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the path back is the path forward


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devoid of color. [flawed wednesday]

red and blue america

this morning i am devoid of color.  like many of you, i had a day – for me it was yesterday – that shook me to the core.  in the midst of all the bootstrap-pulling and the sisu-garnering we are mustering, angst pushed its way to the surface.  i stood in front of my piano and it started.  it didn’t stop until i laid my face on the pillow to rest, late last night, and then it woke me in the middle of the night, poking me into the place where you stare into the dark, imploring your mind to stop.  if you were there too, in the middle of angst yesterday, we were in solidarity.

this morning i am devoid of color.  apparently, for the whole of my life, i have not been as brutally aware of the chasms in this country as i am now.  we are not really one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  and the rose-colored glasses that  birthed loyalty have slid off our collective faces.  this country is as divided as they come.  it is as inequitable as they come.  and woefully, it is as shallow as they come.

this morning i am devoid of color.  in the middle of a global pandemic the leaders of this country are failing us.  jousts of economic strategy are thrust into this health-terror; federal taunts of get-it-for-yourself set the stage, the precedent, a hideous example for a people intent on self-servingness.  we see the curtain pulled on what is important to people and we are appalled.

this morning i am devoid of color.  the in-fighting pales in comparison to the cavalier buttressing of parties.  yes.  “red and blue america are not experiencing the same pandemic.”  we can’t have conversation because that would involve honest communicating.  we can’t seek truth because who could then be blamed? we can’t even talk because we are too angrily disparate to talk.  tilting my kitchen chair back on two legs as we read aloud the news i feel the earth tilt under me and i hold onto the table.

we are not on the same page, we of this country.  this pandemic, capable of uniting us in working to flatten the curve of its dread, is further dividing us.  information is warped; information is withheld.  facts – facts! – are play-doh-molded into whatever pushes forth agenda.  there are two distinct camps of thought and nary shall they meet.  this has generated an opportunity, a ploy, for more polarity; we see it, experience it, up close and personal.  and, to add insult to injury, the great divide, the vast difference between those-who-have and those-who-don’t is exposed like a compound fracture.  despite sixty years on this earth, i have never seen it more clearly.  and it is staggering.

this morning i am devoid of color.  fear has drained the color from my face.  i want us, my husband and i, to stay healthy.  i desperately want my beloved children to stay healthy.  i earnestly want my parents-in-law to stay healthy, our siblings, our families, our extended families, our friends.  but the misinformation war has put us in peril.  this insidious virus is sweeping the globe and we are in danger.  that, at its root, should not be a question or a bargaining chip.  it should not be ignored nor should it be conflated to suit agenda.  it should be factual, pragmatic, cautious, proactive, seeking answers, results and healing of lives – indivisible – for all.

so many people in this nation, practicing goodness.  but this nation?  this nation has a choice to make.

this morning i am devoid of color.  i am deeply disappointed.  i am afraid.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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1980. no balloons. [k.s. friday]

no balloons

1980.  it’s not often i have listened to this song since four decades ago when i recorded it.  i was a mere 20.  listening to it warbling now, in the way that only old cassettes can warble, has been a mixed bag:  this cassette master, with little studio experience, with reel-to-reel recording, with no auto-tune for my young nervous soprano-ish voice, with too-sweet flute lines and picked guitar, measures-too-long-instrumental-interlude; i am catapulted back.

it is shocking to hear the innocence.  it is shocking to hear the pain.  if my wednesday post this week was too much, i would hasten to add that this will be as well.  this is a song about stripping a young woman of choice, of what should be the blissful love of first intimacy, of no justice, of no opportunity to process.  it’s the story of sexual assault in the late 1970s.  it’s the story of sexual assault any time.  it changes everything.  every trajectory.  it’s my story.

NO BALLOONS is a song of the times.  especially for someone who listened to john denver, james taylor, carole king, joni mitchell, bread, loggins and messina, america, england dan & john ford coley, the carpenters – the A-team of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-interlude-chorus.  simple melodies, simple instrumentation, simply written, simply sung.

i can’t believe i didn’t write it in the vein of led zeppelin or kiss.  it should have been a screaming heavy metal song, full of pointed weapons of anguish, of power-stripped anger.  instead, it sounds like a sweet love-gone-bad song, “you take away my hopes, my dreams, you give me no balloons to fly.”  only it’s not.  it’s about no air.  no breath.

“and now with my eyes closed, i no longer see the pain in yours or feel it in mine…”  and that was a product of the times as well.  i closed my eyes and silenced my voice.  i stopped feeling it.  or did i?  “and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped i stopped.” was it really that simple?

until this week i really never thought i would share this song again.  after all, the song is 40 years old; i’m an alto, perched firmly on the tenor shore.  but somehow, between the #MeToo movement and the swirling-around-us-in-the-world-contention and public court battles in recent media and the lack of regard for those who truly need help or healing and my aunt’s texted article and the weeping inside of my younger-self and my silenced-silence, it felt like it was time to be vulnerable and candid and believe that our muddy-boots-narratives might make a difference for someone else.

we each have a story, a timeline, an arc that takes us through this life.  things we want to remember in detail, things we desperately want to forget.  things we have lived boisterously out loud, things we have lived in despairing silence.  the tapestry that holds all these threads together is the soul of our experience, the way we can hear others and truly listen, the empathy we can employ in a world that seems to cite MeFirst instead of UsTogether.

i wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.  i’m pretty sure that every day since those-dark-days-in-the-late-70s i have both been affected and have effected because of them.  i have made choices and non-choices, taken action and had reflexive reaction.  i have searched for answers.

but i also know that my heart was blown open.  i am not standing on a different rung of the ladder, too high up to understand or remember, too discurious to ask, too blinded to see, too discriminating or apathetic to care.

i am next to anyone who needs me to listen, really listen.  i am next to anyone who needs me to jump and catch their balloons before they have flown too far to reach.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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NO BALLOONS ©️ 1980 kerri sherwood

 

 


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“we should be wide awake.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we should be wide awake billboard

i sleepily rub the dreams from my eyes.  coffee helps.  and the snowy world outside comes into focus.  no longer immersed in the land of nod, all things rush back:  the casts, the worries, work task lists, bills to pay, the world around us.  before i peruse the news and the weather, though, i mind’s-eye blow my children a kiss and wish them good days, i hug the dog and the cat lying by my side, i thank sweet d for the coffee with the ernie straw.  it all starts.  the day has begun.

this past week has been extraordinary in so many ways; more on that another time.  i’m buoyed by a hopeful spirit, by connecting with people, by sheer love and the sureness-of-foot taking one step at a time, moving forward; the tide is predictable – it ebbs; it flows.  i am wide awake now, thinking.

“we should be wide awake.”  yes.  for all things.  we should have our eyes open.  we should monitor our response to the positive, the negative.  we should be mindful.  just as worry pervades our time, so does hope.  we need lead with kindness.  we need remember we are sharing this good earth with a hard-to-fathom 7.6 billion or so other souls.  we can’t avoid the reality that the narrative we each individually choose must be deliberately and painstakingly vetted with the truth, with awareness, with sensitivity, with fairness.   not sleepily, not uninterested-in-all-but-the-reactionary-anger-dramatics, not without due diligence.  we must guard against the bandwagon of lackadaisical; we must avoid the geared-down rhetoric of hatred.  we are human beings and we have a responsibility.

just as certain as the tide, it is predictable that the two factions in any division will aggressively forward their agendas.  it is up to each of us to stay informed, to discern, to ask questions, to speak up, to make intelligent, educated choices based on civility, impartiality and honesty, equality, democracy and freedom.  no matter the venue, no matter the place of division.

to be wide awake.

woke:  increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

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

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everything to lose. pay attention. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

everything to lose.jpg

“one million plastic beverage bottles are bought every minute around the world. yet recycling rates remain low.”

(article:  our addiction to plastic, national geographic magazine, 12.2019)

close to midnight and the texts started arriving fast and furiously.  a warning from My Girl that she was “fighting with people on instagram”.  her passionate responses to objectors on #pattiegonia’s instagram were well-spoken, well-placed, adamant about the wellness of this good earth, vehemently supportive.  i paid attention.

pattie gonia is an environmental advocate drag queen.  a voice.  a loud, sincere, fervent, educated, inspired, contemporary, courageous voice.  pattie/wyn is out there making a difference.  it is easy to be proud of them, to stand with them.  with the partnership of rei, they have created video to draw attention to the things we, as earth-dwellers, have failed to prioritize.  if you watch their dramatic and profound videos, you will weep.  guaranteed.

we must pay attention.  what plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic netting, garbage, waste….are doing to our mother earth is deplorable.  we would not live in such a house.  why then do we live on such an earth?

i was driven to nausea the other day when we were helping someone clear out a house.  it was our job to load things up in big red and go to the mini-dump not far from us.  we pulled up and backed up to one of many large dumpsters, all connected to a compactor, to throw in what we had in the back of the truck.   it took my breath away watching all the people throwing in all the stuff….just in this tiny corner of the world.  the great pacific garbage patch looms in my mind’s eye.  THIS is the reason we still have our 40-plus-year-old stove.  because i can’t imagine where it will go if we just throw it out to get a shiny new model before it’s necessary, just to make our kitchen look chic (which, incidentally, is impossible anyway.)

we have been conscious, using refillable water bottles, repurposing, recycling everything we could recycle, a practice of being consumers-of-less, less buying, less keeping-up-with-the-joneses, more picking up trash and, scarily, pulling up next to people who throw things out their car windows to tell them they ‘dropped something back there’.  but we have been learning. and we can do more.  we all can do more.  we have to.  pay attention.

“…right now, there are more plastic pieces in the ocean than stars in the milky way…” (everything to lose by pattie gonia)

it’s bracing.  and it’s tragic. and it needs our true attention.  as pattie gonia says, clothed in a dress made of plastic bags, fully standing in garbage, a ticking clock her companion,  “we have everything to lose.”

 

a short documentary to learn more about pattie gonia:

 

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

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holding steadfast. [k.s. friday]

holdingsteadfast songbox.jpg

it is against the odds that this tree clings to rock and doesn’t topple into the lake with a great splash and float away.  instead it stubbornly holds on, a steadfast intention.  the rock, the basso ostinato.

at a time when holding steadfast seems mightily important, i wonder about the questions we have been asked.  will you stay?  will you leave?  will you love it here?  in the midst of all the infighting, are you going to give up? will you hold on?

the answers may not be directly related to the actual intent of those questions.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our integrity.  we will hold steadfast to the reasons we came here in the first place.  to make a difference, to bring ideas and change, to apply that which we have learned, studied, experienced over at least 80 combined years of work, higher education and profession.  to be honest and transparent and collaborative.  to try and instill a sense of working together into a community divided by narratives too numerous to list.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  we will hold steadfast to our belief that people should be kind to each other, that people should not work around others nor should they undermine others, that people should instead lift each other up, not drive stakes into another.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to honoring art, the driving force behind this initiative.  to honoring creativity and the blossoming of beauty and wisdom, staunch tenets of artistry.

will we hold on?  yes, we will hold on.  steadfastly.  to believing all is possible.

but, in answer to the real intent of the question asked us….will we hold on?

we will not hold on if others cannot join us in what is real, what is truth, what is most important.  we will not hold on in the fire of pettiness or shameful self-serving underhandedness.  we will not hold on, holding still while others take turns throwing rocks at us, at the real goals of this place, if those are indeed about art.

the answer to the question is not up to us.  we can either cling to the rock, holding steadfast or we can topple, with a refreshing splash, into the lake and float away.

download HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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HOLDING STEADFAST from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 


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flawed cartoon. truth. [d.r. thursday]

Pinochio BIGcopy copy.jpg

i honestly (get the pun?) don’t think i need to say anything else about this.  in light of everything, the subject(s) seems/seem most obvious to me.

(FLAWED CARTOON was drawn and created by david and our dear friend 20.  their cartoons were timely, profound and, mostly, very very funny.   the pig push puppet is a part of my push puppet collection, which, i am sure, you never imagined me having.)

click here if you wish to browse FLAWED CARTOON merch on society6.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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TRUTH ©️ 2016 david robinson


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peel back the layers. [two artists tuesday]

peel back the layers copy

“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma used to say.  i’m missing her today as i write this post for tomorrow.  four years ago today she left this good earth and i could feel it tilt on its axis, trying vainly to readjust.  she was generous when it came to people.  she saw past what was on the outside; she sought to see what was inside.

the rough exterior we sometimes see on the outside of people is quite often a guise.  we all know someone we believed to be gruff, but turned out to be quite the mush, once you were able to peel back the protective layers.   we believe we know what someone else thinks or feels, but we are actually unable to physically pare back those visible and invisible outer layers, the extrinsic stuff, to get to the raw of their heart, to feel their actual worries or concerns or fears.

we each have our bark-masks, carefully designed for the venue or situation within which we find ourselves. we choose what to share with others, rarely brave enough to shed all that outer bark.  for there have been times when you have peeled back the layers, revealed truths in confidence, perhaps looking for wisdom or common ground, and have been torturously walloped with judgement or scorn.  it becomes much harder to allow the next shared peel.

it takes courage to BE who you really are with others.  it takes courage to meet on common ground.  we fear the gruff outermost skin, we are afraid of what we see and don’t understand.  we may not realize someone else feels that same fear.

but there are cracks in the bark; there are fissures in the icy exterior.  the tree may be shedding, the trunk expanding, growth waiting in the wings.  allowing for cracks, fissures, reaching toward and not away – those can be the gps to another’s heart.  it’s not always what it looks like.  growth is waiting.  because, you know, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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