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the path back is the path forward


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“staying more or less sane…” [merely-a-thought monday]

sane

it’s a wave.  and, like the tide, we ride it out to sea and back in to shore.  we grab handfuls of sand when we hit the beach, to remind ourselves that we are indeed of this earth and this is real.   and then we read or watch the news and see the charts and the numbers-who-are-people-not-numbers and we are back out to sea, on precarious standup boards.

it’s almost a mantra “staying more or less sane.”  we wake in the morning and, for the first few delicious seconds, we don’t remember.  but as we share dreams – the dreams we can remember – we know that even our subconscious are trying to process all this.

we compare notes with others:  what is acceptable to do in these restricted times, what is not.  we are aghast at the impropriety of the suggestion of large gatherings, no matter where they are.  even small gatherings of people not isolating together are questionable. we wonder if we will all be agoraphobic when it’s time to cease restrictions.  we worry that this decision will be made irresponsibly, skewed in the direction of the ever-important dollar and not in the interest of people being healthy, getting better, staying alive.  we are afraid.

we do whatever we can, whatever works; we are all in different places on the what-works-for-you continuum.  outside of working we struggle to fill in time.  we take on new projects; we sit quietly.  we bake loaves and loaves of bread and test new recipes; we cook just whatever is necessary.  we obsessively deep clean the closets, the cabinets, the basement; we pick up around ourselves and disinfect what needs disinfecting.  we organize, organize, organize; we have trouble paying attention, finishing going through the piles.  we watch movies and binge on sitcoms; we look out the window and get lost in thought.  we spend time on our muse; we stay away from that which makes us feel more deeply.  we spend vast amounts of time on social media and video-conferencing apps; we desperately miss those we love and yearn for them.  we get impatient; we wait.

we are a world of people-people, broken and reeling, and we are all trying to stay more or less sane.

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

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“you’re my favorite pain in the ass.” merely-a-thought monday

you're my favorite

we bought it on our honeymoon.  we knew, even by then, that we would need this sign’s lighthearted truth to remind us – some days – of what we even liked about each other.  in these days of isolation it’s front and center.

these are profoundly difficult times.  without the balance of getting out or having a little space, we are all finding ourselves in close isolation with the others in our home.  we two, here, are often together 24/7.  we work together in a variety of capacities, so we have gotten a little more accustomed to the dynamics than, say, some of you who have been thrown into the deep end with no feathering of getting-used-to-the-water time.  but…that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  so we are all here, separately together, figuring it out.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

the stress level is palpable.  you can feel the world out-there functioning at a completely different frequency than it had been.  it is like that high pitch in your ears, making you teeter on yelling, “make it stop”.  we all try to go with the flow, try to make the best of it.  we are fortunate to be here together, at home, in a safe place.  we seek ways to stay relevant and do meaningful work.  we follow stay-at-home orders.  we reach out to visit, virtually, with our family and friends.  we video-conference with colleagues.  we wear leggings and sweatpants on a daily basis.  my boy, in a city with ever-exponentially-growing-covid-19-numbers, said that’s a given – sweats, sweats, sweats and the perfunctory button-down shirt.  we know what’s visible and what’s not.  we desperately hope for the best.  we get in each other’s way.  we help each other.  we brainstorm new ways to cope, new ways to work, some with steep learning curves.  we sigh.  we take naps, tired and wrung out.  all are true.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

and we try to stay in touch.  we desperately miss our children, our family, our friends, the people in our day-to-day life route.

even in times of ‘normal’, if my daughter, whose home is in a covid-19 hotspot and whose work, like too many, has been decimated, texts me with no punctuation and clipped answers, i know i have either a) stepped past the edge of the chatting time limit b) asked too many questions c) said something completely too mom-ish or d) encountered her at a time she needs space for herself.  no matter which option, it’s smart (and in my best interest) to back up.  she, just like my son, knows she is loved beyond words and i know that, in order for me to stay loved, or, er, tolerated, i need to utter less painintheass words.  but i am their mom and it is an intrinsic part of my job.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

if david, the other artist in my two-artist-household equation, mentions an idea to me, i dig under the idea pile of leaves to find the base of it – to order the details of what the idea means, to parse it out.  i can’t start at the top and assume thebigidea will work.  i have to see how the ingredients of the idea will work, the steps to get there.  if the tiniest piece of the idea doesn’t seem plausible, i argue, how could thebigidea be possible.  i don’t mean to be a bigidea killer; i just need to see the practical details.  i’m sure he invokes the youareapainintheass eyeroll when i am not looking, but that’s ok.  he can’t see me rolling my eyes either.

and so, we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

in the biggest way we have seen in decades we have a challenge.  to stay healthy.  to keep others healthy.  what we do affects you and vice-versa.  we all have to be responsible.  we all have to work together.  we are not all favorites of each other.  some of us are the biggest pains in the ass to others of us.  we are learning, bending, flexing.  we are finding out that we are more resilient than we thought, we are capable of negotiating the bumps in the relationship-road.  we are gumby in the real world.

and we are all here.  separate and together.  despite our wildly differing stories, we have a common story.  we are here.

and we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

i, for one, am grateful for my absolute favorite painintheass even though he is totally a painintheass.  for what would i do without him?

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

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devoid of color. [flawed wednesday]

red and blue america

this morning i am devoid of color.  like many of you, i had a day – for me it was yesterday – that shook me to the core.  in the midst of all the bootstrap-pulling and the sisu-garnering we are mustering, angst pushed its way to the surface.  i stood in front of my piano and it started.  it didn’t stop until i laid my face on the pillow to rest, late last night, and then it woke me in the middle of the night, poking me into the place where you stare into the dark, imploring your mind to stop.  if you were there too, in the middle of angst yesterday, we were in solidarity.

this morning i am devoid of color.  apparently, for the whole of my life, i have not been as brutally aware of the chasms in this country as i am now.  we are not really one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  and the rose-colored glasses that  birthed loyalty have slid off our collective faces.  this country is as divided as they come.  it is as inequitable as they come.  and woefully, it is as shallow as they come.

this morning i am devoid of color.  in the middle of a global pandemic the leaders of this country are failing us.  jousts of economic strategy are thrust into this health-terror; federal taunts of get-it-for-yourself set the stage, the precedent, a hideous example for a people intent on self-servingness.  we see the curtain pulled on what is important to people and we are appalled.

this morning i am devoid of color.  the in-fighting pales in comparison to the cavalier buttressing of parties.  yes.  “red and blue america are not experiencing the same pandemic.”  we can’t have conversation because that would involve honest communicating.  we can’t seek truth because who could then be blamed? we can’t even talk because we are too angrily disparate to talk.  tilting my kitchen chair back on two legs as we read aloud the news i feel the earth tilt under me and i hold onto the table.

we are not on the same page, we of this country.  this pandemic, capable of uniting us in working to flatten the curve of its dread, is further dividing us.  information is warped; information is withheld.  facts – facts! – are play-doh-molded into whatever pushes forth agenda.  there are two distinct camps of thought and nary shall they meet.  this has generated an opportunity, a ploy, for more polarity; we see it, experience it, up close and personal.  and, to add insult to injury, the great divide, the vast difference between those-who-have and those-who-don’t is exposed like a compound fracture.  despite sixty years on this earth, i have never seen it more clearly.  and it is staggering.

this morning i am devoid of color.  fear has drained the color from my face.  i want us, my husband and i, to stay healthy.  i desperately want my beloved children to stay healthy.  i earnestly want my parents-in-law to stay healthy, our siblings, our families, our extended families, our friends.  but the misinformation war has put us in peril.  this insidious virus is sweeping the globe and we are in danger.  that, at its root, should not be a question or a bargaining chip.  it should not be ignored nor should it be conflated to suit agenda.  it should be factual, pragmatic, cautious, proactive, seeking answers, results and healing of lives – indivisible – for all.

so many people in this nation, practicing goodness.  but this nation?  this nation has a choice to make.

this morning i am devoid of color.  i am deeply disappointed.  i am afraid.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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lost. [d.r. thursday]

Peri Winkle Square copy

lost.

in these times.  the emotional upheaval is exhausting.  worry is the crux of insomnia.  we measure every step, every decision.  we look to each other for reassurance, for a fast-receding touch of normalcy.  we feel…lost.

in these times.   we remember other times we felt this way.  other times of confusion and fear, of social responsibility and adherence to new rules, new realities.  too many calamities to name, it seems.  too many times…lost.

this little book Peri Winkle Rabbit Was Lost was the product of such a time, as david created it – a one-of-a-kind – in response for a call for a children’s book that addressed the tragic hurricane katrina, a book given to children that offered empathy for the plight in which they were standing, their lost.

we, as artists, do what we can to offer comfort, to bring a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

we, as people, look to the arts for a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

in these times.  standing in the darkness with each of you.  maybe together we will not feel as lost.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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PERI WINKLE RABBIT WAS LOST ©️ 2005 david robinson

 

 

 

 


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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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happiness. freedom. courage. [merely-a-thought monday]

choir room calendar

my sweet poppo ended up in solitary confinement.  shot down over the ploesti oil fields in romania, he was a WWII prisoner of war and was being held in a prison camp in bulgaria.  he was courageously condemning the rat-eaten stale bread the prisoners were served, throwing it down, and he was hauled off to solitary confinement.  after months of imprisonment my dad, along with others, was able to escape this POW camp and find his way to freedom.  freedom.

each of us has our own freedom route, courage to summon up.  i look at both of my children as they make their way in this world.  they are courageously carving out their lives.  they are scrappy and they make sacrifices to seek happiness and freedom from fear of any kind.  my sweet poppo is cheering them on, both of them.

this calendar page hangs in the choir room.  the words seemed particularly timely to us, for many reasons, on many levels.  we looked up the person to which they were credited:  thucydides.  a studier of human nature, he:  “also has been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the political behavior of individuals and the subsequent outcomes of relations between states as ultimately mediated by, and constructed upon, the emotions of fear and self-interest.

we owe the freedom of our country to the veterans, like my sweet dad, who we honor today and to wise, thoughtful, inspired leaders of this country.  we have much to be grateful for.

and yet.  these savvy words of this ancient greek historian…”the emotions of fear and self-interest”.  this is relevant.

my poppo sat in a prison camp cell representing a country fighting against leaders filled with self-interest and the indiscriminate propagation of fear and atrocities upon innocent people.  his courage was buoyed by the courage of his fellow soldiers.  my father was staunchly determined to put others’ needs first.

i fear what is happening in our country today would sadden him; his response would be that our leaders are not acting out of courage, not out of a rallying call for equitable independence of all, but instead, out of bullying and grandiose self-serving.

and i believe my sweet poppo would throw down the rat-eaten stale philosophy of this current government.  with his great courage.  in true freedom.

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

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ladders. [two artists tuesday]

ladders.PNG

gay pointed to the ladders in the backstage of tpac and said, “see those ladders?  the front silver one on the right is where you are.”

this is true.  we are clumsily perched on that front silver ladder.  there are people scattered about on the other ladders, many of whom are on the top of the tallest orange ladder up against the wall.  our view, on the shortest ladder, affords us the opportunity to look out, to look up and still to be able to easily see the ground.  the view from the highest ladder, extended well up the wall, is a view of vast height, a view without a cluster of other ladders, a view more singular.

it has been our experience as artists that we must explain our livelihood, we must fight for acknowledgement of experience, we must advocate for our own fiscal equality.  our work is not easily measurable, our effort not easily defined.  we bring to every experience all we have learned about what touches the hearts of others, what resonates, what we can do to lift a message, how we can craft a concept, how we can build a program and forge a community, how we can help others see what is inside each of them.  from our rung, we can still see the ground so we know that there are others less fortunate than us and we remember pretty clearly the route up this ladder, each rung a step, each rung a gratitude.

it has also been our experience that, in a world defined by financial success, there are many on those tall extension ladders, firmly grasping the tippy-top, who have lost the story of getting there.  it is my belief that, too often, there are those who, each rung they clamber up, have forgotten what it is like to be on the rung below.  the climb to success foregoes memory, it exempts empathy, it elicits a sense of superiority; it is not kind.  the naysayers poke at those who are on rungs below, prodding them but, alas, with no reality for where those below-climbers are.  assumptions are unfairly made about ability, intelligence, budgetary decisions, effort.

in this world of bills and responsibilities, work and play, absolute joys and deep sorrows, brilliant hopeful sunrises and exhausted sunsets, i wonder about the tippy-top.  i wonder if it is possible to be clinging to that tippy-top and still remember.

as much as that tippy-top sounds like a world without worry, i don’t mind being on the silver ladder in the front.  and every step we step, i want to remember the silver ladder in the front.

i know that each day there might be someone who just may need me to understand, without feigning it, where they are.  to be able to really grasp how they feel, despite not being in their very shoes.  i don’t want to be the person who looks back at them, fear filling their eyes with tears as they tell me they don’t have enough to make it, and condescendingly ask them if they want me to point them to a budget counselor.  instead i want to understand their frustration in poverty, be complicit in their growth – real growth, empathetic in their fear.  i want to hold their hand on the rung they are on and remember what it felt like on that rung.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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