Stand Like An Aspen [on DR Thursday]

ASPEN STAND copy

a morsel from ‘instrument of peace.’ kerri calls this one ‘aspen stand’

It’s a common misperception. The notion that with accurate information, with clear data, people will change their perceptions/behaviors accordingly. They won’t. They don’t. In my past-life-consulting I said (too often), “If it was true that information changed behavior then no one on planet earth would smoke cigarettes.”  We are not as rational as we like to believe. Our investments have little or nothing to do with the accuracy or truth of information.

In the same vein, e-connectivity does not necessarily equate to relationship. Connectivity is not relationship. As we are learning these days, people can be hyper connected but share no common ground. The endless capacity for connection comes with no guarantee of substance or shared truth. Swipe left. Click ‘like.’ Connected, but connected to what?

Relationship, on the other hand, is a living, moving, breathing shared story. It is shared experience. It comes with varying points of view. It needs no explaining. In relationship, disparate viewpoints are aimed at a shared center.

And, so, a metaphor. A painting: Aspen trees, we’ve learned, grow in “large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers; new stems in the colony may appear at up to 30–40 m (98–131 ft) from the parent tree. Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived.” The root system transcends the individuals. What a terrific metaphor for a healthy community. The individuals come and go but the root, the shared root system, lives on and on and on.”

How appropriate (to me) that Kerri chose this morsel from my painting Instrument of Peace. She gave it the title, Aspen Stand. Peace, like every real relationship, is an aspen stand.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on Aspen Stand

 

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aspen stand/instrument of peace ©️ 2018/2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Let Me Take You Back [it’s KS Friday]

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let me take you back

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Before Kerri and I were married, I asked her daughter, Kirsten, to tell me ‘the one thing’ I should know and understand about her mother. Kirsten’s answer was immediate. “Mom’s the most thready person you will ever meet,” she said.

It is true. Kerri is the most ‘thready’ person I have ever met. Thready means threaded to the past. We mark auspicious days. Each piece of furniture in our house carries a story. Every day she writes in her calendar what we did or what happened; at the end of the year it is our ritual to read the calendar and retell the stories of the days just lived. We light candles for lost loved ones.

She is rooted, deeply rooted, in family, in ancestry, and she actively and consciously tends the root through her thready-ness. And, what is most remarkable to me, is that her thready-ness is not weighty. It is in no way heavy. It is light-hearted and surprising and lively, just like her composition Let Me Take You Back. On this KS Friday, take a moment, and let Kerri give your spirit a lift. Let her take you back.

 

LET ME TAKE YOU BACK on the album AS IT IS available (track 12) on iTunes & CDBaby

Kerri’s designs & TAKE YOU BACK products

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read Kerri’s blog post about LET ME TAKE YOU BACK

www.kerrianddavid.com

let me take you back [as it is] ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

let me take you back – designs & products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

From A Distance [DR Thursday]

The first photograph of our planet Earth was taken by the crew of  Apollo 17 in 1972. The Blue Marble. Living. Vibrant. Moving. Alive. Fragile. Uncontrollable. Spiritual. Our home. Sometimes I think that the plethora of seemingly insurmountable issues that plague our discourse (our lives), divide our nations, and choke our news feeds are only possible because this photograph is forgotten. Or denied. We are the first humans in the history of humans to (literally) have this global perspective which makes us the first humans in the history of humans to ignore what we know. It’s all connected. We are all connected. It’s impossible to see from the ground but oh, so easy to see from space.

from a distance TOTE BAG copy

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Roger once told me that, in his opinion, denial was perhaps the single most powerful force driving the human condition. Today I’d make an argument for hubris. Or, perhaps one needs to be fully steeped in denial to be so full of hubris. The very notion that we story ourselves as stewards of Earth seems misguided, arrogant – especially given our capacity to step out into space and look back at our home, our selves.  As P-Tom recently said, nowadays we measure the trash field in the ocean in units of countries (3 Frances). Stewards would, I hope, do a better job. More humble stewards might at least recognize what is apparent in the photograph: it’s all connected. We participate, we do not own.

This week marks the 48th Earth Day and what I find remarkable is the first Earth Day was celebrated a full two years before the first photograph of Earth.  I find that oddly hopeful. Perhaps we don’t need a global perspective to entertain the notion that our actions have impact.

from a distance FRAMED PRINT copyIt’s funny. I’ve coached many, many people – all searching for meaning and the desire to know that their lives and actions matter. They fear that they lack impact.  The advice I never gave (a good coach does not advise): leave the city lights so you might see the stars. Recognize what you are seeing. Recognize how small you are and how glorious it is merely to be alive. Instead of trying to distinguish your self above all others, maybe take a look at the Blue Marble and realize just how connected you already are. You are immediate, impermanent. Perhaps in that recognition you will also realize your meaning.

ALL ORIGINAL PAINTINGS 50% OFF THROUGH SUNDAY, APRIL 22ND

FROM A DISTANCE reminder/merchandise:

from a distance LEGGINGS copy

kerri’s design from my painting

from a distance MUG copy

kerri designs all of our studio melange products!

from a distance SQ PILLOW copyfrom a distance FLOOR PILLOW copy

read kerri’s blog blog post about FROM A DISTANCE

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earth interrupted V: from a distance ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

(Y)Our Earth [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

Take a moment to take a look around you. A thought to ponder and share from the melange.

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Tibetan monks have been in residence this week at a local technical college. They are creating a mandala sand painting. For the monks, creating the mandala is a spiritual practice, a meditation. As they construct the design they contemplate the meaning of the symbols within the design. In other words, they are in a constant state of prayer while they create. They invite the community to enter the prayerful space and contemplate with them; the “space” is, of course, the essential part of their creation. More to the point, the shared space of peace, an intentional communal tranquility, is the creation. And, to make sure we grasp the point, the final step in their creative process is to blow the design away. Nothing is permanent. Beauty is passing and so are you and me. It is, we are, energy in motion. The process, rather than the product, is the meditation.

our earth SQ PILLOW copyWhen Kerri drew this design it immediately reminded me of the Earth’s currents, a perfect sentiment for the coming Earth Day celebrations. The essential convection currents that create our wind, our weather. The currents in the earth moving layers of magma, the transfer of energy in the heating and cooling of the ocean. Motion creates life, tosses up forms and pulls them down again. Motion is life, life is motion. And, in this mandala we call Earth, there is a deeper meditation found within the sand and the impermanence: it’s all connected. We are all connected. Blowing sands. The process, the quality of our participation in impermanence, is the art.

From studio melange, an earth day meditation: this is your/our earth.

THIS IS (Y)OUR EARTH reminders/merchandise

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our earth TOTE BAG copy

OUR EARTH MUG copy

our earth IPHONE CASE copy

iphone cases

OUR EARTH BEACH TOWEL copy

a beach towel!

our earth LEGGINGS copy

(Y)Our Earth Leggings

read kerri’s blog post on (Y)Our Earth

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this is (y)our earth ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Gear Down, Baby!

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

When writing The Seer I showed the early chapters to some pals and the response was unanimous: break it down into smaller bites. The conceptual steps were too big for readers to connect the dots.”What!” I exclaimed. “Are you kidding me!” I protested. “Are you telling me that people need me to spell it out for them? Am I supposed to hit them on the head with a hammer?” I cried in disbelief to my bemused pals. Their response to my inner adolescent was, again, unanimous: yes. You need to go slower, take smaller steps, and come a bit closer to earth. The details matter. The job is not to be understood. The job is to create understanding.

After gnashing my teeth and tearing my clothes I took their sage advice. And, it was sage advice. The book that I published was comprised of only the first three chapters from the original manuscript broken into smaller thought-bites. Breaking it down was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done. Like Horton the-hearer-of-a-Who, I discovered complete new universes in the details, in the things I’d deemed too insignificant to mention or simply didn’t see with my head so firmly in the clouds. Ironically, while writing a book entitled The Seer, I learned a lesson in seeing.

