Love The Journey [on KS Friday]

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This morning, sitting on the steps off the back deck, sipping coffee, DogDog sniffing around the yard, I watched the eagles fly across the bay, dodging seagulls protecting their brood. I fell into one of those moments, those precious few moments, of profound appreciation for my life. This part of my journey is surprising and as orienting as it is disorienting. Both/and.

I like to travel precisely because it throws me off center. Even the simplest things require attention. Which side of the road am I supposed to drive on? Oh my god, where is the corkscrew? What did I just order (I couldn’t even pronounce it)? Once, in a barter culture, I failed miserably because I bartered myself to a higher price. The merchant and I laughed until we cried and then he patted me on the back and only accepted half of my money. Laughter was my coin. That part of my journey changed the trajectory of my life entirely.

Read the order of the tracks on Kerri’s album, THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY, and you notice that the final two titles on the album are This Part Of The Journey followed by The Way Home. She is hyper-intentional so I believe she did that on purpose. Sitting on the deck this morning, I knew without doubt that this part of the journey, no matter how complicated or lost-feeling or unnerving or uncomfortable…or peaceful, is a great gift. It is a step on the way home. And, it will someday make for the best stories, perhaps the best part of my story.

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY sparkles like the sun on the lake. It is as abundant as DogDog’s curiosity on his discovery trip around the yard. It is as full of laughter as a merchant in Bali who, to this day, tells the story of the tourist who had no idea what he was doing.

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY

 

not our best morning minturn website box copy

 

this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Live Into Simplicity [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I am a fan of simple wisdom. Most of my mentors, the people I admire most, lived their way into simplicity. Measure twice, cut once. Know the hill you want to die on. An actor can only do one thing at a time. Write a good story backwards. Let go your technique.

I use the term ‘fools errand’ a lot because I’ve been on so many of them myself. Tilting at windmills. Trying to change the world, fighting ogres, slaying dragons. All the best stories, the simple wisdom tales, tell us that the thing we seek is with us all along and yet, we need to go looking anyway. We have to. It is the rare bird that knows who they are right out of the chute. The universal quest is always to find yourself.

Roger once told me that he went to graduate school to expedite his learning. “I can take forty years figuring it out for myself or I can go to school for three years.” It was a statement made sensible by his youth. It was a statement of arrival – of knowing – and, after a few years of living, it becomes apparent to artists and seekers alike that arrival is an illusion. Knowing is relative and ongoing. I’d love to talk to the artist he has become forty years after making that statement. My bet is that he’d laugh.  We’d laugh at the jungle of nonsense we’ve both mapped our way through.

“You can make a piece of wood short but you can’t make a piece of wood long.” You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. Nothing is broken, nothing needs to be fixed. Wherever you are is called Here.

The necessary action is always clear but the story wrapped around it makes it seem complex. Simple, yes?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAKING A PIECE OF WOOD SHORT

 

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Enjoy Your Ride [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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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

 

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Chicken Marsala Monday

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Once, during a particularly dreadful  and seemingly eternal period of lost-ness in my life, fully indulging in my panic of not knowing what to do or which direction to go, Rob gave me some world-class advice. He said, “When you are lost in the woods the best thing to do is stop and sit still.” In other words, the first thing to do is to stop doing anything at all. Just stop. The first step in finding where you are is simply to stop trying to be somewhere else. I laughed out loud.

Be here. Now, you know where you are! The problem of lost-ness is solved. Breathe a bit.  Take in the unknown sights and listen. Direction and/or clarity are more likely to become available after a good still-sit.

SOMETIMES WHEN YOU ARE LOST… merchandise/still-sit reminders

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lost sit still Chicken FRAMED PRINT copy

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stop. sit still LEGGINGS

lost sit still Chicken CARD copy

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lost sit still chicken PILLOW copy  sit still RECT PILLOW copy

 

read Kerri’s thought’s on lostness and sitting still

 

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kerrianddavid.com

 

…it’s best to stop and sit still ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Lost & Found

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

…a long day of writing on the book. Since I have not another thought in my head, here’s another excerpt:

It is probably poor form to start a story in the middle, in a moment of high crisis. When a story stalks you through your lifetime you inevitably learn some things about stories; you unwittingly stalk them, too. One of the first things I learned was that the word “beginning” is arbitrary. An end is always a beginning. A beginning is always an end. What we call a beginning or the middle or an end is really a simple matter of our point of view. It depends on what we see.

Another valuable thing I learned about stories is that they unfold according to established patterns. Beginning, middle, and end is a simple pattern. Within this simple pattern is a more complex pattern structure. For instance, in order to grow, the main character has to leave behind everything they know and go on a journey. That journey can be literal or an inner, metaphoric journey. To leave behind what you know is part of the pattern that leads to trials, confrontations, and catharsis. It’s a pattern and since each of us is the protagonist in our own story, the pattern is alive and at work in our lives. The trick is to become aware of where you are in the story cycle. What part of the pattern are you currently living?

Stories never begin with being found. We hear a call. We pursue it blindly and discover that we are lost in the woods. Stories begin when someone, the main character, you, gets lost or is knocked off balance. In this sense, being lost is always a step toward being found.

Take A Number

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

“A person without a story does not exist.” Shekhar Kapur

Recently, I had to deliver a tax document to the IRS building downtown. Over a year ago I received a letter saying, “Congratulations, you’ve been randomly selected for a special educational audit….” I turns out that it was not a helpful educational audit in store for me but a year of medieval torture. My personal IRS agent has been trying to break me on the wheel. He is new to his job and has something to prove. His investigation is proving fruitless – which has only served to drive him into an income tax fervor, a numbers induced fanaticism – he’s redoubled his efforts, turning over figures, dumping columns, reaching back into my infancy to find anything to justify his time. And through it all I have, despite the stated intention of the audit, remained fairly uneducated and am now distinctly ungrateful for my random selection.

Luckily for me I have an accountant with a sense of humor. She represented me in all of his demands so I’d not met my inquisitor. She told me, “I’ve been doing this for a long time but never met anyone so singly dedicated to a lost cause.” And then she said, “He’s just cold. I think he’s angry about his life and is taking it out on you.” After 12 months – a full year of rooting through my documents, issuing threats, fines, fines revoked, re-requests, forms and re-forms 1120s, 4828, 2848, 6525a, I decided it was time to meet him. He sent a letter demanding that I deliver an original document, the scan that he initially requested was not good enough so he wanted the original and gave me 24 hours to comply (he sent his request via US Mail and I received it 4 days after his deadline). His request for the original was my opportunity to meet this very cold man.

When I first passed through the metal detectors a security guard told me to start my quest on the 34th floor. Exiting the elevator I came to a desk with a “take a number” machine. No human was in sight so I took a number. I realized at that moment that I’d left normal reality and was in Dante’s Inferno. This was the first level of hell. My number flashed on a screen and I was directed to find cubicle 8. Walking down a row of empty cubicles (there were rows of empty cubicles) I came at last to a person imprisoned behind a glass partition. She would not look at me and instructed me to go to the 16th floor. I was descending to the next level. Where was my Virgil?

On the 16th floor, although there were long corridors, I found 3 wall phones next to a locked door. There were no signs. There was not another human. Picking up a phone a person came on the line, listened to my quest and advised me to pick up another phone. My second choice of phone proved no different so I finally found a person through phone number 3 who told me to go to the 24th floor. (note: I am not making this up). On the 24th floor I found an identical set of phones and a single locked door. I looked around to see if I was on Candid Camera; how could I be sure that I’d traveled to another floor? What if this was Ellen DeGeneres’s idea of a joke and I was on live TV and the studio audience was howling at my incredulity? Or, perhaps I’d been hit by a bus and died and this was my version of Sisyphus. It only took two phones to find my tax man. A monotone voice told me that he’d be out in a moment. I made sure there was no food in my teeth – just in case Ellen came around the corner to say, “Isn’t this funny?”

My special agent came timidly out the door. He was very young – someone’s little brother, a son. He was not yet a man and he was shaking. I suddenly realized that he was afraid of me, afraid that I’d yell at him or perhaps hurt him. I knew in that moment that he knew that his audit was unreasonable and mean-spirited. He’d hoped that he’d never have to meet me. The moment was awful for him; filled with shame. I was seeing the Oz behind the curtain and he hated having to reveal himself. He was playing a power-over game with me because he had no real power in his life. I saw it and so did he. I held out my hand and said quietly that I thought it was time that I met him and handed him the original document. As Ann Quinn taught me, I killed him with kindness. Like his counterpart in the cubicle on floor 34, he was unable to look at me. He took the piece of paper and, visibly relieved, he disappeared again behind the door. “I am not in hell,” I thought, “…this man is. This man must come here everyday.”

As I left the building, returning to the land of light and humanity, I felt sick at the system that requires a young man to be a bully in order to feel powerful. His shame was palpable and I am certain I will be hammered because I saw his truth. As a nation we are asking ourselves serious questions about what caused such a horrific act of violence at an elementary school. We look for causes instead of the daily rituals that leave a soul so empty and frustrated that he must flame out of existence and take others with him as the only act of meaning that he can imagine. It is a failure of imagination; life in an empty story. Our rituals have descended to the level of collecting stuff and there is no substance or support to be found there. The daily rituals of our lives are meant to open us to the greater identification with deep meaning and sacred connectivity – with each other and our world. Our daily rituals are meant to bring us to the recognition of the enormity of being alive. I turned back and looked at this building and mourned for the people that must take their hearts from their bodies to go to work everyday; we are a tribe that only pretends to have a story. My heart broke for the young tax man who so early in life has made the choice to not exist.