Pull It Apart [on Two Artists Tuesday]

lettuce copy

The thing that I didn’t write about last week, in fact I avoided, was my latest brush with coincidence. It went something like this: I’ve been moving the Prometheus paintings for years. They are big paintings! Three canvases, each 4ft x 8ft. They require a truck to move. I’ve shown them. I’ve stored them. When I moved to Kenosha they literally could not fit into my studio in our house so Brad and Jen were kind enough to store them for me.

Truth? I thought that someday I would again perform the symphony for which I painted the series. I wrote and performed the script. I painted the pieces to accompany the performance. I thought they might someday have a second life. Over the years, Yaki and I have tossed the idea around once or twice but it always fell into the maybe-someday-abyss.

Jen and Brad are doing some renovation and I needed to move the paintings. I brought them home and they lived in our dining room. I offered to donate them to the PCO – the company that produced Prometheus. I approached several organizations that might be interested in visual statements borne from literature and  performance. The paintings are too big. So, finally, last week, I pulled them apart. Took them out of the frames, disassembled the panels so I could move them down the stairs. The frames went into the garage. There was something cleansing about acknowledging that these pieces were done. I sighed with relief when dropping the illusion that they might someday see the light of day. Two of the panels are hidden behind a tall cabinet in our sitting room, still too big to make it down the curve of the stair into the studio.

The next day, Yaki called. “I want to do the Prometheus,” he said. “But, can we pull it apart? Can we make it more relevant to what’s happening today?”

I laughed heartily. “Yes,” I responded. We can pull it apart.”

Sometimes space must be made. This universe abhors a vacuum. It seems all of my life lessons these days are about letting go of what was. Letting go of how things used to work or who I represented myself to be.

Can I pull it apart. Yes. Done and done. “Cultivate your serendipity,” Quinn used to say.

And, what on earth does this have to do with lettuce? I’d never planted it before. I’d never planted anything before. 20 gave us the boxes. He told us what to do. Growing lettuce – growing anything, it seems – takes some patience. And, some luck. Sunshine and attention. From the seed, if it is tended and mostly left alone -given space – something good will grow.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LETTUCE

 

lettuce website box copy

 

Let The Pieces Fall [on KS Friday]

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“It is the paradox of spiritual growth that through such bleak midwinter journeys we eventually come through a hidden door into a bright field of springtime that we could never have discovered otherwise. This is the heart of the mystical. It is not about building protectionist armour of prayer and religion; it is, rather, the courage for absolute divestment. In the sheer vulnerability of Nothingness everything becomes possible in a new way, but there is an immense temptation to flee back to the shelter of old complacency. Now could be the most important moment in life to steel our courage and enter the risk of change.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

Parcival returned to the place in the deep woods where he’d stripped off his armor. Was it yesterday? A year ago? Two? He couldn’t remember. While he searched for the place he remembered with satisfaction the battles he’d waged, the ogres he’d defeated. The mission he’d served. He longed to once again inhabit that simple clarity, that single focus.

His old armor was not hard to find but it looked nothing like he remembered it. No longer shiny and hard, it was brittle with rust and covered in moss and vines. Nature was reclaiming it. Still, he wanted to put it back on. He wanted to forget the reasons he took it off in the first place. The loneliness. The fear. Forever fighting the lost cause, the imagined foe. He wanted to remember the good and ignore completely the painful parts of the story.  He could go back! He could be the great knight once again.

His vision crumbled like his armor when he attempted to pick it up. Going back was a fantasy. Retreating back in time, donning again his old armor,  was perhaps the final ogre to fight. Like all of the other ogres, it, too, was an illusion. He let the rusty pieces fall back to the forest floor.

Now, allowing the full force of his vulnerability, the utter absence of role or definition, he no longer yearned for the tight closure of what was, but wholly surrendered to the expansive, the infinite and uncontrollable new.

LONGING on the album AS IT IS is available on iTunes

 

read Kerri’s blog post about LONGING

 

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longing/as it is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

FaceTheRain

Ask, “What Now?” [on DR Thursday]

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“Although each of us is fashioned in careful incompletion, we were created to long for each other. The secret of our completion can only be found in the other. Huge differences may separate us, yet they are exactly what draw us to each other. It is as though forged together we form one presence, for each of us has half of a language that the other seeks.” ~ John O’Donohue, Beauty

My favorite definition of “story” comes from Robert Olen Butler: a story happens when a yearning meets an obstacle. It is, of course, also a great definition of the experience of being alive. In our “careful incompletion” we yearn for other things and other places, other ideas of ourselves. And, so, we set sail. We seek.

Without yearning there would be no story. Without obstacles there would be no story.

Like you, I have spent my time on the kitchen floor, Kerri’s code-phrase for weeping.  When my obstacle was insurmountable, when my yearning required leaving. Loss. Weeping invited surrender. Surrender required weeping. Letting go.

And, after the weeping, emptied of what was, I, like you, stood, took a deep breath and asked myself, “What now?”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WEEPING MAN

 

 

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weeping man ©️ 2015 david robinson

Give Over [on DR Thursday]

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It’s called Surrender Now.

I chose it for this week’s Melange because, from this vantage point, surrender seems the only path forward. Giving over rather than giving in. Nonresistance to the forces fighting all around us.

Nonresistance is a scary word. In modern parlance is presupposes tyranny. Unjust authority run amok. It is a path of exposing suppression en route to peace. Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

The surrender in the painting, the surrender of which I write, is a much more personal variety. It is the surrender of aging. It is the surrender of pushing for outcomes and achievements, the release of long-held loss and disappointment. Giving up old stories. giving over to unknown paths and definitions.

Surrender the push-away of life as it comes. Rather, embrace the day with all its surprises. Held in grace. Surrender now.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SURRENDER NOW

 

 

SurrenderNow framed copy

arches shadows k&d website box copy

 

held in grace: surrender now ©️ 2016 david robinson

Line Up! [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Sometimes the right metaphor steps directly in front of you, stops the car (and all the traffic behind you), and says, “Here I am. Pay attention.” After a good laugh there is only one thing to do: take a picture. And wait for nature to waddle off of the road.

We are, as you might have guessed, getting our ducks in a row. Life these past few years has been chaotic. We’ve been trying to force solutions. Our ducks, we’ve learned, do not respond well to force.

Having surrendered to the reality that there was no sense in continuing to force our ducks in a direction that they would not go, we faced our insanity. We stopped doing the same old thing in the same old way, and gave over to a new unknown path. Driving down the road, discussing what we now needed to do given our full surrender and new reality, we hit a full stop when the ducks appeared with their message. It is worth noting that there are three pieces to our new puzzle (no kidding) or, better, according to our metaphor, three ducks in our row.

Apparently our ducks are lining up.

Either that or, just out of frame, is a police officer conducting a duck sobriety check. The line they are walking is less than straight so it’s proper to worry about their capacity to pass the test.

Ducks in a row or a sobriety test? Both are apt straight-line-walking-life-metaphors and since it is my mess, I am definitely paying attention to the message. Or just making it up. You decide.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DUCKS IN A ROW

 

laughing website box copy

Slow Motion Rain [On DR Thursday]

A DR Thursday dance  from studio melange

MASTERlarger slowmotionrain copy 3It seems my life these days is one big meditation on “not forcing” outcomes. I’ve been here before so I suspect this falls in the category of “life lessons.”

The Chinese have a term for this meditation: wu wei. Do nothing. In creative communities it’s known as flow. Athletes train, actors rehearse, but when opening night comes or race day dawns, the advice is always the same. Let go. Trust the work. In other words, cease pushing and get out of your own way.

Working from tension, pushing too hard for outcomes, causes injury. It jams flow.

The final pose at the end of a yoga practice is called savasana, or corpse pose. It is to surrender, not in the sense of giving up but more of giving over. It is a release of tension. My Earth Interrupted paintings have become for me a kind of savasana, a letting go. As Jim used to teach me, you’ll know you are in “that” place of flow when it feels like a dance of giving and receiving and you have no need to distinguish which side of the dance you are on. Both/and. Give/receive.

Kerri calls this morsel “Slow Motion Rain.” It comes from a moment of dance. Or, as we like to say in our house, “Woo Wee!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slow motion rain product box BAR jpeg copySLOW MOTION RAIN gifts and cool products

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earth interrupted IV ~ mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

read Kerri’s blog Post on SLOW MOTION RAIN

www.kerrianddavid.com

slow motion rain designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

earth interrupted iv ©️ 2018 david robinson

Two Artists Tuesday

CHILDRENarethebestwithframe jpegI knew from a very young age that I would never have children of my own. I knew. It was an intuitive knowing, not an intellectual resolve. My life, I knew, would be a wandering through the wasteland. I would tilt at windmills. I would seek for things that can never be found. Children, I believed (and still believe), needed the kind of stability that a restless seeker like me would never have been capable of providing.

Last night we went to the foreign film festival and saw an inspiring, funny and poignant Irish film called Sing Street. The ingenue explains to her suitor, an aspiring musician, that love is happy-sad. To love is to experience both.

I now have two amazing step-children. They were adults when I came into their lives and both live far away. I am slowly developing relationships with them, creating memories with them. I listen with fascination (and sometimes horror) as Kerri converses with her friends, mothers all, about their children.  There is so much suffering, to want to be near their children and yet want them to fulfill their dreams and fly. They want to be present and available BUT not too present or available; those wacky offspring want full support AND they want mom to stay out of their business. Motherhood, I’m learning, is a bottomless yearning, a constant ache, and there is nothing better. There is nothing more fulfilling.

Fathers, I’m observing, are mostly confounded. They shake their heads, not so much in agreement, but in concession. Their spouses are capable of reconciling and celebrating the ambiguity of parenthood. Fatherhood, it seems, is a surrender to the unsolvable. A submission to the mystery. The ache is no less profound. The joy is no less intense.

Happy – sad. A full spectrum of living. Love. From studio melange on this Two Artists Tuesday.

CHILDREN ARE THE BEST THING merchandise

TwoArtists childrenAre TOTE BAG  TwoArtists ChildrenAre FRAMED PRINT  TwoArtists ChildrenAre PILLOW

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read Kerri’s thoughts about this Two Artists Tuesday

children are the best thing ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Surrender And Surrender Again

I’ve grown accustomed to this sanctuary. I come here when Kerri has meetings in the church. It is quiet. As I sit here alone, I easily become quiet. The evening sun pours through the stained glass, the symbols shimmer.

When I met Kerri I told her that, if we were going to have a relationship, she needed to understand two things about me: I don’t sing and I don’t pray. I imagine that was stark news for a woman who works as a minister of music. I imagine she rolled her eyes. It is a running joke with the folks that know the story of my proclamation that I now sing in the church choir and band. I love to sing. As for the praying, well…, I’ve always been a meditator and that counts. Quiet is a delicious form of prayer. I was hung up on definitions. I talk to the universe all the time. To-mAaa-to, to-Mah-to.

I have, all my life, believed religion most often gets in the way of a true spiritual experience (life). “Prayer” was for me, at the time I met Kerri, a word of religion while “meditation” was a word I associated with a spiritual life. One night, not long after my move, Kerri and I had dinner with Heidi. She asked me about my faith and laughed at my reflections, saying, “You are one of those many-paths-one-mountain guys.” Yes. And, to truly be a many-paths-one-mountain guy, I’ve had to challenge some of my long held defenses, walk into some of my long held prejudices.

Yesterday, Bill said a simple, beautiful thing about faith, grace and spiritual journeys. It reinforced something I have known (for myself) for years. He said, “The problem with religion is it is heavily invested in having answers. It becomes invested in being right (righteousness), being “the way” as if there was only one way. A true spiritual life,” he said, “is about walking into the questions.” Life, the real crackling, shimmering life, is always experienced in the questions. Awe is rarely experienced in something so constructed and contained as an answer.

I brought to the sanctuary an outline/book of a class that I intended to teach years ago but never got around to offering. In the introduction a previous-version-of-me wrote this: The premise is simple and ancient: when you change your story you change your world. All stories of transformation begin with an attempt to control the uncontrollable: transformation in a story happens when the main character surrenders their illusion of control, strips their armor, walks into their fear, and meets their dragon. There are many variations on this theme. What is important to grasp is that empowerment follows surrender….

Were I writing that today I would never use the word “empowerment.It is an overused and abstract word like “presence” and generally misunderstood as something to achieve (or sold as an answer). Power is irrelevant after a dragon is met.

When I met Kerri I was terrified to sing. I’d been shamed more than once for opening my mouth, thus my proclamation. I learned, as I sang the fear from myself, that the only thing that follows surrender is more surrender.

And, in surrender, there is shimmering quiet.

Wave The Card

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

Deep in my crow protection charm box, a potent set of crow talisman cards carefully nested in a Wintergreen Altoids tin, created and juiced-up with the magic of Lisa and Avery, is a card that reads, “Wave this card in case of surrender.” It has become my summer action mantra; its power extends beyond crow protection and serves as the north star of my sailing ship. I wave that card regularly, at least once a day. Recently I’ve waved it so often that like a soccer referee I only need to pull it from my pocket and hold it aloft for the universe to see. Red card; I surrender. What is the next best business step: I surrender. What shall I do with my life now: I surrender. What shall we do for dinner: I surrender.

As Alan reminds me (and I often report), there are two different understandings of the word “surrender.” In the west it means to give up. In the east it means to give over. My card definitely refers to the eastern variety. As I stand on my balcony waving my card I am not signaling defeat, rather I am letting go of resistance. I certainly know how to swim upstream. I am well versed in pushing back. I am a master of struggle. The currents are strong and pulling me in an unknown direction; I surrender. I have been paddling against the current for quite a while and although I might have acquired Popeye arms and a clear determination, my canoe remains stationary. What might happen if I allowed the current to carry me? Where might I go if I used my paddle to steer instead of to resist? I surrender; let’s find out.

Since I began waving my surrender card the crows have stopped their assault. I have stopped my assault, too. At lunch Andrew and I talked of walking into discomfort, stepping into the unknown. This is to allow follow the current. We talked of surrendering the need to know. Act and see what happens. The message is clear: there is a vast difference between working with potential and trying to force something into being: the operative phrase, the statement of nature is “to work with.”