Recognize It [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

beaky text copy

I love this text. It is from 93 year old Beaky to her daughter. The specific context is not important. What I love is the universality of this sentiment, a text  every mother across the ages might have written to their children. It is a text Kerri could write to Kirsten or Craig. What mother does not know more than they say, think more than they speak, notice much more than their underestimating children realize?

I’ve learned, as I watch Kerri not-say things to her children, letting them make their own mistakes and untangle their own webs, that the effort involved in not-speaking is herculean.

Sisu sometimes requires silence. When every impulse in a mother’s body is to reach, Sisu sometimes demands stillness.

As a child who routinely underestimates his mother, Beaky’s text gives sends chills up my spine. I’ve certainly made a mess of things and I can only imagine the fortitude (unrecognized by me) my mother displayed – and continues to display – by letting me fall down. Sisu. Sisu. Sisu.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that the interruption-of-the-reach, the silence-in-the-midst-of-knowing, comes from a deeper mom-like-faith. Mothers know that the great trip-and-fall-down moments come with some necessary pain but will always end with a return to standing, a re-entry to the game.  It’s a cycle. It’s how moms everywhere awaken Sisu in their children. Like all good life cycles, it’s a paradox, to be sure.

The second thing I love about Beaky’s text? She signs her dope-slap to her daughter with ‘Mom.” This love-thing is tough!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BEAKY’S TEXT

 

momma, d & k website box copy

 

Contemplate [on DR Thursday]

 

I do more than my fair share of contemplating (just ask Kerri. My incessant contemplation drives her bonkers). For instance, years ago, it occurred to me that every thought we human-storytellers have IS a kind of meditation. It’s a fair question – a necessary question – to ask: what are you meditating on? Your pain? Your troubles? Who you blame? Your grudges? Your obstacles? Your joys? Your opportunities? Your privileges? Your love? Your losses? Your list? All of the above?  Keep in mind (where else would you keep it) that most of your thoughts are repetitive. The majority of what you think today is a repeat of what you thought yesterday. Your thoughts are not passive. They are also not truth. They are patterned, mostly made up, and a powerful lens through which you define your experiences. The good news is that you can change your meditation if you want to.

Listening to the news it will make you gag when you stop and realize what actually populates our national meditation and how our angry narrative permeates your personal mediation. We are not as separate as we like to pretend. That’s good news. That, and, we can change our meditation. We can tell a better story.

 

This morsel comes from a painting that recently returned to the stable. It is, quite literally, a blast from the past. What I find most amazing about this particular return-to-the-fold is that, just a few months ago, I uncovered the old drawing that inspired Contemplation and sourced it again for another painting, Softly She Prays. And then, in a fit of good timing, Contemplation arrived at our door.

Paintings are like journal entries. It is not often that happenstance provides such a rich opportunity for comparison. Comparison of contemplation. What was my meditation 15 years ago? What is it now? Horatio told me my body of work is a study of stillness in motion (not a direct quote H, but I love the reflection non-the-less). The deep river story remains. The top layer meditation has shifted.

Ah. Do you see? Incessant contemplation.

 

 

color & contemplation copy

Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

softly she prays copy

Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

babycatContemplating website copy

 

contemplation/softly she prays ©️ 2004/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Thoughts Babble. Hearts Speak.

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

Thoughts Babble Hearts Speak

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is cut through the mental chatter, the fear stories and investments in obstacles to hear what your heart already knows: what is right for you…. Cutting through the racket is always a process of growing quiet enough to listen.

FOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.

Sit Down

google "Chicken Little" and this one will come up. www.homesforsaleinlascruces.com

Google “Chicken Little” and this one will come up. http://www.homesforsaleinlascruces.com

Many years ago I was feeling disoriented in my life. I told my friend Rob that I was lost in the woods and looking for my way out. He replied, “Sometimes when you are lost in the woods the best thing to do is nothing. Just sit down.” His message was clear: no one gets oriented or reoriented by spinning. Running in circles, although it might feel useful, will only make you dizzy. Sit down. Get quiet. Listen. It was great advice and at the time nearly impossible.

Orientation to life comes from getting quiet. In one of his books, Deepak Chopra wrote that an important practice on the path to success is a half hour of meditation in the morning and another half hour at the end of the day. Make a practice of getting quiet. Exercise the muscle of stillness. Listen. Clarity will ensue. That way, when the inner compass goes awry, the right tool for the job will be more readily available.

Sitting down can be hard. Stillness and disorientation are not natural bedfellows. The impulse is to action, any action. I was once in a car on a remote mountain dirt road. The road collapsed and the car slowly rolled into a gully. My friend and I spent two days trying unsuccessfully to build a road out. It was only after we gave up and sat down that we were capable of thinking things through. Disorientation generally inspires panic. Panic-driven actions, like running in circles or hauling stones to build a road, are generally comical and make for great stories after orientation is restored. We’ve all turned the wrong way down a one-way street when lost and panicked. Pulling over would have been better but much harder to do when dedicated to forcing an outcome.

Beneath Rob’s message to me was a more important lesson: let go. Let go of the need to do. Let go of the need to solve, fix, or find. The path to orientation always leads through a necessary disorientation and the disorientation comes from hanging on to old ideas, old roles, old baggage, old heroics. The cycle is perfect as hanging on necessitates letting go and letting go often means to sit down, surrender, and breathe. To sit down always affords the opportunity to see where you are as distinct from where you think you should be. To surrender is to open. To breathe is to invite in the new. No one is lost when they stop trying to be some other place.

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State The Obvious

Sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious (to myself). Sometimes, for me, the potency of life is found in stating the obvious: children are born and children grow up. They leave home. They become parents. Parents become grandparents. Grandparents grow old and pass away. At no point do things stand still.

Or, the obvious can be stated another way: children have dreams. They pursue their dreams or run away from them. Either way, they pass through the stages of becoming – and, at some point, believe that they have actually grown into something (doctor, clerk, lawyer, teacher, vagabond, parent, athlete, etc.). They learn that their dreams are infinitely more complex than they realized. All dreams come with challenges, regrets, and discomfort. Regardless of the path, at no point do things stand still.

We want to “get there.” We desire to arrive. Usually, the misperception of arrival leads to crisis when things change. And things always change. This river of life never stands still. It is never static. It is never fixed. The moment of birth begins the progression to dying. And, depending upon what you believe, a new form always arises when old forms fall away. The new form, the new leaf, turns brilliant colors, withers, falls to the earth, becomes soil and mineral, feeds the root, and reemerges as the grape that ripens, is picked, and becomes wine.

Where is the arrival?

Even inner stillness is fluid. Try to hang on to it; grasping always disturbs the pond. Stillness is more akin to surfing than to stasis. Chaos and order are not opposite sides of a polarity; they are essential phases in a single cycle. Ripples are necessary to experience stillness. Fulfillment and emptiness are necessary to each other. One does not gain without losing. One does not live without dying.

There is no arrival. There are fluid moments of recognition, moments of presence (a word that is often mistaken for an arrival). Presence, otherwise known as consciousness, might be defined as the awareness and appreciation of each moment amidst the realization that things always change. To try and stop the river, to hold on to the moment, to try and stop time will always bring frustration. Presence describes your relationship with change.

This is the obvious thing: nothing is certain. Nothing is still. We always step into uncertainty. We always step. We are never still. Our steps are always into the unknown because no one has ever lived their moments prior to the living of them- despite what the to-do list and cubicle illusion might lead us to believe. Realize it and life is rich and mysterious. Resist it and life is rigid and rich with hardship.

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Eat For Stillness

779. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I am exhausted today. I spurned all work and cleaned the studio. I prepared canvases. I stayed away from sharp objects and power tools. I made sure not to cross the street until I looked three times. During days of exhaustion, personal safety is the best I can do.

During my cleaning frenzy I cleared space in the studio. I made space. I created space. I needed space and that meant that things had to go. I made a rule that if I hadn’t touched the book or the tool for a year, I had to get rid of it. I got rid of a lot of stuff! Had you walked by my studio today and mentioned that you liked a painting, it would have gone home with you. I’d have given you two paintings because the spaciousness – the feeling of space – was energizing in my exhaustion.

This evening, Megan shook her finger at me for not taking good care of myself. Yesterday I forgot to eat. It happens when I get focused and busy. It won’t surprise you to learn that lack of food and exhaustion are connected. Making space and eating are both great remedies for my low energy. Megan read to me a passage from a book. The passage was about listening. According to the book listening is about stillness. Inner chatter disrupts listening. Her message was about taking care of myself inside and out. I am not listening to what I need. I am not listening to what my body is telling me. She was prompting me to return to my practice of stillness with a reminder that stillness inside is impossible if I am not caring for myself outside, not eating well, not resting appropriately.

Now that I’ve created spaciousness I intend to regain my stillness. To that end, I’m going in search of some very big, very hot, very yummy food.