Gag On It [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“I was the only one wearing a mask.” Were you to have read this quote three months ago, you would have assumed I went to a masquerade party and I was the only one who showed up with a mask. Or, you might have guessed that I was about to recount an embarrassing Halloween story, “I mixed up my dates – it was October 30 –  and I went to work  wearing a costume.”

Three months. Meaning is now made through the pandemic lens. I went to the store. The parking lot was full. I went into the store and stopped as I entered. I was the only one wearing a mask. My cup of assumptions filled to the brim and spilled over. These people do not care.

In the best of times, meaning is made on a layer cake of assumptions. Assumptions are too easily generalized and thrust into the hard ground as fact. Assumptions are a wide net that catches mostly trash – which is to say that they snag very little of substance. They are nothing more than cake though, because they are mistaken for fact, they can be a deadly cake, indeed. A young black man went jogging. Need I say more?

Our current favorite assumption set is political. For instance, Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, was asked in an interview why the nation is seeing a partisan divide in response to the pandemic. “Generally, Republicans are less inclined to have the government tell them what to do. And that’s generally how I am,” DeWine said.

I’m willing to wager that most Democrats are not fond of the government telling them what to do. The pro-choice movement is decidedly liberal and is essentially resistance to the government telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.

Here’s a safe assumption: none of us want the government telling us what to do. That is in the genetic strand of the American identity.

The nation is seeing a partisan divide in response to the pandemic because we are being force-fed oppositional narratives that demonize the other side.  “They’re socialists trying to ruin the nation.” Or, “They are lazy and ignorant and cannot see how they’re being swung around by the nose.” Assumptions, assumptions everywhere!

As Horatio has said (and I have repeatedly borrowed) the narrative has always been schizophrenic and the divide goes like this: 1) Every man/woman for him/herself or 2)  I am my brother’s/sister’s keeper. Do we care about the others in the populace or do we take care of our own needs? It is a false divide. It is an easy target for propaganda.

And what if taking care of our own needs included taking care of the needs of others. Wouldn’t we all be wearing a mask? Isn’t that the point of the mask? It is not worn to protect me but to protect you from me. What if the assumption – the safe assumption -was that we are all in this together? We are. What if, as I stood in the doorway of the store, the only person wearing a mask, I could have made another assumption? What assumption is it that I could have made?

Three short months and the word “mask” has become a line drawn in the pandemic sand, a symbol of community or is it a marker of our divide?  No matter. Through this lens we can only cast a broad net of assumption and gag ourselves on the same giant piece of cake.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE ONLY ONE

 

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Enjoy The Ride [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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There was that eye-popping day that I ran across the street, more geezer than man. Somehow, my knees and hips, rather than running with the ease I had always enjoyed, squeaked and creaked and rattled along. Although I made it to the other side without being hit by oncoming traffic, I was forced to face the fact that my appendages were aging. I needed to allow more time in my crossing.

And then there was the day that I was driving. My eyes, always 20/20, missed an exit because I could not see it. I blamed it on the oncoming headlights, a dirty windshield, a too busy mind. A paper thin veneer of denial. I knew I’d finally come to the day that my eyes were no longer hawk-perfect [vanity note: I still don’t wear my glasses unless I need to read subtitles at the foreign film festival or drive at night. Denial, although thin, is elastic stuff].

When I was a kid I was on a road trip with my mother and grandparents. My grandfather was driving and he was pulled over for speeding. When the cop came to the window, my sharp-as-a-tack grandfather transformed. Cranking down the window he was suddenly a doddering, hard-of-hearing, slightly shaky, clearly demented old guy. The policeman asked for his license and my grandfather looked in panic to his wife for interpretation and assistance. The cops next question was, “Is this man capable of driving?” We stared  blankly ahead. Grandpa dialed it back a notch and recovered some coherence and believability. He got off with a warning. That day I learned one of the primary advantages of aging.

Sometime since moving to Wisconsin, I crossed a magic line. Although I do not think I am old, I am, more often than not, seen as old. A grey beard helps that perception. I confess to looking into the mirror and seeing, not my face, but my grandfather’s. Actually, a mix master image of both of them. They stare back at me when I brush my teeth. I now brush my teeth in low light.

I find this new mask odd and slightly intriguing. Sometimes I wonder who this new face will become. Sometimes I wonder who this new face is. Mostly, I can’t wait to be pulled over. I know exactly what to do and only hope that Kerri will play along.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Older

 

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sacred series: inner life. one of two versions of this image. it is one of the many benefits of aging is to look inside and see lots of color!

 

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sacred series: inner life ©️ 2017 david robinson

Put On Your Rubber Boots [It’s Chicken Marsala Monday]

A Chicken Marsala Monday nugget to help kick-start your week.

We were clearing the room of furniture. We needed wide open space to do our work. It was early in our collaboration and my business partner and I were facilitating a workshop for a group of high powered lawyers. “They’ll never do it,” she said.  The office was fairly ostentatious, granite and polished wood. “They’ll never do it,” she repeated. “You’ll never get a bunch of lawyers to play.”

I’ve long believed (and proven to myself again and again) that everyone, regardless of status, role, or title, wants to play. Create safety and ferocious playfulness rises to the top. And, more to the point – especially when facilitating workshops, with play comes open-hearts, vulnerability, and the capacity to speak personal truth. Pathways forward become obvious.

Status is a great liar, role is a very thick protective mask. There is no better road to honesty than laughter. And, most often, all that people need to find the honesty-road is permission to play.

A few hours later, suit coats tossed aside, sleeves rolled up and ties strewn hither and yon, we were no longer working with a room full of lawyers; the people behind the role had emerged and they were playing mightily. In their play, great truths emerged and fortresses fell. They laughed. They shared.

From studio melange on Chicken Marsala Monday, we suggest that you put on your rubber boots. Give yourself permission to play.

PUT ON YOUR RUBBER BOOTS reminder/merchandise

 

 

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go play in puddles LEGGINGS

puddles FLOOR PILLOW copy   puddles CHICKEN SQ PILLOW copy

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BEACH TOWELS

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read Kerri’s blog about PUT ON YOUR RUBBER BOOTS

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put on your rubber boots ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Leap Or Show Up

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

My inner sociologist shared his notes with me. He tugged on his sweater and pushed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose before positing that personal edges only come in two varieties. Both varieties, he asserts, fall under the single category of “where the known meets the unknown.” Just as the sea meets the shore, the known meets the unknown in a convergence of elements. He told me that it makes no difference whether you are a sea or shore dweller, the other place, the unknown place, marks the line between comfort and discomfort. It also marks the line between stasis and growth. Stay in the known and stagnation is a certainty. Put your toes in the water or your fins on the shore and you will learn something new. I nodded my head. I agree with his assertion.

He tapped his pen on his yellow pad (my inner sociologist eschews technology) as he knit his brow and told me that stepping across the line into the unknown defines the first variety of edge. He labeled this first variety of edge, “The Leaping Point.” Apparently we visit the leaping point many times before actually leaping. We know what we need to do long before doing it – yet we pretend that we don’t know what we need to do. He explained that the most common mistake we make is to think that the discomfort comes from stepping across the edge; it doesn’t. The discomfort comes before the step. The discomfort is what drives us to finally do the thing we know we need to do. The discomfort comes from delaying the step. The step is liberating. The step transforms the discomfort.

He cleared his throat before telling me the second variety of edge comes from facing the thing we fear the most: being seen (note: fulfilling your potential is a subset of being seen). Being seen is a mirror-action to the first variety of edge. In this variety, the step is not from the known into the unknown; it is a step from the unknown into the known. He explained that the unknown in this case is the accumulated clutter of who we think we “should be;” we reject who we are. And then, one day, when we can no longer sustain the mask, we have to pull the mask off and reveal who we really are. We have to step into who we know ourselves to be. The transformation is from unknown to known.

He smiled, pulling his glasses from his face, and said, “It is really quite elegant if you think about it. Leap or Show Up. Those are our only two edges.”

Check Your Mask

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

It’s an early morning at the airport. The line through security snakes slowly forward. There is nothing to do but look at the faces and wonder at the lives that have sculpted these amazing masks. No one arrives at their face without living a big story. Some are distinct for their laugh lines; some are worn and tired. I see angry fearful masks and faces excited to step into the adventure. There are children, young faces like a new canvas, wide-eyed at this odd place, staring like me at the people shuffling along. The children dance or melt down. That, too, is part of the mask making process as their parents shush them or encourage them or simply sigh and take another step forward. Learn to express, learn to withhold, learn to ignore, learn to hide, learn to receive or reject…it all eventually shows in the face we assume.

I look at all of these faces, these distinct masks, and wonder if they recognize their story as unique, huge. Very few of us realize the enormity of our lives. Emily Dickinson lived much of her life confined to small garden and yet lived an extraordinary life; she paid attention. She looked and felt and shared. She feared and hid and failed. She loved mightily. The adventure of living, of vivid, rich experience is available in every moment.

I wonder what others see when they look at my mask. I make up stories for everyone as the line moves toward the man standing behind the desk stamping boarding passes, scrutinizing driver’s licenses, checking faces as proof of identity. I love that moment when the TSA agent lifts my license comparing the picture to my face. Sometimes I cross my eyes to get a rise out of them; most TSA agents have great humor when you treat them as humans instead of threshold guardians. They wear masks, too; masks of authority, masks trained not to show their humanity. Imagine how that imperative is sculpting their future face!

I wonder what masks we would wear if we gave ourselves full permission to share, to express, to feel… I wonder if there would be need for this slow line to face-checking if we actually allowed our humanness to show.