See The Hands [on DR Thursday]

I just googled the phrase “helping hands.’ Depending upon your world view you may or may not be surprised by the extraordinary number of services that appear. People helping people. Food pantries, home caregivers, support for people with spinal cord injuries, disaster relief, charity donations, hunger relief…. It’s a lengthy list. For a moment, if you can imagine – or better yet, realize – the reality represented by the list, you might get a tiny view into that part of humanity that is not often reported. People helping people everyday. It’s everywhere, all year, everyday.

Feel good stories don’t generate the same size audience as the horror stories so they populate less space in the news cycle. It’s possible to see, if you look away from your many screens, that vastly more people are helping people than are people hurting people. It’s possible to see it.

In my town, there is a woman who feeds the hungry twice a day, winter-spring-summer-fall. She doesn’t stop feeding people after the giving season passes or when the cameras are gone. That is true of most of the people helping people on this earth. They help. There is no limelight. They help because they want to help. They help because they feel compelled to help. She is one of a legion of people in my community living life as helping hands. I am surrounded by givers and helpers. So are you.

Ann used to tell me to find a need and fill it. Sage advice. Deeply human. It is true that you will see what you decide to see. Where you place your focus does truly matter. Hands that help. Hands that hurt. Both are out there. One vastly out-populates the other. Can you see it? Do you want to see it?

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on HELPING HANDS

 

 

hands website box copy

 

‘helping hands’ in all it’s forms ©️ 2018/2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Unfetter Kindness

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog on a roadtrip

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog on a road trip

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog has no problem communicating his needs. I know without doubt when he wants to go out. I know when he wants his belly scratched or have his ears rubbed. He lets me know where he expects to be scratched. He is abundantly clear when food is his need. He does not second-guess his needs. He does not doubt his desires or confuse himself with obsessing over his reasons why.

Love is one of his needs. To give it and to receive it, exuberantly or tenderly, he does not invest in how I receive or return his love. He is not vulnerable because he has no need to hide or color his love-need. He has no brakes on his exuberance because it is pure, innate, and without story.

One of my favorite exercises to assign during my teacher/consultant phase was the Angel exercise. The assignment was simple: For three hours be an angel to someone. The only requirement was that the recipient could not know. Be an angel with no expectation of recognition; write about what you discover. The assignment was always greeted by a flurry of protests and questions (“I don’t know how…,” or “What does it mean to be….”). Angel-ing is scary business!

Once, to experiment, I assigned the opposite: be a devil/trickster. Instead of protests there were gales of laughter and excitement! No one asked “how.” In midst of their exuberant, fearless plotting and scheming, I reversed the design. Before they went into the world to demonize, I required them to flip their plan and do the opposite to their intended target: be an angel. Their sudden fear was palpable. “Now that you know how to torture this person, do the opposite,” I said. “Be their angel.”

Regardless of how we entered the assignment, the students/clients would return the following week exultant. Their experiences of Angel-ing, of unfettered kindness had profound blowback. They talked of their pre-Angel terror and the unexpected thrill that came with unfettered secret service to another person. They talked of the clarity that came with Angel-ing. They had fun. They felt good. They felt alive. Everything became simple. The greatest surprise of all – something that in this season we see on posters, holiday advertisements, Hallmark cards and screen-savers, something that is a cliché when proffered but rarely experienced: kindness begot kindness. Kindness begets kindness. Kindness clarifies life when it comes with no expectation of reciprocity. Kindness simplifies inner debates when it is wielded without need of reward.

Dog-Dog loves unconditionally. Love may be his only need. For Dog-Dog there is, I suspect, no distinction between giving and receiving. His exuberant love is not meant to gain access to heaven or to change the world in any way. It is without agenda. Angel-ing is like that…

photo-1

 

Unroll The Generosity Perspective

from the archives: EmbraceI’m eavesdropping. Kerri and Pastor Tom are in the next room having a planning session. I just heard P-Tom say, “The generosity perspective fell down. Woody rolled it up and put it under the table.” I laughed out loud. They are talking about a banner but, taken out of context, it is a terrific and ominous phrase!

If you take a gander at the daily news, follow the political circus, count the people trampled in the crush to buy stuff the day after Thanksgiving, you would be hard-pressed to find a better phrase for our times. The generosity perspective fell down. And, to add icing on the metaphoric cake: Woody easily rolled it up. He put under a table.

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you and me.

I’m convinced that there is another side of the coin. There is no denying that meanness exists in our world. Humiliation is a game played everyday through social media and beyond. Yet, I still believe that there is a disconnection between the rhetoric and the lived experience. I see and experience terrific acts of generosity every day. Some are small acts, some are vast – unfathomable, some are spontaneous, some are planned but all are generous. In fact, when I really pay attention, I find that the incidences of generosity far outpace the acts of cruelty.

Cruelty makes for good gossip and good gossip is cruel. And so, meanness sells. It is good for advertisers so those are the stories we broadcast. Generosity, on the other hand, erases victim stories and so is rarely yummy-fun to talk about. Acts of generosity are less potent as a selling tool.

Cruelty is easy to see. Generosity requires an intentional focus.

This morning I bumbled into a TED talk by Patti Dobrowolski. I learned that the odds are 9-to-1 against making change even if the change needed is life saving. Her message is great: draw the story you want to tell. Literally, draw it. And then tell it. If we want a different story we have to imagine a different story. If we want a different story we need to tell a different story. If we want a different story we need to act a different story.

If Woody easily rolled up and stashed the generosity perspective under the table it should be equally as easy for Woody to reach under the table, unroll the generosity perspective and hang it for all to see.

 

Clutch Your Stinky Blanket

Dog-Dog with stinky blanket

Dog-Dog with stinky blanket

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog has a morning ritual that I do not understand. He returns to his crate, stands on his stinky blanket, and attempts to pull it from the crate. After a few moments it occurs to him that he’s unsuccessful because he’s standing on the blanket. It is a revelation. He exits the crate, walks halfway across the room, turns, returns to the crate, grabs the stinky blanket, finds his reverse gear and pulls the stinky blanket out of the crate and out of the room. His stinky blanket ritual happens every morning (that is why it is a ritual).

For the rest of the day, the blanket travels to new and exciting places around the house. Sometimes he takes great care of the stinky blanket. Sometimes he takes great delight in shredding it (often there are so many stinky-blanket-fragments littering the floor that it looks like a clown exploded in the house). Either way, great care or delight-in-shredding, his stinky blanket is a source of comfort not unlike a small child’s security blanket. For Dog-Dog, the world is a better place with a stinky blanket.

Last week, after Beaky was found on the floor of her apartment and rushed to the hospital, after we recognized that the incredibly resilient Beaky would not bounce back this time, Kerri needed to see Heidi. We drove an hour to where she was working and it was enough – more than enough – to grab a quick hug and spend a few passing moments with her as she worked. We sought out John, aka 20, and took great comfort in his good humor and kind heart. The family turned in and circled around Beaky. “This is hard…,” we cry as we reach for one another, giving and receiving comfort.

It occurs to me that we do this everyday. It is our ritual. Mike and Sabrina sent a text, “Think happy thoughts for us today…,” I emailed my mother, more for me than for her “Just thought you should know…,” Arnie tells me of his adventure and closes with, “Let me know how things are going.” David called and left a message, “Wanted to continue our cycle of communication…!” Each day, in many ways, in small ways, we reach out. We touch base. The world is a more secure place – a better place – in the reaching, in the touching base.

Let Yourself Dance

'Dancing In The Front Yard' by David Robinson

My painting, ‘Dancing In The Front Yard’

It is the season of the light’s return. The Equinox is only a few days away. The dark days bode of new light. It is the literal, solar-lunar cycle-dance of rebirth, the return of the sun.

The great theatre artist, Jim Edmondson, spoke of all life as a dance of giving and receiving. To give and receive are energies similar to the tides or the intake and exhale of breath. The dance requires both giving and receiving and, in truth, they are not separate but are one action, one continuous connected cycle as is chaos and order, birth and death, winter and summer, boredom and breakthrough.

All stories lead back to this dance, this source of light’s disappearance and return. Frodo wrestles with the pull of the ring, Orpheus descends into darkness to bring Eurydice back to the light, a too-early-death affords a healthy heart and new life to a stranger, a baby is born and down the hall Hospice is called, lost love leads to new love, we wrestle with our limitations and someday transcend them (or not); we dance the dance every day because, in truth, we never know what the day brings and learn that this life sparkles when with clear intention we bring our light to the day. What else?

With all of our talk of transformation and renewal, we pretend that the dance is something new, something we must intend, when it is a dance as old as time and as ordinary and extraordinary as the sun setting and rising again. It is new when we pay attention and greet each day as a new step in a very old dance, a new opportunity to give and receive. To live fully, to transform, requires nothing more than to pay attention and let yourself dance.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Johnny crop copyJoin the campaign to fund my play, The Lost Boy