See The Riches [on KS Friday]

My mom tells me that my dad is becoming a little bird. His body shrinks as dementia takes his mind. He is continually packing for a trip, his clothes wrapped in tight balls or stuffed in odd places. He waits at the door.

Listen to Kerri’s Fistful Of Dandelions. It tells the story of a life cycle. A mother and her small child. The child grows. The roles reverse. The son becomes the giver of care. It is nature’s cycle and, with each passing phase of the cycle, comes the appreciation of the true riches in this transient life: moments together. Holding hands. Picking dandelions. Titanic love. “…all the riches I will need today…” Simple presence chocked full of simple appreciation.

I interviewed for a job last week. The questions they asked were questions designed for a younger person, someone at the beginning of their career. I laughed and replied that their question had nothing to do with me. I no longer climb the achievement ladder. I am at the other end, the son holding tender space for the shrinking bird.

The illusions drop away as the sand runs out. The wall of respect might hold plaques and certificates but they grow more empty over time. Paper in a frame. The car in the garage never really provided the status it promised.

What remains is the real stuff. Holding hands. A fistful of dandelions. Shared time. Beer-thirty on the back porch. A pocket full of memories. Warm days fishing together at the lake. Listening to records deep into the night. Packing boxes and helping with the move. Making sure this tiny bird is safe as he waits with his bundle at the door. Just as he did for me.

all of Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes

read Kerri’s blog post about FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS

fistful of dandelions ©️ 1999 kerri sherwood

Practice Thinking [on KS Friday]

“The capacity to think astutely is often undervalued in the world of action. But philosopher Hannah Arendt identified the capacity to think as the foundation of a healthy and resilient democracy. Having experienced totalitarianism in Nazi Germany, then having fled it, she devoted much of her life to studying it and its opposite, democracy. She believed that thinking thoughtfully in public deliberations and acting democratically were intertwined and that totalitarianism is built upon and sustained by deceit and thought control. In order to resist efforts by the powerful to deceive and control thinking, Arendt believed that people needed to practice thinking.” Westley, Zimmerman, Patton, Getting To Maybe: How The World Is Changed

If thinking clearly is the hard line between democracy and totalitarianism, then we in these once-united-states are in a world of trouble.

For evidence, look no further than this past week. I begin with a single word: debate. Full stop. To assume thought is to assume too much. It was painful to watch conservative pundits attempt to spin sense and justification into 90 minutes of lie-vomit and fact-abuse. It was even more painful to watch thinking people, already exhausted by years of gaslighting, grasp for some sense of what they had just witnessed. The transience of the American experiment.

I shook my head during a post-debate-news segment when a woman cloaked in MAGA swag said that there shouldn’t be fact checkers at the debates because, “People should be able to say their truth.” Where-oh-where has our thought-practice gone?

Beneath the noise of the debate was a ruling in a slander case brought against Tucker Carlson of Fox News fame. The court ruled in Fox’s favor citing,”… that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, that any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statements he makes.” It has not been my experience that watchers of Fox News are necessarily awash in reason or any amount of skepticism. They believe the spin they hear in that big bubble of fantasy. The judge wrote, “The “‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’ “

O accountability, where is thy sting? O thought, where is thy champion?

Democracy is dependent upon our capacity to discern between exaggeration and fact, lie and truth. We are now a nation that cannot grasp the simplicity of science in a pandemic. Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Those two actions could have saved thousands of lives. They still could save thousands of lives. I shook my head in despair when people I love repeated with gusto the claim that our numbers of infection are so high because we do so many tests. I thought but did not say, “Think! For god’s sake, just think about what you are saying!” It is too much to ask.

Kerri and I have met walls of angry criticism when we ask folks to check their media sources. How dare we suggest that propaganda isn’t news! It’s easy to check whether or not you are being led by the nose if you care to do it. And that, I fear, is where the line between democracy and totalitarianism dissolves. The care to do it. We would rather be comfy and fixed in our news bubbles, gloating in our mutual agreement, than practice thinking.

Without that hard line, the foundation of our healthy and resilient democracy can only crumble.

TRANSIENCE on the album RIGHT NOW is available in iTunes

read Kerri’s blog post about TRANSIENCE

transience/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Paint With Sand [on KS Friday]

TRANSIENCE songbox copy

Many years ago I was lucky enough to see a sand mandala created by Tibetan monks. It was intricate and vibrant. It seemed impossible to create something so complex with sand. The day after I saw the painting the monks ceremoniously destroyed it. The process, the painting, is a mediation on the impermanence of all things.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 58 years old. More and more the transience of all things is less a metaphor and more of a reality. If there is wisdom that comes with age it is at least partially attributed to the awakening reality of our transitory lives. As the monks remind us, we are, in truth, a beautiful intricate sand painting.

Kerri and I took a walk yesterday through our beloved and soon-to-be-passing Bristol woods. A sizable ropes-adventure-course is being constructed that will cut through the center of the woods. More than ever we appreciate our walks through Bristol because we know these are probably among the last. We stopped along the path to catch our breath and, laughing, found ourselves spontaneously rolling balls of snow to create a snowman. Permanence is not a high priority in making a snowman.

Later, sitting together in the nature megaphone, we were being silly and howling with laughter. I realized that, because it was my birthday, we’d granted ourselves a free pass for the day. Nothing need be achieved. Nothing need be created. We had no agenda so, therefore, no time constraints. There was no attempt at permanence or investment in importance or thought to fill-up-time and so, in the absence of a purpose-filled-day, we found great open space for play and laughter. Pure enjoyment of our fleeting moment and of each other. I found myself in the mandala, appreciating the passing moment of vibrant colored sand.

In TRANSIENCE, Kerri builds a snowman, she takes us on a stroll through the passing woods, a mandala of rich musical color, and, if we give over to it, she knows, we might just find that great open space teeming with play and presence and the simple enjoyment of being alive.

 

TRANSIENCE on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

anniversary haiku copy

read Kerri’s blog post on TRANSIENCE

 

footprints in the snow at bristol woods website box copy

transience/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood