Exercise Choice [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I know what it is to be kind. I see acts of kindness everyday. Humans helping humans. Humans helping animals. Humans mindful of and taking care of their planet. Synonyms include friendly, generous, considerate. All of these are other-focused. To be kind is to consider the needs and lives of others. Beaky used to say in parting, “Be kind to each other.” Kindness was her wish for this world.

I’m not sure that I know with the same clarity what it is to be human. Philosophers have answers that generally trace back to our capacity to reason, to make meaning from our senses. To think consciously. To question. To be aware.

My quick pass through the news of the day betrays how non-human we humans can be. What is the sense of perpetuating a lie? What is gained by lobbing bombs at neighbors? Cyber attacks? We read that there were, from sea to shining sea, 9 mass shootings over the weekend. I’m having a hard time making meaning of it all. I can rationalize it, explain it away, assign blame…but, at the end of the day, I know my rationalizations are nonsensical. Non-sense. No sense. Which, according to the battalion of philosophers scribbling across the ages, attempting to define what it is to be human, we are, because of our non-sense, not human.

There are so many questions and thoughts bursting from this simple bumper sticker!

Arriving home at 10pm, after two consecutive days of 13 hour drives, 20 had a hot meal waiting for us. I called for help and my neighbor John came running. Jen prepared a travel bag of snacks for us and left it on our doorstep. The family that lived next door to my parents made sure, after every snowfall, that the walks and driveways of their elder neighbors were shoveled and safe. Kind.

Somewhere in Kansas it occurred to me that to be human was a choice. Kindness is a choice. Yes, we make meaning from our senses and experiences and the line that defines us as human is our capacity to choose the sense, the meaning that we make. We witness and then we choose. The choice makes all the difference.

The angry man weaving in and out of traffic in his truck, flying the confederate flag, was making a choice. The man who shoveled my parent’s driveway, never having met them, was making a choice. To focus on division is a choice. To reach across the aisle is a choice. To wear a mask to protect others is a choice. To point a gun is a choice. To lie is a choice. To stand firm in your conviction is a choice. To open a door for others is a choice.

To be human is not just to exercise choice but to choose actions that support others. And, among the greatest available choices, the choice that most advances humankind, as Beaky knew, is kindness. To think of others, choose, and act accordingly.

read Kerri’s blog post about HUMANKIND

Try, Try Again [on DR Thursday]

shared fatherhood

This morning, as I looked through my stacks, I could find no more relevant painting for this day, for our times.

Ironically, I made two runs at this painting. Both times it evolved into something else. It started in violence and ended in shared fatherhood. In the final paintings, you cannot see is the inception, the original impulse, the story that made me pick up my brushes. Polynices and Eteocles. Brothers fighting for the control of the kingdom. Both die. They kill each other rather than share.

The story is ancient. Like all Greek stories, it’s a cautionary tale. It’s a story of fate. Oedipus’ children. An original sin playing to its inevitable conclusion. It’s been one of my metaphors for these now-ridiculous-united-states. Brothers fighting for control, forgetting that they are brothers. It’s a lose/lose story. Hubris kills all.

The mystery to me is why – in both attempts – did my if-wishes-were-fishes subconscious kick-in and transform this horror story into something positive? Out of the fire, I argue in the naive recesses of my being, we will forge a union.

I’ve always known that I am an idealist but, this morning, listening to the trickster fox whip its gullible crowd into an election fruit-smoothie, amplifying the bloviated rants of a shyster, creating fraud-fantasies from thin air, I recognize that I am perhaps the most foolish of all, the blue ribbon winner of witless. Perhaps not.

I will make a third go of this painting. I have the drawings. This time, my realist might punch through the wall of hopeful idealism. The tale is cautionary. It is ancient. It is worth telling. To look with clear eyes at “what is” does service to “what might be.”

Kerri just reminded me that, on our walk yesterday, I waxed poetic about how what we focus on matters. It’s true. Possibility needs to be firmly rooted in reality.

Bubbles always burst.

The brothers kill each other rather than share a kingdom. Is it their fate [our fate]? Is it inevitable – human nature – to be so blinded by the lust for control that we plug our ears to possibility, that we refuse to see the promise we lose in our petty penny struggle? Do people always need to sacrifice the greater for the lesser en route to waking up?

The pandemic rages. The Fox feeds lies to hungry-angry listeners. The brothers fight over something as silly as a mask. The map sprouts virus-red. The populace dies in the struggle.

Is this merely a chapter in the story of becoming? I guess we’ll see.

read Kerri’s blog post about SHARED FATHERHOOD. With any luck, her thoughts will be more hopeful.

this is my second run at my subject. Shared Fatherhood 2

shared fatherhood 1 & 2 ©️ 2017 david robinson

Wait And Know [on DR Thursday]

Yoga-Waiting and Knowing sharpened copy 2

Flying above the island in his tiny airplane, Bruce told me about the natural water level cycles in Lake Michigan. They are extreme and run on a more-or-less 27 year rotation. “Everything in nature balances,” he said. “It’s what nature does.”

Balance. This painting, Knowing and Waiting, is about nature, human nature, and just like everything else in nature, we too, have an innate propensity to sort to the balance point. And, often, finding balance takes time.

The words are derived from Carlos Castaneda: you must wait patiently, knowing that you’re waiting, and knowing what you’re waiting for.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about KNOWING AND WAITING

 

 

Yoga-Waiting and Knowing sharpened copy 2

knowing and waiting, mixed media, 48 x 48

 

 

arches shadows k&d website box copy

 

waiting and knowing ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 

Open Your Mind [on DR Thursday]

peace on earth copy

 

Peace on Earth is a nice seasonal phrase but I’m willing to bet that most folks think it is pie-in-the-sky. A utopian ideal. So, pondering what to write about Peace on Earth, I flipped open a book and the first phrase I saw was this: An Open Mind.

Horatio is wise. He once told me that in these United States we are divided because we have competing narratives. Narrative #1: Every man for himself. Narrative #2: I am my brothers’ keeper. I think he is right. Generally, you can toss every national debate into one of those buckets. This morning, for my Peace on Earth rumination, I’d redefine those two narratives this way #1: Closed Mind (every man for himself) or #2: Open Mind (I am my brother’s keeper).

The ‘every man for himself’ narrative is predicated on the notion that there is limited pie in this vast universe. The goal is to grab a big piece of the limited pie. It’s necessarily a fight because there’s not nearly enough pie to go around. It’s fear-based and fear closes minds. Every year people get trampled in the national-celebration-of-limited-pie known as Black Friday. Get yours. It’s true, through this dark lens Peace on Earth is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky.

The inverse narrative, ‘I am my brothers’ (and sisters’!) keeper’ is predicated on the notion that there is plenty of pie to go around. In fact, the goal is not to grab but to create and then to give. Not only to share our toys and our gifts but to cultivate the base layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy for everyone: security & safety. Communal self-actualization follows the same path as personal self-actualization. Morality, respect, and generosity are the blossoms of feeling secure. So is an Open Mind. Peace on Earth, through this lens, is like more pie in the oven.

The ‘every man for himself’ story is a great recipe for closing minds. With fear and studied ignorance at its center, this narrative begs us to ignore a simple truth: no one does this alone. We are, in fact, dependent upon each other for our survival, our identity and our esteem. In isolation, a human being cannot thrive. Withhold interaction and love an infant will not survive.

I have a theory (okay, a belief) that the ‘I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper’ narrative is the truth of us. When the chips are down, when another person in peril, firefighters run into the building, they don’t run away. Everyday people leap in harm’s way to save the life of another. It is their instinct. It is our nature.

Like everything, believe it or not, what we embrace is a choice. Narratives are powerful.

An Open Mind is a door into Peace on Earth. It’s possible there’s more pie in this vast universe, this abundant earth, than a closed mind wants you to see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PEACE ON EARTH

 

peace on earth products copy 2click the link and scroll down to find all of the available designs & products

 

cropped head kiss website copy

 

peace on earth design/products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Become Inspired [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

becarefulyoujustmightbecomeinspired WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

Brad asked a great question. What is it in us that needs to climb the highest mountain, run a faster mile, touch the moon, cure the disease, develop better and better widgets, sail toward the edge?

It is in our nature. Or, better, it IS our nature. Insatiable curiosity, the yearning to know en route to the next unknown. We are storytellers all! What’s next?

Boredom and apathy are learned skills. They are unnatural. It takes years of sitting in a desk to blunt a spirit. It takes 10,000 hours to grow deaf to the call of your soul.

The next time you tell yourself that “you don’t like change” or that “tomorrow will be just like today,” stop. Take a long slow breath and then do the dangerous thing: doubt what you think. It might just happen that you will hear the deeper call, the natural voice, inviting you out to play.

 

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about Become Inspired

www.kerrianddavid.com

be careful you just might become inspired ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Make Life Fun [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

notknowinghowtodoit WITH EYES jpeg copy

It used to make me profoundly sad when students would look at me in resistance and fear, saying the double-whammy, “I can’t! I don’t know how!” My next question always remained unvoiced: what have we done to you?

Curiosity is human nature. We are born hard-wired to sail toward scary edges, tinker with inventions, and attempt to grasp the un-graspable.  It takes a lot of work to blunt a child’s curiosity. It takes a concerted effort to transform vibrant imagination into fear of reprisal/shaming.

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copyThe good news is that curiosity might be contained but it never goes away. Chicken is here to remind us to step out of the cage, pick up the brush and splash the paint just to see what happens. His invitation is to to go do it – whatever it is – precisely because you don’t know how. The path to center leads directly through I Don’t Know How.

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

read Kerri’s blog post about NOT KNOWING HOW

not knowing how ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Root In Love [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

from studio melange, a quiet suggestion for the start of the new week.

rootinlove WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

For me, this Chicken Nugget falls into the category of what-more-needs-to-be-said. And then I hear the chorus of voices blaring from my past work-life that would call this Nugget idealistic pie-in-the-sky blather.  “We live in a dog-eat-dog world!” they cry. “It’s survival of the fittest!” To that chorus I need to say more. Dog-eat-dog is a belief system, not an inevitability.  Survival of the fittest is a harsh lens and there are, in fact, other lenses available. It’s possible to learn the distinction between human nature and acculturation. Through a different lens all of life is cooperative.

The noise of our airwaves, the chatter of our day is most certainly rooted in fear. It may not seem like a choice but the fear-root is an unnatural selection. People have to work hard to hate. Sadly, I admit, division sells, so the hard work of fear is routinely justified and rabidly defended.

Human nature rises through the noise and becomes visible when disaster strikes. Love is what we see when the hurricanes hit, when the forest fires rage. People running into fire to help. People risking their lives to save others because, in those moments, the truth is out: there is no separation. The political blather drops away. The moralistic chiming rings hollow. It is human nature to reach, not reject. To help, not to hurt.

It’s obvious and all around us if we take off the fear lens and look. Root in love. What-more-needs-to-be-said.

ROOT IN LOVE gifts & reminders

root in love product box BAR copy 2

read kerri’s blog post about ROOT IN LOVE

www.kerrianddavid.com

root in love ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

root in love designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood