One Minute Monologues 005

05/03/2012 –07/12/2012

  1. Dandelions, Blue Ridge Parkway, near Orchard Gap, VA—May 1, 2012 —If we saw the truth we would have to do something about it. Better not to look. The truth I’m talking about is the truth of how things are (which includes how things also are). The truth of our life. The truth is the bed we sleep in at night and the world we wake up to each morning. To see that truth exactly as it is is to have to do something about it. Better to not know. Better to just go through the daily routine. Nodding when we are supposed to nod. Smiling when we are supposed to smile. Reading our lines off the invisible script that everybody reads their lines from. Keeping things nicely in place. Never saying anything remotely similar to the child’s exclamation in The Emperor’s New Clothes, “But Mommy! He doesn’t have anything on!” Things change when we see them for what they are. Better not to look. 05/03/2012
  2. Blue Ridge Pond, Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob, VA—May 1, 2012 —Too many of us are aimlessly wandering through our life, bouncing from one entertaining pastime to another, hanging out, looking for something fun to do. Too few of us are conscious of aligning ourselves with our life—the life that calls us to live it—following our life’s meandering through the events and circumstances of our living, unfolding our life, serving our life, doing the things that exhibit and express the heart and soul of our life, ourselves, in the time left for living. How to move from being adrift at sea to piloting our boat on its path through the waves is the work of waking up—seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being—and becoming who we are. 05/04/2012
  3. Storm Clouds, Blue Ridge farm north of Rocky Knob, VA—May 01, 2012 — It takes a while to adjust ourselves to what has to be done. We take an emotional hit when life hits us with a body slam, a choke hold and a doubleknee armbreaker all at once with no referee in sight. We have to lie there for a while, barely breathing. We cannot expect that we should act normal in the aftermath of jolts of roller-coaster variety to life as we have known it. We have to sit with it for a while and work at getting ourselves squared up with the idea of how things are NOW. How long? Longer than you want it to be but not as long as you are afraid it might be. Just sit. Just breathe. Let the magic of emotional accommodation to life’s wild gyrations do its work. We may walk with a limp, but for now, sitting, breathing. 05/04/2012
  4. Pink Lady Slippers, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 01, 2012 —Rumi said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” If you can find better advice, take it! 05/04/2012
  5. Storm Clouds, Blue Ridge Parkway farm near Rocky Knob, VA—May 01, 2012 —We have too much to tend to but we can’t let that stop us. We have a life to live in, around and through all the stuff life throws at us. The hollow-eyed, empty, soulless ones around us have lost the life-line, the connection with that which is deepest, best and truest about them, with that which needs them to bring it forth and give it form—exhibit it, express it and make it real—in the time of their living. We cannot allow that to happen to us. We cannot be so caught up in, threatened by, afraid of the things that come at us in life that we forget to be alive, that we fail to live in the time left for living. The important thing—the central thing—is to live the life that is ours to live within the swirling whirl of all that competes for our attention. This is called walking two paths at the same time. We can bring ourselves forth AND go for our chemo treatments AND get the dog to the vet AND babysit the grandchildren or get the children to their appointments and obligations AND … We can bring ourselves forth amid all the things that normally separate us from ourselves and keep us from getting to the life that is ours to live. Takes concentration and focus, but we can concentrate and be focused. Takes knowing who we are and what is ours to give, to do, but we can remember to find the center and live out of the core. This is not hard. It only requires us to maintain our relationship with the Point Of View that sees things as they are and what to do about it in each situation as it arises—even when several situations arise at once. 05/05/2012
  6. Working the Vetch, Along the Path, Piedmont Land Conservancy trail, Greensboro, NC—April 2012 —How we respond to what happens sets the stage for what follows what happens but. We can’t just say, “I’m going to respond better to everything that happens.” Our response is governed by the level of our maturity, which is a measure of our awareness—which includes self-awareness so that we are aware of ourselves reacting, aware of situations which punch our buttons, aware of our history or reacting in situations similar to the situation we currently face, aware of as much as we can be aware of across the board, around the table. Awareness modifies our reactions which shifts our relationships and interchanges and changes our life, one would think for the better. Growing up is growing in awareness which is an ongoing process. Grown Up is not a steady state of being. We are always and forever Growing Up. Becoming Aware. Waking Up. Seeing. Hearing. Understanding. And changing the way we respond to our life by seeing things differently—by seeing things. 05/05/2012
  7. Along the Parkway, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 01, 2012 —Play it out. See where it goes. Express what is yours to express in each moment, in each situation as it arises. This doesn’t mean say what is on your mind. It means bring forth your gift, your genius, who you ARE, holding nothing back—Why hold anything back?—in the time left for living. It means live to exhibit the truth of you, of who YOU are, in the time that remains. And, if you don’t know who you are, what your gifts are, what your genius is, live to find out. Do not dismiss any of it—not you, not your gifts, not your genius, not the context and circumstances of your life. Believe in it all. You are the only you there is or ever has been or ever will be. Do not throw you away because you aren’t who you wish you were. Nothing good could come from Nazareth, you know. The pearl of great price is the stone the builders reject. Give yourself, your situation, the benefit of the doubt and live to see what you can do with what you have at your disposal before you die. Do not die before you are dead! Live to find out who you are, what you can do. Surprise yourself. 05/06/2012
  8. Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA—Rumi said: “When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you will keep saying again and again, “This is certainly not like we thought it was!” (From The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks). 05/06/2012
  9. Buttercups, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA—May 01, 2012 —What keeps you going? That’s the mystery. One of them, anyway. We are still here. And, by now, we know that none of the things we live for lasts. Our continued existence is the most irrational thing about us. “It’s hopeless, pointless, useless, futile and coming to a very bad end,” yet, here we are. And I, for one, am certain that “how we live in the meantime makes all the difference.” How we live with one another makes all the difference. We matter to each other. We keep one another going. Because. It. Is. Important. Why? That’s the mystery, or one of them, anyway. It is important to our life that we live it. Do not think of your life as something you create, generate, oversee and direct. Think of you as something your life creates, generates, oversees and directs. Our life needs us to live it. We try to figure it out and run a cost/benefit analysis from time to time to make sure we are getting enough out of it when it is not something that can be logically deduced or rationally justified or scientifically explained. It is a spiritual affair entirely. We keep going because we must. We don’t know why. If we quit before it is over we betray ourselves, one another, all others and everything that matters. Something has a stake in us. Something is betting on us, counting on us, needing us. And that is as spiritual a statement—as in unsubstantiated and incapable of being proved beyond the experience of its validity and truth—as can be made. The value of life and living is self-validating, and if we spit on that and turn away pouting because it’s hard and is not going our way, we cut ourselves off from the one thing that matters which is living what is left of our life the way only we can live it—and seeing where it goes. 05/07/2012
  10. Mill Flow, Glade Creek Mill, Babcock State Park, WV, near Fayetteville and the Cathedral Cafe which why would you miss? —We have to work out what can be worked out and come to terms with what can’t be. How things are is not often how we wish they were. We have to deal with the discrepancy. THIS is what we have to work with, like it or not. Not liking it is part of it, part of the THIS we have to work with. We have only THIS to work with whether we like it or not. If it is a really stinky job, we can quit when we are able. If it’s cancer, we have to come at it differently. Jung said that none of the really important problems can be solved. They must be out-grown, that is, we have to adjust to them, accommodate ourselves to them, come to terms with them. We have to develop adjustment strategies, steps to take to come to terms with what must be done—with what our choices are—and what to do about it—what choice to make. We hit walls. Then what? It isn’t the wall that tells the tale, but what happens next. What happens after we hit the wall? What do we do then? Life comes alive in the living of it, in the “What then?” The wall is the Cyclops, blocking our way. What then? What now? What next? 05/08/2012
  11. Nodding Thistles, Along the Path, Piedmont Land Conservancy trail, Greensboro, NC—April 2012 —We want too much for everybody else to be like we are. We think too much that we should be like everybody else is. There is an Old Testament commandment that didn’t make the Top Ten but which serves as a beautiful summation of all of them: “Thou Shalt Not Remove Thy Neighbor’s Landmark!” We have to grant each other the right to our own life, to our own business, to our own way of doing things—and we cannot be so sensitive to what the other is doing that every little thing impacts us and interferes with our life: “MAMMA! HE’S LOOKING AT ME!!!” 05/08/2012
  12. White Flame Azalea, Blue Ridge Parkway near Tuggle Gap, VA—April, 2012 — We have this idea of how everyone should be. Call it the Perfect Human Being. I have this idea that we should put it to a vote. Alan Watts, remember him? was a Bodhisattva in the eyes of, let’s say, the entire eastern world. That’s a lot of people. They get to vote, don’t they? They would vote for Alan Watts as being a Perfect Human Being, a savior, come to help the rest of us to eternal satisfaction. And he was also an alcoholic. We have a problem with that. Not the majority of those casting a vote. They are fine with it and have no problems with contrary things being true about us at the same time. There was a drunk in my childhood who was unwelcome in any of the churches in town, but who taught the town’s boys how to fish and how to throw baseballs and footballs and dig worms and do the things that needed boys to do them. Who would be right about Otis? The church people or the boys? My point is that our idea of the Perfect Human Being that we are supposed to be is out of plumb. We need to put it in the burning barrel. Let everyone be who and how they are. That’s close enough to perfect for anyone with eyes to see. 05/08/2012
  13. Sunset Morton’s Overlook, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN—Sometimes what is needed in a situation is to get away from it. A burning building, for instance, or a relationship that has no respect for our sense of boundaries. Sizing up a situation and knowing when to leave is a critical life skill. We all know the “Uh-oh” feeling. Not all of us listen to it. Instinct and intuition are our initial guides. It is sometimes necessary to override them with intellect and reason but we have to put them aside consciously each time we do it and not ignore them completely always. We have to draw our own lines and be aware of the smooth talkers and domineering personalities who would move in, rearrange the furniture, take out walls and make a home for themselves in our life. 05/09/2012
  14. Pink Lady Slippers B&W, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 01, 2012 — It’s how we live, what we do with our life—with the moment of our living. It isn’t what we say we will do, or plan on doing. It isn’t what we believe or think. It isn’t even what happens as a result of what we do—but the results can shape and guide what we do in the next moment, can open our eyes to the impact of our doing and lead us to adjust what we do to better meet the needs of the situation as it arises. How does what we do reflect, exhibit, express the gifts that are ours to give? How does what we do serve what needs to happen in the situation of our living? How do we gauge what needs to happen? In any scene there are numerous tripod positions. Where we place the tripod (or the camera) is the single most important determinant in producing a worthy photograph. How do we know where to place the tripod? How do we know what needs to happen in the moment of our living. Our knowing in each situation is grounded in that mysterious openness, awareness, which sees, hears, perceives and understands what is happening and what needs to happen. We can’t say how we know what we know but we place the tripod here, we respond to the moment like this. Be open to knowing what needs to happen without having to know how you know or if you are right. You’ll find out when you look at the photograph. 05/-9/2012
  15. Pineville Crossing, Pineville, NC—What’s the hurry? Where are you going? When you get it all done, then what? There is always more to do. Something is always waiting. The Zen standard, “Eat when hungry, rest when tired,” suggests that the moment has its own rhythm, purpose and direction and that our place is to be open to the stirrings of the time at hand. The Greeks understood time on two levels: Khronos is clock time, calendar time, time to get up, go to work, eat lunch, take your medicine… Kairos is the right time, the opportune time, the time to act, the time a tomato ripens or a peach falls to the ground… Eating when hungry has no need of a clock to tell you it is time to eat. What does a clock know? Learn to read the moment—to know what time it is now, to know what needs us to do it now—not because it is on our to-do list but because now is the time to do what needs to be done now. If you have to have a list to direct your life, make sure a time for listening is included which will allow what you hear to override everything else on it. 05/10/2012
  16. Rhyolite Bank, NV—Rhyolite is a Ghost Town created by a mining boom and bust, near Death Valley National Park—In the Lord’s Prayer, the petition, “Deliver us from evil,” means deliver us from the evil we might do and deliver us from the evil that might be done to us. Do you think more evil is done in the name of evil or in the name of good? Deliver us from evil also means deliver us from doing evil that we think is good. 05/10/2012
  17. Dugger’s Creek Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 —Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Healing on the Sabbath was strictly forbidden by the scriptures of Jesus’ day. Jesus violated the Word of God of his day. Jesus said, “You have heard it said but I say unto you,” replacing the Holy Word with His Word. Jesus calls us to follow him. The question is, Are we going to heal on the Sabbath or not? 05/11/2012
  18. Farm Road Fog 02, Jim Dollar, Yadkin River Valley, NC—May 11, 2012 —We are in it for what we can get out of it. Everything hangs on what we think we are getting. Don’t sell out for anything less than the total surrender to your soul! Rumi said “We are here for the soul’s joy.” What we are to get out of it is a happy little soul. If we are after anything else, we are on the wrong track. The right track is the service of soul. Anything else is a cop-out. I don’t blame us for copping out. Serving soul is the hardest work imaginable. Just thumb through the Who’s Who in Soul Work. The people in that book did not come to a Very Good End. Yet, they all came to The End that was the unavoidable conclusion of their work—and they wouldn’t forsake the work for a better end. Not one of them. When Jesus says, “Sit down and count the cost,” he is making fun of all those who want to be sure that serving soul is going to serve their advantage. He’s laughing at us. No one would ever serve soul if they think our good is more important than soul’s good. “Forget the cost!” is what he’s saying. “Do the work that is yours to do and take your pleasure in the pleasure of your soul!” The heart of the matter, presented to us by one who knows. And the people? Well, of course they say, “Give us Barabbas! He’s more our kind.” 05/12/2012
  19. Hay Making, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC—May 11, 2012 —Who does your thinking for you? You wear what so you will fit in where? You vote how so you’ll be apart of which crowd? Your interests and tastes and spending habits reflect whose ideas of how those things ought to be? Whose opinion of you matters? You can’t be happy until who, okay, whom, is happy? Who are Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased in your life? Ain’t going nowhere on the spiritual/hero’s journey without going against those who call the shots in your life. Abraham had to leave home, you know. So did Jesus. We find our own way in the company of those who are finding their own way and no one tells anyone how to do it. To say hello to who you are, you may have to say good-bye to those who are standing between you and you. Just saying… 05/12/2012
  20. Biking the Blue Ridge, Little Switzerland Tunnel, NC—May 11, 2012 —The difference between where we are and where we wish we were and where we need to be is one of the things we become aware of when we become aware. Our life comes down to how we live it. How we live it starts right here, right now. How we live this minute tells the tale. We can’t wait to start living our life the way it needs us to live it. Why wait? What are we waiting for? The Cyclops to go away? Our life needs us to live it here, now. And we are hating it? Blaming it? “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Excuses abound. There is always a reason not to live this moment the way it needs to be lived. How does it need to be lived? Probably not how we think it is supposed to be lived? Probably not how Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased think it is supposed to be lived. Living this moment as it truly needs to be lived is the first step in the Revolution. 05/13/2012
  21. Wiseman’s View Panorama, Linville Falls Wilderness, Grandfather District, Pisgah National Forest near Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 —The path opens before those who start walking. We can’t sit in our rocker waiting for some salesman hawking spiritual journeys to ring our doorbell with brochures, maps, itineraries and tour guides to lay out the plan before us and ask our permission to sign us up, all questions answered and satisfaction guaranteed. The Way is a leap of faith. We gather ourselves and start living toward a particular destination and change direction as necessary in response to what happens along the way. If we want to be a writer, we have to pick up the pen but. That may lead us to shoeing horses or teaching third graders. We start walking and see where we go. The initiative lies with us. We cannot wait until we know what to do. We don’t know what to do until we find ourselves doing it. There is no adventure in which people know what is going to happen next and what they are going to do when it does. They make it up all the way. It starts with them stepping into the unknown, trusting themselves to their life, looking forward to seeing what happens. 05/13/2012
  22. Biking the Blue Ridge 02, Little Switzerland Tunnel, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC—September 2011 —The way it works is to stop trying to work it in your favor and to trust it to work like it needs to if you just assist it by doing what needs you to do it and see where it goes. My seventh grade English teacher would say that’s too many “it’s” in one sentence. She would be right. Sometimes it needs you to do too much of something. You can’t be telling it your English teacher told you not to. 05/13/2012
  23. Goshen Creek Cascade, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC—May 11, 2012 —The spiritual journey is the trip to who you are. The trek to the center of yourself. The path is the meandering trail of your interests. You follow you to you. If you have no interests—as is the case with “nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town”—you have no hope. Our interests are our salvation, our life line. We find them by noticing what resonates with us, what catches our eye, what stirs our soul. It may not be what Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased think it should be. Your life is linked to your interests, not theirs. They are just another configuration of the Cyclops standing in your way, and you know what to do with the Cyclops when he looms, leering, drooling. It will become easier with practice. You’ll start looking forward to things to not let stand in your way. You’ll get better at knowing what is important, at doing what you love, at following your interests as one leads to another in an amazingly curiouser and curiouser adventure filled with wonder and delight, laughter and tears. All because you had the courage to do what calls your name. 05/14/2012
  24. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Trumpet Vine, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, Canon—May 2012 —The Buddha said, “Life is suffering.” I say life is incongruity, conflict, contradiction, discrepancy, discord, disharmony, polarity, opposition, nonsense. Life eats life (Joseph Campbell). How’s that for making sense. Something lives because something else dies. Even vegetarians depend upon the death of what they eat—and in eating grains they kill the future generation. It makes no sense. All of the old, time-honored values: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, goodness, self-discipline, grace, mercy, peace, justice, etc. are espoused by those who have to kill to eat. You can’t make sense of it. You have to live with the disparity. You have to suffer the contradiction. Life is suffering. The work is to suffer consciously. Bear the pain of the contradiction consciously. Stand within the tension of the polarities. Be conscious of it—aware of it. With the anguish of awareness comes the recognition of the human predicament. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The necessary response is not to run from this knowledge—not to hide from it, not to deny it, not to pretend it is not so—and not to denounce it, reject it, and refuse to accept the terms of the conditions of life—but to embrace it, affirm it, say YES! to it and voluntarily immerse ourselves in it as full participants in the experience of being alive. We cannot make sense of it, understand it, make it palatable. We can recognize it for what it it, see what is being asked of us and live within the contradictions as those who would bring compassion and peace and all the other values to bear upon the time and place of our living—the human gift to the human condition.
