reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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this land was made for you and me. [d.r. thursday]

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i played “this land is your land, this land is my land” on the ukulele the other day.  were woody guthrie to be alive, he may have added another verse to this song, this one depicting the russian roulette game that people in this country are playing with the coronavirus.

it’s astounding.

these are NOT normal times, no matter how much you might want to ignore that little fact. and since these are NOT normal times, you should be mindfully considering at-great-length anything you want to do that IS normal.

“from california to the new york island. from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”  when was the last time that it occurred to you that what you do affects others?  was it today?  was it last week? was it ever? what amount of sacrifice are you willing to take in order to protect others and yourself and put this country on a healing trend so that things MIGHT be able to be normal again SOME day?

are you out at the bars?  are you at a restaurant, maskless, ordering from your masked server without a care in the world except whether you would rather the sparkling water or the tap?  are you having dinner parties, group gatherings, barbecues in your backyard?  are you on vacation?  are you talking out of one side of your mouth and acting out of the other?  are you duplicitous; do you want people to believe you are being careful and mindful, but on the other hand, it is your life after all……    are you putting anyone in harm’s way?  are you renting cabins in small remote towns that have hospital/medical systems that would be stricken by a surge in numbers, something that you might bring there, even inadvertently?  are you at the beach?  the club?  the public pool?  are you making plans to go to disney as soon as it opens?  are you wearing a mask when you are outside your home? are you social distancing?  do you really care?  or are you like so many people – irked by any degree of self-sacrifice, believing you are an entity unto yourself?  are you buying into conspiracy theories and falsehoods?  do you think this global pandemic is overblown?  do you feel inconvenienced?  do you think we should just throw caution to the wind and take-our-chances?  are you upholding ignorance?  are you mimicking the repulsive behavior of a president who doesn’t care about anything but his re-election and will spout off lies to your face, your actual face?

“when the sun came shining and i was strolling, and the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling, as the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting:  this land was made for you and me.”

for you and me.  there’s a responsibility there.

today my daughter told me that someone called her an asshole when she asked them to as-per-the-law-where-she-is put on a mask to enter the shop.  and SHE’S the asshole???  this person could not put a small piece of cloth over their nose and mouth to protect others and my daughter is the asshole???

because of this person and their apathetic incomprehension and their unconscionable extraordinarily selfish behavior – repeated ad nauseam across the land that’s made for you and me – i cannot see my beloved daughter.  “it’s a pandemic,” she wrote.  “all the respectful tourists stayed at home.”  she is at risk.  the numbers are rising where she is and the people who should stay in their states-with-exponential-growth and wait-to-travel are populating her area in droves.  without a care in the world.  without giving a flying flip.  and with no shame.  and so it’s not safe there.  how dare they.

“this land was made for you and me.”  act like you belong in a community, like you belong in a country, like what happens to people across the land affects you too, like you care even an ounce for others.  it’s actually pretty simple:  don’t be an asshole.

i’m tired.  as in – exhausted.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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please. [d.r. thursday]

sketch with frame

while i was doing some work david was in the truck sketching and writing haiku.  yes, he’s that kind of guy.

“wear a damn mask,” a friend wrote on his facebook page.  another friend re-posted these words of a stranger, “those who have stayed inside, wore masks in public and socially distanced during this entire pandemic are the same people who are used to doing the whole group project by themselves.”  another friend wrote, “if you aren’t wearing a mask in public, tell me why so i can unfriend you.”

it’s a hot topic.  there are two sides of the fence.  you are a believer or you are an atheist.  and nary shall the two meet.

people are bitching and moaning about mask-wearing and social-distancing and it does not cease to amaze us to see people gathered together in, well, gatherings, without masks on. every day the numbers climb.  every day people ignore it.  i feel i am a broken record.

let’s face it – in this united states of america, a country steeped in intelligence and research, the richest and most advanced country in the world, the president not only has gathered his populace in rallies without masks and social distancing, but he is going to celebrate the 4th of july early in south dakota beneath the granite countenances of presidents who have gone before him, who actually DID behave as presidents, who actually WERE brave, who actually THOUGHT about doing the right thing and then DID it, even if it was hard.  he is encouraging people to attend, with their health and very lives at risk, just to see his smug un-masked face while he watches fireworks that haven’t graced this fragile fire-risk-environment for a decade.  now there’s a bit of intelligence for you.

maybe it doesn’t matter that the entire european union has decided that americans are not welcome to their countries.  maybe it doesn’t matter that canada has decided to close doors to americans.  maybe it doesn’t matter that states in the northeast have mandated quarantines for visitors from other states.  maybe it doesn’t matter that there is no federal umbrella of concern sheltering all-fifty-states-and-five-territories-in-this-together from undue and exponential harm.

i’d like to ignore this, perhaps not speak or write about it again.  maybe i could retreat into ostrich behavior, stick my head in the ground and just move on.  maybe i could just act like everything is normal.  maybe i could talk myself into it.  maybe if i subscribe to fox news and OAN and media sources that tout conspiracy theories and far-right extremism and fawn over this president’s lack of regard for humankind, maybe then i could not wear a mask around you, i could refrain from socially distancing near you.

maybe.

but i think not.

because, well…

science is science.  medical advice is medical advice.  and facts are facts.

wear a damn mask.  and back up.

please.

read DAVID’s less-harsh thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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NOW STAND BACK ©️ 2020 david robinson

 

 


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where do we go from here? [d.r. thursday]

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“where do we go?  where do we go?  where do we go from here?”

an empty canvas.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, davidrobinson?

sheet music clean

an empty staff.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, kerrisherwood?

artists’ journeys, rife with intersections, foist decision-making upon us in our quest to create.  simply starting is sometimes an uphill challenge.  the questions are never easily answered.  the value of what we are doing is never really clear.  or is it – the value assigned to what we are doing is never really clear?

journey synonyms according to google: travel, leg, trek, ride, jaunt, expedition, drive, outing, mush, passage, junket, long haul, circuit, schlep/shlep, digression, transit, pilgrimage, excursion, sashay, traveling, tour, pleasure trip, odyssey, trip. 

i think schlep about covers it.

where do we go from here?

we have a daily decision, a choice to “begin anywhere” (john cage) and speak to the world around us and what we see through artists’ eyes.  we write, we paint, we compose.  we either create or we step away from the canvas, the staff paper, the qwerty keyboard.  we know that nothing we do will change the world.  we know that everything we do, like you, will change the world.

where do we go from here?

last night anderson cooper’s chyron read, “meanwhile, back in the real world.”  the real world.  a world fraught with chaos, trembling with the fever of a pandemic and the disease of racism.  we, as people, turn to the sages of old for words of wisdom.  we turn to art for honest displays of emotion.  we turn to music for expressions of pain and hope, grief, despair, love, action, change, fear, questions.

questions like – where do we go from here?

Every day just gets a little shorter, don’t you think?
Take a look around you and you’ll see just what I mean
People got to come together, not just out of fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

Try to find a better place but soon it’s all the same
What once you thought was a paradise is not just what it seemed
The more I look around, I find, the more I have to fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

I know it’s hard for you to
Change your way of life
I know it’s hard for you to do
The world is full of people
Dying to be free
So if you don’t, my friend
There’s no life for you
No world for me

Let’s all get together soon, before it is too late
Forget about the past and let your feelings fade away
If you do I’m sure you’ll see, the end is not yet near

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

(peter cetera, chicago – where do we go from here?) 

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co-exist. [d.r. thursday]

marc chagall quote

at a time when i couldn’t afford paint and knew nothing about painting, i painted.  i was drawn to big canvasses and the household cans of black and white paint in the basement workroom.  there were housepaint brushes on the workbench, many with twisted brushhairs and dried wall paint from previous projects on the handles.  they felt good in my hand.  i didn’t know what i was doing, but i was compelled to do it.

and so, my paintings are black and white.  layers of white on black and black on white and white on black on white and black on white on black.  i brushed on paint; i stood back and spattered paint.  i kept going until i felt “stop”.  when i ran out of canvas i taped off a rectangle, ventured out with the leftover from a can of khaki interior paint, and painted on the wall, later framing the box with a clearance frame, broken but not obviously so.

in that time of a compelling need to paint, to preserve emotion-in-black-and-white-on-a-canvas, i wonder what my paintings would have looked like had i access to all the colors in between?  where would i have gone with mountain meadow green or razzle dazzle rose or canary or cornflower or atomic tangerine or fuzzy wuzzy brown?

anyone who has merely stood outside and looked up at the sky knows that the colors of life are as transient as breath.  they morph and change in the moments that go by.  capturing color is like capturing the wind.  one cannot see color without light reflections, refractions, wavelengths, shadow, absorption.  they work together so we might see the twilight sky, rainbows and unicorn horns.

is black black without white?  is white white without black?  is cerulean blue without scarlet?  is any spectrum complete without all others in the band of light, without all the wavelengths?  any spectrum at all?

do we actually realize that none can exist without the other?

“all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” (marc chagall)

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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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triad-ic coping. [d.r. thursday]

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the aarp article addressed ‘dyadic coping’, in brief, the way a couple together handles the stress reaction of the other spouse.  the edition is dedicated to the pandemic so this bit of writing is not a surprise.

in my rant yesterday about every-little-thing david very calmly started to talk about a plan – ways that i can lower my level of anxiety, ways that i can process without taking it into my body.  ugh.  i just wanted to rant.  for a little bit of time.  his let’s-solve-for-this guy approach was lovely dyadic-ly, but made me want to roll my eyes.  letting off steam, regardless of the lack of any linear thought, is helpful.  five minutes later i felt better.  nothing was solved, stress still existed, but i could breathe better and move on to the next thing until the next time.

these are somewhat sleepless nights.  even if i drift off after our mountain-climbing adventure of late night fare, i awaken.  and, like you, i suspect, i start to think.  everything from wondering when i will see my children to finances to work to why the kitchen sink is draining slowly filters through my brain.  although i would definitely label david more daytime singularly focused, my obsession is in the middle of the night with angst.  serenity is elusive.

perhaps this painting is so very appealing to me because of the quietude.  the surrender to rest, beloved pets conceding to the gravity pull of being together, of repose.  an eyes-closed moment.  triad-ic coping.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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the benefits. [d.r. thursday]

IMG_2686 copy

MY LOVES 24″x 48″

i woke in the middle of the night to discover i was spooning the cat.  he jumps up on the bed and, pretty much like a sack of concrete, settles in for a long night’s nap, mostly because, well, clearly, the other 23 hours he slept in the day were not ample enough sleep.  he snugs in and prevents movement of most sorts:  there will be no blanket adjustments, no leg adjustments, little rolling over.  my hot flashes necessitate much wrestling to find cooler air as he has permanently planted his sweet large body and is down for the count.  and so, you must adjust.  granted, his sleep-apnea-style-snoring would be cause for plucking-and-moving (to another room) but we love him and suffer his sleeping-sovereignty; the benefits outweigh the costs.

sally told me that there is a machine that duplicates the frequency of a cat’s purring vibration.  i did not know that cat purring is healing and restorative – to broken or fractured bones, tendons, joints, muscles, infections.  we would rent out babycat but i am trying to figure out how to make him lay on my broken-and-in-the-ridiculously-slow-process-of-healing wrists.  once again, the benefits outweigh the costs.

i hadn’t ever had a cat before b-cat, but now it’s been almost eleven years.  he is in some ways more of a dog than a cat, having tolerated a parent who knows dogs and was too busy at the time to read ‘kittens for idiots’ all the way through.  so he sits when asked and speaks when asked and does dog-like things.  however, he rides the fence and takes advantage of cat-like things at will, like claws.  and he is fickle as fickle can be.  jen explained that cats will patiently ‘allow’ you to stroke them and pet them and fondle them, all seemingly appreciated, until the doll flips and it suddenly reaches out with both front paws and pulls your hand up to its razor teeth.  ahh, but those moments preceding the bite…the benefits outweigh the costs.

in this time of other-worldliness and alternate-reality these creatures of ours – dogdog and babycat – are companions unlike any other.  they will not argue politics or policy.  they don’t strategize or scheme.  they are not semantics-nuts or particularly immersed in propaganda-hunts.  they will not roll their eyes at our rants nor will they feed them or egg us on.  instead, they comfort when they suspect we need it.  they are quiet when there’s been too much noise.  they are entertaining when we need funny.  they are warm in the cold pandemic plane.

and they curl up with us in solidarity.  benefits always outweighing the costs.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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MY LOVES ©️ 2020 david robinson

 


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batting averages and painting. [d.r. thursday]

the story of a miss

ty cobb’s career batting average over 24 seasons was .366.  this is the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats.  i know that is an extraordinary batting average and yet my math-brain looks at that and thinks, “wow.  that’s shy of 37%!  only 37%!”  what if only 37% of my recordings were complete?  or 37% of dinners cooked all the way?  or 37% of the work for our employers done?  or 37% chance of wearing appropriate clothing outside our home?  disregarding the possibility of grading on a curve, my school-brain thinks, “37% does not look like an A!”  so when david went on about how his painting has been a miss, i thought, “well heck! you need to lower the bar a bit!”

artists are harsh.  we are generally not self-congratulatory, although there is definitely a percentage that defies that.  we have a vision of where a project is going and we will jump at the chance for perfecting it every time.  there is a point when you know; the time has come to stop, start over, wipe clean the slate.  (pfffft – can you hear lifting up the cellophane on those cool vintage magic slates made of cardboard and equipped with a plastic stylus?)  david walks away from the easel, huffing.  i walk away from the piano, sighing.  the muse has left the room before us.  at least that is what we invariably think, when it’s our own work.

and yet, it’s so often the case that i will stare at his work, downstairs on the easel and think, “wait!  stop!  don’t do ANYthing!  it’s perfect!”  but it’s his project and his creation and he fought with the vision he had in his head.  they disagreed; they went to battle and the easel reigned supreme time and again as he walked away, disgruntled.

for me, the third iteration of this painting (see above) is the moment.  he could have stopped right there and i would have loved it.  it had a dreamy,  surreal quality to it.  it was graceful and lovely.  i’d say at the very least a .375.  ty would be proud.

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we all wait. [d.r. thursday]

they wait

anticipation.  it’s the stuff of songs.  the stuff of great love.  the stuff of waiting for the worst to be over.  the stuff of all moms everywhere.

we wait.  we wait for them to be born.  we wait for them to fall asleep.  we wait for them outside the elementary school, gleefully skipping down the sidewalk toward us.  and then we wait for them outside the middle school, hidden in the shadows down the road to avoid seventh grade embarrassment.  we wait for them at the end of sport meets and music recitals, to congratulate or cajole.  we wait for them after the day is done at school. we wait for them to return home in the family car.  we lay awake, waiting for them a wee bit past curfew.  we wait for them to return home from college.  we wait for them to come home from afar.  we wait for them to say, “yes, all is well,” and we wait for them to sound genuinely happy.  we are not settled if they are not settled.

and now we wait – apart.  all of us.

we all wonder what day it is and we wonder when this waiting will be over.  we look to each other – on texts, on the phone, on social media, on videoconferencing – for words of wisdom, for encouragement, for reassurance, for a chance to say, “yes, i feel that way, too!”  we need meet on common ground; we are alive and we are vested in staying well and staying safe.  so we compare notes and share ideas and recipes and cartoons and articles and youtube songs and moments that make us weep.

and, like the day that your beloved child doesn’t tell you of their arrival ahead, surprises you and makes your heart swell with joy by walking in the front door, we wait for the hoped-for-but-unexpected.  the flattened curve.  the antibodies that prevail over the virus.   the vaccine.  the end of this profound worry, this herculean effort of medical workers, this exponentially terrifying pandemic.  in our world, our country, our state, our community, our midst.  in our circle.

we know one of these days this too shall pass.  and in the meanwhile, we are honing our waiting skills.  becoming adept at patience and being in the moment, not sure of what day it is exactly, but sure of the passing of days.  time will bring us to a new day and one of these days, just like our grown child unexpectedly bursting through the front door, Next will burst in and exclaim, “surprise!  i am here!”  and our hearts will explode with gratitude.

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THEY WAIT ©️ 2018 david robinson

 


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weeping man. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

we watched global citizen’s concert ‘together at home’ on saturday night.  this virtual concert featured a wide spectrum of celebrities and musicians and raised about $128 million for the world health organization as well as local and regional frontline healthcare workers in support of covid-19 relief.  despite wildly varying opinions about this effort, i would have been proud to play in the midst of this.  it was about humanity.  some of it was pretty raw.  people were in their homes, many the likes of which i will never enter.  they were with their instruments, they were playing or singing songs they felt would resonate with those watching.  a few were, as expected, clearly voice-tracked.  a few were, as expected, a bit ego-tainted.  split-screen performances and technology raised the bar for musicians everywhere.  but it was a moment in time – eight hours in total between online and on-air – when you could see that all of us grieve and yearn the same way.  no matter the size of your mansion or tiny house, no matter the grammys on your shelf or the lack thereof, this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege.  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.

THIS all exists.  for each of us.   it isn’t always good.  it isn’t always not-good.

there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of overwhelm, the moments of absolute weariness that, despite all evidence to the contrary in your tired mind and body, actually do lead to Next.  times you feel alone, times of sorting, times of grief, times of fragile vulnerability, times of regret.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

and there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of stunning awe, the moments of sheer exhaustion at your goal-line, moments that actually do lead to Next.  times you feel enamored of life itself, times of incredulity, times of unquestionable good fortune, times of serendipity, times of simple all-consuming sweet love.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

we recognize it.  we can feel it.  and we know that in another moment he -or she, for there is no pronoun-hogging here- will slowly raise his head out of his hands and Next will have arrived.  (reverse threading, and so he weeps, january 17, 2019)

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson