Blink [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Yesterday was Father’s Day. 20 showed us a photo. His children when they were kids. “Where does the time go?” he asked. Thirty years. “That was the blink of an eye.”

We put together a video collage for my dad using images dating from the time that Kerri first met him. Seven years. “Doesn’t that seem like yesterday?” We had a hard time remembering the order of events; what visit came first? We looked for clues. The length of my hair. The color of stripe on my dad’s shirt.

In one of the photo sequences we are in Iowa, the little town where my dad grew up. In the photos he is showing us the house his grandfather built, the house where his father grew up. It is tiny. Today, it is someone’s storage shed. To my dad, it is holy ground, the place where as a child he ran free. This was his last touch. His final visit.

We  had a phone conversation with my sister. Her pandemic experience is vastly different from ours. To her, it is a minor inconvenience. “People just can’t stay in forever!” she exclaimed. “I’m worried more about the suicides than this virus.” Time, 100 days, to her community, is an eternity. “People gotta live!” she says.

Eternity. “What day is it?’ I ask. Kerri looks off into space. Weird calculus. “Thursday, I think.” she says from some far off place.

Locating ourselves is not so easy in these times. The landmarks are covered over. The geography is changed.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver asks.

What did you do with your one precious life? With this day, this time, pandemic or not?

We look at each other and laugh. “I’m getting old!” We cringe. Look at me!” We wear our age and it surprises us.

“Time,” Kerri sighs, looking in the mirror. “It is so strange.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TIME

 

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Stand In It [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Adding to the pandemic-time-disorientation-syndrome, gas prices dropped to a level that we haven’t seen for 20 years. I looked at the sign while filling up and asked Kerri, “Wow. Where are we?”

She shook her head. “This is weird.”

“What were you doing the last time gas was this cheap?” I asked.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it,” she replied, “cheap gas and we can’t go anywhere.” We are road tripping fools so inexpensive gas is a titanic tease amidst a stay at home order.

There are cultures on this planet that believe we move through time backwards, we row ourselves through life with our eyes firmly fixed on where we’ve been rather than where we are going.

This makes sense to me since making sense of life is a backward looking affair. And, the really great thing about sense-making is that it is never completed. The story we tell ourselves about our life and choices is…a story. A new day brings a new perspective on an old well-storied choice. Some of my dumbest decisions, the actions I have been most critical for taking, from my current view, now look wise. Or, at the very least, inevitable.

We afford ourselves more grace with a longer view and several revisions of the old story.

It has been said that the fear of death is not, as advertised, the fear of the unknown. It is the fear of the loss of what is known. We hold fast to our oars, grip with all of our might onto what we think we know and  can control.  We row our little boat in a vast uncontrollable sea.

Actors come alive on stage when they forget their lines. Suddenly the “real” penetrates the pretend. The loss of control ignites life both on the stage and off. The audience sits forward. Something real and unknown is unfolding!

Fear of losing the known. Like actors on the stage, people come alive when they turn and stare into what cannot be controlled. The now. When they forget their lines, lose their name and stare blankly into the dark house. And, the only thing to be done is to stand in it. Relax. Sit forward. Something real is unfolding.

The words will return. We’ll get a grip on the oars sooner or later. The illusion will be restored. A good actor knows that panic only perpetuates the blankness. Relax. A good actor knows the others on the stage will lend a hand if necessary. Good assurances for all of us in this pandemic play. Stand in it. Our boat is going someplace we cannot control.

Something real is unfolding.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about CHEAP GAS

 

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Breathe The Same Air [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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For years I had a debate with my business partner. She was a first adopter, always jumping into the latest technology. Her position in the debate: real relationships were possible through technology. My position: you need to be in the same room with someone if you want a real relationship. Technology can provide connective tissue but can never approach the visceral, tangible, sensual realities necessary in a relationship.

Over time I’ve flip-flopped my position and then flipped back again. Connectivity is not relationship. I am connected with people all over the world – and I deeply appreciate the network connection – but I am only in relationship with the people I spend time with. It is simple. Relationship takes time. Relationship needs time. It is not an achievement; it is an ongoing investment in the heart of another.

John O’Donohue writes about the “digital instant,” the expectation of arrival compressed into a nanosecond. The absence of journey. If the website doesn’t come up in a second or two, we leave in frustration. We click our angry departure for another instant arrival. If I don’t answer an email within a compressed amount of time, the originator of the email wonders why I’m ignoring them. Connectivity comes with expectations that often prohibit relationship. Or, rather, connectivity is the low-bar expectation of what now qualifies for real relationship.