  25. The Fence Post, Buttercups, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA—May 01, 2012 —One thing leads to another and you have an interesting, meaningful, life just by following your interests. But. To have an interesting life, you have to have interests. You have to be interested in life, in living, in being alive. To be dead to life is to be dead before you die. Why would you want to do that? That is the height of arrogance: “If life won’t be lived on my terms, I’ll have nothing to do with it! I will swell up and pout and sit right here in my chair and GLARE at the world!” That’s stupid. A lot of people opt for it. You can be angry at the world or interested in it. Your call all the way. But. Angry is stupid. Dying before you are dead is stupid. You are here only once, so far as we know, (theories about 84,000 reincarnations don’t count for knowledge no matter how many people embrace and espouse them). Why not make the most of it? I say live while you can by being interested in the things that interest you about your life, and die with cookies in the oven and crumbs on your plate! 05/15/2012
  26. Woods Lily, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC—April, 2012 — I don’t know what the name of this flower is. “Woods Lily” will do until I look it up or you tell me what it is. — Doctrine is superfluous, as in extra baggage, unnecessary weight. All that counts is kindness and compassion. Believe whatever enables you to be kind and compassionate. That’s my best advice. 05/15/2012
  27. Farm Road Fog 05, Yadkin County, NC—May 11, 2012 — Ingenuity, imagination, creativity, courage, persistence and faith in our life are the qualities that are required to move us past stuck places into the life that is waiting to be lived. If you are going to believe in anything, believe in your life—in what needs you to live it. Stop believing that you were born into a throw-a-way life, that you have a life that isn’t worth living, that nothing good can come from this old life… Nothing good could come from Nazareth, remember? The stone the builders reject becomes the chief cornerstone, remember? Give your life a chance. No! More than that—give your life YOU! Trust yourself to it. See where it goes. Start with this—begin noticing what you dismiss, discount, ignore, reject, refuse, ridicule—and all the reasons you use to not do what your life is inviting you to do. Start with seeing how you are blocking your way, then get out of your way. You are perfectly capable of taking over from there—IF you will just get out of your way. 05/16/2012
  28. Yellow Flame Azalea, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 01, 2012 — The Blue Ridge is home for many of us who have never lived there. We find what we are looking for in the connections the Parkway affords—with nature, the ancestral peoples, the cosmos, ourselves—and in time spent alone on the trails, at the overlooks, or driving along the way. Many of us are more who we are there than anywhere else in our lives. “In the desert you can remember your name, ‘cause there ain’t no one to for to give you no pain.” Maybe that’s it with the Blue Ridge. They can’t get to us there and we can find our way to what matters. And, maybe, it’s something else entirely. “Home” covers a lot of possibilities. Home—the way home ought to be—is where we belong. Where we can relax, rest easy, reflect on what is important, and find what we need to do what needs us to do it. May that be so with us all—a virtual family flung far and wide, but knowing home when we see it. 05/16/2012
  29. Rhododendron at Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA—May 17, 2012 —As we grow older, or poorer, or sicker, or less fortunate our circumstances will increasingly restrict our choices. How we respond to that will make all the difference. The last choice to go is the choice of how to respond to the lack of choices. When that one goes, it’s pretty much all over. Until then it matters how we respond to the constriction of our life. I suggest sitting with the damn reality. Sit down with this manifestation of the Cyclops. Look it over. Look into its ugly red eye. See it clearly. Become fully aware of it and the circumstances that gave it birth, that brought it into being. Become fully aware of the impact of not enough good choices. Don’t do anything. Just be with the reality of your situation. Then look into what needs to happen. What is your situation asking of  you? Of all your possible responses which ones are the most appropriate, fitting, proper, necessary, needed? Continue to sit with the allness of the situation, waiting for a shift to happen within you. Waiting for a door to open to the part of you that is capable of rising to any occasion. Waiting for the right thing to do to become obvious. When it does, do it. 05/17/2012
  30. Fog in the Valleys 03, Blue Ridge Parkway near Volunteer Gap, VA — May 17, 2012 — May you always see things as they are and do what needs to be done about them in each situation as it arises. Here’s a tip for you: We find the wherewithal to see and to do by talking things over with the right kind of people (Who are NOT Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased). The right kind of people form a community of innocence for us—innocent in the sense that it isn’t trying to get us to do or refrain from doing anything other than seeing, hearing, understanding how things are and what needs to be done about it. With the right kind of clarity and the right kind of courage and the right kind of company we have what it takes to do what needs us to do it. May we never lack for any of these things! 05/18/2012
  31. Yellow Poplar Blossom, Blue Ridge Parkway near Groundhog Mountain, VA — May 17, 2012 — Enlightenment is a shift in perspective. Growing up is a shift in perspective. Growing up is a form of enlightenment. Enlightenment is a form of growing up. It is all contingent on how we see things. How we see things is related to how we look. But. We don’t get there by trying. Having your mother yell at you: “Why don’t you grow up!!??” didn’t help with your maturation process—and indicated a hitch in hers. All we can do is wait. We wait consciously, deliberately, intentionally, with awareness and attentiveness. We wait knowing that we are waiting for the shift in perspective that transforms our life, or at least turns it toward the good. The next time someone asks you what you are going, tell them you are waiting for your perspective to shift so you can live your life as it needs you to live it. When they ask you how long you think it will take, tell them longer than you want it to but not as long as you are afraid it will be. 05/18/2012
  32. Appalachian Homestead, Blue Ridge Parkway near Doughton Park, VA—April 2012 — The tension of our polarities clarifies the position of each pole. Each pole needs the other to know better who, or what, it is and is not. We come forth in response to what is not us—and may be surprised to discover, as with yin and yang, there is a little of who we are not tucked away inside who we are (and vice versa). 05/18/2012
  33. Rhododendron at Mabry Mill 02, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA—May 17, 2012 — May you have enough of the right kind of time! The right kind of time is squaring up time, coming to terms with the way things are and what can be done about it—with what needs you to do it—with what your gifts are, your choices are, your work is, your art is and how you are going to work it all out. Working it out is the task of the left side of our brain. The right side presents us with who we are. The left side has to figure out what to do about it. The problem is, the left side is not content with its role and wants to run the entire operation. The right kind of time provides us with the kind of reflection, rumination, consideration needed to keep the left side of our brain in its place. As the arbitrator between the hemispheres, we have to regularly remind both: “You don’t get to choose your choices! Now, we (that would be the rest of us) need your help here in doing what is ours to do!” It takes enough of the right kind of time to keep ourselves on the path, in place, and going along on the Hero’s Journey. May we all have everything it takes to do what needs us to do it with the gifts we have to offer! 05/19/2012
  34. Home in the Woods, Not really—this is the gift shop and visitor’s center of the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest at Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 — Knowing what business we are in keeps us centered, focused, grounded, in sync and aligned with that which is deepest, best and truest about us (What is truest about us is what is true and what is also true about us—which is quite different than what is not true at all about us). Keeps us from going where we have no business being. Keeps us from doing what we have no business doing. If you are going to know anything, know what your business is, and isn’t. 05/19/2012
  35. Dugger’s Creek Falls 03, Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 — There is more to all of us than meets the eye—more to us than meets our own eye. See as much of you as you can see before you die. That’s my best advice. Take all of you into account. Poll the whole crowd for their ideas, interests, needs and desires. See what they have to say before you drag them all, bucking and snorting, down roads they don’t want to go, into places they know they have no business being. Listen to YOU is what I’m saying. Act with YOU in mind. The rest of you will appreciate the kind consideration. 05/19/2012
  36. View from Groundhog Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, VA — May 17, 2012 — The foundation of the revolution is eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands. Develop those babies and you turn the world upside down, inside out, and you are likely to disturb the sleep of the sleeping ones—which is the true work of revolution! 05/20/2012
  37. Field of Yellow, Price Park Butterfly Meadow, Greensboro, NC—May 18, 2012 — The sleeping ones are asleep. Yelling at them will not wake them up. If you want to wake someone up spend time with people who are more awake than you are. The catch here is that most of us think we are wide awake and don’t know anyone more awake than we are. See what I mean about waking people up? It’s hard from all angles. 05/20/2012
  38. Rhododendron Hillside, Blue Ridge Parkway near Thunder Hill Overlook, NC—May 11, 2012 — When you look through your camera’s view finder or at the LCD screen, do you see what you are looking at? Do you like what you see? Seeing what you are looking at means noticing the edges to make sure they are clean, that is absent of tree branches or hat brims or fingers. It means noticing if there is anything too bright or too dark and whether a utility pole is sprouting from someone’s head. Liking what you see means does it make you smile. Don’t just take a photo of tunnel view at Yosemite because everyone else does and you are expected to. Take one that you like. Think about that. What would it take for you to like what you see? The emotional connection between you and the scene you see will be evident in the photo. If it is a ho-hummer for you when you click the shutter button, it will be a ho-hummer when you view the print. Having an interest in the scene and liking what you see are two of the key ingredients in taking photos you’ll be proud of. 5/21/2012
  39. Pilot Mountain BW, Hwy 52 near Pinnacle, NC—May 17, 2012 —The truth of a person’s position varies in inverse proportion to the length and passion of the person’s argument. Live without having to defend, explain, justify, excuse your way with life. If you are always having to defend, etc. what you do or the way you do it, you have to begin to question the capacity of the people you hang with to see, hear, understand and be any help at all along the way. Help consists of grace, compassion, kindness, generosity, acceptance, charity, peace, gentleness, tenderness and the like. The harder someone is to please and the more you have to work to make them happy, the less helpful they are able to be. Choosing the right kind of friends is as necessary as choosing the right path. You cannot live the right life with the wrong people advising you. 05/22/2012
  40. Appalachian Meadow, Blue Ridge Parkway near Volunteer Gap, VA—May 17, 2012 —We live our life doing what our life asks of us—enjoying what can be enjoyed, loving what can be loved, grieving what must be grieved, mourning what is to be mourned, practicing our art, doing our work, tending our business, bringing forth the gift that is ours to offer, helping one another along the way and working out what has to be worked out in the service of the true good of all. We loose sight of the true good of all from time to time, but it is always hoping we remember it and live in light of it. 05/22/2012
  41. Blue Ridge Tree, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC—May 12, 2012 —Everything we call truth is borne out by our experience. The Buddhists aren’t lying about what they call truth. Neither are the Christians. Or the Muslims. Or the Jews. And they all think their truth is truer than the truth of any of the others. Our truth we call truth. Their truth we call falsehood, or error, or delusion, or heresy. We are Enlightened. They are the Infidel. “Hell, Jim,” said the farmer standing in his cotton field talking about racism, “This isn’t the way I see things—this is the way things ARE!” Our point of view isn’t just a point of view—it is the absolute, unadulterated, TRUTH. And we aren’t changing our minds—that would be to renounce all that we hold dear. THEY have to change THEIR minds, and we have to talk them into doing it. We have to CONVERT them. It would be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous. It’s all points of view. And a point of view is only valid to the extent that it enables us to exhibit the values that bless and grace everyone who comes our way, regardless of their point of view. 05/23/2012
  42. Clouds, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 01, 2012 —Experience is self-validating. We take experience to be the solid ground of truth. We know “it”—whatever “it” may be—is true because we experience the truth of “it.” This simple test of the validity of “it” fails to take into account the perception which interprets, evaluates, and determines what an experience is—what an experience means. We cannot experience what we do not perceive. What trumps, or transforms, perception? Inquiry, curiosity, examination, exploration, imagination… We walk around the perception, probing, prodding, wondering how many different ways there might be to understand the thing that has happened—and what inclines us toward one way and away from the others. Why do we see the way we see and not some other way instead? If we were raised in a Hindu family, how would we see a hamburger? Why do we suppose that our view of a hamburger is superior to that of a Hindu family’s view? When we confuse the way we see things with the way things are, perception goes over into delusion. Nothing is more arrogant or willfully ignorant than a perception that refuses to take itself into account. 05/23/2012
  43. Buffalo Mountain 02, Blue Ridge Parkway, near Volunteer Gap, VA—May 17, 2012 — 99 Our life is successful to the degree that we size things up accurately and respond appropriately. Learning to read situations as they develop around us is an essential life skill. We get a lot of practice and make a lot of mistakes, but the hope is that we get it down over time—seeing things as they are and responding to them in ways that are right for the occasion. Too often we run from the responsibility of deciding what to do on the run, and take refuge in The Rules. The Ten Commandments are hide-outs for those who will not make the call regarding what needs to be done in the moment of their living. Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you!” and healed on the Sabbath and hung out with outcasts, “sinners and tax collectors,” and prostitutes. No rule can know what needs to be done when, where. We have to override the rules in responding appropriately to what the moment is asking of us, trusting our read of the moment to be right—knowing that we will get another chance to get it right in the next moment. 05/24/2012
  44. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., X Wetlands Sunrise, Four Mile Greenway, Charlotte, NC—December 26, 2011 — There is something that I indicate by placing my closed fist against my chest at the level of my heart—call it the Core, or God, or the Holy Spirit, or the Christ or the Buddha within… I don’t care what you call it, just know that it is there and that it knows and it needs you to assist it in what it needs to do—that it needs you to trust it with your life, and your reputation, and everything you value. You have the time left for living to work out your relationship with it, to know when it’s nudging you in one direction and away from another, to know how to read it and listen to it and do its bidding. Here’s a tip for you: Thinking is going to get in the way. This is not rational, logical, or reasonable. You will never make sense of it. Don’t even try. Joseph Campbell tells a story about a Native American tribe that would tell its young men on their way to manhood, “When you leave home to follow your vision, the birds of the air will paste you with their droppings. Do not pause even to wipe it off.” Same thing goes with you following the guidance of your Center. There is no Plan for our life. There is only the drift of the current of our life in each situation, a current that changes its direction and flow in response to what is happening then, there, calling us to trust ourselves to it and see where it goes. May we be so bold! Doing it this way in one situation and that way in the next, without pausing to explain, defend, justify or excuse our actions—living the contradictions and letting our light shine!05/24/2012
