reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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waiting in the box. [k.s. friday]

the lines are chalked slowly in many dysfunctional relationships. unaware, you carry on, not realizing that it is closing in around you. until one day, you wake with a sense of claustrophobia and it occurs to you that you are boxed in. your actions seem to matter not; instead you are subjected to being a react-er. it’s more about treading water than it is about independent movement. it’s more about illogical punting than it is about making sense. it’s more about fear than it is about breathing.

our country is in a box. we react on a daily basis to the newest atrocities of leadership, the newest lies, the newest accusations. yet, no check or balance seems to matter and there are no consequences for this unacceptable behavior.

we tread water waiting.

we are waiting for wisdom to show up. we believe in truth-tellers. we do not believe in those whose jelly-bean-jars of untruths are brimming over.

we are waiting for real answers about the pandemic. we refuse to inject disinfectant and we absolutely choose to wear masks. we believe in science and medicine and we reject hiding the facts from a suffering nation.

we are waiting for help for those who need it: those who have lost jobs, home, security, the ability to pay bills or purchase food. we believe in a government that cares about people on all steps of the ladder and does not honor the stock market over the food lines.

we are waiting for conversation to start – a meaningful first step toward eradicating the social injustice of this country. we believe in peaceful protest and listening, not turning a deaf and bigoted ear.

we are waiting for the science of climatology to hold this good earth in its gentle hands of proactive care. we believe now is the time to show that the future matters and that disregard for this place will destroy that very future for all our children and our children’s children.

we are waiting for the ability to move about in the whole wide world again. we believe that is the only way we can learn about ourselves – to learn firsthand from others who are different than us. we believe in embracing others not repelling them.

we are waiting to not be afraid. we believe in compassion and empathy, not fear-mongering and words inciting division and hatred.

we are downright waiting for the mean-spirited, arrogant, self-agendized abusive behavior to stop.

we are waiting for the dysfunction to release its hold on the lines of the box around each of us, the populace.

we are waiting to vote.

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THE BOX from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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they laughed. [k.s. friday]

they laughed.

two people in a facebook thread LAUGHED (with the convenient use of laughing emojis) at a post i wrote responding to someone’s perception that there wasn’t a lot of peace and love going on in my town and to a comment about kenosha and what “BLM and rioters have done to beautiful cities” and that “denying that it exists [wouldn’t] make it go away.” i was sincere and fervently hopeful, while recognizing realities:

“here, with a house full of smoke from the fires, within hearing distance of the militia shots in the street. we could hear the blasts of tear gas, the yelling and chanting. we had a visceral front seat. but we also see many, many, many people coming together to try to address a long-standing (forever) problem of this nation. denying systemic racism exists will not make it go away. it is incredibly sad that conversation has to be aggressive and pointed, rather than generative and mindfully intentional. cities can be rebuilt, but lives are lost forever. i don’t want to live in a city that looks beautiful and is ugly underneath.”

and they laughed. LAUGHED. i had to step away to catch my breath before i could respond. what is becoming of human decency these days?

yes. kenosha painted boarded-up windows and painted over graffiti of negative messaging. yes. because, connectivity and love are the beginning. and reminders of those can only help. each positive message – in a city boarded up and burned and looted – reminds us of the most basic of emotions: LOVE. each positive message reminds us – as we walk about in this raw wound – that we are incomplete, we are flawed and we have much work to do. we need listen to each other, without overtalking. we need speak, without animosity. we need respect, without exception. we need conversation. we need connection. each positive message reminds us that hope exists, even in the tiniest brush of paint on wooden board.

this is a time of division, to be sure. day after day i am confronted with this reality and with peoples’ brazen attempts to undermine relationship with rhetoric and falsehoods, misplaced loyalties and inaccurate assumptions, and, worse yet, words of aggressive animosity and actual hatred. i wonder what the fallout will be. will the silken gossamer threads of connection sustain? will empathy fall by the wayside? will love of humanity – in all its shapes and sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic positions, religious affiliations – all its anythings – prevail?

“we live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender.” (john o’donohue) the question is always, every single day, how will we live? how will we spend that time? who will we be?

realizing the vast array of wise words that would also be appropriate alongside photographs we’ve taken in kenosha, i chose to post these words of dr. martin luther king jr., “darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” and i added this in answer to derisive comments about protestors:

“one of the foremost protestors in this land was dr. martin luther king jr. the thousands of people who walked in peaceful protest here, even drove and marched right by our house, were walking in that spirit. there have been rioters and looters in each city of unrest. they are spurred on by the vitriol and angry words of the current president, who seems to revel in discord and chaos. the fact is, the vast majority of people who are protesting in this nation are protesting in peace. just like in kenosha. this nation needs equality – the only way to get there is to listen to those who speak, listen to those who protest. their words count.”

and then, in a fine example of what conversation has defaulted to, i was called a “cupcake”, a “snowflake” and “infantile”. wow. i beg your pardon.

and they laughed? how dare they.

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CONNECTED ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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please figure it out. [k.s. friday]

figure it out

i, like so many others, want to scream “FIGURE IT OUT!”

in a nation crumbling under leadership pushing division and counting on a so-called “patriotic” movement of the populace to want to climb aboard its sick agenda-ridden wagon, i want to look people in the eye and ask them to please figure it out.

figure out that you are being accosted with aggressive propaganda, with misinformation, with bigotry and false pretenses of protectionism.  in our country, this means you are being intravenously fed with distorted falsehoods, warped promises, extreme nationalism in a round-globe-world where this country is simply one of almost 200.

figure out that this disinformation is feeding into the frenzy.  in our town, this means that a 17 year old boy from just over the state line strapped on his AR-whatever, got in the car, reportedly had his mother drive him (holding his automatic-people-killer) to our town where he played cowboy vigilante and took the lives of two people during protests for social injustice.  this frenzy is dishing out the sickening sweet saccharin of cultish followers in a time of fragile unrest.

figure out that the hate-speech of people is wooing joiners, that words like “be sure to arm yourself and your family and know how to use them” cannot lead to any good thing.  in my life, this means people i love disenfranchising themselves from me, detaching and choosing the popular-group lure of strangers, rabidly spewing the hostile talk of animosity.

figure out that you live in a country that is supposed to be dedicated to unity and democracy and that you are being courted to blindly align yourself with a singular individual who has demonstrated all that is opposite to the very ideals, the core of goodness, this country touts.  in our world today, figure out what lies are and who is being upheld in the telling of them.

figure out that there is much to fix.  this system – our country –  is working as systems work – i have learned that they protect to the death the way they are set up and the profoundly, inexcusably unjust way that this country has been set up is glaringly obvious.  figure out that fixing it starts in your heart.

figure out that your children and your children’s children will be growing up in this place and choose what you want to leave behind for them.  is it a place of peace, of equality, of truth, of health, of gently holding this fragile earth, of clean air and clean water and fertile land, of hope and justice and liberty for all?

figure out that life is sacred and that it is lost in a moment.  figure out what truly means anything to you.  figure out the bottom line.  figure out that love is truly the answer, the place to begin.  figure out that those you love count and, for heaven’s sake, let them know.  and then look out, to others standing beyond those you already love, and love them too.

please figure it out.  we are in a death spiral.

 

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FIGURE IT OUT from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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lost. and found? [k.s. friday]

lost (sketch)

it’s just a thought.  a sketch.  a few moments of piano.  lost.

i recorded eight voice-memo recordings in the studio this morning.  all based on the word “lost”.  they varied in length; the shortest was 9 seconds, the longest 7:22.  i discarded all of them and just kept the first :51 of one version.

lost.

we had just finished reading an op ed that was infinitely disturbing and equally heartwrenching.  an article about the united states, it painted a picture of a country lost in itself, untethered from its values, far from moored to its former strength and viability, unattached to its potential of community, of empathy, of oneness.

lost.

even just yesterday we listened to two accounts of persons who had been tested more than once for covid-19.  with differing results each time, it has us wondering how we might be able to halt the pandemic wave that continues to threaten when we cannot obtain test results that are accurate or consistent.  where are we really in this upsurgence?  this is no little skirmish.

lost.

everything is different right now.  we sat safely in our kitchen yesterday and talked about the 28 million people who would be losing their homes or the place they rent as home.  we talked about the crushing inability to really be with people we love.  we talked about the lack of jobs available.  we talked about unemployment numbers.  we talked about pressure.  we talked about economics and finances.  we talked about almost 160,000 people who had died from coronavirus.  we talked about life insurance.

lost.

sitting at the piano in my studio elicits mixed feelings for me.  i pine for the days that the music i wrote, the music i recorded, actually made me a living, at least the times it even leaned toward making me a living.  i wonder if that will ever be the case again, if it’s even possible in this online-download-time that has usurped the living of so many independent artists.  i experience a sense of betrayal sitting on the bench and work hard, somewhat unsuccessfully, to overcome it.

lost.

my left hand starts.  always a provider of depth and rhythm and always strong, my left hand knows how to dig in.  even now.  i think the word “lost”.  my right hand starts to follow.  and the limitation of a wrist that no longer bends beyond 20° makes me draw in my breath.

lost.

on the top of the file cabinet in the back hallway of TPAC there was a basket.  in that basket was an assortment of stuff:  coffee mugs, a jacket, sunglasses, readers, a set of keys.  it was the “lost and found” basket.

i suppose there is a simple wisdom in “lost and found” stashes.  found, as an antonym of lost, implies not forever lost.  it is hopeful.

maybe, though we cannot see it, we are living in the very middle of lost and found.

 

 

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starry tufts. [k.s. friday]

part of the wind dandelion fluff

magical.  the starry tufts of white floating on the breeze.  seeds from wild flowers, they are on a course not of their own volition.  white filaments of dandelions, designed to fly and leave a wake behind their path, fluff past, on their way to parts unknown.  part of the wind.  dandelions’ wispy seeds can be aloft over a half mile before parachuting their way to the ground.  no gps, no triptik, no maps or intended destination.

much like how it feels right now.  a part of the wind.

in this time of global pandemic, of racial protest, of economic strife, of political chaos, it feels as though the wind has taken me.  battered to and fro, it feels as it there is no determined destination, no way to avoid the headwinds, no escaping the jet stream.  the wind just picks me up and takes me, each day, to a different place.  never physically far from the place of origin, it makes me feel just enough of a lack of control that i am ill at ease, never quite settled, never quite sure, always a bit tentative, always wary.

and instead of letting the breeze blow and riding it like a standup board in a serene lake, i resist.  i find the need to know – where am i going? – too pressing, too unnerving.  i paddle against the current, seeking ways to see, to move in a direction that makes sense.  but it’s ineffective.  i tire and give it up to the myriad of air currents swirling around me.

it is what it is.  we are, indeed, a part of the wind.  just starry tufts.

 

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PART OF THE WIND ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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irato.caesura.fermata.lento. [k.s. friday]

in transition

irato.caesura.fermata.lento

the chaos of irato.  a passage of angry, passionate.  a symphony of irate engaging us, challenging us, buckling us under in its fervor.

“take a break,” earth-the-breathless-conductor would admonish.  “hold and rest,” earth-the-counselor would encourage.  “slow down.  be deliberate,” earth-the-sage would advise.  caesura.  fermata.  lento.

acknowledging the rage.  listening.  resting in the questions.  conscious mindful steps.  measured decisive action.  slowly leading the way with goodness.

i suspect mother earth, in its mother-earth-wisdom, would hear the symphony as transition.  the space between before and after.  a time of growth and change and every possible note, every possible emotion.

we listen, as earthlings, imperfect-in-every-way, and we get lost.  to live in irato is uncomfortable.  a cliffhanger.

but mother earth smiles.  after all, she knows all about suspense and the big bang and butterflies.

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IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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give a flying flip. [k.s. friday]

every breath

i am imploring you to help keep my beloved daughter safe.

please.

enlightenment comes through unexpected channels sometimes.  this morning i read a post by a brilliant woman who was my piano student 40 years ago. she forwarded a writing by a young woman who is a server in a restaurant who detailed her experiences in just one of her shifts.

it’s bracing.

my friend-who-was-my-former-piano-student prefaced it with this:  “I know it will feel so good to feel normal again and go out to dinner. But please, read this WHOLE DAMN THING before you do. You BETTER tip your server like they are risking their life to bring you a drink, because they f*ing are.”

the server wears a mask and gloves, carries sanitizer with her to work, stands back 6 feet from her guests at the tables in the restaurant.  the guests?  they remove their masks, which were required to enter, as soon as they sit down and never put them back on, even while ordering, even while their server is present.  it is cavalier at its best.  her safety is compromised over and over, at every breath, and she is painfully aware, as you read in her candid outpouring.

is the safety of this server any less important than your own?  is she dispensable?  is your dining-out experience so important you cannot sacrifice a bit of comfort?  where has this message of it-doesn’t-matter-if-we-protect-each-other come from?  hmmm.  let me think.  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it a fashion faux pas to wear a mask?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it seem unnecessary to protect each other?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country thinks everyone’s breath doesn’t matter?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country doesn’t really give a flying flip about the populace of this country?  if i sound pissed, it’s because i am.  enough already.

where do you stand?

i, for one, was breathless when i read the detailed narrative of this young woman’s shift.  with angry and worried tears in my eyes, i read it aloud to david.  i would love to read it aloud to you.

an expert at piecing-it-together during off-peak, My Girl, among other things, bartends and serves.  she busts her butt working hard in high mountain towns, waiting on tourists and locals alike.  she is a hard worker at everything she does and i have sat on her barstools watching her move in blurrying pace getting it done.  the last thing i want to have to worry about in the middle of this pandemic as it actually continues, despite the “leadership” and a percentage of the country’s population ignoring its steady presence, is whether or not the people who are sitting on those barstools or at the tables in her restaurant are (with sarcastic voice) oh-so-tediously pulling up a mask when they are breathing at my daughter.  i want to assume that they are.  i want to assume that the meager income she is hour-after-hour-after-hour trying to earn will not be dangerous for her.  i want to assume that the people who have chosen to go out, have a few drinks, eat a nice meal prepared by a chef, will generously, even at least appropriately, tip her.  i want to assume good although i fear selfish, unconcerned indifference.

the server ends her writing with a plea: “For the love of god..if you go out to eat please please please pull up your mask for the few minutes that your server is at your table. Why are you not already doing this?? And oh my god..tip your server like that burrito you are eating may cost them their life…”

have you gone out to dinner?  have you gone out for drinks?  did you ecstatically plan your outfit and put on your favorite shoes?  did you make reservations at your favorite restaurant?  did you pile into your favorite downtown bar?  did you wear a mask?  did you even bring a mask? or did you leave your mask at home because it’s not mandated by the local, state or federal government?  does respect have to be mandated?  does protecting each other have to be mandated?  can we choose respect and protection regardless?  there is still a global pandemic.  can we connect the dots?  can we think???

WILL you be going out to dinner?  out for drinks?  will you wear a mask?  will you carefully protect every breath of your server – someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, best friend, caregiver?  will you recognize their safety?  will you tip them for risking their life to bring you your margarita?  will you protect the others inside the restaurant or bar?  will you give a flying flip?

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EVERY BREATH from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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but there’s this. hope. [k.s. friday]

hope

ella jones said that it’s a time to “have courageous conversations.”  she is the first black mayor of ferguson, missouri and, as i listened to her speak, i wrote down these words.

have courageous conversations.

senator lisa murkowski, a republican from alaska, said, “perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”  i read her words, thought “it’s about damn time!” and took a screenshot.

the courage of our own convictions to speak up.

former president barack obama addressed a virtual town hall.  “every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable,” he reassured a trembling nation.  i looked for these words so that i could remember them.

the expression of our deepest ideals.  uncomfortable.

as we all sit together, walk together, protest together, cry together, we are talking together.  in the last ten days of enlightenment, our conversations are asking necessary questions.  we are desperately seeking to reach way down inside and to be honest about what we are feeling.  we are intentionally trying to learn, to discern, to understand.  we are debating.  we are arguing.  we are admitting we are wrong.  we are listening.  we are uncomfortable and we are courageous.

yet donald trump tweeted a letter, in a clear display of vehement agreement with the writer who penned it, his attorney, that refers to the peaceful protestors as “terrorists”.

but there’s this:  “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

and there’s hope.  absolute hope.  we can’t un-know what we know, un-see what we have seen, un-hear what we have heard, un-change what has changed, un-understand what we are beginning to, yearning to, understand, or un-hope for hope.

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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