Yesterday 20 and I continued a conversation that we started four years ago. We will pick it up again because our conversation has no end. It is a lifetime conversation. There is no expectation of arrival, of conclusion. The focus is entirely on the journey, the friendship, the continuance. The laughter, the deep sharing of fear and frustration, the vulnerability, the sharing-of-time-to-listen-and-give-presence. What we share is not a network connection (that phrase feels scrubbed, antiseptic, even in the writing of it). It is something with breadth and depth and texture that can only come when two people breathe the same air, sit in the same room, read body language, and feel what is beneath the words.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about NETWORK CONNECTIONS

 

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Fill It Up [on KS Friday]

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Children at school will tell you that some days are endless. It is an eternity before the bell rings at the end of the day.

Teenagers are race horses at the starting gate, anxious for the life-gate to open so they can run full throttle into their destiny. They can’t wait for time to pass so they can get there.

Old people like to tell young people that life happens in the blink of an eye. Parents with grown children ask each other, “Where did the time go?’

If you know us and get married, your gift will be an old suitcase or battered box. Inside the box there will be a note. The note will explain that the box is not what it seems; it is a special box, a place to hold memories. Concert tickets, anniversary cards, birth announcements, a rock from treasured hike, a metro ticket from a spontaneous adventure. The box is battered and worn because, like the box, you, too, will one day be battered and worn but, hopefully, filled to bursting with memories. The box is there to remind you to fill it up. To pay attention to the moment as you live it so that one day you can laugh at how much of your life you wished away waiting for bells to ring, how much of your life you wished that you could stop time completely watching your baby sleep.

Feel the sun on your face. So, that on the day that you start telling young people that life passes in the blink of an eye, you will have a special box (or twenty) full of appreciation for the hardships and joys that make a varied and rich life. So that, when others ask, “Where did the time go?’ you will know without a doubt. It went into the creation of a special box.

 

THE BOX on the album BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE BOX

 

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the box/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

Love The Melt [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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This melty fellow reminded me of my favorite Flawed Cartoon. It was among the first in my Flawed Cartoon canon and makes me smile every time I revisit it. Becoming meets Being. Hopes and dreams always come with realities attached and they can be very funny (especially when the attachments are someone else’s).

Tis the season of existential pondering and life review. In the past month, I’ve repeatedly heard the old and wizened caution the young and ambitious that time passes quickly. Your kids will be grown before you know it. Be careful what you wish for. Appreciate your moments. You are your choices. One minute you are a snowflake with possibilities….

Winter solstice. This season when darkest night gives way to the slow return of light. Isn’t that the epicenter of hope? It’s good news for you and me. Not so much for those men and women made of snow. As is true with all things, humor is relative. It’s only funny when it happens to someone else. Of course, with enough cycles, the sun will make puddles of us all (just kidding. Well, okay, not really. But don’t you think this puddle thing would have made a very funny Flawed Cartoon? Why are my ears growing? I think the sunless days are making my mind sag…).

 

SNOWMAN BIG COPY Master

 

read Kerri’s blog post about the SNOWMAN

 

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Flawed Cartoons/products ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Reach [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Someone snapped their fingers and it is fall. Less than a week ago we skirted the Des Plains river trail, hugging the shade. We’d underestimated the intensity of the heat-humidity combination punch. “Are you dying?” Kerri asked. I nodded my head, too hot to answer. This morning, the air is cool and we are pulling out our flannel shirts.

With fall comes a sweet melancholy that usually creeps in slowly but this year, absent of any transition, I awoke fully awash in the seasonal sorrows. It is, oddly, like a warm blanket. An old friend that calls, “Remember me?”

Kerri tells me this melancholy is the feeling of time passing. It is the season of standing still and remembering. It is a reach to the past when the past feels like the autumn sun on your face. Turning toward the warmth, eyes closed, basking.

Haven’t you heard your elders say that the older you get the faster time moves? This morning, pulling my flannel shirt around me, I know that it is true. Time races. Time is relative to “the long body,” the entire span of a lifetime. With so much time behind me, so many memories, the road traveled seems to have passed in a blink. Life happens in the blink of an eye.

There’s no better reason to stand still, eyes closed, and reach for the sun as its rays reach for me.

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read Kerri’s blog post about REACH

 

 

 

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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reach ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Open, Open, Open [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

The first time Jim, one of the most brilliant actor/directors I have known, played the role of King Lear, he told me that he didn’t have enough colors in his paint box to do the role justice. He had more to learn.

It is the common thread and what I love about all the great artists. mentors, and teachers that have had so much impact on my life – they know there is always more to discover. They know that ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is – is unachievable. So they look, engage, experiment, play, expand, reach, open, open, open…. Artistry is a life-long practice. It is a relationship with life.