  45. Dugger’s Creek Falls 01, Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 — The help we want—the help we have in mind—is not the help we receive. Our idea of help is in the form of wealth, prosperity, privilege, power and control—help to make our life easier. The help we get is help with the work that is ours to do. The Core, the Center, the Ground, the Source needs us to do its work. We find the help we need to serve its work, which is our work—the work that is truly ours to do. Its need is our work. Our primary relationship is with the Source. Every other thing serves, or helps us serve, that relationship—or severs it. Our only question to answer—again and again, throughout our life—is “Whose side are we on?” 05/25/2012
  46. Reeds at Sunset, Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, Abbot Lake, VA—May 27, 2012  — We are all moved by something. We are all moved by something different at different points in our life. Different from what moves other people, and different from what moved us at earlier times. The universal law of soul, spirit, heart and life is: Move toward what moves you! See where it goes! If you are ever going to keep a commandment, keep this one. The people who aren’t moved by anything have learned—have been taught—not to be moved by anything have no soul, even if they presume to be holy people. Life is movement. When you do not allow yourself to move, you are dead, even if you are 98.6 and breathing. The Hero’s Journey begins when you move toward what moves you—particularly if everyone you know says, “What are you dong that for?” 05/29/2012
  47. Catawba Rhododendron, Blue Ridge Parkway near Peaks of Otter, VA—May 27, 2012 —Here are two more commandments everyone should adhere to: Live to protect, honor, respect and encourage one another in the exploration and expression of who we are. Do nothing to restrict and inhibit the good faith exploration and expression of who we are, and do everything to expand, nourish and encourage it. What a place the world would be if everyone did those things well! 05/29/2012
  48. Hay In The Field, Near Bedford, VA—May 25, 2012 — Our place with each other is to keep each other safe for the work that is ours to do, the journey that is ours to undertake—which is the exploration and expression of ourselves so that we might develop the gifts and interests that are ours to use in the service of the good of the whole, and become who we are over the course of our life. How many people have you known who saw it as their place to keep you safe? How can so many of us not understand the basics of life together? If you are going to fix something, fix that! 05/30/2012
  49. Iris, Greensboro, NC—May 24, 2012 — Our life—the life that is truly our life to live, the life that needs us to live it—is always being put on hold by the circumstances of our living. We are always having to get back to what needs us to do it after we take care of what must be done. Necessity overrides all other considerations. Our role is to see to it that what must be done must be done in order to do what needs to be done. We have to examine and reexamine our choices. How is what we are doing serving the life that is our life to live? Are the bills we incur the right bills? We have one focus, one burning, desperate, need—to find our life and live it. All that we call necessary must serve that necessity. 05/31/2012
  50. Shafts of Light 01, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN—May 30, 2012 — We need help with our life. We need help knowing what our life is and living it. We need help all along the way. If you take a second and look around, you will see there is no one here but us. We find the help we need in each other, or we don’t find it at all. That being the case, it seems to me that we would work as hard at being helpful as at finding the help we need. I must be missing something. 05/31/2012
  51. Blackberry Leaves, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC—May, 2012 — 100 All the religions tell us how it is and what to do about it. They all spell it all out. Answer all the questions. Leave nothing unexplained. You discount or ignore what they say to your everlasting peril. Religion takes all the fun out of it. It would be like you taking my camera away from me and handing me a book of Ansel Adams’ pictures. Telling me to be happy with the way Ansel did it because that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. Giving me the religion of Ansel kills my soul. Giving me any religion kills my soul. Religion kills our soul. Straps them down on beds of nails called facts. Refuses to allow them the freedom to explore their own interest and joy. Facts dine on souls. Souls dine on laughter and imagination. Facts destroy both. Souls live to play. Facts say, “No Playing Allowed!” Souls enjoy wondering about possibilities and dancing with dreams. Religion says, “Here. Believe this. It will make you happy.” Souls ARE happy! And only want us to find whatever the equivalent of a camera is for each of us and go take pictures. The way only we can do it. 05/31/2012
  52. Reeds BW, Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, VA—May 29, 2012 — 98 What are your contradictions? The Spiritual Journey/Hero’s Journey/Growing Up consists, let’s say, entirely of squaring yourself up with—coming to terms with—your contradictions. We have to recognize and bear the pain of our contradictions, our ambivalences, our two-or-more-ways-at-the-same-time-ness. The work of wholeness is the work of integrating our opposites, or, of allowing them to peacefully coexist side-by-side in each other’s company. What is true about us lives bound eternally with what is also true about us. We are Yin and Yang to the core. Face up to it! Live your contradictions! In complete, defiant, rejection of those who tell you you must be who you “Really Are”—one way only always and forever. When we live to be one way only, we deny, repress, suppress who we also are, except that everyone but us sees very clearly who we pretend not to be. We Really Are different within! We have to recognize that and work out the differences—being who we are and who we also are in ways that are appropriate to the occasion in each situation as it arises—never mind how we are supposed to be! 05/31/2012
  53. Trees in Fog 07, Sioux Falls, SD—March 28, 2012 — An iPhone photo—Live so as to be worth talking to, that’s my best advice. Live so as to have something to say. Live so as to have had an interesting life—that would be a life that interests YOU, that YOU find interesting, that YOU are interested in. If you are interested in your own life, other people will be as well—and you will be interested in their life, if they are, if they are worth talking to. It is one of our obligations to each other, to be sources of good conversation. 06/01/2012
  54. Sharp Top Reflection, Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, Abbot Lake, VA—May 25, 2012 —You can think of success in terms of accomplishment, achievement and acquisition if you want to. I’m going to think of it in terms of participation. Life comes along and I step into it, engage it, embrace it, say “Yes!” to it and “Show me what you got and we’ll see what I can do with it!” A successful life, in my book, is a life you live the way it needs to be lived—the way only you can live it—the way nobody could live it better than you. 06/01/2012
  55. Tree at Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway, VA—May 30, 2012 — They think there is a formula and they think they have found it. I think there is a formula and I think I have found it. We disagree about the nature of the formula. Their formula guarantees them that they never have to worry about mine. Their formula stipulates if they do this, and this, and this they can avoid that and that, and enjoy that and that, forever. My formula stipulates if I do this, this will happen but there are no certainties regarding any of the that’s. My formula states there are no immunities. Anything can happen at any time. The Cyclops comes out of nowhere, grinning. There is no protection, no exemption, no impunity. There is only grinning back and stepping forward to meet the Cyclops again. That’s my formula, by the way. Grin back, step forward, see what you can do, see where it goes. 06/02/2012
  56. Roan Mountain Rhododendron, Cherokee National Forest, Carver’s Gap, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN—May 30, 2012 — 97 We need to form alliances with people who can help us with our life, who can help us be alive—whom we can help with their life. We need allies in the work to be who we are, to do what is ours to do. We are all looking for a life, for LIFE. We want to be alive before we die. We only need to connect with the life that is looking for us—and we need help making that connection. We need help overcoming the opposition, the resistance, that comes at us from all sides—as though it is the worst form of sin and insolence to even think of taking up the work of living our own life, particularly since there are so many around who are ready to tell us how to live. What are we thinking, hanging out with people who cannot help us with our life—and I don’t mean help us get ahead—who cannot help us be alive? Who are the people who bring you to life? Who are the people who kill your soul, deplete your enthusiasm for life and leave you mostly dead? You are going to have a difficult time being more alive than the people you spend time with. And don’t call them friends if time with them leaves you more dead than alive. Find the people who help you find and live the life that is your life to live. Learning to help one another be alive is one of the keys to a vibrant, vital life. 05/02/2012
  57. Carver’s Gap, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN—May 30, 2012 — Photographers belong to the light, are owned by the light. They have to go when the light is right, forget their other obligations. We have to understand that we are owned by our LIFE, the life that is truly our life to live. We have to go when LIFE beckons. We put off too easily the life that is ours to live. We embrace too quickly the life we want to be ours to live. We are Adam, we are Eve, in Eden. Forget what’s right for us, we know what we want! 06/02/2012
  58. Reeds at Sunset 02, Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, VA—May 29, 2012 — 96 The most important thing is to be alive in the time left for living—to live the life that is ours yet to live. This could certainly pass for the Categorical Imperative in that it is imperative across all categories and concerns. Even when we choose to sacrifice ourselves, as Jesus did, for some cause greater than we are, the cause is really our integrity—we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t sacrifice ourselves! We live to serve the life that is our life to live. We can’t just make up some life here and say it is ours because we like it. We don’t get to choose our life any more than we get to choose our choices. Our choices are our choices. Our LIFE is our LIFE. Oh, sure. We can live just any old life—any old life that is handed to us off the shelf, or one that we are entranced by like a child following some Pied Piper—but not with meaning, zest, vitality, enthusiasm and joy. That belongs to the one that is ours to live. We have to trust ourselves to our LIFE and see where it goes. It may not seem so good but it may be good. We owe it to ourselves to find out. We cannot die not knowing. 06/02/2012
  59. Carver’s Gap 02, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN—May 30, 2012 — 95 Our LIFE—the life that is our life to live, the life that is waiting on us to live it in the time left for living—will eat our old life alive. The way we have been doing things will no longer do. The shift over from life to LIFE is not just a matter of tweaking this and adjusting that. “The OLD has passed away (Dead, Gone, Kaput, No More, Out Of The Picture Entirely), behold the NEW has come, behold I make ALL THINGS NEW!” The NEW supplants, replaces, erases the OLD. Oh, you’re still married (if you were before), you still have your job, you still have your dog and cat—but now they don’t have you! You have to work out your responsibilities and obligations to both worlds—this is called walking two paths at the same time—but now you are free and responsible and obligated to working out the conflicts and differences. “Leave the dead to bury the dead. Whoever puts her/his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of heaven (that would be the LIFE that is your life to live)!” We have to work it out. Another manifestation of the Cyclops blocking our way. Are we going to live the LIFE that is ours to live or not? Are we going to work it out or not? Are we going to die in order to live or not? 06/03/2012
  60. Carver’s Gap 03, Cherokee National Park, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN—May 30, 2012 — 94 We have to live it in order to see it, get it, understand. We can’t just talk about it. Listen to lectures. Watch videos. Read up on it. Memorize creeds. Follow directions. Do what we are told. Step in the black footprints all our life long. Life has to hit us between the eyes before we can see things as they are. Life has to plant a big juicy wet one right on our kisser. We wake up by being shocked awake. We can’t hit the snooze button a dozen times and yawn while we wait for breakfast in bed. Waking up is a shock to all systems. Our neat little way of arranging our life with its plans and dreams and stepping stones to glory goes “Poof.” We wake up to the realization that things are not the way we have been told they are, the way we thought they were, the way we think they ought to be. There are contradictions everywhere! When we wake up we wake up to contradictions everywhere! We have to work it all out. With our eyes open. Another term for waking up is “the shock of betrayal.” We thought this and discovered that. The truth of reality is “Not this! Not that!” How are things REALLY? “Not this! Not that!” There is no absolute, unchanging, constant, steady REALITY. It’s all in motion, dynamic, alive. We go to bed in one world and get up in another. Happens all the time. We turn a corner and nothing is ever again what it used to be. We have our formulas and our recipes and our pat little answers and it’s all a box of smoke. There are no guarantees, no immunities. This is the Adventure. The Mystery. The Wonder. The Hero’s Journey. Our life is the treasure that we live our life looking for. Wake up! Wake up! Live your LIFE! Be ALIVE in the time left for living! 06/03/2012
  61. Dugger’s Creek Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls, NC—May 11, 2012 — 93 Every living thing knows its thing and does it, knows its business, and tends it. Roses do rose things. Hummingbirds do Hummingbird things. They never get their things mixed up. They never tire of their things and start doing dog or gorilla things just for kicks, or because they wish they were dogs or gorillas. Then we get to human beings. Human beings dream of being something other than who they are. They long for things they wish were their things or are handed things they are told are their things and lose track of what their thing actually is. We don’t know what our business is. We do what we are told or pick something that looks good or looks like we could do it and off we go. We spend way too much of our life finding out what our thing is not, what we have no business doing, without any notion of how to find out what our thing, our business, is. Every living thing but us knows its thing and does it. We start out at a disadvantage, and by now, have no time to waste. We have to know we are looking for our thing and look for it. Start by asking for help from the internal guides. Seriously. Say, “Help!” and mean it. When you go to bed tonight ask for a dream that will point you toward the life that is yours to live or the gift that is yours to give or the knack that is yours to develop or the ability that is yours to serve. And see what happens. 06/03/2012
  62. Summer Idyl, Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter, Abbot Lake, VA—May 26, 2012 — 92 It’s a terrible thing when things don’t happen like they are supposed to. The more significant the thing, the more terrible it is. We have been dealing with some form of terrible all our life long, as individuals and as a species. Every individual, every species, has. It’s one thing we have in common with every living thing. When dealing with terrible, we have to sit with it for a while. When life steamrolls us, we just have to lie there and gather ourselves. We’ve been steamrolled. We aren’t one of those Bozo The Clown bounce back hit me again harder toys. We are a kind and gentle human being who has been steamrolled. Lying there, we collect ourselves and call forth all our inner resources—connections that go back through millennia. We carry the strength and fortitude of generations in our genes and can rely on the compassion and grace of those who know terrible in ways we cannot imagine to restore our souls and work with us in doing what must be done to put things back together and adjust to life amid the ruins. We face the situation in the company of those who have faced similar situations, in the form of invisible ancestors and actual friends/family, asking, “What now? What next? What needs to happen here and now? How can we find what we need to do what needs to be done?” 06/04/2012
