Wait [on DR Thursday]

WeWait Morsel copy

morsel of the painting They Wait

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

My studio often serves as a retreat, a place to escape the noise and nonsense-of-the-day. It is a quiet place. A sanctuary. I recoup perspective when I step into it.

Lately, when I am painting, I find myself pondering the paradox of living in the time of Google. I rarely have a conversation these days that doesn’t include a quick dip into Google to check a fact, pull up a statistic, check spelling or a date or data. We rely on it. We can investigate or verify anything in an instant. Yet – and here’s the paradox – no amount of data or information seems to put a dent in people’s beliefs. In fact, we’ve learned, that confronting a belief with data that contradicts it will serve only to reinforce the belief. Information threatens, and so, is useless.

My dad once told me in a fit of frustration that I had educated myself into stupidity. I question everything. He grew up in a simpler time, in a smaller town. I understand the opposite to be true, the path out of stupidity IS education. The capacity to question, to doubt, to consider, to compare what is said with what is provable, is what makes us powerful. Propaganda is only useful in a society that does not or will not question what it is being told.

Collaboration, cooperation, the capacity to organize, to contemplate and pursue possibilities, to unify disparate points of view is only possible in a mind that doesn’t fear being wrong – in a mind that opens (chooses to open) and isn’t constrained by fear of what it doesn’t understand. Fear makes us stupid. To be educated doesn’t mean to be rigid or buried in knowledge. It means the willingness to question, the ability to look, experience, to see, to reach. To learn.  Fear blinds. Curiosity illuminates.

This painting tumbled out of my Google meditation. It is a sketch, a quick gesture. I used to tell my students that daydreaming was an essential skill. Looking out the window and pondering, imagining,…daydreaming is the first step of invention. Waiting, too, is also an essential skill. It is invaluable when entertaining a thought….

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THEY WAIT

 

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they wait ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Become Inspired [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

becarefulyoujustmightbecomeinspired WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

Brad asked a great question. What is it in us that needs to climb the highest mountain, run a faster mile, touch the moon, cure the disease, develop better and better widgets, sail toward the edge?

It is in our nature. Or, better, it IS our nature. Insatiable curiosity, the yearning to know en route to the next unknown. We are storytellers all! What’s next?

Boredom and apathy are learned skills. They are unnatural. It takes years of sitting in a desk to blunt a spirit. It takes 10,000 hours to grow deaf to the call of your soul.

The next time you tell yourself that “you don’t like change” or that “tomorrow will be just like today,” stop. Take a long slow breath and then do the dangerous thing: doubt what you think. It might just happen that you will hear the deeper call, the natural voice, inviting you out to play.

 

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about Become Inspired

www.kerrianddavid.com

be careful you just might become inspired ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Make Life Fun [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

notknowinghowtodoit WITH EYES jpeg copy

It used to make me profoundly sad when students would look at me in resistance and fear, saying the double-whammy, “I can’t! I don’t know how!” My next question always remained unvoiced: what have we done to you?

Curiosity is human nature. We are born hard-wired to sail toward scary edges, tinker with inventions, and attempt to grasp the un-graspable.  It takes a lot of work to blunt a child’s curiosity. It takes a concerted effort to transform vibrant imagination into fear of reprisal/shaming.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copyThe good news is that curiosity might be contained but it never goes away. Chicken is here to remind us to step out of the cage, pick up the brush and splash the paint just to see what happens. His invitation is to to go do it – whatever it is – precisely because you don’t know how. The path to center leads directly through I Don’t Know How.

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

read Kerri’s blog post about NOT KNOWING HOW

not knowing how ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Start Walking

photoTell Me. How can I be a learner?

My mind went absolutely blank, and I heard myself saying, Its simple. To be a learner youve got to be willing to be a fool. ~George Leonard, Mastery

I used to do a lot of work in education. My career in the theatre took a sharp left-hand turn when I started consulting with schools. The puzzles that plagued educators seemed to me easy to address. To be human is to be curious. Tickle the curiosity, begin the story and get out of the way.

Tom once told me that teaching is about relationship (not control). He also told me that the best teaching/learning needed to be directly applicable; it had to be immediate. It had to be real. It had to matter – to both the teacher and the learner. The trick is to extend the mattering into greater and deeper levels of abstraction.

An emphasis on testing is an emphasis on knowing. Great learning places the emphasis on not-knowing. It reinforces the pursuit and dispels the notion that knowledge is something achievable. Worthy questions always open more worthy questions. To be human is to be curious. To be alive is to wonder what is on the other side of the hill and then take a step toward it.

The fool George Leonard references isn’t “ the unthinking person,” it is “the carefree fool in the tarot deck who bears the awesome number zero, signifying the fertile void from which all creation springs, the state of emptiness that allows new things to come into being.”

Emptiness. Not knowing. Relationship. Mattering.

Step Into Unknown with SigThe question, “How do we/I do it?” is a great step-stopper. It is the leading edge of every personal and organizational stagnation excuse. We don’t know how. I’ve come to believe that it isn’t a natural question but is learned behavior. It is an emergency brake installed by a system that values right answers over great questions.

My wife and I have a short-hand phrase, Beaky’s Wheelchair, to remind us when we stall, that “how?” is something that can only be known after the fact. No one knows “How?” at the beginning. Beaky needed an electric wheelchair to be mobile and the world of insurance/medicare was standing still. After months of waiting, with no clue which direction to begin, we started making calls. We met every “no” with a “why not?.” We asked a multitude of foolish questions. We learned. And learned some more. Within a matter of weeks, Beaky had her wheelchair.

