reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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looking glass falls. [k.s. friday]

there is no limit to how long you can stare at rushing water. cool mist enveloped us as we stood there, watching. in the land of 250 waterfalls, we, as even babbling-stream appreciators, stood and took in this gorgeous sight.

it is unusual for us to be in the midst of many people these days, even outside. yet, here we were, transfixed by the looking glass falls, along with at least thirty other carsful. everyone, with different accents and languages, exchanged greetings on the way up or down the rock steps. everyone was smiling. everyone was kind. the waterfall brought us all together before we parted and looked for the unbeaten path, the trail in the woods, the less-trod, less-populated places that would be quiet. in those moments of togetherness, though, the sheer force of the water spilling over granite seemed to be a cleansing balm to anything that would keep us all separate.

we stood still on looking glass rock trail the next day, just listening to the stream below us. a hiker jaunted by us, intent on making tracks. he turned around and asked us if there was something worthwhile to look at. that, in itself, was a funny question, considering the absolute beauty of the place we were standing. i responded that we weren’t looking, “we’re listening.” he nodded and said something about serenity, then pushed on.

if there were a place i could choose to stand as this year turns into next, i think i would pick one of the 250 waterfalls, or, for that matter, the stream. a reminder that all things keep moving. that everything is fluid. that the edges are smoothed by the water that runs over and over and over them. that dropping worries and angsts and all negativity into the moving, rushing fall or even the whitewater river or gurgling brook, will allow that very water to carry it all away.

“it’s time to let it all go,” he said as we were visiting together. he’s right.

as this year turns its head toward the sun of a new year, i drop it all into the water and start again. we are merely riverstones in this fluid looking-glass-filled life.

happy new year.

*****

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RIVERSTONE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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fish-fry friday. [k.s. friday]

fridays are fish-fry days in wisconsin. if you want fried fish (or baked, to represent actual menu-inclusivity) you can find it practically anywhere. truly. any where.

it’s a year. tomorrow will mark a year. we didn’t go to a fish fry that day, though it was a friday. it turned out i was the fish du jour. and, in an unremarkably remarkable statement read on a zoom call, my eight years with my employer came to a screeching halt.

i have no false notions as to why. i know, from decades from experience, that i was doing an excellent job, at the time further impacted and expanded by covid, necessitating additional online skills and responsibilities. i had contributed in a big way to the place. i brought my best game and, sadly, my heart and big love to that place. the community had become my family. but the cloak of covid was hanging over it and no one in the community really knew what was happening; they still don’t. i spent an hour in the dog food aisle with a member of the community who asked me over and over again what i had done that was so wrong, so egregious, so as to be fired. it sickens me to think that there are unanswered questions out there, that there are slanderous statements made by leadership, that, without any transparency, this place – a church – allowed a small contingent of “leaders” to make a choice that the people who actually paid my salary had no idea they were making. even my own supervisor had no idea what was going to take place on that zoom. once done, there was no recourse. done. with no identification of conflict, no attempt to – together – mediate or mitigate such perceived conflict, no conversation, no communication, no resolution. and clearly, no truth.

and so, suddenly, it’s a year. and in a way like yesterday’s post and in a way not like yesterday’s post, it is way past time.

i had never been fired before. in all my years, in all my work, in all the places i worked, i had never been terminated. it is unlike anything else. and it takes a toll. which, i see now, is precisely the point. mean-spirited comes in many shapes and forms and people.

the loss of work and income are monumental losses for anyone, particularly in the middle of a raging pandemic, particularly after whole-hearted dedication, particularly at an age when new positions are fewer and farther between. the loss of community is a whole ‘nother thing. the phoenix doesn’t rise quickly with new relationships, new friendships, trusted alliances. these cherished people, who had spent great deals of time in our actual life and at our home, know the drawer where the silverware is kept, where to put their coats and their potluck casseroles, stood with me as my sweet momma was dying, know the moment we were married and surrounded us in a circle at our wedding singing “we are family”…these people are no longer a part of our everyday life. that has been a devastating blowback from a power move made by – mostly – people who barely knew me, had never been to our house or a rehearsal and obviously didn’t have any real investment in the joy that had been created through years of committed effort. so be it.

“new beginnings are often disquised as painful endings.” (lao tzu)

and so, today, a year-to-the-day-before, the ashes release from the scorch of the flame. time has taught me of those who are compassionate, those who seek the truth, those who actually care enough to ask questions. time has reminded me – once again – that no one should be put on a pedestal, that people will shock you and throw you under the bus, that others, in the busy of their own lives, will surprisingly not step up and advocate for you, that power and control are clearly addictive and snowballing agendas, that the health of a place will suffer at the hands of those agenda-driven, that hypocrisy is alive and well. i am weary of the painful.

“all that talk about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is so not true. do you know what makes you stronger? when people treat you and your art with dignity.” (lana del rey)

it is as it is. it’s life. it’s friday. a year later. i’ve got bigger fish to fry.

*****

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space for peace. [k.s. friday]

slowly-but-surely-time-rapidly-rushing we are approaching the holidays. with all the concurrent spinning plates wishing i could slow it all down, wishing i could feel it happening. i want to feel the peace of the season, the peace of quiet winter coming on.

wisdom comes from unexpected places. softly. an instagram post here, a text there, a conversation on the phone, a note. people, wittingly and unwittingly, giving me words on which to linger, images in which to immerse, snippets of thoughts to ponder.

i woke up this morning feeling hopeful. a bit more sleep was restorative. i read wise soul-provoking words of my girl; i received an email from a generous stranger.

i started to recall the times in my life when an obstacle was actually a gift, when a turn in the road was the thing that protected me. instead of railing against the current, i am slowly slipping onto the raft that is taken by it.

i took a picture of the blue sky yesterday – just blue – because it was the first blue sky in days. i felt deep gratitude for it and for the sun i could feel on my back as we hiked. the two masked women we passed on the trail raised their hands, fingers outstretched in the symbolic v, and called out, “peace.”

early this morning i sipped coffee that david brought me, my legs stretched out on the bed tightly snugged between dogdog and babycat, both laying ever-so-close. and we spoke of waking a little bit lighter today than yesterday. it doesn’t change the circumstances. but how we are in those circumstances changes us.

and in the slow-but-sure-rapid-rushing-time advent of this winter, this season, this time of quietude and rejuvenation, it allows space for peace.

*****

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worried. [k.s. friday]

bridge box

i am worried.

in a tenuous time of fraying loyalties and the aggressive recruiting of followers, people are being indoctrinated into what they believe are the-cool-groups, welcomed with open arms, social-media “love-bombed” and, it would seem, encouraged to believe that which has not been proven to be true.

indoctrination (noun):  the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

uncritically.  terrifying.  without critical thought.  without mining for facts.  acolytes of persons who gaslight, persons who claim absolute knowledge and power, persons who, like the scum on a glass of sour milk, rise from the acidification of true idealism, true tenets, the true basis of a society as a community.

i am worried.

the bridge between us as a country seems as crumbling as the infrastructure of old roads and bridges across this nation.  the fragile bridge sways now in the gentlest of breezes.  the bricks, mortar, concrete, steel are wearing thin, their veneers weathering storms of severed ties, storms of conspiracy over fact, storms of cronyism over love.  the bridge-slayers taunt, tempt with poison fruit, the oldest story of stories.  the ideologue-apostles forego conversation for testaments of belonging, baseless creeds.  the indoctrination devours relationships, forming unions useful only to itself, without heed to emotional ties or history.  crazed, yet measured, words of untruth and hatred blur clear vision to the other side.

the bridge ceases to exist.  it becomes but a shadow.

and i am worried.

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BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 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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we long. [k.s. friday]

longing

and in the mist of the new grey day, uncolored by the pattern of another’s fabric in our close grasp, we rise.

we sip from coffee mugs, just the two of us, conversation spilling, yet stale in two-dimensionality.

we plan the day, but stop short of planning, for the days now have measured repeat signs.

sudden unexpected changes in rhythm punctuate the andante pace in isolation,

projects to learn and complete, new rules to follow.

we long for lingering conversations with dear ones, in person, touching distance.

for wine glasses clinking together,

for groceries we do not wash,

for sidewalks we willingly share,

for overdue embraces.

we long for that which was, that which we see we took for granted.  we mourn.  we grieve.

anger hangs as low clouds; aerosols so fine as to break down walls of solidarity.

laughter is key; we find it hiding around corners, peeking out, entering the fray and retreating. we chase it, grasping its laughter-tail and pulling it back into our life-day like warm taffy.

we watch news of this place, this state, this country, this world and find joy in small stories of goodness, in videos of lions napping on roads.

we long to feel less like we are in a science fiction movie and more like we are in a flattening curve.

we wish we hadn’t watched the movie contagion.

we end the day on top of mount everest, breathing air so thin that every breath is deliberate. we linger on the top-of-the-world, just as other-worldly as our own hometown right now.

we long.

we sleep, forgetting for a few hours, waking and, for moments, not remembering.

we step outside, coffee in hand

and the sun warms our faces and we wish to share the patio with voices and slow-dancers.

 

 

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LONGING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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meander-er. [k.s. friday]

meander

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost)

a product of sunday-drive-parents, i am a meanderer.  i’ll choose a backroad.  i’ll choose the woods.  i’ll avoid the six-lane interstate.  i’ll avoid the leader-led-coach-bus-travel tour group. i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in an obvious life metaphor, choosing to be an artist of any medium -for the long haul- is choosing to be a meanderer.  it’s choosing to live life looking for and celebrating layer cakes – a layer cake of work.  it’s a continual wracking-of-the-brain for the next idea, the next project, next pitch, the next initiative, the next validation of your artistry.  it’s continual exploration and continual growth, surprises and intrinsic rewards of the heart.  and it’s continual worry: how will what you earn equal or be greater than that which you owe.

my parents encouraged my every musical moment.  neither of them was a musician, but their steadfast support reinforced the decisions i made that were more out-of-the-box.  their prideful applause inspired and fed me, lighting a fire even when the embers were falling to ash.  times i would rise and fall and rise again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in somewhat recent days, when i was bemoaning the exponential cost of healthcare, someone asked me if i needed to see a financial counselor, someone who could ‘teach me’ how to budget.  i was stunned at the lack of sensitivity and actual empathy.  “no, thank you.” i responded, while trying to maintain the sound of calm in my voice, “i am actually quite good at budgeting and truly love math.  this is not rocket science.  it is simply a case of not having enough income, even from several jobs, coming in.”  a meanderer.  those sunday drives.

i’ve read plenty of ‘being the youngest child’ articles.  it seems that my profession, lean toward autonomy, artistry, careful rebellion are all because of my place in the sibling line-up.  so, once again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

the urge to be off-the-beaten-path, literally and figuratively, to quietly sit in the middle of the woods or i-wish-more-often the top of a mountain, to stand on a wooden stage with a piano, a boom mic, a few songs and a story to tell:  things that are part of my very soul.  the core.  i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

and i thank them from the bottom of my heart.

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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always. with us. [k.s. friday]

always with us prayerflags

my emotional well was full when i woke up today.  thinking of us, our children, our families, our dear friends, our community, this world.  i desperately want to gather our beloveds in, hold them close, protect them.

i have no words for all of this; i have too many words for all of this.  i fear that none of them are helpful, none of them are wise.  it’s just me.  and, like you, carrying the weight of the world one step at a time, one quiet minute at a time, staring out the window and wondering.

always with us

we are alone

 

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ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 


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the people who love you into being. [k.s. friday]

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“all of us have special ones who have loved us into being. would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….ten seconds of silence.”  (mr. fred rogers)

he brought it up on the trail.  the movie we had recently seen.  not an action thriller or a mystery.  just a movie about a man who changed the world.  mr. fred rogers.

quietly hiking on the trail, he broke the walking-arm-in-arm silence, “i’ve been thinking about all those people.  those people who loved me into existence.”

what could you possibly be more grateful for?  that trail of thought found us yesterday morning and wove its way into all day, skirting along the edges as we cooked, back into the center on facetime, at the table with wine glasses, in a late night text out of the blue.

the people who love you into being.

mr. rogers got more specific, ” from the time you were very little, you’ve had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving.” what kind of legacy do you have to be known for this kind of wisdom?  it changes everything.

the people who love you into being.

we spoke of these people on and off all day and late into the night.  there was a moment i could feel shadows that were cast by any of those we talked about falling off, light covering the shadow.  reasons.  seasons.

the people who love you into being.

too many to list.  too many to remember.  we backtracked and stood still in our memories, telling stories and finding wonder as names – and the dear picture of that person in our mind’s eye – spilled out of us.  a wealth of being-makers.  every one of them a builder in the construction of some piece of us, like a giant box of tinkertoys or lincoln logs or even crayons.  so much  potential.  a wildly wide spectrum of color and characteristic, texture and depth. profoundly moving.  a tiny bit of shake-up.  both.

the people who love you into being.

ten seconds.  nowhere near long enough.

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GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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all you can. [k.s. friday]

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“do all the good you can,  by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”    (credit for quote is unclear)

this sounds like a good mantra for one’s life.  it would seem that it would bring satisfaction and accomplishment to someone invested in its mission.  it would seem that it would create joy for others.  it would seem that, were everyone to simply live by this precept, the world could actually be a place of peace.

but people are not infallible and personal agendas reign over the collective.  competition is fierce and the caste system hasn’t vaporized.  people keep score and vindication is a driving force.  people are self-serving and power-controlling and will knock those down in the way.

children are not born with the desire to exploit others or minimalize or marginize them.  they are not born with hatred in their hearts.  children are born with the ability to embrace all, include all.  they are not born with a scorecard in their hands.  they are born with the generosity of innocence.  they are not born with fear of places and peoples different than them.  they learn that.

we can teach our children to play nice.  but we need model it first.  we need do all we can.

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ALL YOU CAN from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood