Flip It [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Standing on the trail, the cold breeze stinging my face, I stared at the trees in silhouette. I was overcome with the illusion that I was observing the trees upside-down. I was seeing their tangled root system, reaching. My illusion made me dizzy. What’s top is bottom. What’s bottom is top.

I’ve been pondering things like “leadership” and “power”. My belief of these concepts is the reverse of most peoples. I think leadership is a team sport and that power is created with others, not wielded over them. Roots to the sky.

Before the software start-up went away I pondered things like the abundance of content with no relevant context. Information without a home. Information sans application. Information run amok. It requires people to make-up context for the rootless material crossing their screens. In contemporary discourse, we call this made-up context “bubbles.” It’s an apt term since popping is the destiny of every bubble. No substance. The Villages.

Thank goodness for the cold wind. It snapped me out of my flip-flop illusion. The silhouette was righted. I remembered the shadow puppets in Bali. What we see is projection on a screen. Silhouettes. The real stuff, ripe with dimension and color, the massive system of roots and vibrant moving energy, stars and flow, creating forms and taking them down, happens whether we see it fully or not.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SILHOUETTES

Watch The Dance [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

It was once a guilty pleasure. After a snowfall, through newly plowed streets, I’d tie on my red Nike shoes and go for a long, long run. In Colorado, the sun and the cold air play well together. Atmospheric sweet and sour. Run toward the sun in the snow quiet. Sensual pleasure. I’ve never felt more alive than during those treasured runs.

Our yard is a miracle of shadow-play after the snowfall. Between the trees and the tall grasses that grow along the property line, the cool blue sways and dances across the ice-white canvas, a visual conversation between limb and wind. It can be mesmerizing. Sometimes it reminds me of Wayan Kulit, the shadow puppets of the Balinese. An epic tale told on the screen of our front yard. The lesson of Wayan Kulit: we are not substance, not really. Rather, we are passing shadows projecting our story onto the canvas of our minds.

The mailwoman told me that she adored bringing our mail during the winter afternoons. “The light on the grasses,” she said, “they knock me out.” We wait until spring to cut back the grasses for exactly that reason. The pink, orange and purple light of a late winter afternoon makes the grasses luminous. And the shadows they cast! A gentle blue waving, aloha! Greeting or parting? Longing or fulfillment? I’m never sure.

Sylvia Plath wrote in The Bell Jar, “I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.” Staring out our front window watching the dance, the frigid air and sun at play together, I think she was right. What could possibly be more heartbreakingly beautiful?

Cast A Shadow [on DR Thursday]

“The soul has no limits.” ~ Heraclitus

It was a hot summer night, humid and sticky, and the community was gathered in the outer ring of the temple. The Wayang Kulit master, shadow puppet master, was performing a play. Part ritual, part entertainment, the Balinese have not yet banished their arts from their worship. Laughter is welcome in the temple. Although the puppets are beautiful, ornate, the audience can only see the shadows they cast on the screen. It is a metaphor for life: in consciousness, we see only the shadows. We are the shadows. Our life-stories are illusion.

We walked in silence. Watching our shadows on the snow I thought of that hot night in Bali, of my astonishment of the skill of the master, manipulating all of the puppets, voicing all of the parts, a lamp of hot oil burning on his head – the light source to create the shadows. If that were not enough, he conducted the orchestra, seated behind him, by tapping the ground with a piece of wood wedged between his toes. He was a priest. A storyteller, not a preacher. Words and laughter swirl in the outer ring. As you progress to the inner ring, the most sacred place, language falls away, no words are spoken. No words are necessary. Kerri and I, while we walk, often occupy the inner ring. We hold hands. We listen to the sounds in the forest. We cast shadows.

Sometimes I feel far away from that hot summer night. Sometimes I sit right next to it. Our walks bring me closer to it.

It was a revelation to me to sit with people that experience no division between what is sacred and what is not. They do not worship on the weekend and then leave their holy place. To the people watching the shadow puppets, it is all sacred. It is all temple, even themselves. They know themselves as sacred. It is all holy, even to the forks and spoons in their drawer.

The separation they experience in this life – as individuals – is the shadow. Separation is the illusion. Fears and foibles are without lasting substance. The puppet master plays his rowdy tale to remind the people seated on the ground in the temple, that the truth of their existence is beyond the projection on the screen of their minds. Forms are fluid, not fixed. Souls have no limits.

read Kerri’s blog post about SHADOWS

Project, And Swim Away! [on Two Artists Tuesday]

hand shadow copy

Sitting on schoolhouse beach, a brilliant clear day, Kerri began her shadow puppet play. Her characters struck poses. They shape-shifted into other characters. Like a kid watching clouds I’d say, “That one looks like a dinosaur!”  And then there was a butterfly. And Mr. Magoo!

Making sense of shapes. Making stories of the shapes in motion. The shapes became powerful or meek, threatening or pleading (“You must pay the rent!” “I can’t pay the rent!”). The shadow players fulfilling their roles.

Shadow puppets, the wayang kulit. Stories told through shadow to remind us that what we see are shadows merely – and then we fill in the gaps with what we project onto those moving shapes. Projection thrown onto projection, an infinity mirror.

Kerri’s shadow puppet Loch Ness monster tried to eat the camera. The camera was too large to fit into its mouth and so Nessie swam away. A story of triumph for the camera (it celebrated wildly) and as for the monster, the hunt goes on.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SHADOW PLAY

 

handshadowstones website box copy