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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“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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with to without. [k.s. friday]

in a split second

it was but a mere second – nigh unto 4:30 in the morning – when my sweet poppo was on this planet and then wasn’t.

i said a wee-hours-goodnight to him, propped in a hospital bed at home in their house.  he whispered back to me.  i tried desperately to memorize his face, the love in his eyes.

and before the birds woke up in the morning, that morning eight years ago yesterday, i went from with to without.

three years later, we left my sweet momma sitting on the edge of her assisted-living-bed, grasping onto the blue-notebook-that-documented-their-moments-in-europe, her expression dancing with excitement, waving to us.  i tried desperately to memorize her face, the love in her eyes.

it wasn’t but a couple weeks later, on the road back again to florida, around the time the sun is highest in the sky, i went from with to without.

suddenly, i was orphaned.  suddenly i was without the two people who gave me life.  suddenly i was without the two people who could answer any question i had about my growing up.  suddenly – in a split second – nothing was the same.

100,000 families.  in the past few months, due to the global pandemic decimating our country, 100,000 families have desperately tried to memorize a loved one’s face.  they have held tightly to the memory of love shining in their beloved’s eyes.  they have moved from one split second into the next.  with to without.

and last night, on the solemn occasion of this number passing from 99,999 to over 100,000 – that one second – one person- one life – one with to without – i expected, foolishly, that something would change.  that there would be gut-wrenching acknowledgement.  that there would be communal nation-wide mourning led by the person in the highest seat in the land.  that there would be kind, generous, thoughtful words spoken, grief-filled heart-soaked empathy for all that the withs-to-withouts have gone through.

and nothing.

we need remember.  all of it.  these are our split seconds.

”…in a split second, our lives can turn around…”

they have.  they continue to.

this is real.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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we long. [k.s. friday]

longing

and in the mist of the new grey day, uncolored by the pattern of another’s fabric in our close grasp, we rise.

we sip from coffee mugs, just the two of us, conversation spilling, yet stale in two-dimensionality.

we plan the day, but stop short of planning, for the days now have measured repeat signs.

sudden unexpected changes in rhythm punctuate the andante pace in isolation,

projects to learn and complete, new rules to follow.

we long for lingering conversations with dear ones, in person, touching distance.

for wine glasses clinking together,

for groceries we do not wash,

for sidewalks we willingly share,

for overdue embraces.

we long for that which was, that which we see we took for granted.  we mourn.  we grieve.

anger hangs as low clouds; aerosols so fine as to break down walls of solidarity.

laughter is key; we find it hiding around corners, peeking out, entering the fray and retreating. we chase it, grasping its laughter-tail and pulling it back into our life-day like warm taffy.

we watch news of this place, this state, this country, this world and find joy in small stories of goodness, in videos of lions napping on roads.

we long to feel less like we are in a science fiction movie and more like we are in a flattening curve.

we wish we hadn’t watched the movie contagion.

we end the day on top of mount everest, breathing air so thin that every breath is deliberate. we linger on the top-of-the-world, just as other-worldly as our own hometown right now.

we long.

we sleep, forgetting for a few hours, waking and, for moments, not remembering.

we step outside, coffee in hand

and the sun warms our faces and we wish to share the patio with voices and slow-dancers.

 

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LONGING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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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

to view or negotiate purchasing this painting, please visit the virtual gallery here

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 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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what’s important. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

butttobutt

in the last few days, both of us have heard the deeply sad news that someone in our lives – each a unique voice of great wisdom – has passed.  it’s bracing.  we are here and then we are not.

in all the difficult moments we have had these past months, both on-island and off-island, these past few days once again remind us of what is actually important.

it’s not the work challenges or politics. it’s not the worry over details and relationship snags. it’s not competition or one-upping someone else, nor is it about power-struggles and issues of control.  it’s not about being undervalued or serving those who do not appreciate you, nor is it about the tippy-top of the ladder where lower rungs are no longer visible to you.  it’s not what you don’t have or what you wish you had.

instead, it’s what you do have.

it’s the simplest of moments.  when you look over and dogdog and babycat are butt-to-butt snuggling. or you are sitting next to your beloved, writing or reading together.  or your grown children call to chat a bit, out of the blue.  you spend time together.  you do good work and stand in it.  or you take a walk, in fresh air, under a sunlit sky or in a night full of stars.  you savor a hot cup of coffee or raise a glass of wine in a toast with friends. you embrace or hold hands with someone you love.  the simplest.

with gratitude to a man, alan walker, who encouraged me to love both the piano and open-faced peanut butter sandwiches.  and my thanks to a man i never met, quinn, who, in innumerable conversations in his study, brought many moments of wisdom and perspective to david.  you both remain reminders of what is really important.

