reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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teeters and totters. [merely-a-thought monday]

there are days that i find it stunning – the number of wisdoms quoted on memes on social media. goodness-gurus like maya angelou, dalai lama, buddha, mr. rogers, gandhi…as facebook profile pictures, cover photos, posts, instas, sage snaps. so many of these are about kindness – basic, the foundation for living in and amongst others.

the center of gravity on a seesaw is in the center of mass. two people on a beam, fulcrum pivot point in the middle, there is a place negotiated where the seesaw will balance. maybe this is the secret of interactions with others.

in too many instances it would seem that our interactions with others are out-of-balance, that they are a study in power struggle, in a quest for control. the seesaw slams into the ground as the heavyweight force succeeds in out-maneuvering the lightweight with no attempt at level. you cannot hide the heavyweight forces and think they don’t exist. the choice to let someone’s else’s side of the seesaw slam into the ground or to let them fly off the high side is conscious and real. and the goodness-gurus frown.

yet the teeters totter on and quote and proclaim and tout and proselytize and do not choose to lead by guruwisdom, ever righteous. it’s astonishing hypocrisy.

sue aikens lives alone in the most northern regions of alaska. she spends most of the year in frigid darkness, with an airstrip and a camp for those willing to brave the remote arctic. her wisdom is seemingly honed by years of introspection and sorting. she has no seesaw at her camp, but she lives everyday on the slim board that is life in those parts, always balancing with nature, with wildlife, with her own abilities and limitations. i imagine there are days that she spends on the low side of the metaphoric seesaw, trying to control her surroundings, the rises and falls, as much as possible. but i would also imagine that most of her days are spent trying to find the pivot point, equilibrium – the place where she interacts with the good earth and its inhabitants with grace and generosity and keeps the seesaw in balance. she has teetertottered in kavik over twenty years. she is clearly doing something right.

as she says, “your interactions are always your choice.”

*****

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

BE KIND BUTTONS


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and the grass grew. [d.r. thursday]

every time we drive south we go through that town. a quintessential midwest tiny city, highland park has shops, restaurants, galleries, parks, clean green space. everywhere there are signs posted about kindness and responsibility and community. i’ve played at and attended art fairs in that town, eaten pizza in that town, strolled and window-shopped in that town.

we had already decided not to go to the fireworks on monday. we threw on shorts and t-shirts and went for a hike in the later morning, not sure what else the day would hold. we expected it to be peaceful. we expected it to be relaxing.

it was neither.

we returned home and, within a few minutes, learned that less than an hour away, in this town we always choose to travel through on the back roads to chicago, to the botanic garden, to crate and barrel, to anywhere south, the horrific had happened. it changed everything about the day. if i had to draw a mark in the sand, it would be there. at the moment we learned the unexpected had occurred, that people celebrating independence were no longer breathing because someone had sniped them during a norman rockwell fourth of july parade, the kind where bikes with streamers and strollers gather on the sidewalk and people sit on the curb clapping and watching their children’s faces light up with glee, their hands sticky with ice cream popsicles.

the moment tipped the balance for us. again. gun violence. we did not expect to be weeping, feeling like we are held hostage by politicians who insist that guns are more important than lives, feeling like there is nowhere safe. we expected to take a walk in our own neighborhood, perhaps wander to the waterfront in the daylight to see the festivities. but it was daylight in highland park.

we expected there to be fireworks in the neighborhood. it’s not unusual. but they were frenetic and close and we could see the reflection of explosions on our house as the back neighbors set off one after another. the loud booms and cracks scared dogdog. we closed up the house – all the windows and shades – despite having no air conditioning – and tried to console him. and a bit later, even as the thunderous thunder and lightning pummeled our ‘hood, the fireworks all around us continued. i was still awake at 2, listening to them through closed windows. we did not expect that level of frenzy. it seemed feverish.

the day was fraught. without a party to attend, with no gathering to gather at, with family and friends scattered, we expected to enjoy a low-key day. instead, we found ourselves in littlebabyscion driving past a creepy house located on the path to our trail, remembering that, on our way back from the trail, with an appropriate amount of time to arrive there from a devastated highland park, there had been a car matching the description of the vehicle the shooter-on-the-loose was driving, wondering if that car would still be in the abandoned house’s driveway, a driveway in which we had never seen a car before. it wasn’t there and there was no way of knowing what the license plate was nor if it had anything to do with the day’s events. it was just suspicious enough to make us go look, to try and help if we could. we couldn’t shake it.

we didn’t expect our fourth of july to be turbulent. but it was.

the people of highland park didn’t expect their fourth of july to change the course of their lives. but it did.

there were eleven mass shootings on july 4th alone. one of them was in our town.

and the grass in the front yard grew.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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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.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

as it is


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the mission of goodness. [merely-a-thought monday]

when a business is transparent, it is not afraid to put it out there. it’s not afraid of feedback – good or bad. it only wants to be the best it can be, its actions to be the most positive. this automotive shop was up-front, honest and did the best they could in a short period of time with circumstances for which they clearly had heart. davis automotive in hays gets our recommendation and – if you find yourself in need of car repair in the middle of kansas – we suggest you go there. they stepped up and helped when we really needed it. and the sign above their door was sincere.

it is important for a business or organization, its mission statement and its actions, treatment of customers, employees and its community to be in alignment. i’m thinking that’s why people go to the trouble of writing such declarations. to have intention and to courageously be accountable to that intention.

lately i’ve taken particular interest in reading posts, brief mantras, vision statements or supposed purposes. more than once i have found these to be askew of the organization and its reality. more than once i have found posts about listening and compassion, assertions about avoiding harsh words and falsehoods, pronouncements about lifting others up and statements about participating in generosity – lovely words but, often, empty words of hypocrisy.

so when we drove up to this small automotive shop in hays and they wanted to know, post-repair, if we were satisfied, i had great appreciation for them, for their dedication, their compassion, their service, their courage and their – yes – transparency. they are indeed participating in the mission of goodness.

*****

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


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the fermata. [k.s. friday]

on hold.

the fermata lingers over my days, issuing a pause of length undetermined. the baton is held in the air. there is no downbeat, no pattern of time. just prolonged waiting.

in dr. seuss fashion we wait in the waiting place.

answers are just beyond our grasp, skimming the rim of the atmosphere, invisible to us, ephemeral and flimsy, ever-changing, like trying to capture the flicker of flame from the top of a candle lit in the darkness.

so i just keep waiting. we just keep waiting. our world just keeps waiting.

we sit quietly. we rail at the wind. we speak up. we skirt to the sidelines. we ask questions. we wonder. we are met with silence. we are dissolved. we seek fairness, equity. there is none of that. we step away from the noise. it follows us, snapping at our ankles. we do good work. we seek truth. we are managed, a place of hypocrisy. our country flails. we flail.

and we wait. knowing that, indeed, better will come. knowing that, in some measures, new will come. knowing that, after the fermata, light will come. grieving all we have lost in the process, in the journey, in the waiting place.

we are holding.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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RBG. it’s personal. [flawed wednesday]

ruth bader ginsburg. it’s personal.

i am not thinking that i will provide any new enlightenment about this extraordinary woman, for there are plenty of places you might research her groundbreaking and life-changing work, plenty of historians and writers compiling stories, timelines and amazing tomes of her accomplishments. but i can speak of the heart-stopping moment when i realized she had died.

we had not checked in with the news for a few hours. i glanced at instagram and saw that My Girl had posted a photograph of justice ginsburg. there were no words. i was immediately and deeply saddened, knowing that the chaos of 2020 would soon become even more rooted in division and that the chasm of the aisle would sink lower, into the hot fiery core of the earth.

it’s not surprising to see the hypocrisy that followed her passing. the sheer audaciousness of self-agendized dispassionate souls who have been chomping at the bit, waiting for this moment, is breathtaking, from the president down through his senate minions, all hell-bent. it is the earth quietly trembling that you feel beneath your feet as you walk through these days, reading, watching, scorn and disbelief wrinkling your brow.

but in the wake of this supreme court justice’s incredible time of service, there is no shame for those who slobber all over themselves in their zeal to replace her, to ultra-conservatize the court, to wield a time-travel incendiary to earlier times in the country when elite white men (curious how this describes those wielding as well) ruled everything and equality – equal treatment – of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status mattered not. how easily they reach for their (metaphoric) automatic weapons to detonate all the good work that has been done, all the justice that has been served, all the good intentions set in place to further that good work. how repulsive it is to watch them spewing words they now gorge on, taking them back, making excuses, declaring their victory to stock the court, like they would an elite fish farm in the catskills.

RBG has had a profound impact on our country, on our world. the loss of her compassion, her intellect, her wisdom is, likewise, profound. it’s life-changing-devastating. it’s personal. absolutely personal. it should be personal for all.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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reminders. [two artists tuesday]

heart leaf

i stopped and went back.  i had to take this picture.  reminders are everywhere and right now, although, truly, as always,  i knew i wanted to capture as many as possible.

it feels as if we are surrounded by whirling hypocrisy.  those people who proclaim one thing and treat people in an extraordinarily different way.  i’ve been stunned into i-don’t-even-know-what-to-say-silence more than once lately.  people who demand respect but don’t give it, people who are unnecessarily controlling, people who go behind your back, people who list toward cruelty, people who declare appreciation but tear down, people who hide behind glossy words.  what is going on?  narcissism seems to be alive and well as we suffer the effects of those-who-believe-they-are-on-pedestals, pedestals that seem to exist on every step of the ladder.  it’s shocking and more than a little disconcerting.  we each have first-hand in-our-own-life experience.  what a disappointment.  we are humans capable of so much more.

and so, the reminders are incredibly welcome.  the heart leaves or rocks, the sun’s rays glowing through clouds in the sky, the presence of a cardinal or two blue jays crossing our path in the woods.  a text message or call out of the blue, beautiful generous raw-matte-finish words spoken to you.  all reminders.  a kindness extended by a stranger, an eye-contact smile.  the big initiatives, the little gestures.  not picking up the tug-of-war rope.  reaching out to offer the olive branch.  life-giving.  practicing.  we are truly capable of so much.  we need be reminded.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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