  63. Farm Road Fog 04, Yadkin River Valley, Dinkins Bottom, Yadkin County, NC—May 11, 2012 — We think we are justified in punishing people who are not like us for being not like us (The Very Idea!) even though they are not harming or threatening us in any measurable way. “Mamma, he’s looking at me!” becomes excuse enough to banish him and those like him to the far fringes of society and shun him/them forever. We can do better. Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and “Treat well the outcasts and the tax collectors and the ones society considers to be beneath consideration” (Or words to that effect). Who would be the outcasts today? They would be the ones we cast out: Homosexuals, Immigrants, the Homeless Poor—using the Bible, of all things, to justify our actions. Jesus would tell us to do better. 06/04/2012
  64. The Hydrangea Variations 01, Greensboro, NC—May 2012 — 91 When we listen with compassion and understanding to one another, we enable the other to hear what she, what he, is saying. When we hear what we are saying, we may shift our perspective to better say what we mean—to better integrate what we just said with what we said a minute ago. When we hear what we are saying we may better align contradictions, discrepancies, ambivalences, and conflicts. We grow, deepen, enlarge, expand our perspective by recognizing our own contraries and working to adjust our perspective to take them into account. It all comes with being listened to, with being heard with compassion and understanding. We possess the tools needed for the transformation of the world: Eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands. 06/04/2012
  65. The Hydrangea Variations 02, Greensboro, NC—May 2012 — 90 Life leaves its mark on us. With so many confrontations with the Cyclops—with that which stands in our way, which too often is us—it is bound to. In every situation there is what needs to be done and what we choose to do, which may, or may not, be what needs to be done. No matter. Either way, doing what needs to be done or doing what we want to do, or what we are expected to do, or what we feel like we have to do, or what we can’t see any way to not do, leaves its mark on us. We are damned (marked) if we do and damned (marked) if we don’t. Life leaves its mark on us. It the time left for living, it’s up to us to see to it that we collect the right kind of scars. We need to be paying the right price, being marked up in the service of what truly needs to be done, never mind the consequences. To do that, we need to be waking up, living with our eyes open, in the company of the right kind of people—the kind of people who can help us with our life, the life that is our life to live, who, themselves, are being marked up in the right way. After a while, alone with the struggle of trying to do right by our life, by the life that needs us to live it, that only we can live, we begin to recognize one another in the same way that alcoholics can pick out alcoholics in a room full of drinking people. Who knows how it works, but we find the people who are looking for us, and we help each other with the work that needs to be done. 06/05/2012
  66. The Hydrangea Variations 03, Greensboro, NC—May 2012 — 90 We dig ourselves into emotional holes by having opinions about things we can’t change. Our opinions make it difficult for us to do what can be done about what needs to be done about the things we cannot change. If we just go belly up in the presence of things we don’t like and can’t change—sitting in a corner facing the wall, or wrapping our arms about ourselves and rocking to and fro moaning, “Poor me! Poor me!”—we will contribute more to our difficulties than to the relief of our difficulties. Look at the opinions you have about life, about the things that happen in life, and see what you can do about seeing things without having an opinion about what you see. See things as they are and see what can be done about them and see what needs to be done of all that can be done and do it without having an opinion about any of it. Physicians in emergency rooms don’t have time to react emotionally to the situations that come through their door. They see the situation, size it up and get to work. See what you can do about living your life as though you are an emergency room physician. 06/05/2012
  67. The Hydrangea Variations 04, Greensboro, NC—May 2012 — Waking up is paying attention, being aware. Of every little thing. Notice what you dismiss, what you ignore, overlook. See what you look at but don’t see. Practice looking at whatever is before you and seeing everything about it. Practice thinking about whatever you think about and thinking of different ways to think about it. How many tripod positions are there? How many different ways of seeing something are there? Find them. Or half of them. How often do you take lazy refuge in thinking what you’ve always thought, saying what you’ve always said, doing what you’ve always done? Stop it. Think, say, do something else instead. Wake yourself up. See where it goes. 06/05/2012
  68. The Hydrangea Variations 05, Greensboro, NC—May 2012 — 89 Joy is the soul’s love child. Turn your soul loose in your life and your soul will find the joy. And the laughter. And the exuberance. The dancing and the singing. That’s all soul stuff. Enjoying itself is what soul does best. The only thing blocking that is us. We have to get out of soul’s way and let soul show us how to do it. Rules? Our parents invented rules to keep our soul from embarrassing them. Society, you know. What will people say? Gotta keep people happy. Never mind if our souls shrivel and die. Long as people are happy, that’s what counts. And so the recurring question: Whose side are you on? Show it by dancing into the Post Office the next time you mail a package. 06/05/2012
  69. Rhododendron at Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA—May 17, 2012 — 88 No one can do our work for us. No one could be Jesus but Jesus. No one can be you but you. Photographers have to take pictures of things they like to look at. Wouldn’t do to tell me to take photographs of socks. I’d last maybe two pairs. What do you like? What brings you to life? Spend time with those thing. See if they lead you to the work that is yours to do. But here’s the thing about the work that is ours to do. It’s work, not some lark that we pick up when we feel like it and put down when we want to. Part of my work is writing. I have to write what needs to be written when it needs to be written whether I want to or not. Whether I feel like it or not. Say, like at 4am. I can’t put it off until I’ve had my coffee and I don’t have anything better to do. Don’t be thinking your work is some romantic slide to glory. It’s work. And no one can do it for you. If it is to be done, you have to do it. And it has to be done, you know. Everything rides on it. 06/06/2012
  70. Rhododendron Trunks 02, Pisgah National Forest, Roan Mountain, NC—June 6, 2012 — 87 If you are burdened with guilt chunk some responsibility. I’ve never known an overly guilty person who wasn’t bound by responsibility for every little thing. Oh, if they would only try harder! Not! In order to bless the world with who you are, you have to understand the world can get along just fine without you. Once you know that your managing all your responsibilities is not necessary to the functioning of life around you, you can be free to offer what is truly, uniquely, yours to offer and stop spending/wasting your time doing all the things that don’t belong to you, plagued by guilt for all you are not doing or failing to do well enough. Start under-functioning. Become increasingly helpless. Forget to wake the kids up for school, say twice a week. They will begin waking themselves up. Apologize profusely. Say you don’t know what’s happening to you. You used to be so dependable. Now you can barely tie your shoes. You must be getting old. Let the right things go. Do the right things well. Learn to distinguish between the right things and all the other things. Fumble your way into doing the things that are yours to do with the major amount of your time and energy and giving the lesser amount to all of the other things you once tended to. The world will be blessed, and you will come alive for the first time in a long time. 06/07/2012
  71. Secondary Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC—May 06, 2012 — 86 The road never ends. The challenges do not stop. The journey is always waiting to resume the next day. So stop thinking about quitting, propping up your feet, having drinks delivered on a silver tray, having it made. Wishful thinking is the Siren’s song. Spend time there and you never come back. The focus is on each situation as it arises and what needs to happen there. We have what it takes to rise to any occasion. We are here to wear out the Cyclops—who is our partner, really, in the work that is ours to do, bringing forth who we are, expanding, deepening, enlarging ourselves to discover gifts we didn’t know we had, and would have never known if it weren’t for the Cyclops and the road that never ends. 06/07/2012
  72. Sunflower on White 2012, Wright Farm, Rockingham County, NC—May 7, 2012 — To say that our work is to be who we are is not to place ourselves at the egocentric center of our world and reduce the significance of everyone else relative to ourselves. We become who we are in right relationship with one another. AND as we become who we are, we become as everyone else is. In right relationship with everyone else, we all are deepened, expanded, enlarged past the point of who we each think we have the ability to become. We surprise ourselves at the depths we are capable of reaching. We all say that we have the capacity to be the best of people and the worst of people. We all have the capacity to be everyone—to be Jesus, to be the Buddha, to be our mother, our father, Hitler, Gandhi… The potential is there. In right relationship with everyone else, we integrate, reconcile, square up with—live in sync with—who we are and who we also are. We become one with all (Or one with everything as the old joke goes). Just think about this if you have trouble sleeping tonight. The sure cure for insomnia.  06/07/2012
  73. Sunflower on Black 2012, Wright Farm, Rockingham County, NC—May 7, 2012 — 85 We integrate and reconcile. This is called “Making Peace.” We make peace. Within and without. We love our enemies. Our enemies are within and without. Call them “conflicts” instead of “enemies.” Call them “contradictions.” Call them “ambivalences.” Call them “opposites.” And invite them to the table—the great feast of peace and reconciliation—and work it out. How do we work out left and right, gay and straight, Democrat and Republican, Tea Party and Progressives, black and white, male and female, darkness and light, and all of the polarities there may be? It would be easier to just kill our enemies and be done with it—except that only takes care of our enemies without. What do we do with the inner conflicts and opposites? How do we work those out? Drugs, sex and alcohol help us take our mind off the problem. For a while. They really deepen the problem. Create emotional waves that heave and roll and sink the boat, the little boat of consciousness afloat upon the Great Sea of Life. If we knew what we were doing and where our best interest lies, we would be pulling up a chair at the table, asking those gathered there for their take on things, trusting the conversation to lead us all—together—along the way. 06/08/2012
  74. Hay Field Panorama, Wright Farm, Rockingham County, NC — June 8, 2012 — We have to talk ourselves into doing most of the things that need to be done. No one volunteers to go up against the Cyclops. We grow up against our will. The Hero’s Journey is undertaken by those who have neither the intention nor the desire to be a hero. They’re just trying to get to the bottom of that which will not leave them alone. 06/08/2012
  75. Hemlock Woods 03, Carver’s Gap, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN— June 6, 2012 — 84 Be the container of your own emotional reactivity. We can invent things to react to and spend our lives responding to things we are afraid will happen or are happening or might happen or will never happen or can’t happen… Contain your anxiety, fear, anger, depression. Don’t let it spill over into your life. Don’t pour it all over those who share your space. Hold it within. You owe it to yourself and all sentient beings to see if you have anything to be afraid of, to be anxious about, to fear. What if Gay Marriage ISN’T the end of all that is good and worthy in the world? Bear the pain that you create through the spin you apply and then imagine to be reality. Live to see if things are as bad as you are sure they are, or will be. If they are, trust yourself to deal with them. If they are not, celebrate far into the night. 06/09/2012
  76. Otter Creek Spillway, Blue Ridge Parkway near James River Locks, VA — May 26, 2012 — 83 There is no plan for waking people up and turning the world around. There is only working to wake up ourselves and seeing where it goes. We see what we can wake up to today—what we can see today—what we can realize today. There is no one great slap on the forehead when everything becomes clear. Everything becomes clear in time but not the same time. By the time we get this, we have forgotten that and have to get it again. It is not a straight, linear path with sequential steps that we are on. We roam and wander about, going “Wow!” a lot, but when it comes to helping others, we can only listen them to the depth they are capable of hearing. If they talk without hearing what they are saying, there isn’t anything we can do for them. When we find someone who is able to listen us to the depth we are capable of hearing, we can help each other to say as much as each can hear, which is as awake as we can be at this point in our life. We have to live longer to wake up more. The rest of them are on their own. Until they can hear what they are saying, we can’t tell them anything they don’t already know. 06/10/2012
  77. On Roan Mountain 05, Pisgah National Forest, Rhododendron Gardens, NC — June 6, 2012 — We talk about what we can talk about with different people—and don’t talk about what we can’t talk about. We can’t talk about everything with anybody. Some things are nobody’s business. Not even our therapist is privy to every little thing. We are genuine/authentic with some people and superficial with some people. Some people cannot hear some things we might say. Others can hear whatever we say, but some things are private and personal and we choose not to say them. So don’t think that everybody should be able to listen carefully with understanding to everything you have to say. Some people cannot. Other people can. What some can hear cannot be heard by all. It’s a matter of discernment. Say what you can to those who can receive what you have to say, and keep looking to find those who can hear whatever you choose to tell them. They will help right your boat and find your center for the next thing along the way. 06/10/2012
  78. Wild Arrangement, Roan Mountain Highlands, Cherokee National Forest, near Carver’s Gap, TN — June 6, 2012 — 82 If you want to wake up, find the people who can listen you to the truth of who you are—which includes who you also are—and start talking. We wake ourselves up by hearing what we have to say. The people who are soundly asleep are the people who are telling everyone else what they need to hear. That isn’t how waking up works. WE have to hear what WE are saying—all the way down to the truth of who we are, and also are. We can’t get there without waking up. And, when we wake up, that’s what we wake up to: Who we are—which includes who we also are. Of course, everybody thinks they already know who they are. We are asleep, dreaming that we know who we are. 06/11/2012
  79. Shafts of Light 02, Hemlock Forest, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN — May, 2012 — We have to work to do the work that is ours to do. The work to do the work is balancing, reconciling, negotiating, integrating all of the contrary claims upon our time and attention. It’s so hard! Don’t let that stop you! Just because it’s hard is no reason not to do it! Just because it’s hard is no reason to quit! It is called the Hero’s Journey, after all. 06/11/2012
  80. Appalachian Trail 02, Carver’s Gap, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN — June 6, 2012 — 81 We have to gather together regularly for encouragement and reorientation—to be nurtured and revived, nourished and sustained for the journey. We cannot give ourselves what we need to do what is ours to do in the time left for living. We are on our own, but we cannot do it alone. We require the right kind of company to remain centered in, grounded in, focused on, what is happening and what we can do about it. We come together to remember and remind one another of who we are and what we are about, and to find in each other’s presence what we need in order to step back into our life and do there what needs to be done. 06/11/2012
  81. Roan Mountain Highlands, Cherokee National Forest near Carver’s Gap, TN — June 6, 2012 — 80 Jesus said, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? My family are those who know what I mean and therefore can understand what I’m talking about!” (or words to that effect). Just because we are kin to those people doesn’t make them good for us. Abraham left home, so did Jesus. The Buddha ran away from home. The Dali Lama was given away by his family at an early age. There is a pattern here. One thing is essential in the work to become who we are: Distance. Distance is physical and emotional. Just because you move across the country doesn’t mean you have left home. Leaving home emotionally is easier if you leave home physically, but it doesn’t necessarily follow. Emergency room physicians employ emotional distance when they treat their patients, but they don’t treat their own family members. Emotional distance is difficult to achieve, but essential if you are going to be you apart from your family’s idea of who you Should Be. You have to just not give a damn what they think, on a certain level. Hard to find and maintain that level—close enough to care about their well-being (“Mother, behold your son”) and distant enough to be immune to their ways. Sometimes, we have to take a little pill or two just to get through Thanksgiving. Little pills are distance in a bottle. They get you away from what you need to get away from. They also get you away from everything so you have to use your best judgment as to when to use them and for how long, but for some of us, they keep the Idiots from killing our soul. 06/12/2012
  82. Magnolia 2012 01, Greensboro, NC — June 1, 2012 — 79 How many people understand you, respect your positions, tics and tendencies, honor your boundaries and do not tell you how to run your life? How many people invade, intrude, demean, ridicule, attack, denounce and generally treat you as though you don’t know the first thing about living your life? Which group of people do you think you need to spend the most time with? 06/12/2012
  83. Don’t Rock the Boat! — This is a faux reflection created by coping the sky, flipping it and attaching it to itself to produce the illusion of a reflection. — Notice who listens to you without interruption, without cutting you off, without changing the subject, without breaking in to argue or debate—allowing you to say what you have to say. Notice how often you listen to others that way. That’s all. Just be aware of these things. 06/12/2012
  84. Low Clouds, Foothills Farm near Wilkesboro, NC — June 6, 2012 — 78 Everything we do is based on the benefit we derive from doing it. We live to exploit everything—to turn it all to our advantage. The trick is to be good for nothing. To do what needs to be done without an eye out for our advantage. All of life is a sales pitch. The revolution is living without trying to exploit anything—living with no benefit or advantage in mind—doing what is good whether it does any good or not. Give the gift that is yours to give in ways that are appropriate to the situation, and let that be that. Bring your best to bear upon the work that is yours to do with nothing in it for you. Sing the song that is yours to sing because you like the music. The treasure is the work that we do, the life we live. Laugh at the idea that there is more to it than that! 06/13/2012
  85. Roadside Fence 01, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC—June 13, 2012 — The work is developing eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands—how things are and how things also are and what needs to be done about it with the gifts that are, with the genius that is, ours to give in each situation as it arises. What do we get out of it? We get to see, hear, and understand and do what needs to be done with the gifts that are ours to give, the genius that is ours to share. If you are looking for more than that, there are plenty of people around who can tell you how to get it. 06/13/2012
  86. Roan Mountain Highlands Panorama, Cherokee National Forest near Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — 77 What are we looking for? What do we think it’s going to take? What are we dismissing as not worthy of consideration in the category of What Is Worthwhile? What IS important? What DOES matter most? What should rightfully be our highest priority? The center and focus of our life? The ground of our being? You get that right and you have it made. The work is developing eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands—how things are and how things also are and what needs to be done about it with the gifts that are, with the genius that is, ours to give in each situation as it arises. What do we get out of it? We get to see, hear, and understand and do what needs to be done with the gifts that are ours to give, the genius that is ours to share. Here’s a tip for you: Don’t go after what everyone else is chasing. Look through your reject pile. Think carefully about the things you don’t give a second thought to. “The stone the builders reject,” you know. 06/14/2012
  87. The White Blaze 01, Appalachian Trail across Grassy Ridge to Jane Bald, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN — June 13, 2012 — 76 We have to live out of our heart, out of the heart of who we are, out of our own center, out of that which is truly who we are and also are, out of the core of our very being. This is to live with integrity. We each have a flow and a rhythm all our own. We cannot be who someone else is, or who someone else wants us to be. We have to honor the truth of ourselves whether anyone else does or not. We honor our truth by being aware of it and finding ways to express it in our lives, so that the life we live becomes The Way of our coming forth into the world of space and time. An Incarnation of spirit into flesh, of soul into body, of God into human beings. We take our cue for living, for being, from our deepest sense of what is right and true and real and good—not because that is what we have been told but because it resonates with our heart, center, core, and we know in our body the truth of what is important and needs to be done in this situation, here and now. To do that thing—even though it might be the opposite of what everyone thinks ought to be done—is to live truthfully. To live truthfully is to live aligned with heart and living so as to exhibit that alignment in all that we do. May it be so of all of us always! 06/14/2012
  88. The White Blaze 02, The Appalachian Trail winds through a Hemlock forest, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — We each have a flow and a rhythm all our own. We cannot be who someone else is, or who someone else wants us to be. We have to honor the truth of ourselves whether anyone else does or not. We honor our truth by being aware of it and finding ways to express it in our lives, so that the life we live becomes The Way of our coming forth into the world of space and time. An Incarnation of spirit into flesh, of soul into body, of God into human beings. 06/14/2012
  89. Rhododendron Tunnel, Pisgah National Forest, Rhododendron Gardens, NC—Roan Mountain and the Roan Mountain Highlands are on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The Highlands and the Balds are supervised by the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Gardens and the trail to Roan High Bluff are supervised by the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. It is a wonderful area of the world. — 75 When you are playing Solitaire, everything rides on the cards. You can be great, alert, awake, aware, and not miss a play, but the game is out of your hands. With Solitaire, you can be excused for not taking things seriously. “It’s just a game.” Deal a new game and hope for a different outcome. Our life is also out of our hands, but we have a harder time letting things go. We think if we were smarter, more responsible, more diligent, a better person… The list is long. I don’t care how smart, etc., you are, things unforeseen and unforeseeable whack you a good one every now and then. (Get ready. Here it comes.) Don’t take it seriously! Pick up the pieces, as you are able. Reorder your life insofar as that is possible. And hope for the best (The best, by the way, is a longer time between whacks). We are pulling ourselves forth to meet the circumstances of our living. We are not arranging a life of ease and pleasure to last without interruption into the far distant future. If we remember what we are doing here, we have a better chance of actually doing it. 06/14/2012
  90. On Roan Mountain, Pisgah National Forest, Rhododendron Gardens, NC—June 13, 2012 — The Hemlock forest on Roan Mountain in North Carolina is the closest thing to a rain forest I know of in the south. You’d have to go to Oregon or Washington State to beat it. Ferns and mosses own the woods, and if you stand still long enough, you put down roots and wonder why leave. — 74 We need to be incubated, protected, insulated against all that threatens our life and would replace it with others’ ideas of how we should be. And yet. To be insulated is to be imprisoned, locked in, up, and away from the experiences that are required for life. The truth is that we have to go up against it. We have to leave home. Walk away from the safety and security of Mother’s Love, or whatever you call the protective shield warding off the threats to life which are also invitations to life. Jacob wrestled with the angel for the blessing. Odysseus spit in the Cyclops’ eye. We have to wade into it and see what we can do, trusting that we have what it takes to rise to the occasion again and again, and grow through facing the opposition to growth.  06/15/2012
  91. On Roan Mountain 02, Pisgah National Forest, Rhododendron Gardens, NC— June 13, 2012 — We transform and redeem our life by engaging it on all levels. Our voluntary participation in the experience of life—the life that meets us at birth and the life that is ours to live with the gifts and genius that are ours to share—is the Hero’s Journey. We trust ourselves to the journey and see what happens—and see who we become through the process of engagement and participation. 06/15/2012
  92. Flame Azaleas 01, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — 73 Being afraid of what might happen keeps us safely and securely imprisoned in The Way Life Ought To Be According To Those Who Know Best. We have to take our chances if we want to be alive. If you are living according to someone else’s idea of how you ought to live, you aren’t living. You have to leave “home” to be alive. Home is where they tell you what to do, what to think, what not to think, how to live, who to be. They lay out the plan for your life at home. They give you the chart with the black foot prints. The rules to live by. You can’t fly without leaving the nest. How different can you be from the people you hang out with? Graveyards are homogenous. Dead people are all alike. People who are alive are alive in different ways. Spend time with people who help you with your life. Who ask you about your work—the work that is yours to do, not your job. Where do you go to talk about your work, your life that is calling you to live it? Who talks to you about their work, their life? Anybody? Start asking people to tell you about their life. See where it goes. 06/15/2012
  93. Picnic Heaven, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — 72 May you do well what is yours to do! Understanding, of course, that what is yours to do has no necessary connection with what you want to do, with what you wish would be yours to do, with what you feel like doing, with what you are in the mood to do. These conditions mean these photos are available and those aren’t. This light means these photos are available and those aren’t. Our purposes are not always served by our circumstances. We don’t always get what we want. We take what we find and do what we can think to do with it. And that’s that. Photography is a lot like life in this way. We don’t order our lives. We don’t get to choose our choices. We wake up to a leak in the basement, to mold above the ceiling in the bathroom, to flat tires and chest pains and a lump in our breast… What the hell is going on? Would somebody please saddle up the horse we want to ride through our life? The high one, with no time for the small stuff! We want to solve the problem of world peace and we get grandchildren squabbling over what to eat for breakfast. We cannot get to the life that is worth living because this current one keeps throwing smoking refrigerators and dogs throwing up with the vet on vacation at us! Where is that bell between rounds? What are we doing in a life that isn’t housebroken? That doesn’t obey the rules? That laughs at the idea of rules? That keeps giving us things that must be done that we don’t want to do? Now you’re getting it. May we all do well what is ours to do whether we want to or not, all our life long! 06/16/2012
  94. Rhododendron Gardens, Pisgah National Park, Roan Mountain, NC—June 13, 2012 — These conditions mean these photos are available and those aren’t. This light means these photos are available and those aren’t. Our purposes are not always served by our circumstances. We don’t always get what we want. We take what we find and do what we can think to do with it. And that’s that. Photography is a lot like life in this way. 06/16/2012
  95. Price Lake Fog 03, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC—June 13, 2012 — 71 The ground of what we are about is this: See how things are (which includes seeing how things also are). See what needs to be done about it, and do it—in each situation as it arises. That’s all there ever is to it. We size things up and respond appropriately to them with the gifts we have to offer in each situation as it arises. Think of yourself as an emergency room physician dealing with situations arising in your life as though they are patients being delivered to your care. How you respond to them makes all the difference. Make it your practice to see into the heart of things, determine what needs to be done, and do it. The world will be a better place. 06/16/2012
  96. Flame Azalea 01, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN — June 13, 2012 — 70 We have to let things be as hopeless as they are and shift our focus from the outcome to the work. If we live long enough our choices are going to be restricted over time to a sad shadow of our former life—of the life anyone would wish for herself, for himself. We are likely to lose our hearing, our sight, our mobility, our memory. We will be in a plight if we take this seriously. Our focus has to be on the work to bring forth our gifts as a blessing to the time and place of our life regardless of the context, circumstances and conditions of our living. We have to nurture and nourish our perspective — and our connection with heart/soul/psyche — all the way to our final breath. This isn’t something we suddenly pick up after the first heart attack. It is something we cultivate and develop over time—starting now. We are living to be who we are—and that is not contingent upon anything we have or upon anything that happens to us. We bring ourselves forth in rising to every occasion, and saying, again, to the Cyclops: “If I couldn’t do any better than that, I wouldn’t call myself a Bad Guy!” 06/17/2012
  97. Roan Mountain Highlands 03, Cherokee National Forest, Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — 69 The happy fantasy is to be free and wealthy enough to do whatever we want to do. The truth is that we can never be free of our wants. We are bound to want what we want whether or not it is good for us. We can only want what we want—not what we ought to want. How do we want what we ought to want? Can you imagine a seventh grader wanting to go to school? Or to the dentist? So, we have these fantasies that we nourish with time and attention, wistfully dreaming of having this or doing that, never once thinking of what we ought to be dreaming of, thinking about—namely the life that is waiting for us to live it, the soul/psyche that needs us to consciously attend its leadings, learn its language, sense its guidance. We have work to do that has nothing to do with how we earn a living or pay the bills. If we are going to drift off into reverie, we could go in its direction, imagining what it might be and how we might serve it in the time left for living. Productive fantasies are the stuff of invention and creativity and life beyond being 98.6 and breathing. 06/17/2012
  98. Mark’s Dad and Dog, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN—June 13, 2012 — Push yourself to follow your interests and see where they lead you. If you can find better advice, take it! 06/17/2012
  99. View from Round Bald, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN — June 13, 2012 — Do the work! Your work! The work that is yours to do! Everything falls into place around allegiance to, your alignment with, your work. Your life comes to life around your work. Which means everything about your life should be centered on, revolving around, seeking your work, acquiescing to your work, serving your work, doing your work. There is really nothing else for you to be thinking about. Does it help you bring forth your work? If not, what’s it doing in your life? If it isn’t serving your work, it is opposing your work, resisting your work. And the only person who can do something about that is, well, you. 06/18/2012
  100. Rhododendron Blossoms, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, TN — June 13, 2012 — 68 Trust your life to unfold before you and start walking. Don’t wait to know what you’re doing, what you should do, what you’re supposed to do. Don’t wait to have it all planned and plotted, drawn up, figured out, in place. Do not kill the mystery. If you are ever going to listen to anything I say, listen to this: Trust yourself to figure it out over time. Let your life be the Great Adventure that it is. Get going! See what you can do in the time left for living. Why die not knowing?  06/18/2012
  101. Blue Ridge Morning, Buffalo Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway near Orchard Gap, VA—May 18, 2012 — 67 When we understand things are not the way we have been told that they are, it’s a fresh start, a clean slate. We start over with what we’ve heard off the table, seeking to see things as they are without the smokescreen of how people wish they were getting in the way, complicating the picture, confusing our sensors. Learning to trust our own take on things is a wild and sometimes wicked road, but once we see and know that we see into the heart of how things are (and also are), we have a different relationship with ourselves, and can begin to trust ourselves to know when to say yes and when to say no for no other reason than because it resonates with us and we can be trusted. When we trust ourselves, we are a force to be reckoned with in our own life. When we live out of our own heart, the Cyclops knows his is a lost cause from the start. 06/17/2012
