kindness was her north star and she followed it with a passion.

Yesterday I had an interview with Joe. His job is checking-in and coaching people on unemployment, mostly making certain they are on track seeking new work. We had a great conversation. We told stories and laughed. We swapped ideas. I left the conversation uplifted and I’m sure he felt the same way. People supporting people is a two-way street and is life-giving. Adventures are made of stepping into the unknown and the heart of another human being is always unknown territory. I was grateful for his kindness.

Kindness is also a potent cure for apathy. Like reaching your hand, kindness requires an outward focus.

It’s really not so difficult. Before sealing the niche, Kerri played the ukulele and we sang Irving Berlin’s Always: Days may not be fair, Always/That’s when I’ll be there, Always.

Being there. Especially in the moments when life is not fair. Plenty of people have taught me (again and again) the simple power of presence, giving me the assurance that I am not alone. Being there, it’s nothing more or less than knowing how to live.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ALWAYS

Think Like An Old Guy [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Little-Baby-Scion was minted in 2006. Big Red rolled off the line in 1998. Both of our vehicles are old. Oh, yeah. The VW Bug in the garage is vintage 1971. I rarely think of it as a vehicle because it hasn’t moved in years.

We didn’t realize how old our cars are until last week when we rode around as passengers in newer cars complete with the latest technology. Had we rented these cars, we’d have required a how-does-it-work tutorial. To say the least, it was eye-opening.

Riding around in the back seat I couldn’t help but think of the washing machine salesman that agreed with us when we walked by the newer computer-driven machines to the lonely old school washers. “We just want it to wash our clothes,” Kerri explained.

The salesman whispered to us, “The new machines are crap. Designed to breakdown and too expensive to repair. You’ll be replacing it in a few years.” We bought the old warhorse. It came with a 15 year warranty.

I nestled into my seat and laughed at my old-guy-thoughts, “Nice, but necessary?” 20 tells me that heated seats are the greatest invention since sliced bread. If I had them, I’d probably agree.

read Kerri’s blogpost about NEW CARS

smack-dab. © 2023 kerrianddavid.com

Both/And [on KS Friday]

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Dwight sent a book to me: From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks. Several months ago at dinner we talked about how to make this next chapter of life the best chapter. As is my practice lately, I am reading it slowly, taking my time. I used to read like a hungry man eats; I gobbled information. Now I savor. I take one bite at a time and taste all of it. Someday soon we will talk about what I am discovering in the book. I’m only a few chapters in and already I’m rethinking my choices, considering different paths moving forward.

Pondering my next steps has also been an exercise of looking at where I’ve been. A lyric from Dan Fogelberg just ran through my mind [The Last Nail, by Dan Fogelberg]:

I left a trail of footprints deep in the snow
I swore one day, I would retrace them
But when I turned around, I found that the wind had erased them
Now I’ll never replace them

With distance it’s easy to see that some of the worst choices I’ve made in my life have also been the best choices I’ve made in my life. I can see that my desperation brought innovation. I can see the prison I made of my judgments and the hard truths necessary to unlock my cell door. I can see I needed a broken heart to arrive at an open heart.

With distance, I’m beginning to understand that no single experience lives in isolation. No day is either “good” or “bad.” No single period of my life defines the worth or wealth of my time on earth. No title, like “artist,” can wrap its fingers around the totality of my time. I am all of those things and none of those things.

On Monday, we interred Beaky’s ashes. She is with Pa in the national cemetery. We sang a song and then an attendant closed the niche. A journey’s end. Later that day I jumped off the back of a couch into a pile of pillows with a two year old, laughing, wiggling our toes. This wild-child is in full discovery mode, everything an adventure. A journey’s inception.

This life is achingly beautiful, each and every moment.

The entire album: Released From The Heart © 1995 Kerri Sherwood

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about HEART DIVOTS

Listen To The Snow [on DR Thursday]

It’s snowing and it’s making me feel like wrapping in a blanket. Cozy and reassuring.

The tall grasses are bowing with the weight of the snow. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. The kind of quiet that only happens in a snowfall, like the world stands still and listens. We stood with our coffee and looked out the kitchen window at the enormous flakes falling. Quiet outside, quiet inside.

Yesterday we were in Florida. Bill called it paradise. I disagree. For me, paradise has seasons, an open window at night, the cold air driving me deeper beneath the quilts. Paradise calls me outside to walk. Paradise includes the infinite space that opens with the hush of the snow, when world rests and takes note. It makes the green shoots of spring that much more magical. Difference hones appreciation.

It’s good to be home. The snow serves as a welcoming committee. “Welcome back,” it whispers, reminding us of life’s rhythms, “It’s time to recharge.”

I look at my list of things to do and decide that I will listen to the snow. Today is a day to rejuvenate. To stand at the window and listen.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SNOW

In Serenity, 46×30, mixed media [my site is down and under construction]

in serenity © david robinson

Cozy In [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

New flannel sheets in winter are down-right-Dionysian. Yummy, snuggly and warm.

I thought about the god of pleasure, sensuality, and wine the first time I cozied into our new flannel. There is no way a Puritan mind was involved in the invention of something so seductive. “These sheets are pure-Greek-hedonistic,” I thought as I burrowed in for the night.

Life leads with the senses. We experience – and then we story the experience. That means we feel, taste, touch, hear, smell…and then we make sense of what we’ve sensed.

As someone who’s spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make sense of things, I’m inclined to believe that the ever-elusive meaning of life will never be reduced to a tidy sentence or contained in a big book, but is certainly available in the stories we wrap around our messy experiences. We don’t find meaning, we bring it.

My story, as I nestle deeper and deeper into my delicious new flannel sheets on a cold winter night with Kerri at my side and Dogga laying on my feet: beyond words. New flannel perfection. I am the luckiest man alive.

read Kerri’s blogpost about NEW FLANNEL

Flip It [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Standing on the trail, the cold breeze stinging my face, I stared at the trees in silhouette. I was overcome with the illusion that I was observing the trees upside-down. I was seeing their tangled root system, reaching. My illusion made me dizzy. What’s top is bottom. What’s bottom is top.

I’ve been pondering things like “leadership” and “power”. My belief of these concepts is the reverse of most peoples. I think leadership is a team sport and that power is created with others, not wielded over them. Roots to the sky.

Before the software start-up went away I pondered things like the abundance of content with no relevant context. Information without a home. Information sans application. Information run amok. It requires people to make-up context for the rootless material crossing their screens. In contemporary discourse, we call this made-up context “bubbles.” It’s an apt term since popping is the destiny of every bubble. No substance. The Villages.

Thank goodness for the cold wind. It snapped me out of my flip-flop illusion. The silhouette was righted. I remembered the shadow puppets in Bali. What we see is projection on a screen. Silhouettes. The real stuff, ripe with dimension and color, the massive system of roots and vibrant moving energy, stars and flow, creating forms and taking them down, happens whether we see it fully or not.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SILHOUETTES

Embrace The Mix [on Merely A Thought Monday]

mirepoix: a mixture of sautéed chopped vegetables used in sauces.

mélange: a mixture; a medley.

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.” ~ Rainier Maria Rilke

If Rainier were here right now I’d tell him to shut up. Who wants a buzz-kill poet spilling simple truth all over an otherwise good start to the day? The least he could do is wait until I’ve finished my coffee.

Yesterday was harsh. Well, okay, it was also good. And, okay, okay…sometimes great. I woke up stuck under a dark cloud. If I drew myself as a cartoon I’d have a raincloud pouring rain over my head in every panel. Well, until we took a long walk in the cold. My fingers started to sting. For reasons I can’t explain, stinging fingers made us laugh and laughter made the cartoon rain stop. The cartoon cloud was still there though the weather report improved. And then there was the 10pm concert with Barker. What a treat! We watched until the streaming was interrupted at 1:20am, but by that time I was thrilled and filled with music and with no hint of cloud-cover.

When we awoke this morning with a too-late-night-hang-over, Kerri called us, “Dirty stay-ups.”

“What’s a dirty stay-up?” I exclaimed (okay, I was too tired to exclaim. It was more of a croak or whine but that’s not the point).

“Us,” was her one-word answer that convinced me I’d better get some coffee going or it was going to be a day of one word answers.

Among humanity’s greatest achievements is denial. Denial is why we also invented poetry. If it hurts, at least make it sound pretty and pretend that it’s not as bad as you know it is.

Take that, Rainer!” A well-deserved early morning pre-coffee-poet-dis! I’m capable of spilling some hard truth even as I’m right in the middle of being defeated by greater and greater things! And, I have to say, as a recent dirty stay-up, with not yet enough caffeine in my veins, and with one word responses coming to my every question, I can say with conviction that this, too, will be a mirepoix of a day.

Thank goodness.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MIREPOIX