Search [on Flawed Wednesday]

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I’m a broken record: words matter. They are rarely accidental. For instance, the division between “black” and “white” was created. Our racial legacy is not happenstance. It is by design.

Power does not like to be challenged or threatened and strategies of division are great mechanisms of control. Taking pride-in-ignorance is another – it is a terrific support strategy if discord is the goal. An ignorant people are easily misled.

We enact and reenact Bacon’s rebellion again and again. It is a vicious cycle, a whirlpool that is hard to escape without a clear view of the full story. History, like language, is never passive, it comes with a dedicated point of view – and so we are witness once again to the great narrative tug-of-war.  We could drop the rope if we decided to look at our history, ask a few questions, and perhaps see the narrative slop that the fox and friends are force feeding to white fear as just the latest iteration of an old, old scare tactic.

Misinformation is nothing new. Propaganda is as old as human history. It is the downfall of a critter unique in its need for an identifying narrative to believe almost anything if it provides a sense of belonging. People who refuse to take a step back and ask, “Is this true?” will buy almost any line. Fear is a narrative with an agenda so what-on-earth prevents otherwise thinking people from considering that the daily dose of fear they are being fed might be cooked up intentionally? Trading brains for belonging never works out well in the end.

Black and white. Red and blue. We have a pattern, not a problem.

A people united are an unstoppable force and the worst nightmare of identity politicians.  People unite when their ideals – things like freedom and truth and justice and equality – transcend their small identity bubbles.  Ideals are unattainable – that is what gives them their special uniting capacity. We strive. It’s an active verb with an inclusive pronoun.

Hate and fear – all things divisive – are easily attained. That’s what makes them so useful to despots and control-mongers. Keep the thinking small and encapsulated within the tiny bubble. It will keep the people warring among themselves with no questions asked.

How do we move beyond this pattern and rise above the incessant division that plagues us? Well, we must first desire to see the pattern. We must choose to see. Then, we might be capable of revisiting the words we placed as central to our national ideal and choose to live them. Our words matter. That might require a few challenging questions.

It will definitely require a good deal of soul searching and that’s not such a bad thing. Nations, like people, grow and become better when they grow weary of their dysfunction and go looking for their soul.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about Explicitly Divisive

 

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surrender now ©️ 2016 david robinson

Sow A Better Seed [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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The last Monday in May, what was once called Decoration Day has, over time, become known as Memorial Day in these United States. On the first Decoration Day, several thousand people descended on Arlington National Cemetery and together decorated the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Honoring the dead.

BENEATH THIS STONE REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN,… [Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns].

The bones of combatants together in repose. Dust to dust. It turns out they were made of the same stuff after all. I have, since I was a small human, wondered why we only get around to honoring the front line after they are gone. It seems a little late to make statements of mattering after we dig a big hole and fill it with bodies. Why not honor each other before we step on opposite sides of a whipped up divide?  Why not hold hands together prior to repose?

I know, I know. Silly idealism! There’d be no drama if we honored each other up front. Peace and collaboration do not make for scintillating news. Cooperation and common cause is bad for weapons sales. When all the deeper meanings of existence have been masked (consumerism is a lousy soul-filler), then the superficial fillers take over. Hatred of other, conspiracy theory and fear-mongering are great unifying forces when buying stuff no longer fills the metaphysical black hole.

Kerri has said it. So has 20. I’ve heard it from Jim, from the checker in the store, from people walking on the trail, the nurse interviewed for the news: “I’m tired.” General fatigue is understandable in the midst of the emotional pandemic roller coaster but I’m sensing a deeper root to the ubiquitous weariness: fields sowed with division and lies and  distraction and misinformation and malfeasance.

Throughout time, those idealist/realists that we most admire and strive to emulate, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandi, Mother Teresa, Rumi…[it’s an extensive list] including those that we profess to worship, would each and every one ask us why, with all we espouse and purport to believe, do we sow our fields with combatants who find togetherness only in repose?