Skip laughed when we first met. He’s a very-big-thinker and, like me, sees the world from 30,000 feet. He exclaimed, “Oh, No! You have the curse, too!” From 30,000 feet, small steps and details are almost invisible or easy to ignore. From 30,000 feet, everything is inter-related, one great big dynamic flowing motion. From 30,000 feet, the ubiquitous question is, “Don’t they see?” The runner-up question is, “What’s the problem?”

As we learned in school, the devil is in the details so, with my head in the clouds I have often been surprised by the detail-devil. People on the ground plant flags and guard territory. People on the ground choose sides and assume a defensive posture before thinking to ask a single question. Fear drives swifter action than does lofty reason. People are much more complex than they seem from the conceptual heights.

And, the only way of working with a complexity is through a simplicity. Connect the dots. Do not assume that “they” will “know” or “understand.” Do not assume that “they” see what I see or believe what I believe – or that what I see or believe is better or more valid than what they see. Opening a heart is a slow affair. Listening is best done when leaning in. Asking questions before making statements is good artistic process. Be a dot that connects to the other dots. Art, in all of its forms, is meant to serve as the great dot connector.

John's Secret by David Robinson

John’s Secret by David Robinson

Kerri, no stranger to my 30,000 foot rants, has developed a short-hand phrase for those too-many-moments when I need to move slower and pay attention to the details. She is helping me with this life lesson by applying a simplicity to my complexity. Now, when I have assumed that the dots are already connected and am perplexed by the breakdown, she simply says, “gear down, baby.” Move to a lower gear and open your eyes. Connection always happens in a lower gear. What is really there is infinitely more important (and often more beautiful) than what we want to be there. Releasing the “shoulds” opens eyes and hearts for shared experiences. So, gear down, baby.

 

Walk As One

From my archives. I call this painting, "Alki."

From my archives. I call this painting, “Alki.”

Alan and I talked today. We are planning our upcoming Summit in Holland in June. Our conversations are always as wide-ranging as they are deep dives into sense making and soul. There seems to be no horizon that we won’t step towards, no secret passage that we won’t explore. This has been true since the moment we met. We’ve always been verdant collaborators. We joked that someday clients will hire us just to listen to how our minds spark each other. And, given our conversation today, we’d be worth every penny. We are both in the business of facilitating perceptual shifts and transformation so we do it for each other. Our planning sessions are a festival of insight upon insight, shift within shift. Together, we are innovation squared.

Recently, I shared a short TED talk by neurologist V.S. Ramachandran about mirror neurons and how deeply and concretely we are connected despite our belief/experience that we are separate. It came up again for me because during our call Alan and I discussed the waves of far-reaching impact that any simple action or word generates. Paul Barnes used to say to young actors, “Never underestimate the power you have to influence another person’s life.” Most of us are unaware of the impact that we have on lives that we never directly touch. For instance, I have had great teachers in my life and I carry their work forward in every word I write and every group I facilitate. My teachers will never know the many lives they touched and continue to touch. And, neither will I. And, neither will you. The best we can do is know that our actions matter, our thoughts matter, our intentions matter. We are more powerful than we understand.

No one lives in a vacuum. No one creates without influences. No one has a purely original thought. In fact, if you grasp what V.S. Ramachandran is addressing, no one thinks or feels independently of others. We are not as isolated or as separate as we believe ourselves to be. We have to work at separation. We are, each of us, continually co-creating (to use Alan’s term) our world in every moment of every day. What might you see if you stopped and pondered the implications of co-creation, if you took a moment and considered that you are not merely a bobber in an ocean but, in fact, are the ocean? How might you read the news of the day or address your dreams if you understood that you were a participant, a dynamic part, a burning point for the ancestors, a sender of ripples through space and time, and not simply walking this path all alone?

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

Or, go here for a hard copy.

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.

Go here for hard copies.