Be The Magic [on Two Artists Tuesday]

birdy feet copy

A modern dinosaur hopped by our car. It left tracks in the snow otherwise we might have never known! What I love most about the local dinosaur population is that we never tire of seeing them or evidence of their travels. We have a dinosaur feeder just outside our sun room window and have wiled away more than a few hours watching them fly in for a seed fix.

I believe we are all the time surrounded by magic and miracles but remain largely blind to their existence. Birds are ancient. If you want to take a step back into the Mesozoic Era, just listen to the sound of a Sandhill Crane. Magic and miraculous.

Every time that I hear that there is only one true religion I’m tempted to take the speaker by the elbow and lead them outside to look at the night sky. If they understand what they are seeing – indeed, what they are experiencing – they should laugh aloud and clap their hands with glee at the utter absurdity of their smallness and the enormity of their unimaginable existence. “Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! “  In the midst of millions upon millions – an infinity beyond any of our smallish brain pans to comprehend – might it be a bit of hubris to claim ownership of the one true anything? Go outside and consider it. Miraculous. Magic.

The dinosaur tracks were gone the next day. Melted. My 30’s and 40’s are gone, too. Passing. Tracks merely.

I suppose it is our lot to squeeze ourselves into these too tight boxes. Rushing life most certainly will have you focus on your long list of things to accomplish, on the empty places pocking your wall of respect, the plaque engraved on your legacy. In the face of so much track-making, it takes a bit of effort, an intention of slowing down to pay attention, to listen to the bird song, to see that the dinosaur recently hopped by, to turn your face to the stars and fall with abandon into the night sky. To be the magic. Miraculous.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SWEET TRACKS

 

jumping squirrel tracks website box copy

 

Hear It [on KS Friday]

divine intervention song box copy

When I was sixteen years old, a new driver, I made a left hand turn in front of a delivery truck that I did not see. I’m not sure how it missed me. At the time I had the illusion that it went through me. I saw the grill, felt the rush, and watched as it skidded to a stop in the turn lane I’d just vacated.
After college I went to Europe with my pal, Roger. I was penniless (almost) when we flew back to the USA. We landed in a snowstorm. Roger’s connecting flight to California left without a hitch. I missed mine to Colorado. I was stranded and desperate, knowing I didn’t have the resources to get home. A man standing in line behind me heard my plight and told me of an announcement – a limited number of cheap fares. I raced across the terminal and bought the last ticket, flying the next morning. I had the EXACT amount of money in my pocket. I used my last penny. Literally.
I have thousands of these stories. As, I believe do all of us. I suspect they happen every day, though go largely unnoticed. A single moment this way or that…a stranger’s hand that pulls us back to the curb. A generosity. A gut feeling. An inspiration. A knowing. A calling. A touch. Sisu.
In a world with no compartments, no division between life or death, fall and winter, it’s all divine intervention, isn’t it? Life?  Helping hands are everywhere. There’s no need to believe in a god with a big G or small to appreciate the quiet magic of it all. The scope and mystery of being. The assistance from ‘beyond.’ That’s what Kerri captures in her Divine Intervention. It’s there if you can hear it.

DIVINE INTERVENTION from the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DIVINE INTERVENTION

 

cropped head kiss website copy

divine intervention/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Wiggle Your Toes [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

magicisnotanexactscience jpegBIG copy 2

I hear Quinn laughing, “No one really knows what they are doing!” That’s cold comfort when being rolled into surgery or sitting with my mouth wide open in the dentist’s chair. I have to admit, his laughter was infectious and I usually find myself laughing when I realize too late (again) the upside AND downside of the seed he planted so long ago in my philosophy.

Yesterday’s Two Artists post was about trust. Today’s Flawed Cartoon is a mirthful reminder of what happens when you don’t listen to that inner voice that says, “Don’t get into that box!”

 

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MAGIC IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

magic is not an exact science ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Dance Without Effort

my mud-slog

my mud-slog

Last night I painted badly and I did it intentionally. I went down into the cool of the basement studio to escape the heat and humidity. A new canvas was stapled to the wall, gessoed and ready to go. I picked up my brushes, squeezed paint onto the palette and began working.

Many years ago I made the switch from oils to acrylics because the fumes were making me ill. It was a happy accident. Acrylics required me to work fast and fast meant I had no time to think. I learned by default that I am a much better artist when I’m not laboring over the details. Sometimes the process feels like an invocation. Sometimes the process feels like a rolling mess that morphs and morphs until the final moment when, like focusing a telescope, the image becomes crystal clear.

My paintings are generally big. They demand a full-body engagement, painting-as-dance. I know I am working well when I lose track of time, when the dance overtakes me, and the line between painting and painter disappears. It is pure magic: a place free of thought-obstacles.

Last night there was no magic. When I was younger the slog sessions would depress me. I believed I had to have magic all of the time and felt despair when, instead of magic, I danced knee-deep in mud. It took a long time for me to appreciate the necessity of the mud dances. Painting badly is, of course, necessary to paint well. In fact, I now know that there is no such thing as painting badly just as there is no such thing as perfection. Saying more with less is a life-long learning process for all artists. Freedom of expression is a yoga, a practice. It has as much to do with muscles as it does with minds. It is a yoga of brevity. It is as efficient as breath. It is a paradox of stepping out of the way so that you can fully step forward.

I once saw an exhibit of the hundreds of sketches and studies John Singer Sergeant did before painting El Jaleo. I loved it. He drew the same thing over and over again. He painted again and again the smallest detail. He was putting the image into his body. He was teaching his muscles to flow without tension. The finished painting (the last thing in the exhibit) was thrilling. It is a celebration of brevity, free motion without mental intervention. It made me dizzy. It made me cry because I knew how devoted he was to his practice to say so much with so little. I knew how many hours of effort it took for him to dance so effortlessly.

 

 

Hold A Vigil For Kermit

My studio moves into the light.

My studio moves into the light.

Life returns slowly. It is the time of year that the goddess Demeter ceases grieving because her daughter, Persephone, is allowed to return from the underworld. Demeter’s joy ignites earth’s renewal.

This morning we sat outside on the back porch, wrapped in a blanket, our chairs facing the sun, our backs to the wall so we could feel the radiant heat. We drank coffee, soaked up the sun and talked about everything and nothing at all.

We are feeling the stirring. We moved the studio from the basement into the light. A stalled project now has life and is arcing toward production. Inspiration and enthusiasm are playing chase through our creative sessions. A few days ago I found my sketchbook and spend time each day filling its pages. There are new canvases sitting on my easel.

It is the season of resurrection. We are holding vigil for our pond frog, Kermit. Although his name is common his story is extraordinary. Last summer, after we dug the pond in the backyard, Kermit suddenly appeared. All through the fall we checked on him. He looked out at us from his hiding place in the rocks or if caught him by surprise, he’d dart to the opposite side of the pond. This winter was harsh and the pond froze solid. We worried about his fate. When the pond melted, we found a seemingly lifeless Kermit on the bottom with the leaves.

Many species of frogs hibernate. In fact, we learned that certain wood frogs freeze solid to the core. When winter comes their bodies replace the water in their vital organs with a protective “anti-freeze.” All signs of life cease. The heart stops (it is frozen). All measurable electric impulses close down. When the weather warms, their core thaws, and they quite literally come back to life. If you’ve ever doubted the magic and mystery of this life, spend some time watching frogs.

We don’t know yet if Kermit is hibernating or not so we watch. A layer of ice returns to the pond each night. The temperatures are bobbing just above and way below freezing, so we wait, drink in the sun and good coffee. We watch Tripper-dog-dog-dog discover birds and bark at raindrops on the pond; this is his first-ever spring. We fill with hope and ourselves slowly revive from a long winter of hunkering down. We stretch our limbs, we thaw, we breathe.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.

 

Emerge

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

Old structures do not like to give way to the new. The old structure, whether it is a personal identity or organizational system, resists change.

When I stepped off the plane Moira only said, “It’s bitter.” She meant the temperature; it was 16 degrees and the wind was blowing. We laughed and she drove me to campus to stay in the Illini Union Hotel on the campus of the University of Illinois. It’s a beautiful campus even with the wind chill making my eyes water. The hotel is actually within the student union, a massive brick and white-pillared structure that shouts, “academia!” It is solid and hallowed with history.

This university like all universities is an institution of education in a time that institutions of education are being pummeled by the waves of change. The internet is revolutionizing access to information and the power of the individual to create, pursue, investigate, and participate. The very role of “teacher” or “professor” is no longer relevant in it’s old definition and the new form is yet to emerge.

I’ve heard conversations questioning the very role of a campus in the face of the new world. There is most certainly a role but what is it? It’s emerging. Tuitions are unmanageable and unrealistic. In many circles the question, “Why not to put the money into a business start up instead college?” is leading the way. Experience is the best teacher and there are great business courses online and much information is free. Why not go into debt with something that has the potential to generate income than something that will strain your income for years to come? It’s a valid argument.

In various places around the country teachers are now refusing to administer the standardized tests. Students are refusing to take them. Finally, we are asking, “Why? What is the point? And what are we trying to do?” After all, what does it mean to learn?
This is the new form starting to emerge. The old is fighting back, ratcheting down and trying to contain and constrain. It is only a matter of time.

The old structure will fight the new, even if the old is irrelevant. Even if its existence impedes growth instead of facilitates it. In this way, organizations are no different than people. The imagination is never welcome in the old house but imaginations have a way of taking over and something new, wondrous, magical, and completely unpredictable always emerges.

Open The Door

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

When I was a kid I was standing on a barrel so I could reach the pencil sharpener. I sharpened my pencil with such fury that I tipped the barrel over and landed on the pencil: it stabbed my right palm and the lead snapped off. I was in a hurry because I was drawing a picture and I wanted to capture the image before the magic dissipated. That’s how I experienced artistry as a boy: a magic door opened. I saw an image on a blank piece of paper and it was my task to bring it into the visible world before the door closed. Sometimes I knew I had lots of time; sometimes I knew the door was only going to be open for a moment and it was a race to get enough of the image so that I might complete it after the door closed. I had a muse and she lived on the other side of the door. I spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper willing her to open the channel and send me an image.

My fall off the barrel was over 40 years ago and I still carry the lead mark in my palm. It has become a reminder of the magic. It took me 30 years after the fall to realize that I had control over the door; the magic was not separate from me. I merely had to turn the knob, I simply needed to open and receive the image. Like two people in love but afraid to reveal their feelings I came to realize that the muse was waiting for me and I was waiting for the muse. She wanted me to turn the knob and say, “I’m here.” I was waiting for her to turn the knob and say, “I’m here.”

I look at the pencil mark on my palm when I need to remind myself that there is no door; my muse and I are now one. There is no hurry. In fact, what I came to understand was “the door” opened when I became present. As a boy, staring at a blank piece of paper, counting my breaths, I unwittingly developed a nice meditation practice and when I dropped into the moment the door opened. I work with many people and what I’ve learned is that magic is not unique to me – it is available to everyone. We are magic – all of us. If the nozzle is closed it is because we stand in the past arguing for the wound or seeking a future place, somewhere out there where there is magic to be claimed. My work is to say, “Slow down. There is nothing broken so there is nothing to be fixed. Look at what is right in front of you. Stand here and nowhere else: let the world see that you are magic.”