“No one sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t got time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about THERE AREN’T ENOUGH CRAYONS IN THE WORLD

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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there aren’t enough crayons in the world ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Sandcastle With Me [on DR Thursday]

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My favorite ongoing series of paintings is called The Narrative Series. I’ve been adding to the series since 1989. It is my least popular series if sales are the determining factor of popularity. Mostly people respond with, “I don’t get it.” When I painted my first, I loved it and thought to myself, “I don’t get it.” So, I’ll spend my life trying to get it, all the while, knowing that it is impossible to get. However, when I birth another in the line, I know it is the closest I come to the center (whatever that means). These paintings are stories in broken time or, in the cubist frame of reference, they are stories in multiple time.

A few years ago I attended a lecture series featuring Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicists. They have two different theories of multiple universes and it was mind blowing to try and grasp both theories (who am I kidding, trying to grasp one was mind blowing). Brian’s was all about strings and Stephen’s was all about bubbles. The math works for both and I left the lecture with eyes crossed and reaching for sense. And I was thrilled. That day they were narrative painters, too.

Sandcastles and Me is a morsel of a recent addition to the narrative series, titled Spoons & Sandcastles (though you’ll find it in the Beach series folder on my site). If after looking at the morsel and the full painting you find yourself thinking, “I don’t get it.” Take heart. You are in good company.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SANDCASTLE WITH ME

 

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www.kerrianddavid.com

 

sandcastle with me/spoons & sandcastles ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Make Time For Clouds [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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It seems almost too obvious: in clouds possibilities can be found. Castles take shape, cartoon characters roll into horses racing, dragons and dinosaurs. Loved ones whisper. Memories shimmer. Imagination beckons, intuition taps at the door. Ideas take shape.

Some might say that making time for clouds is a waste of time. Most likely those are people blind to the necessity of clouds. They are caught in a steely net, believing they have to make all the trains run on time. They believe wholeheartedly that they don’t have enough time to get it all done. Don’t tell them, but time is not concerned with train schedules or daily achievements. Time passes with no investment in our loss or gain. Time requires no management, middle, upper, or otherwise. Time is made of soft stuff, fluffy and relational, modifying according to the needs of its audience.

Time given to clouds makes Chicken wax poetic. It refreshes him. It quiets him. It reminds him that he, too, is as temporary as a cloud, ever moving, shape shifting through his passage, tickled when someone makes time to notice all the possibilities he inspires.

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read Kerri’s blog post about MAKING TIME FOR CLOUDS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

make time for clouds ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Change Nothing

a detail from In Peace I Pray.

Thoughts from the mountain.

I grew up with these mountains so it should come as no surprise that I get quiet the moment I step into them. Like a too-tight coat the chaos I wear in my day-to-day life simply drops off; stepping into the mountain is to step out of the noise. Literally and figuratively.

Tom once told me that people change when they are ready. Rich once told me that people change when the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of making the change. Change when you are ready, change when you are in pain. Skip taught me that a business intending to change people was destined to fail. It is a fool’s errand. Business is about business not change. I loved this bit of advice from Skip because he is a natural-born change agent, a mentor of mentors (and, poetically, entrepreneurs). In a moment of frustration Kerri told me that people don’t change, they simply become more of who they really are. The masks drop off and we unwittingly reveal ourselves. Change as revelation.

As I hike through the snow toward the summit I wonder if change, at least the human notion of change, is as made-up as the rest of the stories we tell. It is in the forest, which is a festival of the cycles of life, that ideas of different ways of Being seem…superficial. Disconnected. Within seasons there are plenty of changes that roll around and around and around again. Perhaps this thing we call ‘change’ is nothing more than a recognition of the cycle, a readiness to release our dedicated resistance to life? A readiness to release our stories of limitation and division.

Kerri caught me staring at the mountain

Toward the end of his life, Joseph Campbell said that he suspected that all life (energy) was consciousness. There is 1) energy and 2) the forms that energy takes. Although seemingly disparate, seemingly separate, all forms fall back into energy. He said, “The universe throws forms up, then takes them down again.”He might have said that change is nothing more than the cyclical movement between energy and the forms it expresses.

Jim taught me that the art of acting was the art of being present. I know that when I stand in front of a canvas and begin to work, all notions of time disappear. Another day on the mountain, sitting in an adirondack chair midway up the slope, basking in the sun on warm day, we watched Kirsten snowboard. She flew by us several times. When she rides, it is clear, there is no other place, there is no past or future. There is now. She is vital, alive. In that place, riding the present moment (the only place that actually exists), the noise drops off. I know, and Jim knew, when fully in this moment there is no need to pester yourself with misplaced notions of being somewhere else, being anyone else.

 

a blast from the waaay past: August Ride. I lost track of this one and if you know where this painting is, let me know.