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the path back is the path forward


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“it’s either joy or pre-joy.” [not-so-flawed wednesday]

pre joy joy

a fine line.  the place between pre-joy and joy.  for mike libecki there is no space on the continuum between the two.  it is merely one or the other.  pre-joy or joy.

mike is a mountain climber.  because i am an obsessive mountain-climbing-video-documentary-movie-watcher, we watched him and cory richards in their national geographic antarctic mountain climb to summits not reached before.  it was brutal.  the wind.  the weather.  the elements of the climb.  agonizingly difficult.

but mike was adamant, stating above the furious wind again and again, “it’s either joy or pre-joy.” any moment of torturous climbing or bearing the effects of the weather was a moment of ‘pre-joy’.  all other moments were ‘joy’.  it’s an amazing way to look at things.  an amazing way to look at life.  everything leads to joy.  you are always in joy or on your way there.

in what we would describe as a watershed time, this short quote is a lesson in staying grounded.  in sentiment i have heard before, but never as succinctly shorthand, a reminder to look always to the light, the horizon, not backwards, not at the dark, not measuring in the negative.  re-group, re-center, re-evaluate, re-perspective-arrange and move through pre-joy to joy.  a cup always with something in it, never empty.  always a portion waiting for you to add to it, make the best assumptions, hope, appreciate, carry the jug to the next waterhole for it is there.  “we must live sweet,” mike says.

we carry the torch so often for the negative.  we moan and complain and gossip and pick fights.  in this roller coaster of life, what about carrying the torch for joy?  what about lighting the way for yourself, for others, helping to find the light, the joy?  believe that we are only an ice-pick or a few carabiners or a length of rope away.  we are on the mountain.  all of us.

i would like to try to remember this “it’s either pre-joy or joy” and live and work and play by it.

because i believe in joy and the sheer power, potential of joy; it’s a force.  i just need remember to believe that all roads lead there.  one day is joy.  the next is pre-joy.  it is all on the same continuum.  it is all the same life.  we all share the same possibility.  all paths summit.

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

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joy. [k.s. friday]

joy songbox

the video from My Girl made me out and out cry.  it was just a little hello, sent from around a firepit in the high mountains after a long day of working.  and it was perfect timing.  to see her face and hear her voice was pure joy.

we walked and walked and walked.  miles from millenium park’s christmas tree and skating rinks, past beautiful ornate displays of lights and simple twinkling white branches.  in a rare opportunity linking my arm through My Boy’s as we strolled, i was filled with joy.  the loudspeaker music and dancing lights of the lincoln park zoo just echoed my delight.

as adults, the holidays carry a different set of qualities than they did as when we were children.  much pressure, oftentimes grief, maybe a slippery slope feeling of never-doing-enough, some disappointment, a measure of jealousy or envy perhaps as others-with-family-all-in-town gather together in big festive celebrations.  for those of us who work on christmas eve and christmas day, there is a yet another added layer.

we walked through the woods yesterday looking for the right branch laying on the ground.  we don’t yet have a christmas tree up.  we have other little trees – i have collected small trees through the years – but no true christmas tree.  each year in these last years, we have chosen that “tree” carefully, always something we found, something re-purposed into a christmas tree, something that had meaning.  there was the christmas-tree-on-a-stick – a christmas-tree-misfit – we cut down on the tree farm, a piece of the tree that fell into our backyard narrowly avoiding the house, a branch that had snapped off of our beloved tree out front, a star suspended over a straight trunk wrapped in lights to tease The Boy.

this year i thought about just going to a lot and purchasing a tree, thinking maybe, in the midst of the ending of a really tough year for many,  that might put me into the holiday spirit.  but i just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  we figured that the answer would become obvious, as it has done in the past years.  and it did. watching My Boy, clearly proud of the decorations of the neighborhoods north-of-downtown, agree with us about how simple, beautiful and truly elegant the white branches were, made up my mind.

last night we put the first coat of white spray paint on the two sets of branches we brought home.  we’ll finish coating them with paint later today and wrap them in white lights.  we’ll gently place silver ornaments as we play christmas music in the background.  i will miss My Girl and My Boy like crazy.  i will yearn for my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephew and all their families, david’s parents and extended family.  it isn’t the christmas of christmas-past.

but there still is magic.  those moments of joy – when everything else ceases to exist and joy eclipses it all.

download JOY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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lucky charms. [merely-a-thought monday]

lucky charms.jpg

H is about the sweetest man you could meet.  he is in choir, sings bass and is a heckuva barbershop singer.   he loves music and adventures and birthdays and hugs and butterfinger bars and the letter H.  and we love him.

i was talking about a piece we were going to sing a particular sunday.  i told the infamous back row they would need to eat their wheaties that day; there were some tough notes in this piece.  H looked up, and with that glimmer in his eye, said, “i eat lucky charms!”

what???!!!  this is a grown man – 93 years grown – and you would think that his breakfast would be practical and of great nutritional value.  but nope!  lucky charms it is.  he added, “when my grandchildren come over, they eat all the marshmallows!”  clearly not a disappointment but, instead, the greatest biggest joy.   see?  the sweetest.

i’m thinking that it would be a smart thing to eat lucky charms if it means i am going to live 93 years and have a glimmer in my eye.  and they’re gluten free!

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

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a creation. joy. [d.r. thursday]

 

Joy copy 2

JOY mixed media 50″ x 56″

he painted this early on in the days he lived in wisconsin. a big canvas, his brushes moving effortlessly, carefully, intentionally, jars of paint by his side. and JOY came to be. i immediately loved it. equally, i loved being present for the process. i got to WATCH. a creation in the making. beautiful. he stood back and looked at his work.

regardless of your belief, you certainly must acknowledge that somewhere along the way there was a big blank canvas. a divine being named whatever-honoring-name-you-want-to-name-this-presence moved brushes effortlessly, jars of unimagined colors, buckets of stars, clouds full of rain and snow, mountains of hills and mountains, fields of fields and open rangeland, oceans and lakes full of water, gigantic test tubes of atoms and cells that would eventually turn into plants and trees, amoeba, bacteria, organisms, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, people – all by the side of the canvas. this supreme being moved effortlessly, carefully, intentionally. and the world came to be. a creation in the making. beautiful.

we hang this painting and gaze at it, interacting with it daily. we feel the joy of it, the color. we have relationship with the painting; it speaks to us and we listen. we respond to it, respecting it, hanging it out of direct sunlight, preserving it and keeping it beautiful.

we stand in the world and gaze at it, interacting with it daily. we feel the joy of it, the color. we respond to it, but do we respect it? do we have relationship with it? do we listen as it speaks to us? do we concern ourselves with its sunlight, its atmosphere, its water, its land, its living things – all of them? do we preserve it? do we keep it beautiful?

view and/or purchase JOY on david’s gallery website

drc website header copy 2

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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JOY ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 


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so much life lived. [merely-a-thought monday]

so much life lived box

we were talking on the phone.  it had been quite some time and there was so much to catch up on it was difficult to know where to start.  we started with this week.  “so much life lived this week,” heidi said.  yes.  so much.

in the last week or so we have traveled both east and west.  from the ocean to the mountains.  from children to parents.  from littlebabyscion to big red.  we traveled from together to missing.  from gathering things for a new home base to removing things forever from a home.  from being known to the dementia-induced-agony of being not-known.  from a new plan to yet another new plan.  from certainty to uncertainty.  from before to after.

we have driven over 3000 miles and flown 1000 miles. we had the absolute joy of being with our children.  we had the absolute joy of being with david’s parents.  we’ve been with beloved family, with our dearest friends, with complete strangers on airplanes, in rest areas, in hotels, in shops.  we laughed, we talked, we questioned, we argued, we cried, we cringed at how life changes, we celebrated life’s changes.

days swirled around us as we turned the pages of our calendar and we kept going.  taking snapshots, memorizing moments, sealing memories for eternity (as mike wrote).  for this was only one week or so.  and yes, there was so much life lived.

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

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oy! [two artists tuesday]

OY copy

i recently read these words in a written interview:  “i believe in a benevolent universe.”  i wrote it down.  “a benevolent universe” is a good mantra.  i have never met the person who wrote this, but i already like her.

i believe in joy.  finding joy.  leading with joy.  the word JOY has a prominent home in our kitchen.  above our big old sink, over the backyard window, sitting on top of the wooden window cornice sit the metal letters J-O-Y.  lately, the J is refusing to stay standing.  we’ll walk into the kitchen and the word OY is there.  OY has a totally different connotation than JOY, but i must say that -right now- OY! also fits.

