Expand Your Bubble [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Everyone has their insurmountable mountain to climb. Everyone has their fear to face. Everyone bumps against the edges of their comfort zone. Everyone.

And, the beauty of this life is that the insurmountable mountain is different for everyone. What seems easy to you might be impossibly scary to me. You show me it is possible. I show you it can be done. We inspire another look at what’s possible.

In the film, FREE SOLO, Alex Honnold says that, for him, fear is not something to be conquered. Comfort is something to be expanded. And, comfort is expanded through exploration and practice. Through experiences and reaching. Testing and discovery. Trying again and again until what once looked like a monster becomes known. It’s remarkably practical. It is what education is supposed to be.

How we ask the question determines the paths we see or don’t see. It’s all in the language we use. “Facing a fear” is oh, so, warrior-esque. We are inundated with “going to battle” metaphors. Defeating a part of myself in a battle against myself seems…contrary to the bigger picture. Win by losing. Division as the only available route? Armor, armor everywhere.

There is wisdom in putting down the swordplay. There is hope in choosing cooperation instead of conflict. Instead of picking a fight, instead of perpetuating the power of the fear, how much better might it be to turn and look. Really look. Study. To reach and test. To take a step. To try and fall down so that you might try again with a little bit more experience. Study. Open to possibilities.

It’s a pattern. Focusing on the obstacle, fighting the fear, is learned. It’s a great strategy for keeping yourself afraid and encased in armor. Other patterns are available and far more productive. It’s possible to climb like Alex: study your mountain, learn the terrain, practice the difficult moves over and over, internalize safety, and one day, when you are ready, when you have a relationship with something other than fear, climb your once insurmountable mountain.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on COMFORT ZONES

 

 

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Appraise It [on Flawed Wednesday]

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The first time we visited Hippie Tom’s Serendipity Farm, Kerri said, “It’s like being inside someone’s disease.” The farm is a hoarder’s dream. Stuff piled upon stuff. Stuff packed into corners, hung from rafters, tucked under shelves. Most of the stuff is exposed to the heat and cold, rain and snow. Having the stuff is more important than the caring for the stuff, a 3-D philosophical statement. Certainly there are treasures to be found, curiosities that are heartier than the mildew and rust or perhaps have not yet been on the farm for a cycle of seasons.

In the barn there is a room for chairs. Chairs stacked to the ceiling though I use the term ‘stacked” loosely. Piled, perhaps. It reminds me a scene post tsunami, what remains after the waters have retreated. The artifacts of lives-now-gone. It would be a brilliant set for a play, metaphors abound. The sickness of acquisition. Or, perhaps it is not sickness so much as the inevitable destination of stuff after the story connection is lost.

The power of story. The value is never in the stuff, it is in the shared narrative invested into it. A diamond has no value without people to appraise it.

Once, I visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was spartan. And I loved it. A few chairs. And, oh-my-god the paintings. The view and vibrant connection to the natural world. It was like being inside someone’s happiness. So many years after her passing it felt alive – a place of life. That’s my appraisal.

Hippie Tom loves his farm, I’m sure. As for me, I think I’d rather walk the path with Georgia. Less stuff. More life.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about STUFF

 

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Be The Storm [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“It is a sacred art that deals with revelation rather than observation.”~Jamake Highwater, The Language Of Vision

Tom used to say, “A writer writes and a painter paints.” Those are wise words grounded in the mechanics of art. Simply show up. Do the thing. Nuts and bolts. That’s the first step. Show up at the easel, on the dance floor, at the piano, at the writers desk and begin. Tom was a teacher and over his life heard an overabundance of excuses, reasons ‘why not.’ Said another way, he advised his students to stop thinking about it and do it. “Get out of your own way,” he’d counsel. That’s the second step. Horatio calls this step ‘trust-your-work.”

Show up. Do the thing. Get out of your own way. Trust your work.

And, what happens with trust? When the artist can get out of his/her own way, the sacred art, the art of revelation becomes possible. It’s a beautiful paradox. Show up and get out of the way. And, between those two actions, those crackling oppositions, a greater force, inspiration, gathers and releases like a storm.

