reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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polly and anna. [merely-a-thought monday]

there is a fine line between security and insecurity, a line that runs invisible through days of buoyancy and through days of challenge. we have seen it – that line – when we least expect it, just at the moments you are beginning to breathe, at the instant you are sinking a little into ease.

i suppose that having crossed the line – back and forth, back and forth – gives us the ability to tread water, to sort, to distinguish that which is important and that which is not. but that tiny vibration that sometimes trembles in my chest returns, despite any pollyanna-ing i attempt.

we sat in a starbucks the other day. i mean, literally – physically – went inside, stood at the counter, and used some gift money that had been sitting on our app foreverrr. and then we sat there and sipped coffee and shared one of those lemon cake slices with the schmear of sweet frosting. it felt out-of-body…it had been sooo long since we sat in a starbucks.

over d’s head on the opposite wall the words “you’ll make it” got my attention. i was hoping it wasn’t the universe simply placating me. i was thinking more of digging out the colorful magnetic plastic letters circa 1995 and pulling out d-a-m-m-i-t for the fridge. but i guess i will have to choose to believe otherwise, leaning on both polly and anna.

“you’ll make it” – good words when you can see the line.

i sipped my pike roast and listened to laverne and shirley’s silk-flowerish theme song in my head, “there is nothing we won’t try. never heard the word impossible. this time there’s no stopping us. we’re gonna make it…”.

sometimes, though, you just have to sigh.

*****

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slow, slow. turtling. [d.r. thursday]

though unable to sprint away, the turtle knows when to withdraw. the beautiful wizened face peeks out from under the shell and i don’t want to scare it, though it is likely i already have. the black iris stripe, always parallel to the horizon, the water’s surface, highlights its beautiful eyes, yellow-green peering at me. the marks on its shell tell tales we won’t know. we don’t pick it up or move it; there is no road danger for this turtle as we are in the woods and, by the trail it has left in the grasses, it seems to have a deliberate destination.

these years seem turtling years. pulling in, sheltering from the outside, moving slowly, slowly. in light of all that has transpired through the last couple years, i have not minded turtling. it is renewing strength, re-prioritizing, revitalizing humor, stoking up energy. the pandemic has forced this inwardness; this place has been our shell, reassuring, comforting. even with all the zeal i have for adventure, i love being home. there will be a different time. time will pass and seasons will change and the river keeps flowing. nothing is static. my eyes focus on the horizon.

the turtle paused in its trekking as i took its picture. it looked out from under its own fortress-home and whispered smart-turtle-wisdoms, grinning at me, “just keep going. wherever you go, there you are. you carry home with you. keep your eyes on the horizon. slow, slow.”

*****

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well and stinky. [merely-a-thought monday]

hash marks are kept somewhere, keeping track of the days we do it well and the days we just basically stink at it…life. the generous thing about it, though, is that, for the most part, no one is waving those down-down-down-down-across-hatches at us. each day, we get to do it again, the best we can. and some days we do it well and some days we stink at it. sleep and repeat.

after six decades of doing life – which admittedly, isn’t really all that much – i can still say i am a newbie. every day i learn something new; every day i sort out a little somethin’; every day i adjust the on-the-dirt-attitude-indicator which, funny thing, is the same as in the air: keeping you relative to the horizon and making you aware of the smallest change in orientation. every day, on this fluid axis, i hope for a little grace – from others, from the universe, from myself.

and i try again. my sweet poppo would remind anyone who was listening, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” and so i do.

yesterday marked forty years since the day of my first marriage. it was a sunny warm day in florida; i was wearing my sister’s gown, my sister-in-law’s train and white stiletto macramé sandals. i carried a silk flower bouquet and the tiny white beaded purse i had gotten for my sixteenth birthday. i had little time in front of the mirror, trying to share getting-ready-time with my lovely big sister, my matron-of-honor, who has a more perfected and lengthier getting-ready practice.

at twenty-three, just three weeks after my college graduation, full of anticipation and excitement and hopes and dreams, a little unresolved trauma and not-just-a-little naiveté, i walked down the aisle to the good man who would become the father of my beloved children. and somewhere, the hash mark collection started. we did things well. we were stinky at things. and i absolutely take responsibility for my own stinkinesses, things that disrupted the horizon.

it’s been years now since i have seen him. time, in its wisdom and flow, has softened the ending, blurred the rough edges. i am grateful for the decades we spent together and for the unique and powerful children we raised. and i only wish the best of health and happiness for him and his wife. someday i hope to see them and share laughter and stories and memories of our daughter and our son as they grew. no one does this life all perfectly and sometimes it’s all much clearer as we reflect back, look at the shadows. grace lingers in the air, waiting.

this past week has brought its own challenges and it has brought its own bits of devastating news for people in our concentric circles. the circles widen and widen and we see the turmoil and angst and tragedy of others. the horizon wobbles under us and we try to adjust, to straighten up, level out. life is flying by. we wake to another day to do it well or stink at it. either one.

and desiderata reminds us, “in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul…” because some days we do it better than others.

“…be gentle with yourself.”

*****

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the forest AND the trees. [d.r. thursday]

it was 1999 and bugdom reigned supreme, rollie pollies and ladybugs and fire ants all in the computer game kingdom, with plenty of other-bugs helping and undermining rollie mcfly. it was the early days of games with such vibrant graphics and i distinctly remember being wowed by such a ground-level view of the world.

the chipmunks are in their glory these days. our birdfeeder is always a draw; they have it all figured out. sometimes i wonder about their perspective on the world, these tiny adorable creatures, so low to the ground, scampering here and there. what it must be like when you are in the grass and you can only really see a little bit ahead and, if you turn your head to the sky, up. they don’t seem to mind that they have no real big picture. perhaps that is why they seem so happy-go-lucky and intent on the tasks at hand. over and over they will stock up their tiny cheeks, puffing out and puffing out, and then run across the patio and dart under the deck. again and again. they are not thwarted by the repetition of it all. they just keep on keeping on.

we had a really fun visit with our son the other day. in chicago, on a cubs’ game day, we wove our way through wrigleyville and lakeview neighborhoods to see the new place he would be moving. a cool two-story lofted apartment, it was a bright and happy place. he measured the space for furniture, calculating what he already had that would fit and what new items he would need. he’s done this a few times before, so he is very adept at the whole figuring-out stuff thing. both my children have already moved more times in their lives than i have in my entire life. they are much better at paring down and settling in to a new place than i am.

he mentioned that he would need an ant trap, which, for some reason, surprised me. “yeah,” he said, laughing, “there are ants in the city.” and, apparently, you need to be aware on the ground floor. then, in a told-you-so moment, he pointed to the tiniest ant on the sliding glass door wall. waaaaay high up on the wall this ant crawled. perspective-wise, were we to be crawling and were you to do the math equation proportionately, we would be on everest. nevertheless, the ant kept going. i wanted to bring it outside, but he assured me it would find its way. poor thing. it was a vast sea of white paint and all straight up and down. even bugdom wouldn’t have prepared the ant for this; bugdom was all outside – a lawn, a pond, a forest, a garden and an anthill.

the other day i saw a brown marmorated stink bug (known colloquially as simply “stink bug” and with the acronym “bmsb”). it was on an outside screen window crawling up. now, these poor bugs are not people-biters, but they are surely named properly and no one wants them around. i don’t know where it was going either. i can’t imagine why it would want to be up on the roof, so i’m guessing it was somewhat lost. when you can’t see beyond the screen, it’s hard to find your way.

we are fortunate, we humans. we have amazing prowess to be able to see the horizon. if it isn’t visible, if the horizon isn’t clear, we have the ability to climb higher to seek a better view, an overlook. though i suspect that some opinions are formed at dirt level, most of us seek the air and space to sort through what’s in front of our noses and see the bigger picture. our kingdom isn’t limited to the next grass blade.

rather, we have every advantage for gaining knowledge, learning alternate viewpoints, overcoming a narrow frame of reference, understanding the synergy of working together. we can form educated points of view, evaluate the difference between truth and falsehood, choose compassion and kindness as our stance toward others.

we can see blades of grass AND the landscape of the lawn.

more importantly, we can see the forest AND the trees.

*****

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the horizon! the horizon! [k.s. friday]

like 7th chords vs major 7th chords, some things are irrefutable. the horizon is one of them.

each and every time i take a photograph i can hear crunch in my ear, “the horizon! the horizon!”. decades have passed and i still will look at my photographs post-snap and evaluate the horizon and its relationship in the whole image. post-click i will think, “ahh, crunch would like this one!” and i’ve considered time and again to send it on to this person who has instilled his words in my head from years of taking sunrise and sunset pictures out on long island sound, on the beaches, in the boat, in-between fishing or diving adventures. there is nothing like a sunrise over the water with a crooked horizon. if one has to tilt one’s head to the side to accommodate the degree of angle of horizon, crunch -and i, now – have no forgiveness.

it’s how i feel about dominant 7th chords (using the minor 7th). i find them cringe-worthy. overused and trite, i have, many-a-time, tossed out, “major7th! major7th!” to others, much like crunch’s “the horizon!” admonishment. it’s used as a resolution pass, moving to another chord (usually a fifth below, but that’s too much information for right here). suffice it to say, we all have our quirks, the things that make us grimace or make our eyes twitch.

the gallery where david’s piece “unfettered” is showing is right on the water. the center is filled with delicious light and warm wood floors and white walls and white woodwork. it is a gorgeous place, a mecca for an eye seeking tiny morsels of photo-worthy images. i wander through, admiring pieces of the opening show and taking pictures of the space.

but i am reminded of the huge art expo we attended in chicago. winning – and mightily expensive – exhibits included jute strung across the booth with a kitchen sponge painted blue hanging from a clothespin. this was for sale for literally thousands of dollars and there were curators/representatives/dealers in the booth – those who would privately shake their heads in astonishment, giggling all the way to the bank – who would happily explain its meaning to you. perhaps i am a bit jaded – by looped recordings and garage band and auto-tune and acrobatics and the machinations of the music industry – but i have to admit that, while there were fancily-clothed-people gathered around seemingly breathless-with-anticipation, i did not stick around for the explanation. like the emperor with his new clothes, the oh-i-MUST-have-it crowd amused me and i could hear crunch in my head, “the horizon! the horizon!”.

one of my favorite experiences – albeit adding to my cynicism – was attending a talk given by a curator at chicago’s institute of art. she was speaking about the work of christopher wool and she was giddy that he was present. she had developed wordy narrative all around his work, describing his temperament, his mood swings, his supposed depression. his work is pretty blatant; he uses words and images to speak to or portray conceptual ideas. referencing one particular piece, she spoke about how his dark depression contributed to his art. she glanced over at him as he made a gesture to speak and invited his-own-perception of his-own-work, a photograph. i could see his tic from our seats. “i just thought it was a cool shot,” he interjected into her soliloquy on the spectrum of his personality. the audience laughed and i breathed a sigh of relief. some 7th chords are just overused, overplayed, over-analyzed.

i’m wondering about stringing up some jute in the sunroom and hanging this week’s scotch-brite.

*****

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undefined texture. rising. [k.s. friday]

and so, september has arrived. and the texture of day for many is changed. fall is around the corner; the cooler mornings whisper that to us, ushering in – with little fanfare – the color transformation of leaves, the waning of the garden, the ultimate fallow of winter.

autumn is my favorite. and as i look to it, i see transition rising out of the horizon. undefined, but transition nonetheless. unfolding.

i got a letter a few days ago from the insurance company handling my wrist injury from falling. they have decided to stop my treatment. as of right now.

back in july they hired a physician to do an IME – which is the acronym for, ironically, “independent medical exam”. don’t be fooled by the word “independent” for when an insurance company chooses and hires and pays a physician time and again to do medical exam reports for the insurance company that wishes to stop paying for treatment, that physician is questionably “independent”. in an unsurprising result, the physician, who has not been the treating physician all along, gave them the verbiage they were looking for and BAM! they instantly wrote-a-lettuh to me discontinuing my medical treatment.

to say that i was disappointed would be to grossly underexaggerate the complex and intense emotions that came with opening that envelope. my own froedtert hand specialist and stellar OT, who both recommend continued treatment, have helped me make much amazing progress – as a professional musician who kind of uses my hands in lifelong work – and i am now able to bend my wrist to 60 degrees from the initial 20 when i started with them. it’s not the 85 – 90 degree forward range of motion of a normal wrist, but i guess the insurance company et al have decided it’s plenty. wow. and wow.

so the texture of my days will change as well. i’ll try to translate exercises and stretching my OT has done to home, without the benefit of specialized therapy center equipment or knowledge or her hands aiding my movements. and undefined transition will rise out of the horizon.

and we’ll see. things will unfold as they unfold. and summer will turn to fall. and fall will become winter. and we’ll see.

*****

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UNFOLDING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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the glowing orange ball. [k.s. friday]

the sun was setting over the mown hayfield. i pulled over to capture it, to watch. the heavy cloud cover was passing and the glowing orange ball owned the horizon. day was ending. night would bring rest. and a new day would dawn.

in this world where we rotate ever-in-motion, there is assurance of a new day. there will be another dawn. and then, after a day of time-spent, there will be another dusk. and then, after a night of time-spent, there will be another dawn.

as we wake these mornings now, we look to the horizon for little bits of hope, little bits of new-day reassurance.

we grasp onto the transition to a new administration for our country, compassion and decency and brilliant minds guiding us.

we clench onto the way out of the pandemic raging across our country, across our world. we double-down on our decision to choose safety over the overwhelming desire to be done-with-it.

we try to feel a little less tired, a little less exhausted by it all. we try to refill our meager energy with the adrenaline of new.

we all seize tiny pieces of sun as we struggle with the anxiety of these recent days. we crawl out of the shadows bit by bit. so many of us have much to try and comprehend, much of which to try and make sense.

all of our personal stories include the loss of loved ones, the loss of good health, the loss of stability, the loss of basic needs, the loss of movement, the loss of community. all of our personal stories bring shade into places we yearn for sun.

i grapple with the grief of losing a career, with hypocrisy and isolation, with no real understanding of what-just-happened. i have conversations in my mind with people who turned a blind eye, who collegially turned their backs, who refused to have any conversation, who never asked questions, who alluded, who made assumptions, who never reached out, who seemed to care less, who would not even look at me. i squeeze closed my eyes tightly to try and forget and look to the glowing sky of a new day and take a step.

we grapple with starting the story of a new beginning. in the middle of all this, new beginnings are elusive, like trying to catch a ray of light in your hands.

we all grapple with this time of darkness. we know we are waiting for the sun to touch our faces and bring hope.

we know it will show up each new day – in people who love us, in kindnesses and care we receive and offer to others, in reaching out, in honest eye-to-eye contact, even over our masked faces, in generously listening to each other, in asking questions and learning, in working together, in the glowing orange ball on the horizon. and each new day we take it in, just a little bit more.

*****

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EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood