Infuse Them With Hope [on Two Artists Tuesday]

THIS AsYouIs copy

Go to the AS YOU IS website and this is what you will find:

As You Is® was created to start conversations… to cause total strangers to smile… to make people think… to get others to feel so accepted they break out in impromptu dance… and to put a serious chink in the armor of racism.

Our hope is one day children can embrace being uniquely themselves, where they feel safe being different and where old people —like our founder Michael Fornwald — can age gracefully or ungracefully sans self-contempt.

Please join us by infecting others with hope one hella cool t-shirt or cap at a time.

It happened to us, just as Michael intended. Strolling down the aisle of the farmer’s market, we saw the shirts and stopped in our tracks. “What is that?” I asked Kerri. She smiled, and then laughed, and finally said, “Let’s go find out.” We talked with Michael for the next 20 minutes. He shared his story. We shared ours. We talked about acceptance of self and others. We talked of the need for hope in these ugly, divided times. And while we talked, others saw the shirts and stopped in their tracks.

We stepped aside and watched as people did double-takes. Some hovered and talked. Some danced and laughed. And talked. Some ventured into the center to talk, as we did, with Michael. The shirts started conversations.

Call it a brand or call it a mission, in Michael’s case, it is both. It’s genuine. It’s based on the premise that acceptance of others begins with acceptance of self. You’d be a fool to argue with the premise.

Amidst our divided national narrative it is a serious and legitimate question to ask: would you rather infect others with hatred or with hope? Michael’s answer is clear and he’s doing more than talking about it.

We are the proof that it’s working. We walked away infused with hope, stepping just a little bit lighter, and the conversation he inspired in us hasn’t stopped in the weeks since we happened upon his shirts.

as you is website screenshot copyGO HERE. BUY SHIRTS. SUPPORT THE INFUSION OF HOPE

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AS YOU IS

 

be kind collage with color font copy 3

SHOP KERRI’S ‘Be Kind’ DESIGNS

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

be kind designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

Find The Doorway In [It’s DR Thursday]

A Doorway In for your Thursday from studio melange.

THISthedoorwayin FRAMED jpeg copy

You learn a lot about yourself combing through old sketchbooks. For instance, I am not a religious person but was gobsmacked to discover that in my life I’ve done hundreds of drawings on the theme of Jacob wrestling with the angel. Why? I had to research the story to have context for the images I’d drawn.

the doorway FRAMED ART copyThe other theme that populates my sketchbooks is much more conscious. It is… (wait for it…) Polynices and Eteocles. In Greek mythology they are the sons of Oedipus who, rather than share power, kill each other. It is my visual rumination on contemporary politics in America. Here’s the catch. Every time I attempt to translate my drawings of combat into a painting, the process leads me to a loving statement, Shared Fatherhood. I’ve made two runs at it. There are now two versions of my warring brothers turned to adoring parents. What!?

Kerri loves my Shared Fatherhood paintings. She has no idea of their sketchy origin. So, when she chose this week’s morsel from the first Shared Fatherhood painting, exclaiming, “I love this image! I think we should call it The Doorway In!” It jarred me a bit. The Doorway In. She is ever positive.

Shared Fatherhood

the first version of Shared Fatherhood, 39.5 x 51IN

I delight in the notion that in my visual meditation, through my hundreds of drawings on warring brothers, I am so incapable of arriving at a painting of mutual annihilation. It is a tired, old story. Rather, my muses, my sketchbooks, lead me to stories of hope for the future and images of quiet adoration. A doorway in.

SharedFatherhood2

a second version,  Shared Fatherhood, 25.5 x 40.5 IN

THE DOORWAY IN reminders/merchandise

society 6 info jpeg copy

the doorway in SQ PILLOW copy   the doorway in FLOOR PILLOW copy

the doorway in LEGGINGS copy

leggings

the doorway CARDS copy

gift cards

read Kerri’s blog post about THE DOORWAY IN

purchase the original painting

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

 

the doorway in/shared fatherhood 1 & 2 ©️ 2017, 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Let’s Be Us

a detail from my painting, May You Be

a detail from my painting, May You Be

[continued from Put Down The Hammer]

It is night and I am sitting alone in the sanctuary. I’ve been setting up chairs for a performance and now that the job is complete I’m taking a moment to savor the silence and review this day.

The temperatures have been unseasonably warm and when I opened the back door this morning for Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog I was greeted by the sound of birds singing. It was an April sound in the middle of December. I was so taken by the sound that I called Kerri, “Come and listen to this!” We stood in the doorway for many minutes. It was beautiful as well as a little disconcerting. “El Niño or global warming?” I asked.

Arnie wrote a comment to my last post. He asked: Can it be that we don’t want the ‘we’ in our society – we aren’t comfortable with the ‘we’ and only feel our identity by living out the “us and them”? I am an idealist but, of course, he is right. David Berreby wrote a terrific book called, Us and Them. We are hardwired to perceive the world through a lens of Us and Them. It’s a survival imperative to distinguish between friend and foe. However, a point that is most salient to me: the delineation of Us is mutable. It is not a fixed state but largely circumstantial. That is especially true in this modern age. There is an out of fashion phrase used to describe these United States: a melting pot. There could not be a better metaphor for an ever fluid definition of US. We need not melt but we do need to acknowledge that we are in the same pot. “Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor,…” is central to our national identity (not always central to our national rhetoric) and is a sacred, central statement of an ever-changing US.

We are among the first humans in history to have the pleasure of seeing our planet Earth from space and, as it has been said, from space there are no visible borders. The definition of US depends upon how far out we pull the camera. From space WE are the human race. There are a bevy of alien invasion movies that carry a common theme: when attacked WE inhabitants of Earth will pull together. Or, said another way, until there is a THEM that invades from another planet, WE will be incapable of recognizing full inclusion in the Earth pot.

To Arnie’s point, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with WE. A few months ago, Kerri and I were in Chicago for the day and passed a homeless man, holding a filthy cardboard sign asking for help. He was young, in his early 20’s, and more filthy than his sign. He was suffering. We walked by him. On the train home we had a long conversation about our responsibility to that young man or to any member of our community that is suffering. Many years ago I was with a student group in Bali. We were invited to Udayana University and one member of our group gave a talk about homelessness in America. Our Balinese hosts were shocked. “How could a member of your community be without a home?” they asked. The concept was abhorrent to them, unthinkable. “You are the wealthiest people on Earth…,” they stammered. Later, a Balinese professor said to me, “When you came here today, we wanted to be like you Americans. As you leave, we are proud to be Balinese.”

Us. Them. We. Like me. Not like me. Me. Little words with far-reaching impact. I am not the same person I was only a few years ago. I find it infinitely hopeful – especially now – that, just like me, the delineation of US is mutable, ever changing. It begs the question, Who are WE? And, to another of Arnie’s points, the answer to the question depends upon where we decide to place our focus.

Release The Edge

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Usually, there is a lake….

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you dont give up. ~ Anne Lamott

Sometimes the fog hangs heavy all day along the shore of the lake. The sun tries in vain to penetrate the fog so the air glows. When, in combination with the fog, the lake is still, like it was today, it becomes invisible, inaudible; the lake disappears. Standing on the great rock barriers, staring into the void, it feels as if you have arrived at the edge of the world.

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looking the other direction

All of my life I have been fascinated by edges. What is the line between wild and tame? Most good stories require a stride beyond the boundary, a movement into territories unknown. And, at the end of the story, what was once known becomes unfamiliar. Every ending is a beginning. What is the line that distinguishes the known from the other place? A good dose of reason will assure us that most things can be understood but a walk through a spring meadow or a night spent gazing into the stars will remind us that understanding is illusive or at best illusionary. What do we understand?

Once, working with a group of teachers, we had a terrific discussion about beginnings. Where does a story or a life begin? There is always an easy answer, “Once upon a time,” a birth date, when two people meet, the day the crisis arrived on the doorstep. In fact there is always a multitude of easy answers, of possible beginnings, and none of them are definitive. Which beginning point is the beginning point? At what moment did success arrive? Or, when did failure begin? Does my life begin with my parents or their parents or…? Edges are esoteric!

There is a long tradition in the arts of Dances with Death. Paintings, dances, compositions, plays,…; Hamlet ponders life as he holds poor Yorick’s skull. It passes all too quickly. Most spiritual traditions carry the notion that life cannot be understood, valued, or fully appreciated without first grasping that this life-ride is limited. Living a good life, a fully appreciated life, demands a nod to the edge. It’s the ultimate paradox.

I’ve courted a bundle of trouble in my life because I rarely see the black-and-white of things. Where is the line between hope and hopeless? What wall delineates faith-full and faith-less? Like happiness, edges are made, not found. Ask a physicist if it is a particle or a wave and they will uniformly answer, “It depends upon where you place your focus.” Even in the era when people believed there was a hard edge to the world and finding it meant falling off, sailors supplied their ships and sailed toward the horizon to find it.

 Icarus reached for the sun.

Icarus

Matter.

From the archive: 'Angels At The Well.'

From the archive: ‘Angels At The Well.’

Paul used to tell the acting students at the conservatory that they should never underestimate their power to impact another person’s life. In other words, their work – how they brought themselves to the stage – mattered. Simply by doing their work they had the capacity to open a mind or challenge a story. The caveat, of course, was that, in all likelihood, they would never know the impact that they had.

His lesson applies as much or more in daily life as it does on the stage. What if we lived as if we understood our power to impact others? What if we recognized that the small stuff matters? What if we didn’t need to know – but simply brought ourselves to our days knowing that our actions and attitudes mattered?

Sitting outside at a Starbucks in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a young woman Skyped into a bridal shower happening in Pennsylvania. It was her bridal shower and, because she was starting a new job, she couldn’t get the time off to fly home. So, via Skype, she checked in on the party and giggled at the celebration. Kerri and I sat at the next table listening to the conversation, the love and festivities. I watched as Kerri, stricken with the grief of her mother’s passing, change. Her heart lightened. It changed her focus. The young woman, with no knowledge, eased Kerri’s grief. Kerri ran into the store and bought the woman a gift card. “Congratulations on your wedding,” she said as she gave the card to the young woman.

In coffee-desperation we pulled off the highway in Salem, Illinois. We bumbled into the M&M Coffeehouse on Main Street. Mike, the owner is a master chef. He told us the story of love that brought him to Salem, the story of his love for making food and how he became proprietor of a coffeehouse, the story of how the community was embracing his gift and returning the love; the coffeehouse was now also a catering business. He was teaching cooking classes and volunteering his time to the monthly Elks club hamburger dinner fundraiser. The Elks were raising tons of funds since he started making the meals. “You never know where life is going to take you,” he smiled. Mike never knew the gift he gave us; he was simply being chatty with strangers. We needed a good dose of hope and encouragement to carry us the final 6 hours of our long drive home. He filled our hope-tank to the top.

Whether we know it our not, it matters. Always.

 

Take A Look At Strider

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

He was formidable walking down the hill toward the waterfront. Wrapped in a grey blanket that made him look like a Jedi knight he took bold confident strides. He was a paradox: homeless and determined, aimless and intentional. People parted and opened a path for him even before they could see him. They felt him coming. He was a force.

For a moment I felt as if I was watching two worlds overlap. His grey blanket-cape swirling through a crowd of reserved business-casual wear. He was the most alive person on the street and the most fearsome. He was striding beyond the rules. He didn’t care if he was hit by a car or ran over a tourist. He didn’t care and the freedom of not caring was dangerous. I could see the message in his pace: no one cared for him so why should he care for anyone. He was experiencing the worst punishment a tribe can deliver: he was cast out. He did not belong.

I knew he had no destination because I recognized the force that drove him. He wanted his life to be different. He wanted a break, an opportunity, anything that looked like hope. And there was none in sight. He was pissed at his life choices. All he could do in this moment was walk and walk fast, hard, and determined and burn off the fury. It would either make him feel the vibrancy of his life or exhaust him and either way he would emerge from his walk in another mindset. He would find hope or fatigue and sleep. He would live another day.

As I watched him descend the hill, knowing that he would simply turn and walk right back up again only to descend one more time – a modern day Sisyphus – I also realized that the folks in business-casual were probably doing the same thing only with less awareness but with a modicum of hope. Someone cared about their actions. Someone cared that they showed up. They had a place to go. The strider did not.

Last night, I had yet another conversation about the need to create community and connectivity – this time with a maker of software. My fascination with this conversation began nearly 15 years ago in school with the ongoing ever-present conversation about creating community. I hear it in one form or another almost everyday. Here in a metro area of almost 2 million people we feel the need to create community and that can only be true because we do not experience it beyond the superficial. A community cares for the health and well being of all of its members. A community does not place the interests of the few above the values of the whole.

I have been walking since January AND I have places to go. If I do not show up at Carol’s before midnight I get a text. Judy checks in with me. Horatio and Arnie want to know how I am doing. Megan reminds me to eat and throughout the day tugs on the lifeline to see if I will tug back. I am loved. I have been meditating on this thing called home that has evaded me or that I have avoided (I don’t know which) and the strider shook my meditation like a snow globe. I think I will find home because I am determined to create it. I wonder if any of us will ever really know a greater community? The man in the cape swirled down the hill and people parted, they glanced but mostly did not give him a second look. Outcasts are ordinary. Not belonging to something bigger is an everyday occurrence. Do you feel it?

Let Hope Catch You

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

A few days ago I was on my way to get a morning cup of coffee and passed through the plaza that borders the international district in Seattle. It is a threshold place. Beneath the plaza is the light rail station. Bolt buses from Portland and Vancouver board passengers from the plaza. The train station is just across the road so travelers make connections to and from the train through the plaza. It is a crossroads.

A young woman loaded with a heavy backpack and bedroll slipped off her burden and sat on one of the large stone benches. An older man sitting on a facing stone bench, thin and striking with a long gray ponytail, called out to her. He said, “I hope you’re going toward something instead of running away.” She smiled and replied, “Mister, I’m not chasing hope. Hope is chasing me.” Her response stopped me in my tracks. The older man laughed and she sat facing him. They started a conversation.

Many weeks ago when I was in a low mood Megan suggested that I act as if the entire universe was conspiring for my good. Essentially she was suggesting that I walk my talk and her reminder was timely and helped lift my spirits. Why would I assume otherwise?

Sometimes I play the game of tracking back in time the choices that I made to bring me to this moment. Last week I met an amazing woman, a musician living in Wisconsin that I’ve been corresponding with for the past several months. One day last December she sent me an email. I responded. She replied and a conversation blossomed. Last week a job took me through Chicago I jumped off the plane and we met. She told me that she almost didn’t send the initial email for fear of what I’d think. I replied to her outreach and today I have a new friend.

Many hours after my morning cup of coffee I walked through the plaza on my way home and the older man and young woman were still talking only now they shared a bench and a cigarette. They’d been talking for hours and by the intensity of their conversation they’d be talking for many hours to come. She chose a bench. He chose to ask. I smiled as I walked by and thought, “This is what hope looks like when it catches you.”