One Minute Monologues 004

02/05/2012 — 05/03/12

  1. Calloway Gap Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near West Jefferson, NC—February 03, 2012 — We bring ourselves forth within the terms and conditions of our life. This is called walking two paths at the same time. Or, multitasking. We have to think about what we are doing. This is where the left hemisphere earns its keep. The right hemisphere is good at getting lost like a good LSD trip in the wonder of our calling, or like a bad trip in the overwhelming terror of the terms and conditions within which we live. The left hemisphere puts the right hemisphere’s feet on the ground and says, “Look. We want to do that and we have to deal with this. Don’t forget where you’re going but watch where you are stepping. What’s next right now?” Then the right hemisphere, with its short little attention span and its propensity for grand schemes can focus, for a while, on the business at hand: Being who we are right here, right now. Then comes again the Inflation/Deflation cycle and the left hemisphere has to say once more, “Who are we? What are we about? What does that mean for right here, right now?” And so it goes, back and forth, all along the way. The Dance of Life. 02/05/2012
  2. Flowers of Spring 04, Crocus, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 02, 2012 — Live toward what you love and see where it goes and allow it to change as it will with time into something else you love and see where that goes. Don’t even think about settling down with what you love, locking it up, tying it down, nailing it in place, keeping it exactly as it is forever. Love isn’t for pickling. It’s for living. See where it leads you, what becomes of it and what you become because of it. And don’t stop until you are good and dead. 02/05/2012
  3. Maple at Forest Lawn, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Greensboro, NC—November 04, 2011 — There are no black footprints on the path of life. We make up the steps all along the way. If we are taking direction, we are on someone else’s path. We figure it out for ourselves, what to do next, now what, what now. We work it out. We decide. We take our chances with everything on the line, and live with the wind of the spirit that blows where it will forever in our hair. There are no stop signs on the road of life. There is no end point. No destination. We never arrive. Never settle down. Never settle in with the life of our dreams gathered about us and live happily ever after. It’s one damn thing after another all the way. It’s deciding for ourselves what to do next, what now, now what. The path winds on, the road keeps going. What we love hands us off to something else that needs loving, that needs us to love it, and do it, just to see where it goes. We live, don’t you know, just to see where it goes, and what will happen, and what we’ll do about it when it does. 02/06/2012
  4. Flowers of Spring 05, Crocus, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 02, 2012 — When we grow spiritually we grow into ourselves, into who we are, into what we have been given to offer to the world, into what we are called to do/be/become, into our destiny, our calling, our life. This is not conducive to fitting in, and taking your place (that would be the place you are told to take by Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased), and sitting quietly, and thinking what you are told to think, and believing what you are told to believe, and doing what you are told to do all your life long. You don’t become a Good Church Member, or a Good Company Woman or Man, along the Spiritual Path. You become an Iconoclast. A heretic. A renegade. A revolutionary. An individual. Individuals are the hope of the world. Individuals with the vision of the child who said, “Mommy! He’s not wearing any clothes!” 02/06/2012
  5. Rural Wonder, Wilkes County, NC, — February 02, 2012 — The only way to get the good out of religion is to not take it seriously—certainly not as seriously as the adherents of the religion take it. All religion mires you down in the way it was, which is the way it is supposed to be. It’s like this. When the Gurus and Masters get together, they laugh and enjoy one another’s company. When their disciples get together they fight and go to war. That’s taking religion too seriously. Religion is a path and a practice replete with rituals that open us to the truth of our experience, offering meditation points that enlarge, deepen, expand our awareness of who we are, what we are about, how it is and also is, and what needs to be done about it for the true good of all, but. That is quickly lost in the quest to maintain the purity of the religion. if it is to do its work, religion has to go, disappear. It puts us on the path and gets out of the way. That isn’t what happens. The religion becomes the way, the Only Way, and denounces all other religions as false and blasphemous. This is taking things too seriously. The first rule of the way that is The Way is don’t take it too seriously. You’re on, you’re off, you’re on, you’re off. That’s just the way it is. If you take being on or off too seriously, you’re off. The finger pointing to the moon can’t become more important than the moon. 02/07/2012
  6. Daffodil, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 07, 2012 — I know you remember that Carl Jung said, “It’s what you do that reveals who you are, not what you think about doing or what you say you will do” (Or words to that effect). It’s what we do that carries us along the way, not what we think or believe or know. We exhibit who we are by the way we live our lives. We are crafting a life—shaping, forming, molding, creating a life—by the way we live. So. Start with your life. Meditate on your life. Reflect on your life. Examine, explore, consider your life. Where are you stuck? Where are you blocking your own way? What do you need to do differently? Instead? Not at all? No one knows you better than you. Face up to what you’re doing, to how you’re living, to what you need to be doing instead and see where it goes. 02/07/2012
  7. Blue Ridge Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC—February 02, 2012 — The Hero’s Journey is largely about our proving to ourselves that we are worthy of our trust. The whole thing is crazy. Who could make this up? We are characters in a book none of us would read because it is so outlandish, off the wall, in a “Yeah. Right,” kind of way. But. You can’t deny that this is how it is. The unconscious, invisible, world from which we spring is a swirling mass of chaotic emotional fragments looking for some trustworthy center around which to revolve, coalesce, by which to be formed, shaped, ordered and structured. That would be us. We are the great hope of the unconscious realm. We exist to bring it into conscious, tangible, visible existence. Maybe not, but it’s a good story line. We are the champion of the unconscious urge to realization. We organize the mess and bring it forth. As though to test our capacity to be its hero, the unconscious plagues us regularly with heavy doses of inflation/deflation, fear, anguish, agony and the like. We think it’s our stuff but it doesn’t belong to us. Our place is to receive it well and integrate it with our calling, which is also of unconscious origin, the core around which we all come into being together, conscious and unconscious, yin and yang, in a Thou Art That kind of way. Now really, when did you hear anything nearly this interesting in Sunday School? 02/08/2012
  8. Flowers of Spring 06, Crocus, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 07, 2012 — We have different ways of seeing and evaluating what we see. What do you see when you see a gay person? What do you think when you think of abortion? God? Buddha? Jesus? Whiskey? Sex? People shake out in different places along the lines from Yea to Nay on all these terms. Who is right? Whose point of view should be elevated to THE RIGHT WAY TO SEE? How lenient can we be of views contrary to our own? To what extent can we grant one another the right to a life that is different from the way we think life ought to be lived? “The Right To Self-Determination And Self-Expression Shall Not Be Infringed!”—How close can we come to affirming that and ratifying our affirmation by the way we treat one another, and all others? How safe are those with us who do not see the way we see or value what we value? How do we work out our differences? How can we live together when we are threats to the other’s point of view? Hmmm? 02/08/2012
  9. Sheets’ Gap, Blue Ridge Parkway near Laurel Springs, NC—February 02, 2012 — We have to work it out. The visible world of normal, apparent reality makes its claims on us and the invisible world of insubstantial, uncertain reality makes its claims on us as well. We live in two worlds with ties to both, with responsibilities and obligations to each. We cannot ignore either and hope to live well. We have to come to terms with how things are and how they also are, negotiate the conflicts of interest, compromise, compromise, compromise, and bear the pain of making peace. It keeps things interesting, walking two paths at the same time. 02/09/2012
  10. Flowers of Spring 07, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 07, 2012 —  There is eating an apple and there is knowing you are eating an apple and there is knowing all there is to know about you eating an apple. The more you know about you and the apple, the more you are likely to know about you and everything else. Knowing modifies your behavior. Changes the way you think. Transforms your life. If you are going to know anything, know all there is to know about something, which includes your relationship with it and its relationship with everything else, and one thing leads to another and you wind up knowing everything there is to know about everything, not because someone told you because what can be said about anything is only the surface layer of what is true and also true about it, but because you got to know everything on a level that knowing leads to when you know something with your heart of compassion and grace. Try knowing everything that way. See where it goes. 02/10/2012
  11. Glencoe Mill Door 06, Glencoe, NC—January 30, 2012 — It doesn’t take much to shift us from where we have been to where we need to be. Anything can do it. A dripping faucet. A bird song. A kind, or cruel, word. The magic is in the timing. We have to be ready to receive what is being offered in every moment. We are immersed in truth at all times and don’t know it. The truth of being—the truth of who we are and what we are about—the truth of what needs us and what seduces us and what abuses us. We walk through truth, past truth, unseeing, unknowing, and then there it is. We see. We know. Then what? Ah, where are those sounding boards when we could benefit from one? Where do we go to talk things over and out? To untangle the mass of contradictory interests, claims, demands, ultimatums? Once we know what’s what, where do we find the courage to do what needs to be done about it? They don’t call it the Hero’s Journey for nothin’, honey. 02/11/2012
  12. Jessie Brown’s Place, Blue Ridge Parkway near E.B. Jeffress Park, NC—February 02, 2011 — Sitting quietly brings it all up. The list making. The things we have to do. The reasons we can’t be sitting quietly. These are the things we do to keep from facing up to the truth of the other things. The ghosts of our past and present. The 10,000 versions of Bad. All the things that have happened and are happening and could well happen. These are the things that keep us from risking everything in the service of the other things. The wishful thinking. The flights of fancy. The day dreams of deliverance and salvation and an easy walk to fortune and glory. These are the things that keep us from paying the price of creating a life of our own one choice and courageous act at a time. The interests, attractions, inclinations, enthusiasms, urges, ideas that begin to stir something within, some faint desire for movement, for risk taking, for adventure. These are the things that will if we cooperate lead us from where we are to somewhere else if we have what it takes to discern a wild goose from a white rabbit and give ourselves to the chase and see where it goes. 02/12/2012
  13. Virginia Landscape 02 — January 21, 2012 — On our own, we can’t do much better than distraction and diversion (which comes down to money and what money can do for us to keep our minds off the troubling truth that we don’t know what to do with our life). We need one of those, what are they called, guides. One we could trust with our life. Question is, would we? If the guide called out “No!” and we wanted “Yes!” who would we follow? How many bad marriages have come to grief with us knowing it wasn’t the thing to do from the start, and I don’t mean from the start of the marriage—I mean from the start of the relationship—and not caring? How many times will we shoot ourselves in the foot before we decide this isn’t getting us anywhere and is making going anywhere increasingly difficult? We all come complete with the guide we need. None of us is on our own. We have immediate access to an entire world of experience upon which to rely, with instinct and intuition being primary points of contact. We only have to work out the fine points of collaboration. We are not puppets to be yanked around by unconscious, invisible, strings. We have our own voice and our own sense of how things are to be done in the world of visible, physical reality. It is a joint work, our life together, visible and invisible, conscious with unconscious, left hemisphere with right hemisphere, waiting for us to put consciousness to work listening to and speaking with unconsciousness—for the true good of the whole. 02/13/2012
  14. Horne Creek Barn, Horne Creek Historic Farm, once the Hauser Family farm, near Pinnacle, NC—January 19, 2012 — We wear a lot of hats and masks, assume a lot of roles, play a lot of parts. Which ones do we identify with? Which ones do we think we are? I gravitate to the hermit with the walking stick and the camera—the walking stick for walking and the camera for making myself whole (to the extent that we can make ourselves whole). I see my photos as variety of poetry, rectangular mandalas. They are my soul’s way of pulling itself together, of finding satisfaction, contentment, peace. I, of course, am making all this up. We make it all up. Every bit of it. Or we buy into something someone else made up. I think it is important for what we make up to sound plausible, at least to ourselves—to “ring true.” Otherwise, it’s wishful thinking with a hollow, tinny ring to it. What say you about you? Of all your roles, which is, which are, most truly you? 02/14/2012
  15. Hatteras Sunrise, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island—October, 2011 — What excites you? What are you passionate about? In what direction does your life lie? These are grounding questions, centering questions, focusing questions. They take you to the core, point you toward your North Star, accompany you throughout your journey to who you are and what you are about. Reflect on them from time to time and consider the distance between where you are and what you are doing and where the answers to the questions would have you be and what they would have you doing. And see what you can do about closing the gap. 02/15/2012
  16. Inside the Roundhouse, NC Transportation Museum, Spencer, NC—February 13, 2012 — We live toward what we love, what excites us, moves us. Move toward what moves you. Toward what attracts you, enthuses you, brings you to life. Live toward what enlivens you. “The influence of a vital person, vitalizes” (Joseph Campbell). And the vital person is vitalized by what vitalizes her, him. They are brilliant enough to allow themselves to be embraced by what they love. To serve it with their life. Working out all the things that must be worked out to pay the bills and meet their responsibilities and do what they love. We are all asked to be that same kind of brilliant by the life that waits to be lived, hoping we will find what it takes to live it and vitalize the world by modeling for it what vitality requires. 02/16/2012
