Live So Much [On Merely A Thought Monday]

so much life lived box copy

“So much life lived this week,” Heidi said to Kerri. Yes. So much.

It is, of course, true every week. Some weeks it is simply more apparent. The happenings seem bigger. A wedding. A graduation. A passing. A new job. A birth. A week of life.

Last week? A walk on the beach. Both children under the same roof; something that has not happened in years. Travel to another state. Staying present with my dad for those moments when he’d forgotten who I was. Staying present with my mom as a wave of fear washed over her. A job lost. Taking his keys and truck away. The deep gratitude of sleeping in my own bed, even for a night. So much life lived.

I have taught myself, in my waking moments, to think, “Make this day a discovery.” I have given too many weeks of my life away, too many days, too many hours, too many minutes, believing that I knew what was going to happen. Dulling myself. Blinding myself to so much life happening. ‘Discover the day’ is a much better approach than ‘Get through the day.’ The truth: none of us really know what is going to happen.

And this week?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SO MUCH LIFE LIVED.

 

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Hear The Sun Rise [on KS Friday]

dawn at crab meadow songbox copy

It was a few years into our relationship before Kerri and I had the opportunity to travel  to Long Island to see where she grew up.  We drove by the house and walked her old neighborhood. We saw her high school, the marina and Skippers (best baked clams ever!). And then she took me to her sacred place: Crab Meadow Beach.

It was a cold early spring day so we had the beach to ourselves. She told me stories as we picked up colorful shells and special rocks. After a while we grew silent, walked the shoreline and listened to the surf. I stayed back as Kerri walked out toward the waves. Somewhere I have a photograph of the moment she threw open her arms, threw open her heart and stood in full embrace of her wellspring.

Dawn At Crab Meadow. I can only imagine the dawn that inspired this beautiful piece. Sacred happenings in a hallowed place. Sit for a moment. Close your eyes. Hear the reverence. Feel the sun rise over Crab Meadow Beach.

 

DAWN AT CRAB MEADOW on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DAWN AT CRAB MEADOW

 

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dawn at crab meadow/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 

See [on DR Thursday]

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These days, I draw to sort out a composition. That’s it. I open my sketchbook if I need help seeing beyond what I am thinking.

I used to draw everyday. It was a rule. It was an essential part of my daily life and artistic development. I now know that, during that phase, I was teaching myself to see.

Nowadays, I take my sketchbook when I go on vacation. For a few moments every morning, I open it and do a series of quick gesture drawings. 10 seconds max. I rarely look at the page. Quick gestural lines of what’s right in front of me. Quick capture of a memory I want to record. Eating watermelon on the deck. Picking up a shell to see if it’s occupied. Seeing the moment. Seeing the memory. I close my sketchbook and later in the day take a peek at what I drew.

Once, long ago, I was jammed up. A blocked artist. Liz had me do 100 paintings in an hour. Ink and a brush and no time to think. No separation between the seeing and the movement of the brush. It was fun and fast. No thought means no judgment means no blockage. It bears repeating: seeing = no separation. My block disappeared in a single night. My artistic well sometimes goes dry but since Liz’s lesson I have never again been blocked. She reminded me that artistry is about seeing and not about showing.

I sat on the deck overlooking the ocean. The morning sun, hot coffee and a few pencils. I opened my sketchbook and my eyes. As my hand moved quickly across the page, the world sparkled, and I knew that I was the luckiest man alive.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HILTON HEAD SKETCHES

 

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Respect and Protect [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

birds and turtlesHH copy

For a critter that imagines it has dominion over and responsibility for all other critters, we are mostly doing a lousy job. We are the root cause of 99% of species currently threatened by extinction. And, the rates of extinction are up to 1000 times the natural or “background” rate. It is staggering.

And, so, it gave me pause to walk the beaches of Hilton Head and see the lengths that residents are going to protect the sea turtles and the piping plover.

At ten o’clock every night, all the outside lights on all the beach houses go out. Shades are drawn. Inside lights are dimmed. The hatching turtles know to go toward the moon. The safety of the water is in that direction. The lights on the houses used to confuse them. So. Participation. Protection of an endangered miracle. The locals take great pride in their cooperation. It seems the respect they give the turtles has blown back on them; they respect themselves.

Great swatches of beach are roped off. Signs are posted. The plover’s habitat is off limits. I watched people navigate these vast patches of sand for over a week and not once did anyone wander in. No dogs were left to roam the protected areas. The people were vigilant in their deference to the plover.

With all of this consideration, protection and respect, – and active understanding of the responsibilities that also must come with dominion fantasies – the world felt…aright. And oddly right-side-up.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about Respect and Protect

 

shadow in surf HH website box copy

 

Create A Ritual [on Two Artists Tuesday]

flip flop parking copy

The deceased horseshoe crab was the perfect marker. It was the place we could leave behind our flip flops and venture onto the sand. And, like all actions that become repetitive, the horseshoe crab parking lot became one of our rituals.

It became assumed. Known. We leave our flip flops at the horseshoe crab. To the horseshoe crab we will return. There is comfort in knowing the leaping point. There is even more comfort in knowing the landing place. Home is just beyond.

Our ritual began like many rituals began – out of necessity.  From the house to the dunes and the beach beyond, it was necessary to cross the land of sand spurs. “You have to step with intention,” Kirsten instructed us. “Otherwise you get stabbed.” And, so, we put on our cheap flip flops and stepped with intention all the way to the dunes. The horseshoe crab marked the safe zone. To park our flip flops meant we were out of danger. It meant the armor required to cross back over to the house was waiting for us when we needed it. After several crossings and returns, the horseshoe crab became a location ritual. And then, the crab grew into a symbol.

Once, late at night, we stayed out too long and the houses in the distance blended into shapes without distinction. For a time we were lost. The only way we found our place, located our path, knew home was just over there, was finding the sentinel crab standing guard over our footwear.

It all sounds silly, doesn’t it? Consider how carefully we protect our holiday rituals, our morning rituals, our rituals of identity (what’s in your closet? Why do you wear your hair that way and not this way?). How vigorously we defend our rituals of location (‘This is where I belong!’). Our known paths. The repetitions that give us comfort. The expectations and the stories we tell. The beliefs we embrace despite all the evidence to the contrary. You are not broken. Nothing needs to be fixed. We, humans, create rituals. And then embrace them as story.

The horseshoe crab, for us, will forever mark the leaping place. It will, forever, be a symbol that home, that safety, is just beyond the dune.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FLIP FLOP PARKING LOT

 

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Empty The Dishwasher Slowly [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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In the dark ages, when I did my driver’s ed course, I remember reading an experiment in which two cars drove the same long distance route; the first car followed all of the speed limits. The second car drove as fast as possible. The second car, the speeder, arrived only a few minutes, 120 seconds, ahead of the rule follower. The illusion of speed is, well, an illusion.

We just drove a few thousand miles and along the way were passed by more than a few hurry-up-cowboys. In each case, their gain would be minimal. Often we’d catch them (and pass them) within a few minutes. It’s a game I can’t help playing: does the addiction to speed, the anxiety of I’m-late-I’m-late-I’m-late, or the anger of I-have-to-get-there-first actually produce significant gains?

An angel gave us a beach house to use for a week. My normal morning routine is predicated on the fantasy of efficiency. I can cook breakfast, clean and put away dishes while also sorting out and making lists of all the things I think I need to accomplish each day. At the beach I was always the first one awake. I’d start the coffee, wander around and open the blinds, and, after staring at the surf, I’d begin to empty the dishwasher. The waves lulled me into sanity. There was not an ounce of rush-and-get-it-done in my body. Efficiency was nothing more than a distant memory. I enjoyed my morning. Fully. I began wondering if I was just like those speedy drivers? Deluding myself with an idea that, in reality, gained nothing but a wee bit more stress.

What if the idea was more than to get the job done fast? What if the idea was to do the job well and well included the absence of manufactured, self-imposed stress? These are things I already know but have to remind myself to live. And, since all of life appears to me as an analogy, my latest reminder to live what I already know is now a simple dishwasher. Empty it slowly. It need not be at a beach house because, in fact, the beach house has very little to do with dropping delusions/illusions of achievement.

Will it matter if I empty the dishwasher 16 seconds sooner? So I can get through it to the next task that I will rush through so I can get to my next task? Is my efficiency real or in service to anything useful? Probably not. Actually, certainly, not.

Will it matter that I am present in my actions and mindful in my day? Will it matter that, instead of pushing myself to concocted efficiencies, that I arrive at an empty dishwasher 16 seconds later?  Will it matter if I carry that way of being throughout my day? So, that, instead of pressing myself to get it done faster, I allow myself to live my life well (and, yes, I use that word intentionally with a double meaning). To be in it rather than get through it.

Imagine what I might gain.

 

read kerri’s blog post about EMPTY THE DISHWASHER SLOWLY

 

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Watch Their Steps [on KS Friday]

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In preparation for writing these posts I always begin by first listening to the piece that Kerri has selected for the melange. This piece, BABY STEPS, made me all mixed up inside; quietly happy and unbearably sad. Although I did not have children of my own, I’ve had plenty of pals who have. It has been and continues to be a great gift to me when they share their joy in all of the baby steps.

I am also of an age where many of my pals, like me, have aging parents. There is a return to baby steps on the other side of life that, although natural, although a part of the process of living, are impossibly sorrowful. My dad’s struggles, his return to taking small tenuous steps, break my heart on a daily basis.

I believe it is the gift of an artist to help us make sense of the untenable as well as the miraculous. My wife, Kerri, has an enormous gift. Listen to her BABY STEPS. It will transport you, like it does me, through the fields of joy and sorrow, to the heart-full side of life.

 

BABY STEPS on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BABY STEPS

 

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baby steps/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood