Open Your Mind [on DR Thursday]

peace on earth copy

 

Peace on Earth is a nice seasonal phrase but I’m willing to bet that most folks think it is pie-in-the-sky. A utopian ideal. So, pondering what to write about Peace on Earth, I flipped open a book and the first phrase I saw was this: An Open Mind.

Horatio is wise. He once told me that in these United States we are divided because we have competing narratives. Narrative #1: Every man for himself. Narrative #2: I am my brothers’ keeper. I think he is right. Generally, you can toss every national debate into one of those buckets. This morning, for my Peace on Earth rumination, I’d redefine those two narratives this way #1: Closed Mind (every man for himself) or #2: Open Mind (I am my brother’s keeper).

The ‘every man for himself’ narrative is predicated on the notion that there is limited pie in this vast universe. The goal is to grab a big piece of the limited pie. It’s necessarily a fight because there’s not nearly enough pie to go around. It’s fear-based and fear closes minds. Every year people get trampled in the national-celebration-of-limited-pie known as Black Friday. Get yours. It’s true, through this dark lens Peace on Earth is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky.

The inverse narrative, ‘I am my brothers’ (and sisters’!) keeper’ is predicated on the notion that there is plenty of pie to go around. In fact, the goal is not to grab but to create and then to give. Not only to share our toys and our gifts but to cultivate the base layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy for everyone: security & safety. Communal self-actualization follows the same path as personal self-actualization. Morality, respect, and generosity are the blossoms of feeling secure. So is an Open Mind. Peace on Earth, through this lens, is like more pie in the oven.

The ‘every man for himself’ story is a great recipe for closing minds. With fear and studied ignorance at its center, this narrative begs us to ignore a simple truth: no one does this alone. We are, in fact, dependent upon each other for our survival, our identity and our esteem. In isolation, a human being cannot thrive. Withhold interaction and love an infant will not survive.

I have a theory (okay, a belief) that the ‘I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper’ narrative is the truth of us. When the chips are down, when another person in peril, firefighters run into the building, they don’t run away. Everyday people leap in harm’s way to save the life of another. It is their instinct. It is our nature.

Like everything, believe it or not, what we embrace is a choice. Narratives are powerful.

An Open Mind is a door into Peace on Earth. It’s possible there’s more pie in this vast universe, this abundant earth, than a closed mind wants you to see.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PEACE ON EARTH

 

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Sit In It And Listen [on Two Artists Tuesday]

megaphones copy

When the world seems upside down – as it does often these days – we retreat to one of our favorite sanctuaries, a place of quiet where we can walk for an hour or so beyond the noise and division of the day. Our beloved Bristol Woods.

A few weeks ago, we retreated to the woods and came upon two curiosities. First, something that looked like a large wooden dunce cap, like some bratty giant was made to sit in the corner for disrupting class and, after his punishment, tossed his cap into the woods. We climbed in it and wriggled through it. We sat in it and absorbed the autumn sun. Napping in the dunce cap, we made up outlandish stories about what it could possibly be and how it came to be in our woods. If not a dunce cap then certainly it was a megaphone of epic proportions!

And, it turns out that we were right. The naturalist told us at the nature center it is a nature megaphone. Sit in it and it amplifies the forest sounds: leaves rustling, squirrels scampering, trees swaying, branches clicking, chipmunks darting. Disgruntled, the naturalist said, “They moved it so it points toward the highway and now it mostly amplifies the road noise. There couldn’t be a worse spot for it!”

Curiosity #2. Why would they move the megaphone to the worst spot? To a place where it amplifies road noise instead of the sounds of nature as intended?

Pocking our route through the woods we saw trees marked with red tape. Red and green flags were planted in a line cutting across the woods. Occasionally, trees were marked with ‘caution’ tape. “I think they’re going to tear down the woods,” Kerri sighed. Not possible, I thought. It’s land set aside for sanctuary. It’s written into their slogan: ‘Putting People In Touch With Nature.’

But, it turns out that Kerri was right. An aerial adventure park is coming soon. “The board says it will bring more people -what the means is more revenue – to the woods,” says the naturalist, her face turning red.”Does it make any sense to tear down the woods to bring more people to the woods?” she asks. “It has nothing to do with the woods. Do they think we’re idiots? It’s all about the money.”

And, it turns out I was right, too. Well, I was partially right. A bratty giant is disrupting the classroom but instead of being made to sit in the corner and consider the ramifications of his actions, he is quite simply removing the classroom. No self-reflection  required. He will eliminate Bristol’s reason for being. Horatio jumped into my mind with a simple and sad statement, “It’s all upside down,” he said. “If it doesn’t make money, we don’t value it.”

I didn’t say it. Wittingly or unwittingly, the megaphone is now a metaphor. It is in the perfect place to amplify what is now most valuable in our very upside-down world.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BRISTOL WOODS

 

 

 

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Find Love Everywhere [on Two Artists Tuesday]

uncropped acorn love copy

In a former life I had an office and on the wall of the office was a poster with the English alphabet as found on butterfly wings. Sometimes I think our only real purpose on this earth is to appreciate the utter beauty of it all. We do a shoddy job of it mostly but everyone has their moments of recognition. A sunset. A mountain top. The color of a cardinal. I loved my poster and put it on the wall to remind me that nature is infinitely more beautiful, expansive and powerful than I can contain. My job is to open my eyes. To see. When I needed a reminder of natural order in the midst of my square-taupe-office-with-grey-metal-desk, I’d look at those glorious wings.

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copyKerri and I walk almost every day. We find peace in walking and have favorite trails, some for the morning walks and some for the end of the day. When we travel to new places, we always find and explore the trails. We have been known to walk late at night. We have ventured into the silence of a midnight snow. On our walks, Kerri is famous for finding treasures. My job is to tote them home. Most of the treasures are hearts. Heart rocks, heart leaves, heart shaped knots, or, like this treasure, the heart found in an acorn. Our house is filled with heart-treasure.  Each, like the wings, is a reminder to open my eyes and see the wonder, the love of it all.

read Kerri’s blog post on FIND LOVE EVERYWHERE

www.kerrianddavid.com

find love everywhere ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Everyone Has Their Heaven

TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS

everyone has their heaven

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Do What Is Most Natural

IMG_0817The snows have come. The temperatures are grindingly low. Sitting at my desk, staring out the window at the world’s hibernation, I had a few thoughts about transformation. Actually, just before coming to the desk I flipped open the Bibles of Mankind for my random-thought-of-the-day. Today I landed on the Tao and specifically, this line: “By a transformation they live. By another transformation they die.”

In our births and our deaths we are all experts at transformation. In fact, in our progression through the many bodies we will in habit, the many phases we will navigate during the span of our singular life, we need not think about transformation or try to achieve it. Transformation is what we do. It happens. Track the progression of any life from infant to old age and you will witness a remarkable transformation.

I’ve just completed the first full cycle of seasons in my new home. Because it is all new to me, I’ve had the eyes to see the nuances, the profound changes in the trees, the lake, the rhythms of life including the migrations of geese. Nothing is normal (yet) so everything is special and alive. The cycle of the seasons, like the continual movement through the long body of life, is an ever-present transformation. The seasons do not try to transform; they are transformation.

People think they need to intend transformation. We seem to think we need to work at it to achieve it and somehow do not transform if we don’t marshal the process. Consciousness, like the body and the cycles of the seasons, transforms whether we intend it our not. That is the nature of consciousness. That is the natural movement of awareness.

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'Dancing In The Front Yard' by David Robinson

‘Dancing In The Front Yard’ by David Robinson

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Learn To Swim

from my children's book on how to play, PLAY 2 PLAY

from my children’s book on how to play, PLAY 2 PLAY

Hoodie tells me that he is sarcastic by nature but I don’t believe it. I’ve spent a lot of time in nature and I find no sarcasm there. I also understand much about human nature and know that sarcasm is not a native plant; it is invasive. It is introduced into fertile, unknowing soil.

Sarcasm is the tool of the drowning man. It is an act of desperation to push others under the water in order to elevate the self. I’ve walked many paths and worked with many powerful and not-so-powerful people. There is a rule on the stage that applies: the king never needs to act powerful because the king is powerful. Those who need to demonstrate power have none. As Quinn used to tell me, if someone has to tell you that they’re important, they really aren’t. Sarcasm is a form of importance-telling. Powerful people create power with others. Power is a creative act. It is a communal act. They have no need to diminish or reduce others because they recognize that reduction also reduces. People who must reduce others are not powerful; they’ve confused control with power. They want to be king. They want to be seen as king. But, they do not believe they are king. Sarcasm is a form of perception control.

No one is by nature sarcastic. Sarcasm is learned in batting cages, at dinner tables, and on the field of play. Sarcasm is a mask. It is a place to hide smallness. It is passed down generationally. Masks both conceal and reveal and while it might feel good to pull others under the waves, it also reveals a non-swimmer. It is habit. It is learned.

Hoodie is not by nature sarcastic. Hoodie is a swimmer. He has the stuff of kings. He also tells me that his nature is to give comfort, to help others. He will one day realize, after he transcends his habit of drowning, that his nature to lift others is the center of his power place. Sarcasm separates him, reduces him, as do all forms of self-diminishment/control. Sarcasm is a lonely planet. Power is always a movement toward others. It is generative, as is all of nature.

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Ask Them To Be Kind

A black cloud moving in.

A black cloud moving in.

While driving across South Dakota, the darkest cloud I’ve ever seen rolled across the sky and consumed the light. The cloud was dense and black. It was heavy, its belly hung over the car and seemed to press us to the earth. It seemed more than cloud. It was ominous, a presence.

When we started the day we’d intended to drive through the Badlands but a prodigious rain had slowed our progress. We saw the rains marching toward us across the open land. It was both beautiful and daunting and hit us with a wave of authority. This storm meant business. We crawled through Wyoming with other back road drivers, watching the barely visible white lines to keep on the road. Motorcyclists pulled off the road and stood next to their bikes; there was no shelter to be found.

Although we lost a few hours to the storm we thought we might still make it through the Badlands before nightfall. And then the black cloud appeared and ate the last light of the day. Once many years ago I did a night dive through the wreck of a sunken ship. In the dark of night, deep in the ocean, while swimming through the bowels of the ship, it’s decks between me and the surface, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. This blackest of clouds enveloped us like the ocean at night and I felt that same sense of pressing suffocation.

The gods of nature are not to be ignored. Once, I sat with a Balinese man who told me that, according to their belief, it was with the dark forces of nature that people need alliance. There is no hell in their paradigm so dark and evil are not bedfellows. There are forces: creation and destruction in an eternal cycle of rejuvenation. Their rituals are about making peace with the black clouds, the gods of lightning and rain. “The forces of light are already with us,” he said. “We ask the dark forces to be kind.”

Looking through the windshield at the ominous pressing cloud I whispered, “Be kind.” It was. It let us go. We heeded the warnings and left the Badlands for another day. Later that night, sipping wine from plastic hotel cups, safe in our room, we sighed and laughed at how utterly small we felt on the open plain amidst the power of the storms. With that smallness came the gift of alertness. We were fully awake, alive with moment, stripped of the illusion that humans have dominion over anything. We savored our moment, temporary, passing, and perfect.

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Canopy by David Robinson

Canopy by David Robinson