reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson


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enough. [flawed wednesday]

give peace a chance

enough.

on the back of the vehicle’s window we just passed the other day there was this sticker:  “you can give peace a chance.  i’ll cover you if it dosen’t {sic} work out.”

the mantra “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” screamed its head off at me as i read this with distress.  but there’s this:

mass shootings in public schools, killing people

mass shootings at colleges, killing people

mass shootings at concerts, killing people

mass shootings at nightclubs, killing people

mass shootings at places of worship, killing people

mass shootings at movie theatres, killing people

mass shootings at malls, killing people

mass shootings at stores, killing people

mass shootings at restaurants, killing people

mass shootings at bases, killing people

mass shootings at post offices, killing people

enough.

peace deserves a chance.  the gun-law-less-ness-populace has had its chance.  it has failed miserably.  it is still failing.  it is breaking hearts and lives left and right.  it is placing the value of life below the value of a semiautomatic weapon.  what have we come to?  what horror must happen before legislation is put into place that considers the actual lack of need, the lack of appropriateness, the sheer lack of respect for human life for these weapons of mass destruction to be removed from day-to-day life?

“guns don’t kill people.  people do.”  yes, people pull the trigger.  yet, without guns, what would those trigger-hungry people do?  “pew, pew, pew, pew,” they would yell out while running with their pointer finger aimed at the ‘enemy’.

“you would cry too if it happened to you, ” my wise friend jotted the lyrics of this song to me.  in this country of little-to-no-community-empathy, she was making reference of these lyrics to the pandemic.  yet, they apply to any despicably irresponsible act by leadership – the lack of leadership for the covid-19 pandemic, the lack of leadership for gun control, for banning assault weapons, the lack of leadership for racial equality and addressing unrest, the lack of leadership for social justice and safety of all peoples, the revoltingly vigorous encouragement of a society to pine for more of the second amendment.

it only took new zealand six days in 2019 to announce a new national gun policy.  weapons of mass destruction (all military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and modification parts to morph guns into semiautomatic status) were banned merely six days after a mass shooting.  it is assumed that gun ownership is a privilege there, not a right.  gun homicides there have been in the single digits, with the highest number of 11.

and the united states of america?

enough.

i might add:  anyone  who purchases a sticker announcing their dismissal of peace as an option should spend a little more time reading it.  “dosen’t” is spelled wrong.  perhaps that is one of the problems.  little to no thought, little to no investment in critical thinking.  little to no conversation or use of intellect.  no refrainment of an overabundance of anger and reactionism.  just a blunt declaration of violence, a creed to evil.

enough.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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butterfly, butterfly. [two artists tuesday]

butterfly butterfly

this butterfly must have known.  my heart was aching and the steps i was taking down the trail were heavy.  and then it appeared.

the glimmer of its wings caught my eye, this iridescent blackish-blue, a red-spotted purple butterfly, inviting me to stop, watch.   it flew around me and i twirled in place watching as it circled.  it landed on the trail time and again, close enough for me to video it opening and closing its wings, a greeting of sorts.  my breathing slowed down.  beauty exists.

even in the midst of everything negative, even in the midst of worry, angst, missing, deconstruction, transformation, reinvention, heartwrenching choices, beauty exists. even in the midst of a pandemic and unrest and a country in chaos, beauty exists.

a little research:  apparently, my little friend, the red-spotted purple butterfly, looks much like a pipevine swallowtail.  the swallowtail butterfly deters predators by being mightily distasteful.  the red-spotted purple butterfly has piggybacked onto the swallowtail’s predatory resistance by its similar markings, albeit without a tail.  predators sometimes shy away from this butterfly based on the vulgar taste of its close-but-not-related twin.  a good scheme.  and yet this butterfly – beautifully exquisite, and, although somewhat protected, is still vulnerable.

this red-spotted purple butterfly visit was serendipitous.  i needed to slow down.  i needed to watch this creature as it invited the sunlight to warm its wings and aid in its nectar-picnic.  i needed to be reminded of the butterfly in all its transitions – its metamorphosis through life, its graceful acceptance of its own life-arc, its changes, its patience, its endurance.

the next times i walk on this trail i will likely think of these two butterflies:  both beautiful and both trying to sustain, to gather nectar, to complete their own circles of life.  but one with such a vulgarity to it, such an acidity that predators stay away.  very few are lost in the lesson that predators are quickly taught about its toxicity; animals learn to avoid them.   i wonder about these swallowtails in community with other butterflies.  and i think about the red-spotted purple, sans toxicity, trying courageously to protect itself in its habitat.  it looks a little like a swallowtail, but it’s not.  it doesn’t poison the animal who consumes it.

much like people.  we look much the same.  each of us, beautifully exquisite.  and yet.  some pipevine swallowtails, toxic and cunning.  some red-spotted purples, pure and vulnerable.

beauty exists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“don’t grow up. it’s a trap.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dontgrowup

grown-up (adj):  1. not childish or immature 2. of, for, or characteristic of adults.ie:  insisted on wearing grown-up clothes.  grown-up (noun):  adult.

(according to miriam-webster)

there are perils.  adulthood is full of them.  frequently searching, searching, looking for sense, seeking our meaning, evaluating ourselves, measuring, bettering, struggling, comparing, falling short.  so many opportunities for falling short.

i suppose that life is somewhat like an experiment.  but by the time you get to writing the lab report, it is unclear what the hypothesis was; there have been so many tangents the original purpose is muddied by much emotional research.  the sheer volume of subjective data falls under too many objective categories to make it all absolute, to make it all clear.  adulthood: not childish – is a certain definition in the dictionary.  adulthood: not childlike – is certainly a sad story.

“you are enough,” i’ve seen, written as quick success-signage, a succinct unembellished positive.

yet, the path is never really certain.  it is fraught with all the dr.seuss-monsters imaginable.  but in the midst of all that, in the vortex of all the searching and figuring out and listening and learning and choosing and getting lost and finding and hiding and being seen, standing still and watching a butterfly open and close its wings, tracking a caterpillar’s journey across a dirt path, tracing clouds in the sky, sharing a seesaw, chalking a driveway all take on exponential meaning.  this moment.  this hug.  this breath.

lilah splashes in her blow-up pool, nestled in lush grass in the shade of graceful birch trees, in the warmth of a steamy summer day, surrounded by adoring parents, grandparents, friends.  she is in her delight.  a wise and untrapped seven-months old.

we each slow down and watch her hug the moment she is in.  her day is full of these snippets of time, each a minute of her tiny life-so-far.  unconcerned about the experiment of growing-up ahead, sweet lilah reflects back a universe of “you are enough” to us.  if you look in her eyes, you will see what love is, what hope is, what living is.

someone said, “life is hard and then you die.”  maybe that person was just too grown-up.

i guess growin’ isn’t hard to do, just stand against the wall.
once i was just two feet high;
today i’m six feet tall.
but knowin’ who to listen to, is somethin’ else again.
words just whistle around my head,
like seasons in the wind.
all across the water the clouds are sailin’.
they won’t let me look at the sky.
all I want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
in searchin’ for the way to go, i’ve followed all the rules:
the way they say to choose between the wise men and the fools.
i listened to the words they say;
i read what i should read.
i do whatever’s right to do,
try to be what i should be.
someone let me in i think the sky is falling;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
but wisdom isn’t underground, nor on a mountainside.
where am i to take myself?  there’s no place here to hide. where can i hide?
all across the universe the stars are fadin’;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself.
come and let me look in your eyes.
come and let me look in your eyes
come and let me look in your eyes.

 

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

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a dance in the night. [k.s. friday]

slow dance

to sit in the dark.  to watch the flicker of flame on the yard torches.  to stare into the bonfire.  to listen to the crickets.  to feel cool air brush your face.  to walk barefoot in dewy-damp grass.  to slowly swirl, in time to music, in time to your heartbeat, in time to deep breaths.

we all need a break.

instead of a mind racing-against-itself in the middle of the night, we need a dance with slow.  we need a dance of hope.  we need a dance of release.

do you remember how to slow dance…in the middle of the night?

even in the bleakest of times, even in the dark.  the tiniest pinprick of light through an inky sky will remind us of the trillions of stars that are always there.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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SLOW DANCE ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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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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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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against all odds, teachers teach. [two artists tuesday]

des plaines

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”  (marilyn monroe)

the desk and the chair were connected and under the chair was a metal book rack.  there were 35-40 of them in my tiered room, which oddly doubled as both my choir room and my eighth grade math classroom.  math 8 was the last period of the day and, to give you a sense of the personality of the class, both of the children who were later voted “class clowns” were in my general math class.  a hot day in florida, the air conditioning was competing with the outside heat and trying to keep tired students at-the-end-of-their-school-day awake.

he was sometimes vocal, but mostly quiet.  he didn’t like math; he told me he didn’t really like school.  his eyes were bright even in his sullen face.  every day i greeted him and told him i was glad to see him.

that day, when he came into the room, i sensed he was even more unhappy than usual.  it wasn’t but a few minutes into my math lesson that his desk-chair came hurtling down the tiers at me.  it didn’t hit me, but back-in-the-day hurling desk-chairs was serious stuff and i, a young teacher at the time, was unnerved.

i think back now about that desk-chair being flung, the way it was all dealt with, the intervention and the caring hearts that were involved.  i think about that young man, whose name i still remember.  i knew back then that against all odds and despite the obstacles facing him,  he had a support system and he would make it.

amid a contemporary rise of real scaled-up violence in schools, less and less is about those support systems, for students or teachers.  resources, help – both are short in supply in public schools across this country.  yet, despite all odds, teachers teach.

i shake my head at the any-day-any-school terrifying concern of shootings in the classroom.  with gun-control-be-damned mindsets determining legislation, children must practice active shooter drills.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

i think about the lack of funding, the lack of supplies, the lack of a sustainable student-teacher ratio.  despite all odds, teachers teach.

and then, i think about this pandemic.  a global threat, this country’s leadership has not risen to the challenge and, in mindblowing checkmate moves, it has mandated that children physically return to schools this fall.  in the middle of an urgent and dangerous contagion, caution is being dismissed, putting children and teachers and administration and support staff at absolute risk.  it’s deplorable.

and yet we know, foolishly mandated, that against all odds, and despite all the obstacles, teachers will teach. that’s what teachers do.

“against all odds and despite all the obstacles, we are going to make it.”

against all odds and despite all the obstacles.

but the words “we are going to make it” beg a quagmire of unanswered questions, deeply concerning worries, and matters of life and death.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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space-space. [merely-a-thought monday]

john glenn high school.  typing class.  rules.  rules.  rules.

one of them:  two spaces between sentences.

earlier this week, pryce re-posted, “out of an abundance of caution, the ap style book and the chicago manual of style are reinstituting the two-space rule between sentences to support social distancing.”  it literally made me laugh aloud.  my friend mona commented, “hard habit to break.  no going back.”  exactly.  it’s ingrained.  the red pen was generously applied to typing papers without two spaces; it was a rule sans excuses.

but the word “reinstituting” caused me some consternation.

i loved typing.  i even typed my high school science lab reports and poetry i transcribed out of composition notebooks that kept me company at the beach, in the tree outside my bedroom window, in the wee hours of the night.

my undergrad and grad school years happened by the mid-80s.   all of my undergrad papers were typed on a typewriter.  my grad school papers were on an early apple 2E, with sprocket-holed printer paper. type type type.  lots of typing.

and i have never-ever only used one space after a sentence or a question or an exclamation or a colon.

i cannot believe what “reinstituting” implies.  somewhere on the punctuation train, i stalled.  i realize formal changes may be due to typesetting and the difference between typewriters and computers and some debate over the ease of reading sentences, but how are we supposed to find out these things??  i asked d how many spaces he uses after sentences, to which he replied, “one.”  what?!  i wrote to joan-who-knows-these-things to settle this mushrooming problem.  though she said using two was out of habit, she sided with me.

and so i just went upstairs to dig out-of-the-depths my old APA book – the third edition of the publication manual of the american psychological association, copyrighted in 1983, which was both the bible and the biggest pain in the ass for writing papers in graduate school.  here it what it says on page 140:

APA spacing copy

i feel vindicated.  heartened.  validated.  my two-spaces, although archaic, are supported by a rulebook.  at least they w-e-r-e supported by a rulebook back-in-the-day.  the newest APA book is copyrighted 2020 and is the 7th edition.  here’s what that says about spacing:

new apa

ugh.  (eye roll)

i don’t know if i will try to incorporate this “new”rule.  like kevin, who said he was taught two spaces and is sticking with it, i just might not be able to do it.

at this point, i hardly think anyone will whip out their red pen.

but i can hope that people – in reading my two-spaces-after-a-period-that-says-over-40-writing – will assume JUST a-wee-bit over 40.

ok, ok, that’s doubtful.

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

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the wisp. [d.r. thursday]

KDOT Underpainting

david’s underpainting of One Chord Ahead

no instructions.  no gps.  no map.  no paint-by-number numbers.  no light-up-the-keys guidance.  nothing.

from here to there.  blank to image.  silence to sound.  from nothing to color, timbre, tone.

we begin with maybe a wisp of an idea, maybe something dancing in our mind’s eye, something teasing us, encouraging us, perhaps goading us, “start it.”  artists choose whether or not to follow the spur.

i know there are times i don’t listen.  i ignore the sweet pining of the piano, a soft, nagging voice from the studio.  sometimes it is just impossible.  impossible to answer.  instead, scoffing at the mere suggestion, i walk the other way.  i find something that seems more constructive, that has a tangible reward, that doesn’t necessarily feed my heart but where i can actually see what effect finishing “it” has.  it’s a product of a culture that does not financially reward artistry.  despite an immediate synchronized turn to the arts for comfort in times of struggle and need, when you google “how hard is it to make a living as an artist?” this is what you find:

“Making a living as an artist is hard to do. Making art is hard to do. There are lots of limitations. But limitation is an important tool in the creative process so you can use the fact that it’s hard to your advantage.”

riiiight.

i have a very few experiences painting.  the times i chose to paint were absolute – a call and a response.  i had no second guesses, no real concern for the finished product, no worry about how these pieces of art – outside of my own medium – would support me.

i suspect my piano was insanely jealous…there i was, in the basement, wildly throwing paint, when all it asked me to do was stand by its side and “start”.  there i was, in the basement, feeling, when all it asked me to do was breathe all i felt through it once again.  there i was, in the basement making art, while it sat silently imploring me to make art.

i can hear it calling.  i know i’ll someday listen.  but first.  first i must see the wisp of meaning.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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