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the path back is the path forward


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act well your part. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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“act well your part.  there all the honor lies.” (alexander pope)

this feels like a life mantra.  a reminder that no matter what you do, where you find yourself, who you are…to do the best you can, to be the best you can.  no spoke is uncounted.

the moment i heard this line i took out a scrap of paper and a sharpie and wrote it down.  it so resonated with me that i could feel my heart beating in my chest.  i thought of all the times i tried to do the best i could, to be the best i could, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.  and i thought of all the times i didn’t do the best i could, i wasn’t the best i could be, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.

i wish, at every turn, someone had repeated this to me.  good turns.  poor turns.  turns that i can account for, that have intention and educated thoughtfulness.  turns that i shrink away from thinking about, that are spontaneous, ill-conceived moments, that have no grounding. turns that were reactionary, that stole safety, stole time to patiently stand in the fire and think.  turns that i did not make, that felt too scary, too risky, too alone.  and turns that i should have made, that would have tied me to the earth’s gravity and kept me steadfastly feet on dirt.

i wish, often now, as i look back over last week, last month, last year, the last decade, my whole life, that someone had repeated this to all human beings.  as we stand in the turns we make, the decisions we decide on, the actions we choose…were we to judiciously filter them through “act well your part.  there all the honor lies” we would be reminded that it all counts.  the ripples spread.  the pebble we throw will, indeed, touch others.

just as others will count on us to act well our part, regardless of any part’s so-called import, so too, do we count on others to act well their parts.  standing together.  thinking. recognizing.  choosing.  moving with wisdom.  every spoke counts.  there is honor in each one.  for a wheel without spokes…..

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

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big red. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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colorado to wisconsin.  with a stop in columbia, missouri.  the first day is long.  twelve hours give or take.  we drive out of colorado into kansas, which has to be one of the wider states in the journey, and head for wendy’s.  she and keith are tolerant of whatever-time-we-get-there, knowing the challenges of a long drive.  this time, it was different.

this time we weren’t in our littlebabyscion toodling along, huffing and puffing up hills.  this time we were in Big Red, a giant ford F150.  she hadn’t been driven this-far-at-one-time in years.  we were high up and felt like road warriors.

columbus gave us a couple cassette tapes to play in the player and, in planning ahead, i had brought a dozen favorites from years past (ok, the 70s are many years past.)  we played each of them, singing along.  and then switched to the radio.  it only seemed right that country music be blaring out of the speakers, so we obliged.

although we blasted cassettes of john denver, loggins and messina, alabama, england dan & john ford coley among others, i have a few favorite radio songs of the journey east and north.  one direction’s what makes you beautiful, lady gaga and bradley cooper singing shallow, toby keith’s i wanna talk about me and my new fave, billy currington’s good directions and turnip greens.  a sweet country-music story.

we were talking with jen and brad last night in their kitchen, lingering over our potluck together.  we talked about compromise and life and decisions and chance.  like everyone, david and i have had our share of each of those.  decisions sorted and pondered, and compromises, bending to the things that make life meaningful, balancing reality with idealism.  and then there’s chance.  we could relate to the story of turnip greens…happenstance changing life.   a choice, one direction taken, a turn, one click…and everything changes.  what comes is predicated on what was and what is this very second.  we second those lyrics – thank God for good directions and turnip greens.

we turned up the stereo in Big Red and opened the windows with the AC on.  somewhere along the way, we decided it was a she, for she had gently mothered columbus as he drove a bit more gingerly in recent days and she sturdily and protectively lumbered us across the country.  laughing and certain of everything and absolutely nothing, we turned this beautiful big old pickup truck toward home.

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

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pick a tissue box. [two artists tuesday]

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i am difficult in the facial tissue aisle.

it seriously makes me cringe looking at the little square boxes of tissues (the size that will appropriately fit in our bathroom.)  most of them, in my humble opinion, are ugly.  i wonder who designs these boxes and i wonder why anyone purchases them who doesn’t have one of those crocheted-tissue-box-covers that you could purchase at any church bazaar in the 90s.  (we don’t have one of those.)  the color choices, the patterns (or i should say the lack thereof) are really disconcerting to me.  someone is clearly getting paid to design them and they are dull and uninspired.  target used to have a solid-color-series of tissue boxes; maybe they still do somewhere, but it isn’t at our target location.  choosing a solid color is much better than a pale-skin-tone-dot-pattern-on-cool-light-beige box.  i mean, really?  i suppose if you want your tissue box to blend in with the environment that would overly-work, but what if you want your tissue box to be a statement piece?  or at least be attractive?

so by now you are rolling your eyes at this, a clear first-world-problem-meaningless-rant.  and i understand that.  but my question remains…a question i quite often wonder about with many different products…who designs this stuff?

we were at festival recently (one of our grocery stores) and stumbled across this tissue box.  we purchased this one.  although the band of mustard gold at the bottom edge with advertising seems unnecessary, the font is mostly acceptable, the colors are not simply muted non-shades.  and the saying is a good, albeit trite, every-time-you-are-in-the-bathroom reminder, “the best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen and the memories you’ve made along the way.” 

i don’t suppose everyone ponders tissue boxes.  but two artists living in the same household pretty much ponder everything that will sit out in view.  although i have to admit, david is not as zealously-picky about tissue boxes as i am.   maybe, just maybe, i should have been a tissue-box-designer.  or maybe i was one in a former life.  either way, it makes me a critical-kleenex-consumer.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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figure it out. [k.s. friday]

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in all the chicken-scratch-notes i have about this piece of music, i have written in the presence of a heartbeat.  the pulse that spans the entire 6 minutes 14 seconds, this heartbeat starts the piece. it is throughout the piece.  it ends the piece.  it is no accident that this composition seems interminable, ever returning to the theme; figuring “it” out often seems that way, a curse of perseverating analysis paralysis, depending on what “it” is.

i just erased what i had next written about this.  i couldn’t help but talk about my repeated use of a rising leading tone gesture in the theme, f# to g, f# to g, off the beaten major root path, but instead the path of starting on my ever-loved ninth in the e minor key, a key that resonates so often with people.  then i thought, “blahblahblah!!” geeeesh.  that’s way too much information.  so i erased it.  (yes…there were even more details before i erased it!)

i composed this at a time that was laden with things to sort, to figure out, to resolve.  it is one of the longest pieces i have recorded.  there are moments you can hear the almost-there-ness of it, but, like life, it reverts back to the initial themes, the initial questions.  and then, punctuating it, from time to time, a firm melodic gesture (f#-g-f#-e) where you can hear the lyrics in your head, “figure it out.”  much easier said than done, eh?  but our hearts keep beating.

purchase the album RIGHT NOW or download FIGURE IT OUT on iTUNES or CDBaby

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FIGURE IT OUT from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood