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.

 

 

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Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

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

 

 

 

Show Up [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Sometimes something is so obvious it actually needs to be said. The real difficulty in this life is not arriving at the finish line but showing up to the starting line. This phrase, a quote from our Life Below Zero addiction, encapsulates the essence and great challenge of many of my coaching clients – of most people. There is often a glass wall between yearning and action. I wonder how many times in my life I’ve offered this phrase: the actions you need to take are never the problem; the challenge is the story you wrap around the actions.

It comes down to this, yet another simplicity: starting brings change. Start the race and you will never be the same. Start the race and there’s no guarantee what you will learn or find. You may win or lose or simply not finish. You might learn that you are in the wrong race or that you care nothing for races. But mostly, there is this. If you take another look at the quote you’ll discover the crux of the matter is not about lines, it is never really about beginnings or endings. It’s about showing up. It’s about taking action on the thing that you most yearn to do. Or be. It’s about showing up, being seen. Starting requires a relinquishing of control.

Damn! There’s so much complexity in simplicity!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SHOWING UP

 

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Appraise It [on Flawed Wednesday]

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The first time we visited Hippie Tom’s Serendipity Farm, Kerri said, “It’s like being inside someone’s disease.” The farm is a hoarder’s dream. Stuff piled upon stuff. Stuff packed into corners, hung from rafters, tucked under shelves. Most of the stuff is exposed to the heat and cold, rain and snow. Having the stuff is more important than the caring for the stuff, a 3-D philosophical statement. Certainly there are treasures to be found, curiosities that are heartier than the mildew and rust or perhaps have not yet been on the farm for a cycle of seasons.

In the barn there is a room for chairs. Chairs stacked to the ceiling though I use the term ‘stacked” loosely. Piled, perhaps. It reminds me a scene post tsunami, what remains after the waters have retreated. The artifacts of lives-now-gone. It would be a brilliant set for a play, metaphors abound. The sickness of acquisition. Or, perhaps it is not sickness so much as the inevitable destination of stuff after the story connection is lost.

The power of story. The value is never in the stuff, it is in the shared narrative invested into it. A diamond has no value without people to appraise it.

Once, I visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was spartan. And I loved it. A few chairs. And, oh-my-god the paintings. The view and vibrant connection to the natural world. It was like being inside someone’s happiness. So many years after her passing it felt alive – a place of life. That’s my appraisal.

Hippie Tom loves his farm, I’m sure. As for me, I think I’d rather walk the path with Georgia. Less stuff. More life.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about STUFF

 

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Long And Stand Still [on KS Friday]

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It’s been a week. How’s that for a non-statement statement? It reminds me of a phrase Roger taught me years ago. It’s an emergency phrase to pull out when the play you’ve just seen is rotten and the director wants to know what you think. He said, “Simply smile and exclaim, ‘Now that was a play!'”

We write posts everyday. Sometimes the real story we are trying to tell is found in the overview, where the posts are juxtaposed. For instance, the difference between what I wrote Tuesday: a nod to all the special people willing to help, and what I wrote Wednesday: routinely checking for exits, not feeling safe in a gun crazy culture, reads like a study in opposites or the ravings of a schizophrenic. And then, to ice my polarity cake, yesterday I wrote about the universal wisdom of finding the middle way. This is the moment when you would smile at me and exclaim, “Now that was some writing!”

Competing narratives. Seeing the pervasive kindness in a culture saturated in violence. We want things to be one way or another and it rarely is. It is both/and. We want Hollywood endings and Hallmark predictability all the while yearning for a life of unpredictability and excitement. We story a past that we claim was better than today, forgetting or editing, the hard parts, the ugly parts. “History repeats itself,” we caution out of one side of our mouths while, in the next breath insisting, “Things were better back then.” Competing narratives.

Sometimes I long to go back and make different choices. Sometimes I am intensely grateful that I’ve walked this rich and broken path; I wouldn’t change a thing. Longing is like that, I think. And, Kerri has caught perfectly both sides of longing, the collision of narratives in competition, the desire to go back in time, the utter appreciation of standing right here.

 

LONGING on the album AS IT IS is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LONGING

 

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longing/as it  is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

Fill It In [on Flawed Wednesday]

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A truism: In everything there is a story and rarely do we know the full story. At best, we see partials, a snippet, and from there we draw conclusions, make judgments, fill in the gaps with dedicated certainty in made-up meanings, interpretations, and projections from our own experiences. Imagination runs rampant whether we recognize it or not.

We laughed when we saw this note. It was lodged in a gutter, having blown from the spot where the last of the 2-4 year olds was claimed. Kerri said, “Darn! I wanted a three year old.”

“Why a three year old?” I asked.

She shivered, shaking a specific memory from her mind and replied, “Anything to avoid the terrible twos.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FREE 2-4 YEAR OLDS

 

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Pray In Opposites [on DR Thursday]

 

I love this painting and for some reason have never included it in a show. An early version of it hung for a few years in the undergraduate offices of Antioch University, Seattle. After returning from Bali I took it down, hauled it back to the studio and repainted it.

On my gallery site I wrote about this painting that paradoxes and oppositions are lively topics for me. Truth is always found in the “in-between” spaces. Truth is connective tissue.

Separation is only the beginning of the life-story. The rest of the story is a search for connection. It is lived as a quest to find the common center – through a prayer of opposites. As the Balinese would say in shorthand, many faces, one god.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about A PRAYER OF OPPOSITES

 

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a prayer of opposites ©️ 2002/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Free Fall in Love [on KS Friday]

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One of the first things I learned and loved about Kerri was her natural impulse to story telling. During rehearsals she is famous for putting her hands on the piano, the choir poised, inhaling to sing the first note, and without warning, she will break into a story. “Did I tell you what happened this week!” We exhale in laughter and confusion, caught off guard (again!) and tumbling into her tale.

Deep down inside my solo-piano-playing-composer-wife harbors a country music singer. She tells me that FREEFALLIN’ IN LOVE is her nod to that part of herself. If I am successful in my intentions I will liberate that honky tonk woman so she can tell us more stories through song. She’s a natural. Just ask the choir. Or the neighbors. Or our friends. Or people we meet on the road. In the grocery store….

 

 

FREEFALLIN’ IN LOVE on AS SURE AS THE SUN is available in iTunes & CDBaby

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read Kerri’s blog post about FREEFALLIN’ IN LOVE

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

freefallin’ in love/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood