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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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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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.

 

 

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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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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.

Reach Through Time

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Reach Through Time

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Be Mortal

a detail from my painting, John's Secret

It was after 2am and, at first, I thought the screams were human. I was writing at the kitchen table and the screams brought me to the front door. My neighbor’s light came on. Faces peeked out of the window. They thought the screams were human, too. Kerri was suddenly standing behind me. “It’s a rabbit,” she whispered. “They scream like that when they are being killed.” She was quiet for a moment and added, “It’s awful. It’s the sound they make when they are trying to hold onto life.” The screams stopped. The neighbor’s light flicked off. They recognized the sound, too, and went back to sleep.

Kerri returned to her call. She was on the phone with a friend in distress. I remained at the door and stared into the dark night. It was silent. It was as if all of nature had stopped to listen to the screaming. Even the wind was still.

The fox pranced from the darkness into the center of the street. It was vibrant, sated. It stopped and was immediately still when it realized it was being watched. It stared at me and I stared at it. I’ve rarely looked for so long into the eyes of something so wild. Neither of us moved for several seconds. And then, as quickly as it had emerged from the darkness, it bolted and vanished.

My only thought came like a mantra: it knows that it is mortal and I do not.

Earlier in the day I’d read a passage from Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda. I’m completing my once-a-decade rereading of his first three books. I’m reading them very slowly this time, bit-by-bit, and sitting with what I read. The passage that rang my bell this day was this [I’m made some cuts for brevity]:

“Your reason is telling you again that you are immortal,” he said.

“What do you mean by that, Don Juan?”

“An immortal being has all the time in the world for doubts and bewilderments and fears. A warrior…knows for a fact that the totality of himself has but a little time on this earth.”

…”But, Don Juan, my point is that I’m always under the impression that I’m doing my best, and obviously I’m not.”

“It’s not as complicated as you make it appear. The key to all these matters of impeccability is the sense of having or not having time. As a rule of thumb, when you feel and act like an immortal being that has all the time in the world you are not impeccable; at those times you should turn, look around, and then you will realize that your feeling of having time is an idiocy. There are no survivors on this earth!”

Staring into the eyes of the fox I was shocked out of my immortality. Acting like an immortal being, having all the time in the world to indulge my doubts and fears or dream of greener pastures knocks me out of presence. Staring into the eyes of the fox I, for a brief moment, understood that being fully present in my life had nothing to do with achievement. Presence is not something to strive for and attain like a new car. It is not a study and the path to it cannot be found in a book. Presence is what we are. It is something we forget when we think we have all the time in the world.

The fox does not know time. The fox does not know judgment or indulge in doubt or entitlement. It literally has no time for that. It does not need to story its actions. It lives with what is, not with what it imagines.