Play Back-Up [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

Sometimes life imitates art. And, when it does, there’s nothing better. I painted “Helping Hands” almost a decade ago. I lived it last week. Again and again, that rowdy tyke wanted to scale the higher wall. It was pure joy to play back-up to his adventure.

So many are currently playing back-up to my adventure. Scaling this higher wall is infinitely do-able with so many strong hands ready to catch me if I fall. I am most grateful for all of the hands helping me.

read Kerri’s blogpost about HELPING HANDS

Be There [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“Most of us are frightened of dying because we don’t know what it meant to live. We don’t know how to live, therefore we don’t know how to die.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Today we took a walk in the swirling snow. The wind stung my face and I was grateful for the extra layer I’d put on before we set out. Our destination was the city civic building on the other side of downtown. The Sisu property tax bill was due. We could have mailed it or taken the car. “People must think we’re crazy,” Kerri said as we leaned into the wind and laughed.

On Monday we interred Beaky’s ashes. As I watched the attendant seal the niche, I thought of a famous quote by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And that quote brought to mind two more that I appreciate and stitch together as a single thought: Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings./Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.”

The apathy of human beings. Security is mostly a superstition. Reach your hand and help another; a cure for both apathy and security-superstition.

I only knew Beaky for a brief time but she had an enormous impact on me. She was in a rehab facility the day I met her and I knew immediately that she was special. Every nurse, therapist or aide that came in to see her left feeling better. Beaky was a lifter of spirits. These dedicated people were her caregivers yet, in the midst of her pain, she gave care to them. Kindness was her north star and she followed it with a passion.

Yesterday I had an interview with Joe. His job is checking-in and coaching people on unemployment, mostly making certain they are on track seeking new work. We had a great conversation. We told stories and laughed. We swapped ideas. I left the conversation uplifted and I’m sure he felt the same way. People supporting people is a two-way street and is life-giving. Adventures are made of stepping into the unknown and the heart of another human being is always unknown territory. I was grateful for his kindness.

Kindness is also a potent cure for apathy. Like reaching your hand, kindness requires an outward focus.

It’s really not so difficult. Before sealing the niche, Kerri played the ukulele and we sang Irving Berlin’s Always: Days may not be fair, Always/That’s when I’ll be there, Always.

Being there. Especially in the moments when life is not fair. Plenty of people have taught me (again and again) the simple power of presence, giving me the assurance that I am not alone. Being there, it’s nothing more or less than knowing how to live.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ALWAYS

Connect The Dots [on Two Artists Tuesday]

A curious sentiment painted on the concrete support wall of a busy overpass in a burgeoning city. Crumbling cement sidewalks, hard asphalt, steel cable supports securing a post just outside of the picture frame. A message about bridges painted beneath a bridge.

People hustle by as if there was no time to spare. They drive fast over and around the curious sentiment. The painter-of-the-sentiment placed it adjacent to a stoplight. Perhaps, while revving their engine, awaiting the return of the green light, a motorist might turn and read the thought. Perhaps the motorist might breathe it in. Perhaps the motorist might consider the message as they passed beneath the bridge.

What gets you from here to there? From birth to death? Amidst the hard realities of the road, the steel cables, the thoughtless people whizzing passed, the persevering grasses pushing through the cracks in the cement, the litter at your feet? A thirteenth century Sufi poet thought it important enough to write about it. A twenty-first century painter thought it important enough to paint the poem on a wall.

People across time and cultures have thought it necessary to place significant messages on walls. Aspirations and appeals to our better nature. A compass pointing the way for what might be, what exists but goes largely unseen. The primary thing. Every parent knows this bridge beyond the abstraction of a message on the wall. Every time rings are exchanged, vows spoken, the unseen is understood.

The hawk landed on the fence. Kerri met its eyes and they stared at each other for what seemed a very long time. Divisions disappeared. Forms fell away. Life experienced life.

Just try and place a word on that experience! A Sufi-poet tried. A contemporary street artist thought it necessary to paint the sentiment on a hard wall. What bridge connects the poet and the painter?

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE BRIDGE

Meet On The Deck [on KS Friday]

Lately, when I close up shop for the day and come down the stairs from my office, Kerri and I meet on the back deck. We choose sun or shade, settle in, and talk about our day. There are stories to share, ideas to consider, speculations. Sometimes she’ll catch me up on the news, what’s happened in the world since I climbed the stairs in the morning.

Lately, listening to the news-of-the-day is like strapping a large stone to my chest and jumping into deep water. An intentional sink. “Why would I do that to myself?” I ask myself. I call Kerri’s morning surf through social media her “horror trawl.”

The back deck is a place of hope. I can hear the news-of-the-day on the back deck because, while listening, I watch the hummingbirds zip and hover. The evenings are alive with the most extraordinary bird song. The gurgle of the pond is a soothing meditation. The vibrant life on the back deck is immediate and vital. I know the neighborhood fox is actively hunting the neighborhood bunnies so it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, but it is natural process. It is not excessive or hyped or angry. It’s life without self-indulgence or puffery.

I can hear the news of the day on the back deck because I can detach from it. In comparison to the hummingbirds or the squirrels running atop the fence, it seems like a bad soap opera, a cast of characters dedicated to their guck.

After the intentional sink, for an extra dose of hope, I visit the tomato plants. They seem to be doubling in size every day. The blossoms have appeared. Kerri takes my hand and leads me to the pots. “Lookit!” she smiles “More tomatoes in waiting!”

Tomatoes in waiting. Harbingers of good things to come. The stuff of life – to taste and touch. Little red bursts of captured sunshine. The real stuff. Life expressing life.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes & streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost on TOMATOES IN WAITING

this part of the journey/this part of the journey © 1998 kerri sherwood

Find Your Way [on Two Artists Tuesday]

I will never forget the day I followed the stream, watching the life-ending struggle of the salmon as they fought the current the final mile to return to their place of origin, their spawning ground. To the local people, the people who tended the hatchery, the salmon were gods. Gods or not, watching their struggle to return was sacred. The utter necessity to continue life through the next generation – as the final act of life. Cathedral building.

We brought home a Selenite crystal. It is raw, translucent, gorgeous. A Google search of its properties reveals that it promotes calm and provides clarity. I’ve never actually been invested in the debate about whether or not a crystal has powers. I’ve made the association so, when I look at it or hold it, I have in my mind that we brought this beautiful crystal home to elevate our spirits. And, so it does.

I live in the golden age of marketing. I’m told that a new truck will make me sexy, the latest medication will make my life a snap, that a pizza delivery will bring my family together like never before. Status and power are available through the purchase of machines and clothes. One year, no interest. We buy these messages, filling our closets with passing satisfaction. Is the fulfillment of a new pair of shoes imagined, less-than-genuine? We are consumers so doesn’t it make sense that contentment lasts no more than a spin through the washing cycle? Momentarily satisfied. What’s next?

I suppose the question is whether or not the crystal brings peace to me or do I bring more calm to my day because I’ve surrounded myself with messages – and, therefore, intentions – of serenity?

I know without doubt that a new truck will not imbue me with sex appeal. Yet, I have a pair of jeans that I save for the days that I want “to look good.”

Skip drove two days to find the sun so that he might stand in it and rejuvenate. I go to the basement and stand amidst the boxes that currently fill my studio and stare at a large blank canvas. Like the sun, it rejuvenates me. Yesterday, the nurse at the community health clinic said she loved her job because she felt that she was really helping the people who need her the most, “There are better rewards than money,” she said. Imagine the necessity – the hope – she brings to her life and work. Rejuvenation.

I do not know whether we are gods or not, but our struggle to find our way home is no less beautiful or fraught than the salmon. It is breathtaking, this swim upstream. Confusing. Sacred.

read Kerri’s blogpost about CRYSTALS

Attend [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” ~Thomas Merton, Love and Living

I had an odd-thought-revelation as we drove into the parking lot of the Hospice Alliance. We were there to make a donation. In cleaning out the house, Kerri found several throw-blankets. She washed and freshened them, preparing them for donation. In a past life she was a volunteer at the Alliance and wanted the blankets to go where they would be the most useful, provide the most comfort.

My mom tells me that my dad’s last days were lovingly tended by amazing hospice caregivers. His passage was eased by their guidance and attention. In some small way, the blanket donation felt like a thank-you-note. I was not present in his final weeks and it brought me comfort knowing he was in the care of such extraordinary people.

And that was the seed of my odd-thought-revelation. As we pulled into the parking lot, on the first bright sunny day in weeks, I stepped out of the car and turned my face to the sun.

In the warmth I understood that we are all in hospice care. Our time is limited. Every single moment is precious. Every single moment is shared. We’d do better if we realized it. We’d do better if we attended to each other, to relieve pain and suffering, to pay attention to the quality of each and every life in our passing moment. In our tender and oh-so-temporary lives.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BLANKETS

Be Grand! [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Little pot roasts are popping up everywhere! Adorable bundles of baby smell and killer smiles. In our pal-group, the babies are having babies. And it’s transforming us into something a little more grand.

Not having had children of my own (I am the proud papa of my two given-children), I’ve spent my life as the weird uncle. I taught my toddler niece to say, “I want another margarita!” and my sister was not pleased. I’ve never successfully changed a diaper but I’ve had riotous fun with many crawling creatives, banging pots and breaking crayons. Uncles, like grandparents, are there to break the rules.

Of this I am certain: Kerri dreams of heaping love and presents on her future grand-pot-roasts; I can’t wait to finger paint and then meet after the mess at the Cheerio bar. Green fingers and snacks! A sure sign that life is grand.

read Kerri’s blogpost on SNACK TIME!

[happy mother’s day!]

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Call It A Life [on KS Friday]

Seven years ago today, Beaky passed. The last time we saw her she was clutching a blue notebook to her heart. “You found it!” she exclaimed, rocking back and forth in glee. The journal she kept of a special trip to Europe. A memory, a connection to Erling she thought was lost. We searched the house high and low. We stayed an extra day knowing that meant a 24 hour drive/sprint home. In the last bin, truly , the very last, tucked in the far recesses of the garage, we discovered the notebook.

What I recall about that search is how many times we stopped, dust coated and tired. We sat in the middle of boxes, stacked papers and bins and said, “We’re never going to find it.” Or, “It’s not here.” And then we’d go to the next room of the house, open closets, pull out boxes, the search resumed.

As you might imagine we found more than the blue notebook. That night Kerri told me many stories of family and events sparked by something we’d unearthed. “Oh, my god!” she’d exclaim. “Look at this!” The vet papers for the dog named Shayne. A photo of the family at the house on Long Island. Good times. Stories. Our search became a connection for Kerri to times that she thought were lost.

Memories. Legacy. Doing what is yours to do, looking back and calling that a life.

Eric recently wrote in our Slack channel about my play, The Lost Boy: Your introduction — chronicled on Skips blog — stuck with me, and comes to mind frequently in daily interactions. “This is a memory, after all. It all happened. Though because it’s memory, it probably isn’t factual. So, if I contradict myself, if you catch me saying the opposite of what I just swore was true, if you find me standing smack in the middle of a paradox, it’s not that I’m lying to you. It’s a memory.” The Lost Boy was a story told to me by Tom. Originally, it was meant for him to perform, the story of doing what was his to do. It only became possible to produce after he had slipped into the land of memory. It became mine to do.

And isn’t that the magic of life. What is mine and what is yours to do is never separate. 50 years ago Beaky and Pa took a trip to Europe and she kept a journal of the trip in a blue spiral notebook. 7 years ago Kerri and I spent a long day and night scouring a house to find it. I am now part of the memory of her journal. Her journal is now part of the story of Kerri and my past.

“Never underestimate your power to impact or influence another person’s life,” Paul said to his actors. Doing what is yours to do. Never really understanding or knowing the impact of the simplest action. Calling it a memory. Calling it a life.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about BARNEY

legacy/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Pass The Cheer [on DR Thursday]

We do some quirky things. Driving an aspen tree halfway across America in the back of our car is certainly on the list of quirky.

It’s from a place special to us. We honeymooned at Linda and Bill’s condo in Breckenridge, Colorado. I am from Colorado and our honeymoon trip felt like coming home – for both of us. We return to that special place when we can, though not often enough. There is a trail we like to hike. It’s become an old friend that we need to visit when in the area. If we do nothing else, we strap on our boots and begin the climb. It follows a brook up the side of the mountain. We’ve never made it to the top but one day…

On our mantel is a piece of driftwood from Long Island, Kerri’s home. In our dining room is a log – literally a log – we carried from our trail in Breckenridge. Elemental. We have stones from our respective birthplaces, too. Our house is filled with confused cairns, pointing both east and west.

We named the little aspen tree Breck. It traveled in a pot with its tippy top branches bent against the car ceiling for the ride. It survived the journey. For the first few years it lived in a pot on the deck in the warm months and was wrapped and protected in the winter. Breck’s quaking leaves make us smile and instantly transport us to the special town in the high mountains.

Breck did not like its first spot where we planted it in the yard. The top branches died. When we moved it last fall, we were afraid that Breck would not make it through the winter. We talked to it. We cheered for it. “You can do it!” we chirped. Imagine our relief and celebration a few weeks ago when we went out back and found Breck budding. Lots of buds. More sun. Better soil. New Growth!

A reminder of a special place. A symbol of resilience and a hearty can-do. This spring it feels as if Breck is speaking to us, too. More sun! Better soil! You can do it. New growth. Art-life budding.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BRECK

Stack The Impossible [on Merely A Thought Monday]

We watched the video of Jaxon climbing the ladder of the red plastic slide. His momma said, “Is that your big boy slide?” Jaxon said, “Big boy slide.” Pandemonium. “He said it!” his father exclaimed, “I think he said it!”

Big boy slide. A first phrase. The moment when what’s necessary becomes what’s possible. It’s something we take for granted every day. The utter impossibility of spoken language. Sounds uttered in sequence that somehow make sense. Of course, we’re also quite capable of stringing together sounds that make nonsense, too. Soon, Jaxon will ask his parents for the keys to the car and a wholly different kind of pandemonium will let loose. From climbing a ladder to driving the Volvo. The impossibilities stack one upon the other.

My mother is adjusting to life without my dad. She says often, “I don’t think I can take it, this loneliness.” She is doing what is necessary. In our last chat, she spoke of playing pickleball, of taking a walk, of meeting a friend for tea. Moving with intention out of the apartment to meet other people. The moment when the necessary becomes what’s possible. She will, I am confident, live her way into the impossible.

The impossible rarely happens in a snap. We live our way into it. Jaxon’s pronouncement and subsequent trip down the big boy slide was a long time coming, a step in the process worthy of celebration. And then, the miracles will keep coming. Full sentences. He’ll learn to write. Someday he’ll write love letters and drive the car to pick up his date. He’ll ask someone to marry him. The art of the impossible. This life.

And, the most amazing of the impossibilities, as we stack our lives with the formerly inconceivable, we grow less and less capable of seeing it. Perhaps that is necessary? How would we exist if we saw each other as keepers of the impossible? Experiencers of the unimaginable?

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE IMPOSSIBLE