Stand Still [on KS Friday]

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Dense fog. After days of storms and turbulence, the lake was still, glassy. Quiet. DogDog and I stepped into the early morning. He pulled me toward the lake. A heron, startled by our arrival, took flight. We were startled by the heron – or I was. Time stopped. It circled and disappeared into the fog.

DogDog sat and I stood very still. Another heron lifted into flight. We listened to the morning sounds muted by the fog. There was no place else to be, nothing else to do.

The heron surprised us into presence. For a few glistening moments. Right now.

 

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right now/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Chicken Marsala Monday

A Chicken Nugget from the melange to help you start the week

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I appreciate the Chicken Nuggets – especially today’s – because I know the back story.  Without knowing where these drawings with words came from or why we took the time to develop them, they could be tossed off as so much fluff. A nice sentiment. But.

What is it to stand in another person’s shoes? To understand the feelings of another? An other. Not me. Nice sentiments are rarely easy when put into practice.

There is a direction in Empathy. It is a reach toward an other. To reach out. To reach across a boundary, seen or unseen.  To try. The direction is important to grock. ‘To understand’ is a fundamentally different thing, a radically different direction and intention than ‘trying to be understood.’ It suggests an openness to possibility, a willingness to consider. A shedding of the armor. It unlocks the magic of “what if….”

There is a big drum banging the opposite narrative – closed doors, closed ears, closed eyes. It is easy to believe that we-the-people are incapable of listening, that we are unwilling to consider and are only adept at shouting each other down. Putting each other down. Closing off. Closing down. But.

Take a walk today. Count the moments of generosity that you see. Count the times that others reach. Count the times that you reach. You might be surprised how different your actual experience is from the prevailing narrative. Human beings are, for lack of a better analogy, a pack animal. We run together. We die when we close-off. We wither when we turn in. No human being, if we are honest with each other, knows who they are absent of relationship with others. We know each other together. Reaching is what we most naturally do. We reach when we see others hurting.  We open doors. We run into burning buildings, not for ourselves, but for the sake of others. It is infinitely more common to reach than to withdraw. Fear may demand a narrative of opposition, of irreconcilable difference, of standing alone in singularly righteous shoes. But, to believe it, you’ll have to close your eyes. You’ll have to disappear in the corridors of your busy, busy mind.

Today, do what is most natural. Open your eyes. Reach out. See what they see.

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try to see what they see ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Spare A Moment

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

Once while in Bali I watched a rooster pick a fight with itself. The rooster saw his reflection in a big screen television and prepared for battle. I thought of that rooster today when I watched a woman screaming at her reflection in a storefront window. She was picking a fight with herself. She pointed at her reflection, shouted profanities, lunged forward and dropped back in a defensive posture when her adversary seemed to lunge at her.

It seems like a sad and lonely image unless you consider how often we wage war within ourselves. The woman at the window was simply expressing outwardly what was happening internally. If we did that, if we gave expression to the internal separations and subsequent battles, we’d be called crazy. The woman at the window lacked an editor. Her desperation was hidden no more. In a sense, she was more authentic than those of us who gave her a wide berth. Without an editor she was dangerous. None of us wanted to be mistaken for her reflection.

After help arrived for the woman I continued across town watching the many things we do for attention. Isn’t that what the woman wanted from her reflection? Wasn’t she looking for someone – internal or externally – to pay attention, to afford her a kindness? The young people raising money for the ACLU asked if I had a moment. The man carrying the large sign that read “How Do You Know Jesus” asked me if I had a moment. The woman who wanted some change started the conversation by saying, “Sir, do you have a moment?”

Everyone wants a moment. Everyone wants to be heard. In a city, with so many sounds and billboards and buses and sirens and people, people everywhere wanting, wanting, wanting change, a signature, a kindness, a bus, a convert or a clear path, it is no wonder that we have so few moments to give. I can only hope, that if I am someday staring at my reflection in a window, that I have kind words to say to myself rather than a fight to pick. I hope that I offer my reflection one of my precious few moments and ask, “What do you need to say. I’m all ears.” I’ll be okay if I’ve learned to stop and listen.

Listen For The Funny

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

I’ve spent the past few weeks drawing cartoons. The cartoons are part of a new collaboration. An amazing thing happens when you are responsible for scripting and drawing cartoons: you listen to the world with a whole new set of ears. I’m tuning into the ridiculous. I’m hearing the absurd. Yummy phrases cross my path and I net them like butterflies. I might not yet know how to use the phrases but I am certain there is a perfect scenario for every luscious bit.

I find that I am constantly scrambling to fetch scraps of paper to capture the phrases that I’ve heard or the events that I witness. Yesterday I had to borrow a pen and scribbled furiously on a sack from Office Depot. The sack now has weeks of good material scrawled between the colorful decorative Office Depot pattern.

It is an exercise in intentional listening. I’m listening for and subsequently hearing things that are funny. Even in the most mundane conversations or serious meetings I find gems. I’m tuning into a world filled of comedians who do not know they are funny. Going into a coffee house is like climbing into a clown car. I am busting up at the most inappropriate moments. I’m certain there are people in my circle who now think I have slipped into madness. The more serious they become, the more funny they seem to me. Interventions will do no good. Take me into a room, strap me to a table and sedate me and I will find something funny in what you are doing. I can’t help it. It’s my job at the moment.

I encourage you right now – do not wait to begin drawing your own comic strip. Do yourself a favor and stop listening to this world with serious ears. Listen for the funny. There are clowns everywhere just waiting to feed you new material.

Walk Simply

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

I am an Aquarian and live in my head and at 30,000 feet. Practicality is not my strong suit. That makes the theme of my work this past few weeks most unusual: I’m discovering the sensible, the useful, the concrete.

This bizarre phase started a few weeks ago with the first few chapters of my book. I shared them with Megan-the-brilliant and she rolled her eyes and told me I needed to come down from the clouds. “Smaller steps!” she insisted. “Break your thoughts into bites that people can actually take!” I protested but she was right. So I set about trying to find ways to bring my balloon closer to the ground. “More weight!” my inner sociologist cried! “Less hot air!” my inner archeologist chirped.

I thought I was failing until last week while facilitating a workshop I went on a rant about the practical steps, the utter simplicity of steps in re-forming a culture of control into a culture of empowerment. It made sense to me, and much to my surprise, it made sense to those dear people on the receiving end of my rant. They got it. I achieved small steps! I achieved bite size thoughts! For the rest of the workshop I couldn’t help but wade into the sensible. Who was this man?

The book is now falling into place. I’m channeling a tiny model maker or a watch repairman. I’m giddy with detail. And, I’m recognizing the larger lesson is this: the philosophy, the ideas, the theory are easy for me, but to put them into action is what is now required. The bite size steps are really for me. If I can’t act on it, if the steps are too big, it is not useful to me or anyone who meets me at the crossroads. I’m a great witness, a studied observer, a world-class listener. And it’s time to walk simply. Or simply walk.

It’s About Seeing

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

The book is starting to take over. I’ve been working on it for a week or so with lots of bumps and uphill pushing. Today it announced where it wanted to go and required that I type a short prologue that I thought was post worthy:

This is a book about seeing.

Not many people see. Most people merely look. Just as most people hear but they do not listen, most people look but they do not see.

And, although this might not make sense yet, seeing has more to do with stories than it does with eyes. It works like this:

Everyone can see as a child. And then something happens. Children learn to name things with words. Then, they learn to spell the words they use to name things. Soon, they grow up and have a hard time seeing beyond their words.

It is a funny paradox about words: they can imprison your mind; they can also set you free. It all depends up how the words are used.

Artist’s and entrepreneurs share this trait: in order to master their craft they must learn to see again. And, in order to see, they must once again understand the power of their words.

Listen

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

The Orca returned today. The crowds gathered at the bottom of the street, binoculars pointed to the Sound. The word gets around and soon there was a crowd whispering things like, “Amazing,” or “Look!” These simple words of reverence were usually followed by an “Ohhhh” or an Ahhhhhh!” I stood with Riley the Samoyed and Charlie the black Labrador. Dogs to pet and whales to watch, the sun was shining, the water was calm; it was pretty much a perfect day. Extra magical.

After the Orca pod passed, I walked a loop through the neighborhood and was transfixed by two small trees. They’d dropped their leaves and their bark was brilliant red! At first I thought they were painted but this brilliance was natural, shockingly bright, a color in nature usually reserved for autumn leaves or feathers. Dado (my postman) joined me in my revelry. He said, “Can you believe it!” Dado is a great lover of the small moment. I’m not sure how he ever gets the mail delivered because he is always talking to someone, sharing stories, laughing, good for a joke or a shoulder to lean on. Dado is bartender to the world. He is used to finding me transfixed and always joins me. “Wow,” we whispered in unison and then laughed.

Today in class, prior to my date with the Orca and my walk, we introduced the tool of dialogue and deep listening. As a group we listened as a member of our class talked without interruption for a set amount of time. Then, as a group, we responded. In our daily lives we rarely listen because we often have agendas and, therefore, do not listen; we look for opportunities to be heard. We miss what is being said. When we give space for pure sharing and pure listening a magic thing happens: the speaker will often, to their great surprise, wade waist-deep into gratitude. They sort to the positive. They tip toward wholeness. And then, the responders, overwhelmed by the generosity of the speaker, open their hearts and celebrate their lives, too. The wound is not ignored; it is honored as the catalyst for awakening. That is what happened today in class. Our speaker, thinking she was going to bring a challenge to the group, found herself expressing her love of life after a rocky road. And we the responders, quietly released into our personal revelry of this extraordinary life. Deep listening requires space. Reverence loves a listener.

I was so moved by the class that I decided I needed to take a walk before jumping back into work. I put on my coat, walked to the end of the block and found the Orca passing by and all of the humans were holding space, listening. The entire dialogue of life is magic and immediately available when we slow down enough to listen.