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

 

HH waves feet website box copy

Enjoy The Hallway [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Arnie’s mom was wise. She used to say that when one life-door closes another door will always open. But, the time in the hallway sucks. There’s nothing to do but enjoy the hallway.

Once, in a seemingly endless period in the hallway between life-doors, I wrote my friend Rob and complained that I felt like I was completely lost in the forest. He told me to sit down and enjoy the forest.

Sometimes it seems that life is one big location joke. Doesn’t it strike you as odd how much time we silly critters give to trying to locate ourselves. Who am I? What is my purpose? Where am I going? Life as one long episode of House Hunters. Gut job! In looking for location, in trying get somewhere else or be someone else, we miss the obvious: I’m right here.

At a seminar I heard a participant complain, “I thought I learned that lesson! I thought I was done with it. It keeps coming back!” The facilitator laughed and said, “That’s why it’s called a life lesson.”

Have you ever noticed that all of these life-doors only open into other hallways? No one promised that this maze would be easy. If I were me (and I am), I’d listen to Arnie’s mom.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TUITION.

 

not our best morning minturn website box copy

 

Enjoy Your Ride [on Merely A Thought Monday]

loop copy

 

Navigating a transit system can be confusing. The skill is knowing where you are relative to the end-of-the-line and which end-of-the-line is the direction you wish to travel. It’s a process of orienting. Here I am now. There is where I want to be. Inevitably, learning the system comes from of getting on the wrong train a few times.

It turns out that navigating life requires the same skill. Knowing where you are relative to where you want to be. Getting lost, getting on the wrong train is a necessary part of the process. Who hasn’t looked out their window and thought, “This isn’t where I wanted to go.” Or, “I’m not doing with my life what I wanted to do.” The real challenge, so I’ve  been told, is not in the knowing of where you want to go but in being honest enough with yourself to recognize where you are now.

Recently, climbing the stairs to catch a train in Chicago, we saw this helpful guide. Loop. This train will take you to the downtown loop. I laughed. Transit-Life-Lesson #2: whether you recognize it our not, learning lessons in life happens in loops and not lines. They call them “life lessons” because they come back around again and again and again…. There is no wrong direction in a loop. So, I suppose, whether you know where you are going or not, it’s best to enjoy your ride. Your unique life lesson will most certainly come back around.

Of course, in any case, in every case, asking for help is always…helpful. So, if you don’t mind, please tell me again, where am I?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LOOP

 

roger's park feet website box copy 2

 

Ask The Question [on DR Thursday]

palm tree copy

a morsel of Tango With Me. Kerri calls this one ‘Palm Trees.’

I’m proud of Skip. He decided that learning to paint with a palette knife was the best way this year to work on his soul. In my eyes, it is a sure path. He sent photos of his first efforts. Luscious in color and texture, they are abstracts. He showed his efforts to his wife and received the single question that no artist can answer yet it is the first question that every viewer-of-art asks: what is it?

It is the assumption of representation. The need for location. The desire to be told what “it” means. No one wants to be wrong or offend so they ask the artist to provide the interpretation – which will rob the viewer of their own experience. It will short-circuit the relationship between viewer and painting. As Joseph Campbell quipped, ” If the artist doesn’t like you, he (or she) will tell you what it means.”

Color, form, composition, and movement. Art. Abstraction. In a world of individualism, abstractions are capable of telling a different story unique to each individual. They refuse to locate you and, instead, ask you to participate. Make meaning. Don’t seek what is expected, bring to the painting what is evoked.

It creates a tension. It calls us to sit in the paradox of our times. Is there one meaning or many? How is it that people so devoted to self-expression believe they can best express their individualism by shopping together at The Gap?

At the center of potent art, at the bottom of great learning, is the same question: what is it to you?

 

TangoWithMe-Final copy

Tango With Me, mixed media, 39 x 52IN

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PALM TREES

 

 

cheers! shopping in chicago website box copy

tango with me/palm tree ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Know Your Name

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

On the corner of Beach Drive and 63rd Street is William Stanton Jr. park. Each day I pass the sign with his name and I wonder who he was (or is); why does this park carry his name. It was meant to be an honor, certainly, a commemoration.

I used to consult with the Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, California and one of their elementary schools was named after Claudia Landeen. She was a pioneer of the district and an inspiration to many educators. I met Claudia once before she died. She was a mentor to my mentor, Tom. I met her at the elementary school that carried her name and when she was introduced to the crowd as “thee” Claudia Landeen, she rolled her eyes. She whispered to Tom, “Be careful, they name a school after you when they want to put you out to pasture.” Tom, closing in on his own retirement, said, “Oh, god! There’s talk of to sticking my name on the men’s room door.”

In Seattle, we have Edgar Martinez Blvd (he was a player on the Mariner’s baseball team for a very long time), we have Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, our state is named for George Washington; I know because his picture is on the state flag. I have several times visited the Vietnam Memorial in the other Washington; it is a wall of names that we do not want to forget; names that we hope to honor far into the future.

We are masters of naming things. Isn’t that how we locate ourselves? Don’t the names we put on things also carry a history? Don’t they serve an intention? The name gives the place an association, a meaning. I grew up in Jefferson County, Colorado and there is no doubt in my mind which Jefferson the county is named after; his name links me to a tradition, a value set, and an origin story.

Political seasons always make me perk up my ears to the names we place on other people. Like the names we stick on places, the names we stick on other people are not passive; these names carry history, intention, and many levels of meaning; and they also serve to locate us. The candidates call each other names, the parties name each other, the media adds a name or two; there are so many pundits telling me what I just heard and interpreting for me what it all means – apparently they must name my experience for me; it is a veritable circus of name calling and interpretation of the name that was just called. Often, I ask myself, “Given these names and with so many people dedicated to telling me what I just heard, working so hard to locate me, how do I locate myself?” How many of us are truly locating ourselves and how many of us are outsourcing our point of view (location)?

I just heard about a study showing that where belief is concerned, party affiliation trumps education every time. In other words, we’ve stopped thinking critically (and independently – despite what we like to believe of ourselves) and will swallow any name the party asks us to swallow. Perhaps we are lazy or too busy to think for ourselves; either way in the absence of a questioning mind the name we give to others carries a dangerous kind of power: locating “them” also serves to locate “us” and since the name we stick on “them” has little or no substance, the location we give ourselves will also be void of substance.

It is no small question when I ask, “How are you locating yourself?” Who is naming your experiences for you? To what are you sticking your name?