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

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i don’t understand. [two artists tuesday]

canoe and dock

ahhh.  early morning.  it is sunday and we are writing a couple days ahead for a busy week.

as i sit here, in this beautiful “idyllic” place, i hear the rapid fire of gunshots.  i google, looking for a shooting range i have heard about, but to no avail.  sunday morning.  a time of reflection and peace.  and, apparently, gunfire.  i don’t understand.

a couple nights ago i woke up and could hear the sound of two men talking.  we rarely hear people talking here, at any time of day or night.  i didn’t know where they were, and i couldn’t understand what they were saying, but the last thing i heard was a gunshot.  nothing else.  why, on earth, would someone be shooting anything in the middle of the night?  i’ve been told that there is poaching and shining and that hunting is a big part of this place.  hunting what?  what season is this?  are people’s kitchen tables truly dependent on this?  there’s a grocery store.  i don’t understand.

this week, just one week, as you know, our country suffered four times at the hands of someone who chose to brutally end the lives of others.  intentionally.  with assault weapons.  my heart breaks.  again.  and i don’t understand.

it appears that we are on a path of self-destruction.  a garlic festival, shopping at walmart, enjoying a saturday evening downtown in a small city…these are normal activities.  these are opportunities for human beings – like you and me – to do the stuff of life or to gather together.  partners, families, children, friends.  people we know, people we do not know, all breathing in and breathing out just like we do.  life-doing and gathering together should not include terror.  it shouldn’t even include fear.  i don’t understand.

where are we headed?  will we continue to perpetuate hatred?  will we continue to feed division?  will we continue to kowtow to big money, to the needs of a few instead of the needs of many?  will we care?  will we continue to taunt and bully and fight?  will we continue to kill each other?  i don’t understand.

as i sit on the dock of the bay, looking at the horizon blending with the sky, one little tiny being in a vast universe, i just don’t understand.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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on the dock of the bay ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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morning lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

two birds and an island

the lake wakes up different every day.  our little bay is moody and this pensive morning was not willing to add much color.  water morphed into sky which morphed into water and, were it not for hog island and two birds, it would be hard to tell where they each started and ended.

every day we are on island i will take a picture of the morning lake.  its hues, its movement, its message for the day.

today, as i look at this photograph with two birds and an island, i am quieted into thinking about the day.  in looking at the date, i note that 27 years ago today i lost my big brother.  i wonder if he is gazing out at this morning lake with me.  i wonder if he looks out on the day, its hues, its movement, the message of this good earth’s day.  i wonder if he has snapshots of every morning from heaven.

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

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this part of the journey. exclamation mark. [k.s. friday]

tpotj song box.jpg

today my sweet momma would be 98.

she was born in 1921 and saw everything change around her. she stood in a world that saw the great depression, world war II, telephones and cars, movies, televisions and news shows reporting on more wars than she could wrap her head around. her husband was missing in action and then a POW shot down over bulgaria, all while she was expecting a baby. she gave birth to their first child while my poppo was still a POW and stood in faith that he would return as that little girl died.

momma built a life with my dad, all the while navigating veteran-ptsd that hadn’t yet been labeled. but she figured it out. she held her ground, both supportive and snapping to action or to “words” as she would call arguments between them.

my sweet momma wore stockings and pumps “to business” and had housecoats with snaps, long flowing mumus and finally, at long last, blue jeans and keds for relaxing. momma drove a mean stick shift and, because they were a one-car family for the longest time, walked to the king kullen and dairy barn for groceries and milk. she turned her very green thumb over to my dad after he retired, likely to keep him out of her hair for a bit of time.

she volunteered as the girl scout president and in aarp alongside my dad. she loved wood and glass; she loved to paint with oils. she loved lists and calendars and math and writing and doing the laundry any time she was stressed. she wrote old-fashioned letters with pen and paper. she adored her word processor and then the computer and finally, her beloved iphone. anything to stay in touch. she texted, she called, she facebooked, she mistakenly took pictures of the ceiling and sent them on errant trips out to the ethers. momma loved to coffee sit and have english muffins or crumb cake or danish or chocolate chip cookies or pie. and she made extra homemade french fries every time she knew I was visiting so we could sit, drink iced tea, eat cold french fries and talk.

she didn’t let fear overtake her. she was strong in every way. she credited being from new york, but i credit just her – she just went with the flow and sort of ignored anything that got in the way, including any physical challenge that presented itself. two days after a double mastectomy at 93 she sat on the side of the hospital bed and, in good humor, sassed everyone around.

she loved that everyone called her beaky. and i mean everyone.

her journey was long, her experiences rich. she was an exclamation mark in life. she celebrated people and love and moments and I miss her.  so much.

but it is part of my journey to miss her.

each of us bring to our journey our own punctuation. sometimes i think i am an ellipsis, but i realize that applies to all of us. we go on…

if i got to choose what singular punctuation i would want to be, i would want to be an exclamation mark, just like my sweet momma. for this part of my journey. for every part of the journey.

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

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THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood