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the path back is the path forward


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better humans. [two artists tuesday]

one of my sweet momma’s favorite stories to tell me, about me, was when i used to stand in place and bellylaugh. she said i would put my tiny hands up in the air and then deeply bend at the waist and bring my hands down, up, down, repeating over and again, all while laughing heartily. it made everyone nearby laugh, hearts-open. it made her giggle to tell me this old story. and each time she told it i felt deeply loved.

i remember my first baby’s – The Girl’s – bellylaugh. it was extraordinary hearing this wee child, knowing little about the world, laugh. it felt like the same miracle when it was my second baby’s – The Boy’s – turn to chortle with all his little body. their giggles made everything in the moment alright. they are deeply loved and their giggles still to this day make everything in the moment alright.

so perhaps that’s a good place to start in the quest to be better humans. perhaps bellylaughing first about the sheer unlikeliness, the improbability, that you get to live this very instant, in this very place, at this very time. nevermind the division, the hostility, the challenges, the histrionics of forces-human-designed. you are here. i am here. no matter how same we are, no matter how different we are. we are in this together. that’s a start. now commence betterment.

“so, i wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. we may never pass this way again. that’s why i want it with you.” (seals & crofts)

he spoke about humans today. how it all really boils down to a measure of how we live in community that is the important stuff. the never-pass-this-way-again moment-after-moment-ness of how we help each other, hold each other, support each other, raise each other up, love each other, regardless of the each or the other.

momma loved the verse “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”

maybe the beginning of being better humans is that simple. let’s share this moment. let’s be amazed we are in it together. let’s be amazed we are in it at all. let’s learn how to be in community together. even in the hardest stuff. it’s a worthy exercise to see two people or two disparate groups defuse a hot and angry moment communicating with humor, to temper down with a lightness of spirit, to divert what could divide them forever, instead focusing on how to move forward with generous hearts.

maybe “let me drown in your laughter” (john denver) is a good start. maybe love will take shape in the pause of anger overtaken by a wave of kindness and gentle temperament, an intentional defusing of heat. maybe then grace will flow in like the tide of change. maybe then we can recognize what we have been, what we are, where we want to go, who we want to become – together. mindfully knowing “we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone) maybe then we can – together – have the real conversations, sob the gut-wrenching and worthwhile cries, see our human failings. and we can take a tiny baby step toward being better humans.

yesterday a small peaceful protest drove and walked by our house. we live on a street perpendicular to the more important streets, the more likely avenues for protest. yet, right in front of us, right in front of our house, was this marvelous group of people marching and driving, chanting and beeping. we stood and clapped, joining their enthusiasm, echoing their pleas, and couldn’t have been more proud to see them go by. and we laughed in those moments of living, joining, hearts-open. not bellylaughs, but audible smiles, exulting in the baby steps, right here, right now.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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make us all instruments of peace. [d.r. thursday]

InstrumentofPeace copy

it is what it is.

where has this country come?  we need so much more.  for survival.  understanding, compassion, commitment to unity, justice, truth, equality, equity, love of one another, peace among peoples.

the last days we have watched the democratic national convention.  we have connected with the real-ness of regular folks, politicians, celebrities across the country who have had something to say.  we have listened.  we expected words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we could trust, words of truth.  and we have heard them.  our hearts swelled with a bit of optimism; our pulse slowed and calmed.

we heard the poignant words of michelle obama, speaking about the promise of this country.  we heard the tenderness in jill biden as she spoke about the empathy of her husband, about the import of love and understanding and kindness in this nation.  we watched people from each state and territory, on their own stomping ground, cast their delegates for the democratic presidential candidate.  we listened and teared up and, mostly, we hoped for these instruments of peace to rise above the noise and the furor of division in this country, slobbering all over itself with rabid foam, inviting ultimate disaster.

we will watch next week as well.  the republican national convention will be different than the democratic national convention, for sure.  in a climate where i’m not sure everyday republicans even have a grasp of what the party means anymore, it will be important for us to glean that for ourselves.  in an effort to attempt to understand the position of others we know and love, it will only be fair to watch both conventions.  we will expect words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we can trust, words of truth.

we live in community.  this country’s backbone is the melding of many peoples working to form a “more perfect union” together, to build together, to grow together, to share a common purpose.  we shall never arrive as instruments of hatred.  we shall arrive, however, as instruments of peace.

it is what it is.  what will we choose to do?  who will we choose to be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

to purchase this painting or merely to look at it in david’s online gallery, click here

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INSTRUMENT OF PEACE ©️ 2015 david robinson


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words on a wall. [flawed wednesday]

you hate me framed

tenuous.  we are all walking on the thinnest of threads.  the thinnest threads of life, health, relationship, value.

i don’t know what it would take to graffiti an outdoor stairwell with the stenciled words “you hate me”.  it stopped me as we took a friday night walk – miles around our downtown, across the bridge, through simmons island beach, along the lakefront.  we started down the stairwell to the channel and there it was.

“you hate me”

anonymous.  you hate me.  who’s the you?  who’s the me?  the anonymity factor adds concern for me.  someone, on that thinnest thread, felt tenuousness enough that they stenciled it on the concrete wall.

that it wasn’t “i hate you” and that it was “you hate me” makes it even more distressing.  it makes you wonder which sad and lonely face you passed might have been that of the stenciler.  it thrusts questions about your local community on your heart.  it is a gut punch that foists pondering upon you.  it forces you to search inside, to see if you are emanating that to others.

there are so many reasons right now to disagree with another, so many reasons for anger.  conflicting opinions distort the absolute importance of connectivity, of community, of the healing of love.  people with differing thoughts opine as experts in fields in which they have no actual experience; people proselytize and preach and persuade.  the bandwagons of what-seems-like-the-cool-gangs line up, circling, handing out candy to those who would like to be in the club, aiding them up onto the wagon and then looking away from their individual needs, only paying attention to replenish the candy and keep the furor going.

and so people feel hated.  enough to write it on a wall.

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender, plain and simple journal)

i wonder what i would have felt if upon the concrete wall the words “you love me” had been stenciled.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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shift-key. [merely-a-thought monday]

shift key framed

summer is soon going to draw to a close.  it’s august 10 and with today’s feel-like at 96, it’s clearly not anytime too soon.  but soon enough.

this summer has been unlike any other.  in our deference to the pandemic we have limited ourselves to that which we believe shows regard to recommendations given so as not to be responsible for spreading this.  we’ve worn masks.  we’ve social distanced.  we’ve not eaten in restaurants or stood by barstools sipping wine in enclosed spaces.  we haven’t shopped in department stores or had people over in our home, and, differing from every other summer we have had together,  we haven’t traveled.  it has been unlike any other.

but that isn’t the case for everyone.  people have flocked to the beaches and water parks.  people have traveled to hot spots – on purpose, in the name of looking for a break.  people are eating in restaurants and are gathered at bars and at big backyard barbecues.  people are singing in indoor venues and are clustered on sandbars.  people have gone to little towns, vacationing and, with the it-won’t-happen-to-us mindset, placing the locale at risk, placing the locals and the health care system in that locale in a precarious way.  hundreds of thousands of people are headed to or are gathered in sturgis right now.  it’s their summer.  and, if you scroll through facebook, it’s not a heck of a lot different than their last summer.

i read a quote today that spoke to the sturgis crowds.  “there are people throughout america who have been locked up for months and months,” was the excuse for an influx into this town of 7000.  i have to disagree.  any instagram or facebook peek will reveal that people are not locked up; many people have lived summer just like they always live summer:  any way they want.

in the attention-deficit way of america, many people have simply moved on and their temporarily-outward-gaze has shift-key-shifted selfishly inward.  but we are still out here:  mask-wearers, social-distancers, stay-close-to-homers, quietly and not-so-quietly trying to mitigate this time. and we can see the others so we are disappointed, saddened and stressed and we are riding the long-limbo-wave of impossible decision-making.

the masses have spoken – at least in this country – and freedom (read: independence from the government mandating for the safety of all) rules.

but freedom isn’t free, as the old up with people song points out, “freedom isn’t free. you’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.”

i suppose that our sacrifices count, little as that might be in the big picture.  as this pandemic continues to rage, as chaos continues to ensue, as relationships shatter over disease-disagreement, our not going to wine-knot matters, our crossing-the-road-to-the-other-sidewalk counts, our consistent mask-wearing-social-distancing makes a difference.  it just doesn’t feel that way.  the bigger picture looks bleak and my heart sinks looking ahead, fall and winter just over the we-have-so-many-unanswered-questions horizon.  whether they (in a countrywide sense) are exercising caution or not, our little part is significant.

the up with people song continues, “but for every man freedom’s the eternal quest.  you’re free to give humanity your very best.”

what is our very best?  individually?  collectively?

perhaps a nationwide shift-key would be of value.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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outraged. and weeping. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

weeping man (reverse threading, april 23, 2020):

…this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege (or lack thereof).  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

today:

i am outraged.

where have we come since april 23 of that writing?  we have been cautioned.  we have been advised.  we have had the benefit of science, the benefit of research, the benefit of funding, the heart-wrenching benefit of experience.

we have lost 150,000 people.

and we stand to lose many more.

the shifting quicksand of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm our nation, this country fraught with division and a dedication to entitlement.  people argue for their “right” to do-what-they-want because, well, they want to.  the “we-didn’t-get-to-do-this-so-we-get-to-do-that” mode of thinking.  a warped sense of deservedness, i’ve heard it time and again.  to hell with masks, with physical distancing.  to hell with recommendations about gatherings.  to hell with self-sacrifice.  to hell with responsibility.  to hell with leadership, with facts, with example-setting.  to hell with it all.  people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country are left-and-right touting their deserved-rights to live as they wish, to gather as they wish, to travel as they wish, to do what they wish.  and the overwhelmingly whiny justification-among-justifications is because they didn’t get to do what they originally wished or planned or wanted.  wow.

and the pandemic continues.

and the people-living-in-a-community-called-a-country live as individuals more dedicated to their own desires than to the actual good of the country.  to hell with all those people dying.  to hell with all those sick.  to hell with the sanctity of each and every living human being.  to hell with all those lasting repercussions of this disease.  to hell with a spirit of helping.  to hell with a spirit of community.  whose idea was that anyway?

and so we continue to destroy ourselves – in so many arenas.  and the weeping man watches from the sidelines as the divided people lash it out in the stadium, gladiators of precisely what?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit WEEPING MAN on david’s gallery site

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson


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this world needs you. [d.r. thursday]

thisworldneedsyour WITH EYES jpeg copy

all of us.  we will all need to participate.

this world will never be the same.  we need to ponder, we need to dream, we need to imagine:

a better place, a more fair place, a place that is based on equity and equality, kindness and compassion.  a place that assumes virtue and intends the same.  a place that protects its peoples, that encourages individuals to care for each other.  a place that doesn’t incite rancor, celebrate the weapons of violence, or create enmity and spite.  a place where the downtrodden are lifted up and those with excess are generous.  a place where inhabitants don’t self-aggrandize or strategize to find ways for more-more-more, ways that take from those with less, ways that undermine those in need.  a place that doesn’t normalize language of vitriol, hatred, and antagonism.  a place where all races are equivalent, all genders are respected, all ethnicities are indistinguishably included.  a place where the environment counts and sustaining it beyond our own time on this good earth is a priority.  a place that recognizes the sacred in the out-of-doors, the borrowing of this dirt, this water, this air for the short span of time we are here.  a place where we are always seeking ways to better life for each other, to enhance daily living, health, happiness.  a place of truth.  a place of goodness.

yes.  this world needs your good imagination.  or we will never get there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2017 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“a little normal would be nice.” [merely-a-thought monday]

normal with frame

normal is up for grabs.

in the middle of my meltdown yesterday, i’m sure i uttered, “i just want normal.”

but normal is subjective now.

there is a deep schism between the normal of the of-course-i’ll-wear-a-mask-maskers and the it’s-against-my-constitutional-rights-to-make-me-wear-a-mask-non-maskers.  a deep schism between the sides of the aisle.  a deep schism over this global pandemic, the economy, healthcare, equality, blatant racism.  a deep schism over confederate monuments.  a deep schism over basic respect.  a deep schism over truth.

a chasm of difference.  it makes me wonder what, if anything, can bridge it, what can create a common story, what can make us a populace that cares about each other?

scrolling through facebook is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country doing normal stuff:  eating at restaurants, having drinks at bars, gathering with friends, going on trips, boating, fishing, at the beach or the pool, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

driving downtown is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country just-down-the-road doing normal stuff:  eating inside and outside at captain mike’s, gathering at eichelmann beach, hanging out at the lakefront, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

trying to plan anything is depressing.  we need to go to see david’s parents.  i desperately need to see My Girl and My Boy.  there are so many details to keep each other safe.  there’s nothing normal.  it’s freaking confusing.  we plot the trip west, a roadtrip, thinking about 19 hours across the middle of the country, thinking about arriving at my at-risk-in-laws’ house, having not picked up any additional possibility of passing covid-19 to them.  where do we stop safely?  where do we get gas?  where do we use restrooms?  how can we be sure they will not be recipients of anything we bring along?  we care.

and yet, there is the rest of the country – the ones screaming at city hall meetings, the ones seeking judgement against requiring masks-for-safety, the ones who throw pointed word-daggers arguing against the danger of this pandemic, the ones arguing for other causes of death, the ones voting out all precautions for the state of wisconsin, the ones who stand in front of the entire country and arrogantly (and without a grain of truth) state, “we’ve flattened the curve!”  how is it that the leadership of this country gets away with this?  no wonder half of the country wears no mask, states and does whatever they damn well please. WHAT pandemic?

it’s depressing.  missing the moments that make up life – chances to easily be with family, friends.  chances to have a bite out without worrying about aerosols.  chances to sing with others, to sing for others.  chances to go to concerts and plays.  chances to gather around a kitchen table or the island at your best friends’.  chances to stop and hug your decades-long neighbor.  chances to hold your grown-up children and kiss them and make them roll their eyes.  happy hour with friends crowded onto a deck.  parties in the backyard.  normal stuff.

it was on a marquee outside a store, “a little normal would be nice.”

i couldn’t agree more.

i told tom i had a really hard day yesterday.  he said, “you have to grieve.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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