Balance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

prayer flags 1 copy

Each day we sit on the deck and watch the personality of the lake change. We are witness to the power of the elements at play. Wind drives wave. Wave evaporates and moves wind. Lighting hits earth. Rain feeds the plants. Too much rain, too much wind, too much fire, devastates.

Balancing the elements. It is the central thought in many traditions. The cardinal directions are associated with a color and an element. North, south, east, west. Air, fire, water, earth. People need associations in order to talk about things. In order to know where they fit.

The colors differ from tradition to tradition. Sometimes black, white, red, and yellow. Sometimes blue, green, yellow, red. Sometimes there is a fifth element. There is always a center. When there is the understanding of center point there is also an acknowledgment that separations, experiences like north, south, east and west, are illusions.

Balance is a radically different intention than dominance. Taming-your-nature is not the same as balancing-your-nature. In the tame-your-nature idea, nature, your nature, is corrupt and needs to be controlled. In the balance-your-nature idea, your nature is neither good nor bad, it is a dance of energy, a push-pull of wind and fire, air and earth. In the balance-your-nature idea, there is no such thing as “wild.” because there is no intention to “tame.”

As you might imagine, the artist that explores the tame-your-nature mindset understands their artistry much differently than the artist that explores balance. I was born into and oriented toward the culture of tame-your-nature and so I divine through brush and story the push-pull between goodness and badness. Combat, combat everywhere. Right/wrong. Us/Them. Good enough/lacking.

I desire to see through the other lens. I suspect this desire is the epicenter, the driver behind my paintings. To understand the world I inhabit as energies at play, to know beyond an intellectual understanding that the distinctions don’t really exist; wind is not separate from water, earth is not separate from fire, people are not separate from planet. Illusion. Our division is a play of shadow puppets at best.

I think it is why we hang prayer flags at our littleislandhouse and at our home. Surrounded by combat, we are drawn by the desire to balance, we are enticed by the possibility of harmony.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PRAYER FLAGS

 

 

 

 

skylake website box copy

 

island prayer flags photograph ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

Light The Promise [on Two Artists Tuesday]

luminaria box2 copy

 

I came into Kerri’s life in the same era that her children, all grown up, moved away to pursue their careers. Our third Christmas together was the first time that neither Kirsten or Craig would be home for the holiday. It was the first without her mother. It was an empty nest Christmas, a broken heart holiday, and unbearable for Kerri. Not knowing what to do with the infinite void, she told me that she wanted to start a new tradition. And, like all good new traditions, she reached deep into the recesses of her childhood and pulled one of her parent’s traditions into the present. We initiated a neighborhood Christmas Eve luminaria party.

After she plays the late service on Christmas Eve, we rush home, change clothes, and with aid of John and Michele, pull the fire pits and a few tables onto the driveway. We load the tables with snacks and wine, start a fire, and line the street with luminaria. Our neighbors and friends gather around the fire, drink grog, tell stories, laugh a lot, and sing a song or two. Last year was bitterly cold and still we stamped our feet and stoked up the fire until the wee hours.

This year will be our 4th annual luminaria party. It is my favorite part of the holiday because it reaches to the very root, to the ancient reason for the season’s celebration. A gathering under the stars, amidst the wood smoke and wine, together we bring an infusion of hope to bridge the infinite void, the aching hearts, with the promise of light’s return.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE LUMINARIA PARTY

 

TangoMorsel copy

this one is sold but there are others available and on sale through December 20

 

chicago at christmas website box copy

 

Pass It On [on Flawed Cartoon Wednesday]

MiceWelcomeMat BIGcopy copy 2

It’s best not to pay attention to most lyrics of nursery rhymes and, if you do, it is wise not to ask, “What does that mean?” Just sing to your little babe the words that reach into a far distant past so that someday, your baby all grown up might hum the sweet tune and also stop and ask, “Wait! What does this mean?”

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copyIt is, after all, how traditions are passed.

 

read kerri’s blog post on Welcome Mat

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

mice welcome mat ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Give Yourself Some Advice (2)

Finishing a painting is really about having a conversation with yourself. This one is talking!

Finishing a painting is really about having a conversation with yourself. This one is talking!

[continued from Give Yourself Some Advice]

Here’s the next bit of an email Horatio sent to me with his Advice To Myself. He wrote it following a question from a reporter about advice he’d give to emerging filmmakers. I am particularly fond of this section as many of my teachers, mentors, and guides are now passing away and I am revisiting what is mine to add to this “ancient conversation.” Here is the next section of Horatio’s advice to himself (for the full text, visit his blog at www.fidalgofilms.com):

Respect the boundaries of others; do not seek to control anyone else. You can only control your own choices.

Learn and honor with absolute integrity your own boundaries so that others may not try to control you or your work. Unfortunately, this is usually only learned through a certain amount of trial and error. 

Learning to trust is an art, and absolutely necessary. Learn to trust yourself first. Learn to trust others.

Always respect the tradition of your work, its ancient human conversation.

Connect to tradition, to all your teachers and your teachers’ teachers. Give yourself to it so that it can give to you and to your work. Honor it with rigor and doubt, with hours and hours of study and practice.

Then let your teachers go, follow the path that you understand as truth. You will know it when you see it. It will be your part of the ancient conversation. Likely, you will find that parts of one or two of your teachers have become part of you.

If you do not let your teachers go, your part of the ancient conversation will not be yours, but rather what you think other people want you to add to the conversation. That is not from you and only clogs up the conversation.

[to be continued]

Horatio asks great questions: What is the tradition that you carry forward? I follow the line of Tom and Marcia McKenzie, who learned from DeMarcus Brown, who learned from Eva Le Gallienne, who learned from…. What teachers/teaching do you need to let go?

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Accept The Gift

This morning in Tai Chi Saul spoke of his teacher and his teacher’s teacher and soon we students were aware that we are the burning point of a tradition that reaches back thousands of years. We were suddenly alive in a moment that rippled into an unknown future and a distant past. Our study was revealed as a link in a chain. Our weekly meeting dropped into a greater context and mattered in a grander scheme of things. Our practice was no longer about the perfection of a sequence of moves; it became an orientation to life. We realized that we are participants in a tradition in service to the vitality of life as it flows through us and expresses in the world.

I’ve written often about my lessons during this remarkable year, primarily about the release of control. I can control my thoughts. I can control where I place my focus. That’s about it. I can intend (a process of thought). I can control my action (also a process that begins with thought). My work (and I hope my growth) has been about getting out of my way. My lesson over and over has been about listening and letting go. I’ve been amazed how letting go always brings riches unimaginable. Holding on, forcing, resisting, pushing, trying to make things happen always diminishes me – and everyone around me. It has brought great heartache and even greater harm to people I love.

My tai chi practice now extends beyond the studio. Saul tells me to empty. He teaches me to listen. I have become a monk in my studio cell and I spend my days listening and drawing. This morning he led me into a deeper practice when he asked me, “What is your concern?” He showed me how I was orienting myself according to my opponents need. “Address your concern,” he said looking beyond me before adding, “Look into the vast space before you and place your focus on the horizon. Put your energy on a point on the horizon and move to it. Your opponent is incidental. Your opponent gives you their energy, their resistance. Accept the gift and do not give away your energy. Address your concern. You are your concern.”

His lesson: do not engage with the resistance. Do not invest in the obstacle. Place your focus on a point beyond all of the mind games and move your chi in the direction of your chosen point. Move your chi, and yours alone. Others will move their chi as they will. Stop giving your chi away. In this way, you will drop into your present moment. You will drop into your eternal moment and the masters of the tradition will join you there.

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

For a humorous look at the wonderful world of innovation and new ventures, check out my new comic strip Fl!p and the gang at Fl!p Comics.