reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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masks and pedestals. [two artists tuesday]

i have never been a fan of pedestals. pedestals encourage blind faith in someone human, not really useful in a world of imperfection. pedestals encourage a spirit of elitism, that kind of ladder-rung-sorting not really useful in a world striving for equality, for unity. pedestals encourage silence, not really useful in a world where chinwags and truth should go hand in hand.

when i was not yet a teenager, in 1969, my big brother got married. he and my sister-in-law, even at their own young ages, became really involved in marriage encounter – a weekend retreat celebrating marriage and delving into “vivencia”, the life experiences that brought them each to where they were together. because i adored my brother and his wife, and because i spent an inordinate amount of time with them, they included me in on their learnings and encouraged me to reflect on my own shaping and dreams. i will not forget the conversations we had about masks.

we talked about mask-wearing for long hours over mounds of ice cream and big glasses of iced coffee. my brother was adamant about dropping the elastic bands holding the mask over one’s face, in opening eyes that had been tightly shut, locking out verity. his words about being who you are – who you really are – not who the mask you are wearing says you are or how it hides who you are – echo in my mind and have partnered with my own feelings about pedestals.

i have had to revisit his words likely a zillion times through my life and wish he were sitting here now to continue the conversation with him.

filling in the blank with a person-put-on-a-pedestal or one-wearing-a-false-mask, i have been reminded time and again that just because _____ said something (whatever that something is) doesn’t mean it’s right.

i have silently thanked my big brother again and again for reminding me, with that nagging voice in my head that eschews ladder-runging, of the value of each one of us, sans pedestals, sans masks.

i have sought, both with success and with failure, to stay true to his important words, to identify any masks-in-the-moment, mine or those of others, to stand on the ground next to each other, in the middle of generous strengths and vulnerable weaknesses, struggling on the human seesaw of magnanimity and selfish motives, giving up any expectation of perfection in exchange for the acknowledgement of limitations and the offer of hope, trying to just be.

pedestals and masks, both wearying, both a waste of good living, both not really useful on this good earth in trying to just be. thank you, my big bro, for the reminder in the ice on the deck.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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something’s different. the morning after. [d.r. thursday]

dogdog is right. the sun IS out. and you can feel the difference in the air. it is palpable. it is the morning after.

the morning after – when we woke up, it was the 21st day of the 21st year in the 21st century.

the morning after – when we woke up, we were in a better place. a place of hope, a place where unity is that which we are striving for, a place where the poetry of a young black woman is the ultimate prayer of gratitude, of healing, of work to be done, of aspiration.

the morning after – when we woke up, we did not sink in despair into the news of the day, we did not grimace in disgust nor did we feel sickeningly without prospect.

the morning after – when we woke up, we spoke of yesterday, a day of moments, each one lifting us just a wee bit more, higher, higher. a day of firsts, a day of confidence, a day of celebration, a day of music and prose and prayers and pledges and promises, fireworks that lit the sky and drew tears on our faces, a day without parallel.

the morning after – when we woke up, we spoke of the daydream of more new mornings, more new days – just like today.

the morning after – when we woke up, we had a new president and a new vice-president. we have bright light and responsibility, authority and accountability, brilliant minds and the power of working together, truth and science, deep empathy and a commitment to the most basic of all – decency.

the morning after – when we woke up, we stepped forward. we carry all we have learned – the good and the ugly – and we intentionally forge ahead.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

AT THE DOOR ©️ david robinson, kerri sherwood


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so be it. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

congratulations to president joe biden and vice-president kamala harris.

so be it. amen.


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maria, tennis and tow trucks. [merely-a-thought monday]

i wanted to be maria. who wouldn’t? the lead of ‘the sound of music’ was a coveted role and every girl wanted to try out for that part.

i was cast as sister berthe. reading the sheet of paper on the wall outside the music room at harley avenue elementary i was not reassured by the fantastic job that portia nelson delivered as sister berthe in the 1965 film; i wanted to be maria and i knew in my heart that julie andrews would have agreed. sigh.

but i held a double role. i was also in the chorus. and mrs. lafayette took no prisoners. she was charming and beautiful to the eyes of all of us elementary school artiste wannabes but she was also deliberate, purposeful, and intentionally firm about making sure we understood the role of the chorus. “singing together in unison,” she’d tell us, encouraging us to listen to each other and match our timbre to that of the choral line, admonishing anyone who tried to stand out. “it is a chorus together,” she’d tell us, “and there is no ‘i’ in ‘chorus’.” it was humbling for all of us, striving to be tiny stars. and yet, it was the moment during which we understood that that we, indeed, became tiny stars.

driving hours to tennis matches was a big part of my life when my son was in college. he played singles and i would sit on the sidelines, my breathing shallow when i wasn’t utterly holding my breath altogether, my adrenaline racing, making tiny motions with my hands as if i could help move the tennis ball down the court or slice at the ball with the racket in his hand. he was a good tennis player – passionate and strategic. i was an anxious mess watching but i was often lucky to be watching with another mom and, together, betty and i forged our way through. although our sons played singles and we clearly wanted them to win their matches, i was always struck by how the team came together. instead of simply zeroing in, each on his own performance, the team cheered each other on and it was how the team did – in an overall sense – that really mattered to them. that doesn’t mean that disappointment didn’t exist for individuals, but they were encouraged time and again to remember that they were on a team and there was no ‘i’ in ‘team’.

the show ‘highway thru hell‘ is kind of a masculine show. big-rig tow truck drivers in the mountains of canada pull wrecks out of ditches, out of snowdrifts and from all kinds of precarious situations drivers find themselves in. before you roll your eyes at the thought of watching this kind of show, let me just add that it is fascinating. the mathematician in any of you will revel in the geometry and physics of it all; these tow truck operators are highly skilled and often put their lives at risk doing recovery alongside icy highways. egos are definitely rampant – each wants a little piece of stardom – but in the end they never hesitate to call each other for help, for another rig, for the rotator to show up. as kevin, one of these diligent heavy rescue workers, said, “there is no ‘i’ in ‘team’.” they are all part of the milky way on those dangerous roads in british columbia.

real life doesn’t cast us as maria each and every day. real life doesn’t grant us wins every day. real life places obstacles in front of us, calamities to sort out, heavy rescue needed. together, in chorus, as a part of a team, foregoing the ‘i’ in self-agenda, the ‘i’ in selfishness, the ‘i’ in narcissism, the ‘i’ in division, we are all stars.

*****

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

happy birthday, my beloved son.


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what will it take? [d.r. thursday]

i wonder what it will take. our country – divided beyond belief – is suffering exhaustive blows. and i wonder what it will take. the dividing line – somehow as distinct as the difference between black/white and technicolor – continues to chasm us apart further and further. truth is obscured behind narrative of falsehoods and the bandwagons are lining up with flags and hats and arsenal. and i wonder what it will take.

i heard this recently: “standing up to power may lead to significant loss.” yes. standing up to power-administered-improperly does yield to significant loss. standing up to leadership-without-scruples does yield significant loss. standing up to authority that does not accept accountability does yield significant loss. standing up to holding our democracy intact is yielding significant loss.

as we watch, our country is reeling. in an attempt to protect the capitol and all it stands for, preparations are being made. yet, the nagging feeling in our collective gut signals that it may not be enough. we have been pummeled – each of us. we are exhausted – each of us. we are beyond worried – each of us. what will it take?

we quietly sit and ponder what will happen next. how will this resolve? what prayer do we have?

the excuse of many colors need be removed. the way forward is black and white. unity, as virtuous as that sounds, is the only option. or this country will be destroyed. autocracy will rule with a fascist-fist and accountability will fly in the face of unchecked authority. violence and extremism will prevail as acceptable methods of disagreement. and we will all sit in the ruins of this democratic experiment, in the depths of significant loss, and wonder what it would have taken.

in lieu of conversation, in lieu of any attempt at conflict resolution, in lieu of the vast potential of working together in community, in lieu of responsibility-taking, people are choosing sides and actions and, without heed to any kind of narrative fact-checking, diligent due process or any kind of resolute, unwavering commitment to mutuality, they are acting out of self-serving agenda laden with toxic aggression, sheer destruction and hatred leading the way.

is it worth it?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson


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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

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

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please figure it out. [k.s. friday]

figure it out

i, like so many others, want to scream “FIGURE IT OUT!”

in a nation crumbling under leadership pushing division and counting on a so-called “patriotic” movement of the populace to want to climb aboard its sick agenda-ridden wagon, i want to look people in the eye and ask them to please figure it out.

figure out that you are being accosted with aggressive propaganda, with misinformation, with bigotry and false pretenses of protectionism.  in our country, this means you are being intravenously fed with distorted falsehoods, warped promises, extreme nationalism in a round-globe-world where this country is simply one of almost 200.

figure out that this disinformation is feeding into the frenzy.  in our town, this means that a 17 year old boy from just over the state line strapped on his AR-whatever, got in the car, reportedly had his mother drive him (holding his automatic-people-killer) to our town where he played cowboy vigilante and took the lives of two people during protests for social injustice.  this frenzy is dishing out the sickening sweet saccharin of cultish followers in a time of fragile unrest.

figure out that the hate-speech of people is wooing joiners, that words like “be sure to arm yourself and your family and know how to use them” cannot lead to any good thing.  in my life, this means people i love disenfranchising themselves from me, detaching and choosing the popular-group lure of strangers, rabidly spewing the hostile talk of animosity.

figure out that you live in a country that is supposed to be dedicated to unity and democracy and that you are being courted to blindly align yourself with a singular individual who has demonstrated all that is opposite to the very ideals, the core of goodness, this country touts.  in our world today, figure out what lies are and who is being upheld in the telling of them.

figure out that there is much to fix.  this system – our country –  is working as systems work – i have learned that they protect to the death the way they are set up and the profoundly, inexcusably unjust way that this country has been set up is glaringly obvious.  figure out that fixing it starts in your heart.

figure out that your children and your children’s children will be growing up in this place and choose what you want to leave behind for them.  is it a place of peace, of equality, of truth, of health, of gently holding this fragile earth, of clean air and clean water and fertile land, of hope and justice and liberty for all?

figure out that life is sacred and that it is lost in a moment.  figure out what truly means anything to you.  figure out the bottom line.  figure out that love is truly the answer, the place to begin.  figure out that those you love count and, for heaven’s sake, let them know.  and then look out, to others standing beyond those you already love, and love them too.

please figure it out.  we are in a death spiral.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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FIGURE IT OUT from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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and not to be silent. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there comes a time when silence

silence is not always golden.

in a country deeply divided by narrative, the decision between silence and speech presents a challenge.  subjected to judgement and the possibility of being harangued, speaking words, speaking truth, is a choice-point.

this is a time of massive misinformation, a time of gullibility, a time of digging in heels, a time of excuse-making, a time of circling bandwagons.  to pass by one who opines misinformation is to be complicit.  to be silent around falsehoods is to be complicit.  to not speak to inequity, to not address moral or ethical failures, to not stand up against prejudice and bigotry is to be complicit.  to fail to engage against injustice, to not protect the truth, to rabidly push narratives of lies, is perfidy.  to stand silently by is perilous.  yes.  there does come a time when silence is betrayal.

it would seem that two people or two groups of people, no matter how disparate, should be able to have a conversation.  it would seem that they should be able to maturely debate, using factual information, issues that are at hand.  it would seem that they should be able to respect each other, use discretion, and, without the betrayal of silence or anger, come to a place where ideas shared might move them closer together in understanding and mutual goals.  it would seem that there is a bigger picture.

it would seem that unity might be the utmost goal, the endzone, the heavily-weighted bottom half of the pyramid of needs.  it would seem in a country that its people would want to be unified in its most basic desires, its most basic values, its most basic tenets.  it would seem that for a society to survive it must gather its people and its resources together to achieve any sort of illumination or actualization.

but relationship and conversation and unity cannot be achieved in silence.  for silence-personified invites assumptions.  silence-personified instills distrust.  silence-personified creates chasms out of dividing lines.  silence-personified shatters relationships.  silence-personified builds walls of resentment, houses impervious to healing or conversation, learning or compromise.  silence-personified is dangerous and paralyzing.

for those who speak the truth despite the pain of vulnerability, despite the vast line in the sand, regardless of any tribal politics and with much courage, we glean there is a way to survival, there is a way out of the polarization.

but time is of the essence.  it is none too soon to start.  to speak.  and not to be silent.

“when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  you have to say something.  you have to do something.”  (john lewis)

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

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“the only one wearing a mask” [merely-a-thought monday]

the only one wearing a mask

CONFUSED.  CONFUSING.  CONFUSION.

all apply.

we don’t go into any store without a mask on.  the way we understand this – is that this is essential.  in an effort to curb the spread of this pandemic, protect others and do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ we need to follow simple protocol.

at the risk of redundancy, which i have been accused of before, we have been appalled at the lack of people wearing masks.  it’s not like you are being asked to undergo a colonoscopy before entering the grocery store (or worse yet, the prep for one); it is a simple request:  wear a mask.  yet, there we are, in the store and we can feel the now-familiar tightness-in-our-chest-anxiety rising as we attempt to move away from people who seem to care little about distancing or breathing their aerosols our way.  what-on-earth-is-so-hard-about-this??

david went to a small grocery the other day.  he had his mask and he had brought disinfecting wipes with him.  neither of these were burdensome to him.  he walked into a somewhat crowded store and found that he was the only one wearing a mask.  what?!

wwmrd? (what would mr. rogers do?):  be a good neighbor.  (i’m betting he’d wear a mask.)

we live in wisconsin so it would seem prudent to look up what the department of health services has to say about this:

When should I wear a cloth face cover?

  • You should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.

Wearing a cloth face cover may be beneficial as it may help to protect others from germs you may be spreading without knowing it.  (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/protect.htm)

that seems relatively clear.  embracing redundancy once again:  “you should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.”

down the street the state of illinois is requiring face masks.  ahhh, you say with a cavalier smirk unhidden by a face mask.  that state has a democratic governor, you point out as you enumerate the many ways that the government is taking over your personal life by issuing coronavirus guidelines.  i’m not a biologist or an epidemiologist but i suspect that this pandemic is not stopping to discern the difference between democrats and republicans.  and a face mask, worn by you or the people you encounter in a day, just might protect you, your family members, your friends, your colleagues, the people-who-you-don’t-know-at-the-grocery-store-but-who-count-anyway.

so why are the vast majority of people not wearing masks? why are so many folks not social distancing?  why are people announcing vacations on facebook?  vacations?  are we even encouraged to do that right now?  (because who wouldn’t love to go merrily on a vacation for a while?)  one sweet person, who lives in another state, replying to a text of mine that bemoaned missing my children asked me if we were on “house arrest”.   everything is confusing.

one of the funniest, albeit a tad off-color, clarifications of the what-would-mr-rogers-do approach i read said:  “having some states locked down and some states not locked down is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.”  no exponential brainpower needed there.  i would think that swimming-pool-water-rule applies to most all the guidelines.  seems pretty clear to me.

i guess i’m just saying i don’t understand.  this is a global pandemic.  despite a plethora of conspiracy theories distorting reality, there is medicine and there is science.  i, for one, would rather place my trust in the people immersed in those than in self-aggrandizing politicians or propaganda-pushers, each ignoring medical science in their own creative ways.  there is a difference.  “america strong” reads the flag we pass on 7th avenue.  strength and resilience are found in unity, not division, in working together, not apart, in being neighborly.

as the country begins to prematurely open up and disregard the CDC’s guidelines as “overly restrictive” we will likely download that multi-page guide.  we would like to see more specifically how we can do our part .  thinking they might actually protect us, we want to see the ‘overly restrictive’ restrictions.  we want to participate in a responsible way.  we will follow these guidelines as best we can.  we will social distance.  we will cough into our elbow.  we will not gather.  we will not pee in the pool.

and we will freaking wear masks, even if we are the only ones.

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

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the feathers as clues. [two artists tuesday]

perspective copy

i didn’t mean to take this picture.  somehow my phone camera snapped it and i was unaware.  later, when i looked at my photo stream of the day i was surprised to see this.  it took a few minutes to figure out what the picture was of, the way you feel when you look at an ink-blot picture, your eyes focusing on the dark, the light, the foreground, the background, searching-searching for an image to emerge.

i always had trouble with those.  i must have been concentrating too hard to find something there.  i suppose relaxing into it would have produced an image sooner.

the feathers gave it away.  the feathers made it recognizable.  a piece of familiar, the feathers gave it perspective.  the dream-catcher hangs on the switch of the lamp on our kitchen table so it wasn’t as hard as the inkblots after all.

i wonder how many times i have not recognized the ‘real’ image.  how many times i have given little attention to the everyday, glossing over it.  how many times i have passed by light, my eyes focusing on the dark, my attention to the background instead of the inkblot or vice versa, trying too hard to find ‘it’.  passing by the familiar, looking to the distance.  or staring at the familiar with no eye to the distance, the horizon out-there attention-less.  what might i have missed?  what more might i have seen?

i am finding comfort in the familiar right now.  i am recognizing more-and-more that which is basic is that which is familiar is that which is comforting.  like chicken soup and pasta sauce, i find basic and simple consoling, the familiar i see heartening.

might we have different eyes post-this-crisis?  might we all hold simple closer?  might we ford the great-chasms-of-divide in this country with horizontal -not vertical- ladders of understanding like the ladders that traverse deep crevasses in high mountain climbs?  might we be more willing to see economic, educational, opportunity differences?  might we truly address them?  might we see the landscape-that-has-always-been-there differently?  might we realize that which is comforting, familiar to us is the inkblot that so many cannot even begin to see, that so many cannot even imagine?  might we believe that every one is worthy?  might we see universal needs, universal struggles in a more united, focused-energies way?  might we come together, support different perspectives, talk about what is essential, strive for something different?

our universe camera is snapping pictures left and right of this pandemic crisis.  what will we see when we look through the photo stream?  what we will recognize about ourselves, this country?  will we embrace an image of care, of concern, of responsibility for each other, of unity, of equality?  or will we remain blind to the obvious differences we experience as this divisible ‘indivisible one-nation-under-God’ and will the dark inkblot prevail over the light?  we can look for the feathers as clues.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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