How do you play the guitar? Paint a picture? Bridge a conflict? Transcend a limit? Know one knows. Tickle the curiosity, let go of any notion that you need to know how, and start walking.

text from Krishnamurti as it appears in my painting

the text from Krishnamurti as it appears in my painting

 

Save

Save

Save

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Fall Into It

lingering

lingering

Scott said, “In today’s world, if you can’t say it succinctly, you might as well not say it.”

Guitar Jim teases me each Sunday, saying, “Hey, I read the first 80 words of your blog!” I always laugh and he adds, “No, seriously. I didn’t have time to read the rest of it.”

I am like everyone else. I give only 3-to-5 seconds to any website that I visit. If it doesn’t capture me in that vast span of time, I move on to the next and the next and the next….

Click. Click. Click.

We are slaves to brevity.

In The Art of Living, Wilferd Peterson wrote: Travel with curiosity. It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience. Thoreau wrote a big book about a tiny Walden Pond.

Going deeply takes time. My grandfather lived his entire life within a 10-mile patch of earth. He could smell a storm on the wind when all I – a visitor – could see was blue sky.

When I go to a museum, when I need to recharge my artist battery, I find the paintings that demand my attention, the pieces that want a relationship with me. Relationship takes time, too. Like Thoreau, I need to stare into the pond deeply, to spend time with it, to know it beyond mere thinking. Then I can breathe it in, feel the impact that only comes available with an engagement beyond the cursory. When I fall into it, it falls into me.

This is the challenge of our time, the artistic challenge of our time, the expectation that depth can be found by skipping a stone across the surface.

A good poem will not fully open without lingering in it.

 

Invite Creativity

785. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

To invite creativity it is necessary to first coax curiosity to open the door. I know that is an odd statement. Why would curiosity close and lock the door?

It is impossible for a human being to not be creative. We are in our nature creative. Every moment of our lives we are creating.

However, it is possible a human being to experience him or her self as not creative. Many people above the age of 5 years old define themselves as not creative.

If you have defined yourself as “not creative” it is a good bet that at some point in your life you got slammed for being curious. Your endless stream of questions was not welcome, your scribbling outside of the lines was not appreciated, and opening doors to see what might happen was not convenient. You might have stuck your finger in a light socket and it hurt. Your great capacity to ask “what if…” was curbed. You got into trouble. You put a lock on it.

It is possible to shackle your curiosity. It is possible to bottle your imagination. It is possible to restrict your voice. It is possible to define yourself too small. We are free to reduce ourselves to the lowest common denominator and we do that from the fear of what might happen. “What if…” can cut both ways (note: either way is a process of imagination).

The story goes something like this: curiosity called us out to play and we answered the call! Answering the call exposed us, made us vulnerable, and when we were completely immersed in play and unprotected, singing loud or dancing without bounds, someone laughed at us or criticized us or shook us or told us in front of the whole class that we were no good. BAM! The curiosity door slammed closed. We installed locks and began looking at the world through a peephole.

We develop an overzealous control mechanism to reign in our curiosity and strangle our creative range. We begin this process by dulling our curiosity. We sit still. We color between the lines. We learn to raise our hands if we want to speak. We play a game called “search for the correct answer” and do not ask too many questions. We develop and profound commitment to finding a right way. We make profound control commitments called trying to be perfect. We show up but not too much. We decide we need to know BEFORE we step.

To have the full human experience of wild creativity, curiosity needs an open door. Curiosity needs to run free. Creativity follows. Creativity ensues.

Learning is creativity and creativity is learning. Mastery in any discipline requires unbridled experimentation and play. This is curiosity.

Receive

704. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

In the past several weeks I have traveled many places. I’ve spent some time in the house where I grew up. I walked the streets of my boyhood and revisited the sacred sites of my childhood. The houses in the neighborhood seem so small. I’ve had the opportunity to revisit memories, to stand in spots where life seemed to bring overwhelming experiences; these, like the houses, now seem so small. I’ve chuckled more than once at monsters that I used to tote and how, from this vantage point, they seem like stuffed animals, cuddly toys. That is the power of memory, our great capacity to re-member our lives with every visit to the past.

In my walk-about I am consciously pulling down the barriers. I am surrounded by people who love me and whom I love. I am astounded by a generosity of spirit that greets me everywhere I go. I am learning to receive and the curious thing about receiving is that you need do nothing but open or perhaps surrender. The only requirement to receive love is that you show up. Who knew!

During this period of wandering I’ve been working again with the Parcival story and thinking about the moment in the story when Parcival removes his armor. Armor protects but it also restricts. Armor is a great way to not be seen. In order to want to take off your armor you must first put down your sword; you must change your idea of the world and your place in it. Carrying a sword is a great way to keep love away. After dropping your sword, you must be lost for a while and break your rules. Parcival’s sword shatters and he weeps. He removes his armor and follows a hermit into the woods. He stops seeking, stops trying to prove, suspends the fight and starts living moment to moment. And, when he’s forgotten about roles and knights and proving, the Grail castle reappears. He steps inside unprotected and claims his inheritance. He becomes the Grail. Love finds him when he stops looking for love.

Sometimes we wear our past like armor. We hang onto injustice, we identify ourselves by the trauma, and we claim our limitations as if we were born to bear them. I’m learning that these are the barriers we erect against love. To drop the armor all that is required is to let go of the past and re-member. The love, like the Grail castle, is waiting for us. As the hermit says to Parcival when he turns and discovers the castle, “Boy, it’s been there all along.”