Today we honor those who died in the many, many, many battles that fill our divisive history. Perhaps tomorrow we will find a way to turn to each other and sow the seeds of courtesy and generosity, and find a way to honor each other before we join together as dust.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TIRED.

 

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held in grace: rest now

Consider Levitation [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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And what does this mean, this pear sitting atop a wine bottle? Certainly this was not a naturally occurring event! No pear could possibly achieve so grand a seat without some form of assistance. Or, could it?

Levitation is a possibility but it is doubtful that this pear – or any pear, for that matter – is capable of the necessary powers of concentration required to raise itself to wine bottle heights. And, if levitation is the answer, we are still left with the primary question: what does it mean?

The pear might answer, as George Mallory answered when asked why he might want to place himself atop Mt. Everest, “Because it is there.” Meaning making does not require depth but it does necessitate curiosity. “Because I can” really means “because I want to.” The grass is always greener. Why step on the moon? Why sail to the edge of the world? Why paint a painting or compose a song? Something calls.

Because it feels good. Because it is beautiful in my eyes. Because I might learn something about myself and, therefore, the world in which I create/inhabit. Most explorations are internal journeys even if they look like mountain ascents. Soul searching leads to more experiences with soul. The best questions lead to bigger questions, like this one (last week’s winner for best question): Does the soul live in the body or does the body live within the soul?

It seems like a good time to borrow a title from Joseph Campbell: what exactly are The Inner Reaches Of Outer Space?  What are the outer reaches of inner yearning?

Does this pear have yearnings? What does it mean, this pear sitting atop a wine bottle? Believe me, I’ve asked the pear and it remains silent on the subject. Wise pear! It knows I must make my own meaning and hopes that I will never cease asking my questions and, above all, never delude myself into thinking I have even the slightest bit of an answer.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about the PEAR & THE BOTTLE

 

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angel at the well

 

Allow [on KS Friday]

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“If we allow time for soul, we will sense its dark and luminous path. If we fail to acquaint ourselves with soul, we will remain strangers in our own lives.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

These days are edge days. We began to feel strangers in our own lives. That is a sign to be heeded. It’s time for us to sit in silence.

“Beauty inhabits the cutting edge of creativity – mediating between the known and the unknown, light and darkness, masculine and feminine, visible and invisible, chaos and meaning, sound and silence, self and others.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

Kerri doubts her beauty. And then she approaches the edge. She stands at her piano. When she plays all doubt leaves the room because the polarity finds its middle way, there is no this or that.

Sometimes it is enough – it is necessary – to stand at the piano with hands nowhere near the keys.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

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Kerri on iTunes

 

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Persevere [on KS Friday]

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To me, the album cover is like a time capsule. The woman who would become my wife looking through a camera lens into a future unimaginable.  Over twenty years later, I look back, peeking through that triangular keyhole, the impish woman, the near smirk. Does she know the path she will walk, the mountains she will climb? The falls she will take? The sturdy resilient woman she will become?

The impishness remains intact. The brat with the wicked laugh I adore even when – especially when – I am the object of her rascal-nature. The kind of perseverance developed over a lifetime. Clinging to the cliff, against all odds, holding steadfast through the storm. This mettle must have already existed in her blueprint! And, look what life built from that blueprint! A ferocious and very kind soul. An artist.

 

HOLDING STEADFAST from the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about HOLDING STEADFAST

 

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holding steadfast/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

Follow The Trail [on KS Friday]

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I like the idea of a blueprint for souls. As if each life has an underlying design. As if each day of life was part of the overall construction.

When Kerri and I talk about our story we often talk about design. The impossible sequence of random coincidences that led to our paths crossing. Have you ever played that game: what if I left the house 2 minutes earlier? What if I’d decided not to go?

Lately, many people have been telling us their stories of things-that-were-meant-to-happen. “The pieces just fell into place,” they say. “That’s the sign it was supposed to be.” I’m not the only one who likes the notion of a blueprint. Ease is a sign.

We can only see the connected dots when looking backward. Sense-making is rarely a forward looking affair. Yet, Kerri’s BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is like a popcorn trail through the woods. It is a kernel of hope that leads to another kernel of hope and, if you follow the hope-trail long enough, you come to a place where you can turn around and see with clear eyes the path, the unique life that was designed by you, just for you.

 

 

BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL

 

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blueprint for my soul/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

Look Back [on KS Friday]

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Every artist has a root. They stand firmly on the shoulders of other artists that inspire and inform their work. They have experiences that color their expression. Every artist walks a seeker’s path. They, of necessity, stand at the edge of their village so they can 1) see clearly the machinations of their community, but more importantly, 2) they serve as a bridge to help their community across boundaries of time and space, providing necessary access to the unseen world, the greater things that cannot be grasped in law or calculation or bought with currency. Inspiration. Ancestry. Purpose. Love. Soul. Aspiration. Perspective. Hope. Possibility.

It is a happy accident that for this week’s Studio Melange Kerri shared a new piece of music, YOU’RE THE WIND, a song never  before recorded, while also choosing this piece for KS Friday, WHERE I’M FROM, recorded over 20 years ago. It traces her path. It speaks to her sources.

WHERE I’M FROM is an appropriate title. It is a reaching back, recorded before Kerri met broadcast constraints and the squeeze of the music industry’s labels (New Age) expectations. It radiates innocence. It took me back to my childhood, transported me to carefree days in the sun, mountain meadows, games of four square with the neighborhood kids, my dad teaching me to ride a bike. She took me across the boundary of time, she helped me touch my source, a visit to where I am from.

Take the time to let this artist hold your hand and take you across the boundary, back to your source, to touch for a moment the greater things that live beyond the day’s achievements. Let her remind you of all that truly matters as you turn and look back and visit your mountain meadow and perhaps, as I did, appreciate the riches of the life that you’re living.

 

WHERE I’M FROM on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHERE I’M FROM

 

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where i’m from/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

you’re the wind ©️ 2005/18 kerri sherwood

Two Artists Tuesday

A thought for your Tuesday from the melange.

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we call these pieces, “just words.” double meaning? perhaps!

If I had to write a how-to book on soul wellness it would be brief and could be summed up with simple phrases like, lighten up, or cease the practice of taking yourself so seriously [or, the inverse, practice not taking yourself so seriously]. Soul wellness and lightheartedness are companions.

Many southwestern native American traditions include a sacred clown. Don’t you love that phrase! Sacred clown. A sacred clown serves many purposes but usually they lob some light into the too-serious-ritual; they shock us out of our attachment to “how things should be” and spin our dials so we can see “how things really are.” Those wacky sacred clowns know that the path to center is more often found with the assistance of light than when stumbling through the heavy dark. Stephen Colbert is a sacred clown. Jimmy Kimmel is, too. John Oliver. There are many great clowns to help us laugh our way to soul wellness.

The jester, the sacred clown speaks truth to power when no one else can. Power rarely likes to hear truth so most often surrounds itself with sycophants. Power needs a mighty sacred clown to keep it honest. The same rule applies with inner monologues and the runaway stories that plague our minds.  A good inner-jester, the practice of not taking yourself so seriously, acts as a mighty dope slap, a necessary reminder that an alternate focus, beyond the insurmountable obstacle or the unsolvable incessant problem or the unshakable attachment to being right, is possible.

Feed well your sacred clown and you will invariably find the path to wellness with your soul.

 

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL merchandise/reminders

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read Kerri’s thoughts about IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

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kerrianddavid.com

 

it is well with my soul ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood

Find The Riches

an illustration from Beaky's book, SHAYNE.

one of my illustrations from Beaky’s book, SHAYNE.

During my call with Jim I told him that my projects this year have been the most satisfying of my life. Certainly they have been the most important. And, they have also been, as I laughingly used the term, “negatively lucrative.” He didn’t yet know of Beaky’s books, of her website, of her book signing, so I sent him a few of my favorite photos from the event. Later, he sent me this text:

It is wonderful to be able to eat and pay the bills but there are for a fact things money can never buy. That famous authors obvious joy being one.

Isn’t that the truth? What price could we possibly place on joy? What price would we pay for true love? What price do we place on personal truth? What is the price tag on fulfillment?

I suspect that the great disease of our time – something future history professors and archaeologists will investigate – is that we’ve managed to place a value on our values; morality has somehow enmeshed with money, the purpose of education has somehow become the achievement of a bigger paycheck. In this never-ending political season, count the number of times and ways our candidates tell us that we must weigh our interests against our values.

What is the price of a value? What is the purpose of a value if it has a price?

All my life I’ve been told by people who love me, that, as an artist, I need to make a distinction between the work I do for food and the work I do for love. Most artists, myself included, feel their work is a kind of call. It is an imperative, a necessity. It is food. It is love. Most artists, myself included, do their work-for-love whether they are paid for it or not. They have to. I have to. It is a call. It is nourishment. There is no way in a culture that has placed a value on its values to recognize the real value of food-for-the-soul and food-from-the soul (the purpose of artists in a culture); a market cannot make sense of soul nourishment. This line of distinction, work-for-food or work-for-love, is at best a wonky value statement. It is a line that only makes sense to a people versed and rehearsed in trading their soul-requirements for a better retirement.

what is the price of joy?

what is the price of joy?

Last night I finished reading aloud to Kerri Tuesdays With Morrie. Jim’s text and Morrie’s messages are in beautiful alignment: there are, for a fact, things that money can never buy. And, those things are where the riches of this life can be found.

Embrace The Bubble

A bit of the Eiffel Tower

A bit of the Eiffel Tower

I am nearly through the throes of jet lag and my inner anthropologist has an observation or two about the altered state that occurs when one wakes up in Paris and goes to sleep in Kenosha.

When 36 hours pass in a 24-hour daylight cycle, the human body (my human body) experiences shock and awe. A soul cannot travel nearly as fast as a body in a modern airplane; that’s why they call it jet lag. The jet does not lag. The soul doddles as a good soul should while the body flings through space in a pressurized aluminum tube. The soul lags (note: my inner anthropologist is a scientist and is dubious about using the word “soul.” He wants you to know that “soul” is my translation of his term, “consciousness”).

Jet lag is like being inside a bubble. There are great benefits to being inside the bubble. For instance, the world is wonderfully distorted. Nothing is normal when sifted through a soapy haze. The bubble is the overlap of dream space and the everyday. From inside the bubble, people move too fast. Or, they move too slowly. The words people speak are garbled and generally bounce off the bubble. Checking out of a grocery store is like a scene in a sci-fi movie. Sense-making is impossible but the surrender to no-sense is sweet and oddly comforting. To release the necessity to understand, the need to recognize, rationalize, explain, or connect even the simplest of thought-dots is liberating. In the bubble, a sigh is the only appropriate response.

From the bubble, there is nothing to be done but to watch the time river roll. Jet lag bubble consciousness makes things somehow more simplistic; complexity is not possible from a jet lag haze. Inside the bubble, life routines that were unconscious prior to traveling are startling and new; they are like gestures from a previous incarnation. For example, this morning, doing the dishes, my hands knew what to do yet I was fascinated with the odd process. I was both doer and witness. Doing the dishes was known and new all in the same instant. The bubble, so my inner anthropologist claims, is a paradox: it dulls the thinking but sharpens the simple moments. It opens the senses. Prior to doing the dishes, watching the sunrise through the fog, I listened with fascination to the wind shake the dew through the high leaves in the trees. It was gorgeous; nature’s rainstick.

Within the bubble, sleep is a constant tug like an undertow. It pulls time into slow motion. It creates a liminal space, a not-here-and-not-there space. It creates a “now” space with a single simple imperative: stay awake for a few more hours.

Stay awake. I like the metaphor: to stay awake amidst the pull to dullness; ultimately it is the gift of the bubble. It is a reminder not to sleepwalk through life, to stay alert to the simple moments. Stay awake or your life becomes like a television running an endless cycle of sitcoms. Dullness is a choice. My inner anthropologist just rolled his eyes. It’s more extravagance on my part; apparently “choice,” like “soul” is not an appropriate scientific term.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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