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 9.52.02 AM

OY definition

having grown up on long island this is not an unfamiliar phrase to me.  i have used “OY!” a time or two or maybe a few dozen more.  right now, though, i ponder why OY keeps appearing in our kitchen.   is it a message?  is it empathic support from afar?

each time i fix OY back to JOY i laugh aloud.  and i wonder when OY will reappear.  what does it all mean?  does it mean anything at all?  what message do we want in our kitchen on the top of the cornice over the window gracing the sink?  it’s like a 70s mood ring, the thermotropic liquid crystals, moving with temperature change causing color change, flip-flopping within your own little world.  what is causing our J to fall?

is it JOY or OY?  hm.  either way, no matter what we are experiencing at the moment, i do trust that yes, ultimately, it is a benevolent universe.

read DAVID’S thoughts about OY! this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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bowling at the airport. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

at the beginning and the end of the movie LOVE ACTUALLY are these really fantastic  scenes of people coming together, vignettes of greeting each other, hugging and kissing.  a warm feel-good movie anyway, these scenes are the reasons i love to go to the airport.  i love to watch people…in their excitement about travel, in their absolute joy in seeing someone they have missed.  we have our own airport stories…of meeting and coming back together, of skipping and champagne, seconds and minutes memorized for all time.

we spent a little bit of time in airports this past week.  we people-watched, wondering about each person’s story, where they were going, where they were from, what was in their heart.  we watched children run to loved ones upon seeing them; we watched couples embrace.

for a little while, with a late-evening departure, we sat at one of the bars at the milwaukee airport (which, incidentally, also makes me think of the movie LOVE ACTUALLY – you must see this if you haven’t already!)

we had promised gay and dan and jay and charlie and sandysue that we would bowl with our new christmas-crackers-bowling-set, and we had no intention of going back on our promise.  so we painstakingly set it up and struggled to hold onto the tiny ball.  giggling, we bowled at the bar, the bartender thinking for sure we had lost it.

sometimes you just have to be goofy.  it makes people deep in thought around you laugh.  what’s better than that?  it’s not the opening or closing scenes of LOVE ACTUALLY but it, too, elicits smiles.

here, a teaser from the movie:

ps.  you can borrow our bowling set anytime.  just message us.

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

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oversized joy. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

copley place - back bay, boston copy

we spent a wonderful day thanksgiving friday in boston with craig and dan.  taking trains here and there, we had brunch at the greatest little dietary-restrictions-aware-diner called the friendly toast, walked through a magnificently decorated copley place, had drinks together and went bowling, a tradition that has been established now for a few years.  it would have been hard not to feel the holiday spirit; carols were playing and everything was decorated…and we were together.

copley place had enormous decorations.  i mean eNORmous.  everywhere you looked there were oversized ornaments and lights.  now, normally i might find that gauche; in this case it was stunning.  they really made you take notice.  i wanted to sing carols and skip through the mall.

i keep carols on pretty much non-stop in this season.  in the house they play on a boombox booming out of my studio.  we drive with them on in the car.  i sing in the shower.  i make up new words to old standards and sing LALALALALA really loudly when i can’t think of the lyrics.  joy joy joy!  big joy!

thank you to copley place for the reminder that THE JOY of the season – those moments we are together – is enormous.  it is oversized.  it is stunning.  take notice.

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

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playing the same stuff. [merely a thought monday]

string bass with frame

just last saturday evening, out on cape cod, we lingered over seafood and glasses of wine with jonathan, our bass player.  we were sitting around his table, chatting about music.

he told us about a group of musicians he rehearses with on an irregular basis.  they play a wide variety of instruments and they all just gather casually together and jam on some “good music”.  “…and once in a while we play the same stuff…” he stated.  his voice trailed off as he thought about what he had just said and we all laughed.  we can picture a whole group of jonathans in the room – all exuberant and, each, lovers of all music, all pick-ready, mouthpiece-ready, reed-ready, hands-poised-over-the-keys-ready.  that kind of enthusiasm shouldn’t be curbed or restrained.  the sheer joy of playing – now that’s the reason to be all together.  it’s not about playing all the notes on the page, playing them all perfectly at the same time, playing them with no mistakes.  it’s about heart.  it’s about the breaths and the rests of silence, the flip-flop your heartbeat makes when soaring notes come together in a sweeping harmony, the tears you get in your eyes when something you just played or heard is sublimely sweet, dynamically touching, deeply resonant, the belly laugh with the ridiculously dissonant moment.

the ukulele sip ‘n strums are about just that.  if we can choose to teach anything at those sip ‘n strums, i would choose to teach just these things.  the things of joy.  music is all about individual hearts…coming together with the immense gift of twelve notes at our literal fingertips.  no matter what we play, we are playing the same stuff.

ukulele laughter

what playing music looks like.

christmas sing dec 7 sip n strum copy

rackcards for sip n strumtake 2.PRINT copy (deleted b'87d4bf65abee4940dca3fe6ba53c1bc6') copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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UKULELE SIP ‘N STRUM ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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grateful. [k.s. friday]

grateful song box

8. grateful (5:31):  for all the blessings, the joy, for life itself.

download the album AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

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

GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood