Become Whole [on Two Artists Tuesday]

barney spring 2020 copy

When Barney came to live in our backyard, he’d been long forgotten in the dank dark basement boiler room. His soundboard was shot. He was headed for the junkyard when Kerri intervened and asked if Barney might come live out his days with us. It has been five years since Barney arrived in the junk man’s pick up truck. He has aged beautifully.

The first day in his new home Barney spoke when Kerri played his keys. He let go of his voice one key at a time. Within a week he was silent, no longer what he once was but not yet sure of what he was becoming.

We adorned him with flowers in pots for a few summer seasons. Certainly, he was content to support the flowers – like a crossword puzzle, it was something to do – but it never rose to the level of purpose. We realized he was doing it for us so when the third season arrived we let go our desire to give him meaning. He heaved a sigh at our revelation, and, at last, purpose-free, he enjoyed the sun for no other reason than it felt good. That season, wild geraniums grew around his baseboard and embraced him, the chipmunks used him as their hiding spot. The little critters made him laugh as they stood on his blistering lid and taunted the rowdy dog.

Initially, we tried to slow his inevitable peel, slathering him with marine oil, but his skin wrinkled and bubbled anyway. The white veneer of his keys was the first to go. We realized that Barney was becoming another kind of beautiful. He was, as Rilke wrote, living his way into the answer to all of his questions.

Jen and Brad suggested in our stay-at-home-seclusion that we exchange images of spring. I stepped onto the back deck and recorded the birds singing. And then I saw the wild geraniums were showing up and gathering around Barney. He was absolutely gorgeous in the morning light, sculptural and at peace. I’d just read something Thomas Merton wrote and it perfectly described Barney on this early spring morning: There is in all visible things…a hidden wholeness.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BARNEY IN SPRING

 

Barney copy

 

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Coalesce [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

in the woods copy

Sometimes, when we are walking through the woods, I imagine myself with none of the labels that I claim as important. What if “artist” did not apply? Or “teacher.” What if none of my opinions or ideas or justifications had any merit or substance? What if they were bits of armor or heavy clothing that I could drop as I walked? So much lighter, less encumbered, who, then, would I be? Divested of my made-up-meaning and my hard-fought-for stress, what might I experience?

These imaginings, my questions – at least to me – are not nihilistic. They are the opposite. When I am walking in the woods and all the clutter and noise and the oh-so-important-to-do-list falls away, when all of my investments in my-very-important-ideas and my-resistances-to-immovable-objects drops off, when my frustrations and anxieties evaporate, I come back to my senses. Literally and metaphorically. The cold air. The limbs waving and groaning in the breeze. The quiet chatter of the brook that ambles through Bristol Wood. I become the moment I inhabit. I inhabit the moment of my becoming. That’s it. My “meaning” takes on a proper proportion, no greater or smaller than life itself.

Listening to the brook, the sound of our feet crunching the snow, I remember something John O’Donohue wrote. “The river is a miracle of presence. Each place it flows through is the place that it is…In a river, past, present, and future coalesce in the one passionate flowing.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE WOODS

 

 

footprints in sunlit snow website box copy

Reach In [on DR Thursday]

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Reaching way back into my archive, we found this watercolor. A few brushstrokes. A few details. It reminds me of how much I used to like working with watercolor.

Prayer and meditation are themes for me. Reaching in to reach out. Joseph Campbell wrote a book entitled The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. I suspect the umbrella title of my visual body of work is the inverse: the outer reaches of inner space.

Quiet inner space takes some cultivating, some understanding of breathing and movement. I think cultivating inner space was the reason I began drawing and painting in the first place. The outer space made no sense to me. It still feels like an alien world. With so much beauty to create, with so much vast life to explore, metaphor to plumb, meaning to make, why hang out with the fist shakers?

My answer is always found in the quiet of my studio or on a walk in the woods. These days I also enjoy leaning on the piano listening to Kerri play, compose, and sing. Magic. She reaches down into inner space, too, and what comes out is gigantic. Breathtaking. It creates more inner quiet. A feedback loop. Life appreciating life. What else is there?

wings copy

Winged, 27 x 20IN

 

Prayer copy 2

Sacred Series: Prayer, 24 x 9IN

read Kerri’s blog post about OLD WATERCOLOR PRAYER

 

their palettes website box copy

 

old watercolor/winged/sacred series: prayer ©️ 2000/2018 /2017

 

 

 

Unlock The Lock [on DR Thursday]

“The confidence of creativity knows that deep conflict often yields the most interesting harmony and order.” ~John O’Donohue, Beauty

To me, the most interesting moment of the story happens when Sisyphus has managed to chain Death to a post. No one could die. And, although suffering continued, famine raged, people begged Sisyphus to keep Death locked to the post. They’d rather have certainty than experience change. They’d rather suffer with what they knew than face the scary unknown.

Krishnamurti once wrote that people fear death because they are afraid to live.

Over and over we hear stories of soldiers or mountaineers or extreme athletes who felt the full force of living when they understood that they had little or no control over their life.  On the battlefield. Leaping off the mountaintop. Climbing without ropes.

There is an equation between releasing the illusion of control (locking Death to the post) and experiencing fully this crackling unpredictable life. Brad said it best, “Bored people are boring people.” Break the pattern. Step out. Go do something new. Julia Cameron called it an artist’s date. Get out of your comfort zone. Heed the call. Live a little.

Sisyphus did what we all must finally come to do: even though he knew it would mean the end of his life as he knew it. He walked over to the post, unlocked the lock, and set Death free.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PRAY NOW

 

 

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held in grace series: pray now* ©️ 2010 david robinson

 

*Originally titled “John’s Secret. John was my framer and I gave him the wrong measurement for this painting; I was a quarter of an inch short. We had to release one end of the canvas and add a small spacer so the painting would fit the frame. Now you know John’s Secret. Don’t tell!

Fill It Up [on KS Friday]

the box songbox copy

Children at school will tell you that some days are endless. It is an eternity before the bell rings at the end of the day.

Teenagers are race horses at the starting gate, anxious for the life-gate to open so they can run full throttle into their destiny. They can’t wait for time to pass so they can get there.

Old people like to tell young people that life happens in the blink of an eye. Parents with grown children ask each other, “Where did the time go?’

If you know us and get married, your gift will be an old suitcase or battered box. Inside the box there will be a note. The note will explain that the box is not what it seems; it is a special box, a place to hold memories. Concert tickets, anniversary cards, birth announcements, a rock from treasured hike, a metro ticket from a spontaneous adventure. The box is battered and worn because, like the box, you, too, will one day be battered and worn but, hopefully, filled to bursting with memories. The box is there to remind you to fill it up. To pay attention to the moment as you live it so that one day you can laugh at how much of your life you wished away waiting for bells to ring, how much of your life you wished that you could stop time completely watching your baby sleep.

Feel the sun on your face. So, that on the day that you start telling young people that life passes in the blink of an eye, you will have a special box (or twenty) full of appreciation for the hardships and joys that make a varied and rich life. So that, when others ask, “Where did the time go?’ you will know without a doubt. It went into the creation of a special box.

 

THE BOX on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE BOX

 

gate f8 website box copy

 

the box/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

Find The Edge [on KS Friday]

galena songbox copy

There are those rare and precious moments when the enormity of life overtakes the minutia. When we realize that life is unimaginably large and we are impossibly small. Those moments always happen at edges. Edges of canyons. Edges of daylight. Edges of loss or birth.

My wedding day was such an edge. Once, I looked through a telescope into infinite space. That was an edge. A mountaintop at sunrise. Sitting on a beach after a relationship ended. Crystal stars dancing in a desert sky at night.

Galena is a place. It is a metaphor. It is Kerri’s composition alive with what happens at those edges: deep profound appreciation.

 

GALENA on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is  available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GALENA

 

 

BootsWeddingBoots website box copy

 

galena/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Hold It Lightly [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Roll this description around in your thought-bowl:

“The Spoon River Anthology, a sequence of free verse epitaphs spoken from [the occupants of] the cemetery of the town of Spoon River. When the collection first saw publication in 1915, it caused a great sensation because of its forthrightness about sex, moral decay, and hypocrisy…”

We saw a snippet of Spoon River performed last week at our new artistic home, TPAC. It’s almost impossible to see even a bit of Spoon River and not realize how fragile and temporary is life. It’s a not-so-subtle poetry-reminder that most of what we think is sooooooo important is, in fact, a tilt at windmills. In its forthrightness, its perspective on hypocrisy and moral decay, we found Spoon River to be remarkably contemporary.

