Connect The Poles [on KS Friday]

Though it is not, this could be a close-up of an x-ray. Arteries carrying blood away from the heart, veins carrying blood back to the heart, and the capillaries that connect the them. Outgoing. Incoming. And the connection between the two. And, as is always true of language, in the naming and the action-describing, the whole system is obscured. This part does this. That part does that. Mechanical mind applied to a miracle of pulsating life.

In North Carolina I overheard an old guy grousing about climate change. He is a sceptic. “There’s record snow in California!” he decried, “And, we’re having record heat here! You can’t have it both ways!” His reluctant listener bobbed her head. “It’s either warming or it’s not!” he railed. “Explain that to me!” Mechanical mind. Parts-thinkers cannot see the whole system. The capillary-word that tumbled from his mouth but bypassed his mind was “record.” The poles are, after all, connected.

I am fascinated by my current work. I am witness to and a participant in the creation of software. The language is familiar though the meanings are new: epic and story. Bug. My mind, lately, has been awhirl. The developers necessarily talk of information as content-objects. Items. The language of “fixed” things. Yet, the problems in the world that they design and solve for are “fluid.” Information, in our day-and-age, never stops. It grows exponentially everyday. It is movement, constant motion. More/faster. Sometimes I get a glimpse behind the curtain and see the developer’s work of content-items-in-motion. You’ve never seen a faster moving current of symbols. Is it a particle or a wave? It depends.

The tree in our front yard reaches toward the house. Kerri tells me that our children climbed through the branches when they were young. When the crew had to clear some branches to trench the yard, Kerri winced each time a branch snapped and fell to the ground. “I can’t look,” she said, not taking her eyes off the tree. Holding vigil. Holding her heart.

It’s easy to forget that, in all cases, no matter the eyes though which we see, the movement is always back to center. To the heart-of-the-matter. The pieces are never isolated. This tree is not separate or distinct from the sky or Kerri’s heart. The poles are always connected, whether we recognize it, see it, acknowledge it, or not. Breathe in. Breathe out. Two actions or one?

read Kerri’s blog post about THE TREE AND SKY

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes or streaming on Pandora

Take Another Sip [on DR Thursday]

I am spending a significant amount of time studying software. An unlikely task for an artist that prefers brushes and canvas over screens and keyboards. This improbable exploration follows a trend in my life: much of my work has taken place in foreign arenas. I love it because I learn. I love it because I am completely prepared to fail: a trait necessary to walk an artist’s path. To learn, it is necessary to begin in unknown places and make big mistakes. The same rule applies to creation. “Make big offers,” John used to say to his actors. “See what happens.”

Yesterday in my software study, I read about Mathilde Collin, the CEO of Front. She inspires me. She believes work should make people happy. She believes people shouldn’t dread getting out of bed in the morning. She believes in balanced-lives and finding each person’s “genius zone” and leaning into it. She knows a healthy culture doesn’t just happen, that it must be created and tended. And modeled. She believes paths to prosperity must include everyone.

I’ve also spent some time with Evariste Galois. He was a French mathematician who died in a duel at the age of 20. The night before he died, so the story goes, believing it was his last night on earth, he compiled and wrote his thoughts, his life’s work. What he left behind has kept mathematicians busy for more than two centuries. I’m not a mathematician but I am a systems guy and Galois’ Group Theory is useful when studying cultural change – or, more to the point, why it often looks like change but doesn’t really change. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s useful to consider when products are being developed – or stories – when they iterate but go nowhere.

When I come down from the office I am often glazed. Kerri gives me a glass of wine and steers me to the Covid table. While I stare at the bubbles in the wine she makes a snack. Food and wine always bring me back to the land of the living. After a cracker and cheese, a sip or two, I blink my eyes and she says, “Welcome back.” She knows better than to ask what I did at work. A time or two I’ve taken her hand and headed back toward the mind-cave and she’s learned to dig in her heels. “I learned the most amazing thing,” I say. She responds, “Take another sip and we’ll talk about it later.”

Mathilde Collin. Evariste Galois. Both are French and it only just occurred to me that they share the same country of origin. Revolutionaries both, believing that the systems should work for the people – rather than the people working for the system. Life should feed passions. Evoke personal genius. Happiness.

All of this good stuff from a stumble into the land of software.

“Take another sip,” Kerri prompts. I blink my eyes. “We’ll talk about it later.”

read Kerri’s blog post about WINE BUBBLES

in dreams i wrestle with angels © 2017 david robinson

Know Why [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I’m working with a software start-up company. Upon returning from travels I found our conversation has shifted into articulating mission and vision and purpose. None of us are keen about writing these kinds of statements but the exercise is useful and necessary. Why do we do what we do? What, exactly, do we do? In that order. Why. What.

Why? It seems as if this should be an easy answer. To support other people. To support other people in doing what they need to do.

I couldn’t help but think of our experience last week. We shared our story of breaking down in Hays, Kansas. It was late in the afternoon. It was the day before my dad’s funeral in Denver. We hobbled into the dealership. They were jammed with customers and couldn’t help us. There wasn’t a rental car to be found. It looked bleak. The dealer recommended a garage on the other side of town. Davis Automotive. We limped into their parking lot. We told our tale. They moved heaven and earth to help. Why?

It was nearing the end of their day. They, too, were jammed. Yet, they helped. They took the time. They made our problem theirs to solve. They took to heart my need to make it to my dad’s funeral. My need became their personal mission.

I returned to work with a new view on mission statements. They need not be lofty or abstract. In fact, they should be visceral. Tangible. Everyday. Support other people in doing what they need to do. Why? Because they need it. Just like I need it. Or you need it. These good mechanics fix cars. That is their “what.” Their “why”: help people get where they need to go. Help people do what they need to do.

Help people.

It’s how interconnection works. My mission is, in a real way, to make your path easier just as your mission is to make my path easier. I need mechanics because I do not have that mind or skill set. They need software designers because cars are computers and they can no longer diagnose problems without them. I am an artist, a teller-of-stories. Mechanics and software designers need my mind and skill set to remind them that, beyond their role, their mission, their job, they are human beings living a universal story. Nothing they do will matter, nothing I do will matter – ever – if it is not in service to the support of others’ growth, or need, or desire or fulfillment. I cannot be fulfilled if my work does not support you. And vice versa.

So, why are these good men and women, these software engineers and entrepreneurs creating their software? They see a real need. They see people struggling. And, like good mechanics who encounter a brokenhearted son en route to his dad’s funeral in a truck that will not run, they know exactly what to do. And, they know why.

read Kerri’s blog post about SERVICE