out there ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood
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.
the seasons pass. we lurch from lush to barren. we see the fire season lengthening, the arctic ice shelf shrinking, the oceans warming, the atmosphere more potentially lethal. we see the lack of a bipartisan country, divisiveness poisoning our communities, self-serving rule over a democracy based on equity and compassion. we are stymied by what we can do, what we can accomplish as individuals and we speak up, at the ready to be buoyed by support or torn down by scorn. we have traversed the spectrum of built up and trampled.
i hope this season will pass. that the tearing down will yield a new harvest. that we will pay attention to our good earth and its physical struggles. that we will cross the aisle and reach out. that each of us will count, no matter our ANYthing. that sensitivity and humanity and fairness will lead our actions. that we will be kind. that we will build up. that this now barren-in-so-many-ways-land will again be lush. with promise. for everyone.
“the finnish wood carvings, ” my sweet momma would answer when asked what she wanted in her little assisted living apartment, a place she would occupy without my dad, some time after he died. those finely carved statues accompanied her from new york to florida, house to house, and, finally to her small apartment. she cherished them and spent long hours deciding to whom she would give each one. the list in many notebooks and on many scraps of paper showed that she pondered each recipient’s personality and interests before deciding on a gift choice; these wood carvings were important and each was later given with decades of love. placed on an equally significant-to-her live-edge wooden shelf in her tiny living room, they seemed to represent comfort to her, something that spanned the years, something that, in their familiarity, gave her a sense of security. a piece of what-had-been-home in this new home.
when you walked down the hall in eileen and duke’s home, just in front of you before you turned in to their master bedroom was this painting. duke was an amazing artist, a painter and sculptor with an enormous collection of work. when we were helping 20 move his momma eileen into her assisted living apartment a few weeks ago, this painting beckoned me as something that might be a familiar sight in her new unfamiliar home. as we placed other artwork on the wall, i kept thinking about this painting that we had left in their home and i nagged 20 about it. i felt it could be placed so that the moment that eileen stepped into her new bedroom it would be ahead of her, before she turned to head to her bed. jogging her memory of the home she and duke had made together, a touch of comfort for her. 20 picked it up later that night and the day his momma moved in we hung the painting. this sunny, but somewhat austere space, suddenly was lifted to a different level. the photographs of duke and eileen in the kitchen, the familiar prints in the living room, this painting in the bedroom. all touchstones from home in this new home.
there are certain things i like to have around me. things that even in times of uncertainty give me a sense of footing. were i to pare down there are items that would definitely make the cut, unlikely choices maybe, but things that bring me solace, things that alleviate angst, things that gladden my heart. what are yours?
maybe we’ll go back. this sassy coffee pot sits at one of our favorite antique shops and drew my eye. we’ll be sure to know where to put it and, perhaps, how to use it before we maybe go get it.
we were on our way to cape cod and the sign salvage chic antiques stopped us. four old aluminum coffee pots later, we left the store. they are now part of a five-aluminum-coffee-pot collection on a shelf in our kitchen; instead of a canister set, these coffee pots keep all our different teas easily accessible.
anyone who knows us knows that we love our coffee. anyone who knows us knows that we also love re-purposing old stuff. but not the fancy stuff. old aluminum coffee pots, old black vintage suitcases, old wooden boxes. they are the treasures around us. they hold special mementos, nespresso coffee pods, clothespins for the ukulele band, art supplies, rocks we have collected on beaches, in woods, from high sandstone precipices or red rock canyons deep. they are history and they are new. both true.
when we need a break, a few moments to lose ourselves, we will either hike or go to one of our local favorite antique shops. things of worry will gently fall off as we walk through woods or aisles of things-that-remind-us of other times, memories, or maybe inspire us with a beckon to be brought home.
we choose carefully and deliberately. for ourselves and for the gifts we get others. it’s never the fancy stuff, but it’s the stuff that stops us, draws our eye, beckons to be purchased and re-treasured.
i first wrote and recorded this piece while i was working on the twin LET ME TAKE YOU BACK albums. performing the tunes of the 60s and 70s made me feel wistful; memories flooded every note. i’d remember dancing to a song at a prom or listening over and over to another in my room in the basement. they made me picture the windows rolled down in my little blue vw driving on the open roads out east on long island and they brought me the sweet smell of warm sand on crab meadow beach with my red round ball and chain transistor radio. they had me thinking about the songs coming from my sister’s room and the songs my big brother would play on his guitar. so it wasn’t a stretch to write a piece that was all about longing and reminiscing and memories, stories that were deeply set in my heart, times that had gone by. later on we orchestrated this piece for the album AS IT IS. i still associate it with the twin retro albums; the cello line gets me every time. it makes me want to take out all my photo albums and set up a white sheet in the living room to watch the carousels of 35mm slides my poppo called “film funnies”. longing. indeed.
LONGING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood
the moment i saw this trailmarker it made me laugh. i was feeling exactlyyy this way, so this lightened my mood. (yes, yes, i understand that the marker made sense, but if you flatten it out (as opposed to three-dimensional) it is admittedly funny and a little confusing.)
middle age (ohmygosh, yes, middle age) seems like a time of arrows every which way. where we’ve been, where we are, where we are going…these questions are all different now…different from the striding times even a decade ago. time is starting to mean something else; i recognize the scarcity of time-limitlessness.
i lost one of my very best friends from elementary school, junior high and high school last week. kenny was brilliant and funny and courageous and a really good person. together with his twin richard and i, we were often thought of as “triplets” in school, mostly because we were all platinum blond kids growing up. i haven’t seen kenny for many years. the last time i can remember was having coffee with him at the atlanta airport; he was an airline captain and based there so we met when i flew through with a tad bit of a layover. he was thrilled to catch me up about his beautiful wife and son and he joked about how long it took him to find her. even though i saw him rarely, there was something about knowing he was in the world that was comforting…a piece of my long-ago-past that i could still talk to or text with, maybe see from time to time, who knew me when i was little, when i was a preteen, when i was a teenager, when i loved calculus. i tried to explain this to d…when certain people who connect me way back to my roots are no longer present on this earth, it is as if i can feel the earth tilt on its axis; it wobbles. and nothing will ever be the same. i can’t get to ken’s service, but i hope to carry with me – always – a piece of kenny and our growing-up history. i hope to honor him somehow.
and the next time i wonder “which way” in angst, i hope to stand still, right where i am. time is not unlimited. i don’t want to waste it.
which way products ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson