Honor Their Choices [on DR Thursday]

I am guilty of lately losing my sense of humor and lightness of being. When our house filled with smoke from burning buildings, when a militia member murdered two people blocks from our home, when yet another black American was brutalized by the police, I shifted a gear. Seeking silver linings and applying positive thinking seemed like so much denial, spooning sugary frosting on a very bad cake. Love, I’ve learned, sometimes needs to be sharp. A mother will always yell when their child is running toward the street.

Yesterday we took a turn-around trip to Chicago. We stayed off the freeway and hugged the lake. There was no rush to get there. On the way it occurred to me that historians could boil down the entirety of the 45th presidency into a single phrase: defending the indefensible. I realized that my humor and lightness took flight, not because of the smoke and brutality, but because of the lengths people are going to defend the utterly indefensible, the completely ridiculous. Plane loads of black attired thugs toting “gear”? Dark forces, conspiracy theories run amok? A global pandemic whipped up to make the man in the hot seat look bad? The evil CDC attempting to manipulate data and conspire with the shadow-lurking-socialists to bring down the American president? John Grisham would reject this plot as too absurd.

It should buoy my humor – the ridiculous usually does – except so many in power positions are so complicit, wildly contorting themselves and with straight faces to bend hearts and minds to embrace the rolling fantastical narrative. And, so many are so eager to swallow the puerile stories without nary a thought or question. Where did my smile go? It’s hiding out with Occam’s razor waiting for the restoration of simple reason and good intention.

It’s not funny because it is dangerous. What began with crowd size protestations has fouled and inflamed every fiber of our institutions. We are the frogs in a pot and it is boiling. Half the frogs are screaming, “Wake up! Get out!” and the other half are croaking, “Come in. The water’s fine.”

In the evening we took a walk. There is a whisper of fall in the air. We agreed that it was time to breathe deeply and invite humor and humility back into our minds and hearts and writing.

The best advice I constantly give myself and too-soon-forget is to control my controll-ables and let the rest go. We (I) cannot control this dumpster fire. I miss my good humor and my eyes that are capable of seeing the good and decent in all things. We agreed there is no use screaming into a pot of frogs so dedicated to boiling. Even if we love those frogs who are taking pleasure in the hot, hot water. Boiling is their choice. Sometimes love needs to be sharp but sometimes it needs to recognize the teachable moments. After all, although they may be thinking like toddlers, these are not children racing toward the street; they are adults. There are public servants defending the indefensible and knowingly enticing their constituents into traffic.

The most loving thing we can do now is the American thing: take care of ourselves. Lightness and laughter will carry us toward the shore. This heaviness can and will sink all that we hold dear.

read Kerri’s blog post about DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE

earth interrupted vi ©️ 2018 david robinson

Leave It At The Door [on DR Thursday]

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There is a simple exercise that I am particularly fond of but less than terrific at practicing. It goes like this: don’t drag yesterday’s trash into today. See this day as it is: new. Live this day without the control fantasy of believing that you know what will happen, that you know or can control what other people think. Recognize that the burden you carry is exactly that – something you carry. Put it down for a spell. It will be there when you are ready to pick it up.

It’s not an exercise in denial. It’s actually the opposite. It’s an exercise in dealing with the real moment rather than the imagined monster. You’ll be amazed at the world of light, color, and possibility that opens when yesterday’s trash stays in yesterday, when the weighty story wrapped around the past-moment drops away.

I used to tell my actors, when entering the rehearsal hall, to leave their day at the door. Rehearsal halls, like artist studios, are sacred places. The art of the theatre is the mastery of presence and it’s a necessary skill to tuck the story-of-the-day into a safe keeping box before stepping onto the stage. And, what if, as master Will wrote, all the world is a stage? It seems to me that the art of living is the mastery of presence.

I call it the “garbage layer,” those moments when I am first coming out of sleep. Coming up from the bottom of the slumber-ocean there is a surface layer where all the trash floats. It is coming through the garbage layer that I have the option of leaving behind or picking up yesterday’s flotsam. The nagging to-do list, the contention, the worries, the fears and fights can all be scooped up and hauled into the new day or the story-of-yesterday can be left at the door.

And when I leave yesterday’s garbage in yesterday? An entirely different set of experiences and assumptions become available. Awe at the light in the trees. Awe at the smell of coffee brewing. Awe at the sun and the enormous cat that purrs when I sit close.

[Chicken Marsala was one of our cartoon creations. He tickled the syndicates but never got picked up. We love him still. We designed all manner of cool prints, cards, cups and other stuff that you can find here]

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ASSUME AWE

 

chicken and dogga roadtrip website box copy

chicken marsala ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

FaceTheSun copy

face the sun, mixed media, 18 x 24IN

 

chicken marsala ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

face the sun ©️ 2019 david robinson

 

Deny It [on Flawed Wednesday]

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Were I to give this image a title it would be called ‘Denial.’ It smacks of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: a holiday obsessed Chevy Chase pretends he is having the perfect family Christmas even as the house comes down around him. Of course, in Hollywood, denial has a happy ending for everyone but the snotty neighbors. Their suffering makes us laugh.

These days I think almost daily of the phrase Roger tossed out a few decades ago: denial is the most powerful of human capacities. He is a director of plays, a great student of human motivation. People are great at denying what they don’t like. People are great at having one too many drinks and getting behind the wheel, or texting while driving because, after all, bad things happen to other people. People are masters at pretending that they are not involved, above it all, or what they see is not happening. Ask the NRA.

The important detail that Roger understood is that denial is never passive. It abdicates responsibility. It assigns blame other places. Chinese hoax. It minimizes the impact. It paints pretty pictures of ugly situations. It throbs with intention.

Denial: the action of declaring something untrue.

Here’s the question that Roger’s observation invokes in me: at what point do we wake up and realize that we are all the snotty neighbors?

[now, don’t you wish that I’d just written about Hieronymous Bosch like I intended?]

 

read Kerri’s less pessimistic blog post on the PICNIC TABLE

 

 

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the picnic ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

 

 

Take A Walk In The Snow [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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I just wrote a post about global warming and then I cut it. In truth, I spent a about an hour reading and researching and cross-checking things. We’ve been measuring the ocean temperatures everyday for decades. We’ve been recording levels of human carbon emissions into the atmosphere for decades. The data is there. The science is there. The evidence is there. So, too, is the counter-narrative. A Chinese hoax? The Deep State? So much conspiracy! And, really, what does that have to do with a photograph of snow at night? Delete!

The embrace of the counter-narrative fascinates me. The committed belief in what is demonstrably false -led me to read a bit about denial psychology. Here’s the dictionary definition: “a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.”

So, then, I started writing a post about the denial psychology run amok these days in the USA. If you don’t know what I’m writing about then (to borrow a phrase I read today) you are either a Martian or a watcher of Fox news. I cut that post, too. I suspect you are as sick of the lazy-minded debates, entrenchment and ever-present fearmongering as I am. Even I am bored by what I wrote. Nothing new! Nothing new! And, what does that have to do with a photograph of snow? Delete!

It is not uncommon for Kerri and I to take late night walks in the snow. Especially, when it is actually snowing. There is peace. There is quiet. We hold hands and listen to the sound of our feet crunching the new snow, the whisper of wind through the trees. Peace. Quiet. Listening.

We haven’t had one of our late night walks lately. There hasn’t been any snow. A dusting here and there but that hardly qualifies. And so, we wait for the return of the snow. The return of the listening, the quiet, and perhaps, too, the return of the peace.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOW ON THE LAKEFRONT

 

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snow on the lakefront ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood

Deny! [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

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I am in denial. I had perfect eyesight for the first 45 years of my life. And then things went blurry. I understand they invented this cool thing called glasses – and I even own a pair – but I lost the instruction manual and have no idea how to operate them so they remain untouched on my shelf. Despite the progressive blur I maintain that my eyesight is perfect and merely on an extended hiatus. It’ll be back.

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BIG NOSE/SMALL HEAD

www.kerrianddavid.com

Cooperate

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

During my drive from Champaign to Omaha, just after sunset, it began to snow. There was a swirling wind and in a matter of moments it was a white out. The road was mostly invisible. Cars immediately fell in line behind cars. Trucks slowed and set a careful pace. People cooperated without debate, without knowledge of the other drivers’ political affiliation, gender, race or sexual orientation. We needed each other. There was no power game or status imperative. All the silly illusions fell away. We needed each other and we did what came naturally. We cooperated.

There is a collision of two great thoughts that I appreciate. The first comes from my friend Roger, a director of plays and studier of humans; he once told me that denial was one of the strongest human impulses. The second thought comes for E.O. Wilson (I’ve rattled this off more than a few times) who said that the strongest human impulse is to belong. Combine the two thoughts and you get an amazing collision of impulses: a species called humans that need to belong to each other but deny it. This contradictory impulse makes possible The Gap or Old Navy; can you deny that you shop at a chain store to express your individuality as a way to belong? I can only imagine that the Martians are having a hey-day studying us.

And then the illusion drops, the second strongest impulse retreats and only the first remains. We need each other. We drive into a white out. The hurricane wipes our city off the map, the earthquake knocks our houses off their foundations. We pull together, put down our need to be right, and line up to help. We see our belonging. We see this thing called “”the common cause,” namely, survival.

The question, then, is obvious: do we need to wait until we’ve exhausted our fuel supply, depleted our aquifers, or warmed our globe before we suspend our denial and see this thing called “the common cause?” More and more contemporary science is finding that we have it all wrong: survival is not something achieved by the fittest; survival is a cooperative art.