Constellate [on KS Friday]

Our 3am banana conversation was about cleaning out. The past few years have, as Skip is fond of saying, tipped the apple cart. Our life-apples are akimbo. So, as we pick them up, we are also sorting. It’s not just the stuff in our closets or the post-water-line-mess-explosion in the basement, it’s also the psychological/mental/spiritual/emotional debris. What bag of trash can we finally toss in the bin? What small treasure was unearthed that surprised us? What will we carry forward into the next chapter that informs who we’re now becoming?

I sat in the basement for a few minutes yesterday, staring at the canvas on my easel. Each day I see a little more of the painting that I will someday paint. I do not now have the time or energy to make it visible. This canvas is becoming a marker in time. It calls. My creative energy is dedicated to other projects and I am careful not to over-tap it. That is new. Knowing my limits. Honoring the creative well is part of who I am becoming. I am in no rush. That’s new, too.

“I’m certain these were my momma’s,” Kerri said, showing me the tic-tacs. She was cleaning out the pantry and found them in the way-back. Beaky was a fan of tic-tacs. Treasure. And, how did they get lost in the recesses of our pantry? No matter, they inspired some good stories, reminiscing. “It makes no sense, but I’m keeping these,” she said. Treasures do not need to make sense.

I learned a big lesson during the decade that it took me to complete and produce The Lost Boy: I started it as a project for Tom to perform and it became a project I had to perform for Tom. His passing was the final piece necessary to complete the story he wanted to tell. His passing made the play possible to perform. The lesson: we cannot see it all. We think we understand “why” but mostly our reasoning is constellation. Dots connected in the vast open sky.

The tipping of the apple cart. 3am bananas. Next chapter imagined and arriving. A tic-tac kiss from the past. Making space for constellation. We are in awe and not in a hurry.

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

read Kerri’s blogpost about TICTACS

connected/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Let It Spin [on Two Artists Tuesday]

perspective copy

The answer to “Who Am I?” is mostly a matter of perspective [or concoction, depending upon your perspective ;-)]. As much as we might want it to be, who-am-I is not a fixed state of affairs. Thankfully, we are not as narrowly defined as we want to believe.

We constellate together some identity-fixed points (son, father, banker, artist, gardener…) that give general shape to the who-am-I inquiry.  Mix in a few subsets: competitive, passive, rich, poor, successful, homeless, handy, all-thumbs… and there’s some nice variation giving color to the primary fixed points.

For some real fun, factor in the changes of identity that happen over the course of a lifetime. Who did you understand yourself to be at 10? At 20? At 30? Dear friends just became grandparents; their entire universe is spinning. Who are they now?

I have had moments of triumph that turned to dust in my mouth. What looked like fulfillment was, in fact, an empty sack. Once, thinking I was looking good, I walked headlong into a glass door. Instant fool. Identity is much more fluid than fixed.

In the Buddhist tradition there is a “Big Dipper” exercise. From our perspective on the earth, there is a constellation of stars that form a big dipper in the sky. But, travel toward that constellation, the image of ‘big dipper’ starts to warp and then falls apart altogether. The position of the stars does not change. Our perspective does. The constellation is nothing more than an illusion. Mostly, my constellation of fixed identity points is nothing more than an illusion.

These days I’m thinking much about my illusion and attachment to my fixed points. My move to Wisconsin came with career death and I spent more than a few years grasping for the lost stars in my constellation. New stars appeared. I became a husband. I have two ‘given’ children. My beard has become grey. Yesterday, to my utter amusement, I found myself concerned with fallen leaves staining the patio and had thoughts of immediate raking. What has become of me? In the past week, I’ve awakened more than once with this thought: What if the painting on my easel is to be my last. It’s not finished and it’s an utter mess! I want to leave a better last impression! I have more work to do!

And then, I wondered, what if, as I travel out beyond the constellation, this image of myself, this part of me that I call ‘artist,’ matters not at all? Fluid, not fixed.

And so, my perspective spins, more anchor points fall away and the entire universe opens.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PERSPECTIVE

 

 

handshadowstones website box copy

Constellate [on Merely A Thought Monday]

constellation poem copy

Just outside our favorite island gem, Fair Isle Books, is this poem by former Wisconsin poet Laureate, Bruce Dethlefsen. We have stopped at the shop more than once and reread the poem.

our lonely stars though bright
and strong will quickly fade

unless we string the stars
together   choose illumination
then in constellation hope is ours

bring on another day
sing light in common song
~constellation by bruce dethlefsen

It is a lovely poem and captures perfectly how we now see our work on this island. In our short tenure it has become abundantly clear that the people in our sphere most often work as “islands.” Islands on island. That is, although very well intended, few actually recognize the impact of their actions (or inaction) on others. It is part of the evolutionary dna of the place. Everyone works multiple jobs. Divisions and territory define the island arts organizations.

I have long held (and experienced again and again) that the arts cannot thrive in a community until the artists turn to a common center, recognize a shared purpose, and realize that one cannot thrive without the other. Thriving is a team sport. If one theatre creates a large audience then it creates audience for all. If one painter sells a painting, a market is created for all. Reaching into the common space, facilitating shared experience, is what art is meant to do.

If an arts community falls into the mistaken notion that its members compete for limited resources, they will inevitably define themselves by their limitation.  The center turns to a battle ground and the art is diminished. Dog-eat-dog has no place in the sacred space of art.

It is why we visit the poem. The necessary guide star is already here. “Our lonely stars though bright will quickly fade unless we string the stars together – choose illumination – then in constellation hope is ours.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CONSTELLATION

 

schoolhouse beach k&d website box copy