  17. Outside the Roundhouse, NC Transportation Museum, Spencer, NC—February 13, 2012 — Our life is a gift—a work—from the right hemisphere of our brain, unless it is co-opted, shanghaied, by the left and used for its purposes to achieve its ends as though the left knows a valid end when it sees one. Our lives are works of art produced by the right hemisphere (when everything is in synch and on track) for contemplation and meditation by the left. We act, do, explore, reflect. We bring up what needs to come forth, examine it in the light of consciousness with curiosity and wonder—mine it for its meaning, really its meanings—and integrate inner with outer for the good of the whole. Our life is a metaphor of infinite depth and breadth, revealing the soul to those with eyes to see (that would be eyes of compassion, kindness and grace). When we think our life is ours to do with as we will, and set off to achieve fame and fortune, glory and happiness ever after, we screw with the process and veer off track into a mess of our own making—which we do not resolve by trying harder or cooking up different schemes to get what we want. What we want is driving our boat into the shoals and reefs. We, that is our conscious ego generated by the left hemisphere, are here to “trust and obey” the drift and leading (via instinct and intuition) of the right hemisphere and see where it goes, working out the details and managing the conflicts that must be managed between the inner and outer worlds. Not your basic five-year plan, or a course in the curriculum of the Harvard Business School. 02/17/2012
  18. Daffodil B/W, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—February 07, 2012 — It is good to have a way and to not push our way onto anyone else. “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark,” is how the Old Testament puts it. It seems that we cannot be committed to a way if we respect someone else’s right to a different way. That makes it sound like one way is as good as another, and that any way will do. And we don’t want to hear, “Yes. That’s right. At least for the time being, because any way followed long enough will lead to a different way. And any way followed to the exclusion of other ways will not be as vital and vibrant as it would have been if it led to enlightening interchanges, conversations, and mergers with other ways.” We don’t like to consider the relative merits of the ways. We like to think that we are right and that everyone else is wrong and they all should do it like we are doing it. Makes us feel righteous and powerful to know we have it—the only version of it that will do—and that it is our place to thrust it on all people. Our way keeps getting in the way that way. 02/18/2012
  19. Colors of Fall Abstract, Bog Garden Reflections, Greensboro, NC—December, 2011 — We are to support one another in our plight and help each other come to a carefully considered decision regarding what needs to be done in the situation as it arises without putting barriers in the other’s way or imposing our idea of what he or she ought to do. There are women who are pregnant who cannot carry their pregnancy to term. Abortion needs to be an option. There are people who are gay who love each other deeply. Marriage needs to be an option. We are not to think that we have the road map for someone else’s life and if they would only listen to us they would be deliriously happy with no regrets ever. There are no road maps. We help one another find the way that is our own way by listening each other to the truth of how it is with us and how it also is with us, trusting each other to decide what needs to be done about it, and supporting one another in the aftermath of the choice. It helps to have nothing at stake in someone else’s life, nothing to gain, nothing to lose—to be a compassionate ally in the work to see how things are and also are and what needs to be done about it in each situation as it arises, without tilting the table or interfering with other’s effort to see, hear and understand what needs to be seen, heard, and understood. 02/18/2012
  20. Grandfather Mountain Dawn, Price Lake, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC—December, 2011 — Scaring ourselves is what we do best. The Nightly Terrors visit us all, sometimes carrying over into the Daytime Dreads. It can be around-the-clock for some of us, who fear we have cancer, say, to the exclusion of all medical exams, tests, and reassurances to the contrary. We might think of the Terrorist as an inner personality fragment—unconscious, unknown, childlike—that needs our firm avowal that we will square up to, face, and deal with whatever comes our way with all we have at our disposal and end with “Stop Scaring Me! I have enough on my plate as it is and I need to devote my full attention to what needs to be done without you sneaking up on me going BOO!” There is much that is out of our hands, and there is much we can do in response to the things that could happen. We will deal with it as well as we can if and when the time comes. Until then, we will live with this here, this now, in ways that are appropriate and called for—and will not diminish our ability to see it as it is by imagining hellish monsters arising in some other here, some other now. 02/19/2012
  21. Spring Homestead, Blue Ridge Parkway near Fancy Gap, VA—April, 2011 — There is the recoil from what happens to us in our life, and there is the bringing forth of who we are to engage our life, and there is the day-to-day interchanges and routines of living our life, and there is working to effect our agenda for our life in our life—to make happen what we want to happen. Getting the ratios right means increasing the time we spend with two and decreasing the amount we spend with one and three and ignoring four entirely. Our calling is to attend and serve the destiny that is ours to embrace—to do the work that is ours to do with the gifts we have been given (and lie largely latent, waiting to be needed). The ideas of calling and destiny are dismissed as fairytale and fantasy by the culture—the stone the builders reject—yet they transform the lives of those who honor them with time and attention. It’s our call whether to respond to our calling or keep living like we know what we are doing. The foundational realization is that we don’t know what to do with our lives or where to go from here. Everything waits for us to know that we don’t know and take up the search for that which is seeking us. 02/19/2012
  22. Glencoe Mill Door 02, Glencoe, NC—January 30, 2012 — “Dovetail your suspicions” is a paperback detective mantra, meaning “Don’t let anything get by. Don’t dismiss a thing. Hook everything that raises an eyebrow together. Hook everything together. Put it all on the table and consider carefully the table. Eventually, the table will speak. It’s like looking at an optical illusion. Something will move. Things will fall into place. Case closed.” Things are not always what we take them to be. This enhances, alters, that. Observe everything. Discount nothing. Assume nothing. About how things are, what they mean. Just watch, look, wait. For clarity, understanding, illumination. For an idea to come forth that springs you past stuck into movement, past not knowing what to do into action. Possibilities exist you haven’t considered, or dismissed years ago. There is life yet to be lived. Prove. Me. Wrong. 02/20/2012
  23. Clear Cut, Rural NC near Madison—January 31, 2012 — Post Trauma Stress Disorder has mild forms where you can’t walk into a funeral home, say, following your Father’s, or your Mother’s, or your Spouse’s, our your Child’s funeral. There are things you once were able to do that you can no longer do. This may not interfere with your life at all. If you are never called on to attend another funeral, you might not even know you can’t do it. We associate some past trauma with some present experience—fireworks for a Viet Nam, or now Iraq War or Afghanistan War, Vet—and have to avoid the present experience. The Disorder becomes extreme when you can’t avoid the present experience. You have to have been there to know what I’m talking about and I hope none of you have been there, or ever are ever will be. I’m just here to say that some people cannot talk themselves into doing some things. This world has handed them experiences that no one should have to deal with. Treat them tenderly, with compassion—and hope for them a soft future with warm laughter and gentle breezes. And be aware of the things you cannot do for no apparent reason. And get off your back about them. Stop trying to understand them, or reason them out, or explain to yourself that there is nothing to them and that anybody ought to be able to do that. Especially stop trying to make yourself do that. Your gift to you. 02/21/2012
  24. Early Light 01, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — It just comes down to working it out. We have to work it out. Our craziness, for example, and our duties and responsibilities, and our destiny/calling—the work that is ours to do with the gifts we have been given for that work. We make it work. We don’t hide out in the 10,000 diversions/addictions. We don’t blame our friends, enemies and loves ones. We don’t make excuses. We say something on the order of: “This is a problem, and this is a problem, and this is a problem, and this is what I can think to do about my situation, and this is what I am going to do.” And we try that and see where it goes, and repeat the process until we die long years in the far distant future. We are NOT going to expect, look for, dream of an immediate solution to appear in the form of some wonderful savior who is going to intervene in our behalf and deliver us from all of our difficulties. We are going to wade right into all that is out of synch in our life and do what we can think to do about it for the rest of our life. We are going to work it out if it takes forever. That’s what time is for. 02/21/2012
  25. Hanging Rock Vista 04, Hanging Rock State Park near Danbury, NC—November 03, 2011 — Caring can immobilize us, incapacitate us. We have to care enough to overcome lethargy and do what needs to be done the way it needs to be done, but not care so much that we become fixated on doing what we want and avoiding what we don’t want. It’s tricky, getting the ratio right. No one can do it for you, or tell you how it’s done. Something else you have to work out on your own. Caring too much about what happens or too little keeps us from exercising what influence we have. Being at the balance point between too much and too little is the freest freedom there is. 02/22/2012
  26. Early Light 02, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Our lives take shape around our interests and concerns, around our desires and fears. We live toward something, away from something else. And we live to realize ourselves, to bring ourselves forth, to know who we are for the first time. Who we are has no necessary connection with who we think we are, or who we wish we were, or who we want to be, or who we are afraid we might be. We are a mystery unto ourselves. We are the present we live to open as on Christmas morning. Who will we find beneath the layers of shoulds and oughts and wannabes? We have to live the mystery to make the discovery, following instinct, intuition and the direction of our internal guidance system, we stumble our way to Bethlehem to behold again the miracle. 02/22/2012
  27. Canadian Landscape, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canadian Rockies—September, 2009 — We cannot bring ourselves forth into this here, this now—into ANY here and now. It won’t tolerate us. We are too far removed from who we ought to be to fit in, take our place, belong, be Good Company Women and Men. We would wreck the economy. Shake the foundations. Knock down the walls. Erase the borders. Demolish the structures. Question the value of all that is held to be sacred. Unleash the Revolution. It would be like Jesus coming all over again. You know what happened to him. At the end of every Hero’s Journey, the hero returns with the boon, the blessing, for the people and the people say, “Who do you think you are? We know your parents. You aren’t anything like them. And what’s this you’re handing out? What are we going to do with that? We don’t want anything to do with it.” And they would turn back to their Super Bowls and their wars which have comprised life for the people through the ages, leaving the hero to walk among the ruins with one more challenge to to face as the stone the builders reject. So. As you take up the work of bringing yourself forth, be clear about the nature of the task and ready to deal with all the challenges, especially the last one. 02/23/2012
  28. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Moraine Memory, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canadian Rockies—We are torn between the requirements of life in two different worlds—the visible world of normal, apparent, reality and the invisible world of numinous, abstruse reality. We live on the boundary between yin and yang—and make peace, establish diplomatic relations, between worlds. Takes being awake to do it. Aware. Conscious. Feeling Conscious, not just Thinking Conscious. Conscious of everything. Of All of it. And bearing the pain. The pain of discrepancy. Contradiction. Integration, reconciliation, is wrought in the agony of the conflict of opposites in the clash of worlds. This is the plight of the Hero, the Christ, the Buddha within each of us in every age. Can we bear the pain? Face the truth of contradiction? Bring forth in this world of dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest and doing whatever it takes to win, that world of grace and compassion and love your enemies and your neighbors as you love yourself? Both of the worlds hope that we can. 02/23/2012
  29. Lake Louise Canoes, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canadian Rockies—September, 2009 — What do you like to do? How often do you do it? How open are you to allowing what you like to do to lead you to something else you might like to do if you would give it a chance? How dedicated, committed, are you to doing what you like to do and doing it well—as well as you can do it? How self-disciplined are you in the service of doing what you like to do requires you to do? How much trouble does doing what you like to do require you to go through to do it? What does doing what you like to do ask you to set aside, not do? How much are you willing to give up in order to do what you like to do? What price will you pay to do what you like to do? What do you like to do that you will do no matter what? Our life is the search for what we like to do so much that we will serve it with our life—and allow it to evolve, to lead us, into something else we like to do so much that we will serve it with our life. We find it by picking something that we like to do and see where it goes. Do not just sit with your hands folded in your lap waiting for your life to come ask you for a date. Search the thing out like Jalapeno Pie would send you for water. 02/24/2012
  30. Banff Depot, Banff, Alberta, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies—September, 2009 — I’ll bet you think it’s about answers. I’ll bet you think if you had all the answers, your life would be just grand. You have been lied to about the answers. All an answer is good for is the formulation of additional questions. Any answer should lead to about 10,000 questions. The questions themselves should lead to questions. But we have been told that answers are the end of questions. An answer that cuts off questions is heresy. Blasphemy. And should be burned at the stake. The only thing that deserves to be burned at the stake is an answer that cuts off questions. Anybody who tries to cut off your questions with an answer deserves to have his/her answer burned at the stake on the spot. You should carry a supply of stakes around with you for that very purpose. The only valuable answer is one that raises questions that haven’t been asked. You’re on to something when you start asking questions that haven’t been asked. Don’t let them stop you. Show them your stakes. And your matches. 02/24/2012
  31. Morant’s Curve, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Waking up is waking up to our responsibility for our life just as it is. We do it to ourselves. This life we are living is our work. Now, we also redeem ourselves. Waking up is also waking up to our responsibility for the life yet to be lived. The life we are called to live is also our work. We stand, upon awakening, between two worlds—two lives. Where we have been and where we are going. We did where we have been and we are going to do where we are going if we have what it takes to square ourselves up with the truth of both worlds. Waking up is squaring up, you know. Facing up. Standing up and doing what needs to be done—about both worlds. We don’t get enough of the help we wish we had in either world, but we get enough help in each world to make it, to get by “with a little help from our friends.” And our friends aren’t drugs. They are “a very present help in time of trouble.” We are here, now, by virtue of the hands that have helped us along the way. We didn’t get here on our own and we won’t go into the world that waits on our own either. But, it will feel like it from time to time—like we are on our own, abandoned and all alone. And we have to trust that this is not the case, that there is more to our situation than meets the eye, give ourselves to the task that needs us to do it and see where it goes. We will be amazed. It will likely be hell—the Cyclops is real in all of his manifestations—and it will be amazing. You’ll see. Let’s go! 02/25/2012
