Invite The Humor [on Two Artists Tuesday]

The sun at last. We pulled on our snow boots and walked the neighborhood, arriving at a place sacred to us, the Southport Beachhouse. It’s the site of our wedding reception and candlelight anniversary dinners on the beach.

Kerri packed a snow ball and another and another. She made a tiny snowman. We scrounged the snow for sticks, small cones for eyes. “He’s so cute!” she said. And then, “Do you think he knows the world is off its axis?”

“No.”

“Lucky snowman!” she sighed.

Horatio had me laughing during our call. He told me that the story of Job was meant to be a comedy and, in his telling, it was hysterically funny. He has me convinced. Grim circumstance is fodder for good humor. It’s why the classic slip-on-the-banana-peel is so funny. I told him that Kerri and I are waiting for the whale to burp. Despite what it seems, our time in the belly of the whale is temporary. Sooner or later, every good comedy comes to a happy ending.

The trick, I suppose, is to recognize that you are living in a comedy and it is better to laugh than shake your fist at the sky.

Sand paintings, like snowmen, are temporary. They are meant to invoke healing. They are meant to provide protection. “Do you think he’ll be here tomorrow?” Kerri asked as we walked away.

“No. He’ll enjoy his day in the sun and that will be it,” I said. She looked at me sideways.

Impermanence. A day in the sun. A snowman made for fun and not forever. In making it, we found an ounce of perspective, some tiny snowman healing.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE SNOWMAN

Keep Playing [on Two Artists Tuesday]

tendonitis copy

As I reported several weeks ago, if you where standing on the far side of the piano, you’d never know Kerri was playing with casts on both of her wrists. You’d never know that she was playing with two broken wrists, her right thumb completely out of the line-up. Nine fingers doing the job of ten.

As a composer, singer-songwriter, a person whose entire career, her livelihood, has been about playing the piano, she was at the keyboard four days after her fall. She had to know if she could play. I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears. In my best mother hen voice, I suggested, “Maybe you should wait a bit.”

“I have to know,” she said with THAT tone in her voice.

When I first met her, I took note that she stands when she plays the piano. She is not a bench sitter. Rather, she is a full-body player. She is a full body composer. Sometimes the piano literally hops with the force of her playing. She is little but grows exponentially in energy and presence when she steps up to the keys. The first time she played for me I had to step back from the power that came through her.

Now, several weeks into her mending time, the casts are off and the splints are on. I tell her that they make her look all Mad Max. Michael Jackson’s glove is bush-league compared to her performer-fashion-statement: double black splints.  She looks like a pugilist getting into the ring with her piano. The disparity between her bruiser-piano-vogue and the beautiful music she creates makes my head swirl.

Of course, all of that piano punching has brought a new hurdle in the wrist recovery saga: tendonitis. She went on a Google frenzy when the hard nodules began forming in her palm. They hurt. “My palm is on fire!” she said, “What do you think they are?” Google inflamed her already wild imagination with horror diagnoses and none of the scenarios were good. In fact, they were downright dire.

Doctors were called. Photos of palms sent. A scary foray into the medical facility mid-pandemic was arranged. She emerged from the facility, pulled off her protective mask and climbed into the truck. “Well?” I prompted.

“I didn’t touch anything,” she announced.

“I’m asking about your hands,” I huffed. “What did they say about the nodules growing in your hands?”

“My tendons don’t like that I’m playing with casts,” she said. “Probably tendonitis.”

“That’s good news!” I said and she hit me with THAT look. “Okay, so. Well. Not great news. What are you supposed to do?”

“Keep playing,” she said, looking out the front window. “They gave me some exercises. Advil. But, I keep playing. What else can I do?” she asked, a question not to me.

“Good then. You’ll keep playing.” My mother hen suggestion went unvoiced: maybe some rest? I didn’t want to be hit with THAT look two times in a row. Instead, knowing full well that she is not a bench sitter, knowing that she is a full-body artist and that, for her, to play is to heal, I said, “Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s keep playing.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE SAGA CONTINUED

 

 

their palettes website box copy

Touch The Chair [on Merely A Thought Monday]

healing copy

I am reading books slowly these days. Meditating on words. Sometimes it takes me months to read what I used to blow through in a few days. I am often pleasantly surprised and taken aback by how the words I read on this morning – words written months or years ago – line up exactly with the events of my day. All the time I catch myself thinking, “How did they know I needed to hear that today?”

“There was an altar upon which we could place a photo of someone who had died. Kim chose to put a picture of his “old” self; I found one of him rowing his peapod looking so happy, so strong. Beautiful. We both grieve the loss of that Kim while getting to know and love this new one.” ~ Judy Friesem, Summoned By A Stroke.

Grieve the loss. This is the fourth time in my life that world circumstance/events have drawn a hard line between ‘what was’ and ‘who-knows-what-will-become.’ What was normal and true last week will never again be the same. Social distancing. Pandemic. Disruption is scary and confusing.

I’ve many times heard the story of immigrants, preparing to leave their homes forever for some distant and unknown shore, just before leaving, circle the rooms, touching walls, running their fingers along the arm of a well-loved chair. One last look. This is who I was. Who will I become? It is necessary to mourn what is known before making space for the unknown.

In the midst of spinning change, hanging on too long to the way things-ought-to-be or used-to-be is destructive. More than once I’ve stood with a group in full denial of their new circumstance insisting that “This is the way we’ve always done it!”  Perhaps. What is comfortable today was at one time new and uncomfortable. Someday, what is now new and uncomfortable will be a well worn path. The first step: one last look. This is who we were.

“No person is a finished thing, regardless of how frozen or paralysed their self image might be. Each one of us is in a state of perennial formation. Carried within the flow of time, you are coming to be who you are in every new emergent moment.” ~John O’Donohue, Beauty

Imagination lives in the midst of “It happened to me.” One of our greatest super-powers is the capacity to imagine ourselves different, more expansive. It is what we call dreaming. We “see” ourselves” writing the book or scaling the mountain or being a better parent or working at the soup kitchen or losing the weight or…becoming the more perfect union.

Imagination requires leaving. Leaving requires imagination.

“Fate has a way of handing us what we need in order to become whole…” ~ Judy Friesem, Summoned By A Stroke

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HEALING

 

moon website box copy

 

 

Share A Meal With Jakorda

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

Jakorda Rai sat behind me. His hands on either side of my head, he read my energy just as he’d read the other students who previously sat before him. Unlike the other students he did not progress to the second phase of diagnosis. Instead, he simply tapped me on my right shoulder and through a translator told me that nothing physically ailed me. My challenge was to open my story. As if to emphasize his diagnosis he tapped me again on the right shoulder and repeated his instruction. Open your story.

Later I would return to his house compound and participate in a ritual. He initiated me into his family temple. I became one of his family line. Only now am I understanding the import of that gesture, the gift that he gave me. The high priests brought me in to his temple and then Jakorda Rai sent me back into the world to open my story. Before I left his house compound he invited me to come back back. Through the translator he said, “Someday come back and share a meal with me.” I thought I’d be back within a few years. More than a decade has passed.

What does it mean to have an open story?

Artists – and by artists I mean all people who are conscious of their actions and choices – flourish when the emphasis in life is moved from “answer seeking” and placed on “question engagement” – the capacity to explore and engage, to sit solidly in uncertainty: that is the environment (and I think it is an internal environment) necessary for humans to flourish and fulfill their creative impulse.

I’ve posted these words before and decided to post them again. My dear friend Sam asked me to describe under what conditions an artist flourishes and this is what I wrote in response:

It is perhaps too simple but this is what I know and experience: the artist in me becomes present (it is all about presence; artistry is not something you do as much as something you are) – there is no past or future, just what is before me (and in me) in that moment and we are not separate: the poem or the painting or the story and I are one fluid thing. The world (my seeing) moves from nouns to verbs, from object focused to process focused. When I am present the environment, my seeing of my environment, comes “alive;” the colors are more intense, the sounds and textures of my space richer and clearer. I guess, in my artist self, there ceases to be a separation between me and my environment, I am not moving through a day, I am in the day. All concepts of “time” disappear. I am the creator, the creating, and the created.

This is what it means to have an open story. And now that I know, now that I am an open story, I remember that I am long over due to share a meal with Jakorda Rai.