See The Verb [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Random fact of the day: my waking thought this morning was about The Geography of Thought. No kidding. It’s a terrific book by Richard Nisbett. The subtitle is “How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…And Why.” Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I must have been pondering the bumper sticker we recently saw: I’m With Earth.*

One of the points made in the book, the one that permeated my dream state, is that different languages place different emphasis on different parts of speech. For instance, many Asian languages place emphasis on the verb. English speakers place the emphasis on the noun. In listening to mothers talk to their infant children, an English speaker will say, “Look at the red truck! Do you see the red truck?” An Asian mother will say, “Look at the red truck go!” Do you see the red truck go?”

Why does it matter where the emphasis lands in a language structure? Noun or verb?

The language we use shapes our thinking and seeing. It shapes basic worldviews. Earth as a noun or earth as a verb. Earth as a stand-alone-thing or earth as a moving interrelationship. These are vastly different worldviews.

This was my thought/image coming out of sleep: earth and sky. In a noun world, earth and sky are two distinctly different things. In a verb world, earth and sky are not separate things, they are verbs, actions, interplay of a dynamic relationship. In a noun world, I am also a distinctly different thing. In a verb world, earth, sky and I are not separate things, we are a dynamic inseparable relationship. We.

The bumper sticker is a declaration: I am with earth. It makes perfect sense in a noun world because it is also possible, in a perceptual world of separate things, to be against earth. Nature needs to be conquered, tamed. In a noun world, earth, once tamed, is a resource and resources are meant to be used. In a noun world, we are capable of believing that our actions have no impact on our environment. Action and environment are nouns, separate things.

In a verb world, what you do to the earth is what you do to yourself. No separation. In a perceptual world of relationship, of verbs, it is understood that your actions not only have impacts, your actions are impacts.

We woke to the news of yet another mass shooting. This one in Colorado. As usual, we know that our community and leadership will offer thoughts and prayers but nothing really – not really- will be done to address it. In a noun world, we protect the rights of the individual, the separate thing. In a verb world, there are no mass shootings. None. Violence done to one is violence done to all. In fact, more people are gunned down in the United States in a day than are killed by gun violence in Japan in a decade. The differing linguistic emphasis extends to differing understanding of rights and responsibilities.

Language matters. Where we focus matters. What we emphasize matters. The story we tell is determined by the language we use to tell it. I am with earth. Or, I am earth. I go to worship. I am worship. I seek purpose. I am purpose. Separation. Relationship. A whole philosophy of living reduced to a simple bumper sticker.

So, when we ask complex questions like, “Why can’t we do anything about gun violence?” or, “How is it possible that people in a pandemic refuse to wear masks to protect each other,” our answer is really very simple: our language makes it so.

Perhaps in a world of nouns a declaration is the best we can do. It is a step toward the middle way, a declaration of responsibility to the commons. Black Lives Matter. #MeToo. Stop Asian Hate. I’m With Earth.

*The “I’m with Earth” sticker is from the very cool company Gurus

read Kerri’s blog post about I’M WITH EARTH

Gather Around The Fire [on Merely A Thought Monday]

keep the fire burnin copy

An unseasonably cool June evening. We sat around the fire. At social distance and wearing masks. Friends. “It’s so odd,” we said more than once. Eyes and assumed smiles. Muffled laughter. “I’ll never again take for granted a hug or being able to sit close together around the table,” she said. “It’s the little things that I miss.”

Fire is elemental. Water. Air. Earth. And, sometimes, Spirit though I think the 5th is always implicit. Friendship is elemental and spirit-full. Especially when the world is off center. It is a forge for strength and determination. Our friends, so generous, feed air into the fire. Support. Encouragement.

As we talked through face coverings about our newest daily obstacles, I wondered how hard it must have been to communicate across distance with smoke signals. Measured fire. Kerri said, “My mask is slipping again! There must be something wrong with my face.” We laughed and made up problems with her nose.

So much fire on the streets across the land! Transformation is afoot! Creative fire is out of the barn and teasing the status quo. This hot fire illuminates. It smacks of a ritual fire and, if properly honored and tended, can set us on a new path. Dark corners revealed and more than simply acknowledged, truly addressed.

Prometheus stole fire from the gods to spark life into his new creatures.  To ignite breath. Humans, made from earth and water. Four elements, come together. He was punished for his transgression. The spark lit an entire forest fire of humanity and creative potential. Beings capable of looking at the elements within themselves, at asking each other in magical moments, “How can we be better?”

All of this wonder and wandering on an unseasonably cool summer evening. Meeting with friends across a fire. A sip of wine. In earnest, we ask the question of each other, through our masks and across our distance, “How can we be better?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about KEEP THE FIRE BURNING

 

 

bonfire website box copy

 

 

Rest Full [on KS Friday]

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“The primeval beauty of silence becomes audible in the elemental music of the earth and in our music of instrument and voice. At the core of the world and at the core of the soul is silence that ripples with the music of beauty and the whisperings of the eternal.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

I have said more than once these past few weeks, that the silver lining of two broken wrists is that all the presses have stopped. The endless list of things-to-do fell into dust on the floor and the true priorities jumped into immediate clarity. The superficial things gave way to the essential.

Little things, like showering or getting dressed in the morning, are no longer mindless  rote activities. The are now intentional. Attention is paid to every movement, every moment.  They are care-full. I am learning once again that there are riches all around me when I am not racing to get to the next thing but, instead, occupying the moment that I am living. The other night at rehearsal I nearly burst into tears so beautiful were the people and the laughter surrounding us. A month ago, pre-wristgate, I might have missed it.

Caring for an other.  Caring for one and another. Other caring.

We rest. We do not push through. So many in our amazing community have asked me, as I care for Kerri, am I also taking care of myself? I love this question. It is generous. The answer is ‘yes’ and the question it raises is ‘why isn’t this level of self-generosity the norm?’ Are you caring for yourself? In the midst of all that life flings your way, first and foremost, as you care for others, are you also attending to yourself?

I’m learning that the two things are inseparable: caring for another is also caring for yourself. Or, flip it over: it is impossible to fully care for yourself without caring for others. We know ourselves through relationship. We can only thrive when loved and while loving. People in isolation go mad. Banishment from the group was once considered a punishment worse than death.

As silence is to sound. Caring as making beautiful life-music. We take our quarter rest.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about QUARTER REST

 

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pumpkinfarm website box copy

Dance [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

From studio melange a touch of goodness for your Tuesday.

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Had you attended our wedding you would have found yourself dancing. Even if you where a committed dance-a-phobe, your limbs would have over ruled your noggin and that deep river of wiggling that flows through us all would have broken through your protective surface layer and you’d have gyrated and twirled. You would have had no choice. The reason is simple. We call her Linda.

Linda is a muse of dance. A maker of enthusiastic merriment. She understands the world through movement. She understands that everything is in constant motion. The earth is moving, dancing. It IS dance and she dances with it. Academics would call her kinesthetic. Invite Linda to even the most stodgy of gatherings and soon everyone will be swaying en route to a raucous Irish folk dance. She knows how to help others dance with earth, too.

There is wisdom in dancing and it is this: it is only possible to dance WITH others – and deep down everyone wants to dance. And, in the merry motion of common movement comes laughter, surprise, and heaps of generosity. From studio melange on this Two Artists Tuesday, we offer what Linda knows: sometimes wisdom looks a lot like dancing.

 

 

THERE IS WISDOM IN DANCING – products we design are sold at society6.com

THIS dance product box jpeg copy

read Kerri’s blog post about WISDOM IN DANCING

www.kerrianddavid.com

there is wisdom in dancing ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

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.

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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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kerrianddavid.com

 

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

Walk The Line Where Sky Meets Earth

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

Walk the line where earth meets sky

There is a concept that shows up in one form or another in all spiritual traditions: find the middle way. Finding the middle way is simply another way of saying ‘presence.’ Be present. Be where you are, not in the past, not in the future, here, in the middle place. Move out of the distant poles of right and wrong, us and them, red and blue, and walk in the actual, the present, instead of the conceptual. Deal with what’s in front of you instead of what you think is there. It’s a sound business practice, too. Guiding people to the middle way, to the line where sky meets earth, IS the artist’s job.

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Everyone Has Their Heaven

TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS

everyone has their heaven

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Go Back To Basics

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

Yesterday in my post I wrote the word “aquifers” but at first badly mistyped it and wrote “aquafire.” Isn’t that a lovely word collision! It sounds like the name of a garage band! I did a quick Google search (is there any other kind?) and found that aquafire is the name of a restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s also the name of a water heater company in New Zealand! You’ll not be surprised to learn that it is also the name of a company that makes floating fire pits, a fire protection company specializing in sprinklers, a blog about fishing, and a sauna and steam bath company.

According to western classical thought there are 4 elements that combine to constitute all matter: earth, air, fire, and water. Aquafire, according to the classical way of thinking, might be steam or lava or acid or a good jalapeno salsa. Once, I was in the ocean and was clobbered by a wave and met the rocky coral bottom with some unintended force; I could consider that experience aquafire.

I like the notion of elements as applied to obstacles; I have been known to think, “It only looks like an enormous boulder in my path. Apply a little heat and then let’s see what you look like!” The boulder calls my bluff every time but the threat of combining elements always frees my imagination so I can see the many possibilities instead of the single impediment. Problems become possibilities almost immediately when you consider their elemental make-up: problems and possibilities are both ways of seeing; they are choices. So, a good question to ask is, “What is the basic element of choice?”

The Greeks (and others) added a 5th element or quintessence. The medieval scientists called it, “ether,” which was considered to be the element that filled the universe (above our atmosphere). To the Greeks, quintessence was the air breathed by the gods and was distinctly different than the air we mortals breathe. It was pure, essential. Essence. If there is a basic element to imagination, choice, possibility, memory, intuition, and inspiration, I’m certain it must be ether, a touch of quintessence, the breath of the gods made manifest here on earth in you and in me.

Do The Dishes

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

I’m at 37,000 feet. The coffee has been served. The trash has been picked up. The man sitting next to me is asleep, as are the people across the aisle. I see the flicker of movies or games on ipads; a baby somewhere behind me is fussy. We are in an aluminum tube hurtling through space at several hundred miles an hour and I am typing. And, as I look around me, I’d say that most of my plane-mates believe that flying through space is usual, mundane.

A hundred years ago very few people had seen the earth from the sky. A few people in balloons made it into the clouds. Now, hundreds of thousands of us soar through the sky everyday. I was reminded in the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas that it has only been 45 years since a human being saw the earth from space. We have been on this planet for thousands of years and the miracle of the earth was something we imagined but had never seen. I am in the first generation of humans to see a photograph of the earth from space. I remember seeing it for the first time and I gasped. Now, we think it commonplace. Sure, from space there are no boundaries, sure it looks alive (it is), but I imagine most of my globe-mates think it is usual, mundane.

It is the center of every spiritual practice, it is the task of the artist: what does it take to truly SEE. How do we develop our capacity to see what is right in front of us instead of seeing what we think is there? To think is to interpret. To think is to abstract; it is a veil that can blunt the immensity of experience. How do we become present to the enormity of being alive and cease to reduce our lives to the mundane?

Travel to another country and you will see. Fall in love and you will see. Climb to the top of a mountain and you will see. Stand in the river with the water rushing around your ankles and you will see. You will see because you want to see; you will enter your moment having decided to be there and nowhere else. You will see because you let go of the fog of knowing and allow yourself to not know. You will see because you have re-entered discovery. Do the dishes for the thousandth time. Do nothing else but simply feel the water on your wrists, smell the soap, the muscles in your hand as you hold the sponge. Feel your heart beating and you will recognize that you have never lived this moment, you’ve never breathed this breath, you’ve never done these dishes and you will come alive quite suddenly and see the miracle of your life.