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read Kerri’s blog post about INSPIRATION IS A GATHERING STORM

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Trust [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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When Kerri spontaneously smacked out this design, it was a case of process/design alignment. She simply trusted where she was going. “Hmmm,” she said, and moved on.

In improvisational theatre, it’s called ‘yes, and.’ Say yes to what you are given. Deal with what is there, not what you’ve decided should be there. Spontaneity, the freedom of movement and expression, is born of the kind of trust that ‘yes, and’ engenders. In trust, just as in ‘yes, and,’ there is no resistance. Artistry is pure relationship and requires giving up the illusions of control.

The word trust always brings me to the caterpillar (metaphors permeate my noggin). In cocooning, going to mush to be reborn as something utterly brilliant and unrecognizable, there is inevitability. In emerging from the cocoon, discovering wings, stepping to the edge of the branch, and leaping for the first time, there is trust.

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read Kerri’s blog post about TRUST WHERE YOU’RE GOING

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

trust where you’re going ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Live Your Metaphor

2mayyoubepeace-jpegA view from 30,000 feet (a meditation on metaphor):

Joe used to say that the universe tends toward wholeness. “Tends” is a precarious word of movement, like a tree that leans. Still, to me, Joe’s sentiment – his metaphor – is hopeful. He might have said that the universe tends toward confusion.

Chris and Janelle are starting a new theatre company, The Seadog Theatre Company. They are dedicating their work to exploring stories of alienation and reconciliation. Both alienation and reconciliation are words of movement. The first, alienation, is a movement away from wholeness (toward confusion?). The second, reconciliation, is a movement toward wholeness. Push away. Reach across.

Chris and I agree that all stories, from the deepest mythology to the most whimsical lampoon, are explorations of alienation and reconciliation. It is the human journey, it is humanity’s journey. It is the human experience. Journey is a word of movement, from here to there.

The Big Bang is science’s great narrative of alienation and reconciliation. Out of nothingness (formlessness) in a violent explosion of energy, all forms took shape. Stars, meteors, planets, atoms and oceans and daisies and Dog-Dog. Energy expressed in form. And then, so the narrative goes, form returns to energy. Like the tides going out the energy of the explosion will eventually turn, exhausted, and fall back toward the center in the Big Merge.

The eye blinks open, a universe comes into being. The eye blinks closed, a universe disappears. The tide comes in. The tide rolls out. It’s a cycle of movement. Metaphor.

“Your words are alienation and reconciliation,” I wrote to Chris, “mine are separation and unity. Same thing, yes?”

I’ve never been comfortable with religions because they often claim their metaphors as fact – and that freezes movement. For instance, Adam and Eve were Big-Banged out of the Garden of Eden for eating an apple from the tree of knowledge. One bite of the apple blew their minds open to differences. Separation. It is the experience of birth into this whacky world of duality and confusion. And just like all the stars and planets and oceans and daisies of the field hurtling through space and time, it is a story meant to help us seek wholeness as we stride though this field of opposites.

The universe may tend but we can intend. We can create. We can choose. We can point our ships toward alienation, we can cleave our world into us-and-them, run in fear and separation. Or, we can make conscious our stories (as Chris and Janelle intend in their theatre), we can walk the middle path (a potent metaphor), and recognize that the separation is at best temporary and arbitrary. Like the stars and planets and oceans and daisies, we will also exhaust the force of our explosion into form and fall back into the Big Merge.

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Peace.

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PEACE on iTunes:  kerri sherwood – track 5 on AS IT IS

 

 

 

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Chase The Butterflies

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

a detail from my painting, John’s Secret

Wisdom butterflies that have recently fluttered across my path:

Soaking up the morning sun and drinking coffee from the deck of Common Grounds, 20 said, “You’ve heard this one, right? There are three sides to every story.”

Standing on the side of the road peering into Judy’s car, she gave us some sage relationship advice. She said, “That’s the secret to life, you know: listen before you talk.”

Kerri was composing a song. I asked her how she starts, how she knows where to start. She said, “I don’t know. Sometimes you just need to put your fingers on the keys and follow the music.”

There is an aging pink post-it note stuck (permanently) to the desk. It reads, “Make The Adventure.”

On a recent phone call, Skip offered wise counsel about how I see my role in a new business, “Find your own metaphor,” he said. ”What is the metaphor that will keep you energized, that taps into your 10,000 hours?”

Sitting behind his drum set, waiting for rehearsal to begin, John said, “Our job is to make the art, not to determine its reception.” And then he said, “What do you think?” and laughed.

Josh took a belly punch from the universe yesterday. He said, “I want to be angry but anger does me no good. I have better things to do with my life than get angry.”

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

P-Tom weighed in with this: “Faith is scandalous,” he said, “It pushes back against everything we experience.”

Dog-Dog raced across the yard in hot pursuit of a butterfly. I’m wagering that he knew he would never catch it, but the chase was glorious.

Change Your Focus

a watercolor from 2003, House On Fire

a watercolor from 2003, House On Fire

Life can change in an instant. There are collective moments. There are personal moments. For years, my dad kept articles about the conspiracy theories swirling around the Kennedy assassination. It was the moment that marked the end of things as he knew it. Life would never be the same. For many years I shared his fascination because my first memory is an image from John F. Kennedy’s funeral which we watched on black and white television: a soldier leading a horse with empty boots reversed in the stirrups. I suspect that the image was potent for me because it was potent for the adults caring for me as they watched the funeral of the president.

Many years later, on a beautiful September morning in 2001, I sat in front of another television set and watched the Twin Towers fall. I thought, “Life will never be the same.”

With the recent anniversary of that day, on another beautiful September morning, Kerri and I read aloud to each other a book, 102 MINUTES: The Untold Story of the Fight To Survive Inside the Twin Towers. I was surprised by my reaction to the book. It felt a return to the place where we got lost. Like my dad, I missed the innocence that vanished in a single day (doesn’t each generation experience this loss? I imagine my grandfather yearned for a world before the atom bomb).

Throughout the reading, two potent and related metaphors would not let me go. First, a two-part metaphor for what I believe ails our nation. With a hyper focus on profitability, many long standing high rise safety precautions were minimized in the Towers. Less escape stairs meant more rentable space. Structural fire prevention measures are costly so they were either written out of the code or ignored. No one believed these twin Titanics could fail and when they did, the greatly reduced escape routes were either severed by the planes that hit them or were inadequate to accommodate the evacuation of the buildings. Additionally, communication between the police and fire departments was broken – they had the capacity but lacked the will. They did not use their updated systems because they were fighting over who would be in control. Their polarization crippled them on the day that they most needed to communicate.

So, the metaphor. One of the themes of my life (and, therefore, this blog) is the importance and necessity of a conscious placement of focus. Where you focus matters. Focus is a creative act. Our hyper focus on profitability took down the world’s economy in 2008. We’ve deregulated our financial institutions, removing all the safety precautions so that we might, as my pals in the financials services once told me, “Print money from nothing.” And the structure weakens. The wealth of the nation is in the hands of a shrinking few even though, as I learned in Economics 101, a healthy capitalist system is built upon a healthy middle class. No one believes this Titanic can sink. Communication between those who are supposed to be looking out for our safety, The House, The Congress, etc., are famously polarized. They have the capacity but lack the will and do not exercise their communication in the fight over who will be in control. In the meantime, we need them to communicate; waiting until the Tower falls will be too late to start. Our focus is on the wrong stuff.

 A sketch working out some details for House On Fire

A sketch working out some details for House On Fire

Which, brings me to metaphor number 2. This is the metaphor that cures us. The other story of those 102 Minutes is a story of kindness. People reaching for other people. When the disaster struck, the gap between custodian and CEO disappeared. The social divisions were irrelevant. People helped people simply because they needed it. They recognized that they were living a common story, a shared story, not the story of division that predominated a single moment before the planes struck the buildings. Everything changed in a moment. Or, perhaps everything became clear. People died to help other people. Their focus changed.