Wait For It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Nothing I have to say or will ever have to say is of vital importance. Therefore, your reply, if at all necessary, need not be immediate. Unless, of course, your name is Wendy and are considering whether or not you miss my face as much as Kerri’s. I was hopping up and down waiting for THAT reply. For everyone else, take your time. Get off the road.

Look up the word ‘immediacy’ and this is what you will find: the quality of bringing one into direct and instant involvement, giving rise to a sense of urgency or excitement. As painful as this is, here’s the truth of the matter: the sense of urgency is largely manufactured. And, most likely, it is waaaaay out of proportion. It’s true, we live in the age of direct and instant involvement. A good question to ask is instant involvement in what? With ‘breaking news!’ a constant fixture in a screaming 24 hour news cycle, hyper-short attention spans leaping this way and that, ubiquitous “buy now’ buttons flashing from every direction, and the ever-present fear of missing something in a never-ending stream of…what? There’s a lot of reinforcement in the notion that our input cannot wait. It can. None of it, none of what we have to say, is really all that important. If it was, truly was THAT important, we’d pull off the road. We’d stop splitting our attention so we could focus. We would eschew immediacy and become present.

Giving your full attention is a good test of importance.

What is important: living another day. That is important. Also, having a sense of perspective about the injected sense of urgency or excitement pervasive in this, the age of immediacy. After all, immediacy and presence are not the same thing.

[although I did not intend to write a public service announcement, I did… so for more, go here to read the 25 scariest texting and driving accident statistics]

 

read Kerri’s blog post about IT CAN WAIT

 

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See The Stars [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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One of the reasons I like to travel is that it disrupts the ordinary. It breaks all the patterns that allow me to sleepwalk through my days. I remember standing on a street corner in London watching commuters hustle through the rituals of their day, lost in their ordinary. While, at the same time, their ordinary was a marvel to me. Everything was extraordinary, the sounds, the smells, the rhythms; it was all new and strange to me.

Hard times wake us up. Celebration days help us look at life anew. Pattern disruption. It’s all a miracle, easy to see, when we take off the story-lens of dull and habitual.

One night, just after Chicken popped onto the scene (fully formed like some wacky Greek cartoon god) there was a meteor shower. As we struggled out of bed in the middle of the night I felt like complaining. Sleep beckoned me back to my warm bed. That’s when I heard the thrill-call of my little-live-life-monger, in an enthusiastic sing-song, Chicken hailed, “You can sleep anytime….”

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read Kerri’s blog post about STARS SHOOTING ACROSS THE SKY

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

you can sleep anytime… ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Listen To Your Teachers

my yoga companions

my yoga companions and a belly-belly

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog and BabyCat (aka Slim, Sumo, Belly-with-a-Mouth) join me for my morning stretch and yoga. I need only walk to the yoga rug and my practice mates come running. I suspect they are not invested in the quieting of their minds or keeping limber. Their attendance on the rug has a simpler, more pure agenda: attention and pets.

Our preparation looks something like this: BabyCat wraps himself around my ankles and purrs. Dog-Dog jumps with enthusiasm and nearly knocks me over. With a Sumo-sized kitty warming my ankles and a circus dog leaping all around me, my gentle, quiet practice begins. As I drop forward to touch my toes, Dog-Dog rolls over for what we have lovingly dubbed a “belly-belly.” Clearly, Dog-Dog is an opportunist who sees all things as an opportunity. He is, therefore, a very happy spirit.

BabyCat is more strategic. He waits patiently until I move into a downward-dog pose so he can inhabit his favored spot and nibble my hair. It is counter-intuitive but true that BabyCat is more vocal than Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog. As a strategist, BabyCat complains a lot. He is an adherent to the philosophy of the squeaky wheel getting all the grease and BabyCat knows how to squeak the wheel. He is, therefore, as a necessary prerequisite to wheel squeaking, never satisfied.

photo-3My yoga companions have served to make me more mindful though it took me a while to recognize the teachings of my rug mates. At first I thought of them as distractions: they are very demanding of my attention. I thought they were getting in the way. I contemplated shooing them from the rug but, in truth, they made me laugh and what could be better for any healthy practice – for a healthy life – than laughter. It occurred to me that I’d rarely laughed in the many, many previous years of my practice. I was missing the essential ingredient and nearly banished it from my life-rug!

Next, I had to learn to move slower with much more intention so as not to topple or step on the squeaky wheel. I became much more present and aware of even the simplest movement. Awareness is a muscle and BabyCat is a gifted instructor of the fine art of awareness.

As an opportunist for fun, the Dog-Dog believes every pose is, in fact, a bridge to run under or an invitation to wrestle so I’ve had to learn how to root myself in every moment of my practice, particularly the in-between moments. I cannot afford to be ungrounded, even for a single moment, or the master Dog-Dog will have me sprawling on the floor. Saul-The-Tai-Chi-Master would be proud of my new capacity to remain grounded while in motion. Dog-Dog is an excellent teacher!

Perhaps their attendance on the rug with me has a more complex agenda after all: they recognized that their human needed to welcome more laughter into his too serious practice (life), he needed to find a deeper, easier grounding. And, in my predisposition the think I am higher up the chain of consciousness, I foolishly believed I was giving my love and attention to them but the opposite has been the case all along.

Unroll The Generosity Perspective

from the archives: EmbraceI’m eavesdropping. Kerri and Pastor Tom are in the next room having a planning session. I just heard P-Tom say, “The generosity perspective fell down. Woody rolled it up and put it under the table.” I laughed out loud. They are talking about a banner but, taken out of context, it is a terrific and ominous phrase!

If you take a gander at the daily news, follow the political circus, count the people trampled in the crush to buy stuff the day after Thanksgiving, you would be hard-pressed to find a better phrase for our times. The generosity perspective fell down. And, to add icing on the metaphoric cake: Woody easily rolled it up. He put under a table.

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you and me.

I’m convinced that there is another side of the coin. There is no denying that meanness exists in our world. Humiliation is a game played everyday through social media and beyond. Yet, I still believe that there is a disconnection between the rhetoric and the lived experience. I see and experience terrific acts of generosity every day. Some are small acts, some are vast – unfathomable, some are spontaneous, some are planned but all are generous. In fact, when I really pay attention, I find that the incidences of generosity far outpace the acts of cruelty.

Cruelty makes for good gossip and good gossip is cruel. And so, meanness sells. It is good for advertisers so those are the stories we broadcast. Generosity, on the other hand, erases victim stories and so is rarely yummy-fun to talk about. Acts of generosity are less potent as a selling tool.

Cruelty is easy to see. Generosity requires an intentional focus.

This morning I bumbled into a TED talk by Patti Dobrowolski. I learned that the odds are 9-to-1 against making change even if the change needed is life saving. Her message is great: draw the story you want to tell. Literally, draw it. And then tell it. If we want a different story we have to imagine a different story. If we want a different story we need to tell a different story. If we want a different story we need to act a different story.

If Woody easily rolled up and stashed the generosity perspective under the table it should be equally as easy for Woody to reach under the table, unroll the generosity perspective and hang it for all to see.

 

Make A Pie

Taking  a walk with K.Dot and Dog-Dog

Taking a walk with K.Dot and Dog-Dog

Stay with me. This post is not nearly as curmudgeonly as it might first appear.

Many years ago I was directing a play in Santa Fe. It was the week before Halloween and I went into a coffee house. I was taken aback to find the place decked out for Christmas. Since then I’ve kept a running count of the first day in the fall that I see Christmas appear in the shops. As you might have guessed, it is earlier and earlier every year. This year’s arrival date: October 3rd.

I laughed out loud this Thanksgiving season when I heard an advertiser shout that, this year, Black Friday begins on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The whole week is black! Mark my words, next year Black Friday will begin on the Friday before Black Friday. Soon, the month of November will be decked in black while also decking the halls.

As has become our national custom, the midterm elections began the day after the last Presidential campaign and the new Presidential campaign began the day after the midterms. Are we never out of an election cycle (a rhetorical question)? It is the only example I can cite in which politics is running ahead of the rest of the advertisers.

I’ve not had a television for a few years so I’m a bit behind the wheels of progress. This morning, as we made pies, we turned on the Thanksgiving Day parade and I was wide-eyed with wonder that the entire affair is now a not-so-veiled advertisement for products, television shows, and musicals on Broadway. Along with each float came a cut-away commercial for the sponsoring company (I learned how to bake a lot of new desserts and was prompted more than once to rush out and get the ingredients NOW). Even the shots of Al-in-the-crowd were interviews, not with the crowd, but with celebrities; I heard when their show airs, and learned what their character might eat on this holiday and be grateful for if they were not imaginary. I was also prompted to text the network and tell them what I might be grateful for so that I might feel a sense of participation.

Take a step back. There is so much noise. There are so many competitors for our attention. I read that our attention spans are shrinking and how could they not shrink (or flee into hiding) under such an unceasing assault. Apparently with a shorter attention span it takes longer and longer to get our attention. I can’t help but think it is all stuffing and no bird.

Each year I work with people actively seeking for meaning or purpose. They tell me that something is missing in their lives. The pattern is to purchase-for-fulfillment but commerce makes for a lousy core and inevitably shows its true colors as a temporary numbing agent or distraction. And that’s the point. Seekers cease seeking when they learn where to place their attention. They step out of the noise cycle. Instead of navigating the noise they simply turn it off and take a walk or a nap. Instead of texting the network they look at their loved ones and say, “Let’s make a pie.”

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Laugh For Warmth

'The Wind' by David Robinson

‘The Wind’ by David Robinson

Someone threw a switch and it’s winter. There was no gentle drop in temperature, no ease into the cold. Monday was balmy. Tuesday was bitter. Today, the pond is frozen and I am watching the front edge of the snowy season dip its toes into the world. Last night we cut short our usual walk; we were shy a few layers of clothing and feeling was leaving all fingers and toes. We laughed for warmth and walked faster.

Life changes fast. We are reminded of that when tragedy strikes. When death comes to the too young or the fire consumes the neighbor’s house and all their treasures, we say, “Remember how precious this life is! Remember to be more grateful for what we have!”

Sometimes that seems to be the single salient point of tragedy: to make the rest of us stop, remember and appreciate what has real value. And, the moment of appreciation, like all moments, is passing. We get caught again in the dull pull of routine and stop seeing the miracle.

I just entered an art competition (note: isn’t it strange that “art” and “competition” can exist in the same sentence?); the theme is peace (note: isn’t it strange that the theme of a competition could be peace?). In my artist statement I wrote that peace is a practice, not an outcome. It is something people bring to the table, not something negotiated at the table. Conflict is at the core of every story and, therefore, is the engine of movement in every story. That is also true in every life story. We tell stories of enmity and we tell stories of amends and, if we are paying attention, we realize that both are a single story told from a different point of view. The story we tell, like peace, is something we bring to the table, not something we find there.

Flip the switch, stand in the others’ shoes, laugh for warmth and walk faster or simply slow down and feel the cold. Life not only changes fast, it passes fast, too. It seems impossible that I moved here a year ago. It seems like last week. Today, looking out the window as big snowflakes float to the ground, watching the Dog-Dog chase them with great delight and snap them out of the sky, I made a conscious decision to see the miracle and forgo the necessity of a thump to wake me from dullness. This winter is like no other.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Covet The Right Stuff

I did this drawing for my book, The Seer

I did this drawing for my book, The Seer

This morning Kerri shared a nice definition of the word “covet:” insufficient gratitude for what you already possess. It made me laugh because the definition exposes the ethical double bind of being human.

I imagine that in some distant past, a hairy guy stepped out of his cave and was startled to find that his neighbor had a new thing called fire. Being cold and also tired of eating sushi for every meal, he coveted his neighbor’s fire. He wanted some of that. A healthy lack of gratitude for what you already possess is often how good ideas spread (a random anthropological note: I read this morning that the average life span of a cave man was 18 years. I suspect coveting warmth-by-fire increased the average by a couple of years).

So, to covet is sometimes useful, especially where essentials like food, fire, and stories are concerned. It is only human to want enough food, a roof over your head, and a life-story that has meaning and purpose.

To desire is human. To want a better life is universal. What is the line between desire and coveting? To want what others have, to a certain extent, is pack behavior and we are, like it or not, creatures of the pack. Product marketers around the world count on our capacity to want what other people have and so our covet-muscle is exercised daily. The creation of imaginary need is a super trick for selling stuff and coveting what others have is key to lack creation. It’s hard to sell things if people are fulfilled.

So, to covet may be a warning signal that you are building your tower of meaning on sandy soil.

And that loops back to gratitude. All day, Kerri and I have been talking about being conscious in the moments of your life. None of us have unlimited time on this earth. The only thing we actually possess is our moments and our choices within our moments. The other stuff is really on loan and generally passing. Spiritual teachers and artists throughout history are unanimous on this point: the path to a rich life is built upon presence. Paying attention, exercising deep gratitude for the moments of your life, will always illuminate the extraordinary in the ordinary. Cultivating the capacity to see your extraordinary life will help you will covet the right stuff. Feeling grateful for your moment is always easier when you are warm and your brontosaurus burger is cooked just right.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Check out the kickstarter campaign for my play The Lost Boy. DSC_1196 copy