out there ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood
“…a silence like thunder…”
“no distinction is made between the sacred and the everyday.”
“our attitude toward the world resonates in the objects around us. they reveal our intention.”
(from plain and simple, sue bender)
the first day i walked into the tiny lobby at TPAC i wondered why the table holding brochures was light blue. it matched nothing there and was a statement of a kind of thoughtless we-need-a-small-table-does-anyone-have-one thoughtfulness. all season long i kept thinking that it should be painted black. the very last day in the theatre, outside in the chill air, surrounded by golden and crimson leaves, i painted it. it dried fast and we placed it back in the lobby. still the same little table doing its job, but its new distinction mattered and it fit in the space. it did my heart good.
with multiple bags of old mayonnaise and mustard, an old container of kale and a moldy loaf of some kind of unidentifiable home-baked bread, i finished cleaning out the fridge, an appliance i had never opened for an entire season. clearly, others had, and the accumulation of old-ness was ripe. i scrubbed it out and stood back to look at how neat and tidy it was. the whole kitchen area looked neat and tidy, a new keurig replacing an old coffeemaker and broken carafe. shelves cleaned, toothpicks that had poured out swept up, a welcoming backstage entrance for staff and artists. moving that space up to sacred-everyday from messy-everyday did my heart good.
the last couple weeks have been nesting weeks at TPAC, moments when d and i have had the space to ourselves. having now passed through the shoulder season, it’s empty and it’s quiet. the 250 seats wait for the next event, the off-the-shoulders season, the next new high season. i can feel its curiosity, its expectation.
we sat in various seats around the theatre, talking about the dreams we had when we first saw it. getting mired in the muck of being the you-aren’t-from-here-newbies had slowed things down. it had paused our ownership of the actual space. eh, who am i kidding? it brought most of that to a screeching halt. drama, three board presidents and a reticence to consider change from people hired as change agents (us) brought the gate down before we could even start.
we discovered the word ‘glacial’ and applied it generously to the direction we were going. we didn’t try to change a space that didn’t feel like ours yet. we didn’t try to change too many processes. we stopped trying to change mindsets.
instead, we embraced people. we listened; we learned. we set out to weave relationships where they had eroded, where tattered feelings were wrung out, where we were told no relationship could work. we befriended those we were told would never like us. we struggled to understand allies who weren’t so much allies. with deep roots of experience, we led with intention, with the questions of what would be best for this space, what would be best for the artistry on this little island, what would be long-lasting and truly make the making of art – whatever the genre – foremost?
and so, it was in the last days, when it was quiet and empty that we were able to take the time to really listen to the thunder of the silence of that really beautiful space. we strove to honor the sanctity of this art-making place. and we intended, with every move of cleaning and straightening and re-arranging and planning and yes, dreaming, all the best things we could. it did my heart good.
the fresh simplicity of this painting makes it feel scandinavian to me, clean lines, blues, yellows. i recognize it. its warmth. its less-is-more-ness.
i also recognize the image. the moments we stop, head down, turning inside. pondering, wondering, musing. the palette of our hearts, our lives, a mixture of emotions, we try to wrangle a few minutes of quiet to sort it all out.
this painting – INNER LIFE – is a breath of fresh air for me. a reminder of what a few silent minutes can offer.
SACRED SERIES: INNER LIFE ©️ 2017 david robinson
everyone does it. in the middle of conversation. in the middle of silence. in the middle of a piece of music. in the middle of a dance. you vamp…buying time.
my poppo would vamp through a silence when he couldn’t think of anything else to say by quipping things like, “how ’bout them apples?” or “how do you like them apples?” or “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” he didn’t really expect an answer in particular. (well, except for the rhubarb question, in which case the standard ‘correct’ answer, accompanied by rolling of eyes and laughter, was always “not if it’s in cans.”) my dad was a better ponderer than conversationalist. my sweet momma handled most of the conversations of their over-70-years-together time. but you could always count on my adorable poppo for this tad bit of random.
my very-excellent-“it’s-fine”-producer ken can pick out my “how ’bout them apples?” notes in a millisecond. he recognizes them instantly and will say, “thinking note” as i vamp through a thought process heading in some direction or other with a melodic conversation in a piece of music.
some people say, “ummmm.” others say, “liiiiike….” or “welllll….” or “okaaaay….” we each have our own colloquialism, our own phrase that buys time. it’s all good. ummm, well, ok, like, as long as we’re having conversation.
but really, how ’bout them apples?
“…sometimes you just need some space in between. a few moments to think.” (liner notes)
time to sort, to ponder. a breath. in music, it’s used in between verses and choruses, a time for an instrumental, a time for a pause in lyrics, a pause for thought.
right now feels like an interlude. space that is falling between the verses, it’s quieter with more pondering. it’s a time of figuring out, a time of ‘what’s next?’ not every interlude is comfortable, but that space in a piece of music, in life, is a time that can be rich.
as mozart said, “the music is not in the notes but in the silence in between.”
UNTITLED INTERLUDE from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood
“4. silent days (4:33) the sad side of silence, the incredible loneliness of not connecting, the urgency of it all.”
i wrote these words for the jacket of this album in 1996. they are no less valid today. we are in an inexorable time of too-much-silence-too-much-noise. we stand perilously close to saying too much. we stand precariously near the abyss of not saying enough. a balancing act, it’s a lonely place, a place of silence. in our home, in our families, in our friendships, in our communities, in our world, silent days are devouring and saving relationships. both.
this is a time that has beckoned the meek to become strong, the quiet to speak the truth, the lonely to be heartened by having a voice, the invisible to become visible. we deliberate over our words, we speak, we boisterously challenge, we thoughtfully listen. we consider the consequences of not connecting. we steer away from noise just for the sake of noise.
and yes…there is urgency. for “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” (martin luther king, jr.) and there is this line – a fine line indeed – but one which all who are human may straddle: “wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” (plato)
to be quiet is one thing. unassuming. proactive in soft tones. to be silent is another.
speak your mind even though your voice shakes. (eleanor roosevelt)
SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood
i cried at 2am when the girl texted, “wtf is happening, mom?” i couldn’t answer her.
i was as stunned as she was that our country was choosing to support someone with vile opinions of others, with judgment and condescending attitude and open hatred. a man who, for one, openly objectifies women, scorning those who don’t fit into his opinion of ‘worthy’ of his attention, laughingly taunting and excusing himself with “locker room talk” excuses. not to mention ridiculing disabilities, holding contempt for people with different religious beliefs, ignoring responsible ecological decisions for this planet to survive, and deriding the LGBT community thereby undermining the right of choosing who to love, who to commit to, and, ultimately, who to marry.
what is happening? what is happening to the people we are choosing to look up to? what are we valuing in those people? what are we ignoring? and, in ignoring, what are we ultimately de-valuing about others? what is happening to all the progress we have made as a country, inclusive measures that have been finally put in place, opportunity for all people to live in free, respectful ways, supportive of each other, concerned about each other, our world, and our earth?
one of the LLBean christmas catalogs came a few days ago. now, i usually love those catalogs – LLBean represents the northeast to me…the new england i love…a dedication to the outdoors. to being green. but this time? this time it reminded me of the catalog page i had just saved from the spring catalog.
i recently was going through the spring catalog because that is the one with all the bathing suit options. having not bought a bathing suit in at least maybe 10 years, the elastic on my favorite suit was doing that thing that elastic does when it gets old: stretches but doesn’t ever return to the ‘start’ position again…kind of crunchy…you can hear it as it stretches. and, in the hope of maybe heading to a beach or my sister’s pool one of these days, i had held onto the LLBean spring catalog. so I took out it out to shop for ideas.
i browsed through….
and this is what it said next to one of the $109.95 suits: “subtle shirring minimizes your hips and waist, while the draping helps camouflage figure flaws.”
what??? “figure flaws”???
now i decided to take a closer look…and nowhere….nowhere…did i find mention in the men’s section of bathing suits that this suit would “help to cover your well-earned beer gut” or that this hat would “help cover your flawed hairline”….nothing of the sort. no references to a figure flaw or camouflaging cover-up.
what on earth were you thinking, LLBean? how did this make it through your editing? on what planet is it appropriate for your catalog to push judgment onto women, making being a woman in this country even harder than it already is? why get behind goading us into thinking we must have the right body, the right look? and why are the “flaws” you so helpfully (read: disparagingly) refer to NOT the right body or the right look? why not celebrate differences in body, skin, shape….let’s bring that out further on the spectrum….life choices, truths….why not challenge the ridiculous and abundantly hurtful standard that actively –or passively- ridicules anything less than someone’s (whose??) idea of “perfect”? we must push back against this. in retail settings, in our homes, in our communities, in our country, in our leaders.
my sweet momma’s adage, that she lived by, reached across differences and embraced all. it reads, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” (it is unknown who to credit this quote to.)
and now? more money, less waist (yes, this spelling), more stuff, less compassion, a bigger footprint on the earth, less mindfulness, more divisiveness, less unity, more self-absorption, less respect. are these the new adages? how can we be proud of these?
i guess I don’t need to be stunned by the presidential outcome, when our culture is out of balance. when companies like LLBean are making it entirely acceptable to hold women to a different standard than men. how many of those $109.95 bathing suits were sold?? how many women believed they were “flawed”? why did/do they believe that? and what would the new president-elect say about these “flaws”? de-valuing indeed.
out of balance.
when superficiality is more important than any other characteristic. when the book cover doesn’t really reveal the book. it’s not a far reach to generalize this to all differences. where does it go from there? where does it go from here? what are we ignoring? when our children and our children’s children have a person to (supposedly) look up to who is prejudiced and harsh, disrespectful and just plain mean.
i ask you this: if your son or husband or brother or father said these things or acted in this manner, what would you say or do? would you stand by in silence? where does the line of speaking up start?
it starts here. how dare you, LLBean. you should be ashamed. the girl is right. wtf is happening?