Tom told me that he always used Spoon River to teach his beginning actors. “It’s all there,” he said, “All of it!”

He read a piece from the anthology at his great aunt Bunty’s funeral. It takes life to love life. After Tom’s death, Kerri and I performed the same piece in my play THE LOST BOY, a script derived from interviews with Tom. Words that end the first act. Words that described Bunty. Words that Tom adored:

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It’s the best of paradoxes. Kerri and I remind each other everyday that our work, our artistry is not nearly as important as we think it is. We remind each other to hold it all lightly. And in holding it lightly, we open the door to experience it richly. To laugh rather than resist. To know, that we will, one day, populate a plot on the hill, and the only thing that will have mattered is that we paid attention and participated in our moment, that we loved the little bit of life that we had.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DUST

 

bootsbythestage website box copy

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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Be A Part Of The Wind [on KS Friday]

part of the wind songbox copy

I am a sturdy proponent of The Paris Theory. I made it up so it only follows that I am a stalwart adherent. The Paris Theory goes like this: if you try to get to Paris you will end up in Kansas City every time; the fastest way to Paris is to shoot for Kansas City.

A quick read of The Paris Theory implies that Kansas City is a lesser destination but that’s to miss the point entirely. The point? Adventure, rich vibrant experience, is available everywhere. And, most often, the richest experiences come along because “the plan” collapsed, the plane was diverted, the seat reassigned. In The Paris Theory, Paris is not a place. It is an orientation to experience. The quickest way to Paris is to recognize that there is no greater or lesser place – especially when you are standing in it. Open. Look around. Art and life and love and danger and interesting people, food…vital experiences are everywhere.

Artists steal ideas and I must now confess that The Paris Theory is ancient. I slapped some shiny new lipstick on it to make it my own.

We are here for such a short time. The winds blow us here and there. Sometimes it feels like we are in control, bobbing along, but then strong winds come and push us in new directions. How much time do we spend wishing we were some other place and miss where we are? How much time do we delude ourselves into thinking there will be a firm and lasting resolution? An arrival? The winds never stop blowing. As Kerri said [and so beautifully composed], “We are part of the wind.”

 

PART OF THE WIND on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PART OF THE WIND

 

ChasingBubbles (full) copy

The Paris Theory = Chasing Bubbles

 

gate f8 website box copy

part of the wind/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

chasing bubbles ©️ 2019 david robinson

Spin With The Earth [on KS Friday]

adrift songbox copy

If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have two books, they would be Think On These Things by Krishnamurti and The Actor And The Target by Declan Donnellan. If I was teaching a class on leadership, a beginning or advanced class in acting, a seminar on entrepreneurship, a master class in spiritual living,… I’d only need these two books. I go to them often. They remind me to remain open and appropriately adrift.

“The fact is that truth is life, and life has no permanency. Life has to be discovered from moment to moment, from day to day; it has to be discovered…” ~ Krishnamurti

“We cannot control reality, but we can control our fantasies. Except our fantasies don’t exist; so we are not controlling anything at all. But the illusion of control is deeply reassuring. And the price we pay for this reassurance is unimaginable.” ~ Declan Donnellan

Peaking through a triangular keyhole from 1996, the woman who would someday be my wife smiles at me. Neither of us knew then where life would take us. Neither of us know today where life will take us. Some days we know for certain that this spinning globe is beyond our capacity to control. Some days we delude ourselves.

One evening, shortly after we met, I went with her to a Taize service. She was playing the service and I had no idea what a Taize was. I sat in a tiny pew just off the chancel, just behind where she was playing. Something mystical happened that night. It was and is beyond my capacity to explain. After the service we sat in the tiny pew for hours. Completely stripped of our control fantasy, we sat spinning with the earth, listening, completely content to discover the moment. Appropriately adrift. Completely alive.

ADRIFT on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ADRIFT

 

arches shadows k&d website box copy

 

adrift/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood