Two Artists Tuesday

CHILDRENarethebestwithframe jpegI knew from a very young age that I would never have children of my own. I knew. It was an intuitive knowing, not an intellectual resolve. My life, I knew, would be a wandering through the wasteland. I would tilt at windmills. I would seek for things that can never be found. Children, I believed (and still believe), needed the kind of stability that a restless seeker like me would never have been capable of providing.

Last night we went to the foreign film festival and saw an inspiring, funny and poignant Irish film called Sing Street. The ingenue explains to her suitor, an aspiring musician, that love is happy-sad. To love is to experience both.

I now have two amazing step-children. They were adults when I came into their lives and both live far away. I am slowly developing relationships with them, creating memories with them. I listen with fascination (and sometimes horror) as Kerri converses with her friends, mothers all, about their children.  There is so much suffering, to want to be near their children and yet want them to fulfill their dreams and fly. They want to be present and available BUT not too present or available; those wacky offspring want full support AND they want mom to stay out of their business. Motherhood, I’m learning, is a bottomless yearning, a constant ache, and there is nothing better. There is nothing more fulfilling.

Fathers, I’m observing, are mostly confounded. They shake their heads, not so much in agreement, but in concession. Their spouses are capable of reconciling and celebrating the ambiguity of parenthood. Fatherhood, it seems, is a surrender to the unsolvable. A submission to the mystery. The ache is no less profound. The joy is no less intense.

Happy – sad. A full spectrum of living. Love. From studio melange on this Two Artists Tuesday.

CHILDREN ARE THE BEST THING merchandise

TwoArtists childrenAre TOTE BAG  TwoArtists ChildrenAre FRAMED PRINT  TwoArtists ChildrenAre PILLOW

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read Kerri’s thoughts about this Two Artists Tuesday

children are the best thing ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Look To The Living Thing

my latest, as yet un-named, painting

Kerri looked at this painting and told me it captures how she feels when our daughter is hurting and calls home. “Describe that feeling to me?” I asked. She pointed to the painting, and said, “Just like that.”

Some things are universal and understood regardless of political affiliation or religious belief. What does a mother need to know to support her child? The political investments and religious doctrines are abstractions, separations. Motherhood is direct; it lives beyond the capacity of language to capture and articulate. It is the impulse to unity. It transcends all divisions. It knows nothing of conceptions like the rational and irrational.

Jim and I just had one of our famous phone calls. Our discussion romped through many fields but we returned again and again to the notion that the important things in life cannot be rushed. For instance, relationship takes time. Relationship takes attention and tending. It is fluid and dynamic so it is nearly impossible to slap a single word-label on it. It changes. It grows. In a single day it can pass through many descriptors. Dog-Dog can drive me crazy in one moment and melt my heart the next. The important stuff, like relationship, is not static or containable. It is not a concept. It is a living thing.

So What?

The best language can do is point to the living. Language can describe experience but can never be experience. Language, of necessity, reduces while the important stuff – like relationship – like love – expands. Language, as a tool of abstraction, can never be true. It can only point toward truth. Language separates. Truth is like relationship. Truth is a living thing, dynamic and changing. To be known, it must, like motherhood, be experienced directly.

Again, so what?

Direct experience is always (obviously) personal. Truth is not so easily captured. Is it exclusively liberal or conservative? Is it Christian? Buddhist? Is it unique to Islam, Judaism, or the Tao? Leave the city lights some night, take a good long look at the stars, and realize what you are staring into.

Last week we rushed 20 to the hospital. He couldn’t breathe. He walked to the edge of the abyss and looked into it. We watched him teeter on the edge. As we watched, all other concerns, pursuits, bills, frustrations, news,…, dropped away. The stuff of separations and abstractions went to dust in the face of the actual. Ask me what I experienced watching 20 grasp for life? There are no words. Ask him what he experienced in those long hours and he will shrug his shoulders. There are no words – but it is clear in his eyes.

The important stuff, the stuff beyond words, leaps the boundaries of separation and abstraction; all else falls away. The important stuff always leads to a universal place, a common ground. It is a beautiful paradox.  As a test, try this: if language can reach it, ask this very important and often absent question: Is it really true or merely another entrenched point of view?

a detail