  32. Afternoon Light, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September 2009 — We’re here to see what we can do with it and to see where it goes. “Get in there and do your thing and see where it goes” is Joseph Campbell’s take on the Bhagavad Gita (or words to that effect). It’s the best advice in the entire book of advice. Too bad they didn’t read that book to us when we were small. Think of the stuff we could have seen by now! 02/25/2012
  33. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Telus, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — It’s easier being stupid. Being stupid is one step up from being dead. Everything is so simple when you’re stupid. Tomorrow is just like yesterday when you’re stupid. Nothing ever changes. The way things are spozed to be done is always the way things are spozed to be done. You don’t have to think about anything. No Thinking Allowed is the first rule of stupidity. Never Spot A Contradiction is the second rule. There are no contradictions for stupid people. An encounter with contradiction would require thinking. So everything is always just like they say it is. No Questions Permitted is the third rule of stupidity. Only thinking people ask questions. And no one in their right mind would ever think of being a thinking person. It all began going downhill when people started thinking. Stupidity is the hope of the world. 02/26/2010
  34. Through the Rockies, Mt. Robson Provencial Park, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia—September 2009 — Joseph Campbell said he knew a lot of artists in his life and everyone of them would be glad to take money for their work and not one of the would sell themselves out for money, that is, they wouldn’t use their art in the service of making money—they wouldn’t be paid to do “art” that wasn’t truly their art. Franklin W. Dixon, the author of the Hardy Boys detective series hated what he did, spinning out tales about Joe and Frank instead of writing what he considered to be worthy of him which he couldn’t sell. I would have told him, and I think Campbell’s artist friends would have been with me here, to use the money to fuel his art. Write Hardy Boys stories on the side and write your heart’s true desire in the main. Walk two paths. Live under the conviction that money serves art, not the other way around. Our art must be developed—and our art might be flower beds or underground irrigation systems. Our art is whatever brings us to life. Money serves whatever brings us to life. And we can’t sell ourselves out for money. You can’t pay me to not take pictures. And when I sell a picture, I just fold it right back in to taking more pictures. Money serves art. Art is not about making money. It takes what it needs to do more art. Too bad there isn’t an art equivalent to Wall Street. 02/26/2012
  35. Mt. Rundle, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We work it out. We put everything on the table and take all the contraries into account and work it out. This is the plan for your life. Everybody has interests—you included—and we all have to work it out, figure ways to fit in what needs to be fitted in and put aside what needs to be put aside. I didn’t take photographs for 18 years because we couldn’t afford film and diapers and the diaper equivalents during that time. When the kids were out of college and on their own, I got back into the world of photography. I call that working it out. If you can’t do it now, if you can’t have it now, when can you do it, have it? We wait and see. We do what we can and see where it goes. While I wasn’t taking pictures, I was still seeing them. They are always everywhere. Something is forever catching my eye. Enjoy what can be enjoyed while you are working it out. The whole panic, time pressure, gotta have it, do it, now is something we do to ourselves. It took me 40 years to get my writing into book form, but I was writing the entire time. We have to serve our art—forget what form it takes. I call this working it out. There is what we have to do—what is ours to do—and there are the terms and conditions, the context and circumstances of our life, which are not friendly to our interests and needs. We have to work it out. 02/27/2012
  36. Mt. Rundle Autumn, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — There are those who think they are privileged, kings and queens in exile, waiting to be recognized and accorded the entitlements of the realm. They don’t have to work anything out. They should be handed life on a platter and peeled grapes on satin pillows. A lot of people are beyond reach, out of touch with what most of us recognize as the reality of how things are. They refuse to acknowledge a world that is different from the one they have in mind—so they live in their world while life in the world the rest of us live in passes them by. It is an interesting thing how some of us can check out and check into a parallel universe of delusion and self-deception: “Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?” Checking out is a way of refusing to work it out, of having nothing to do with a world as ornery and uncooperative as this world is. What they fail to appreciate is that the oppositional nature of this world is the Cyclops in our path requiring us to pull things forth from ourselves we did not know were there—and would not know were there without occasions that force us to rise to them. With a magic wand in hand we would live the most shallow, bland, nothing little life. Working it out brings us out, births us, enables us to become who we are capable of being—who we would never be with a free ticket to Easy Street. 02/27/2012
  37. Vermillion Lakes Sunrise, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Complaining about having to always be working it out is like playing shortstop and complaining about ground balls, being miffed because they all don’t strike out or hit fly balls to center field. Our job is working things out. Accommodation. Accommodation. Accommodation. Adjusting ourselves again and again to how things are and what needs to happen. Enlightenment, illumination, just recognizes how things are and what needs to happen—without being all bent out of shape, frenzied and frazzled, running out of the room and looking for the nearest diversion, distraction, escape, addiction to get our minds off the damn ground balls. THEY KEEP HITTING ME GROUND BALLS!!! How would that sound, coming from your shortstop, slamming his glove down, stalking off the field? He would not be an enlightened shortstop. Someone that lacking in illumination probably wouldn’t get it if you explained it to him. 02/28/2012
  38. Sunrise, Vermillion Lakes, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — When we’re singing, or humming a little tune, as we go through our day or taking a shower, we’re just singing, humming. We aren’t doing it for any reason. We can’t explain why we are doing it. We don’t know why we are doing it. It is a spontaneous act with no purpose beyond the simple joy of the experience of singing, humming. Now you might want to sit down for this because it is going be a jolt. You might try thinking of you as your soul’s song. You are the song your soul is singing for the simple joy of the experience of being a living, breathing, alive human being. You are your soul’s joyful experience of life. Even the sorrow and pain is joyful—along the lines of Fran Tarkenton saying he missed everything about football: The wins and the losses, the long completions and scrambles and sacks and mud, everything, all of it, he loved it so. That’s your soul talking about the life you are living, about the song your soul is singing through you. And what about you, you say. Well, there is a sense in which you are just along for the ride, but invited to participate with your soul in the song you are singing together, in the life you are living together. The more you align yourself with your soul buy living the life that is yours to live and using the gifts that are yours to develop and explore, the more fun you will have, and the more you live at cross-purposes with your soul and try to effect YOUR way on your life, the less fun you will have, but. It’s your call all the way. Soul’s gonna sing no matter what. 02/28/2012
  39. Soft Hues of Sunrise, Vermillion Lakes, Mt. Rundle, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Carl Jung said something on the order of, “Do not listen only to what is being said. Listen also to what is talking.” Hearing what is talking is more important than hearing what is being said. Is it Jealousy talking? Fear? Hatred? Shame? Anger? Arrogance? Hostility? Compassion? Mistrust? Passion? Depression? Ennui? Lethargy? Desire? Joy? Hopelessness? Hope? What is the ground of what is being said? We have to hear it all—receive it all well—if we are to know what needs to be done in response. To whom, to what, are we talking? The drift of the conversation depends on us knowing what is being said and what is talking. 02/29/2012
  40. Day Comes, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — When we are in the flow, on the beam, on track, at one with the life that is our life to live, things hum (that word again). We aren’t trying, we aren’t thinking, we aren’t arranging, we aren’t exploiting—we are seeing, hearing, grasping what the situation is calling for, asking for, needs as it arises and bringing forth what we have to offer to do what is needed. It doesn’t make sense. We can’t figure it out or think two steps ahead we are simply “here, now” responding to the moment, doing what needs to be done. To get there, don’t think about going there. Sit and listen to what needs to happen here and now. Read the situation. Practice reading the situation. Practice seeing, hearing, understanding what the situation is asking for, is needing. What do you have to offer that might help? See where it goes. 02/29/2012
  41. Mt. Rundle and Vermillion Lakes, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We are all waking up. We are always waking up. No one is ever as awake as he, as she, needs to be. The Buddha died from eating spoiled pork. How awake was that? There is always more than meets the eye. We are forever being taken in by appearances. Declaring everything to be hopeless, pointless, futile and a complete waste of our time. Quitting. Giving up. Because it makes no sense to go on. Listen to me! Do. Not. Quit. Perspective shifts! Count on it! It can seem, from one point of view, chaotic, disjointed, disconnected, fragmented, meaningless, like we are going in circles, getting nowhere fast, spinning our wheels, lost in the wilderness—and from another point of view, looking back on the mess, we see the connections, the flow, the movement, with one thing leading to another, like it has direction and purpose, and here we are. Believe in the journey! Believe one book is opening another! And be awake, as awake as you can be—sensing the pull, the drift, of soul at work in your life and trusting yourself to it through it all. 03/01/2012
  42. Alberta Skies, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We don’t have to know where we are going, we only have to sense the pull, the drift, of our soul in the moment of our living and trust it. It can seem like nothing is working, like nothing is going our way, like everything is against us and all is lost, particularly us, going in circles, running into walls. It is crucial that we do not quit. We make our best guess about what needs to be done and do it until a better idea comes along. We are always looking for clarity. We don’t know what will work in some situations. We don’t know what it would mean for something to be working. We do what we can imagine to do, what feels as though it needs doing.  We do what we can imagine to do, even as we wonder what else we might do, what else might need to be done. We gather ourselves and go forward to meet the situation—to do there what needs to be done to the best of our ability to sense that and do it. When it feels as though nothing is working, we work it to the best of our ability and give it more time to see how things work out. 03/01/2012
  43. Light on Pyramid Mountain, Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies, Alberta—September, 2009 — It is all a part of the mix—an aspect of how things are. The promotions and the flat tires, illness and euphoria. When we wake up, we wake up to how things are and what needs to be done about it. Maybe what needs to be done is accommodating ourselves to the reality of how things are. An essential aspect of waking up is waking up to our helplessness. There is nothing to be done about some things. When we come up against one of those things, the tendency is to run, hide, escape, denounce, deny… When we run out of places to run to, two things are still going to be true: The thing we don’t like and the fact that we don’t like it. Now begins the work. The work is squaring up, growing up, getting up and doing what needs to be done in relation to the Thing (call it the Cyclops in one of its many manifestations) that we don’t like and can’t do anything about. It’s all a part of the mix. Grist for the mill. The things we deal with on the journey of life. 03/02/2012
  44. Sleepy Elk Sequence 01, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies, Alberta—September, 2009 — Our pact with each other is to be a safe, secure place for the other to be—to have the best interest of the other at heart—to be on the other’s side—to be who the other needs us to be in every situation as it arises. What we couldn’t do with people like that in our lives! 03/02/2012
  45. Hidden Falls B/W, Hanging Rock State Park near Danbury, NC—January, 2012 — How do the cattlemen and the sheep herders work it out? How do the Israelis and Palestinians work it out? How do you and your brother-in-law, or your and your mother, work it out? It is for those involved to come together in good faith and figure it out. No one can impose a solution from the outside. We cannot tell them what to do. They cannot tell us. We. Work. It. Out. Everything depends on it. 03/02/2012
  46. Light on Pyramid Mountain, Pyramid Lake, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We have to live naked. Vulnerable. Exposed. There is no protection. Stop seeking immunity and seek to live open to all that comes, and goes. That is the untouchable perspective, the fulcrum that positions us to do what is right and needful in every situation as it arises. Look life in the eye. Stare it down. You have work to do, a destiny to fulfill, a path to walk and it’s standing in your way like some drooling Cyclops of lore, thinking it’s going to stop you. Don’t even pause to bury it. You have bigger fish to fry—another life that needs you desperately, is dying for what you have to give. Live for that life, and let the one throwing death threats and misery at you go to back to hell. 02/03/2012
  47. Pyramid Mountain and Athabasca River, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — The only problem we have is that we don’t have enough going our way. With more things going our way, we would all be just fine. Well, you know the easy solution to that one, change our way. Not what we have in mind. We want to GET our way not change it. And there you have it: All that’s wrong with us is not getting our way and not being able to change our way. Stuck, is what it’s called. Getting unstuck is what enlightenment/illumination is all about. “Enlightened” could be a synonym for “Unstuck.” They mean the same thing. How to get there? I recommend sitting and looking at the wall. Not just any wall. The wall that has you boxed in. The wall that has you walled-off. The wall that keeps you stuck. Look at that wall until the shift happens. It will be great. You won’t be able to stop laughing. 03/-3/2012
  48. Meeting the Challenge, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Focus and concentration, kid. Focus and concentration. It all comes down to focus and concentration. These are the two elements of life, across the board and around the table, from being a Zen Master (And while we are on the subject of Zen, I’ll point out as an aside that will not cost you one penny more for the trip, that Zen is what happened when Taoism in China met Buddhism tripping over from India) to playing third base to the Radio City Rockettes to going grocery shopping. We cannot hope to size up the situation as it arises and offer there what is needed out of the gifts we have to give—or find the path with our name on it—or stay on the beam through the gyrations of our life—without focus and concentration. If you are going to practice anything, become adept at anything, let it be focus and concentration. 03/04/2012
  49. Bugling, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — You know what you love and what you do not like at all, what excites you, stirs you, moves you and what does not interest you in the least. So. Where do you spend your time? How much of what you love in a week? How much of what you despise? My bet is that you need to work on your ratios. 03/04/2012
  50. Regal Pose, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — The only thing that makes focus and concentration difficult is the 10,000 Distractions. Everything. Everything works against focus and concentration. And so, we practice. We practice coming back to the moment—this here, this now. We practice focusing and concentrating on what is happening right now, right here and what needs to be done about it. What response are we being asked to make to it. What’s happening? What needs to happen in response to what is happening? These are the questions we practice asking. We practice until it becomes automatic. Until our life becomes our practice and our work is what we do. 03/05/2012
  51. Bedding Down, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Live toward the light. And when you are in complete darkness and there is no light to be seen in any direction, live in the darkness until your eyes adjust to no light and then wait for the faintest glimmer of light and live toward that. Don’t be running panic stricken in all directions at once, or grasping onto something that talks about light, or says it knows someone who knows something about light. You’ll know light when you see it. You will resonate with it. It will stir something within you like the sunlight stirs something within trees and flowers. They don’t have any problem living toward the light. Neither will you once you stop looking with a fixed notion of what you are looking for and wait for the light in whatever form it takes. 03/06/2012
  52. Sunrise on Castle Mountain, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — It comes down to how we treat the moment, how well we handle what we find there. It doesn’t matter what our plans are, what our hopes, dreams, aspirations are, what our potential is. The folks on the Titanic had all those things. How did they handle the sinking? How did those who survived handle the aftermath? How do we deal with our life is the question, on a day-to-day, one situation after another, basis? It’s like this (Shirley, you’ve heard me say this before, even if your name isn’t Shirley): “This is how things are, and this is what we can do about it, and that’s that.” We choose from among the things we can do about it and impact as much of the future as can be impacted for good or for ill. May we choose wisely and do what needs to be done the way it needs to be done every step along the way. 03/06/2012
  53. Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia—September, 2009 — Life is dynamic. Changing. Moving. Evolving. Death is static. Rigid. Unbending. Unchanging. More of the same forever. We want our life to be more like death than life. We want things to stay like they are even if we don’t like them as they are. Even if they are killing us. We don’t want anything changing. It’s like we think to change is to die. We have to square up to what death is. We want to be comfortable, safe, stable. We want things to be predictable, planable, routine. We have to square up to what life is. 03/07/2012
  54. Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia—September, 2009 — Our lives coalesce around our ideas of what is important—around our values—which may, or may not, be borne out by our experience. We can think the wrong things are valuable all our lives long. How do we change our mind? What does it take to wake us up? Reality is our best bet but. Denial and stupidity trump everything, even reality. We can expand every stupid idea to take into account—to explain away—every intrusion of reality into our lives. This is to say, in that wonderful phrase from the 60’s, “Reason cannot uproot what reason did not plant.” Irrationality carries the day. Our hope lies in our willingness to adopt a perspective that takes itself into account, that questions its own fundamental assumptions, that always seeks to see how things also are. 03/07/2012
  55. Sunwapta Falls 04, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Sometimes things fall into place and flow right along, and sometimes you forget to fill the gas tank on your car and you sputter out on the side of the road on your way to your wedding or something equally essential to your life. That’s how it is. That’s a different kind of situation from the one where everything is all smooth and joyful, with victory speeches and celebratory parades but. What is called for from us is the same in both situations—in all situations: Rise to the occasion. Do what needs to be done. “This is the way things are. This is what you can do about it. And that’s that.” Do what you can do about it. Redeem what can be redeemed. Grieve what must be grieved. And get ready for the next situation because it’s on the way even as I speak. 03/08/2012
  56. Sunwapta Falls 02, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We have our business and the entire world seems dead set as they say in the deep south against us doing it. Everybody wants to give us what they want our business to be and have us do that. When have you ever been paid to do your business? When have you ever been assisted with doing your business? When has anybody ever cooperated with you in getting your business done? Oh, people mind your business all the time. They pry into your business. They tell you how to do it and what to do instead. But they don’t help you do what is yours to do. They look at you doing it and say, “Since you’re not doing anything, I need you to come over here and help me do this, then that, and then that over there.” They want us to help them with their business—they want us to do their business for them. We have our work cut out for us just getting through all the opposition and resistance in order to do our work. Well, do it! Don’t let them stop you! You have your business. You do it! 03/08/2012
  57. Mt. Robson, Mt. Robson Provencial Park, British Columbia, Canadian Rockies—September, 2009 — I barely burned a finger last week getting the cornbread out of the oven. It is still healing. Physical injuries and wounds take a while to heal. We don’t just pop back from breaks and surgeries. But. When our dog dies we are expected to be our old self in a day or two. Emotional trauma is as every bit as real as physical trauma. When you are run over by a garbage truck, you have to lie there a while. Then there is the stint in the hospital and the one in the rehab unit and the one convalescing at home and you will always walk with a limp. There are emotional equivalents to garbage trucks with us in their sights. We will always walk with a limp. Do not work against your own recovery by thinking you should be running marathons and wondering what’s wrong with you. You were run over by a garbage truck. Whose side are you on? 03/09/2012
  58. Trout Lilies, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC—March 06, 2012 — Always the work is to come back to the center: What’s happening? What needs to happen in response to what is happening? Always the work is to refocus, reconcentrate. To bring ourselves consciously into this here, this now, and do what needs to be done in light of all that can be taken into account. Always. 03/09/2012
  59. Mistaya Canyon, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009—We dream of power. Because we live with vulnerability and impotence. We compensate for the insecurity and instability of our lives with cocoons of invincibility that money can buy. But. We are vincible. And so. We dream of power. 03/10/2012
  60. Cardinal, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC—September 08, 2012—Listening to our life means waking up to how things are with us. What are we doing? What are we not doing? What are we missing? Where are we spending our time and attention? What are we discounting, ignoring? Is the offense or defense seeing most of the action? Where do we find help? Where do we need help? Where are we running on empty? How do we refuel? Being alive in the time of our living does not just happen. It is not an accident. We bring ourselves to life by the quality of our living—by attending the things that feed our soul. By doing the things that draw on the gifts that are ours to give. Not by dancing constantly to someone else’s tune. 03/10/2012
  61. Medicine Lake Bed, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Medicine Lake Bed is very porous and the annual snow melt gradually drains over the summer, making room for the next snow melt.—September, 2009 — Some of you have heard this before: It’s all useless, pointless, hopeless, futile and coming to a very bad end—and how we live in the meantime makes all the difference. We don’t do what we do because it is going to disappear our problems and usher in happy ever after. We do what we do because it needs to be done. There will always be something to complain about—significant things, monstrous things, Cyclops-sized things not right about our lives. What are we going to do about it is the question. We live to do the right thing about the wrong things. And ask the Cyclops how he liked that. And tell him there is more where that came from. And spit in his eye. And laugh. 03/11/2012
  62. Been Fishing (The guy in the lower center of the photo had been trout fishing in what I take to be the Maligne River flowing on the far side of the exposed lake bed. The river goes underground where it becomes one of the most extensive underground rivers in the world before it appears again and merges with the Athabasca River. How much of this I’m making up, I don’t know. It’s great to be old. Not only do you not know how much of anything you are making up, but you don’t care. That’s the best part), Medicine Lake, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September 2009 — We think we have to have a bigger, better, finer life than is the case. An ordinary hum-drum affair is just fine. Celebrity status is a new thing in geologic time. For millions of years being able to get back to whatever served as a bed at night was quite enough of an accomplishment. No one worried about the bright lights and glory for the vast majority of human history. So, do the chores, run the errands, prepare the meals, enjoy a little wine, read a good book, love the people you love and let that be quite enough. The High Up Gurus in the Spiritual Hierarchy across the ages couldn’t do better than that. 03/11/2012
  63. Kicking Horse River, Natural Bridge, Yoho National Park, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia—September, 2009 — When you are dealing with something or someone who has been the way it/he/she/they has/have been for some time, say, your entire life long, perhaps like your parents, or your in-laws, just for an example, the chances of them being different in relation to you are strictly dependent upon your ability to be different in relation to them first and to maintain your different-ness over time. Initially, your different-ness will only strengthen them in their sameness. You must persevere! Do not let their staunch and escalating sameness snap you out of your different-ness and back into responding to their sickening sameness the same way you always have responded to it. You have to be different in relation to them over time no matter what they do if you have any hope of enabling them to be different in relation to you. If you ever get any better advice than this, take it. 03/12/2012
  64. Johnson Canyon, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — We spend a lot of time waiting to be gripped, to be seized, by a cause, a mission, a project, “a Mythic Vision” (Joseph Campbell’s term meaning “a vision of Mythic proportions,” like the Odyssey or Jesus’ Return to Jerusalem). It can be so long between rounds that we drift off into other pursuits, hanging out at the mall, perhaps, or exploring the joys of cocaine, or babysitting the grandchildren—and forget what we are about: Serving our gifts, following the way, realizing our destiny. We have to watch for the white rabbits even when it has been a long time since the last one. We have to notice what catches our eye, stirs our soul, presents itself as a threshold to adventure and life. These things keep coming around, winking at those who are awake, watching. 03/13/2012
  65. Aspen Grove, Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 — Nothing works for long. You could look it up. We are always being asked to come up with something to deal with something we never imagined having to deal with. We have to stop thinking in terms of things working like they are supposed to and start thinking in terms of having to deal in an ongoing way with things that don’t work at all like they are supposed to. We have to stop thinking if all these things would just get out of our way we could have a life. Our life is dealing with all the things that are in our way. Once you reconcile yourself with that, you have it made. As much as you can have it made. 03/13/2012
  66. Adrift, Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle, Maine—September, 2010 — The past and future inform our present but so does what is happening here and now. We have to live here and now in light of all that can be taken into account. Our ability to assess the current situation and respond appropriately to it is the single most important factor in determining the quality of our life and legacy. We mess with that ability with drugs and too much alcohol, with neurotic obsessions and compulsions—including worry and anxiety, and grasping, snatching desire. What guides our boat on its path through the sea? Better be eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands—all that can be seen, heard and understood. 03/14/2012
  67. Hemlock Islands, Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle, Maine—September, 2010 — Each moment, every situation, has it’s own rhythm, pace and timing. We step into them and look around, listening, waiting for our eyes and ears to adjust to this time and place. What is happening? What needs to happen in response to what is happening? What is being asked of us? Offered to us? What waits, hoping for the gift we have to give? The quality of our life hinges on the degree to which we are able to size up the moment of our living and offer what is needed out of what is ours to give. 03/14/2012
  68. High Tide, Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle, Maine—September, 2010 — We think we know what we need and go in search for it, ignoring what we need when it comes knocking on our door. Our agenda keeps getting in our way. Our idea for our life keeps interfering with our life. But. We know what we like, what we want, what we are afraid of, what our duty is. The first order of business is unknowing what we know. The Messiah has to die. Our idea of the Messiah. Our plans for the Messiah. Who the Messiah is supposed to be. Is going to be. Has to be. Because we say, or someone remarkably like us says, so. There is no Messiah like we want the Messiah to be. And the life we want to be our life? Death dressed to the nines. 03/15/2012
  69. Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Maine—September, 2010 — Sitting, listening, walking slowly through the world, looking, watching, being present with what is present with us, open to the moment and all that is therein, allowing our life to have access to us, to inform us, show us how things are and also are, receptive to the world, aware of our place in it—this is the matrix forming eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands. Essential elements for the way of life. 03/15/2012
  70. Fogged In, Stonington Harbor, Deer Isle, Stonington, Maine—September, 2010 — Live like you don’t care what your chances are. Live like you have nothing to lose. Don’t read from the script, doing it like it’s supposed to be done. Doing it like it’s been done by everyone who has ever done it. The people who don’t do it like anyone ever did it become the people other people try to do it like. Jesus, for instance. The Buddha. Of course, they pay a price. But. You pay a price trying to get out of paying a price. So. Pay the fare and ride the ride. Live your life the way only you can live it. Taking all the responsibilities, duties and obligations you have accumulated over the years into account. They are a part of the landscape in which you live. You have to work out your life within the context of your life. That’s part of the price you pay to ride the ride. I never said this was going to be easy. Meaningful. Interesting. That’s what I said. 03/16/2012
  71. Lobster Boats, Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Maine—September, 2010 — “Give them bread and circuses,” (with circuses being gladiators fighting something to the death in the Coliseum) was the Roman way of keeping the masses under control. “Feed and entertain them and they will be happy.” Some things don’t change. The theory is still at work today. The economy that it’s about (Stupid), is largely based on food and entertainment. What else is there to buy? Which leads to the question: What’s in your life beyond food and entertainment? What is life for you beyond food and entertainment? What do you think about your ratios? 03/16/2012
  72. Stonington Anchorage, Stonington, Maine—September, 2010 — If you have a plan, a goal, something important in mind that you want to achieve, acquire, possess in your lifetime for all to see and envy or admire, ruthlessness is the way to do it. Ruthlessness works every time. You can’t beat ruthlessness for being effective. The sure path to success everlasting (you must understand the ephemeral nature of such a term) is to be more ruthless than your enemies—and your friends and family. Ruthlessness prevails. There is no fix for ruthlessness, no cue or remedy. No immunity to it, no protection against. It is a great tsunami of anything goes sweeping through the world, destroying all in its path. The sages and gurus can preach peace and love, but ruthlessness gets things done. If you beat ruthlessness, you beat it at its own game. Or you get out of the way. The sages and gurus generally hide out in the mountains and caves. If they don’t, they are done for. 02/17/2012
  73. Tulip Tree Blossoms, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC—March 14, 2012 — Ruthlessness has no response to make to the moment of its living. It serves a grander goal. The value of individual moments is found in their collective force. All moments must serve the vision of ruthlessness. Ruthlessness meets its comeuppance in the value of moments that calls into question all goals beyond service—subjection—to the moment and what its needs are, what it calls for. Such consideration is beyond the capacity of ruthlessness to grasp. Moments are without value—only the end has meaning. Those who see and serve the value of the moment are subversive to the cause of ruthlessness and create “a disturbance in the force” whose influence is incalculable and whose potential is miraculous. 03/17/2012
  74. Stonington Harbor, Deer Isle, Stonington, Maine—September 2010 — We are rarely content to be where we are, when we are, how we are, who we are, what we are, why we are. We can always imagine a better world than the one we live in—and do—and long for it as though we will die if we have to live one more minute in this hellhole. We live to be somewhere else. Here is the hard truth: We cannot be anywhere else until we can be here. We cannot benefit from the boon, the blessing, offered by some other place until we can receive what is being offered here. If we spit on the stone the builders reject here, we will not find the pearl of great price there. We are always just one slight perspective shift away from Nirvana. Seeing begins with seeing what we look at. Seeing ALL we look at, all there is to everything we look at—seeing what is true and what is also true about every situation. Not missing nothing.  Eyes to see are rooted in eyes that look. The world is transformed when we are able to transcend what is obvious and apprehend what is hidden, invisible. We are transformed as well. 02/18/2012
  75. Tulip Tree, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—March 17, 2012 — I love making things up, don’t you? Tunes, and dances, and things in the kitchen like Jim’s Chicken Spaghetti, and poems, and ideas. Making up ideas is like sculpting elephants and humming birds out of marble or clay. You keep at it until you like what you have then you quit. Jim’s Chicken Spaghetti started out as an idea. Tunes don’t start out as anything. They just are. I wonder where all this stuff comes from, don’t you? 03/18/2012
  76. Penobscot Bay, Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Deer Isle, Maine—September, 2010 — We all have our own business—the things we do and the way we do them—and we don’t like anyone minding our business, or messing with it. We like to be left alone to do the things we do the way we do them. We brush our teeth the way we brush our teeth. We don’t want to be using our other hand. The hand we use is just fine, thank you. The things we do and the way we do them is just fine, thank you. So, what’s the problem. Why all the books in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble? Why all the prescription medication? Why all the support groups? And the therapy bills? And the sleepless nights? And the nagging sense of emptiness, meaninglessness, about our lives? How come our business isn’t better for us? What are we missing? 03/19/2012
  77. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Bloodroot, Bicentennial Garden, Greensboro, NC—March 16, 2012 — We are blind to our own blindness, our own shortsightedness, our own prejudice, our own racism… The list is forever. We are blind to all that is so that we think is not so. How do we ever wake up? It is not by our own hand that we do. We wake up, to the extent that we wake up, against our will, protesting all the way about the wall we’ve been slammed into—the wall that has opened our eyes to the inconsistencies and contradictions and incompatibilities at work in our life, and forced upon us the work of opening ourselves to more truth than we are comfortable having to face. We could make it easier by not being so sure we know what we know and are right about it. But. If you look you’ll see no one is standing in that line. 03/19/2012
  78. Inside (The Other) Ft. Knox, Prospect, Maine—September, 2010 — Trees need room to grow but they will take what they can get, competing with everything for light and air and water. A forest is hardly a friendly place. There is a war going on unnoticed, out of sight, fought with roots and leaves, with all involved trying to find enough of what they need to keep the fight going. All living things are up against it—and each other. Humans bring an additional element to the contest: Themselves. Humans are up against their environment, each other and themselves—as if we need something else to contend with in the short time that is ours on the earth. We would be wise to implement a cease fire and seek terms of peace—pursuing a complimentary relationship with the inner world, looking for ways we all can come together for the good of the whole. 03/20/2012
  79. Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 — I like the idea of hunting for photos with the camera—stalking them like some spear heaving Cro-Magnon man. Planning them, plotting them, learning their feeding habits and their watering holes, getting there before them, waiting for their arrival, walking like a mist through the brush, soundlessly gracing the day with the wonder of their beauty, flaunting their wares before the camera, pretending they don’t know I’m there. 03/20/2012
  80. Canyonlands Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 — You know the Inner Critic, Judge, Reviewer, Fault-finder who is always with us to take our best effort, our grandest moment, and turn it into material for a SNL skit or a late night series of one-liners? And if you don’t, I’ll take the role and say “Poor thing. Of all of us, you are the most to be pitied!” The Inner Critic is our most faithful and helpful companion, playing the part of the Roman slave who rode in all the parades with the Caesars, those sons of God who were always resplendent in their glory, saying things like, “You have really bad breath, you know,” and other grounding things to keep it all in perspective, as they say, and inflation at bay. So, welcome the personal comedian into your chariot as your hedge against egocentricity and become his, her, greatest fan. Enjoy providing him, her, with material, saying, “See what you can do with this—it’s the best I’ve done yet. You’re going to love it!” And relish what comes, balancing out our tendency to take parades in our honor personally, even those that should happen and don’t—keeping us grounded and good company, laughing at ourselves. 03/21/2010
  81. Sunset at the Visitor’s Center, Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 — We get tired, depleted, exhausted, fed up, worn out, and want to quit. Sometimes, quitting is the thing to do. I retired. That’s quitting. I don’t do meetings any more. That’s quitting. I stay away from groups of people who know my name. That’s quitting. If you think I’m going to talk you out of quitting, I’m going to surprise you. I’m going to say quit if you need to. Here’s the formula: Evaluate every situation in terms of what is happening, what needs to happen, and what you need to do in response. It may take quite some time for you to work through all this, so don’t be in a hurry. No quick fixes. Take all the time it takes to decide what to do, and then deal with the fallout, the outcome, which will create another situation for you to work through. You thought there was more to life than bringing forth what needs to happen in each situation as it arises? Who have you been listening to? 03/21/2012
  82. Green River Canon, Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —We grow into who we are and can only be different by continuing to grow. We don’t read a book or have a few hours of psychotherapy or listen to a lecture and become transformed. We look at how we are and how we need to be and accommodate ourselves to the circumstances of our lives over time. Our life asks hard things of us. We have to adjust our expectations, our preferences, our inclinations and proclivities in order to make room for obtruding realities. This changes things. How we adapt to the changes—the attitude we exhibit in response to them—makes all the difference. The spirit with which we live our life is as important as what we do. Spiritual growth is growth into the spirit of right-being in our life, in the world—living as life truly needs to be lived in each moment—blessing the here and now with generosity and loving-kindness, justice, mercy, goodness and truth. That is an organic, inside-out, transcendent experience with the miracle of awareness and grace. We don’t buy that off the selves of Wal Mart or Target. 03/22/2012
  83. Green River Canyon 02, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —Things are so far out of sync with anything approaching kindness, decency and common courtesy that we are going to have to begin getting up earlier to work at getting them back into line. I think we should divide the world into districts small enough for each of us to be able to cover one and start talking to people. It’s worth a try anyway. 03/23/2012
  84. Green River Canyon 03, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —I’m thinking wonder cuts across the species and graces every living thing to the extent that it can be graced. Human beings don’t have a corner on the wonder market. Dogs and dolphins, cats and owlets go “Wow!” in their own way. And if I’m making this up, it’s better than some things I could make up, and I like it. And hope you do. The idea, that is, of all living things going “Wow!” in their own way. May it be ever so! 03/24/2012
  85. Needles District, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —Practice having no plan. Stand before your clothes closet and see what you will wear with nothing in mind. Drive out of your drive way and see what you do then, with nothing in mind. Give yourself over to your day with nothing in mind. See where it goes. Don’t know where you are going to eat lunch, or dinner. Live listening to what now, what next. Be surprised. Amazed. Astounded. 03/26/2012
  86. Needles District 02, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —What stops us? What keeps us going? What happen when what stops us clashes with what keeps us going? When do we need to stop? When do we need to keep going no matter what? Answer these questions correctly and you have it made. 03/27/2012
  87. Needles District 03, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —We can look at anything and either see it or not see it, a flower, our life partner, our child, our job… We can listen to anything and either hear it or not hear it. Attention, awareness, could transform the world. They certainly could change our life and the lives of those impacted by our life. It’s a rather simple solution to a wide swath of ails and it doesn’t cost anything. What do you think? Are you up for it? 03/27/2012
  88. False Kiva, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —We take our chances—confident in our ability to find what we need to do what needs to be done about whatever happens. As a species, we have been dealing with life for as long as life has been around. As individuals, we have been dealing with life for as long as we have been around. We. Are. Still. Here. You can’t deny that. So. What are we worried about? We can assess any situation and respond appropriately to what we find there. We may not like having to do what we have to do but that’s our biggest problem—doing what we don’t like to do. That means we are up against ourselves. Our biggest obstacle is not wanting to do what we have to do. Our problem is not that we don’t know what needs to be done. Our problem is not that we cannot do what needs to be done. Our problem is that we don’t want to do it. What do you think? Is this something you would actually call a problem? 03/28/2012
  89. Pink Dogwood 02, Greensboro, NC—March 27, 2012 —It’s likely that we will often find ourselves feeling as thought we don’t know what we are doing or what to do or where we are going, at loose ends, bobbing up and down in our life like ducks on the waves. When that’s the case, the only thing to do is wait it out. What is also true is that nothing lasts. Everything is in flux, on the way to something else. It is only a matter of time before how things appear to be will appear to be something else. What is also true is that we will know what to do when the time comes. When the time comes for action, we will be quite capable of acting—of sizing things up, assessing what is happening and what needs to happen and what we need to do about it. The ducks are resting on the waves, getting ready for the next round. 03/28/2012
  90. Trees In Fog 01, Sioux Falls, SD—March 24, 2012 —An iPhone photo—Some of us, maybe all of us, are gripped by crazy urges to draw, or paint, or weave tapestries, or write poems, or ride bulls, or take photographs—not to make a living at it but because it’s somehow life itself. Sometimes it seems to be a curse and a burden as much as a joy and a blessing and we are not sure which it is, not that it matters, stuck with it as we are, for life. 03/28/2012
  91. Trees In Fog 02, Sioux Falls, SD—March 24, 2012 —An iPhone photo—This is not hard, this being alive in the time of our living, this living well, this living aligned with what is deepest, best and truest about us, this living in sync with the beam—walking the path with our name on it. It only requires us to do what is hard. But. If we don’t do it, we do what is hard. Either way, we do what is hard. Either way, we die to something. Why not choose the way of death that leads to life? Every legitimate crucifixion results in resurrection. You should trust me in this. 03/29/2012
  92. First Light-Bow River, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta—September, 2009 —We all think something is important. We all have our business. We all live in the service of some dream for our life, some idea of how our life ought to be. We all have to deal with not enough cooperation—with resistance and opposition and things not going our way. We all need a place to talk about how it is with us, and how we wish it were, and where that leaves us, and where we might go from here. We need somebody to listen to us with interest, with compassion and understanding while we talk about how we got here and what it means to us that we are alive and what our hope for our life is even yet—what our dream is still—and how we might live in its service in order to realize what still might be realized in the time we have left to live. 03/29/2012
  93. Trees In Fog 03, Sioux Falls, SD—March 24, 2012 —An iPhone photo—If I could give you anything, I would give you a sounding board. All we need is some careful listener to talk to on a regular but not too often basis—someone who can hear us with compassion and disinterest, as in having nothing at stake in us, and help us get to the bottom of things—help us walk around our life, investigating it, exploring it, poking, prodding, peering into it, wondering about it, without taking it personally or being ashamed of it or trying to defend, justify, explain, or excuse it for being what it is and not something else. What happened? What did/do you wish had happened instead? What did you do in response to what happened? What do you wish you had done instead? What’s happening now? What do you think is trying to happen? What do you wish were happening, trying to happen? What are you doing in response to what is happening? These questions would do for starters but they are just opening the door. You need to walk through the door with someone who can listen you to the truth of who you are and how things are with you—which is all any of us ever need to know to take the next step, which then becomes part of the package. Something else to talk about. 03/30/2012
  94. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Desert Bouquet, Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah—June, 2010 —Integrity is the rock solid foundation of spirituality—being who we are and who we also are and doing what is ours to do. Integrity is reconciling our contradictions, our contraries, our polarities—waking up, squaring up, to how it is with us on every level and living in ways that affirm it all, that deny nothing. No mask, no shadow. It’s all in the light of awareness, consciousness. When we are transparent to ourselves and one another, we are also “transparent to transcendence” (Joseph Campbell) and God is apparent in and through us: “The Father and I are one.” I don’t know how to make that any plainer. 03/30/2012
  95. Dogwood Among the Trees, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro, NC—March 22, 2012 —Christ is the Anti-Christ, saying, “I am not who you think I am! And you are not who you think you are!” When we get who’s who figured out we have it made, and are one with the Christ, and one with God: “The Father and I are one!” 03/31/2012
  96. Horseshoe Bend Panorama, Page, AZ—June, 2010 —There is the work to sustain our life—to provide the food, clothing and shelter stuff—and the lives of those who live with us. And there is the work that we live to to, that brings us to life, infuses us with life, and is what we are alive to do. Take that away from us and we live with hollow eyes, shriveled spirits, as those who have lost their souls. The work we do is done on two levels and we cannot think we can get by with really fine food, really nice clothes, and really nice shelters. Money cannot buy what our spirit and soul need. We have to do what spirit and soul need to do in order to be alive. They like hands on stuff even though they don’t have hands. They have to use ours. That’s what we are here for. To loan out our hands. 03/31/2012
  97. Tobacco Barn Panorama, Rural NC —March 30, 2012 —Start with what you like, see where it goes. Notice when it begins to pass you on to something else you like. We have to be aware of our transitions and assist the shift that’s trying to happen. This is attending the flow of our life and is one of our primary roles. We are here to assist our life in doing what it needs to do, in going where it needs to go. How much trouble it is for us, or how much easier it would be for us to remain stuck in the comfortable routines until we die—just hanging out in the familiar ways, never changing our routes, our topic of conversation, or our mind—is not our life’s problem. WE are our life’s problem. How to get US up off of it and into the things our life would love to be doing, to be about, before we die. 04/01/2012
  98. Penobscot Bay Sunset, Deer Isle, Maine—September, 2009 —Our life brings us forth and we bring our life forth. Our life is our work, our opus, our art, our masterpiece, our creation, our gift… And we are a partner with our life in the production of our life. Our life is alive, vibrant, pulsating with vitality, meaning, purpose and direction calling us to wake up to the reality that we are being asked to bring into existence—to birth into the world. We are mid-wives and the mother of our own becoming. We participate with our life in giving it shape and form and substance in the particulars of the context and circumstances of our living. The two—we and our life, our potential, our destiny—consciousness and unconsciousness—become one in the time and place of our living. Our life is alive and need us to bring it to live. Our life is not a blank canvass that we can do anything we want with. The canvass has a life of its own and calls us forth even as we bring it into being. This is the wonder and the mystery of who we are coming out for the good of all the world. I hope you buy this. Everything hangs on it. 04/01/2012
  99. Rock Castle Creek, Rock Castle Gorge, Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob, VA—March 31, 2012 —How much of our heart is in what we do? For me, when it’s yard work, not much. When it’s walking around looking for photos, or writing with a cup of coffee at the ready, I’m operating at full capacity heart-in-action. The trick is to off-set the yard work kind of things with the walking-looking-writing kind of things. The trick is to be conscious of the degree of Heart Level our activities have and weigh our lives down toward the Whole-Hearted end of the spectrum. Whole-Hearted Living is the best kind of living but we also have to mow the grass along the way. 04/02/2012
  100. Looking South from Lakies Head, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia—September, 2008 —The idea life, from my point of view, comes down to knowing and doing what is called for in each situation as it arises, or knowing and doing what needs to be done—same thing. This is it. All there is to it. Forget all the shoulds, oughts, musts—all the protocol, all the rules, all the mama saids, daddy saids, preacher saids—and pay close attention to the situation as it arises. Eyes that see, see what is called for. Ears that hear, hear what is called for. A heart that understands, understands what is called for. All that is needed then, to do what is needed, is the courage to get up and do the thing. In each situation as it arises. All. There. Is. To. It. 04/02/2012
  101. Bryce Moon and Venus, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June, 2010 —The catch about knowing what the situation calls for and doing it is this: The situation calls for one thing from the antelope and it calls for another thing from the lion. Sometimes it goes the antelope’s way and sometimes it goes the lion’s way. The lion and the antelope work out which way it will be in each situation as it arises. That’s what the situation calls for—for the lion and the antelope to work it out. The lion cannot stop being the lion in the situation and the antelope cannot stop being the antelope. They both have to do their part in doing what the situation calls them to do, never mind the outcome. We have to bring ourselves into every situation as though we are the lion or the antelope in that situation, and give ourselves as completely to the work the situation calls for as the lion and antelope give themselves to their work in their situation, never mind the outcome. That’s Jesus and the cross, Ulysses and the Cyclops. We play it out and see where it goes. The antelope doesn’t say, “I don’t like the odds—I’m not playing this game!” We do what is called for in each situation and take our chances. 04/03/2012
  102. Window Display, Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls, SD, iPhone Photo—March 2012 — We have to work it out. That’s all there is to it. Life comes at us, makes its withdrawals and deposits, and leaves it to us to work it out. What to do now. What to do next. What to do. It’s ours to see and to do. 04/03/2012
  103. Bryce Point Panorama, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June 2010 —When life is too much for us, we disengage. We must. We immerse ourselves in the mindlessly mundane. We don’t want to think about anything, face anything, deal with anything. We are buying ourselves time. Distancing ourselves from the overwhelming. Distracting ourselves from intolerable confrontations. How distant can we be without losing touch entirely, forgetting the way back, being lost forever in a fog of our own making? Always the fear: “Mama left after her third pregnancy (the first was twins) in three years and never came back. Though she was always with us physically. She was never with us emotionally. It would have been better for us—maybe for her—if she had just run away.” Making things conscious makes things real. Talking things out with the right kind of people helps find the handles, the strategies, the approaches, the means for managing our life that could easily be unmanageable. We can’t make it alone. Wanting to r-u-n-n-o-f-t is a warning sign indicating that we need to draw our resources close around us and find strength for the task at hand in the caring presence of good company. May we all always have the good company we need! 04/04/2012
  104. Quartzite, Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD—March 2012 —An iPhone photo—The fact that we die colors everything we do. The fact that we die means we do not have enough time. Our time is short and running out. That means it is easy for us to think we missed our chance. Now it’s too late. We can never go back and take piano lessons or play center field for the Yankees, or be a Radio City Rockette. It’s all over for us. We may as well drink ourselves to death. On the other hand, we have to grab and snatch and make it any way we can while we can, so out of our way, we are going to the top, we will make a name for ourselves that will never be forgotten. Either way, we live under the shadow of our death. The life we form is formed with dying in mind. Life means what it means because we die, and that means we have to make our peace with dying and live with death at our side. We begin that process by exploring the implications our dying has for our life. How does our death impact, shape, alter the way we live? What do we need to do before we die? It is my theory that in order to die well we have to live well—that the people who fear death most are the people who have never lived. We have to LIVE in order to die. If we die without having lived, we are “of all people most to be pitied.” So, what does LIFE mean? What aren’t we doing that we need to do in order to be alive before we die? Death becomes a friend in this regard, ushering us into living the life we have yet to live in the time left for living. 04/04/2012
  105. Along the Path to Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June, 2010 —One of the tasks of life—of being fully alive—is figuring out what is important and what is not. What we think is important can turn out to be not so important after all. Takes a while to know what’s what—to learn to live with our eyes open, walking around things, poking, prodding, looking, listening, evaluating, assessing, waiting to see, hear, understand. The world is not as it appears to be. There is more to everything than meets the eye. The way things are conceals the way things also are, and it takes a while to know whether this thing is important or only apparently so (or apparently not so). But once we get it figured out, we are off to the races. Whatever that means. 04/05/2012
  106. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Pink Dogwood 01, Greenway Park, Greensboro, NC—March 2012 —How do we know what is important? How do we change our mind about what is important? What are the values at the heart of our life? What is the process by which replace values, exchange values? How do we evaluate values? Appraise values? Assess values? Where do our values come from? Did someone—parents, teachers, preachers, radio talk show hosts—tell you what you should value? Do you feel as though you are betraying them to question their values? We grow—we grow up—through the excruciating experience of the conflict of values. When we avoid such conflicts by refusing to consider the implications that valuing one thing might have for valuing another and hold that government should stay out of our lives and government should outlaw gay marriage with no contradiction in sight. Conflict awakens us to the importance of seeing, hearing, understanding what is important for ourselves—and the importance of changing our minds about what is important when the occasion arises which calls for that. When we avoid values conflicts we never grow up and remain too shallow to splash forever. 04/05/2012
  107. Bryce Landscape, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June 2010 —The work to arrange our life according to our liking is without end. We can always imagine a better world than the world we live in. At some point, we have to realize “this is it,” and shift our focus from changing things “out there” to bringing forth what is “in here” into the “out there,” just as it is. Our true work is to come forth, to bloom, blossom, unveil ourselves as a blessing and a grace exactly here, exactly now, in the time and place of our living—never mind that it is not the way we want it to be. As we bring ourselves forth, we transform the world—but not with intention and by design. The world shifts adjusting to us, responding to us. We cannot predict the nature of the alteration but we cannot change without changing significant aspects of the time and place of our living. Want to change the world? Change yourself. Bring yourself forth. Unfold yourself. Give the gift that is yours to give. Be you, loving what you love and doing what you love to do, what best expresses who you are. The world will not be the same. 04/06/2012
  108. Rainbow Point Panorama, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June 2010 —Violence and aggression laugh at Rumi’s observation: “If you are not here with us in good faith, you are doing terrible damage.” “Terrible damage” is the idea. “Terrible damage” is the source of the power enjoyed by violence and aggression. The threat of “terrible damage” opens the way before them and presents the boon of the realm unto them. They like “doing terrible damage,” leaving the rest of us with nowhere to turn.I believe Rumi’s family fled the advance of Genghis Khan, so he would have known the reality of “terrible damage” first hand. The Dali Lama escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet. When they come in the front door, leave through the back and hope for the best. 04/07/2012
  109. Pink Dogwood 03, Greenway Park, Greensboro, NC—March 28, 2012 —No matter what our life looks like—high rise or hovel—we still have to live it. We still have to do the work. The work is always the same no matter what the external circumstances: We have to pour ourselves into our life. We have to bring ourselves forth into our life. We have to birth ourselves into our life. This is not easy in any context. We have to sit with our Self and with our life and get the two together. We aren’t taught how to do this anywhere. So it’s trial and error all the way. Who is it that needs to come forth? How can we assist the birthing process? We are mid-wives to our own delivery. And you thought it was about making a lot of money and retiring early! Money won’t help and we never retire. The work is always waiting. Bringing ourselves forth into our life. 04/07/2012
  110. Citizens of Bryce, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June 2010 —We have to be still from time to time in order to remember what we know, see into the heart of how things are (which includes how things also are), reorient ourselves for the task at hand and do what needs to be done. We can be untracked with the greatest of ease. Lose the way. Sink into despair. Wander among the Soul Killers: So what? Who cares? What difference does it make? Why try? —And think of giving up. So, we have to be still and remember what we know. This is called Taking Stock. We have to Take Stock from time to time: What is happening? How is it impacting me? What am I doing in response? What would be a better response? What do I wish were happening instead? What needs to happen about what is happening? How can I assist the happening of what needs to happen about what is happening? How can I enlist myself in the work to make things better than they are? How can I find the help I need to do what needs to be done about what is happening? As you Take Stock, you’ll probably think up better questions. Just asking the questions, wondering what questions to ask, gives us a breather from the press of circumstances, provides a shift in perspective, opens the way before us, breaks the spell. We need a spell breaker from time to time. 04/08/2012
  111. Outskirts of Bryce, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah—June 2010 —Start with your life. Take stock. Inventory. What’s there? What do you have to work with? Resources. Who can you count on? Who is on your side? What do you have going for you? When you think about your life, how does your body react? What physical sensation are you aware of? Focus on that sensation. Let the sensation become an image, an object, a scene—something you could show me that would communicate to me how it feels to have that sensation. Once you have the image/object/scene in mind, sit with it. Ask it what it has to say to you. Receive well everything it has to say. If you have something to say in response, say it. See what comes back to you in response to what you said. Let the conversation roam. See where it goes. This is called Becoming Aware Of Your Life. Or, Letting Your Life Speak. We think it’s our life and we know all there is to know about it, so we don’t look at it, see it, make inquiries. Everything begins with our life and flows from there. We can’t skip that part and expect to get anywhere. 04/09/2012
  112. Trees in Fog 05, Sioux Falls, SD—March 2012 —An iPhone Photo—What? You thought it would be easier? And more fun? 94/09/2012
  113. Sevier River Falls, Utah—June 2010 —Wait a minute! I see your problem. You don’t have enough things going your way. There is too much that you don’t like about your life in your life. If your life were more like you want it to by, things would be just fine. It’s amazing how much work we put into trying to arrange things like we want them to be. It is the theme that runs through all self-help books and is the foundation of horoscopes and astrological consultation. It’s the cornerstone of all religions, psychotherapy and prescription and non-prescription drug sales. The major thrust of all economies. Too much—and that would be just a little more—contentment and the whole edifice goes to hell. Dissatisfaction and disgruntlement keep it all afloat. The fortunes and future of the entire world as we know it depend upon your unhappiness. Take heart. The more miserable you are, the better off everyone else is. Thanks for all you do for us! 04/10/2012
  114. North Rim 01, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ—June 2010 —The problem is not that we listen to and are influenced by other people. The problem is that we do not listen to and are not influenced by enough people. We should listen to everyone. We should allow everyone to influence our thinking. And we should be conscious of how we respond to them all. If you are going to make Chicken Pot Pie, it will have a better outcome if you are influenced by a lot of recipes instead of making your Mom’s for the hundredth time. Who says you have to have a crust? Why not serve it over brown rice? When you bring in a multitude of recipes, you open the door to thinking creatively on your own and begin to dance with the possibilities. Same goes for living your life. If you just listen to the Preacher you are going to be stuck with what the Preacher was capable of. What are YOU capable of? That’s what you are here to discover. Explore! Experiment! Play! You would have a lot more fun if you looked at your life as a playground or a kitchen where you were invited to invent a new recipe every day. If you ain’t dancin’, you ain’t livin’! 04/11/2012
  115. North Rim 07, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ—June 2010 —We exhaust ourselves in the work to be happy—to be reasonably content with our life—missing the point that happiness and contentment are not ends to realize but fringe benefits to be enjoyed about finding and doing what is ours to do. Exhaustion in the work of heart and soul is the key to a happy life. So, forget seeking happiness! Seek your work, which may have nothing to do with how you pay your bills. I have a friend who works for a utility company by day, and plays the drums and builds fine furniture by night. Guess what he’s happy doing. You have the rest of your life to figure out what is yours to do, and do it. Here’s a hint: What resonates with you? What stirs something within? What kind of thing catches your eye? Where would your heart take you if you let it have its way? 04/12/2012
  116. Tulips, Greensboro, NC—March 28, 2012 —Listen to one another! Without correcting, chastising, advising, arguing, debating, condemning, fixing, suggesting, or doing anything other than understanding with compassion. This is Jim’s Quick Fix for the world as we know it. 04/12/2012
  117. Buttes and Mesas, near Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah—June 2010 — Listen one another to the truth of your life. Do what you love even though the money does not follow and you have to make sacrifices in the service of your heart. Look until you see things as they are and also are—and know what needs to be done in each situation as it arises. And do it. We make this hard by trying to exploit it for our own benefit, by trying to get something out of it. We’re going to die. That’s what we get out of it. In the meantime, it matters how we live. We are here to do what is ours to do in the meantime, before we die. Not to get anything out of it. 04/13/2012
  118. Backlighting, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC—April 11, 2012 —What we get out of it—all we get out of it—is doing it. There is nothing in integrity—that is, living in ways that are integral with what is deepest, best and truest about us—living aligned with who we are and who we also are (And if you think that’s easy, slip into the saddle and have them open the chute)—for us. We live with integrity for the sake of living with integrity. No fame, no fortune, no glory, no parades, no headlines. It’s like a child learning to walk. You get walking out of the deal. See? Integrity is like that. 04/13/2012
  119. A View of Kodachrome Basin, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah—June 2010 —We are all neurotic at 2 AM. Neurotic being enlarging something beyond all reasonable proportions until it engulfs you, laughing at your paltry efforts at defense and escape. I think this tendency may be a carryover from our ancestral days in the wilds, when all we had was a rock or a sharp stick to keep away the beasts that come for us in the night. We remember things like helplessness and utter vulnerability long past living under African skies. We may sleep in high-rises and think of fire and earthquakes. We can always think of something no one can do anything about. Brain tumors. IRS audits. The list is endless. And real. We ARE up against it. We are all standing in some line, waiting our turn with the lions and leopards. We will run out of options one day. Here’s the present option to eventually having no options: In The Meantime, LIVE! You can reduce this to nothing more substantive than “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” or you can square yourself up to the fact that some tomorrow we will die but we are going to live this day exactly as though our life depends on it—as it does! Our life needs us to live it as it needs to be lived, as only we can live it! And we not die before our time by allowing our eventual demise rob us of this here, this now and the things that need us to do them—to bring them to life in our living—while we are still able to see the good and do it. We will die, but. How we live in the meantime makes all the difference. Believe it! Do it! 04/14/2012
  120. Pink Flame Azalea, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC—April 11, 2012 —Our life is alive with possibilities. It needs us to believe in it, to trust ourselves to it. But. We are afraid. Remember Jesus walking on the water? Calling Peter to step out onto the waves? This is a metaphor for trusting ourselves to our life. The waves churning, tossing are our life, saying, “Come on in! The water’s fine!” And we are saying, “Yeah, right!” We can do it our way or our life’s way. Think you are smart enough to figure it out on your own? Have at it. 04/14/2012
  121. Buffalo Valley Road, Near Grand Teton National Park, WY—June 2011 —We have to put up a wall from time to time to protect ourselves from the unwarranted intrusion of Guilt Mongers or Soul Thieves or Body Snatchers who hijack, infiltrate, dominate, rule our life. “That’s what YOU say!” Practice saying that line until you can deliver it perfectly the next time someone makes an invasive comment about anything pertaining to you. You can also try out, “How much do I owe you for minding my business?” Or “Now I know what a Hostile Takeover feels like!” Toxic Personalities have no respect for boundaries and will not voluntarily relinquish their effort to control the lives of all in their sphere of influence. We have to draw the line marking where they stop and we start—and defend it consistently, dependably. Our Self has to know it is safe with us, that we can be trusted with its expression and protection. We owe it to our Self to live free from the coercive influence of others. 04/15/2012
  122. Lodgepole Fence, Buffalo Valley, near Grand Teton National Park, WY—June 2011 — We can become increasingly focused on, and deliberate about, bringing forth the gifts that are ours to share with the world. We are all blessed in order to be a blessing. None of us are blessed in order to exploit our blessings and dominate others. We get off the beam when we think we are here to reap the benefits of our own genius. We are here to share the treasure that we are for the good of all. The focus, then, is on what we have that is of value to those about us and to bring it forth for their good. If they don’t see the worth of what we are presenting to them (“Nothing good can come from Nazareth,” you know), we walk on, looking for those who can receive what we have to offer. Meanwhile, we have to be awake to recognize what is being offered to us, in order to receive it well with appreciation and gratitude. 04/16/2012
  123. Doughton Park 01, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC—April 11, 2012 —We receive each other well AND we put up walls, draw lines, establish appropriate boundaries to keep others from invading our life. It’s tricky, this business about tending and caring for relationships. It comes down to honoring the other person and requiring that the other person honor us. If you’re going to practice anything, practice that! 04/16/2012
  124. Lodgepole Pine Fence 02, Grand Teton National Park, WY—June 2011 —We cannot hurry the time of our awakening AND living with people who know what they are doing makes all the difference. For instance, how many thoughtful alternatives to Orthodox Christian Doctrine do you know of? Our choice is take it or leave it. No one we know is making alterations to it and inviting us to join them in that process. How awake can we hope to be in a land where everyone is walking in their sleep? We may not be able to be more awake than we can be at any point in our life, but we can delay seeing, hearing and understanding—that would be, put off, avoid—our entire life long. We need more help than we get. Our life languishes waiting for us to Wake UP! Square UP! Grow UP! Get Up And Do What Needs Us To Do It—largely because we don’t know anyone who is doing that. It’s doubly difficult when we have to figure everything out on our own! 04/17/2012
  125. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Cunningham Cabin, Grand Teton National Park, WY—June 2011 —We shake out at different points along every line. Eye-to-eye-ness and like-minded-ness happen in politics, sports, and religion when the issue is intense enough to blind us to our differences for the short life of the issue then things shift back to normal with tastes and interests and enthusiasms falling out beautifully in a bell-shaped curve. The kind of eye-to-eye-ness and like-minded-ness that matters for life on the bell-shaped curve is the kind that agrees that disagreements are just fine and help us all toward the growth and development of who we are in the world. William Blake said, “Without contraries is no progression.” Instead of cancelling each other out, polarities and contradictions deepen, enlarge and expand each other, and enable us to see more clearly and to know more fully than we would ever be able to see and know if it were just us and our narrow little perspective all our life long. Opposites make a better world for all to grow up in. We can see eye-to-eye about the importance of seeing differently. 04/17/2012
  126. Hidden Falls, Grand Teton National Park, WY—June 2011 —It takes a crisis of the spirit to wake us up. This is a spiritual crisis that has little to do with questions about doctrine and religion and cannot be avoided with better answers or different doctrines. It is a spiritual crisis that requires us to discover “of what spirit we are made.” What is the spiritual fabric of our nature? What enables us to face the current manifestation of the Cyclops in our life and to find what it takes to triumph again? We discover who we are in coming up against the shock of how things are. We grow up through handling the trials of our life. Or, we remain terminally immature by refusing to do what is asked of us. Look at the escapes available to us—we are a culture of distraction, diversion, and denial. We live to be entertained, to be drawn away from what needs to be done. What helps us to engage our life? Where do we find assistance in coming to terms with truth we do not want to acknowledge? What does the culture offer to aid us in growing up? Who can manage that task alone? We are going to have to change some things to have a chance. I see us forming small pockets of resistance to the refusal to face how it is with us, talking together about how things are, and helping one another find ways of dealing with it. This is the kind of revolution the world has always needed and we have settled for putting a different crook on the throne. 04/18/2012
  127. Blue Ridge Pastoral, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC—April 17, 2012 —Here’s a little something just for you: Crumble enough Vanilla Wafers to make a cup and a half of crumbs. Mix that with about 1/3 stick of melted butter and spread it in an 8-inch pie pan. Bake it at 350 degrees for 5 or 8 minutes and allow it to cool. Pour in a can of Apple Pie Filling or Blueberry Pie Filling or Cherry Pie filling. Smooth that out and bake it at 350 for about 30 minutes (don’t burn the edges of the crust). Serve warm with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and a squeeze of caramel topping. You’ll be glad you did. 04/18/2012
  128. Into Lake Powell, Page, AZ—June 2010 —We meet the day with what we have to offer and do with it what we can imagine doing. Some days, that’s more than others. We could improve our average with more time to prepare. We need more time between days. More time in the Recovery Room. It’s like we are in a Tag Team Match with only the day getting to tag out between days. How can it already be time for another round? How do we regroup on the run? In the clutches of the Next Thing? I recommend not getting ahead of ourselves. We slow life down by dealing with this now and that then. And create breathing room in each day where we sit and breathe, consciously counting our breaths, slowing down and deepening our respiration. The day isn’t likely to let up. We have to step out, then step back in—spelling ourselves with gifts of sanity. 04/19/2012
  129. Blue Ridge Farm, Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob, VA—April 11, 2012 —The older I get the more I find myself awash in memories of my childhood and youth. They are not fond, happy memories, and I am wondering if they were pushed aside by the responsibilities of job and family until a quieter, slower life in retirement allowed them to come up for review. I am now their witness and acknowledge the truth of what passes before me. There are no memories of being held lovingly, read to, cuddled, adored. What happened to all of that adoration? I don’t think any of my siblings cornered that market. It was in short supply. So, I watch the old movies of what happened, and did not happen, bearing witness to the truth of the recollections and declaring wrong to be wrong and abuse to be abuse and celebrating with myself the wonder that we didn’t turn out any worse than we did. 04/19/2012
  130. Entering Zion, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah — June 2010 — Springdale, Utah is the home of Zion Pizza & Noodle Co, and is worth the trip to Zion NP all by itself. It earned a spot on the Dedication Page of my eBook A Handbook for the Spiritual Journey, along with other fine dinning places, making the Dedication Page worth the price of the book alone. You don’t normally find Dedication Pages worth reading. I’m happy to break that trend. — Part of our work, and maybe the most important part, is to find ways of doing more of the things we like to do and fewer of the things we don’t like to do. We have to work it out. The more responsibilities and duties and obligations we have, the harder it is to work in things we like to do and work out things we don’t like to do. So we have to ease out of our responsibilities. Even though I’m retired, ministerial duties follow me around like a hungry dog looking for a handout, weddings, funerals, preaching opportunities, counseling requests, things like that. And no one is going to draw lines for me. We could live our life just meeting obligations. Or not.
  131. Mile Post 289, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC — April 17, 2012 — See what’s coming and get out of the way. That’s my best advice. Preventing problems is the best way to avoid them. Most of what’s wrong with most of us could have been foreseen. Why shoot ourselves in the foot, thinking maybe it won’t happen like we think it will? Why not listen to ourselves for a change? 04/21/2012
  132. Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park, Utah — June 2010 — If we live long enough, our life will wake us up. When we wake up we see things as they are and what can be done about it—then we either do it or not. But we know. Seeing is one thing. Courage is another. But when we see, we see that we have no real choice but to do what needs to be done, because, even though that will mean trouble, not doing it will also mean trouble. Our life is as it is because we have tried to save ourselves from trouble and in so doing have created trouble for ourselves. When we wake up, we see that and see what we have to do. This is too much trouble so we resist waking up by dousing ourselves with denial, numbing ourselves to the truth of how things are with our addiction of choice, including religion, and chanting ourselves to sleep with our favorite mantra, hoping that all our dreams come true. 04/22/2012
  133. Doughton Park 02, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC —  April 11, 2012 —  Native Americans would go into the wilderness on vision quests waiting, watching, for guidance and direction. We need something similar. We have developed the means but have lost sight of the end. What’s money good for if you don’t know the right bills from the wrong ones? We can live through anything with purpose. Take meaning away and we’re lost, no matter how large or how many the checks we can write. There is life yet to be lived— how will we live it? Toward what? For what? What will we do with what is left of our days? We are not free to make up just any purpose, proclaim meaning in just any endeavor. We have to listen and look in order to see and hear. What is calling our name? Listen! Look! And trust yourself to the thing that catches your eye! 04/22/2012
  134. The Lone Pine, Pinion Pine, Zion National Park, Utah —  June 2010 —  Know what is important and act as though it is. That’s my best advice. Center your life on what’s important. Build your life around what’s important. Be able to say what is important in one short sentence. Once you get it said, hold it up to the light. Walk around it. Say it backwards. Ask yourself if you are right about this being important, or if you say it is because that’s what you are supposed to say. If that’s the case, say, “Saying what you are supposed to say is important!” and walk around that, poking it, probing it, seeing it it is really all that important. Do that with everything you think is important until you narrow your list down to the things that are truly important to you. Then act as though everything on that list is truly important to you. That’s all there is to it. 04/23/2012
  135. Zion Landscape, Zion National Park, Utah —  June 2010 —  There are impossible situations in which nothing can be done. We have to avoid those whenever possible (Don’t go home for Christmas with your alcoholic mother and/or father, for example), and get out of them whenever possible (Quit your job or your marriage, for example, as soon as you are able). Hang on in those you can’t avoid or leave, waiting for a turn, for a shift, for something to happen, for things to change (Live through adolescence, for example). People had to live through the Dark Ages for generations. Nothing could be done about the Spirit of Those Times. Slaves had to live through eons of slavery until the times changed and something could be done and then they had to live through eons of abuse. Women and homosexuals face a similar reality. The idiots who hamstring the country are always elected by the idiots who vote for them. Just try to do something about idiocy! Enlightenment is always fighting for its life with deliberate, willful, intentional, determined ignorance. Whose side are you on is the question. It’s up to you to wake up to what you are doing and help out how you can. It matters how you think, how you live. 04/24/2012
  136. Doughton Park 03, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC —  April 11, 2012 —  Many of our problems have their roots in the bad preaching we have been subjected to in our life. How we have been told that things are is not always how things are. How we have been told that things are supposed to be is not always how things are supposed to be. We have done what we have been told to do and things have not turned out like we have been told they would turn out. Bad preaching sent the settlers to the Dakotas. “The rain will follow the plow,” said the preachers who told the settlers they were doing “The will of the Almighty.” The rain did not follow the plow. Native Americans were displaced and the settlers never experienced the glory they were promised in their new digs. But the railroad followed the plow and some people profited royally from the settler’s opening up the frontier. Maybe that was “the will of the Almighty.” The Almighty Dollar, anyway. So, we are left with having to make sense of the discrepancy between what we have been told and what we have experienced. This is the work of the spiritual journey. It’s Jesus’ parable of the catch of fishes where the fishermen (that would be me and you) cull the catch, throwing out what is useless and keeping what is helpful. Just because we’ve heard it preached doesn’t make it helpful, or so. 04/24/2012
  137. The Virgin and the Watchman, Zion National Park, Utah —  June 2010 —  You never know who your guardians will be or who will guide you along the way. It is enough to know you can’t make it on your own, and to be open to help from unexpected places. This doesn’t mean we are dependent on someone else telling us what to do and that we cannot trust ourselves to know what’s what and what to do about it. We have to know a guide when we see one and trust ourselves to her, to him, when we have reached the end of our string of options. A guide is only worth having around when we need one. A guardian is in the way when we’re just eating ice cream. To be guide and guardian worthy, we have to be actually living our life. We have to be creating messes, making waves, getting ourselves in tight spots, reaching the limit of things we can think of on our own. We have to be alive to need help with life. What’s a guide going to do with someone who isn’t going anywhere? 04/25/2012
  138. Appalachian Pond, Blue Ridge Parkway near Doughton Park, April 10, 2012 —  May you see how things are and do what needs to be done about it with the gifts that are yours to offer in each situation as it arises— and let that be that. 04/25/2012
  139. The Watchman, Zion National Park, Utah —  June 2010 —  Too much matters. It’s all important. We want to do everything, keep everybody happy. We never stop. Even when we sleep, we are still churning, running, chasing trains that just left the station. Nothing matters. Nothing is important. Our life has no center, no ground, no focus. It’s all surface fluff of equal value. Our life is meaningful to the extent that we are serving something of value with our life. What would that be? What is worth our life? 04/26/2012
  140. Appalachian Pasture, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC —  April 17, 2012 —  What you receive in your life isn’t as important as how you receive what you receive. We have the ability to trump everything that happens to us by the quality of our response to it. That’s the second time you’ve heard me say that, and it won’t be the last. Our life depends on us—not on what happens to us. Our role is to bring our life—the life that is our life to live—forth, to unfold it, birth it, assist its emergence into the world of normal, apparent, reality. That is what we are here to do. We can’t let what happens to us stop us. We have to find our life and live it. Getting to the heart of our life and bringing it forth is our focus in the time left for living. 04/26/2012
  141. Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah — June 2010 — There are 10,000 takes on what we are supposed to be doing with our life. Everybody has an idea. If you give your life to your mother, it would look different than if you give your life to your Aunt Louise, or to your father. The Preacher would say you are supposed to be keeping the Ten Commandments. Who are you going to give your life to? You better not give it to any of them—or parcel out pieces of it to all of them! You better keep it all for yourself—and decide for yourself what you are going to do with it. That’s what you are supposed to be doing with your life: Deciding for yourself what that is to be. I’ll use myself as a model for you. I don’t have any idea where I am going with my life or what I’m supposed to be doing in the time left for living. But. By this point I have some rock solid notions of what that is NOT going to be. So I do what has life for me, what enthuses me, what enlivens me, what is ME, and see where it goes. I also have to do what is necessary to take care of my responsibilities to my family and pay the bills. I have to work it all out. My primary responsibility is listening to my life to know what it is asking of me and not listening to all the voices, both within and without, shouting their take on what I’m supposed to be doing. Your life—what has life for you—is your most reliable guide. Listen to it. 04/27/2012
  142. Linville River, Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville, NC — October 2010 — Experiment with your life! You live on a playground! Take advantage of being able to play around with your life, looking for combinations that work. You know what works and what doesn’t work. That’s all you need to know. I’ve created four, no five, knockout recipes fooling around with ingredients. Your life is a kitchen! You are the cook! Stop serving up the same old same old! Create some new dishes! Two watchwords for the rest of your life—for the time left for living: Experimentation! Exploration! Make a game of finding out all you can find out about what you are capable of before you die. What do you have to lose? 04/28/2012
  143. Along the Path 01, Nodding Thistle Flower Pod, Piedmont Land Conservancy trail, Greensboro, NC — April 26, 2012 — Nothing kills creativity, imagination, joy, delight, good humor and playfulness like having to do it right. Whoever came up with the idea of doing it right did it wrong. Life is death without the freedom to fail, to flop, to throw it out and start over again, again, and again. You are doing it wrong if you aren’t doing it wrong! Roll up your sleeves and get into the fun of living your life without having to know what you are doing and doing it right. If anybody asks you what you think you are doing, tell them you have no idea what you are doing, and laugh. It will be great, though only small children will understand. 04/28/2012
  144. Trolling for Photos, DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC — October 2010 — The help we get isn’t the help we have in mind. We want help to get and keep what we want to have. We want help with the life we want to live. We want help to have the life we wish were our life. The help we get helps us with the life that is our life to live. Check the sources. All the legends, myths and fairy tales are about getting help with the life that is our life to live. Frodo gets help getting the Ring to Mount Doom—not rain for his garden and dates with the girl down the street. Luke Skywalker? The Force was with him as long as he was aligned with his destiny. Step out of alignment, off the beam, we’re on our own. What are you not doing that you know is yours to do that you have been fighting all your life wondering why your life is such a fight? Waking up means getting on the right horse and seeing where it goes. 04/29/2012
  145. False Hellebore, Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob, VA — April 20, 2002 — There is a wonderful old saying that may not have its origin in the Deep South, but is found in abundance there: “You did it to your own self!”—with “Fool” unstated but always implied. Pretty well sums it up. We make a mess trying to avoid a mess. We create intolerable situations for everyone trying to smooth everything over and make everyone happy. We create pain by refusing to bear pain, face pain, admit pain; Looking the other way, we crash again into the Wall we never saw coming again. We think we are creating weal and we are making woe. We think we are doing one thing and we are doing another. What to do? What needs to be done? How do we determine what needs to be done? Do we tiptoe around on egg shells or do we stomp and smash the damn things? Do we not say the thing that obviously needs to be said because someone will not like it if we do or do we say it and deal with the fallout? What needs to happen? How we decide that makes all the difference. The heart of wisdom is seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Seeing is doing. We don’t want to do, so we refuse to see. And we do it to our own self. 04/30/2012
  146. Sweet Pea, Piedmont Land Conservancy trail, Greensboro, NC—April 2012 —Nothing can be done for those who think the wrong things are important. Beer, for instance. And cheap—or not so cheap—red wine. The world is full of things that are not important, but pretend to be, and fool all of the people some of the time. Salvation, if you will permit a little theological rumination, is when we get to the end of our rope and change our mind about what is important. It doesn’t always take the end of our rope to do it. Some of us are luckier, or brighter, or quicker on the uptake than others of us. Some of us wake up quickly. Some of us hit the snooze button forever it seems. But. Nothing can be done for any of us as long as we think the wrong things are important. And you can’t wake any of us up before our time. Which means, if you have to help some of us, any of us, you are just going to have to wait around until we can be helped. In the meantime, you might find someone who is already waking up to what matters and help them. All of this is contingent, of course, on your knowing what matters. Otherwise, we have the blind leading the blind. 04/30/2012
  147. Blue Ridge Dogwood, Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Knob, VA—May 01, 2012 — The Dali Lama could not live your life. Tag out with him. You could last longer in his life than he could in yours. The Dali Lama doesn’t drive. Can’t parallel park. Doesn’t have a drivers license. Has never grocery shopped in his entire life. Or buttered bread. Or made oatmeal. The Dali Lama has keepers, people who take care of all the details for him. He has never used a credit card, balanced a check book, or lost one. No wonder he is so serene and holy. Give him an hour and a half in traffic getting home from work and let’s see how long his detachment from the outcome lasts. But, not to pick on the Dali Lama. He’s one of my favorite people. So is Jesus. Jesus could not live your life either. Neither could Mohammed. Or Moses. They would all run if they saw you coming. They aren’t about to tag out with you. So stand a little straighter. Walk a little taller. Swagger a bit. You’re doing a hell of a job even on your bad days. Prance around the room. Moon walk to work. At least to the car. You don’t get—or give yourself—nearly enough credit. So start taking some credit, and take a bow two or three times a day. You’re good. If you don’t believe me, ask the Dali Lama. 05/01/2012
  148. Leaving Roosevelt Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, WY—June 2011 — Photography comes down to knowing where to place the tripod. If you don’t use a tripod, you are limited in the type and quality of the photos you can take but, the same rule applies—photography comes down to knowing where to place the camera. Photography requires you to see the scene and select what part of the scene you are going to hang on your wall. Of course, then you have to know how to capture the portion you have selected, but that isn’t the hard part. The hard part is knowing where to stand. The hard part is getting out of the way and allowing your Inner Knower place your tripod for you. Your part is shutting up and doing what you are told to do. Don’t have to think about it. Don’t have to figure it out. Don’t have to know what you are doing. Allow yourself to be led, directed. And when  you take the picture, keep listening. There may be another tripod position nearby. Look behind you. Wonder what the scene might look like from a different vantage point. See what else there is. Transfer what you do there to what you do throughout your life. Knowing where to put the tripod is like knowing how to respond to each situation as it arises. Shut up and do what you’re told—by the Inner Knower. It’s the key to everything that follows. 05/02/2012
  149. Blue Ridge Farm Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Rake’s Mill Pond, VA—May 1, 2012 —At some point, we all need help with our lives. One of the worst things is to feel cutoff from our own life—to be detached from emotional engagement with life—to be empty, hollow, adrift on “the wine dark sea.” Vitality, vibrancy, enthusiasm can too easily become words without a connection to our experience. Not a problem. Puts us in the perfect position to be open and receptive to what our life has in mind for us. We have to get to the end of our rope before we will consider the rabbit trail. That would be the White Rabbit Trail, also known as the Hero’s Journey. We have to know that on our own we can only run out of options and that we need help with our life. At that point we say, “HELP!” And wait to see what happens but. We have to mean it. We have to be willing to receive the help that comes—and we have to be open to help coming from the most unexpected, even ridiculous (Nothing good could come from Nazareth, remember) places. White Rabbits appear in every disguise imaginable, or unimaginable. When you say, “HELP!” be ready for anything. Adventure always starts out that way. 05/02/2012
  150. Fence Posts, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 1, 2012 —We all care about different things and care differently about the same things. We shake out in different places along the caring line. Then we take up religion, or politics, or sports and join large groups of people caring the same way about the same thing. We erase the lines that distinguish our caring from that of everyone else and disappear into the group. We have to see Jesus or Mohammed or the Yankees like everyone around us does. Our identity—at least in this regard—is a group identity. We think like the “We” thinks, not like the “I” thinks. It doesn’t take long before the “We” replaces the “I” across the board, around the table—and you cannot have a life of your own, with thoughts, beliefs and opinions of your own, with a perspective, a point of view, of your own. If you don’t espouse the doctrines and speak in boilerplate, you are suspect and will soon find yourself excluded, excommunicated, banned, shunned, boycotted for daring to see things like you see them. All the heroes have to leave home—leave the group—and enter the wilderness on her, on his, own and find the way that is her, that is his, way and not the way of someone else. Separation Anxiety keeps a lot of people from making the trip to the Land of Promise, which is the center of our own soul, heart, self, life. We have to face our own fear to find our own path. We have to care about what we care about the way we care about it—and see where it goes. 05/03/2012

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Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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