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the path back is the path forward


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nine-million-dollar people. [merely-a-thought monday]

so, yeah, i agree with frankie of ‘grace and frankie’. nine million dollars would solve everything.

i once was in a meeting with a person-in-power who said to me that he could direct me to a financial counselor who would teach me how to budget. it was all i could do to not retort, appalled at his gall. i answered instead that – at that time – it wasn’t a matter of budgeting. it was a matter of not having enough money TO budget. as a life-long math-lover having grown up with a mother who taught me how to balance checkbooks and make soap-socks at a young age, remembering clearly my first $50 calculator and my high school math teacher both fondly, the act of budgeting – and doing taxes and paying bills – is something i kind of enjoy. especially with enough money. that would probably still hold true if i had nine million dollars.

what i do know, even though nine million dollars would be pretty amazing – keeping that out there in the universe – is that it hasn’t taken that kind of money to appreciate here and now, to be present. i know we would love the ability to be more altruistic and generous; those things are gifts that are more rewarding than the money in the first place. but we try to be giving the best we can in any circumstance we find ourselves. and for us, we find joy in the simplest stuff around us – the repurposed, the long-pondered, the deals. each little thing is something we celebrate as we bring it into our home.

there have been people over the last year and a half who have shown up for us. they have acknowledged hard moments and have helped in a variety of ways. when you break both wrists and lose jobs to a pandemic and tear ligaments in your wrist after you had finally healed and get fired from a long-term position – it’s pretty intense. civil unrest, political mayhem, isolation all spice up the anxiety.

but the nine-million-dollar people have written, have called, have sent cards, have helped out with generous gifts. they have surprised us in their magnanimity and we have been the recipients of bounty even from people we have not even met.

there have been other people, who, for some reason or another, have not been there. they have disappeared and would, i suspect, hide behind an end cap should they spot us in the grocery store. they didn’t bring casseroles when i had two casts and didn’t call or write to ask how we were. kind of salt on the wound-ish. but they have their story too and as max ehrmann in desiderata points out, “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

life has a way of letting you know who the nine-million-dollar people are. they aren’t the ones with an actual nine million dollars. instead, they are the ones whose hearts are huge, who stand up for you, whose compassion is not measurable by budgets, who have reached out, who want to listen, who ask questions, who inquire what you need, who, oftentimes, just know.

this time of pandemic has been eye-opening in so many ways. it has peeled back layers. the isolation has taught us that, though it is difficult, trying at times, we can be apart. it has shown us those whom we choose to stay in touch with, those who stay in touch with us. it has shown us – with wistful hearts – who we miss, who we wish we could see, who we want to wrap our arms around. it has pointed out those who have stuck close by and those who have fallen off.

we don’t really need nine million dollars, though i doubt we’d turn it down. we already have that in the people who have loved us through this time, in one generous way or another.

and that, like those really wise mastercard commercials say, is priceless.

*****

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


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whittled. [merely-a-thought monday]

“we all travel the milky way together, trees and men.” (john muir)

the pandemic rages on, wreaking destruction; after 800 years, jupiter and saturn line up in the sky. and i cannot wrap my head around the absolute-insignificant-significance of each of us. in this moment, on this piece of earth, under this sky, we whirl through space and time, reaching out to grasp onto bits of life – merely air – and make a dent in the atmosphere where we stand.

2020 has been a year of whittling. it has whittled away at our safety. it has whittled away at our health. it has whittled away the physical companionship of our loved ones. it has whittled away relationships, through political divide, social justice mores, the pursuit of personal freedoms over community. it has whittled away trust, heaving it to the side as we watch, astonished, as untruths, gaslighting, even propaganda surround us both under the cloak of country and up close and personal. it has whittled away the security of our finances, our work suspended. it has whittled away at our shock gauge; each time thinking there has been enough and being surprised by yet more, the baseline of dismay ever-changing. it has whittled away the convergence of reality and logic and it has left confusion in its place; it has paralyzed us and it has frightened us. it has whittled away what we understand.

and yet, the trees stand steadfast. they continue to reach for the sun, arms held out to the light. they neither seek to understand as they grow nor question the storms that have battered them. they just are. their place in the milky way dents the atmosphere a tiny bit, just as ours does. we travel, in various rotational directions, hundreds of thousands miles per hour along with the trees. all of us, together.

“you are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” (max ehrmann, “desiderata”)

*****

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


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“← →” [merely-a-thought monday]

anna quindlen, in her book a short guide to a happy life, says this: “yogi berra’s advice seems as good as any – when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

we have arrived. it doesn’t come with directions. no gps. no warranty. no guarantees. no table-of-contents-glossary-index-laden information booklet. nothing. just a choice. well, always a choice.

there’s something amusing about signage that points both ways. there aren’t a lot of things making me giggle right now. but, although we have passed this spot on the trailhead many times, this signpost made me giggle the other day. i am at a crossroads. we are at a crossroads. which way?

“…a dividing line between seeing the world in black and white and in technicolor.” (anna quindlen) i suppose the spectrum is meant to be seen in its entirety. all the colors. not a flattening out of the incandescence of life. i suppose it’s not as scary as it seems. i suppose luminous scrappy will rise up, face the signpost and decide.

it’s all fluid. we are all fragile seedlings bending in the wind. invisible forces, gravity, dark, lost-ness, steadfastness, weightlessness, light, found-ness buffet us and brace us, both. and we orient. we stand at the signpost on the trailhead and choose, knowing there will be another moment when we will choose yet again.

“and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” (max ehrmann)

either way. either direction. either path. i just start. we just start. again.

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


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create the cracks. [flawed wednesday]

reeds and lake

“neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.”  (desiderata, max ehrmann 1927)

i would venture to say that, for many, this is a time of spiritual aridity and woeful disenchantment.  unconsolable worry, uneasiness, disillusionment, fear…pervasive as the humidity of early morning summer fog, the dew of late evening.  we wait for the breeze to start to blow off the sticky and cool us down.

we speak up, for the winds of change will dispel our disease, our unease, our social injustice ill-at-ease.  we stand, with love, at the ready to make it happen.  we confront that which is not true, that which is harmful, hateful, that which is fear-mongering, that which incites violence and inequality among any and all people.  for this we reap not benefits; instead we accumulate pervasive pushback, accusation, derision.

but love is, truly, as perennial as the grass.  love will always lead the way out of aridity and disenchantment.  love waits on the sidelines of the arena filled with division and hatred, ready to flow into the cracks.  it’s our job as decent humans to create the cracks.

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

the “noisy confusion of life” punctuates our day with its rat-a-tat of false information, its innuendo, its delivery of agenda, its acrimony, its selfish serving of egos.  the “sham, drudgery and broken dreams” are all around us.

and so is this beautiful world.

we walk past the pond, the wind on our faces.  the grasses on the side beckon us to peek through.  water lilies polka-dot the clear water.  perennial as the sun, the morning and the dusk, the water lilies aerate the pond and keep the algae on the surface at a minimum, peacefully offering shelter to smaller sized fish.

but like many things that might look good on the surface, that might be aesthetically pleasing, that might speak to your individual soul, it is wise to be aware of the true qualities of water lilies and the perennials pondweed or yellow floating heart, plants that closely resemble them.  many shockingly invasive, they can quickly take over, without others even noticing, choking out the life of the pond.

“for the world is full of trickery…”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

*all quotes from desiderata by max ehrmann

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unfolding. [k. s. friday]

unfolding song box copy

“…and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…” (desiderata by max ehrmann)

when i listen to tracks i have recorded i can either picture the time i spent writing at the piano or the time i spent in studio recording.  this piece drums up the same image; in a time of pronounced inspiration and the transferring of much emotion into music, this was simultaneously written and recorded at yamaha artist services in nyc back about 15 years ago.

even then, i could see the willows-bending-in-the-wind characteristic of life – it will unfold as it should, despite our best efforts to stymie it or change it or enhance it.  and so i loved when ken, my truly amazing producer, added a bended electric guitar line, arching and buckling, flexing around the melody line, a musical painting.   even now, and i suspect as will always be, i try to be that willow, bending as the wind takes me, allowing the universe to unfold.

“unfolding: trying to trust that life is unfolding the way it should be” (liner notes)

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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UNFOLDING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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a beautiful world. [merely a thought monday]

desiderataquote

my dearest daughter and son,

it is monday morning and i suddenly realized that this blogpost posted without my finishing it.  there is so much i wanted to say, too much.  my heart breaks, thinking of this world you are inheriting.  and my heart soars with wishes for you.  both of these.

and so, rather than speaking of vast and chaotic brokenness as well as hopeful and inspired possibility, i’ll take it as a serendipitous sign to let desiderata say it for me.  this really sums it up, better than i could.  it IS still a beautiful world.  in the middle of glowing aspens or the front row of the ballgame.  in the high mountains or on the shore of boston harbor.  anywhere you are.  anywhere you go.  you bring it – beauty – and you are standing in it.  remember that.

i love you,

mom.

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read DAVID’S thoughts about this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

(Max Ehrmann, ©️ 1927)