  102. Rhododendron 02, Blue Ridge Parkway near Peaks of Otter, VA — May 27, 2012 — 66 May all of our transitions be smooth. May all of our moves be fluid. We are learning, you know, to dance with our life. The music is the situation, the time and place, the context and circumstances of our living. We dance with the moment, with the now, and the what now, and the now what, and the NOW what. The goal is to do it without a hitch, twitch or bobble. The damn orchestra, composed as it is of a thousand Cyclops who have never played a note, can’t give us anything we can’t make look good. We listen past the music, look beyond the moment, to the flow of our life, to the vibrant core of our being, and bring THAT forth here, now, blending and shaping this with that, bringing forth a wonder of wonders with our timing and motion, with our response—unseen, unheard of, unimagined—knocking the audience and the critics off their seats, propelling them as one to their feet in an ovation unmatched in the long march of time, marking the performance of a lifetime, which is nothing compared to what we will do next, keep watching, jaw dropped, eyes open wide, breathing forgotten. Yeah—may it be just like that for us all always. 06/19/2012
  103. The Old Mill of Guilford (AKA, Bailes Mill), Greensboro, NC — June 8, 2012 — 65 We have to live looking for our life as a moth looks for the flame. Our life—the life that is truly our life to live, the life with our name on it, the life no one can live but us—has to be our driving passion, our deepest allegiance, our abiding loyalty. But, we sell our birthright for whatever is easy or entertaining and live empty lives, stuffing them with empty calories, wondering why nothing is fulfilling. We have to live looking for our life as a moth looks for the flame! 06/19/2012
  104. Rhododendron 03, Blue Ridge Parkway near Peaks of Otter, VA — May 27, 2012 — 64 What does what we think about keep us from thinking about? How often in a day do we think something we have never thought about? If we keep thinking the same things, how are we going to live differently? If we keep living the same way we’ve always lived, what does the future hold? How is the life that is our life to live ever going to break into the life we are living if we keep things rigidly in place beginning with the thoughts we think? Promise me you will think something new tomorrow. Before noon. See how many new thoughts you can think in a day. You’re changing your life just by breaking out of your crusty old thinking patterns. Who knows where this will lead? All great adventures begin this way, with us not knowing where we are going, or what’s happening, or what will happen next. Our life is an action-adventure thriller just waiting to get on board so it can leave the harbor. Woo-Whee! I can’t wait! How ‘bout you? 06/19/2012
  105. Hay Field Sunrise 02, near Pilot Mountain, NC— June 20, 2012 — If you are ever going to listen to anything I say, listen to this: Trust yourself to figure it out over time. 06/20/2012
  106. Sunrise at the Rest Stop, near Pilot Mountain, NC — June 20, 2012 — If you are ever going to listen to anything else I say, listen to this: See what you can do in the time left for living. Why die not knowing? 06/21/2012
  107. Black-eyed Susans, near Pilot Mountain, NC — June 20, 2012 — The next time your advisers gather around with their directions and recommendations for how you should be living your life, say this: “You know, what I really need help with is knowing whether there is something better I should be doing with my time.” When they ask you what you mean, say, “I know that was too hard for you. I’m sorry. Here’s an easier one: I need to know how to want what I ought to want and not what I want. Can you help me with that?” And when they sputter on that one, say, “Well, could you tell me how to stop being lectured to by people who want to tell me what to do? I could really use some help with that.” If they are going to tell you how to run your life, they should at least address the things you think would be truly helpful. 06/21/2012
  108. Rhododendron 14, near Peaks of Otter, VA — May 27, 2012 — 63 Everybody has a plan, or thinks they ought to, but when things fail to go as planned, we make matters worse when we “stick to the plan.” The plan has to take the situation into account: In light of this, we can do this, this, or this. We live in response to the situation as it arises, develops—not according to The Plan. The is no plan that can take into account all of the contingencies we might face before breakfast. We sit loose in the saddle and live light on our feet, moving with the music and the mood of the moment. We can’t think fast enough to keep up with the action but we can respond faster than we can think. We can live well without knowing what we are doing. The Plan, then, is to give ourselves to the situation as it arises, trusting ourselves to rise to any occasion IF we can get out of the way and allow ourselves to see what is happening and what needs to happen, to see how things are and what needs to be done about it, and offer what is needed out of the gifts that are ours to give—and see where it goes. If you can find a better plan than that, buy it! 06/21/2012
  109. Shady View, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC—July 20, 2012 — 62 Village life remains recognizably the same no matter how many conquering armies march through town over long epochs of time. The people there all have their place and the social codes keep them in their place, maintaining the traditions and serving the needs of the village. What would a village look like that served the needs of the people? What would a village composed entirely of artists, or physicians, or lawyers, look like? Who would make the coffee and the pizza? How many villages do you know of that work out the balance between the needs of each and the needs of all? Give me a village where each person is expected to serve her or his own interest/passion and the community exists to help bring forth the individuals making up the community—and not to disappear the individuals for the so-called good of the community! Where would you go to find such a place? The political climate of the US, and I think of the world, lends itself to the disappearance of individuals. Talk radio homogenizes the masses: “If you don’t think like WE do, you are a bad person, and maybe not a person at all!” The foundation of incivility. 06/22/2012
  110. The Woods at Springer’s Point Panorama, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC — October, 2008 — 61 I was positioning my tripod for a photo at Mirror Lake in Yosemite when a group of Vietnamese Buddhist Monks walked by as a part of a tour hike. One asked about my camera and I told him it was smarter than I am, that my main purpose is to carry the equipment and get out of the way—like the Zen story of the butcher holding the knife and letting the knife find its way. The monk jumped back in mock alarm, protesting, “Are YOU going to Zen ME?” I said, “Yeah,” and we all enjoyed the sound of our own laughter. We have to allow ourselves to be Zened by those who don’t know nearly as much about Zen as we do. Not one of us sees it all. Every one of us can be helped along by the ways others of us see things. None of us is smart enough to reject the insight offered by any of us. May we all learn to see together, and help each other along the way! 06/22/2012
  111. Split Rail Fence, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 20, 2012 — 60 Think of Karma as Momentum. Movement toward something. There are only two choices here. We can move toward life or death. The drift of our life is in one direction or the other. If we are not moving toward life, we are moving toward death. We build momentum toward life or death, toward living or dying, with the choices we make each day. Reasonably consistent life choices builds momentum toward life. Reasonably consistent death choices builds momentum toward death. What are we choosing here? Is this a death choice or a life choice? Death choices are status quo choices, keeping things in place choices, not doing anything different choices, static/stuck choices, don’t rock the boat don’t make waves don’t change anything ever choices. Life choices are, from the viewpoint of death, asking for it choices, risk-taking choices, taking a chance on something new and different choices, vibrant/dynamic/pulsating choices, who wouda thought it choices, out of the ordinary choices, trust in more than meets the eye choices. We build momentum toward life by believing in our life and in our work that brings our life forth in spite of solid evidence to the contrary. We build momentum toward life by not pausing to defend, justify, explain or excuse the choices we make. We don’t try to make our choices pleasing to or right by any other authority. WE are the authority for our own life, for  our own choices. We live or we die by virtue of what WE think is life and death. This is integrity: Living aligned with what we believe to be life—living in opposition to what we believe to be death—regardless of what our detractors have to say. 06/23/2012
  112. The Woods at Springer’s Point 03, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC —October, 2008 — 59 We know when we have had enough coffee. We know when it’s time for bed. We know which book to read next. And we know much more than we know we know. Time to start listening. Checking in with the Knower. Asking for direction and paying attention to what comes. Time to start being aware of who is guiding our boat on its path through the sea. Wait! How can there be a path on the sea? Exactly. We seek the path where there can be no path. We seek the Way where there is no Way. Who is the “we” in charge of the finding/seeing? It’s time to begin getting to know who all we are. 06/23/2012
  113. The Woods at Springer’s Point 02, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC —October 2008 — 58 Jesus came living his life, the life that was his to live, calling us to follow him. Not by living his life! By living OUR life! We wear Jesus’ cross. Jesus wore his own cross. We have to wear OUR cross, or it’s modern equivalent. How would we symbolize the burden, the cross, the death, of living our own life, the life that is ours to live, within the context and circumstances of our living? This is what Jesus’ cross symbolized in his life—the burden, the payment, of being who he was, when he was, where he was given how things were. What does it cost us to be who we are, when we are, where we are, given how things are? We have to get out of our left-brained, literal mindset when we consider these things, and allow ourselves to awaken to the possibilities—and SEE the significance of being who we are and bringing our gifts to bear upon the time and place of our living. This is the revolution that transforms the world. 06/23/2012
  114. The Woods at Springer’s Point 01, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC —October 2008 — 57 We have to pay the bills and we have to live our own life, the life that is our life to live. This is called walking two paths at the same time. We’ve been cheating our life. The bills get all our attention. We have to start tuning in to the life that is calling our name. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that won’t go away. The one standing there at the hitching post, stamping the ground, wondering when you are going to let it take you for the ride of your life. You only have one real problem: To see how ALIVE you can be in the time left for living. Here’s a hint for you: LIFE is found only in living the life that is your life to live. Lots of folks promise you life, living and the thrill of being alive, but the Real Thing is tied up at the hitching post, stamping its foot, giving you the mean eye. 06/23/2012
  115. Stone Mountain View, Blue Ridge Parkway near Doughton Park, NC — June 23, 2012 — 56 Greed is the primary motivator. How much do we need to do what truly needs us to do it? A lot less than we have! I walk through my stuff from time to time, wondering what was I—am I—thinking. I expect we all could pare down and be no worse off. But, that isn’t the point. Greed is the point. Greed is compensation for having lost the point. Our life is empty so we have to have more. Having more in our life is a substitute for having no purpose to our life whatsoever. When we recover our sense of purpose—when we live in service to our life—when our work proceeds from and produces LIFE—greed diminishes and disappears and we have what we need to do what needs us to do it. Woe be unto those who have no sense of being needed by their life! We need to do what needs us to do it. Making more money and buying more stuff isn’t it. What is? Where do we go to find it? We only have to open ourselves to it and practice being receptive to what is calling our name—and be aware of what we dismiss as “that couldn’t possibly be it.” 06/24/2012
  116. Foothills, seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Fancy Gap, VA—June 20, 2012 — 55 It helps to have no opinion about the things we can’t do anything about. If it is raining and we want to play golf or take photographs of the moonrise, it’s just raining. If we have our mind on a glass of wine and discover a sinkhole forming in our front yard, it’s just a sinkhole. We do what we can to deal with things as they are and hope for the best (And, I’m sure, you remember what the best we can hope for is—Longer intervals between whacks!). Strong opinions get in the way and delay, or sometimes, prevent, appropriate responses to our circumstances. Buddhism is all about avoiding suffering. We avoid suffering when we have no strong opinion about it—when we do what can be done to deal with the cause of suffering, and let that be that—and hope for the best! 06/24/2012
  117. Price Lake Fog 40 BW, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC—June 13, 2012 — 54 The traumatic impact of seeing squalor, starvation and human suffering shaped the young Buddha’s life and formed his approach to the facts he could not deny. Under the Bo Tree, enlightenment came, as it always does, as he made the mental/emotional/spiritual/physical adjustments necessary to square himself with the truth of how things are and also are, and what needed to be done about it. His life flowed from there in response to the truth of how things are. The work, the struggle, the agony is squaring ourselves up with how things are and what needs to be done about it. This is the foundation, the groundwork, of enlightenment and the initiation rite to LIFE. Any wonder why so few are Buddhas and Christs? Or why we’ve made the entrance requirement to heaven BELIEVING and not LIVING? 06/24/2012
  118. Hwy 52 and Pilot Mountain, NC — June 20, 2012 — 53 Jacob Bronowski said, “If you want to know the truth, you have to live in certain ways.” He meant if we want to know the truth, we have to live truthful lives. This does not mean telling the truth. It means living truthfully. When we live truthfully, we live aligned with the truth of how things are and also are. In order to live this way, we have to square ourselves with the truth of how things are, which is generally completely out of square with how we wish things were, or how we want things to be. Hitler, for example, refused to square himself with the truth of how things are and the world paid a terrible price for his insistence that how he wanted things to be was how things were. The spiritual law at work here is: When we refuse to bear legitimate pain, the world suffers. We increase suffering by refusing to suffer. Alcoholics, hiding in the bottle from the pain of their life, add untold suffering to the pain of others. Squaring ourselves up with, reconciling ourselves with, living in accord with the truth of how things are is the essential step in living truthfully, which is the silent revolution that transforms the world. 06/25/2012
  119. A Fair View, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 20, 2012 — 52 Living truthfully requires us to be transparent to ourselves—to know how WE are and also are—as well as to be cognizant of how it is around us. We take everything into account, internally and externally, in knowing how things are (and also are) and what to do about it—in each situation as it arises. This is a lot to be aware of but. We only use a small percentage of the brain cells available to us, and we keep that small percentage focused on small matters like where’s the next party, what will we wear, who will win the pennant and World Series, the Super Bowl and the BCS Championship, and does he/she love me or love me not? We can do better. Our work is to see into the heart of how things are and do what needs to be done about it. It takes being awake to do the work. It takes being alive to do the work. And that’s exactly what we get as a payoff. We get to wake up and be alive. 06/25/2012
  120. Morning Light, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC — June 13, 2012 — 51 Waking up begins with hearing what we are saying, seeing what we are doing. We wake up to who we are, and how it is with us, and what we are doing, and whether that is helping or hurting, and what we might do instead. We wake up by becoming transparent to ourselves. If you want to wake up start listening to what you are saying. Start seeing what you are doing. Asking, “How’s that helping? How’s that hurting?” Asking, “Where does that thought/idea/reaction come from?” Who are we trying to please? Who are we trying to irritate? Who is pulling our strings, making it easy for us to do what we are doing, say what we are saying, think what we are thinking? As we get to the bottom of us and see how things are with us, we bring ourselves into focus, gain a sense of what is life for us and what is death, decide what matters most and how we might make that our work and serve it with the gifts that are ours in each situation as it arises—and see where it goes. 06/26/2012
  121. Brinegar Cabin, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 20, 2012 — 50 What would you do that you couldn’t be paid enough to not do? The things you come up with to put on that list are clues to where your heart lies—to the grounding center of your life. How often do you do the things on the list? How central are those things in the actual living of your life? Your work is to bring them into the center. Bring what is central to the center. Don’t leave your heart out there on the periphery of your life. Bring it into the center. Let your life revolve around its true center. That’s the right order of things. This is the work of defragmentation, of reorientation, of integration and renewal. It is the work of becoming who you are. 06/26/2012
  122. Fence, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta NC — June 26, 2012 — 49 We pay a price for our unfolding, emerging. And we pay a price for refusing to unfold, emerge. Life is death and death is life. There is no avoiding the difficulties involved with being alive on any level. Pay the fare and ride the ride! Joseph Campbell would say, “Throw yourself into it and do your thing. Don’t worry about the outcome!” He talked a lot about the importance of voluntary participation in life as it is. It is all a practice field for the soul’s own becoming. See what you can do in the time left for living! You will learn all you need to know about life from living it! You didn’t know anything when you came forth from the womb, and look at you now! Look at all you think you know! Amazing! Throw yourself into what remains of it and do your thing! Don’t hold back because you aren’t sure what your thing is—make your best guess and GO! Everything becomes clear with time. Do what you think your thing is and see where it goes. Clutching some system of doctrine about the structure of reality isn’t going to help you. You came naked from the womb the first time. It’s no different this time. Don’t waste your time looking for reassurance and certainty and somebody telling you what to do. Exercise a little responsibility here for figuring out what you need to know as you go. The right kind of help will come from amazing places. The wrong kind of help always advertises itself and falls apart at the first sign of trouble. Soul snatchers are everywhere, telling you to have faith in what they have to say. Have faith in yourself, that’s what I say. You’ve come this far. You have what it takes to make it the rest of the way. You’ll figure out a wrong turn when you make one. Just keep turning. Divining truth. Dowsing life. Doodlebugging wonder. 06/27/2012
  123. Magnolia 05, Greensboro, NC — June 2012 — 48 The Taoists understood doing nothing to be doing something. The world would be in much better shape if more people did nothing. We over-do with the best of them. There are times to step back, sit down and wait. When you get to a place where you have done all that can be done, wait and see where it goes. You plant the seeds and wait. You mix the yeast with the dough and wait. When everything rests in someone else’s hands, give yourself over to the circumstances and wait to see where it goes. You can achieve astonishing results by doing nothing at the right time, in the right way. 06/27/2012
  124. Magnolia 06, Greensboro, NC — June 2012 — 47 There is no immunity—there are no guarantees. We get out of bed each day and take our chances. This is one thing we all have in common. Before this fundamental reality we are all one. There is no gay, no straight, no male, no female, no black, no Hispanic, no… Well, you get the idea. No one has a leg up on the rest of us when it comes to avoiding the worst life can do. We all grapple with situations and circumstances nightmares are made of—and if we don’t there has just been a delay in delivery, our time is coming. We are one with all sentient beings in the work to come to terms with how things are and what to do about it with the gifts that are ours in each situation as it arises. And, it would appear that we are one with all human beings in trying to escape, avoid, deny that work all the way to the grave. We have more in common with the people we think are our polar opposites than in the things that are oppositional. That being the case, you would think we would treat each other better, and try to help one another with the plight of being human. Ah but, escape, avoidance, denial works its way into the system and we see enemies everywhere and blame them all for the things we don’t like about our lives. THOSE people bring down the wrath of God upon us all, you know. And we see scapegoats where we should be finding allies, compatriots, comrades, friends. Because we are all up against it and we all need all the help we can get. 06/27/2012
  125. Two Trees, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 25, 2012 — 46 The Buddha said, “Be a light unto yourself.” I take that to mean: “Follow your own heart, your heart’s own dream. Do your own work—the work that is truly yours to do. Be the self you were created to be in this world. Live the life that needs you to live it! And don’t let anyone else tell you they have a better idea for who you ought to be and how you ought to live your life than you are capable having on your own!” 06/28/2012
  126. Magnolia 03, Greensboro, NC — June 2012 — Money can’t buy maturity, wisdom, or sound judgment. There you are. 06/29/2012
  127. Carver’s Gap 05, Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN — June 06, 2012 — 45 Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” Vitality is believing the things we do matter and living as though they do. It won’t hurt to believe that the things we do matters, and it will help on every level. Right now, you are breathing and your heart is beating. Your body is in your care. It matters how you treat it. It matters how we live our life. We say it doesn’t matter when things aren’t going our way, when it appears that nothing we do will deliver what we want. Well, what does wanting know? Wanting leads us a merry chase into the far reaches of the Wasteland. Every advertisement attempts to appeal to what we want. What do we want? More of what does not satisfy! We never get enough of that! The core of your spiritual life is the heart of your LIFE, the life that is yours to live, that needs you to live it—whether you want to or not. We do not have to want what is good for us to do it! Wanting is the Cyclops’ best weapon in turning us aside from the journey, from the path, from the work that is ours to do, the life that is ours to live. Ah, but, without wanting to guide us what will lead us along the way? To be alive, we have to establish, maintain and serve our connection with our heart, with the core of our life, with who we are. Living out of our heart, core, self changes how we live, transforms our life, sends us off in a new direction. But we like our old life. We like the old life that is killing us. We are addicted to the old routines that are death. On a ventilator, emphysema victims want to smoke. And so, the fundamental question: Whose Side Are You On? We are divided against ourselves. Who guides our boat on its path through the sea? It is up to us to lay wanting aside and establish a relationship with—trust ourselves to—The One Who Knows within. 06/30/2012
  128. Peggy Woods’ Ordinary, Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway near Bedford, VA — June 28, 2012 — Peggy Wood’s took care of the Ordinary needs of travelers, that would be a meal and a place to sleep and good conversation. A prototype bed and breakfast.— 44 You have to do the work. You can’t read some book or listen to some lecture or let someone tell you what to do. You have to work it out yourself. You have to square yourself up with the way things are, come to terms with the difference between how things are and how you want them to be, how you wish they were, and decide what needs to be done about it, and do it. In each situation as it arises. Your whole life long. This is the work of True Human Being-hood. Doing the work of adjusting ourselves to the reality of our life over the course of our life, with compassion and grace, kindness, gentleness, generosity and a bent for doing things as right and as well as they can be done makes a True Human Being out of all of us. 06/30/2012
  129. Common as a Yard Dog, Is the southern saying about orange Day Lilies which are everywhere this time of the year, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 26, 2012 — 43 Every age has to reinterpret the meaningful symbols of the previous ages in order to keep alive the metaphors which inform our soul. Mind and Soul have to be in synch. Soul cannot hold onto something that Mind cannot carry. This is the problem with the literalization of religion—and it is characteristic of bad religion to literalize everything. It tries to force on Mind things that do not fit. The people are told to believe things that are not believable and do not make sense. Makes for a religion that cannot look experienced truth in the eye and has to deny how things are in favor of how it proclaims things to be. If we want to know the truth, we have to live truthfully—and find those who can help us interpret the truth in light of what is also true—and bear the weight and the wonder of that contradiction, to square up with the differences among how things are and how things also are and how we wish they were and how we want them to be, and rise to every occasion, living boldly and courageously in all contexts and circumstances of life. 07/01/2012
  130. The Hydrangea Variations 06, Greensboro, NC — June 2012 — 42 Our point of view is the most important thing about us. From that springs everything. Cultivate the right point of view and you have it made, as much as you can have it made—as much as a Giant Sequoia, say, has it made, or a red barn on a hillside in the setting sun. Our point of view turns the key that opens the door to LIFE all the way to the grave, and perhaps beyond, who knows? If you are going to work on anything, work on your point of view. You want a point of view that is ready for action anytime, day or night, in all weather conditions, no matter what, and is able to see into the heart of whatever it looks at and is transparent to itself, that is, able to take itself into account, so that nothing is hidden from eyes that see, ears that hear and heart that understands. And don’t leave out compassion. Once you get seeing with the eyes of compassion down, the world may as well hand itself over to  you for all the good being ornery and obstinate is going to do for it. Then you can walk into your day knowing that no day can give you anything you can’t transform just by looking at it and seeing it for what it is and for what it might become with the right touch and a little luck. 07/01/2012
  131. Price Lake Fog 04, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC — June 10, 2012 — 41 All we have to work with, really, are our perspective and our proclivities and our relationship with the inner world. The inner world doesn’t get much press, much favorable press anyway, but that’s where protection and guidance and what I call “working distance” come from. Now, everything here depends on the strength of our ego in developing the right relationship with the inner and outer worlds. We have to have an “I” in order to be a “We” anywhere, on any level. We have to be able to say, “No!” and mean it, and we have to be able to take “No!” for an answer. We have to be able to draw lines and honor lines that are drawn by others, or by our circumstances. If we have that going for us, we have all we need to walk into the inner world and look around, and say, “Is anybody there?” and wait in the silence while they all look at one another and wonder if they can trust us to care about them and have their best interest at heart and understand that “they” and “we” are one, and that our joint work is bringing who we all are together, and bringing who we all are forth into the light of day, into the world of normal, apparent, here-and-now reality. And you thought your life was boring. That’s a joke, and the joke is on you! Your life is the greatest adventure imaginable just waiting for you to live it, just waiting for you to give it a chance to show you what it can do. 07/02/2012
  132. Grassy Ridge Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Doughton Park, NC — June 20, 2012 — 40 Live in good faith with those all around you, on both sides of the ball, on both sides of the street. Live transparent to yourself in all circumstances. Don’t claim to see more clearly than you see, to know more than you know, to be able to do more than you are able to do. And when the rest of them do not return the favor, when they do not live in good faith back to you, respond to their incivility as appropriately as possible under the circumstances, knowing that everything depends upon the good faith of all concerned and that nothing can guarantee that, and, therefore, it all hangs by a thread always, and we find ourselves picking up the pieces more often than not. Pick up the pieces in good faith with those all around you, on both sides of the ball… 07/02/2012
  133. A Far View, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC — June 26, 2012 — Part of being lucky is being smart. Part of being stupid is being stubborn. Part of being smart is taking this and applying it to the way you are living your life and seeing where it goes. 07/03/2012
  134. Fog Bound, Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC — June 06, 2012 — 39 The meaning of life is not a problem for those living a meaningful life. A child with an ice cream cone wouldn’t waste a second with you wondering about the meaning of life. The meaning of her, of his, life is enjoying the ice cream cone. Get out of her, of his, way with your question! She, he, has work to do! You see, of course, where this is going. We have work to do! And doing the work that is ours to do—living the life that is ours to live—is interesting and meaningful beyond all measurement and assessment. It is when, for lack of courage or imagination, we live cutoff from heart and soul, in a Wasteland of Discontent and Hopelessness, that we bemoan the lack of meaning and wonder where a purpose is that could save the whole thing like a thunderbolt from God showing the way to the Land of Milk and Honey. Meaning isn’t something we think up any more than we think up the life that is our life to live (“May I’ll try scuba diving!”). We wake up to the realization that we couldn’t live without doing what we are doing—without loving what we love with our whole life. And we smile, and get back to doing it, like a child with ice cream. 07/03/2012
  135. Blue Ridge Idyll, Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Jefferson, NC — June 20, 2012 — 38 We have to know what is important and serve it, defend it, with our life, because what is life divorced from what is important? The people who drift through their life looking for meaning, purpose, and the point of it all have either been wrong about what is important or they failed to serve and defend it with their life—failed to live loyally allied with what is important no matter what. Of course, it’s tricky. In any situation there are all manner of competing claimants to the title of The Most Important Thing In This Situation—and we have to decide again what will it be this time. It is not always the same thing, or the same combination of things. Sometimes it’s this way and sometimes it’s that way, and we have to decide each time what way is it going to be this time. We want to make rules and policies to get us off the hook. We want to know we are right. We want someone to tell us what to do. We want to hide out in The Law Says, or Mamma Says, or Daddy Says or The Bible Says. We do not want to decide for ourselves each time what is important here and now. So we drift through our life with some rule book tucked under our arm looking for meaning, purpose, and the point of it all because we don’t know what is important, or refuse to serve and defend it with our life. 07/04/2012
  136. Hay Field Sunrise 01, near Pilot Mountain, NC — June 2012 — 37 Freedom means maybe yes and maybe no. Sometimes like this and sometimes like that. Sometimes this way, sometimes that way. And we get to say what, when. I think commerce should be regulated but individual freedom to move about the country and mind our own business should not be. What business is it of anybody if gay people marry? Gay people are trying their best to live the life they woke up in, just like everybody else. We all need all the help and encouragement we can get. We don’t need to be making things harder for any of us. Immigrants are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families, just like everybody else. How can we help them is the question, not how can we make things increasingly impossible for them. How can we be open and gracious, kind and compassionate, generous and considerate is the question. We don’t need to be trying to be mean and snarly. There is enough of that everywhere we go. 07/04/2012
  137. Hay Field Panorama 02, Wright Farm, Rockingham County, NC — June 7, 2012 — 36 We are our own authority regarding the way we live our life. If we say the authority by which we live our life is the Holy Bible, or the Qur’an, or the Diamond Sutra, or the Bhagavad Gita, or the Torah, then we are the authority by which we say the Bible, the Qur’an, etc. is authoritative. We alone say how we live our life and we have no authority over anyone else’s life. They are the authority over their life. When our life interferes with someone else’s life, or theirs with ours, the authority of the State then intercedes on someone’s behalf to straighten out the conflict. But in strictly personal matters where my life does not impact anyone else’s life, I am the sole authority determining what I do and don’t do, believe and don’t believe, how I live and don’t live. Jesus said, “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” and “Who made me a judge over you?” We make a mess of things when we take someone else’s word as the law over our life, betray our own deep sense of what is good and right, and do what we are told until we die. 07/05/2012
  138. Pleasant View, Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Sparta, NC — June 26, 2012 — 35 How do we get our feet under us? How do we stand against the prevailing winds of the culture or society in compliance with our own way of seeing, our own sense of what is good and right in a particular situation, when the overriding weight of opinion is stoutly against us? When we have no one to stand with us or encourage us or urge us on? How do we live true to the drift of our own convictions when we are alone and on our own against family and friends? Where do we find what we need to be who we are? Where do we go to listen to our own soul in order to know what we know and look for what we need to assert that in our life? We have to ask the questions in order to seek the answers. 07/05/2012
  139. Cornfield Sunrise 01, Dinkins Bottom, Yadkin County, NC — July 06, 2012 — 34 Our relationship with our soul is our primary relationship, coloring all our other relationships. We are soul’s guardian, protector, servant and friend. Soul is our life and guide, guiding us to life, through life. It works well for both, for all, when it works, when we work it, when we understand what we are to be about and are about it, guarding, protecting, serving, befriending. Generally, we don’t have a clue about any of this. No one ever spells it out, offers direction, answers our questions. We wake up in some life with someone saying, “I’m your Mommie,” and someone else saying, “I’m your Daddy,” who have no notion whatsoever about what those words mean, much less “soul,” and we are on our own from the start, figuring things out, making sense of what we can make sense of and trying to stay out of the way of the rest, all the while with the instruction book tucked away inside each of us, waiting to be consulted, listened to, heard. We are all a variation of ET, only we have Home within and spend our life looking for Home, like the man on his ox looking for his ox, like the woman holding her car keys looking for her car keys. You’d have to live it to believe it. 07/06/2012
  140. Summer Arrangement 01, Blowing Rock, NC — July 06, 2012 — 33 I wish things were the way they appear to be, don’t you? That people would be who they say they are? That they would do what they say they will do? Wouldn’t that be a great way to start rearranging the world in order to make it a better, more reliable, trustworthy, place for all of us to live? If we knew what we were getting, or getting into, we wouldn’t make nearly the number of errors in judgment, for which we generally blame ourselves. We blame ourselves for believing the lie. Again. When are we ever going to learn? You know the routine. When are they going to stop lying? That’s what I want to know. Believing the lie is doing our part. Lying is failing, or refusing, to doing their part. They are the ones who deserve the blame! And the fallout! They lie and we have to clean up the mess? That’s no good. Well. We can’t do anything about their lying but. We can stop blaming ourselves for believing what we hear. What kind of world would it be if no one believed anyone? If everyone regarded everything they heard with suspicion and doubt? We hold the liars’ world together for them, hoping they will wake up and join us in the work of making this a better, more reliable, trustworthy, place for all of us to be. That is not asking for too much. 07/07/2012
  141. Black-Eyed Susan on Black, Blowing Rock, NC — July 6, 2012 — Introduction “Right forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne”—J.R. Lowell (Or words to that effect). We cannot let the impact, or lack thereof, of our actions in the service of what needs to be done impact us, dissuading us from the work that is ours to do. The idiots always have the high ground. Don’t let it stop you, or even slow you down. Yours—ours—is the work that must be done anyway, nevertheless, even so. Force the Cyclops to feast on you for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day until he throws up and runs at the sight of you coming back for another round. 07/07/2012
  142. Black-Eyed Susan on White, Blowing Rock, NC — July 6, 2012 — 31 Fraser Snowden said, “The only true philosophical question is: Where do you draw the line?” You don’t have to be right about where you draw the line—you can generally always redraw it, and on those occasions when you can’t, you’ll have to work through it and use the experience to know better where to draw it next time—but you have to know where YOU would draw it and YOU have to draw it. Knowing where you would draw the line and drawing it is the foundational act in becoming who you are. It is the essential spiritual practice. If you are going to practice anything, practice drawing lines! Drawing lines defines you as an individual human being, establishes your boundaries, declares to everyone in your field of influence, “This is where you stop and I start!”—which is the point at which relationship begins (And ends, but if a relationship cannot sustain the boundaries of both, or all, people in the relationship it is not a relationship, but is more on the order of an owner/slave arrangement). So, draw your lines! Draw them with compassion and kindness, but firmly and with conviction. It is an art that will serve you well from this point forward. 07/07/2012
  143. Purple Cone Flower on Black, Blowing Rock, NC — July 6, 2012 — 30 There is no science for connecting you with your life—it is art all the way. Your life is your art. There is no science for connecting you with your art. How could that be? It’s a contradiction in terms! What does science know of art? Science is all formulas and recipes and equations and left-brained stuff about stuff that can be weighed and measured and mapped and seen and touched and tasted and smelled and heard—all of which is a world apart from art. Which is the world of your life, the gift which is yours to serve. You serve your life with your life, with the time left for living. And there is no science for connecting you with that, with your art, your life. No formulas, or recipes, or black footsteps to follow. But there are lots of rules: Look at something until you see it. That’s a rule for finding your life, your art. Look closer at the things that catch your eye. Another. Sit down and shut up. Find the current of your life and let it carry you into the wonder of being alive. Ask the questions that need to be asked. Don’t waste your time with questions that don’t lead to more questions. The path opens before those who start walking. It is a large book that contains the rules of life. It’s waiting for you to write it. 07/08/2012
  144. Nodding Thistle on Black, Greensboro, NC — May 2012 — 29 DO NOT QUIT! That’s the message from voice at the heart of things to all of us. It’s hard. There are times we want to quit, times we cannot avoid the steady press of the questions: So What? Who Cares? Why Try? What Difference Does It (or Will It) Make? What’s The Use? What’s The Point? What Good Will It Do? Terry Malloy (“On The Waterfront”) speaks for all of us: “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am,” or what we feel like we are much too often, or what we are afraid we are too much of the time. And, like Terry Malloy, we never had a chance—and yet, we keep getting chances, chances to show our stuff, chances to be who we also are—the champ, NOT the bum! And we kill those chances, too many times, with one or more of the questions above—another quote from Terry Malloy: “What good does do you but get you in trouble?” We need voices countering our own voice. We can’t do it on our own. We need help remembering and reconnecting with the core, the center, the heart of who we are and working against all odds to believe in the goodness of the life that keeps trying to come forth, that keeps calling us to live it no matter what, “anyway, nevertheless, even so!” We come into the world and the world does a number on us, separates us from the life that is ours to live, laughs at us for thinking that we have a life to live, and we have to spend our life finding our way to our life, and living it—against all odds. We have to champion ourselves. We have to live on behalf of ourselves. And we have to find those who can help us do that. Everything depends on it. 07/09/2012
  145. Orange Flame Azalea, Groundhog Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, VA — May 17, 2012 — 28 If you are depressed because you have been thinking about how things are in your life and it’s hopeless, there is nothing wrong with you. You are right to be depressed. Anybody would be depressed who had the remotest notion of how things are. The odds stacked against us alone would be cause for a grand mal bout of the blues. The facts cannot be denied but. The can be reinterpreted. It’s the power of perspective to spin the facts until they are dizzy, begging us to please, please let them rest. Here’s my favorite spin: So what if it’s hopeless? Try that one on The Facts. Makes them crazy. So what if it’s useless, pointless, futile and coming to a very bad end? It’s what we do in the meantime that matters, like being genuine and kind and compassionate and a warm, caring human being. That will make all the difference. And The Facts know it. The Facts know they don’t matter, that it’s how we respond to them that turns the key in the door of everyone’s future. That’s one spin. Here’s another: The Facts are just excuses to keep from doing what needs to be done, and what needs to be done needs to be done not because it’s going to work in your favor and make everything just great but because it needs to be done. The baby needs to be fed, for instance, or the baby’s diaper needs to be changed, or the dishes need to be washed. These things aren’t going to turn life your way but they need to be done and it is essential that you do them exactly the way they need to be done. Being the kind of parent that baby needs is going to have more impact for the good than you can possibly imagine, never mind that it isn’t going to be your ticket to success, fame, fortune and glory beyond imagining. Tell The Facts, the next time they come sauntering into your life, smiling, asking how it’s going, to get out of your way because you have work to do that needs you to do it whether it does any good or not, and smile back. And wink. 07/09/2012
  146. Peaks of Otter, from Sharp Top Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway near Bedford, VA — May 28, 2012 — 27 Oneness is not automatic, inevitable. Oneness is not some foundational, ultimate, reality that we all fall into eventually, no matter how disarrayed or fractured or compartmentalized our life is. You can’t say to someone about Oneness, “Just wait. You’ll see.” Maybe, maybe not. Oneness is our work. Healing, wholeness, you know. Reconciliation, integration, union. Making peace. Harmonizing the discordances. Orchestrating the mutually exclusive incompatibilities. Ordering chaos. Perceiving patterns. Finding meaning. It’s one of the human things about human beings. Our gift to the cosmos. Perspective. We SEE Oneness, and there it is. And it isn’t there until we SEE it. See? So preaching, proclaiming Oneness is like preaching, proclaiming Salvation. Neither of those things exists without me doing the work required to bring them into existence. The work is realization, recognition, enlightenment, the perspective shift that sees how things are and how things also are and steps into the tension created by the polarities, integrating, reconciling, harmonizing, making peace through compassionate truthfulness about it all. No one can tell us anything we aren’t able to hear. Seers point out the way to those who are looking for it. You can say, “Wake up! Do the work! It’s all right there for anyone with eyes to see! Look!” but you can’t make anyone wake up, do the work, see. Eyes to see, see. Eyes that don’t see, don’t see. The distance from one to the other is the length of the spiritual quest, the Hero’s Journey. 07/10/2012
  147. Shafts of Light 03, Hemlock Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, Cherokee National Forest, Carver’s Gap, TN — May 30, 2012 — Introduction We live in prisons without bars or walls. We move freely about the country, locked securely in our point of view, our esteemed customs, our prized traditions, our established procedures for doing what we do—carrying how we see into every situation, imprisoned by the values we cherish, the principles we hold dear, free to question everyone’s ways but our own forever. 07/11/2012
  148. Waterline, Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC — June 2012 — 25 The Inner World is the source of inspiration, insight, courage, values and direction. We dig dry wells in the Outer World searching for the water of life. We have to revise our approach to both worlds. We do not find the meaning we seek in the external world, buying, spending, amassing and consuming. We find meaning in aligning ourselves with, in living the life that is ours to live—the life that has its source in the internal world. A good job is not one with a high salary and low hours, but one that resonates with us—that brings forth in us the gifts that are ours to relish, enjoy and give. The water of life flowing through us to a parched and dying world. 07/11/2012
  149. Short Season, Rhododendron Gardens, Pisgah National Forest, NC — June 15, 2012 — 24 It’s a popular view to believe there is a reason for everything. Not hardly, as they say in the deep south. There isn’t a reason for anything. Nothing is as it has to be. Everything could be different, and will be, keep watching, it’s changing as you look. Life is dynamic, fluid, flowing, moving, evolving. Only death is static. Even a rock is becoming something else. The reason for everything theory takes us off the hook. We can become passive geese in a pen waiting for some benevolent master’s hand to feed and water us, and we spend our time on the earth at the mercy of The Plan for Our Life, without any responsibility for anything we do because “It’s all a part of The Plan.” We see every little detail of every life—every event—as some printout from some master’s computer mind, merging into some great crescendo of meaning and purpose beyond imagining to the delight and amazement of all. Well. There’s another way but. We have to step into it as full participants in the creation of what, nobody knows. It’s an abstract painting we all are producing: Life In The Abstract. Nobody knows where it’s going. We are all here to see what becomes of it. Our part is to be alive to the possibilities, options, and choices that exist for each of us in each situation as it arises—to see things as they are here and now, and see what needs to happen about it, and do it and see where it goes and what is called for in the next moment, the next situation, and we play it out like a game of Improv, bringing our gift(s), our genius, our creative imagination to play in the play, in the game, in the painting, to see what contribution we can make in the time left for living with what we have to offer in the service of the true good of all. 07/12/2012
  150. The Hydrangea Variations 07, Greensboro, NC — May 2012 — 23 The shift in our life occurs when our perspective changes. Our perspective changes when we hear ourselves saying what/how we see and see it as though for the first time. SEEING how we see is seeing that calls into question how we see, that changes how we see. Now we are not just seeing, but are also seeing ourselves seeing, and that opens us to a new world, a new way of seeing. “I can’t believe I just said that,” we say, when we see what we are saying/seeing, and we can no longer see what we saw the way we saw it before we saw ourselves seeing it. I’m good for this kind of sentence, aren’t I? It’s what I do best. But, as I was saying, seeing comes from hearing ourselves say what/how we are seeing. It is the articulation of what we see that opens our eyes to seeing differently, that opens us to a new world, that enables us to, that requires us to, live differently because now we see differently and once we see, we cannot live as though we do not see. Seeing differently does not depend on what somebody tells us but on what we hear ourselves saying but. We cannot just recite the old formulas, the old constructions. That becomes a hypnotic recitation of the old way of seeing. We don’t hear that. We speak from a trance state when we talk that way. And the difference between talking and reciting is in the person who is listening to us. When we recite and the person listening doesn’t nod in agreement, but asks probing questions that force us out of the trance state in order to articulate what we mean by what we are saying, and have to think about what we are saying, BOOM!—as John Madden would say, REVELATION! So if you want to transform the world, listen to it in the right kind of way. 07/12/2012

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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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