One Minute Monologues 009

03/22/2013 — 05/13/2013

  1. Well. Here we are. What can we do with it? Sometimes, it takes waiting to see.

    I travel to a distant location to photograph a particular scene, but the light isn’t there when I arrive. Maybe it’s raining. Maybe it’s overcast. Maybe it’s snowing. You get the idea. Now what?

    In my photography and in all of our lives, we find ourselves asking more often than now, “Now what?”

    It is important that we ask it looking—and waiting—for the answer.

    We are a balled-up burst of creative vision hoping we will get out of the way, with our expectations and disappointments and insistent demands that things go like we want them to NOW, and our pouts our dismay—so that we might actually allow our creative vision to show us what it sees and come forth. In other words, we have to shut up and wait to see.

    It takes letting go of what we had in mind and allowing our creative self show us what we can do with what is before us. Our creative self is waiting as much on us to listen as we are waiting on it to speak.

    We only have to take the “Okay, it’s here, I only have to find it” attitude to see the treasure in the situation, the gold in the bog full of swamp gas and slime. But. We have to wait to see. We cannot hurry the time of realization. We wait. Looking. Wondering. Standing aside so the light can shine through.

    We look at our life and think, “No creative genius can do anything with this!” And believe it is so. Give your creative genius a chance. And don’t rule out any nudges. What we want often stands in the way of what we can have—really, of what is right for us, if we only had eyes to see, looking, as we do with eyes for what we wish we could have.
  2. Carolina, Of Course, Wren — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 1, 2013 — What are you waiting for? The question is not a push to get you going. The question is see if you know what you are waiting for.

    As a photographer, I wait on 10,000 things: The light, the wind, the clouds, the sky, the reflection, the tourists to get out of the way… I wait for the time to be right.

    I wait for the right time to act. In the meantime, I have a sense of the action I need to take and a sense of what needs to happen first, when things start happening.

    In your life, what are you waiting for? What has to open up, fall into place, for you to act? What action will the right action when it is time to act? What do you need to do to be ready when the time for action comes?
  3. Goose in Flight 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 1, 2013 — Second-hand experience is killing the soul of us all. We do not live our life. We live someone else’s life. All those Paparazzi magazines on the racks at the grocery store are purchased by people who find other people’s lives more interesting than their own—who have to read about someone else’s life because they don’t have one worth reading about—worth talking about—worth thinking about. We live to escape the life we are living.

    Because we have never lived our own life. From the beginning we have been living the life we were told to live, or the life we felt like we had to live because we had no choice. We live as good, company, men and women—and the culture is the company. We live lives that are good for the economy. We buy what they tell us to buy (that would be the ad agencies).

    When George Bush told us to “Go shopping,” he spoke as voice of the culture. He didn’t say, “Pray.” He didn’t say, “Think of how you can change the way you are living to embrace the values that will stand the heat of any fire because in your heart you know they are right for you, and true, and good.” He said, “Go shopping.”

    ”Serve the economy!” “Serve the beast that got us to the point of not knowing where we are, or who we are, or what our business truly is.” “Just do what you are told. Live lives that are good for the economy, and let someone else worry about the rest of it.”

    We live second-hand lives and wonder what is wrong. We think our way through the day, and can explain, defend, justify and excuse everything we do. We can answer for our deeds like good company men and women. We haven’t done what we felt like doing, what felt right, what felt like the thing to do in the situation as it arose in forever.

    We watch Reality TV trying to feel something if only disgust and revulsion. What are we disgusted with? What revolts us? What is killing our soul?

    Look in your refrigerator and your pantry and where you keep your snack food (Comfort food we call it). Look in your liquor cabinet, in your drug drawer (Call it your medicine drawer if you want to) and ask yourself, “What is this stuff doing in my life?” And wonder what your life would be without it. And live to find out what your life would be if you lived it.
  4. Barred Owl in Flight 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2, 2013 — Alcoholics Anonymous emphasizes the importance of “working the program.” You don’t have to be an alcoholic to have to work the program. We all have to do that.

    You have to work the program—work YOUR program—the one you have to work to be aligned and in tune with the core, the heart, the center of who you are, and express it, exhibit it, in the way you live your life.

    The particular elements in the program are unique to each person. Maybe playing the drums does it for you, or making biscuits, or fast dancing. What grounds you, centers you, brings you into focus, restores your soul? Make it part of your program. Do it regularly.

    My program includes the Bog Garden, photography, writing, sitting quietly, walking, woolgathering, cooking and reading.

    When Alan Watts asked Joseph Campbell, “Joe, what form does your yoga take?” Campbell replied, “I underline passages.”

    We find our own way to the way, and we have to be conscious of it and devoted to it—and we have to practice it regularly. You cannot underline passages once every two months and call that your practice.

    You have to work the program. The program is your practice. It connects you with the heart of who you are and enables you to express that in your life. Find what constitutes your practice and practice it. Daily.
  5. The Hooded Merganser Gang — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2, 2013 — How are you going to live your life in the time left for living? What is going to guide you?

    Forget what you want. What you want is just another barrier between you and the life that is yours to live. What you want is just another Cyclops standing in your way, coming between you and what is right for you.

    What you want is a creation, a fabrication, of the culture in service to the economy. Madison Avenue can make you want the damnedest things, all of which are good for the economy, very few of which have anything to do with the life that is yours to live.

    What does wanting know? You wanted your first marriage, remember? And your second.

    What is right for you is the question. How do you know?

    Here’s a hint for you: You will never know what is right for you by thinking about it.

    How are you going to live your life in the time left for living? What is going to guide you?
  6. Owl with Dinner — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 3, 2013 — It doesn’t take much to rob me of my peace, and it doesn’t take much to restore it again. A walk around the block, a visit to the Bog Garden…

    The center is always there. The ground is underfoot. It only takes remembering. But it takes remembering.
  7. Owl Dinning — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 3, 2013 — It’s living on a piece of roofing tin with someone shaking it like a rug. Life. There is no steady state. It’s a heaving roll.

    It’s just ridiculous. We need someone who knows what to say saying what we need to hear from the first. The very first, I mean.

    We need someone who knows what would be truly helpful offering help to us all along the way.

    What we get are people who are as dazed and shell-shocked as we are saying things and helping in ways that make things that have no impact or make things worse.

    By the time we figure out what’s what and try to tell someone how it is and what to expect, we are too old to be taken seriously, and they roll their eyes like the deck of the ship we’re all on.

    Here’s the plan: Leave it alone. Don’t try to smooth it out. Don’t change a thing. Enjoy the ride. It’s a doozy.
  8. Missed It! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 3, 2013 — You do your thing, and don’t let what happens stop you.
  9. Owl Thinking About Dessert — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 3, 2013 — The owl leaves his roost generally between 4:15 and 5:15 each afternoon, sometimes later. He doesn’t have a watch. How does he know when to go? He feels it.

    The entire natural world feels its way through each day, each year. Instinct and intuition, kid. Instinct and intuition.

    Instinct and intuition flow as freely through our veins as through the owl’s or the pussycat’s, but we have lost the connection. The right time is when we want it to happen, not when it is time for it to happen. And if some things are so wrong for us that it will never be the right time, we don’t want to hear of it.

    Our fingers are in our ears. “Nah nah na NAH nah!”

    With us one time is as good as another. Ain’t so in the natural world. In the natural world there is the right time and the wrong time. If it isn’t right, it’s wrong. The natural world waits for the time to be right.

    The owl knows when to go, and doesn’t go one minute early or late. He carries an internal clock with him wherever he goes (And I’m confident it is a he we are talking here—female Barred Owls are larger than males, and this guy is big in his own way, but not the largest I’ve seen), and doesn’t need to wonder what time it is. He knows: If it isn’t the right time, it’s the wrong time.

    That’s the kind of time we need to be able to tell.
  10. Duck Work — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 1, 2013 — We have to design and work our own program for being aligned with the ground and core of our being, with that which is deepest, best, and truest about us.

    That doesn’t just happen. We have to work the program daily. We have to live in alliance with our own heart and soul, and let everything else fall into place around that.

    We have to know what is important and be right about it—and live in ways which honor than, and exhibit it.

    ”Who’s your Daddy?” “Who’s your Momma?” Who or what is the chief aim, the number one priority, of your life?

    We have to know who or what that is and design and work a program to remind us their, of its, place in our life and to align ourselves with it. We have to make ourselves conscious of the invisible world, submit to its service, align ourselves with it.

    Here’s an exercise I recommend becoming a part of your practice: When you are in a situation where you don’t know what to do—either because you really don’t know what to do, or because you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t and can’t decide—get out of the way and listen.

    Stop trying to think of what to do and listen for what needs to be done. Listen for instructions. Listen for direction. Wait, listening, to know what is being asked of you.

    We do not live our life thinking what to do and doing it. We live our life in the service of what needs us to do it, of what needs to be done—and we don’t think what that is. We feel it.

    We feel our way into what is right for us, into what is right for us to do here and now, in each situation as it arises.

    We live awaiting instruction, direction, guidance—which comes to us as revelation, as an urge to act in this way or that because the time is right for it and our action is required. For what or why, we do not have to know.
  11. Barred Owl in Flight 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 3, 2013 — Planetary systems organized themselves by crashing into one another over a long period of time. It was a real mess in the early days.

    The idea of a Grand Design with everything humming smoothly along, a place for everything and everything in its place, is quite out of place.

    Reality is anything but organized and smoothly flowing. The Grand Design is simply one way of looking at chaos. Keep looking and you see chaos.

    Life is wild, uncivilized, reckless. There are no self-imposed limits to life. Life gets by with what it can get by with.

    Consciousness comes along and limits unconsciousness, invents rules, lays down the law, restricts the natural, the untamed, flow, imposes regulations, invents civilization, makes life liveable. But the conscious, rational, logical world isn’t the only world, and must honor the other world.

    Consciousness must consult, collaborate, confer, cooperate with unconsciousness. Negotiation and compromise, kid, negotiation and compromise.

    The visible world is built upon and is an extension of the invisible world. Consciousness makes the world visible. There is much yet unseen! There is more that we don’t know than we do know!

    Consciousness works with unconsciousness to bring forth the unseen, unknown, and to make visible what is invisible. Physical reality is invisible until consciousness sees itself seeing and knows that it knows and names what is known.

    Unconscious reality is as real as conscious, physical, reality. It’s invisible because it is not conscious, but it exists.

    Our place is to treat it as though it is real, because it is, and assist its coming to life in us and through us. As a by-product, we come to life as we bring the invisible (unconscious) world to life. It’s the only path to having life and having it abundantly.
  12. Carolina Of Course Wren 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 1, 2013 — We will do anything to live as long as we can. To do what? Watch more TV? What are we living FOR? What will we DO with a long life?

    The people who worry about dying are the people who haven’t lived. Jesus said, “Get in their and do your thing. Everything else will fall into place around that.” Or, words to that effect.

    We are alive to the extent that we are living in light of the needs and interest of the invisible world, making conscious what is invisible/unconscious, and trusting ourselves to what we do not know.

    We live prophylacticly, being careful, staying safe, thinking everything through and having a good reason for everything we do. A sure recipe for being dead long before we die.

    In being alive, we feel our way from one thing to the next, not knowing what we are doing, unable to make sense of anything, having no idea of what lies ahead or what we will do about it when we come upon it, but trusting, trusting, trusting ourselves to the process of divining our life, of dowsing our way to the treasure, which is nothing short of our own heart and soul—who we are, brought forth for all to see and be graced by in the time left for living.

    Hallelujah! May it be so!
  13. Mallard in Flight 16 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, January 29, 2013 — Jesus said, “Get in there and do your thing and don’t worry about those who are with you or about those who are against you!” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “Get in there and do your thing and take your lumps and don’t let anything stop you.” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “Get in there and do your thing and don’t worry about the outcome!” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “Get in there and do your thing and don’t hide your light under a basket!” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “You have everything you need to find what you need to do what needs to be done. Now, go do it!” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “Look. It’s like this. They can kill you but they can’t touch you, if you know what I mean. Now, what’s the problem?” Or, words to that effect.

    Jesus said, “Find the self within worth being true to and be true to that self—to your own sense of what is right for you (not what is right for someone else) regardless of what you want or what the culture expects of you!” Or, words to that effect.”

    That Jesus knew what he was talking about!
  14. The Shape of Time 11 — Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ, May 2010 — All we want is a world in which everyone is free to do his or her own thing without interfering with someone else doing his or her own thing. That’s simple enough. How are we going to work it out?

    When things conflict, what? When my good is your bad, what? Or your good, my bad? At what point does my thing have implications for your thing—or yours for mine? What’s to keep me from pursuing my thing at the expense of your thing, or vice versa? Who is going to enforce the Rule of Things? What penalties will they be allowed to enforce?

    Who is going to decide when an individual thing is a threat to the things of the whole? Is it right for people who do not smoke marijuana to tell people who do smoke marijuana that they can’t do that thing?

    How can we limit people to doing what is right for them without telling other people what is right for them—or forcing the second set of people to do what the first set of people think is right for them?

    If people would only do what is right for them without messing with the right of other people to do what is right for them, what a great world it would be.

    We could call it Fantasy Land.

    In this world, we are stuck with working out the conflicts among us regarding what is to be done and not done. In this world, we live in two worlds at the same time. The world in which we are free to do what is right for us and the world in which we are not free to do what is right for us.

    In my growing up years, I was free to do what was right for me in the woods, and on the lakes, and in the fields of the natural world. I was not free to do what was right for me in the world of my adult supervisors. There was my world and there was their world, and I escaped to my world at every opportunity.

    Time in my world enabled me to survive time in their world. Things haven’t changed over time. I’m still escaping in order to recover, readjust, and step back into the other world and do what needs to be done there to enable my retreat to my world. Being retired helps a lot.
  15. There are four things you can do to improve your photography dramatically and instantaneously. 1) Use a camera that suits your purposes. Do not try to make it do what it cannot do. If you are happy with your camera phone, read no further and enjoy taking pictures.

    2) If you are not happy with camera phone photos, buy a camera that allows you to control focus, exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. If your current camera will “get out of the way” and allow you to do that, you probably have all you need in a camera.

    3) Read the camera manual and learn how to get it to do what you need it to do in each situation as it arises.

    4) Do not show up in a scene at a time that is convenient for you and expect the photographs to be there waiting on you. The first law of photography states: The moment does not last and rarely returns. You have to be where the photos are likely to be at a time that is not convenient for you, at a time that is too early or too late for your satisfaction, and you have to wait on the photograph—on the light, on the time to be right.

    If you get these four items down, everything else will fall into place and your skill will improve beyond all hope and expectation. You can tell them I said so.
  16. Lake Millinocket — Millinocket, ME, October 2012 — Don’t change anything. Don’t force anything. Don’t make anything happen before its time. Wait for the shift. And walk through the open door.

    They should tell us these things while we are still in the womb.
  17. South Pond 01 — Baxter State Park, Patten, ME, September 24, 2012 — It’s all practice. We are figuring things out here. All those people who are chiding us for being slow? They have slow places in their lives, things they haven’t figured out. They ridicule us so they don’t have to think about themselves.

    The owl flies at me and I forget what I’m doing. So I go back, hoping the owl will fly at me again. I have thought about throwing the camera in the pond and taking a blanket and my thumb to some warm corner and waiting it out, but so far, sanity has prevailed.

    I’m teaching myself to take photos of the owl. Coming at me.

    We are teaching ourselves to live our life—as it needs to be lived, not with our thumb and a blanket (or any of the addictive equivalents) in a corner.

    When you think you will never get it, get back out there and hope to find an owl. Coming at you.
  18. Reedy Fork Sunset H Panorama 02 — Lake Brandt Greenway, Bur-Mil Park Access, Greensboro, NC, January 24, 2013 — The longer we look at something, the more likely we are to see it in different ways. Sit with something long enough and it becomes more than you ever imagined it could be.

    I’m thinking here of you. Look at you long enough and you will change your mind about you. Several times. “Will the real you please stand up?” They all rise. They all are really you.

    But the same thing applies to everyone. Your parents, your siblings, your friends, your enemies… The whole circus.

    The longer you look, the more you see. The more there is to take into account. The more there is to consider when weighing judgment and issuing edicts.

    The old rhyme applies: “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn’t behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us.”

    It’s another way of saying, “Give folks—including yourself—the benefit of the doubt and see where it goes.”
  19. Barred Owl in Flight 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 8, 2013 — We want it to all fall into place so we can quit worrying about it, and quit working with it, and quit trying to make it out, and just enjoy it before we die. We think we can’t enjoy it until we get everything taken care of and in its place.

    Here’s Jim’s Tip of the Day: ENJOY WHAT CAN BE ENJOYED ABOUT IT JUST AS IT IS!

    Start with your morning coffee, or whatever its equivalent is in your life. Spend some time enjoying your coffee.

    Next time you’re in the grocery store? Stroll through the fruit section. Something is in season that you enjoy. Buy it. Enjoy it.

    You have things you enjoy doing that you haven’t done since you-can’t-remember-when. Well?

    Unleash your joy dog! Let it run all over the place, sniffing, licking, rolling in the grass…

    What do you gain by being all stiff and withheld? If you are waiting on all of it to be just right before you like any of it, you should buy a soft chair and take a seat. May be a while.
  20. Trout Lily 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 2013 — How are we going to live our life in the time left for living? How is your life calling you to live it? How is your life calling you?

    One way our life calls us is through what we enjoy doing, through what we love to do. We answer the call by giving ourselves to it and seeing where it goes, being led along by what “tickles our fancy” and pulls us along.

    Another way our life calls us is through the people we fall in love with. Our falling in love with someone has absolutely nothing to do with the person we fall in love with and everything to do with the person our life needs us to become.

    Think of the people you have fallen in love with. Let one stand out from the rest: “Your heart’s true love,” we’ll call him, her. What are the qualities you love about him, her? The characteristics you find to be overwhelmingly wonderful? Make a complete list.

    What would the person bring to life in his, her, relationship with you? What would you do, who would you be, with the person that you would not be on your own? Make a complete list.

    You have two lists now before you. Begin the long, slow, painstaking work of incorporating each item on the list into your life, into the way you live, becoming who you imagine the other person to be. Becoming what you love in the other person. Becoming what you find so attractive in the other person, whom you would do anything for, make any sacrifice in order to be with for the rest of your life.

    Do it now. Do anything. Make any sacrifice. In becoming who you imagine that person to be.
  21. Barred Owl in Flight 06 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 8, 2013 —  Nothing beats listening/hearing and looking/seeing for finding the path with our name on it.

    We waste a lot of time on paths that do not have our name on them. Those who make it to the path with their name on it learn to listen/hear, look/see along the way.

    I don’t know why some figure it out and all don’t. I call it the Luck Factor.

    ”There’s no such thing as luck.” I hear it all the time. “It’s God’s Providence and Grace that gets us through!” they say. When I say, “Aren’t we lucky that God is so providential and gracious?” there is a pause, and then, “Luck has nothing to do with it!” End of conversation.

    Well. At least four golfers and a business wizard are credited with saying, “The more I practice (Or, the harder I work), the luckier I get.” Just showing up has a lot to do with it. If you show up enough with a camera, you’ll get your photos.

    If you keep picking yourself up, saying, “I know I can do better than this!” You’ll be more apt to find the path with your name on it than if you just lie there, marinating in your misery.

    So, maybe luck has nothing to do with it. Maybe it’s the Tenacity Factor, or the Perseverance Factor, or the Determination Factor. Whatever it is, some have it and some don’t. And I don’t know of any way to give whatever it is to those who don’t have it. I don’t even know what it is.

    But, I do know that listening/hearing and looking/seeing are basic requirements for finding our path and walking it. If you are going to practice anything practice those things.
  22. Trout Lily 08 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 10, 2013 — Our interests will guide us along the way. Our interests ARE the way. We cannot become who we are—and who we have yet to be—without being interested in what interests us—without loving what we love, enjoying what we enjoy, and doing what is ours to do.

    What is ours to do is not some odious (I have to start using that word more. What a great word. I never work it into a conversation. How odious of me!) task that is imposed on us from the outside, as a punishment for past wrongs or a requirement for residence in the eternal habitations.

    What is ours to do is ours to do because we are built to do it—because we are incomplete and much less than whole until we do it. And when we do it, we do it with all our heart, not begrudgingly, looking at our watch, wondering how much longer, and why do we have to do this old thing.

    The saddest people I know are the people who have no interests—who have been separated from their interests for so long that their interests have dried up and disappeared—who have not allowed themselves ever to follow their interests or enjoy anything about their lives because they are always being graded and don’t want to appear to be having fun because that would be a mark against them for sure and they can’t risk any more marks against them because all the ones they have already accumulated are surely going to carry them straight to hell unless they manage to be miserable enough in the time left for living to pay off some of their debt and maybe get to live on the fringes of heaven in the afterlife. Or something like that.

    So. Find an interest and follow it. It will lead you straight to the Promised Land, I promise. Of course, it may lead you to other interests along the way that is the way for you to the Promised Land. Just keep following your interests. It will be so delightful you may forget all about the Promised Land, and then realize you’ve been living in the heart of the Promised Land all this time, and laugh at the whole idea of the Promised Land being somewhere far off when it is right here with us all our life long just waiting for us to open our eyes and see where we are and what is ours to do and enjoy.
  23. Don’t “Yo Mama” My Mama! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 10, 2013 — You are up to you. You are in your own hands. You make the calls that lead to life or death. If you fail to be alive in the time left for living, look no further than in the mirror.

    We know what is right for us and what is wrong—we only have to take the time and go to the trouble of knowing what we know. Too often, we prefer not to know.

    Knowing asks too much of us. When we know too much, it puts us crossways with Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased. Then comes the showdown and we lose either way. Better to sacrifice ourselves again than to risk the displeasure of the scornful others who wield power over us and hold the reins.

    This line of thinking sells ourselves short and, never knowing what we know, we fail to experience—to know—the power that resides within, that is the source of all creative imagination, courage, determination, vision, purpose, meaning, and life.

    Allowing the Scornful Others “take care of us,” we never know the power that is ours to take care of ourselves when we live in the service of what is right for us, never mind the outcome.

    So, here’s your homework: Know when you are overriding what is right for you in favor of what serves the status quo, maintains the peace, does not rock the boat, and keeps things exactly as they are forever and appeases the Scornful Ones. Know at least that much of what you know. And see where it goes.
  24. Avalanche Lake — Glacier National Park, Apgar, MT — We help each other along the way, in two ways in particular. We provide encouragement and caring presence. That’s one way. We serve as a sounding board. That’s the other way.

    People hear what they are saying when they say it to us. Our role is to keep them talking.

    Notice how often in a conversation you start talking about yourself, your experience with a recent illness, or loss. And you don’t make three statements before the other person takes the focus away from you and your experience and starts talking about themselves and their experience. This is not being a sounding board. It is also not providing caring presence, and is not encouraging.

    Listening to what is being said, and past what is being said to the feelings that are being expressed through what is said, and receiving both well, in ways that communicate having heard what has been said on the face value level and on the feelings-beneath=the-surface level is perfect sounding board behavior.

    It isn’t easy. But it’s important. Important enough to be aware of its importance. To practice it. To be good at it.

    Listening saves the world one person at a time. Nothing is more grounding, centering, focusing, and integrating than being heard. Being heard all the way to the heart of who you are is transformative—and essential to our waking up.
  25. Trout Lilies 09 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 12, 2013 — Eyes that see. Ears that hear. A heart that understands. If you are going to wonk on anything work on these things.

    The way to work on them is looking until you see, listening until you hear, and asking until you understand. And do not assume you see, hear, or understand until you do.

    Carl Jung said that belief for him was a strange concept—either you know something or you don’t know something, and if you don’t know a thing, then you don’t know it.

    Religion these days is based on believing what someone else says is so, without going to the trouble of knowing ourselves if it is so. We take someone else’s word for it and go on with our life.

    Eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands are the heart of religion which is grounded on direct experience with the invisible world. No doctrine can take us there. No theology can substitute for our own raw encounters with More Than Meets The Eye. But, who is up for that these days?

    We think we have a life to live and just want the basics in our religion. We don’t understand that life hinges on what we know to be so out of our own experience. So we believe what we are told to believe and go on with our life, which is no life because it is disconnected from its heart and soul.

    If we want to know, we have to look, listen, inquire and get to the bottom of every little thing. We wake up that way, and come alive to the world that is waiting on us to see, hear and understand.
  26. Mesquite Dunes 01 — Death Valley National Park, CA — It’s our work, aligning ourselves with the invisible world, living out the life that is right for us. This is our business. We have no business pursuing anything else. It is our highest priority.

    Well. You know about that. A stupid Pomegranate (My personal choice for the Forbidden Fruit. What’s yours?) distracts/untracks us—which means anything can. It doesn’t take much. Our highest priority is whatever we fancy now.

    But. The prize waits for us to wise up, to wake up, to take up the business that is ours from the start. It does not tarnish, evaporate, or waste away. It is always ready for us to say, “Oh, THERE you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s see what we can do with the time left for living!”
  27. Mallard in Flight 34 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 13, 2013 — There is a downside to waking up, you know. You have to bear the pain of realization. Seeing shows you stuff you had rather not know about. Awareness requires action. You cannot grow up and enjoy the numbed-out bliss of ignorance.

    There is something to be said for not-seeing, not-hearing, not-understanding, not-knowing. It isn’t the most wildly popular state of being ever for no reason. It pays to be tuned-out. It costs to be present with all that is present with us.

    Do we have what it takes, is the question. Will we trust ourselves to the presence of the inner guides? Will we fulfill our role as point person in the encounter with the full wrath and power of physical reality—countering the dismay and disenchantment that comes with eyes to see and ears to hear—with the compassion and resiliency of a heart that understands more than can be seen and heard?

    The physical world is great for producing the hopeless, pointless, meaningless, useless illusion that “this is all there is.” Leaving us with nowhere to turn but the numbness of escape and denial. So. We have to remember what we also know: This is not all there is.

    We carry the banner of the invisible world and swear allegiance to the service of more than meets the eye. It is squarely up to us to have the strength of our own convictions in the encounter with that which purports to be “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

    All of the temptations, tests, and contests—whether the hero is Jesus, or the Buddha, or Ulysses, or any of the champions of myth and fairy-tale—come down to what is real. Come down to what we are going to believe—our eyes and ears, or our heart.

    What does our heart say is right, and true and good? The facts be damned! We have a cause to serve! A life to live! We bring what else is true—what all is true—to bear upon what claims to be the whole, hopeless, truth. And see what happens. And see where it goes. This is the Hero’s Journey. It’s yours if you are up for it.
  28. Trout Lily 10 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 13, 2013 — Measure yourself by where you’ve been and where you are—by where you started and how far you’ve come—by who you have been and who you will be. And stop trying to be somebody else.

    Be you. To the best of your ability. Become more like you every day. Until you get it down and are perfectly, wonderfully, delightfully you in every respect.
  29. What A Hoot Looks Like (Or, a “Who Cooks For Yoouuuu”) — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 14, 2013 — The facts don’t mean what we think they mean. Thinking the facts mean it’s all useless, hopeless, pointless and coming to a very bad end leads us to depression, disenchantment, despair and dismay.

    Who is to say what the facts mean?

    ”You have no education, so you can’t be smart.” Who is to say that education equals intelligence and is required for brilliance?

    ”You are not rich, so you must be stupid or ignorant or bad or worthless. You are definitely worthless if you are not rich.” Who is to say money is an indicator of character?

    ”The suffering and misery in the world proves that life is not worth living.” Who is to say life is best when it is pain free? That suffering has no place in a well-lived life?

    The facts have no business determining feelings. Feelings have to be free to access the situation apart from exclusive reliance upon the facts. Feelings can lead us to choices and behaviors that transform the meaning the facts have had for generations. Feelings can show the facts a thing or two. Feelings can say to facts, “Who made you the Boss of me?” and go on with what needs to be done in spite of the fact that it will never work, that it can’t be done, that it is contrary to nature and God’s eternal, unchanging, immutable will.

    Don’t let the facts dictate your feelings. Let your feelings transform the facts.
  30. Early March Morning — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 13, 2013 — Growing up means changing our mind about what’s important. It means waking up. But not “Finally waking up.” Or “Finally realizing what’s important.”

    There is no “Finally” to it, to anything. There is always waking up again and changing our mind about what’s important.

    What’s important is called “values.” We change our values over time. Or not. To not change our values over time is to be deader than dead.

    When we fall in love, what we are falling for is not the other person but the values that are reflected in, by, the other person. What is important to that person shines through and grabs us, because it is important to us, but we don’t know it, and have to see it in someone else to get a sense of what needs to come forth in us, but we think it’s about the other person when it is really about us, and think if we can’t have the other person forever we will die, when it is actually if we don’t exhibit what we see in the other person we will die—we will be deader than dead—because we aren’t espousing values that are actually important.

    Falling in love is a wake up call, which we miss, thinking only about him or her, but we have other chances to wake up, grow up and change our mind about what’s important. Conflict is a great chance.

    All conflict is a conflict of values. What we think is important comes up against something else that is important, and we have to work it out. If working it out includes changing our mind, great. If it only means going to war and winning, smashing the other side’s values to smithereens (How long has it been since you heard that word? It used to be all the rage. It used to be important, say, in 1950. Somebody or something was always being “blown to smithereens.”) so that what’s important remains just what we always said was important, we drift on into being deader than dead, in the Wasteland, where there is no hope and no chance for those there who know what’s important and aren’t about to change their mind for anything.

    So get to the bottom of all of it. When you fall in love, get to the bottom of what draws you to the other person—of the qualities you want to live with forever (which isn’t what we think it is—nothing is—but just the next stage of life, which we will leave when we change our mind again about what’s important, or not leave at all when we lock ourselves into what is important and never change our mind, living out what remains of our life deader than dead) and live to exhibit them in your own life.

    And when you have conflict, find the values that are at odds and work to integrate them, reconcile them, so that what is important meshes with what is also important and transforms perspectives on all sides of whatever the issue is before us, by waking us up, growing us up and changing our mind about what’s important. Again.
  31. Trout Lily 08 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 12, 2013 — I had to leave the Deep South to have a chance. In the Deep South I would have always been who I was.

    In the Deep South, I’m still Jimmy. I still like homemade vanilla ice cream, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and hunting and fishing. In the Deep South I will always be who I was.

    In the Deep South the norms are firmly in place and no threat to contentment is tolerated. How it’s supposed to be is how it’s always been. No change allowed.

    Life is movement. Life is in flux. In transition. Unfolding. Emerging. Becoming. Who knows what?

    And “There is nothing but the dead and dying/Back in my little town.”

    So we escape or succumb. You can’t live with a foot in some worlds. You “move far away and visit seldom” to have a chance. And don’t try to explain it, justify it, excuse it, defend it, make sense of it, or make anyone happy with it. You couldn’t anyway.

    Who could say what all needs to be said to those who would be saying it themselves if they could hear it, and who don’t have the foggiest notion as to what you are talking about? You have to know what I mean in order to understand what I’m saying. If you know what I mean.
  32. See The Owl? 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 14, 2013 — The Owl comes at me and I forget what I’m doing. You have to do something, and do something, and do something, in order to be able to do it.

    It’s called practice. It’s where playing the piano comes from. Or doing anything worth doing.

    You can’t write without writing. A lot.

    You can’t play first base without playing first base. A lot.

    We want to—think we ought to—be good at things we never practice. “Oh, I can’t talk in front of people!” Or we play golf a couple of times a month and are disgusted with our game.

    I’m practicing with the camera, and having a wonderful time. I’m really playing with the camera. Playing the piano starts with playing with the piano. Playing first base starts the same way. Hopefully, with nobody yelling at you because you can’t do it yet.
  33. The Real Decoy 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 16, 2013 — You have only one question to answer: How are you going to live what remains of your life?

    What are you going to do with the time, in the time, left for living? How are you going to live your life? How aligned can you be with the life that is yours to live? How much of that life can you bring forth in the life you are living—within the context and circumstances of your life as it currently is?

    How much can you learn/know of the inner world and your place in it—your relationship with it—in the time left for living?

    Do not think time is short so you must hurry. Hurrying, rushing, running around trying to find your life and live what you can of it is exactly the wrong thing to do. The time to take your time is when time is short. Because you don’t have any time to waste, and must be careful with what you do with the time you have.

    The most important thing to do in answering the questions above is nothing. Be quiet. Be still. Get out of the way. Look. Listen. Be fully present with what is present with you.

    The answers you seek are all plain before you. All you need are eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands. You know all you need to know. You only have to know what you know. And you know that, too.

    So, what do you need me for? To tell you to sit down, shut up, get out of the way, and pay attention.

    The life that is yours to live is dying for you to live it. Literally. It is not playing with you. Hiding from you. It’s right there in your heart’s true joy. In your heart’s true love.

    It’s time you got together with your heart. What a team you will make!
  34. Mallard in Flight 35 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 17, 2013 — One aspect of our practice is remembering who we are and what we are about—remembering to live aligned with the intents and purposes of the invisible world.

    This does not come naturally with us. While lions and humming birds have to be who they are, we can put on airs and have aspirations. We can build great walls between ourselves and who we are. We never once have to be who we are. So, we have to remember to be.

    A remembering place, or ritual, or both, would help. Every time we stop what we are doing for a cup of coffee, we could remember to ask, “Okay, who am I? What am I about?” And sit with the questions and the cup of coffee.

    We recall ourselves to the task that way, regain our perspective and our focus, our center and our ground. And step back into the day.

    The day has its ways of stripping us of our intentions and our resolve. So, we have to remember them and get back on track.

    It’s hard work being who we are. All a lion has to do is wake up and he, or she, is who he, or she, is. Of course, that’s really all we have to do, too. It’s just that waking up on that level isn’t as easy as waking up on the lion’s level.
  35. Two Down — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 17, 2013 — Ducks, geese, owls—all living things in the natural world—act in the moment in light of what needs to happen in the moment. They don’t make lists, maintain schedules, consult calendars and clocks, have motives and agendas.

    They all have their own business and are about it, and it is constantly being disrupted by the 10,000 things, but they don’t pout about it. The goose with the broken leg, the duck with a broken beak, the ducks and geese with only one foot, all manage to be about what business they can be about given their present state of affairs. But they don’t think about it. They “just do it.”

    They don’t get in their own way.

    We come along figuring things out. Scheming, planning, staying ahead of the game, exploiting our position, pursuing our advantage, manipulating our outcomes, seeking to maximize our profits and minimize our losses… None of which has any connection with our business, with what we are doing here, with the life that is our life to live.

    My idea for us is to use our feeling function—the way we know what is right for us and what is wrong for us—to find our business, and use our thinking function—the way we find the best way to do something given all of the impinging conflicts and contradictions, barriers and impediments—to do what is genuinely ours to do within the context and circumstances of our life.

    We think our way to doing what feels right for us without being distracted and untracked by interests and concerns that have nothing to do with our business.

    We stay out of our own way.

    That would be my gift to us, but I’m going to continue testing it out on me before I put the hard-sell on you.
  36. Mud Wrasslin’ — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 14, 2013 — There is one problem, arrogance, which manifests itself as two problems, inflation and deflation. Solve those two problems and we would have no problems.

    Inflation is thinking too much of ourselves. Deflation is thinking too little. Inflation and deflation make themselves problematic in 10,000 ways. It’s all arrogance outdoing itself.

    What’s needed is a humble respect for what needs doing and for how things are to be done. No sooner do we touch humility than we begin to think how significant it is that we are so humble, off we go into a humility based inflation.

    I’m saying there is no fix for the problem of arrogance or the problems of inflation and deflation. There is only me being aware of how the problems creep into my life and you being aware of how the problems creep into your life, and all of us hoping that awareness of their presence is enough to bring us back to being respectful of what needs doing and of how things need to be done.

    May we all live out of this respectful orientation without being impressed with how well we are living. This is called not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing. The closest we can come to this is catching the right hand in the act of showing off by being all meek and humble, call the foul and say, “I see what you are doing! Cut it out!”
  37. Geese on the Wing 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 2013 — The degree to which we live the life that is ours to live depends to a large extent on the way we respond to the life we are living—to life as it comes at us like some wild, howling, owl from hell so that we forget what we are doing and everything we ever thought was good, and suitable, and right. What we do then tells the tale.

    You better write yourself a script and memorize the thing. You better rehearse the scene 10,000 times, until you can recite your lines like you mean them, until you can remember you have a camera in your hands, and you are here to take photographs of howling owls from hell and anything else that looks interesting—until you can do the thing that is yours to do no matter what life throws at you all your life long.

    When you can respond to your life without taking your eyes off your LIFE—without forgetting who you are and what you are about—without casting about all hopeless and forlorn, looking for meaning and purpose and hope, as though those things live somewhere outside of your own heart and soul—and can remember your business and be about it no matter what is going on in your other life, then your LIFE knows it has a keeper in you, and snuggles right up to you and says, “Lets me and you go show them what we’re made of,” and the fun really begins.
  38. Geese on the Wing 02, B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 3013 — Learning to see is learning to see with the heart. It’s different, whether we see with our eyes or with our heart. The difference is that between life and death.

    The eyes see what is pleasing, and displeasing, to the eyes, The heart sees what is pleasing, and displeasing, to the heart.

    The eyes can be taken in. The heart is a hard sell.

    The eyes are caught by sheen and glamor, by how things look, by the shimmering beauty of glass beads and silver mirrors, the bright plastic and flashing lights of Gay Paree.

    The heart sees into the heart of the matter. The heart looks past appearances and promises, past hints and suggestive packaging to the unalterable truth of how things are.

    The eyes know what looks good. The heart knows what’s what.

    Learning to see is learning to see with the eyes of the heart.
  39. Mallard in Flight 43 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2013 — Is it a side track or the right track? It takes going to know.

    Side tracks can lead us back to the right track if we receive them well and refuse to take wrong turns more seriously than necessary.

    It’s all grist for the mill, and we make of it what we can, using the experience of living to lead us in the way of life—by living with our eyes open and learning as we go.

    It’s amazing what we can know just by seeing what we look at.

    So, don’t be down on yourself for not knowing more than you know. Learning what the way is not will lead us eventually to the way. Side tracks are the right track for those who see them for what they are and don’t kid themselves about what they are doing.
  40. Geese on the Wing 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 2013 — If you want to find God—the God who IS, I’m talking about, understanding full well that our idea of God is not God—find your life. God will be there tucked away in your life wondering what took you so long, and why you wasted so much time trying to make sense of someone else’s idea of God.

    Your life is as close to God as you will ever get. Your life and God are one. But. You have to be living your life to know what I’m talking about.

    God also can’t figure out why we spend so much of our time—live so much of our life—not living our life, our LIFE. Chalk it up to the Five Barriers to Authentic Living: Fear, Ambition, Greed, Stupidity and Arrogance.

    We have a lot to work through to get to the work that is ours to do. Better get started.
  41. Northern Shoveler Hen — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 18 2013 — I have known a number of local singers who had big time talent and never made it to the big time and didn’t let that stop them from doing what was theirs to do—from doing what they loved to do.

    There is a local bluegrass group that is the best in the world, but only a few of us know it because they are doing their thing and their thing doesn’t require international recognition.

    Doing your thing does not call for celebrity status. Celebrity status has been the death knell for the thing of a lot of people.

    We put stipulations on our thing. Insist that it pay off. Demand that it be to our advantage. Require that it serve our ends. Make us happy.

    We can be happy, but we cannot make ourselves happy. We cannot be made to be happy. We find happiness like a coin on the street. We are happiest when we are living in the service of our gift, our genius, our art.

    We cannot squeeze our gift, our genius, our art for the gold. It is gold, but it does not produce gold. It IS the gold we seek. Those who know that know all they need to know.
  42. Mallard in Flight 49 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 20, 2013 — I’m amazed at how little it takes to break my concentration.

    I can be alone at the Bog Garden and fully present with it—aware of, and attuned to, what is happening and what is likely to happen. I’ve been there often enough to know the patterns of the ducks well enough to sense when one is likely to take flight, and I’m fully into the scene unfolding before me. And someone walks up.

    You’d think I could exchange pleasantries about the weather and water level without losing my place in the scene. Not! I cannot do two of some things at once, this being one of them.

    And it takes a few minutes after they leave for me to settle back into where I was.

    Now, this is a lesson in Business Maintenance. We can be About Our Business or we can be Not About Our Business, but we cannot be A Little Bit About Our Business and A Little Bit Not About Our Business.

    When it comes to our Business, we are all ADD’s. The least little thing can knock us off the path. Some things can make us forget everything about the path—can make us forget there was a path.

    There is a reason Buddhist monks all the way up to the Dali Lama maintain a strict schedule around their meditation times. They have to be about their Business on a regular and steady basis to remember they have a Business to be about.

    You see, I’m sure, how all of this pertains to you. You can’t be about your Business the way you would be about a Sunday stroll or making oatmeal cookies. You can’t just take it up and put it down and get back to it in a few days when the mood strikes.

    Our loyalty and allegiance have to be to our Business, our LIFE, our path. We cannot work the program when we feel like it. We have to WORK the program.

    We have to know when the work has been disrupted and what to do to pick it back up. We have to know when we lose our concentration and how to find where we were before the distraction came along.

    Our business is our BUSINESS. It is who we are, what we are about. If you think there is something more than that, something other than that, something besides that, think again.

    We belong to our business. Our business does not belong to us, to pick up and put on when it suits us. Savvy?
  43. Geese on the Wing 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 2012 — If we are going to walk together, we cannot stipulate where we go. We have to allow each other the latitude to determine his or her own direction and trust our relationship to be flexible and fluid enough to grant each other the room that differences require—and not be so If You Loved Me You Would Like Brussels Sprouts with each other that we all tip-toe on eggshells to keep from rocking the boat or turning over the apple cart or making waves and have absolutely nothing but a box of smoke where a helping, loving, relationship could be.

    You have to admit I’m great for sentences that could be six or fifteen sentences. And you’re still walking with me. I’m grateful, too.
  44. See The Owl 05 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 16, 2013 — Is it your business or none of your business? Is it your work? Does it help with your work? Does it have anything to do with your work? What are you doing, doing something that has nothing to do with your work?

    How focused is the Dali Lama? Was the Buddha? Was Jesus? “If your eye causes you to walk off the path, pluck it out! (Or words to that effect)!”

    A bit extreme, perhaps, but precisely the point: Know Your Business, Your Work. Do Your Business, Your Work.

    Life is too short to be frittered away in pursuits and undertakings not worthy of our time and attention. Only our work and that which pertains to our work is worthy of our time and attention.

    We have to draw our lines around what we will do and what we will not do, around what our business is and around what is none of our business.

    We cannot live any way that suits us and be about our business. We have to be clear about what the journey requires and whether we have what it takes to take it. Do we have the heart for the journey of heart? If not, what are we thinking?

    Jesus had lots of stories about starting out and not completing the journey, and about not going at all. He was talking about doing our work and not doing what is not our work.

    He would be quick to say, “There is only one thing: Your work. Do it!” And he would be right.
  45. Geese on the Wing 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 9, 2013 — What do you love to do? Do it for the love of it. Do it for the joy of doing it. Don’t look for wealth from it. It is peace and well-being that we need.

    Steer your way to what you value most and live a life that expresses it, embrace a good that serves it.

    Carl Jung says that in today’s culture—and it’s the world culture he is talking about—we don’t need to hear the message, but need to hear the message explained. When we are so far removed from our sense of what has true value that we need to be told what is valuable, we are in a bad way.

    When someone else has to tell us what is valuable, we have lost connection with our own sense of value, which is our sense of direction to purpose and meaning.

    Jesus said, “Do your thing, and don’t worry about those who are with you or against you,” or words to that effect.

    Most of us are free to have a life that is free within the life that is not free. We can live in two worlds at the same time.

    I check out of this world all the time and retreat to my world. I close the door to my office, for instance, and write what I need to write. I can do what I know to be important, to have value to me, in that world.

    I drive to a scenic location and walk amid the photographs waiting to be taken, with on one telling me which ones to take or not take.

    I have no control over a lot of things in my life. I have to do a lot of things I don’t want to do, don’t enjoy doing. In the other world.

    But. In my world, I am free to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, as it needs to be done, as I determine those things.

    I am living my life in my world in ways that are completely right for me, and you can’t stop me. Nah na nah NAH nah.

    And you can do the same thing in your world. What’s stopping you?
  46. Goose Coming In — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2013 — Money cannot buy a world fit to live in. Only the heart can create that world. Money has cut us off from our heart. We sell our heart for money, thinking money is the answer to all of our problems with life.

    Living a life of true value is the answer of all of our problems with life. Only the heart knows what is valuable.

    Without heart leading the way, the world becomes a wasteland, where we work for money to be content, and are not content, so we work for more money to finally be content, and are not content…

    It’s like my idea of bad religion where we go to church to hear the preacher tell us we are going to hell if we don’t come back and hear the preacher tell us we are going to hell if we don’t come back and hear the preacher tell us we are going to hell if we don’t come back…

    A life without value is a life in search of value. Here’s a tip: We cannot use money to buy it. More money is not going to do it.

    The heart knows what is valuable. Let heart lead the way.

    We have to build a life of value within the wasteland or our other life. We have to live in two worlds. We have to create a world worth living in within a world that is not worth our time.

    The older ones of you have already done this and just need a little affirmation and encouragement. You’re on the right track—you are doing the right thing with your life. Do it consciously. Keep it up.

    The younger ones of you know already that your life isn’t working and you found your way hear by casting about, grasping at straws, hoping to find something to help you construct a life worth living. I hope you’ve found it. You have to build a world worth living in based on what your heart knows to be truly valuable. This is your work. Do it.

    No one can tell you what is valuable to you. You have to listen to your heart. Silence is valuable to me. Solitude. Writing. Listening. Seeing. Inquiring. Walking. Conversation that is more than News-Weather-Sports-Politics-Religion-Gossip (See how much you have to say that doesn’t fall into one of those categories—It’s all we know how to talk about!). My list is not long but I find the things on it to be intensely valuable to me. I would hate to have to live without them.

    See what’s on your list. Incorporate the items there into your other life. Create a new life for yourself—a new world. Live in two worlds, knowing clearly which one you belong to.
  47. Geese on the Wing 05 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 09, 2013 — At the level of the heart, we all speak the same language. If we cold get at that level and stay there, we would have it made—worldwide. Ah, but. There are Fear, Greed, Ambition, Arrogance and Stupidity blocking the way.

    Another name for the Big Five Barriers to the Promised Land (Enlightenment, Nirvana, the Kingdom of God, or wherever it is we think we are going) is the Cyclops. We get up and go a few rounds with some manifestation of the Cyclops every day—a regular routine on the Hero’s Journey.
  48. See TWO Owls? — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 23, 2013 — Seeing what you look at will carry you a long way.

    To see what you look at, you have to get out of your way.

    You have to lay aside your assumptions, inferences, prejudices, arrogance, all you think you know, everything you have ever heard and approach each seeing moment with eyes so fresh they sparkle and shine with interest and wonder.

    Get that down and you have it made.
  49. Star Flower — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 23, 2013 — Work with what you have. Don’t be saying you can’t do anything with this old life and these old resources. Stop making excuses.

    We can put off forever the work of living the life that is ours to live within the context and circumstances of the life we are living.

    The problem is that we want it to be profitable. If our work were guaranteed to bring us our heart’s desire (which has no connection whatsoever with our HEART!) instantaneously, we would do it without hesitation, no matter what the initial cost. Our work is not profitable the way the world reckons profit.

    We cannot take the gift we have been given and exploit it for our own good. We can only serve the gift—not exploit it. Our work is serving the gift, bringing forth the gift within the context and circumstances of our life—the time and place of our living—here and now, for the good it can do, the blessing it can be, in the lives of others.

    The gold we seek is found in our devotion to, our love for, the gift, the genius, which is ours to serve and to give away.

    The gift may pay for itself—helping us pay the bills that serve the gift—or not. It is a source of well-being, not wealth.

    We think wealth is the everlasting source of well-being, and throw everything into being wealthy, and well-being languishes, and dies.

    All it takes is seeing what we look at to know what needs to be done and do it. In order to see what we look at, we have to change our minds about what we think is important. We have to grow up. We have to live in light of values that are worthy of us—worth our life in their service.

    The length of the spiritual journey—the Hero’s Journey—is the distance from our head to our heart (our HEART).
  50. Mallard in Flight 39 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 18, 2013 — It is important that we help each other do what is important to the other, that we help one another find what is right for each—for all—of us.

    It is important to not say things like: “Why are you doing THAT?” Or, “Why do you care about THAT?” Or, “That’s crazy!

    It is important to not put a premature end to someone’s ruminations—wander around with them amid the possibilities. We imagine our way along the way. We need sounding boards to help us hear what we are saying. We can talk our way to clarity if those who listen to us will just keep us talking!

    We have to listen to each other to know what is important to the other and help them find their way to it.

    The path is always at our feet, waiting for us to discern it. Waiting for us to be open to it. Waiting for us to know what is important, what needs to be done. And do it.

    We need one another to help us see what is before our eyes—not by telling us what is there, but by listening to us say what is there.

    People are always telling us what they want us to know instead of listening to us to help us know what we know.

    How will we ever know what we know without people who listen lovingly to us? To whom do you listen lovingly?

    Being listened to lovingly is what we all need. Why do so few of us do it?
  51. Mallard Mirror — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 23, 2013 — What stops us from doing what needs to be done? We need to lose weight. We need to exercise. We need to cut things out of our life (Empty calories and TV) and incorporate things into our life (Silence and reflection), and we don’t. What stops us?

    What cannot be stopped? Organized crime, drug cartels, the gun lobby, injustice against women and immigrants… The list is long. What stops what needs to be stopped from being stopped?

    What is going on? What can we do about it? Why can’t we stop what needs to be stopped and do what needs to be done?

    What needs to be stopped in your life? What needs to be done?

    What’s stopping you from answering the questions?
  52. Carolina Of Course Wren 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 1, 2013 — We are here to serve the gift. This is the heart of “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Serving the gift soon carries us into the realm of “not my will.”

    Nothing is more quickly inconvenient and in the way, aggravating, bothersome, grating, and, eventually, painful, than serving the gift—than making the gift and its delivery our highest priority—than being at the “beck and call” of the gift. Particularly, when there is—as there usually is—nothing in it for us beyond the experience of the gift and its offering.

    This is the province of God’s will. Are we going to serve the gift or not?

    Am I going to get up at 2:30 AM to write what needs to be written or not?

    How often do we dismiss something that catches our eye—and how often does something catch our eye that is not gift-related—and go on in the service of our agenda, with no awareness of the gift and the opportunity we missed to serve it?

    How often do we think, “What gift? I don’t have a gift!” ?

    We think God’s will is about morality, about obeying the Ten Commandments, living a “pure, righteous and sober life.” Not so. God’s will puts us at odds with the moral precepts of our day. Jesus is the perfect example of what God’s will requires.

    Healing on the Sabbath. Associating with the outcasts, with the untouchables. Rocking every ecclesiastical, doctrinal, theological boat he could get his hands on. Putting himself in the position of being called “A glutton and a wine bibber” and “a Son of Satan.” All required in the service of the gift, and the direct result of doing God’s will.

    But you will never hear that in a Sunday School class or in a sermon.
  53. Oops — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 23, 2013 — We serve the gift, share the gift, bring forth the gift, produce the gift—ARE the gift, the work, the life that is ours to give, do, live.

    The gift we have to give, the work we have to do, the life that is ours to live takes precedent over every other concern.

    This is what it means to pray, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

    From the standpoint of this understanding of this prayer, religion is a lived experience of those who are engaged in the work of unfolding the gift they are called to be within the life they are living—and it has nothing to do with, no connection with, believing what someone else has said is true about God. It is knowing what is true about God first-hand.

    When we are living our life—the one that is ours to live, giving our gift—the one that is ours to give, doing our work—the work that is ours to do, we know God the way Jesus knew God, and can say along with him, “The Father and I are One,” because, then, there is no space between who we are and who God would have us be.

    When we find our life and live it, there is God—beyond theology, beyond doctrine, beyond dogma, beyond faith and belief. A rock-solid presence that cannot be doubted or denied.

    And so, when Carl Jung was asked if he believed in God replied, “I do not believe—I know!”
  54. Mallard In Flight 58 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 25, 2013 — Bringing the Christian perspective into the present means understanding sin as being wrong about what is important—as wanting what we want and not what we ought to want because it is right for us to want it and wrong for us to not want it. Understanding repentance as changing our mind about what is important. Understanding salvation as being right about what is important and living aligned with it—wanting what we ought to want, not because it is forced on us from outside of us, but because it is genuinely, authentically, who we are and right for us in the truest sense of the word.

    Hell is being lost to ourselves, adrift in a world of our own making, a wasteland of emptiness, hopelessness, meaninglessness because nothing is as we thought it would be, and is not what we wanted—and we have no one to blame but ourselves, but we cannot face the truth of our responsibility for our plight and blame everything—everybody—but ourselves.

    Heaven is being restored to ourselves and living authentically aligned with what is deepest, best, and truest about us—being who we are, doing what is ours to do, being about bringing ourselves forth into the world.

    Our work is to get ourselves on the right track—the track that is right for us, the life that is our life to live in the time left for living. The afterlife will take care of itself.
  55. Mallard in Flight 001 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2013 — Look for living symbols that are alive for you. Water and stones are ancient ones that have worked in every age to connect the age, the people, to purposes quite beyond them—but each age, and each person within each age, must re-work the symbol to make it relevant and meaningful to that age, to that person.

    The Tao is Valley Water and baptism represents the water of birth—the embryonic fluid of our new beginning.

    We have to work the symbol, and work ourselves into the symbol, and see ourselves reflected by/in the symbol, and be reminded of who we are and what we are about.

    We have to have grounding, stabilizing, centering, focusing symbols to reorient us to the way that is our way, the truth that is our truth, the life that is our life—because there is much at work in our other life to strip us of the vitality, meaning and purpose that our symbols represent.

    So. Find your symbols and make them real. They are your life and connect you with your life and bring you forth and make you real. In making your symbols real, you are making you real, which is our real work. Being real.
  56. Wild Goose B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 26, 2013 — We have to live in two different worlds, The world that feeds our body and the world that nourishes our soul.

    What feeds our body is not necessarily what nourishes our soul. What we do to feed our body can deplete and exhaust our soul.

    And yet, body and soul are one thing, not two. Physical and spiritual are one experience, not two. Soul is nourished physically, through touch and sound, taste and smell and sight. We cannot know soul except through body.

    And body can be soulless, empty, barren, dry, dead, deader than dead—and is, when it does not take soul into account.

    Our life in the physical world has to nurture our life in the spiritual world, and vice versa. It is one world.

    And yet, it is two. What we do to pay the bills that enable us to feed (and warm, and cool, and wash, and dry) our body can deny and dismiss our soul. We have to also pay the bills that replenish our soul.

    We have to honor the second world and consciously, deliberately, willfully reconcile it with the first world—with the apparent world, with the visible world, with the world that takes itself to be the only world.

    We begin by creating the second world and living in it—when and where and how we can. And once we have established for ourselves the validity of the invisible world, the world of soul, we integrate it with the visible world, the world of body—bringing soul intentionally to life through the way we live in the physical world.

    We cannot just talk about soul and live soulfully. We have to experience soul—to be soulful—in order to live soulfully. We do that by creating for ourselves a world apart, and then bringing the two worlds together. The two become one in the hands of those who know what they are doing.

    But they are not automatically, spontaneously, easily one. The work is to make them one over the course of our life in each. They become one through those who do the work of oneness—the work of reconciliation, integration, harmony, wholeness—consciously, painstakingly.

    Two worlds plus one life lived consciously equals one world.
  57. Mountain Magnolia — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2013 — There are two worlds: The world of normal, visible, physical, apparent reality and the world of abnormal, invisible, spiritual, ephemeral reality. By living consciously in both worlds, we bring the two together in our life and make the two worlds one world. This is our work.

    There is the world of that which meets the eye and there is the world of more than meets the eye. We have to live in this world as those who never loose sight of that world, of that invisible world. Do not lose sight of the invisible world!

    We have to find ways of living in this world which make that world apparent, and present, and real. We do that through our physical senses, tuned into the world beyond the physical world.

    Every physical act has a spiritual component. Every physical experience is a threshold into more than meets the eye. Some physical experiences are so packed with the spiritual, with the numinous, with the More Than Words Can Say, that we are stunned into silence and remember it always, though we cannot say what it was that we remember.

    We must not discount those experiences. They are the ground of our work to see that world in this world, through this world—and to make that world apparent by the way we live in this world.

    That world is REAL—is more real than this world. We sense it through the impact of our experience with this world. This world drains us, depletes us, exhausts us—enthralls us, enchants us, bewitches us, delights us. What happens in this world has an emotional component that we cannot put into words.

    We dismiss what cannot be said, explained, described, told, counted, quantified, locked-up, fenced-in, seen, weighed, measured, touched, tasted, smelled. Weird, isn’t it that what we taste—lemon ice box pie for example—can transport us to a world apart, and we are back in our childhood, in our grandmother’s lap, eating her lemon ice box pie, and are brought to tears? Now, you tell me which world is the REAL world.
  58. Geese Coming In 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 22, 2013 — When you don’t know what to do, don’t try to think your way forward. Feel your way there.

    Be quiet. Be still. Listen. Look for what is stirring within, Fear and desire get all the press and attention, but look beyond them, see past them to the deeper feelings capable of guiding your boat on its path through the sea.

    The owl drops out of his roost as evening comes and goes looking for dinner. Where will he go today? His feelings guide him. Not his thoughts. Maybe he feels like this, maybe he feels like that.

    It’s like you when you walk through the cafeteria line. What’s for dinner? Surely you don’t think your way there. What looks good? What are you in the mood for? You go in thinking about salmon, but the baked spaghetti catches your eye. Suddenly, you feel like spaghetti. That’s how it works.

    Feelings have directed us through thousands of years of living. Thinking is a Johnny Come Lately, taking over the operation, acting like it knows what its doing. When you don’t know what to do, thinking just starts shooting from the hip, try this, try that, no that.

    Geez. Sit down. Shut up. Stop. Look. Listen. Feel.

    We feel our way to what is right for us. We do not think our way there. And if we feel our way to what is wrong for us, keep feeling. Feeling got us in the mess, feeling will get us out.

    What say your feelings? Listen to them!

    And if you feel incensed that I would say such things, what does that say? Are you going to listen to your feelings or not?
  59. The Chase Is On! 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 26, 2012 — Everything that comes, goes (Joseph Campbell). If you are not coming, you’re going. The enlightened life is to let come what’s coming and to let go what’s going.

    And, some of us think, “Oh, boo-hoo, boo-hoo! Nothing lasts! Nothing is worth it! It’s all emptiness and sadness! It’s just a box of smoke wrapped in pretty paper! Why have anything to do with this life? I’m just going to pout and cast about until I die!”

    But not all of us. Some of us “get in their and do our thing, and don’t let the outcome stop us” (Joseph Campbell). Some of us live the life that is ours to live, “and when the birds of the air—or the way things are—plaster us with their droppings, don’t even pause to notice, or wipe it off” (Joseph Campbell). Some of us are too busy with the things that matter to us to bother with how long it lasts or why bother with something that is going away.

    How long does sex last? Or an ice cream cone? Or a glass of wine? Doesn’t stop us from enjoying the experience, relishing the memories, and signing up for another round.

    What’s with this hanging on to things? What’s with this saying, “If my babies are going to grow up and move away, I’m not going to have children!”?

    If we are going to be alive in the time that remains, we are going to have to jettison the sorry attitude that keeps us from living.

    Look. It’s like this. This is how things are, and this is what we can do about it, and that’s that. Are you coming or not? You’re burning daylight, pouting and casting about!

    The challenge for everyone is to jump right in there and do what is ours to do as well as we possibly can and let that be that.

    We are called to join in the dance of life as full participants in how things are—loving what is to be loved, enjoying what is to be enjoyed, delighting in what is delightful, mourning what is to be mourned, grieving what is to be grieved, saying hello to what’s coming and good-bye to what’s going—as though the whole thing is all our idea and the best one we have ever had!

    We are to join right in as though the joy is all ours, and we are going to climb onto the big, snorting, pawing, beast of a bull and tell them to open the chute—and enjoy what we can of the ride.

    Doing what needs to be done as though we want to do it—letting things be what they are and doing what we can do about it—is the transition point, the turning point, from immaturity toward maturity. Making the decision to play the game on the game’s terms is the most important decision of our life.

    You’re burning daylight here. Are you coming or not?
  60. The Shape of Time 18 — Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ, May 18, 2010 — Where do you find your peace? What are the sources of encouragement for you? What do you do to regain your balance, find your center, reorient yourself to what is important? Where do you find your strength for dealing with what you have to deal with—for doing what is yours to do?

    Do not hurry past the questions. Sit with them. Answer them. The answers cradle your heart. If you take care of your heart, your heart will take care of you.
  61. Mallard in Flight 59 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 28, 2013 — We have to know what interests us and we have to be interested in what interests us—past all resistance and opposition from any source.

    Jesus said, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters? Not those who are my blood relatives, but those who perceive the will of God calling to them through their interests, urges, gifts and abilities and do it—regardless of the price or who stands in their way!” Or, words to that effect.

    We have an interest and begin to pursue it, or perhaps just to entertain ideas of pursuing it, and people close to us say, “Why on earth are you interested in THAT of all things?” and we turn back to doing the things we are supposed to be interested in, even though our heart isn’t in any of them.

    We have to fight for what interests us.

    The relationship we have with our interests is that of the medieval knight with his Lady. We wear her colors and swear allegiance to her to the death. She is the epitome of our heart’s truest love—and we honor and revere her above all else, trusting ourselves to her service for life, not knowing why we do it or where the road will lead.

    The spiritual journey (Hero’s Journey) is this way to the core. It is a journey of our unfolding, of our emergence, of our evolution from who we were to who we have it within us to be. We have no map. We have only our interests to guide us. We have to trust ourselves to them and serve them faithfully as they lead us to who we are.
  62. The Chase Is On 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 26, 2013 — Joseph Campbell said, “If a person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life, and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off-center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life, and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves, or have listened only to their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what they values are that they should be living for.”

    What holds us down, what holds us back, is our idea for our lives, our idea of how our lives, of Life, ought to be. We have to get out of our heads, so to speak, out of our idea of how things should be, in order to participate in—in order to engage—things as they are. We do that by allowing ourselves to love what we truly love instead of loving what we think we should love.

    The biggest risk you will ever take is the risk of loving what you love—of giving yourself to your heart—of allowing your heart to have the reins, trusting yourself to your heart, and seeing where takes you.

    If you are up for it, you have started on the Hero’s Journey. Hang on. It’s the best ride there is.
  63. Caterpillar Hill — Overlooking Deer Isle and Penobscot Bay, ME, September 28, 2012 — What is the central focus of your life? If you are casting about, looking for something good, let me suggest living aligned with your heart, and through it, with the drift and direction of the invisible world.

    When you are grounded in your heart—and through it, in the invisible world—you are a rock. More than a rock. You are life itself, alive in you.
  64. Compass Pond 02 — Golden Road at the lower end of the 100 Mile Wilderness near Millinocket, ME, September 25, 2012 — The quick stopper to my “live aligned with your heart” advice is, “But what about all the times I’ve followed my heart and lived to regret it—like my first marriage. And my second. My heart doesn’t know anything!”

    My reply is, “If you live aligned with your heart and it leads to trouble, keep following your heart—it will lead you out of trouble. And you will learn things about yourself in the trouble that you would never have known otherwise. Your heart isn’t as stupid as you think.”

    Joseph Campbell said, “Consciousness is transformed by trials and revelations. Trials and revelations are what it’s all about. The trials are designed to see to it that the intending hero should be really a hero. Is he really a match for this task? Can he overcome the dangers? Does he have the courage, the knowledge, the capacity, to enable him to serve? The adventure (evokes) a quality of his character that he (didn’t know) he possessed. It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses.”

    If you give yourself a bad marriage, fine. Work out for yourself what you are going to do about that. It will evoke qualities you didn’t know you had. And keep living to be aligned with your heart. It will carry you straight, in a round-a-bout way, to the heart of who you are.
  65. Fog on Cadillac Mountain — Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME, September 29, 2012 — Joseph Campbell said, “Where you stumble and fall, there is the treasure.”

    We think our failures, mistakes, screw-ups and flame-outs are shameful, tragic, burdens that we will forever kick ourselves about because we were so stupid and should have known better—and DID know better but ignored every warning sign we put in our way.

    Our failures have called us forth in ways our successes and triumphs could not touch.

    We have within the ability to rise to every occasion—but we don’t want to have to rise to any occasion. We want, as my friend Ogi Overman reminds me, “smooth and easy all the way.”

    Smooth and easy will not—cannot—bring us forth, grow us up, produce in us the qualities of character and spirit that we develop in dealing with and recovering from our bad choices and wrong turns.

    Here we discover the spiritual conundrum/paradox: Bad is good. Wrong is right.

    And the treasure is this discovery and all the others we make about ourselves in handling all of the things we would like to avoid.
  66. Mallard in Flight 60 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 29, 2013 — We do not impose the solution onto the big problems. The solution emerges from the big problems.

    Carl Jung said, “The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.” Growing up solves all of our problems.

    We create problems solving problems. When the problem solves the problem, the problems diminish.

    One of the 10,000 laws of photography and problem solving states: Wait long enough and something will happen. If we sit with a problem long enough, a shift will occur. We don’t have to find a solution. We have to wait for the shift.

    When the door opens, walk through. Seize the moment. Act when the time for acting is upon you. Do when needs to be done when it needs to be done the way it needs to be done. Poof. No problem.

    A leaking roof is not a big problem. Call the roofer. A stopped up drain is not a big problem. Call the plumber. When we make a big problem out of a problem that is not a big problem, we have a big problem. That would be us. We have to sit down with us and allow the solution to emerge. We have to get out of our way and let the shift happen.

    How do you get in your own way? How do you make big problems out of small ones? How are you refusing to grow up? Hmmmm?
  67. South Pond 01 — Baxter State Park near Patten, ME, September 24, 2012 — I have two pieces of advice that I consider to be all you need to do to be on the way. Everything else falls into place around these two things.

    1) See what you look at.

    2) Be interested in what interests you.

    That’s it. Spend your time in the service of these two things and you’ll be in the center of the way the rest of the way.
  68. Grackle in Flight 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 29, 2013 — We don’t have to change the way we are. We have to see the way we are—with compassionate eyes.

    Seeing with compassion changes everything.
  69. The Mates Meet — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 31, 2013 — How many times in a week are you are where you can’t think of any place else you had rather be? Doing what you can’t think of anything else you had rather be doing? How long are you there?

    What can you do to increase the frequency and the duration?
  70. Mallard in Flight 67 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 31, 2013 — We are here to help each other with our life—to help each other find our life (the life that is truly ours to live) and live it.

    It does not help to exhort, berate, harangue, expound, proclaim, preach, condemn, chastise, ostracize, expel, evict… I’m sure you get the idea.

    It does help to listen with compassionate ears, see with compassionate eyes, understand with a compassionate heart. Compassion helps a lot. And interest. And authenticity. And playfulness.

    It helps to know we don’t know what we are doing trying to help someone else with her, with his, life when we aren’t exactly in the saddle of our own life—but to laugh at ourselves and do what we can imagine doing in each opportunity to be helpful as it comes along.
  71. Mallard in Flight 66 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 31, 2013 — We want to feel better RIGHT NOW!

    Getting better requires us to bear the pain of our past over time. Facing the truth of how it is with us. Doing what needs to be done about it. And letting that be that. Trusting that healing and recovery and genuine acceptance of our false starts, and wrong turns, and life’s Big Juicy Wet Ones Right On Our Kisser will come in its time. And we will grow up to be the kind of people people are glad to have in their company.
  72. Mallard in Flight 64 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 30, 2013 — There should be some effective way of neutralizing mass hysteria and prevent it from sweeping the country—or the entire civilized world—up in a frenzied rush into insanity. Individuals grounded in and remaining true to, themselves are the only defense against communal madness I know of.

    Listen to your heart. Center yourself in what you know to be valuable, important, worthy of your allegiance. Stay away from crowds—even virtual crowds—and maintain your grounding connections.

    Avoiding psychic infections is one of the tricks to master on the Hero’s Journey.
  73. Pier in the Fog — Lake Brandt Watershed Park, Greensboro, NC, January 11, 2013 — As physical beings, we have mass, take up space and are capable of movement.

    As emotional beings we make a feeling response to our environment—and to more than our environment.

    As mental beings, we can think about—be conscious/aware of what we are experiencing and decide what to do about it.

    And as spiritual beings we can bring it all together—integrating physical, emotional and mental aspects of our experience in light of qualities and characteristics we find to be valuable, and connecting us with sense of meaning, purpose and direction beyond anything we could extrapolate from the world of space, time and matter.

    Sheldon Kopp said, “We can experience more than we can understand and we can understand more than we can explain.”

    There is more to us, and to all of it, than meets the eye. Live in ways that honor the realization that there is more to know than we do know—more to know than can be known—and don’t act like you know all you need to know and that if everyone thought like you did the world would be a wonderful place.
  74. Songbird — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 1, 2013 — Everything at the Bog Garden has its business, knows what it is, and is about it. And everything else by and large stays out of its way. Nothing there is lost and without purpose. So much for the supposed inferior nature of the non-human world.

    We moan about our lack of purpose and direction, not because we lack purpose and direction, but because we lack those that will do. We want some kind of purpose and direction. The kind that will make the neighbors sit up and take note. Perhaps because we think that is what it will take to get our neighbors off our back.

    My current purpose is learning to take pictures of flying ducks. That is to say, learning to keep flying ducks in focus. It is nothing to take a picture of a flying duck. I take plenty of pictures of them. They are just out of focus.

    People would have me have a better focus than taking a better focused picture of a flying duck. They don’t think that’s much of a purpose.

    ”Do you spend every day at the Bog Garden?” they inquire, as though there is a better place to be.

    If I let them take my purpose from me, I would be lost and without purpose. But, as it is, I know my business, and am about it, along with everything else at the Bog Garden. Everything else, though, has the advantage of not having to justify their business to everyone who comes along.
  75. Two Owls on a Limb — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 1, 2013 — What is suitable in a situation may not be what is desirable—may not be what you want. It is what the situation calls for. A coat and tie, for instance, and shoes that pinch a bit. Maturation is doing what the situation calls for—what is appropriate, suitable, for the situation—no matter how much you would prefer to be in the Bog Garden.

    Our priorities float in a sea of situations. The highest priority is what the situation calls for—to be set aside in favor of what the next situation calls for. We cannot always do anything and hope to be living in accord with what is appropriate and suitable in the here and now of our living.

    The situation determines what is appropriate and suitable, not your mother’s Book of Rules, or the Church’s Official Decrees. We cannot impose an ideology upon our situations and have a livable life. We have to live in each moment, alert to the moment, guided by the moment. The moment will show you what needs to happen in the moment. Listen to the moment!

    The scene will show you what photographs to take. Stop trying to impose your idea for the scene upon the scene! Stop trying to impose your idea for your life upon your life! Cooperate with what is trying to come forth—assist what needs to happen—do what is appropriate and suitable to the occasion, regardless of how much you had rather be somewhere else, doing something else.

    This is called growing up and understanding that what you want is not the highest good.
  76. Creekside — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — One of the 10,000 laws of photography states: If you want to be there when something happens, you have to be there.

    If you want to walk up and take a picture, that’s fine. Millions of people do it that way and are perfectly happy with the results. They have a camera. It’s different with photographers. The camera has them.

    But, there is a connection between this law of photography and your life (As it is with all of them). You can’t order up your life and have it ready for you at the drive-through window. You can’t expect it to unfold before you like a magic carpet ride. Your life will work you over, just like your camera will if you are a photographer.

    Your life is work, just like your camera is if you are a photographer. And you have to work it, just like you have to work at being a photographer. You belong to your life, your life does not belong to you, just like you belong to your camera if you are a photographer.

    You have to tend your life—that means you have to pay attention to your life and do what it needs you to do. What does it want from you? What do you have to do for your life to come alive? For you to live aligned with the life that is your life to live?

    Your life has a life of its own, and it’s your place to be open to that and let your life live you. If you are going to practice anything, practice that.
  77. Through the Trees — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting it around and changing the rules and so forth. No, any world is a living world if it’s alive, and the thing is to bring it to life. And the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life is, and be alive yourself.”

    ”The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” The only influence worth having is toward LIFE. If you want to influence the world for the good, you are going to have to be alive to do it. You can’t give away something you don’t have. You can’t tell someone how to get something you don’t have.

    We all come with it. Puppies have it. Children have it before they run head-on into Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased and haven’t been alive once since they were five years old, and now live only to take life away from others and hand them some rule book which is really a manual for going to hell before you die.

    Your task is to take your life back. This isn’t a hard thing. Where is your joy found? Go there. Often. Do things you love to do. How long has it been? Don’t let another day pass without working in some things you love. Hot showers count. And music. But don’t let my list get in your way. Make your own list. It’s a path to life.

    There are paths to life all over the place, just waiting for you to walk them. One of the 10,000 laws of photography applies here: “You’ll never know what you’ll see if you don’t go looking.”

    Go looking for life. Let it surprise you in all the places it’s hiding.
  78. Cherry Blossoms 03B — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — A variant of one of the 10,000 Laws of Photography is, “You’ll never see anything if you don’t go looking.”

    The camera is for more than birthdays and trips to far away places. The camera is for seeing. For seeing what you look at. For looking.

    Take your camera along and be alert to what catches your eye. Over time, you’ll marvel at what is always there beyond your vision because you aren’t/weren’t looking.

    The camera is also an invitation to take your time with what you see. Shift your perspective. How is it begging to be seen, photographed, shown? Is there a better time to see it, better light in which to see it? Do you need to come back when it’s cloudy, or earlier, or later?

    Your life is changing here. Who is to say that your life doesn’t need to change? Doesn’t need to be directed to something else? Directed by something else? Who is to say you know all about living your life and everybody and everything needs to get out of your way because you know where you are going, what you are doing?

    Who’s to say that the camera can’t show you a thing or two about your life—about life—and living—and being alive?
  79. Songbird 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — There is your work and there is that which distracts you from your work. It’s important to know which is which.
  80. Narcissus Reflection — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — Joseph Campbell says, “The real dragon is in you…it’s (you) holding you in…it’s what I want, what I believe, what I can do, what I think I love, and all that. What I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might be too small. It might be that which pins you down. And if it’s simply that of doing what the environment tells you to do, it is certainly pinning you down. And so the environment is your dragon, as it reflects within yourself…And we slay the dragon within us by following our bliss.”

    Our bliss is our joy—it is our heart’s true love. What we are born for. Where we belong. It is our thing.

    It takes courage to give ourselves to our thing. We have to have heart to follow our heart. There is much to overcome. Resistance within and without. Objections. Opposition. Barriers…

    This is where faith comes in. Faith in ourselves. In our own heart. We trust our heart to know what it’s doing, and throw in with it, and see what we can do together. Or not.

    There are plenty of people who don’t. You can see it in their eyes. They opted out of service to their heart. And paid the price. Loss of heart. Loss of soul. Empty eyes. Empty life.

    The wonder is that nothing is more forgiving than heart and soul, and it is never too late to start believing in our heart.

    It’s ready right now to carry us into the bout with the dragon. Why not? There is nothing much on TV. The real fun is found in living our own life, giving our heart the reins and saying, “Let’s see what we can do.”
  81. Sans Songbird 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 3, 2013 — The most important photographic equipment are your feet for getting you out of the house to where the photos are.

    The most important piece of photographic advice is: “Go! Go! Go!”

    You can’t photograph what you don’t see, and you can’t see what you aren’t looking at. So, Go! Look! See!

    See?
  82. Mallard Landing 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 30, 2013 — People with no life meddle in the lives of others. Tell other people how to live. Call it religion. Say God told them to do it. It’s a lie.

    The Bible—that would be, according to those who use it to their own ends and purposes, the Very Word of God—says, “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark.” And Jesus said, “Man, who made me a judge of you?” and “Don’t be judging one another now, you hear?” (Or words to that effect). God clearly means, “Keep your nose out of other people’s business.”

    If it were only so simple! There are people who think everybody ought to be like they are and will stop at nothing to force their way on everyone else. Which leaves everyone else with the problem of how to be safe in a world that is out to get them.

    The first rule of survival is Be Neither Offensive Nor Defensive. Just live your life. Just mind your own business. Just do what is yours to do. “When the birds of the air plaster you with their droppings, don’t pause even to wipe it off.”

    The second rule of survival is: Know Who Your Friends Are. There is nothing like mutual encouragement and the joy of shared compassion to keep us going. We create small circles of trust where people can be who they are and be honored and respected for it—communities of innocence that have no agenda beyond being a good place to be together for the simple joy of being together.

    The third rule of survival is: A Life Grounded In And Lived From The Heart Is Immune To The Turbulence And Heaving Turmoil On The Surface Of The Wine Dark Sea. Return to the source—to the center, the core, of who you are and what you are about—and live from there in responding to each situation as it arises in ways that are suitable and appropriate.

    The fourth rule of survival is: Remember To Breathe. Breathing slowly, deeply and consciously is an ever-present path to the core—a return to the truth of who you are, and the still point of the turning world.
  83. Cherry Blossoms 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 3, 2013 — Joseph Campbell said, “One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.”

    We have to lay everything we have thought to be true on the altar of truth. This is the essence of “Thy will, not mine, be done!” We give up our interpretation of how things are and live to see if they are as hopeless as we think. And then comes the shift, the transformation, the transcendent experience—which can be seen as a turning point or the next step in the work of growing up and realizing how things are is not how we have been told they are, or though, or expected, them to be—which has been called “Enlightenment.”
  84. Cormorant Migration — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 3, 2013 — We have our work to do. It comes down to seeing things as they are and responding to them as only we can.

    We have to live soulfully to see and respond in that fashion. Living soulfully is living beyond the boundaries of conventional norms and standards. Seeing how things ARE and doing what needs to be done about them as only we are able, sets us apart from the way things are said to be and are supposed to be done.

    You have to be somewhat untamed and outlandish to live like that. That’s why it’s called soulful. Because the soul is like the spirit which is like the wind that blows where it will, when it will, moving through us, transforming the world.
  85. Bamboo Leaves B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2, 2013 — You cannot be intimate if you will not be vulnerable. You cannot be present if you refuse to be open. Vulnerability is the key to life.

    And we think in terms of guns. Too many of us do. Guns are an extension of fortress. Of a castle. Guns keep threatening possibilities at bay. ICBM’s keep them far away.

    Give us guns and ICBM’s! Give us impregnable (As if!) fortifications! Give us protection! Arm us all!

    Well.

    We have to make a choice. Life is vulnerability. We want invincibility.

    What do we want?
  86. Mallard in Flight 65 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 2013 — Know what your work is—and know what it is not. I’m not talking about your job. Your job is what you are paid to do. Your work is what you love to do. Your work is what they couldn’t pay you enough to do if you didn’t love it. Know what that is, and do it.

    Your work will lead you to you—which is the destination of all the Heros’ Journeys. We are here to meet up with ourselves and be who we are. Our work is the way to The Way.

    Know what you love, and what interferes with what you love, what ridicules what you love, what trashes what you love and shames you for loving it. And, between what you love and what shames you for loving what you love, choose what you love.

    Trust what you love. This is the kind of faith that will get you to heaven. Loving what we love is all the heaven we can bear. See how much you can stand.
  87. Common Grackle — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 30, 2013 — Rich people hang out in different places of the world and call that living. Poor people dream of hanging out in different places of the world and think of that as living. Living like rich people live is thought to be living. What is the difference between hanging out and being alive?

    I understand the part money has to play in being able to afford to hang out. What part does money play in being alive? Does money have any connection at all in being alive? How alive can we be with no money at all?

    What will we do with our life in the time left for living? How will we live what remains of our life? How will that be different from hanging out?

    What does it mean to you to be alive? How alive can you be in the time left for living? Upon what does your being alive depend?
  88. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Sparrow 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 5, 2013 — Hell is where people try to make things work like they want them to work. Heaven is allowing things to work the way they work.

    We confuse what we want to happen with what needs to happen and cannot tell one from the other.

    There is no peaceful, contented, serene, happy, tranquil, harmonious steady state of being. There are ephemeral, transient, temporary, passing, short-term experiences which confirm the reality of the good, but the good itself is always coming and going.

    Let it come. Let it go. Do your work.

    Our work includes bearing the pain of the contradiction of our work, our life, within the context and circumstances of our other life—the life in which we bring forth our LIFE and do our WORK. The contrast can be staggering, overwhelming. Do not let it stop you from doing your work.

    We live with dichotomies, polarities, incompatibilities—some of which we can integrate, reconcile, resolve, and some of which we have to live with, bearing the pain of the tension of mutually exclusive truths, and letting it be because it is.

    Ah, but. What’s the point? What’s the use? Why try? What good does it do? What are we getting out of it?

    This is the truest test of faith. Will you trust yourself to your work? Will you do what needs to be done—what needs you to do it—in the stark absence of profit, payoff, benefit, success or difference? Will you do what is good when it does no good? Whether it does any good or not? Will you believe in your work and do it no matter what?

    Will you say to your work, “Thy will, not mine be done,” and do it?
  89. April Reflections — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 1, 2013 — My first three rules for becoming a True Human Being are: 1. See what you look at. 2. Be interested in what interests you. 3. Know what you are talking about.

    People are always talking about things as if they know what they are talking about.

    What do you know about God that you didn’t get from some other source—including the Bible?

    Are you more apt to trust what you know about God out of your own lived experience or what someone tells you about God?

    Most of what we hear about God comes from those who heard it from someone else, who heard it from someone else… We have no idea how many times what we hear about God has been passed along by those who didn’t, or don’t, themselves know it to be true, but “took it on good authority.”

    It would help if people only passed along what they know to be so out of their own experience—and offered it to their hearers, not as something that should be believed, but as something that might guide them in their own experience.

    If you are going to believe anything as an article of faith, believe that your work is valid and worth doing—notwithstanding all apparent evidence to the contrary. If you find your work and stick with it, it will teach you everything you need to know out of your own experience. God things included.
  90. Osprey 07 — Hovering at the Bog Garden pond, looking for lunch, Greensboro, NC, April 6, 2013 — Know what your business is, and be about it. We are as scattered—as fragmented—as disoriented as our understanding of our business, what it is and what it is not.

    When we are grounded, centered and focused, we are grounded in, centered and focused on, our business.

    A cat watching a mouse hole knows what its business is. An Osprey circling a pond or cruising a river knows what its business is. Where are you so concentrated—so at one with what you are about?

    We live in two worlds: The world of our business and the world of what we do in order to afford to do our business. The world of our work, our life, and the world where we earn what it takes to pay the bills.

    The idea is to live in only two worlds, Too often we live in 10,000 worlds—all of which are important, all of which demand our time and attention, none of which can we do without. And we medicate our children because of their ADD. Their parents are as scattered, fragmented and disoriented. It’s just normal where they live. They would be making failing grades if they weren’t that way.

    Who is grading us? Why do we think we have to live with a foot in 10,000 worlds? Who are we kidding?

    Two things matter, our business and what we do to pay the bills that allow us to do our business.

    In long-ago Japan, people put off their business until they got their children established in their lives and had stabilized their own life to the point where they could narrow their focus to the two important things. They were well past middle age before they could devote themselves to their business and paying the bills their business required. The last half of their life was when they came alive to their business. Part of the first half of their life was spent weeding out the possibilities until their business became clear and they knew what was theirs to do.

    It’s a model we would do well to adopt.
  91. The Day! The Day! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 7, 2013 — Be true to the route! Detours and side trips are always required, and the main road is always the main road. Know what it is, and return to it.

    Even when you are off the beam because circumstances require it, remember the beam—and let the new beam be getting back to the beam. And let nothing detract you from that, no matter how winding the trail may be.
  92. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Goose Landing 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 7, 2013 — I have spent my entire life, and expect to spend the rest of it, trying to get away from my father—to escape He Who Must Be Yet Cannot Be Pleased. The closest I come to freedom is in the realization that I’m running. When I realize that I’m running, the best I can do is laugh and say, “Yeah, I am.” And keep running.

    I would be kidding myself if I stopped running. I have to get away from my father. That is what my life consists of. To stop running would be to, what? I must run with awareness, conscious of the conundrum, laughing at the contradiction that claims my way with life.

    Joseph Heller’s masterpiece, “Catch-22,” wonderfully captures the paradox at the heart of my life. Yossarian’s pal Orr, escaped by practicing crashing his plane into the sea—the very thing Yossarian feared the most. There were “Catch-22’s” on all sides throughout Heller’s book. Need I say it? We all find ourselves there. Can we all laugh, say “Yeah,” and go on with our life?

    I learned early on that there was no pleasing my father, and stopped trying, but I did not run out of people who had to be pleased yet could not be pleased. My father became a metaphor for all those no one can please, and, in a sense, my savior, because I could say, “Merde (forgive my French), these people can’t be pleased!” and do what I could with my life.

    But my life was blocked on every side (Just like Yossarian’s) by people who had to be pleased but could not be, so my life became an escape from my father—who cannot be escaped. It’s great, if you can see the humor in it. Paradox, contradiction, mutually exclusive incompatibilities, etc., form the foundation of our life. Our life is a koan!

    We solve the koan, to the extent that it can be solved, by laughing and going on with our life—with our LIFE. We live our LIFE in spite of the mess our other life is. Our art is our salvation.

    I escape my father and all of his surrogates when I am taking pictures. The only one I have to please there is me. I live there to please only me—And I can be pleased. With me. With my art. With my work. With my LIFE.

    When your life becomes unlivable, instead of opting for suicide, or the slower death of addiction, take up your LIFE and live it—in the midst of the mess your life is. It will amaze you, what a difference your LIFE will make in your life. But don’t take my word for it. Know what you are talking about when you say, “If it weren’t for my LIFE, I would be dead, no deader than dead!”—and come alive in the time left for living!
  93. Owl in Flight (April) 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2013 — There is you and your life, your LIFE. And there is you and the life you were born into, the life that was handed you at birth. You were born into such-and-such a culture, into such-and-such religion, into such-and-such family—all with standards and norms and ways of doing things, and thinking about things, and believing things. And all the while there is this LIFE that you were born to live, that is dying to be brought to life within the life that awaited you at birth.

    Now, as you age, you begin to experience the conflict between the LIFE that is dying to be lived and the life that you are expected to live—between the person you ARE and the person you are expected to be. How do you work it out? How do you live in ways that honor your LIFE, that express who you ARE within the life you were born into and expected to live? This is your problem.

    You have to approach it consciously, with awareness, by FEELING your way along. Don’t go blundering about, knocking down walls, desecrating the norms and standards that the world you were born into considers to be sacred and holy. Bear the pain. Be aware of the difference between who you ARE and who you are expected to be. See what occurs to you.

    You are the seed in the earth. The seed finds its own way. You don’t have to think it up. Listen to the seed. See what it needs from you. You are here to assist its birth, its emergence, its coming forth—not to just step out of some phone booth (You have to be a certain age, or to have been to the movies, to know what a phone booth is) as some fully developed YOU. You grow into who you are, slowly, over time, by nurturing and nourishing the seed that you ARE within the “earth,” that is the world you were born into.

    Bear the pain of living in two worlds at the same time. You grow into who you ARE by being aware of who you ARE and seeing how you can be true to that and bring it forth into the life you were handed at birth. This is the adventure of being alive—of coming to LIFE in the life we are living. Don’t miss it for the world!
  94. Two Owls on a Limb 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2013 — Being with the pond at the Bog Garden (Officially known as Starmount Farm—or Farms—Lake, but earlier called, I have reason to believe, Benjamin Lake) is like being with the Tao.

    Being with anything is like being with the Tao—if you understand “being with” the way I understand being with.

    Being with is seeing what you look at. Seeing the thing as it is, which always includes how it also is. Seeing into the way of the thing you are with. Understanding what is before you in the deepest sense, on every level.

    When I can be with the Bog pond that way, I am at-one with the pond and with the Tao. It lasts until I become aware of being at-one with the pond and with the Tao, and begin to think, “Isn’t this cool? I have achieved oneness with the Tao. I could do this any time I wanted. I have the power. Wow.” That does it.

    The light goes out with the realization that it is on. I am no longer at one with the pond when I begin to admire myself for being at one with the pond—when I begin to think highly of myself. Inflation and deflation—thinking too much of ourselves and thinking too little of ourselves—keep us from being with ourselves, or anything else.

    What to do? Nothing. Knowing when to do nothing and how to do it is essential knowing. When to sit with a thing and be with it.

    We sit with the inflation. Smile at it. Chuckle. Laugh. Call its game. “You got me again! You are so good at that! But I’m catching you catch me faster than I used to—and I’m even catching myself thinking I’m something special for catching you faster than I used to! You’re still catching me, but you aren’t carrying me off like you once did. So I’m just going to sit here and be with you and see what you have to show me about me…” And we sit with our propensity for inflation (or deflation), opening ourselves to it, becoming aware of it, seeing it, receiving it well, letting it be because it is, becoming one with it, and with the Tao.
  95. Mallard in Flight 85 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2013 — If we look even occasionally for a very brief period at our life, you will understand clearly our need for something to offset, counteract, neutralize, soften something else in our life. None of us can make it without a compensating presence to buffer the howling furies that destroy our peace and erode our stability and sanity.

    Compensation easily becomes addiction. Escape becomes soulless wandering with empty eyes and an empty life. We have to balance our ballast.

    We do it with awareness. We do it by being with our need for an oasis, for a time-out, for time away, for compensation and restitution.

    We sit down with how we are on a regular basis and listen. Take stock. Pay attention. To how it is with us.

    We put it all on the table. Everything. Again. And consider the table. Again. Listening. Looking. Hearing. Seeing. Knowing the full truth—feeling the full weight—of our life. And trusting our LIFE to come to our rescue.

    LIFE saves life. Restores life. Heals life. Nurtures and nourishes life. Brings life to LIFE. We run from our life into our LIFE. And LIVE our way to balance, stability and sanity.

    The people who help us offset our life are the people who help us find and live our LIFE. Those are the kind of people we need in our life—the ones who know about LIFE. To live well—to LIVE well—we have to associate with the right kind of people. We have to find the right kind of compensation.

    It’s hard. So. We have to do what’s hard.

    We do what’s hard or we do it the hard way. That’s the way of The Way that is LIFE.

    I’d make it soft and easy for you if I could.
  96. Owl in Flight, April 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2013 — Being at-one with Benjamin Lake is a matter of being present with it with no preferences, presumptions or opinions—with no ideas of how it should or should not be—interfering with the experience of how things are.

    Seeing the pond is being with the pond, and vice versa, without imposing our idea of “pond-ness” on the pond. The just-so-ness of the pond is apparent to those tho observe the pond with no bias, leaning, or penchant for how it ought to be. The such-as-it-is-ness of the pond is there to be seen in any moment by eyes that are not looking for something else.

    In tune with the pond, we read the signs that are apparent to anyone who is interested, who cares enough to look with eyes that see—and are able not only to be aware of what is happening, but, based on that, anticipate what is about to happen.

    In a group of eight Mallards quacking and swimming around which one, or ones, if any, are likely to fly in the next ten seconds? If you see, you know. If you know, you see.

    It takes a lot of looking to see like this—to know what is going to happen because you know what is happening, because you are present with it, and see it. And it takes a certain quality of relaxed concentration, which is easily disrupted by someone wanting to know how long your lens is, or where the Blue Heron is.

    It is this “disturbance of the flow,” this “interruption of the Tao,” that makes it impossible for me to go on a photographing safari with someone. Photography, as I practice it, is a solitary preoccupation. It is as much feeling—as much sensing—as seeing. it has nothing to do with imposing my will for the moment on the moment, but everything to do with listening to the moment to see what is trying to come forth there—or is there waiting to be seen and photographed.

    All of which is to say, the world is waiting to be seen by those who don’t have a preference or an idea of how it ought to be.
  97. Mallard in Flight 48 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, March 20, 2013 — Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us to live it.”

    He says, “The ultimate backing of life is chance—the chance that your parents met, for example! Chance, or what might seem to be chance, is the means trough which life is realized.”

    We have plans and something interferes. We have an accident or an illness, or we meet with some tragedy or disaster, and are forced to lay our plans aside. How do we deal with that? How do we meet it? We might see it as an opportunity to find the life that is waiting for us to live it—the life we would have never imagined if our plans had all fallen into place.

    Campbell says, “The problem is not to blame, or explain, (or try to understand why), but to handle the life that arises…The best advice is to take it all as if it had been of your intention—with that, you invoke the participation of your will.”

    We become the active force seeking ground and direction for our new life that now is completely unplanned and in the control of pure chance. We seek to find the way through the chaos that is our way, that is calling us, that is whispering our name.

    Campbell says, “You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure—the adventure of being alive.”

    And, “You’ve got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on the condition that it follow your rules. Otherwise, you’ll never get through to (the life that is yours to live).”

    He says, “Voluntary participation in the world is very different from just getting born into it.” Voluntary participation is stepping into the life that chance appears to deliver to us—the fact that we were born when and where we were born, to the parents we were born to, with the qualities that are ours from birth, and all that has happened to us—and live it as it needs to be lived, in ways that we determine to be suitable, in the active service of the gifts that are ours to give, seeking to take what we have and see what we can do with it, for the good of whomever can benefit from what we have to offer.
  98. Owl Perched 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 9, 2013 — We know more than we know we know. Part of our work is knowing what we know. This does not mean going back to school, listening to lectures, reading books. It means going to sleep. We wake up by going to sleep in the right kind of way.

    We put the left hemisphere of our brain to sleep in order to be awake to the right hemisphere. Certain types of meditation can do this. Taking a shower can do it. Long walks can do it.

    The Aborigines call the place of sleeping wakefulness “Dreamland.” It is the border between being awake in the sense of carrying out our business in the world of normal, apparent reality, and being sound asleep and snoring.

    Dreamland is the threshold between consciousness and unconsciousness. It is where the unconscious world can “breakthrough” to the conscious world—where we can know consciously what we know unconsciously—where we can hear what we have to say.

    It takes practice to be there—conscious, intentional, deliberate practice. We have to consciously make ourselves available to the world that is just beyond seeing and hearing, so that we might see and hear what “the other side” would have us know.

    This is not a way to exploit the other side to our personal advantage. This is the way of placing ourselves in the service of the other side in a “Thy will, not mine, be done” kind of way.

    We collaborate with the other side in producing the life—the LIFE—we are capable of living. Since we have no idea what that is, we have to open ourselves to what the other side knows, and do what the other side needs to be done.

    You see how this process could lead to the development of religion, with its theology and doctrine and incense and chants and prayers—but that’s another story. We have to know what we know, and to do that we have to be quiet and listen—we have to quieten the left hemisphere and listen to what the right hemisphere has to say. And then, do what we know needs to be done in order to assist the emergence of our LIFE within the life we are living. This is the adventure of LIFE and LIVING that constitutes the Hero’s Journey.
  99. April Morning 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 10, 2013 — We live in a culture, which has become the predominant culture of the world, that values thinking, reason, logic and cognition over instinct, intuition, sensing and feeling. The left hemisphere of our brain has triumphed over the right hemisphere, to the loss of all. We have to get the right side of our brain involved in our life.

    Here’s your homework assignment: Do an internet/Google search for information about the right side of our brain, particularly about how to activate the right hemisphere and utilize it in the day-to-day business of living. Think your way into feeling!

    It’s the critical key to bringing your LIFE to life in your life in the time left for living.
  100. Goose Landing 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 7, 2013 — It’s like dying—No, it IS dying—to hand over your idea for your life, your plans and dreams and happy fantasies, and take up instead, your LIFE’s idea for you. We can’t just do that because somebody tells us to. It has to be taken from us.

    We have to hit the wall, or several of them. We have to suffer losses. We have to amass defeats and be steamrolled by tragedy and despair. Here’s what Joseph Campbell has to say about this:

    ”Igjugarjuk was the shaman of a Caribou Eskimo tribe in northern Canada, the one who told European visitors that the only true wisdom ‘lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone open the mind to all that is hidden to others.’”

    Suffering strips us of our idea for our life so that we might be open to our LIFE and take up the adventure that is ours. Here’s what Campbell says about that:

    ”The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure—the adventure of being alive.” And, “The adventure that the hero is ready for is the one he gets. The adventure is really a manifestation of his character…The adventure (evokes) a quality of his character that he (didn’t know) he possessed.”

    We have to “voluntarily participate in”—say YES to—the way life is—NOT the way we wish life were. Yet, we cannot volunteer our participation in life on life’s terms until our back is against the wall and it is only us and the abyss. THEN we can take a chance on life, on our LIFE, if we have the heart for it.

    The greatest trial the hero faces on her, on his, journey is at the beginning—with the decision to take it up: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” It’s like dying—NO! It IS dying! Remember, Jesus didn’t say these words lightly, at the end of some prayer for a new pair of shoes, “If it be thy will.” He said it from the depths of agony, handing over his idea for his life and taking on his life’s idea for him. As it was with him, so it is with everyone who has the heart to trust themselves to the abyss—with their hand in the hand of their LIFE.
  101. Floating in Air B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2013 — The single most important step in the direction of the way that is your way for you is learning to feel your feelings. Your feelings express your instinct and intuition, and are your contact point with the other world. And your feelings are a squirming mass of crazy impulses and chaotic reactivity. It takes thinking about it to know what to do. And it takes feeling your feelings—knowing what you know—to know what to think about.

    Is there any wonder that people throughout the ages have opted for easy religion (even that brand of easy religion that required hard things of them, like the sacrifice of their first born sons), with priests and parsons telling them what to think and do, and saving them the trouble of figuring it out for themselves?

    The Hero’s Journey is in the hero’s hands. She doesn’t take orders from someone else. He doesn’t carefully obey the norms and standards of his day. The hero listens to her, to his, feelings and thinks about which are the white rabbits and which are the red herrings and which are the wild geese. Regular people don’t have time for this kind of nonsense. That’s why there are so few heroes.

    Are you going to learn to feel your feelings, or not?
  102. Osprey Silhouette B&W — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 7, 2013 — Salvation is restoration, is being restored to ends worthy of us.

    We save ourselves by submitting to the work that is ours to do—to the work that must be done and only we can do it. It’s the work, of course, that saves us, but our role is to acquiesce, to participate, to join in as full collaborators in the production of who we are.

    We save ourselves when we stop trying to have it our way, and get out of the way, and affirm the rightness of the way that is our way but nothing like anything we would dream up on our own. We save ourselves when we allow ourselves to be saved by that which can restore us to the truth of who we are and what is ours to do.

    We save ourselves when we cooperate in the realization and actualization of the gifts that are ours to give and the work that is ours to do.

    We save ourselves when we square ourselves up with the way things are and do what we can do about it and let that be that.

    We save ourselves when we wake up, grow up, get up and do what needs to be done with the gifts, interests and abilities that are ours to bring forth—even as they bring us forth—as a blessing and grace upon all of life.
  103. Geese on the Wing 06 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 11, 2013 — The spiritual journey, quest, begins with the need to know more than the physical world can tell us. Where is meaning to be found? Who am I?

    The physical world can provide the wherewithal for life, but it cannot provide us with a zest and passion for life, purpose, direction and the will to live.

    The physical world can feed our bodies but not our souls. Soul is invisible, yet real. When we loose heart we have lost something that is more real than anything that has mass and takes up space, can be weighed, measured, counted and shown off.

    The ground of life is the invisible world! We need more than money can buy! There is no consolation for those who have lost connection with that which cannot be seen, touched, smelled, heard or tasted.

    What feeds our soul? What speaks to our heart? We need to increase our level of association with these things.

    We live to be who we are! How does what we are doing enable us to be who we are? Keep us from being who we are? Start doing more of what brings you to life and less of what prevents you from being alive.
  104. DUCDB? SICDB! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 11, 2013 — The physical world points to the invisible world. You cannot live in this world long, with your eyes open, and be unaware of the other world. You cannot see anything as it is and not know there is more to everything than meets the eye.

    In all of the primal societies, the invisible world was understood to be the foundation of the visible world. Then came “man come of age,” and it all went to hell. “Man come of age” is man obsessed with his own importance, so that even woman is relegated to the category of insignificance.

    You can’t think you are the foundation of anything and have any sense of the foundation of everything.

    Money, and the quest for money, is the great buffer, the great source of static, jamming the signals coming to us from the invisible world, interfering with our awareness of the More that is the basis of our life.

    Wealth and the aspiration for more wealth is the basis of our life. With enough money (Which is an article of faith with out any actual, quantifiable, reality. There is never Enough money), all our needs will be taken care of and our problems will be solved. We will buy whatever we want.

    We look at everything and wonder how much it costs, and don’t see anything more than its price tag. As the culture of prosperity, we have lost the ability to see beyond buying, spending, amassing and consuming. We have lost our soul.

    The way back to soul is the way of knowing our desolation and realizing our place in the right order of things. Of course, this is like dying—No! It IS dying to the world we have created in order to be alive to the world that created us—and it is easier by far to turn back to thinking about how happy we will be with our next major purchase, or the ones we will make when our ship comes in.
  105. Mallard in Flight 91 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 12, 2013 — It’s important to know where the lines are—the ones you can live outside of and the ones you can’t—the ones you draw and the ones that are drawn by the circumstances within which you live.

    It is important to know where the lines are and to say about them, “These are the constraints within which I live.”

    And live there as a voluntary participant in the unfolding, in the expression, of your life there, within the constraints which bind you and hem you in.
  106. Tulip Magnolia 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 12, 2013 — The problem with listening to ourselves is that we develop interior anti-us voices that encourage us to take chances and then condemn us for being reckless. There are inclinations within which are not on our side, but are impossible to distinguish from the guides who would lead us to being who we are.

    Here’s the work-a-round: All roads lead to the center, the core, “the still point of the turning world”—when followed in the spirit of taking what every experience has to offer and using it as grist for the mill that grinds the wheat that makes the flour that produces the loaf we are.

    There are no dead ends—nothing is wasted—for those who see everything as offering the very thing that is most needed at that particular point in our life. “Where you stumble and fall,” said Joseph Campbell, “there is the treasure.”

    Nothing can happen to us that cannot be used in the development and expression of who we are. So, get in there and do your thing to the best of your ability to discern and express it—and let every experience improve your ability to discern and express who you are until there is nothing but you as you are for all to delight in and enjoy.
  107. Mr. Owl 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 9, 2013 — There is an inner world that is as real, deep and varied as the outer world of normal, apparent reality. Soul, or psyche (the Greek word means “soul”), is the truest thing about us. It’s as true as it gets. We stray from that truth when we think we can create a better life, an easier life, a life that is more pleasurable and less work using the materials found in the outer world.

    We know what we are doing. We don’t have to listen to soul, or psyche. And so, we create the wasteland that has become the world we know as the only world. We escape the wasteland by entering the wilderness.

    The wilderness is alive with soul, but we do not know the way of soul, the way to soul, and so it seems like a jungle to us. We turn back in panic and terror to the wasteland, and live lives that are empty but safe, meaningless but manageable with enough of the things that entertain us for a while but do not satisfy—distracted from the need to find our way on our own to the heart of life and being.

    The first test is the test of faith. Will we trust ourselves to soul to lead us to soul? Will we take a chance—no, will we risk everything to find something of value, which, of course, would be ourselves, our own life, our own gift, our own genius and destiny?

    We are the gold we seek, the treasure the dragon guards, and it is our task to get what is ours and become who we are. That is the spiritual quest, the hero’s journey, through the wilderness to the Grail Castle, the Promised Land, our own doorstep, our own house.
  108. Two Owls K-I-S-S-I-N-G!!! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 13, 2013 — We come into the world knowing that we have an “inner personal life” (The quote marks enclose the words of Marie-Louise von Franz, though I am using them out of context, but in the spirit of what she actually said)–that we trust explicitly and entirely “rely on (our) personal inner psychological knowledge”—and on “anything (our) objective soul might tell (us).”

    We are separated from this innate knowing by the culture’s preference for facts and logical, rational, approaches to orientation and direction in the world of normal, apparent, reality—and it’s complete distrust of anything akin to instinct and intuition.

    We have to get back to “the face that was ours before we were born.”

    Begin to honor the inner world with kindness, compassion and attention. Consult the inner knower/guide and learn to read on bodily shifts (the part of your body that lets you know when something is right or wrong) as signals from your deep self. Attend your dreams over time and see how they may be complimenting or compensating for your tilts and drift in your waking life. Initiate an ongoing conversation with your inner partner, and allow your life to become a collaborative effort between you and the other you. And see where it goes.
  109. Owl Perched 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 13, 2013 — The Dali Lama is as awake as the Dali Lama can be. You have to be as awake as you can be. The Dali Lama does his own work. You have to do your own work. The single greatest impediment to our own development is our propensity to want someone else to do it for us.

    We want to read books about the way, listen to lectures about the way, watch movies about the way, copy someone else’s way. We do not want to find our own way through the jungle of the wilderness that is alive with the wonder of life and being—where even wrong turns turn out to be right. We just want to be there, now.

    We just want somebody to tell us what to do—and we do not want to hear “Blaze your own trail through the wild places!”

    Alan Watts asked Joseph Campbell, “Joe, what form does your yoga take?” Campbell replied, “I underline passages.”

    You can’t do it like Alan Watts did it and have a chance. You can’t do it like Joseph Campbell did it. You have to do it like you do it.

    The disciples must become like the master in following no master.

    You cannot go hang out with the Dali Lama and have anything transfer from him to you. You would be following someone else’s black footprints. You cannot reject the black footprints the culture hands you and accept the black footprints the Dali Lama hands you. “No Black Footprints!” has to be your mantra. “I’ll stumble around on my own and make my own way, thank-you!”

    Jesus did it the way Jesus would do it. You have to do it the way YOU would do it. The best authorities say nothing. The second best authorities say, “Here’s what I have to say but don’t listen to me past getting ideas for how to do it on your own.” The worst authorities tell you how to do it.
  110. Mr. Owl 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 13, 2013 — The push to get it right, do it right, be right is wrong. The idea is to be awake, not to be right.

    What’s right is always changing. Wine was out and butter was in with my grandmother. Little did she know how time would alter the in’s and the out’s.

    If you are awake and take a wrong turn you can find things that are right about it, in Campbell’s sense of “Where you stumble and fall, there is the treasure.”

    This isn’t to say that being awake is about turning everything to our advantage—exploiting whatever comes our way. It is to say that when we are awake, we fit into the situation as it develops for the good of the situation—which also includes our good, but not as the determining, limiting, factor.

    Our good flows with the good of the whole, and it can surprise us. We never see some good coming. We resist it, avoid it, run from it—and it is the very thing we need most.

    Waking up opens us to the good of the most outlandish possibilities. Things that were so wrong become right when seen with eyes that see.

    When we see things as they are, we are able to live with them in ways that are right because they come forth from the situation—not because we impose them on the situation in serving some artificial, disconnected, notion of how things should be.
  111. Ms. Owl 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 14, 2013 — We are playing to some crowd. We are always looking to please some of those who are looking at us. It is essential that we play to the right crowd—that we please the right crowd!

    A lot of times in my 40+ years of ordained ministry (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) I was preaching to people who weren’t there. I was preaching to a different crowd. I was preaching to those who could hear what I was saying.

    Jesus did the same thing. And the prophets. And the Buddha. And Lao Tzu. And every poet worthy of the title.

    What’s the point of telling people what they expect to hear? They could do that well themselves. Say what’s worth saying, I say—what needs to be said. To do that, you have to talk to those who aren’t there. You have to play to a different crowd.

    Playing to the right crowd pulls the best out of us—requires us to speak of the truth of our experience. We can’t just parrot what someone else has said and get by with it if we are playing to the right crowd. We can’t just do what everyone agrees is the right thing to do if we are playing to the right crowd.

    The right crowd requires more than the fat center of the normal distribution curve. The right crowd is out there on the fringe, cheering you on. Play to them. They will call you forth and require you to be who you are.
  112. Owl in Flight A 09 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 13, 2013 — Don’t have to know what you are going to do about every detail of life. “If that, then this,” will consume you, and you are no better off for working out all the scenarios, because there is always some hidden factor that cannot be taken into account.

    Surprise yourself. Wait to see what you will do—wait until you find yourself doing something and say something on the order of, “Aha! So this is what I’ll do!”

    This tendency of ours to worry what we will do into being has its roots in our wanting to be right, get it right, do it right—AND to be free of it hanging over us, what to do. To disappear it, we think we have to decide what we are going to do. Here’s the solution to that: Decide that you will wait to see what you will do when the time comes for action. THAT’s what you are going to do about it.

    Spend the time you freed up not worrying about what you are going to do, looking and listening. Paying attention. Noticing what is happening and what happens in response to what is happening. Become an acute observer of life as it happens all around you. Walk through the world seeing the world.

    Seeing is the foundation of action. When we see what is happening and what needs to be done about it, we know what to do. When we see what is happening, we know what is likely to happen, and we know what to do about it—if there is anything to be done about it.

    In the Bog Garden, seeing what the ducks are doing tells me what the ducks are about to do. Seeing/hearing is knowing. Knowing is doing/responding. If you want to know what to do, learn to see/hear by looking/listening.

    If you want to know what to do about anything, observe everything. It is the sure path to enlightened living.
  113. Mallard in Flight 95 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 2013 — We bear the murder and maiming of innocents in Boston with sadness and grief—and ache for ways of being with one another that ensure safety and well-being for all. Would that it were so! May we do what we can imagine doing to make it so!
  114. The Owl’s Bath 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — We live within the constraints that constrain us. We can erase those that can be erased (Like gay marriage, for instance), and shift those that can be shifted (Like Daylight Savings Time, for instance), but we have to find ways adjusting ourselves to, and living with, the rest.

    We all have to accommodate ourselves to the disparity between how things are and how we want them to be. A relatively successful accommodation is called “growing up.” A relatively unsuccessful accommodation is called “neurosis,” and “addiction.”

    Everything is a compromise, a trade-off. We give up this for that. We can’t live in this world without paying a price. Jim’s rule here is: Pay the fare and ride the ride!

    We live with constraints. So, LIVE with constraints. Do not let the constraints keep you from living!

    Enjoy everything that is to be enjoyed in your life right now, just as it is. Relish everything that is to be relished. Love everything that is to be loved. LIVE. Your. Life. Right here. Right now.

    Do not hold it against life that things are not as you wish they were. So far as we know, this is your one chance at being alive—do not throw it away because it isn’t what you wanted. LIVE the life that can be lived within the constraints and limitations of the life you are living.

    Starting now.

    Do not put it off. Do not fail to do what you can do to be alive within the context and circumstances of the life you are living. See which constraints can be erased. See which ones can be shifted. See what you can do with life in the time and place of your living while time lasts.
  115. Pink Dogwood 06 — Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — Your life is an ink blot. Everything is projection. Your relationship with your sister-in-law is your relationship with you. Your relationship with your lover? It also is your relationship with you. Your horse, your skillet, your dust cloth? Your relationship with you.

    We see in others what we fear, hate, love, need in ourselves.

    Our relationship with ourselves is our primary relationship. The logical, reasoning, realizing, understanding, thinking-knowing, seeing, hearing, doing (the left hemisphere) side of us is here to tend, serve, guard, protect, defend, honor, respect and care for the sensing, intuiting, instinctive, feeling-knowing (the right hemisphere) side of ourselves.

    We forget what we are here for. We think we are here for our own joy and pleasure. We are here for our soul’s (the right hemisphere’s—whether the right hemisphere IS our soul or the threshold, the connector, to our soul is a mute point and doesn’t matter. It makes no difference since we cannot tell the two apart) joy and pleasure—and go off in pursuit of our own delight.

    But, soul will not be put off, and spends the time it could be doing its thing through us, trying to wake us up to its need of us and our responsibility to it. We owe our soul our allegiance and loyalty, and soul will die trying to get us back in right relationship with it.

    So, soul sends us messages in the form of nighttime dreams and daytime fears and passions—all about what we need to bring to life in our relationship with soul. True to form, we misinterpret the messages and think our sister-in-law is our sister-in-law and our lover is our lover, etc., and do not see what is at stake between our thinking self and our feeling self.

    You like your lover for his/her tenderness, attentiveness, authenticity? Because you can be safe, vulnerable, intimate and real? Your soul needs those things from you. You must become the lover of your soul.

    You hate your sister-in-law’s invasive, self-centered, obnoxious insistence that everything revolve around her? That’s how your soul feels about your relegation of soul to the back burner of your life.

    Begin to look at everything you feel strongly about as a doorway to your soul—as a message from your soul to you regarding your relationship with your soul. It will change the way you look at things. And restore essential harmonies. And put you on the right track to you.
  116. Owl Drinks 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — We have to tend the side of ourselves we are unaware of, unconscious of, if we are going to be reconciled and at-one with ourselves. Part of the work of the Hero’s Journey is making the unconscious conscious—by paying attention to the things that bring the unconscious to life.

    Strong emotion suggests unconscious connections. Our place is to wake up to what those connections might be. To get to the bottom of things. When we get to the bottom of things, there we are.

    Whenever we feel stirred, moved, the unconscious is trying to get our attention. Sit with the situation and see what comes to light.

    Whenever there is a block—a place we are stuck—encounter something we cannot bring ourselves to do, sit with the situation and see what comes to light.

    Whenever we feel iffy, ambivalent, uncertain—or when we get the Uh-oh Feeling—sit with the situation and see what comes to light.

    As we attend our soul, we learn to read our soul, we know how things are with our soul and how we need to adjust our living to be in synch with soul. But don’t think that means we have it made. There is a Cyclops at every turn. And, on most of the straight ways.
  117. Owl Sees Owl — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — Carl Jung said, “The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.”

    We have to tell our story. We cannot tell our story without hearing our story as we tell it—without saying what happened and what happened in response and what impact it had on us and how we felt and what we thought and what was important and who we became in response to what was happening in our life. Or not happening.

    We have to tell our story. We have to say what is ours to say—because we have to hear it. An untold story is a life that was lived but not experienced. We have to articulate our life to experience it. We have to say it to see it. Feeling the impact of our life without words to tell what happened and what we felt is like carrying a secret—a terrible, heavy, secret—which we cannot remember, but we carry its weight and the ache of its presence.

    When we tell our story, we interpret our experience. We say what happened and what it meant to us—what it means to us—that it happened. And we do not have to use words.

    We can act it out. Dance it out. Paint it out. Sculpt it out. Sing it out. Piano it out. Drum it out… We have to express our story. We have to tell it in some fashion. We have to bring it to life.

    In bringing our life to life in story, song, dance, drawing, etc., we save our life and our life saves us. It brings us to life as we bring it to life, and know what it is that we have lived.

    Tell your story. Express your story. Connect with your story. Know what it means that you have lived.
  118. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Rabbit’s View — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 17, 2013 — We are not one we are two. We are not two, we are many. We are legion. We are a mixed bag. A real mess. And, it is up to us to straighten us out—not in a dominating fashion, but in way that is characterized by compassion, mercy, grace and peace.

    We see, hear, understand, reconcile, integrate, make whole—as we uncover conflict, expose contradiction, reveal discrepancies, detect polarities, engage opposition, meet with resistance, and make all of it conscious.

    We bring the healing light of awareness to bear upon all that is discordant, chaotic, unsynchronized and out of alignment about us.

    Rumi’s poem “The Guesthouse,” epitomizes the work that is ours to do. The internet will bring it to you. Read it. Reflect on it. Incorporate it into your way with you.

    Our work is to live together with ourselves for the good of the whole and for the good on one another. Our idea of good is going to be transformed. And of evil.

    Forget everything you have heard about good and evil. Good is what needs to be done in light of what is suitable for the whole—within and without. Evil is what needs not to be done.

    Good people cannot be ignorant people, asleep people, unaware people. “Father forgive them, they know not what they do,” enables them to go on being blind, deaf and dumb. “They are good people—they just don’t know what they are doing,” is no excuse. Good people know what they are doing—and know more about what they are doing as time goes by.

    Good people wake up, see what they are doing, and do something else instead. Bad people have no interest in waking up. They are here to serve their own agenda no matter what. How good, and how bad, are the best of us?

    We sit with how things are, with us and without, until we see into the heart of the matter, all matters, and know how it is with us, and how it also is—and do the work of bringing peace and healing, and making whole.
  119. Owl Bathing 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — My bud Chris and I are thinking our way through creating a Circle of Elders to counterbalance the drift of the culture, and provide a grounding connection with meaning, purpose and focus for those who are lost amid bewildering options.

    Our idea of a Circle of Elders would be composed of those who are immune to the culture’s fascination with wealth and privilege by virtue of a life experience which has awakened them to true value, disclosed to them what is important, and enabled them to live in light of what matters most through all the claims and promises of the religion of commerce, advertising and economic development.

    Two of our initial requirements for membership in the Circle would be the ability to answer three questions, “What do you know to be of value that you did not hear of from some other source? What experience(s) led you to understand the importance of what you know to be valuable?”

    And, “Can you provide the names of three people who can verify that you have a loving relationship with at least one living thing?” In other words, “What evidence can provide to establish that you care for something that is alive in ways that are loving?”

    The Circle of Elders would have a lived knowledge of heart and soul—would understand the necessity of living in ways that express one’s allegiance to heart and soul—and would know that heart and soul are not for sale, and could not be bribed to forsake heart and soul for anything that money can buy.

    The Circle would gather as small groups of three or four on a regular basis—though not necessarily the same three or four—to tell their stories and remind each other of what they all know to be so in a culture that would have them forget that, would distract them from it and have them dismiss it in 10,000 ways.

    In sustaining and encouraging each other to live in light of what they know to be important, the Circle would help to call us forth into the life that is truly our life to live—and call into question all of the false values the culture espouses as worthy of us—and serve, in some small way, as the conscience of the nation and the world.

    We would love for each of you to join what is not yet a movement by drawing together your own Circle of Elders and see where it goes.
  120. Light, Limbs and Leaves 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 18, 2013 — Life is lived on a level apart from what we can buy, spend, amass and consume. Life consists of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being.

    The world we live in requires us to not-see, not-hear, not-understand, not-know, not-do and not-be. We live in a world of denial and entertainment, of techno-gizmos, texting and video games—a world that keeps us from seeing by showing us exciting stuff.

    How do we grow up in a world that doesn’t recognize the need for life past adolescence? Where everybody is sixteen forever? Where nobody thinks anything that isn’t thought by everybody else?

    Where do we go to wake up?
  121. Owl Sees Owl 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 16, 2013 — The owl is a feathered Buddha. If the leaf blower comes along blowing pollen from the boardwalk, or a photographer’s flash becomes intrusive, the owl flies away without losing its composure or moaning, “Poor me! Poor me!”. If its current perch lends itself to no meal, it flies to another perch, without lamenting its plight or wondering “Why me? Why me?” No Eeyore here.

    Here is the situation. This is what I can do about it. And that’s that. No energy wasted on castigating itself for not being a better hunter, or a better mate, or a better owl.

    I’ve tried to apply the owl’s approach to my own life. If I wander away from the owl or the hope of flying ducks to photograph blooming things in the Bog Garden, I switch the settings on my camera to adjust for still, shady shots. More often than I like to admit, when I walk back to the owl or ducks, I forget to change the settings to accommodate owl and duck shots. I press the shutter and get one click and not a series of 4.5 clicks a second. It makes a difference.

    The owl would just change the settings and hope for another opportunity, with no remonstrations or protests about my shortcomings and failures as a photographer and a person. I pretend I’m the owl and The Mood doesn’t have an opening.

    You know The Mood I mean. The one that would fling the camera in to the mud at the bottom of the lake and sulk its way to an early grave. Humans do that kind of thing to themselves, not owls.

    The next time you go to the grocery store and forget the milk and eggs and have to go back? Just go back. Be the owl.
  122. Lift Off — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 19, 2013 — Nothing is only what it is. Everything is more than we can imagine. There is more to all of it than meets the eye. The call, the challenge, to us from everything we see is: “Look deeper!”

    The deeper we look, the more of ourselves we see, looking back at us.

    When we explore the numinous, we meet ourselves. We are numinousity awaiting recognition. There is a depth to each of us that matches the depth of all things. There is a symbolic aspect of matter which carries the awakening traveler on a sacred journey to the heart of things. The physical world is a threshold to spiritual reality—which is beyond concepts and doctrine, and lives to smile and wink at us in a realm of more than words can say.

    The closest we come to saying what’s what is in music and poetry, dance and the arts. Mandalas do it as well as it can be done. Photographs are rectangular mandalas, probing a truth beyond words, beyond realization, yet thoroughly capable of being known. But then, everything does the same thing for eyes that see, that look beyond the obvious, beyond the surface, to what all is there, looking back. Smiling. Winking.
  123. Red Shouldered Hawk 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 19, 2013 — Taking stock, assessing our situation, is more about feeling than thinking. We have to feel the rightness or the wrongness of and act and the time for it to be done.

    One time is not as good as another. The most important skill is the ability to tell time. The most important thing to know is what time it is. Not in terms of clock and calendar, but in terms of what needs to happen in the present circumstances of our life.

    What is it time for? What fits? What does not belong? You know when it is time for cup of coffee, and you know when you have had enough coffee. What is the equivalent of a cup of coffee in each moment of your life? What is needed here, now? What is out of place?

    We do not think our way to the answers. We feel our way there.

    Practice becoming conscious of what you are feeling. Give your feelings the reins. See where they take you. How does it feel to think about trusting your feelings? If you are afraid to trust your feelings, you are trusting your feelings about not trusting your feelings. So, since you are going to trust your feelings either way, trust them with the reins.

    You know more than you know you know. Spend the rest of your life finding how much more you know than you know you know. I promise it will be a very interesting and meaningful way to spend the time left for living. Where are you going to go to beat interesting and meaningful?
  124. Showy Orchid 01 — Forsyth County, NC, April 20, 2012 — We have everything we need to live the life that is ours to live—the life that needs us to live it. We waste our time and the resources available to us trying to live some other life instead.

    When we wake up, we wake up to the gap between what we are doing and what we need to be doing—and do the things necessary to close the gap.

    A life that is interesting, meaningful and fulfilling is only a perspective shift away.

    What are we waiting for?
  125. Cooper’s Hawk 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 21, 2013 — I think the term “prayer” means the same thing as the phrase “one with the Tao.” To pray is to be one with the Tao, to be one with the Tao is to “pray without ceasing”—it is a way of life, a way of being. If you are going to make anything your practice, make it this.

    Ah, but. It will change your life. Not what we have in mind.

    We would like a little spiritual flavoring in a life that runs like we want it to run. We do not want to know what it means to pray, “Thy will, not mine, be done” (It means to be one with the Tao). We want to ask for something and get it, instantly would be preferred—next day delivery would be acceptable. Anything else is out of the question.

    We want to pray to be healed when we get sick. We don’t want to alter the way we are living to avoid being sick.

    We want to pray for our knees to stop hurting. We don’t want to lose weight.

    We have no intention of being one with the Tao ever. We just want our life to run like we want it to run. None of this “Thy will, not mine, be done” for us!

    We are standing in our own way, blocking the way to The Way With Our Name On It, to the Life That Is Our Life To Live—to Meaning, Fulfillment, Wholeness and Oneness with the Heart of Life and Being.

    We think prayer is ordering up life like we want it to be. Prayer is transforming life into what it needs to be—whether we like it or not.
  126. Cooper’s Hawk 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 21, 2013 — Our life is our work, our art, our gift—the gift we bring forth and offer to the world. Our life exhibits and expresses—makes real, makes plain—who we are. “What we do is who we are,” said Carl Jung, “not what we say we will do.”

    It takes reflection, introspection, examination, attentive presence, to align our living with our values, so that how we live is who we intend to be.

    A well-lived life is no accident. We become who we are by meaning to be who we are—by being aware of who we are and aligning our life with what we know of who that is.

    We have to sit with ourselves, listen to ourselves, see ourselves, know ourselves, love ourselves in order to live aligned with ourselves and bring ourselves forth in the life we are living.

    Who we are is not ours to wish into being. It is ours to see, hear, understand, know, do, be. We do not get to write the script of our life. We do not choose to be who we are—except by choosing to be who we are with no say in the matter, in a “Thy will, not mine, be done,” kind of way.

    We have to have what it takes to step into the life that is waiting for us to live it—and live it with all our heart, and soul, and mind and strength. In that, there be miracles, and wonder, and magic beyond imagining. But, you have to chance it to know what I’m talking about.
  127. Love Birds 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 21, 2013 — I’ve watched owls and ducks closely and regularly for four months. I see them make decisions about where to fly when it’s time to fly. I know when they are going because I know the cues that tell me they are deciding where to go.

    They aren’t thinking, weighing advantages and disadvantages, adding up the pluses and minuses, the pros and cons. They are feeling: Yes? No? Right? Wrong? They are guided by feelings, not logic and reasoning.

    This doesn’t mean they are always right. When they feel wrong about what they felt was right, they make corrections all along their flight—guided by their sense of what is suitable.

    Feelings are a way of knowing things we cannot possibly know. So, when you come upon a problem you cannot possibly know how to resolve, feel your feelings. You could do worse. You’ve done worse. See what your feelings can do when your brain doesn’t have a thing to say.
  128. Mallard In Flight 97 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 18, 2013 — If it hadn’t been for me showing up regularly at the Bog Garden to photograph flying ducks, I would never have met the owl. This is the way of things. We stumble onto the treasure on the way to the treasure. The treasure that calls us forth from the normal routines of life is not the only treasure, and we are expanded, deepened, transformed by finding more than we were seeking.

    It all starts with some white rabbit winking at us and hopping round a corner or down a hole. Will we follow? The answer to that question tells the tale.
  129. Cardinal A 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 22, 2013 — It is important to believe in what you do. It is also important to know it if you do not believe in what you do.

    We may have to do what we do not believe in. I had to take Organic Chemistry and Algebra. I had to file new library books in a card catalog. I had to mow the lawn. The list is long.

    Knowing that we do not believe in what we do frees us to do what we have to do and look for the things we can do wholeheartedly. I got through Algebra thinking about fishing.

    We have to know where our heart is—what it is in and what it is not in. And we have to give our heart what it loves—as often as we can, for as long as we are able.
  130. Great Blue Heron A 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 22, 2013 — We are here to assist one another on the way from death to life. The trick with that trip is that we have to die to make it.

    Waking up is dying. Seeing is dying. Hearing is dying. Understanding is dying.

    Back when I was doing Easter sermons (And this one is in the collection of pod casts on my web page. It would have been Easter of 2010. You’ll have to look it up if you want to listen. Just remember: Hearing is dying), I used a large ceramic egg with a dragon breaking out as a metaphor for Easter.

    No more happy bouncy Easter Bunnies with their brightly colored hard-boiled Easter Eggs for the little children to find under leaves or laying about on the lawn. Easter is for dying. First death, then resurrection.

    The New Life In Christ (I prefer “As Christ” because that’s what is required—Christ didn’t do anything FOR us except show us the way that winds through Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha, get it, to death, then life) will eat our old life alive. It’s a dragon in the Easter Egg. Don’t be hatching the thing if you don’t have what it takes to take what comes when it comes out of the shell, drooling, with its eyes on you.

    In order to assist one another on the way from death to life, we begin with death. We invite one another to die. To wake up and die.

    The way we have been told things are is not the way things are. Realizing this is the worst kind of dying. No. It gets worse. Handing over all we have been told is important, of value, is the worst kind of dying. No. It gets worse. Giving up our idea of how life is and should be is the worst kind of dying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We have to know in our bones what that means. Our idea of God has to go.

    And then, out of the crumbling ruins of how we thought things were, we have to put together a new way of life. Call it “Living at one with the Tao.” With the Tao that cannot be said, told, explained, indoctrinated, conceived, understood, concocted. We have to live with the wind of the Spirit that blows where it will forever in our hair, not knowing where we are going or what we are doing on the road to life. And, that too, is like dying.

    And we are here to assist one another on the way from death to life, because none of us has what it takes to make the trip alone.
  131. Heron Landing — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 22, 2013 — The best trick to master in the whole book of tricks is that of being present with what is present with you. There is a psychic-spiritual-soulful-field of which we are mostly unconscious that connects every living thing, maybe everything (What do I know? Or any of us?)–which we can sense, glimpse, intuit, divne, discern with the right frame of mind.

    The right frame of mind is called “being one with the Tao.” Master that and you see things that are invisible to the rest of the humans in the room. The cats are onto it, and the dogs.
  132. Heron in Flight 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 23, 2013 — When we see what is happening, we see what needs to happen in response to what is happening.

    An old psychological law states: It takes two people to have a fight, but one person can prevent a disagreement of opinion or perspective from degenerating into a really awful mess.

    That person is the one who sees what is happening and what needs to happen, and offers that to the situation.

    It takes emotional distance to take everything into account and see what is happening in each situation as it arises. Emotional distance equates to having little at stake in the situation—nothing to gain or lose—confident in our ability to be just fine no matter what happens.

    If you are going to believe in anything, believe in yourself—in your ability to rise to any occasion and deal successfully with whatever comes your way, by offering what is needed in each situation as it arises.

    This is the attitude that is the fulcrum that levers bad situations away from becoming total meltdowns. The work to achieve it transforms ourselves and the lives we touch with our living.
  133. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Goose with a Problem 12 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 23, 2013 — The gift I would give you first, from the great pile of gifts that would help you along the way, would be an awareness of, and an appreciation for (that might be two gifts), the polarities which define our life and within which we live.

    It is not “Good or bad,” “Right or wrong.” It is “Good and bad.” “Right and wrong.”

    Our life is a trade-off, a compromise. We give up this to get that. Good and right come with bad and wrong attached. Somebody’s good is somebody else’s bad (and sometimes it is the same person’s bad).

    Darkness is also light (Rumi said, “Darkness is the cradle of the light”). Light is darkness (The “dark night of the soul” was occasioned, not by an absence of light, but by an over-abundance of light. Light can be blinding, which is its own form of darkness).

    There are polarities, contraries, contradictions, opposites, discordances, etc. everywhere. And we are oblivious to them. We emphasize one side of the equation and dismiss it’s “evil twin.” We do not have a realistic view of things. In our world, things are how we want them to be.

    Waking up, we realize that our world is part of another, larger, world where everything is counterbalanced and evened out, and where harmony is not the absence of opposing sides but the realization of the importance—even necessity—of opposition.

    William Blake, in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” said “Without contrary is no progression.” Is no life. We are alive to the degree that we are aware of and appreciate—respect and honor—the polarities within which we live.

    We are alive to the degree that we live consciously within the polarities that define our living—and accommodate ourselves to them. This is the very essence of the way to peace, harmony, oneness, wholeness and bliss. One is two. Sometimes, more.
  134. Green Heron in Flight 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 23, 2013 — Eight ducks are in the air, soon to land. The Great Blue Heron is in great golden light and is about to make a catch. Two geese are having a territory dispute. And a Cooper’s Hawk is tangling with a crow. All within easy photoing distance. The photographer’s dilemma.

    All of our dilemmas are solved with a decision. Pick one and let the others go.

    Four ducks come in to land as a group. Pick one and let the others go.

    Maybe you pick the wrong one. Live with it. You’ll get another chance soon enough. Perhaps your luck will improve. Pick one and let the others go.

    How do you know which one to pick? How can you avoid being wrong, again? How can you finally get it right—and know you are getting it right?

    Your odds improve dramatically when you get yourself out of the way, with your ridiculous fear of being wrong, again, and your obnoxious obsession with being right at last. Just pick one and let the others go. For better or worse.

    Don’t have to be right. Give yourself the freedom of making a choice without the pressure of making the RIGHT choice. That’s the RIGHT choice—to choose without fear, without pressure, without having to please anyone with your choosing, even yourself.

    Pick one and let everything else go.
  135. Green Heron in a Tree — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 23, 2013 — The Presence is always present with us—the work is to be present with The Presence. I think how we do that is individual and personal. I’m sure there are no recipes to follow, no black footprints to step in.

    How would you open yourself to more than meets the eye? How would you become receptive to communing with what you do not know? How would you become aware of what you sense on a feeling level?

    Take this as a practice regimen: Spend the next half hour not deciding but following. Following what? Your sense of what needs to be done. Your feeling of what to do and not do. No thinking. No deciding. Just feeling. Just sensing.

    This is the Star Wars scene with Luke Skywalker in the helmet and Obi wan Kenobi saying, “Feel the Force, Luke!” See how you do with it.

    Put yourself in the helmet from time to time. Practice feeling the presence of The Presence.
  136. Great Blue Heron A 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 24, 2013 — “Oh but!” comes the objection. “My Uncle Buddy thought he could feel the winner before the race and lost huge sums at horse and dog races before Aunt Caroline left him!”

    ”Gambling is sure-fire proof that we cannot trust our feelings to tell us what to do! So is marriage for a lot of people. We better stick with cost/benefit analyses and Consumer Reports for guidance about what to do.”

    There are two counters to proofs that feelings cannot be trusted. The first is that feelings can easily be influenced if we have a stake in the outcome. We tilt the table by wanting or not wanting something to happen. If we have something to gain or lose, our hand is on the scales. We have to have no interest in the matter. If we are trying to exploit the situation by positioning ourselves to reap the rewards, we interfere with the process and trick ourselves with counterfeit feelings.

    The second consideration is that feelings call for input from our logical/reasoning faculty. The right hemisphere and the left hemisphere collaborate in making choices and decisions—one does not rule the other.

    There are photographs I will not take. I don’t care how much I feel the need to stop to photograph the sunset, I refuse to pull over on the shoulder of an interstate highway to set up the tripod and click away. I will not put myself in harm’s way—or gamble away the family fortune (Airfare to Vegas would do that)–to satisfy the feeling that something is right and I need to do it.

    I sit with the feeling and think about the nature of the situation and whether there are circumstances which modify or negate the urge to act. We do not set thinking aside when we feel what needs to happen. We consider the allness of the moment and decide what to do.

    I didn’t take up photography until the daughters graduated from college and were set up in lives of their own. I had been in love with a camera since I was 18, but didn’t follow the feeling until circumstances allowed it at 48.

    We have to work it out. We sense. We feel. We think. We reason. We choose. We decide. We do. Throughout our life. With as much consciousness/awareness as we can bring into play all along the way.
  137. Lost in Thought — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 24, 2013 — We all need to drift off from time to time. Walk-a-bouts keep us oriented even if it appears that we are aimlessly wandering. Being anchored requires us to drift about. Too much focus on what we are supposed to be doing drains our energy and depletes our soul. We have to fly away from time to time in order to be grounded in the things of true value. The world is in the mess it is in because it dismisses day dreaming and has no time to look out the window.
  138. Owl Flies 05 — A rare appearance in an open space at Benjamin Lake, the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 25, 2013. Note the missing wing feather(s) due to molting or to battle with hawks or crows. — Walk around with a camera and you will see something worthy of being photographed. The unexpected propels itself upon you. Just go walking, looking, and you will see amazing things. At the very least, you will see, which is, itself, amazing.

    Why do we so often walk, not looking?
  139. Duck’s Wake — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 25, 2013 — If we got off our backs and out of our way, we would fly. Or not. But it would be great having us on our side for a change.

    ”Get out of my way, off my back and on my side!” If our soul could talk, that’s what it would say. I’m sure of it. Well, I’m sure that’s what mine would say to me anyway.

    I take courage in that. Of all the suggested sins that are levied on us, these three are not to be found among them. We are taught to be against ourselves early on. Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased have a large volume of things we must do and must not do in order to be pleasing, and they hold all of it against us, and urge—Nay! Compel!–us to do better.

    The only thing our Self/Soul has against us is that we are against Her/Him/It. We should throw in with Her/Him/It just to see where it goes. Cohorts on the journey to the heart of who we are.

    Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased won’t be pleased. All the more reason to get out of our way, off our backs and on our side!
  140. Owl Yawns A 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 24, 2013 — What do you do with all your heart? Do more of it. Do it with more frequency and longer duration.

    How much would it take for your heart to have enough? To say, “Let’s don’t do this any longer”? When would your heart quit?

    Our heart is a three-year old on a swing saying, “Do it again, Daddy! Do it again, Mommy!”

    We shrivel our heart when we tell it to grow up, act its age, like only the things it is supposed to like. In moderation.

    We kill our soul when we withhold what it loves, or parcel it out like crumbs of bread to the birds, dribbling what it loves over the top of its cold porridge as a pretend reward for doing its duty.

    Our soul is no fool. Our heart knows when we are absent without leave from service to our heart—chasing after the glass beads and silver mirrors we are sure are the very thing.

    We are here for our soul’s own joy, said Rumi All he could do was tell us, and dance his own dance, while his soul laughed and his heart called out with delight, “Do it AGAIN!”
  141. Yellow Trillium 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 13, 2013 — I know people who think they are not to love the things of this world—who think that attachment to “worldly pleasures” is sinful and an affront to heaven, and they will be written up in the Book of Life, which, so far as I can tell, is actually the Book of Death, in that it records all of the things about us that are worthy of eternal damnation which will be read out for all to hear and hiss at the Last Day when the Roll Is Called Up Yonder and our name won’t be on it because we loved too much the sights and sounds, tastes and textures, thrills and odors and stuff the world has to offer.

    Stupid people.

    Turning up their noses at the wonders and beauty of their one chance at life in order to live forever when they die, not knowing they are already dead and buried and too far gone to ever be awakened and resurrected.
  142. Windows — Charleston, SC, April 26, 2013 — Where do you block your way, refusing to allow yourself to do what you love because you think you should not love it? You are damming the flow of your own life energy. Which is another way of saying you’re killing yourself. And you have symptoms to prove it. Don’t you?

    Whose side are you on? Really, whose side are you on? It’s clear that you are against yourself, but who are you pleasing by being against yourself? That’s whose side you are on. What makes them more important than you?
  143. The Meeting Tree — Francis Beidler Forest, Charleston, SC, April 26, 2013 — We have to explore the things that pique our interest. We have to be interested in the things that interest us. Not in the things that are supposed to interest us. Not in the things someone else is interested in—or the things someone else thinks we should be interested in. The things that interest us.

    Cut off from our interests, we are cut off from life. Our interests are our lifeline, connecting us with the Heart of Life and Being. When we shelve our interests—dismiss, discard, ignore our interests—because they are inconvenient, unpopular, or out of the question, we dig our own grave.

    In each moment, each situation as it arises, we stand at the threshold between death and life—and make a choice. Interests are life. Expediency, convenience, smooth and easy are death.

    We are in charge of our own life, of our own coming to life, of our own being alive. We have to be strong in our own cause, true to our own heart, inflamed with our devotion to our own purpose and direction. Our allegiance is to life—to what brings us to life. Our interests lead the way.
  144. Zen Iris 01 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — A flower is just a flower. You are just you. I am just me. And. It is important that a flower be seen and appreciated for the flower it is. It is important that you are seen and appreciated for the you you are. It is important that I be seen and appreciated for the I I am.

    In our case, the seeing and appreciating begins with us, seeing, appreciating ourselves.

    Not good enough, right? Not smart enough. Not mature enough. Not good looking enough… The list is long.

    You wouldn’t tell a baby she, he, wasn’t good enough. At what point in that child’s life would you say, “I’m sorry. You’re just not working out. You aren’t—and you never will be—good enough to be seen and appreciated for who you are”?

    The flower-ness of the flower, and the baby-ness of the baby alone make them worthy of being seen and appreciated for what/who they are. The you-ness of you, the me-ness of me makes us worthy of being seen and appreciated for who we are.

    Don’t be trying to deserve it. Just be trying to get out of the way and let it shine through. Zen essence shining through you and me, dazzling the eyes of all who glance our way.

    Believe it. Embrace it. Be it. May it be so!
  145. Live Oak 01 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Abraham and Moses left home and walked until they found home. Jesus left home but stayed in place and they killed him for being different.

    We pay a price if we leave home without going anywhere. We can either go away or pay the price of staying. The price of staying is death in one form or another.

    They have a variety of ways of killing us if we leave home without going away. They say, we are “different,” as a way of excusing, discounting, dismissing, ignoring, patronizing who we are. They disappear us that way. We become invisible to them in our differentness, and they treat us as though we are who they want us to be.

    Jesus formed his own community who became his new family, his new home, to counter the move to disinherit him for being different. He refused to disappear. Would not become invisible. Did not do it the way they insisted it be done. They totally disappeared him for his insolence.

    If you are going to leave home, it will be easier on everyone if you also go away without trying to make them like you want them to be. “Leave the dead to bury the dead,” or they will kill you in one way or another.
  146. Live Oak 02 — Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — Nature has no preferences. Whatever needs to happen, happens. When the Yellowstone caldera has to blow, it blows—never mind what the repercussions might be worldwide. If a planet, or a moon, crosses the path of a speeding asteroid, there will be a nice little smack up, no matter what.

    Baby ducks are born and become turtle food or an owl’s fine breakfast. The early bird gets the early worm. Life lives on life.

    We have to bring ourselves into accord with the way of things—living wholeheartedly in the heartless midst of it all.

    This is the fundamental, foundational, dichotomy. We are nature’s heart—nature’s conscience—nature’s soul. We bear the anguish of nature’s way—and soften, with kindness, gentleness, compassion and grace, the horror of natural catastrophes.

    We are nature’s way of caring for the things nature doesn’t care about. Our place is to fulfill our role—caring, caring, caring. No. Matter. What.

    The best thing about us is compassion. We cannot put that on a shelf and refuse to bring it to bear upon the way things are. Compassion and grace, gentleness, kindness, mercy, peace, empathy and the capacity to suffer with another are what we bring to the party.

    It’s a much better party when we play our part. It’s our thing and we have to do it if it is to be done. To not do it deepens the madness, and what’s the good of that?
  147. Shem Creek Panorama Line Drawing — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — When we live to be aligned with—in allegiance with and service to—the Core (In a “thy will, not mine, be done kind of way), we are transformed, and we transform everything our life touches.

    When we do it the way it needs to be done, everything changes.

    No planning, no scheming, no contriving, no forcing, no pushing, no striving, no having to have anything, no having to avoid anything, no manipulating, no controlling, no arraigning, no meddling, no converting, no condemning, no preaching… Just living as our life needs us to live it in each situation as it arises.

    From the standpoint of this orientation, of this perspective, we rarely know what to do before we find ourselves doing it. We do not think our life out and then carefully follow the recipe, stepping in the black footprints, to some predetermined outcome. We follow our internal guidance system and find out where we are going when we get there.

    Living aligned with the Inner Guide is quite the trick. We have to set ourselves aside and trust ourselves to What We Do Not Know. We would prefer bull riding. We know what is going to happen there.

    We don’t know what is going to happen with the Core in charge. We know only what is happening and what needs to happen in response to what is happening, but where that goes, we have no idea.

    This doesn’t mean our life is unstructured. The structure is internal, organic—not imposed from without in a “how life is supposed to be lived” way. Diet and exercise and how we spend our time become important. We develop regimens, patterns, ways of being in the world, ways of being with each other. We are less crowd-centered and more Self-centered, Self-directed, Self-defined, Self-pleased-and-pleasing.

    And it doesn’t just happen. We grow into a new way of living by living consciously, with awareness, in light of our Core, in service to our Core—and see where it goes.
  148. Frances Beidler Forest 02 — Charleston, SC, April 26, 2013 — We live with an external orientation as though what happens in the outer world is what matters. That is not what matters.

    As we align ourselves with the inner world, making conscious what is not conscious, becoming aware of what all is with us there, and understanding—and honoring—the right order of things there, we live in the outer world as extensions, expressions, of the inner world, and everything is transformed.

    It is a perspective shift that changes the way life is lived—and the greatest adventure we could imagine.
  149. Great Egret 04 — Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — How would you connect with your Core? Attend your Core? Listen to your Core? Commune with your Core?

    Ask your Core for suggestions/directions. Your role is to be attentive and responsive.
  150. Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — You have to do your own work. This is bad news. We do not want to do our own work.

    We want to give God some fruit as a votive sacrifice and let that stand for the work that is ours to do. We want to pray some prayers, burn some incense, make an offering, believe some beliefs, keep a few—say 10, no more than 10, maybe fewer—commandments, and let that be that.

    We want to live like we want to, and get God’s help in achieving goals we set and acquiring the things we think would be nice to have, and not getting in our way. We think there is God up there and us down here. God over there and us over here. God there, us here. That’s wrong.

    Hold up an index finger. That’s God AND you. You and God are one thing. Now, who calls the shots? Who is in charge? This is what is at stake in the “thy will, not mine, be done” thing.

    If we and God are not aligned, we are in each other’s way. The work that is ours to do is the work of aligning ourselves with God. Cooperating with God. Collaborating with God. Being in cahoots with God. Being God’s cohort.

    When we listen to the Core, we listen to God. Turn your ears on, and pay attention.
  151. Great Egret 06 — Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — All that can be known can be known. All it takes is eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands. So what’s the problem? Why spend all your time knowing what you know and not poking around in what you don’t know?
  152. Zen Azalea 01 — Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have to be sharp. Who doesn’t have to pay attention. Who doesn’t have to practice being aware, awake, conscious and present in each moment, in each situation as it arises.

    I don’t know of anyone who can tune out. Who can drift off. Who can go to sleep at the wheel. Who can coast. Who can slide by without being invested in the experience of the time of her, of his, living.

    This isn’t study hall. Or recess. Those who know, know you have to be awake even in study hall and at recess.

    Those who know, know you have to be awake when you are napping. You have to be awake when you are asleep.
  153. Magnolia Cemetery 02 — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — I don’t know how you connect to the Core but I have to be quiet. That may not mean what you think it means.

    I have a friend who tells me he can’t be quiet unless he’s playing the drums. And another who tells me he can’t be quiet unless he’s fast dancing. I don’t know what quietens you, but it may not be sitting in a lotus position going, “AUM.”

    And I have to distance myself from myself—aware of what’s going on but not directing any action, aware without thinking. I call that being receptive, open, waiting. Maybe a phrase will come to mind that has some energy attached to it. I pay attention to that and see where it goes.

    Or, maybe, an image comes to mind—a pecan in its shell, say, or a plastic bucket of sand on a beach. I work with the image, playing (This kind of play is work) with it, turning it over in my mind, seeing what it connects with, reminds me of.

    Now I have a phrase or an image and I spend time during the day reflecting on it, seeing what it turns up and what response I need to make.

    I call this attending the core. Somebody else may call it something else. They have their own core to tend, and I wouldn’t want them to think they have to do it like I do.
  154. Anhinga Feeding Young 01 (Or: Pureed Fish The Hard Way) — Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — We spend our lives looking for people who can hear what we have to say. Don’t waste your time arguing your point, explaining yourself, or trying to make converts. You’re looking for conversation that deepens all participants, and that begins with people who know what you mean before you start talking.

    The flip side of this is: Evaluate everything you hear in light of your own experience. Does it click? Resonate? Connect? Make sense? Evoke a “Yes!”?

    Do not buy anything you have to be sold on. Walk away. You are looking for someone who can say what you can hear, what you can listen to without engaging your fight or flight response.

    Your experience is your teacher. You articulate the impact of your experience—saying what happened and what you make of it—and formulate a life around your understanding of the impact of life experience. Do not take anybody’s word for it. Think yourself forward in partnership with your core—sensing whether your conclusions are helpful and suitable in the work of adjusting you to your life and your life to you.

    And ask all the questions. Have nothing to do with answers that stem the flow of questions. An answer only opens the door to more questions. Follow the questions—they will lead you to the heart of the matter.

    And do not quit! It will be hard, make no sense, and hurt in ways unimaginable. Bear the pain! Ask the questions! Seek accommodation to and an affinity with how things are. It will open your eyes and grow you up. Enlightenment works that way.
  155. Eye on the Prize! — Barred Owl Goes Fishing, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 30, 2013 — What we serve with our life has to be bigger than our appetites and desires, our interest in pleasure and entertainment. Of what does our LIFE consist? What is within that if we don’t pull it forth in the time allotted for living we will have wasted our life?

    In light of what do we live? What are we bringing forth? Expressing? Doing with our life? If you don’t know, dream on.

    Dream on on two levels—on the level of daydreams and fantasies and on the level of your nighttime dreams. What is at work on both levels? What are you saying to yourself through your dreaming?

    Your nighttime dreams may be compensation for your daydreams and fantasies—offsetting them in a grounding kind of way, calling you to wake up and get to work and stop the escapist ruminations about what you will do when you win the lottery. And, your nighttime dreams may be ratifying and validating the substance and direction of your daytime aspirations and reveries.

    Your work is to get to the bottom of what you are saying to yourself through your dreams, day and night—and to find there the thread to what is calling you beyond settling for too little, challenging you to be about what is yours to be about in the time left for living.

    There is more to all of us than meets the eye. We have to live so as to express as much of it as possible before our time on earth is done.
  156. Great Blue Heron A 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 30, 2013 — When we are in sync with our Core, we know it. And, we know when we are out of sync.

    Our life works when we are in sync, and doesn’t work when we are out of sync.

    What we have to be about is seeking sync-ness. How would you do that? Do it!
  157. Going Fishing 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 30, 2013 — Everything that can be said has been said. There have been people in every age who knew what was what, and said it. And there have been more people in every age who knew what wasn’t what and used it to their advantage in marginalizing or excommunicating or executing those who knew what was what.

    What isn’t what serves the economy. What’s what serves the soul. Therein lies the popularity of what isn’t what and the confusion over what is what.

    In order to know what’s what, you only have to separate from the crowd and pay attention. It’s the path everyone who has known what’s what has taken.

    The voice we need to hear cannot be heard with all the other voices shouting directions, issuing decrees, making proclamations, and announcing who is going to hell for failing to heed their directions, decrees, proclamations and announcements.
  158. Mallard in Flight 103 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 1, 2013 — All of us are the way we are. And all of us are not the way someone else wants us to be. That is the conflict that tells the tale.

    From birth we are commanded not to be who we are because someone wouldn’t like it. Parents, church, school, society and culture are sworn to task of getting us to be who we ought to be. But. Something within each of us knows it isn’t right. Call it the Core. The Core knows.

    You can get the periphery to wear pink tights and jump through hoops, but the Core knows.

    You can get the periphery to pretend to be who it isn’t, and to like what it doesn’t, but the Core knows.

    And the Core will not be mocked, dismissed, discounted, set aside. The Core will spend our life working to overturn the misdirection and redirect us to the experience and expression of who we are—against all that would have us be someone else.

    The Core sends us dreams, and feelings, and symptoms—calling us in a thousand ways to wake up and be alive in the life that is our life to live.

    This is the work of becoming the Christ. The Christ is the Anointed One of God. We are all anointed of God to be who we are—not who Jesus was, except to the extent that Jesus was who Jesus was, and we are to be who we are. The Christ is exactly who God has anointed him, anointed her, to be—to the everlasting chagrin of those who have a better idea for him, for her.

    The Core is the image of God within us, and knows what’s what. Our role is to know what the Core knows and to do what the Core knows needs to be done. So, when they come to you with the pink tights and the hoops, tell them you have your own thing—and do it.
  159. Spotted Sandpiper Landing—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 1, 2013 — The hands know what the head doesn’t. Don’t sit thinking about it. Go do it. Then you’ll know.
  160. Shem Creek Panorama, Black & White — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — Every age needs prophets and seers (And where DOES that line lie?) to articulate for that age the symbols and grounding truths of previous ages—to translate for that age all that was meaningful to previous ages—to say in the idiom of that age the things of value that were said in the idiom of previous ages.

    Nothing worthy can be passed along “as is” (Which is “as was”). Everything worthy has to be said anew, as though for the first time, in every age.

    John A. Redhead, a past pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, said, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren.” Meaning each generation has to find its own way to God. Nothing substantial can be passed along without being revised to suit the needs of the present generation in “The old has passed away, behold the new has come,” kind of way.

    Old wineskins are not fit for new wine. The old teachings are not suitable for new ears. We have to say again, and then again, what is at the heart of things—reinterpreting, re-translating, rethinking, reforming what once was “plain as day.”

    A living symbol always means more than it once meant. A living symbol does not mean what it once meant, what it “used to mean.” Nothing vibrant and alive can be locked into the conceptual framework of the past. Nothing vibrant and alive is literally what it is said from ages past to be. Everything vibrant and alive is changing, growing, unfolding, emerging, transforming itself before our eyes.

    Nothing is deader than a truth unaltered through the ages. Every age needs people who can breathe life into that age by saying what’s what in ways the people of that age can hear. A prophet is someone who says what has never been said in ways the prophet says it so that the people who an be awakened wake up and say, “Amen! Ain’t it so!”
  161. Spotted Sandpiper Reflection—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 1, 2013 — Each age has to re-imagine God in light of its own experience—has to re-formulate its idea of God in light of how it knows things to be. Each age has to re-think God in order to accommodate the incompatibilities it knows to exist with other ages’ idea of God.

    The failure to do this is a failure of hermeneutics.

    Hermeneutics is derived from the Greek word hermes. Hermes was the Messenger of the Gods in the Greek pantheon. In the Roman pantheon, his name was Mercury. Mercury is quicksilver, changing form, slippery beyond belief, incapable of being nailed down, defined, frozen in place, passed on from generation to generation “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.”

    Hermes/Mercury has a message of God that is new and different in every age. But. The priests have to deliver the message.

    Hermeneutics is the art of preaching as it is taught in Christian seminaries. The failure to re-imagine God in each age is a failure of hermeneutics—a failure of preaching. Preachers tell the people what the people expect to hear. And God is nailed to the floor, or the cross, incapable of being anything God has not already been.

    We talk of “the freedom of God,” but God is not free. God has to be who God has been said to be through the ages. The failure to re-imagine God is a failure of preaching—a refusal to re-interpret God in light of all that has been experienced since God was spelled out and said to be at the time of the Reformation. There hasn’t been a new idea about God allowed into the Christian church in 500 years.

    We cannot find our way to the God Who Is, bearing the burden of how God was thought to be 500 years ago. Or 1,000. Or 2,000.

    We are back to Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?” “Some say this, and some say that, but who do YOU say that I am out of your own experience and the experience of the species over time?” Each age has to answer the question out of its own experience—out of what it knows to be so based on all it knows—for its answer to have any meaning and life at all.
  162. Black Crowned Night Heron (Immature) 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 1, 2013 — Run everything by the Inner Advisor, the Guide Within. Everything. Practice bringing her/him in on your life. It is not all up to you. You have a source of help and collaboration at the ready. Ask for guiding dreams, for a felt-sense of Yes or No, for direction through the morass of choices, decisions, conflicts, obligations and duties. It may sound crazy, but what do you have to lose?
  163. Black Crowned Night Heron (Adult) 02 — Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Living is the lesson—our life is the teacher.

    As a follow-up on the last post about consulting the Inner Guide, if you ask and get nothing in response, or if you ask and get really bad guidance, you are asking the wrong question.

    The Inner Guide is a joker at heart. She/he will not hesitate to lead you down the wrong path if you are asking guidance to places you have no business being. It’s what you get for being out of touch with the heart of things. The lesson is wake up and ask better questions.

    Ask questions that have to do with the Guide’s interest in the life you are living—not questions that have to do with maximizing your gains and minimizing your losses.

    Your personal advantage and prosperity are not your Guide’s concern. You cannot exploit the guidance of the Guide to serve your own ambition and desire. You can take the Guide to Las Vegas, but your odds will not improve.

    Your life is not as much your life as it is the Guide’s life and the Guide is stuck with living it through you. You have to make yourself available to the Guide in order to bring forth your gifts and genius, which are more of a blessing to the world around you than to you, though you get to enjoy the process of being you in your life, but you don’t get to kick back and smoke cigars while somebody else does the work that is yours to do.

    You do your work. The Guide helps you figure out how.

    If your life isn’t working, it may be because you are trying to make it work for you. When it works, it works for the Guide. You get to enjoy the experience, but it may not be what you had in mind.
  164. Northern Rough Winged Swallow 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2, 2013 — You have to be asking the questions for the answers to make any sense—and we live in a culture that discourages questions. You see the problem, I’m sure. But there is a solution: Ignore the culture! Ask the questions that beg to be asked! Now, you’re talking! That’s the way to do it! Don’t quit until you get to wherever it is we are going!
  165. Northern Rough Winged Swallow 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2, 2013 — You have to be asking the questions for the answers to make any sense—and we live in a culture that discourages questions. You see the problem, I’m sure. But there is a solution: Ignore the culture! Ask the questions that beg to be asked! Now, you’re talking! That’s the way to do it! Don’t quit until you get to wherever it is we are going!
  166. Goslings 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2, 2013 — Knowing what to do is one thing, doing it is practicing it. If I put the camera aside for two days, I’m a rookie again. The secret to any art is practicing the art. You cannot pick up your camera and go take a photograph unless you pick up your camera regularly and go take photographs.

    Know what to do and practice doing it. That’s the key to success anywhere.
  167. Great Blue Heron M 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2, 2013 — There is the life that is yours to live—the work that is yours to do—the gifts that are yours to give—and the tools that are yours to use in the living, working, giving. within the terms and conditions, nature and circumstances, time and place of your living. That’s it.

    There is nothing here about entertaining, distracting, ignoring, denying, dismissing, escaping yourself to death. There is nothing here about hanging out until you die.

    There is only living your life, doing your work, giving your gifts with the tools that are necessary for the tasks to be completed.

    Hugh MacLeod, in his fine little book “Ignore Everybody,” says there are tools and there are props. Props are like stage props, facades, fabrications, costumes which help us pretend away our life.

    A computer can be a tool if we use it to do our work, or a prop if we use it to pretend to do our work.

    I have known of people who quit their day job and bought the best camera equipment available and a fine four-wheel drive vehicle to haul it around in in order to become a famous photographer, take wonderful photographs, make millions and smoke cigars. They didn’t realize the work involved and the time required to turn their happy fantasy into lived reality. They had a lot of fancy props and no tools. They wanted to be seen as a photographer without doing the work that being there when and where the photos are requires.
  168. Great Egret 05 — Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Do not waste your time believing in God. Do not spend your time talking about God, telling people about God. Put all your time into being God.

    Be God. Be who God Is. Now we’re talking. That’s the way to do it.

    Be as much as you know of God starting right now and don’t say a word about God.

    Bring the qualities you know to be Godly qualities forth in your life—in each situation as it arises—and let that be it.
  169. Great Blue Heron M 06 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 1, 2013 — When Jesus told the paralytic, “Rise, take up your pallet and get on with your life,” (or words to that effect), all we see is a healed paralytic. We have to look deeper.

    Jesus is saying to us all, “Stop using excuses! Stop letting whatever is stopping you stop you! Stop bellyaching! Stop moaning, complaining, whining! And get into your life—the life that is your life to live—and live it as fully as you are able to live it within the terms and conditions, nature and circumstances, time and place of your living!”
  170. Magnolia Cemetery 04 Black and White — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — It is important to be transparent to yourself—to have nothing hidden from yourself. Symptoms are an indication of something hidden within, of our playing tricks on ourselves, fooling ourselves, playing games with ourselves, lying to ourselves, not seeing ourselves.

    The minute we approach ourselves with our guard down, saying, “Okay, let’s talk,” from the heart, ready to hear everything we have to say to ourselves—everything our Self has to say to us—a shift happens and the world is transformed. Out world, anyway.

    Once we declare allegiance to ourselves—declare our loyalty, dedication, devotion, faithfulness and service to ourselves—and commit ourselves to being on our Self’s side, we join our Self in collaborating fully on the life we are living together.

    No more unilateral decisions. No more striking off on our own in the service of goals we say are valuable. No more independent decisions, choices, actions. No more commandeering the wheel and taking the ship off on a course of our own devising.

    Everything is mulled over, talked out, worked through. We become a WE in the fullest sense of the word. We consult our Self, we attend our Self, we intuit our Self, we seek the guidance and direction and input of our Self, we listen to our Self, and don’t do anything without our Self’s support and encouragement.

    If you think this won’t make your life instantly meaningful, interesting and filled with amazing wonders, you are in for a big shockeruskie.
  171. Goslings 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2, 2013 — We spend our lives looking for vicarious life. We want to be alive, but we don’t want to do the work required to be alive, so we associate with those we think are life-giving others. We fall in love. We join clubs and churches. We hob-nob with those who seem to have what we want, hoping it will transfer like a beneficial contagion, infecting us with vitality, purpose, enthusiasm and delight. Well.

    We have to do our own work.

    The work is, all together now, Waking Up, Facing Up, Squaring Up, Growing Up, Standing Up, and Doing What Needs To Be Done In Each Situation As It Arises Exactly As It Needs To Be Done All Our Life Long.

    When we Wake Up, we wake up to the discrepancy, the discord, between how things are and how we want them to be—and to the conflicts, contraries, opposites and antagonisms that exist within ourselves and among us all with ourselves, each other and all of life.

    Facing and bearing the pain of irreconcilable and mutually exclusive conflicts is the essential and on-going task in growing up and being who we are (and also are), which we strive to avoid by associating with those who seem to have what we want/need or who can help us forget our lack of alignment for a while.

    We do not find what we seek by associating with those who seem to have it.

    We have to do the work ourselves.

    The work of alignment, of reconnecting with the Core, the Heart, the Center, and being at-one with the Source of Life by living the life that is our live to live, never mind the life we have in mind.

    Of course, we don’t want anything to do with that. So we seek vicarious satisfaction and wait to be saved from the work that will save us.
  172. Entrance to Magnolia Plantation — Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Our symptoms—we are overweight, we have headaches or backaches, we drink too much too often, we are over-medicated on prescription (or over the counter, or illicit) drugs, etc.—point to unconscious internal conflicts and/or denied external conflicts.

    We have to wake up to what we are not seeing—to what is readily apparent but invisible to us. We have to know what is there to be known, but is not known—is not known to us but is obvious to everyone but us.

    We have to sit down, shut up, open our eyes and see.

    Of course, we think we do see. We have to look at what we think we see until we can see all that is to be seen.

    Behold your symptoms.

    Behold your emotional reactions. You know the individuals, or the groups, or the nationalities that send you over the edge? You are projecting on them what you cannot admit and do not want to face in yourself.

    The same thing goes with the individuals, groups, or nationalities that you love and adore. You are projecting onto them qualities that are latent in yourself, which you wish were true about you, which you deny about you.

    We see ourselves when we see the people we react emotionally to. We project onto those people qualities we deny in ourselves. Let them become mirrors showing you to you.

    Of course, we have conflicts with that. Our conflicts heal us when we make them conscious and work with them in a straight-forward, honest and open way. On the one hand, this. On the other hand, that. And then, there is that over there.

    Don’t try to resolve anything. Simply be intensely aware of the polarities, then tension, the agony, and bear the pain. And wait for things to shift. The shift is growth, transformation, realization, awakening, enlightenment. But don’t think it’s one and done. This is the model for the rest of your life. Growth, conflict, pain, realization, growth… Forever. And you become increasingly alive with each step along the way to full humanbeinghood.
  173. Mallard Landing, One — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 3, 2013 — When I say, “Do what needs to be done,” I don’t mean according to some rule book, some “Mama Said” book. More often than not, I mean, “Do what you find yourself doing.” Or, “Do what you do without thinking about doing anything.”

    Your body knows more than you do. Your body takes care of you on all levels. Digesting food, or directing you toward one dish on the menu and away from all the others, taking you to bed, or to a nap, when it’s time for that, waking you up when it’s time for that…

    When I’m leaving the house to meet the day, sometimes I find myself tarrying for no apparent reason at the door to my bedroom, or the kitchen. When I take the time to get to the bottom of it (because by now I know it means something), I remember something essential that I’ve forgotten, like my money clip or the checkbook or the letters to be mailed. My body stopped me until my mind could slow down enough to know what’s what.

    We are often doing what needs to be done without knowing what we are doing—without intending to do anything worthwhile—and discover some time later it was the very thing that was needed to fit into a greater design or picture.

    I’m saying, “Just get out of the way and stop trying to think of what to do, of what needs to be done, and let yourself do what it knows to do whether you know it or not.”

    This is hard. It is Jesus’ recommendation: “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” That certainly applies with playing the piano, or the alto sax. The more we think about what to do and how to do it, the bigger mess we make of things. Just play! That way, your left hand doesn’t care what your right hand is doing, but trusts it to be enjoying itself, having the time of its life, knowing nothing about anything.

    Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
  174. Mallard Landing, Two — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 3, 2013 — The work is to align the inner you with the outer you. This is called “making the unconscious conscious,” or, “knowing what we know.” This is the absolute foundation to peace and well-being.

    When I find myself tarrying on the way out of the house, I have to make the unconscious conscious in order to know what is known on a deeper level than my thinking, rational, logical level.

    When we have a symptom, we have to get to the bottom of it. Do not ignore your symptoms. A symptom unheeded is a symptom disrespected, dishonored, and it will call all of its friends and invite them to make their home with you.

    If you “treat the symptom” without getting to the bottom of it, you are not doing yourself any favors. If you hear what the symptom is saying, you will discover a buried, hidden, denied conflict of interest. If you open yourself to the conflict without trying to force a solution or resolution, but bear the agony consciously, something will shift somewhere in your life. The unconscious will be honored, and the outer you will be better aligned with the inner you, and peace and well-being will make THEIR home with you for as long as you attend your symptoms and know when there is something unknown nudging you to bring it to light.

    This is the path of awakening that we walk throughout our life, aligning outer with inner all along the way.
  175. Live Oak 04 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — People sometimes ask me to tell them how to take better photographs. The question is too general. It invites an introductory course in photography—and that would be a waste of our collective time.

    If you want to take better photographs, read your camera manual—over and over—until you clearly understand what your camera will do and how to get it to do what it will do. Now you only need to know which scenes and situations require what settings on your camera. At that point, you are in an area where someone who knows photography can help you with your questions about scenes and settings.

    Until you can ask the questions, the answers are going to be senseless. For the answers to be worth anything to you, you have to be asking the questions. No one can give you answers to questions you aren’t asking.

    Sound a bit like life to you?

    It isn’t going to help to hear someone tell you how to find what you aren’t looking for. It’s a waste of your collective time.

    We will have a better chance of finding the answers we need if we are clear about the questions we are asking. What do you need to know to help you with your life? The clearer you can be, the greater your chance of finding what you are looking for.
  176. Mallard Landing, Three — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 3, 2013 — There is the life you are living, and the life you wish you were living, and the life that is yours to live. Our problem is to set the life you wish you were living aside and bring forth the life that is yours to live within the life you are living (Unless the life you wish you were living IS the life that is yours to live!).

    We have to get your LIFE together with your life.

    This is not easy. It is not easy to sell you on the idea that you have a life apart from your life—that you have a life that is yours to live that is different from the life you are living.

    And, it is not easy to get you to do the things that are necessary to align your life with your LIFE. That would be difficult even if the life you wish you were living didn’t keep winking at you and transfixing you with glimmering possibilities.

    The odds are stacked against us. That’s why you have to be old to give it a second thought. You have to have been around the block a time or two, been up against it, seen through the false promises and sweet nothings of the world as we wish it were, and be ready to take a chance on the life that is yours to live because you are running out of time and what do you have to lose?

    So, what’s the first thing you do to get your life aligned with your LIFE? Nothing. Do nothing. Wait. Watch. Listen. Look. See what happens. I’m not kidding. That’s all it takes. You’ll know what to do next when the time for doing it comes along.

    (This is great, isn’t it? You have to be crazy to listen to me. And you have to be really crazy to not listen to me. What kind of crazy are you going to be?)
  177. Magnolia Cemetery 01 — Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — We have to be fed up with our behavior in a situation for the situation to change. It’s easy enough to be fed up with someone else’s behavior—with everyone else’s behavior—and to declare, “If he/she/they would only change everything would be fine!” Not to be mentioning anyone’s name here, but somebody else could change…

    Nothing is going to change in a situation until somebody changes. Who is going to be first to be fed up with what he/she is doing? It takes being fed up to change enough to have an impact.

    Just saying…
  178. Mallard in Flight 104 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 3, 2013 — We make better choices when we live transparent to ourselves. We don’t have to know what we are doing if we know who is doing it and what is prompting the action.

    With nothing about us hidden from us and everything on the table, we are free to walk around the table, consider the table, know what’s what, and choose what to do about it.

    If you are ever going to know anything, know you. Make your peace with yourself, with where you have been and what has happened to you and what you have done in response and how you wound up where you are.

    Understand that your future is more important than your past, that where you are going is more significant than where you have been, that the life you have yet to live is more valuable than the life you have lived, and that beginning here and now, you have more of a chance to be yourself on the way to becoming yourself than you have ever had.

    So, what’s the problem?
  179. Owl Flies Ma 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 4, 2013 — How do you sell change? Don’t bother trying to get everyone on board. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” Campbell also said, “Do your thing and don’t worry about the outcome.” That’s all we need to know about selling change.
  180. Far Away — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 6, 2013 — The foliage has changed the way photographs are to be made in the Bog Garden. More portraits. Less action. It’s dark these days—a green cave. Makes for slower shutter speeds. But the owls fly as fast as they used to. You see the problem. We don’t get to do it the way we want to do it. We have to do it another way instead.

    Sound like life to you?

    Adjustment and accommodation, kid. Adjustment and accommodation.

    It’s what we do best—and what we like to do the least. We want it the way we want it, and do not like to change course to accommodate pesky obstacles. “Damn the shoreline! Full speed ahead!” has been an order we have issued more than once. We are slow to grant reality its place in our life.

    Adjustment and accommodation are what growing up is all about. We take a picture of the owl perched on a limb when she is only a blur flying about.
  181. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., The Angel — Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC, April 28, 2013 — It is important that we wrestle consciously with the polarities that define our existence without submitting to denial or despair.

    In the church of my experience, it was not permissible to say anything about God the people hadn’t already heard. As their minister, they paid me to talk about God but I had to say the things they expected to hear.

    This is an example of a polarity that binds our life. I could not do what I was paid to do because I really wasn’t being paid to do what everyone said I was paid to do—and no one will talk about it, make it conscious. So I lived between what I saw as needing to be said and what I was allowed to say.

    I worked it out by A) being conscious of the conflict and B) pushing the limits by seeing how much I could get by with.

    We are all constrained by polarities, conflicts, contradictions, ambivalences, and Catch-22’s. We have to make them conscious—I don’t care how painful and agonizing that is—and see how much we can get by with.

    We cannot sink into despair at the absurdity of how things are, or embrace denial and refuse to consider the absurdity of how things are. We have to bear the pain of the absurdity by being acutely aware/conscious of it, and understand that there is no way out of it, and that we cannot do what must be done because it must not be done. And say, “This is ridiculous.” And see how much we can get by with.

    The seeing how much we can get by with is the monkey wrench in the gear case, and things are changing that don’t look like they are changing because we are conscious of their need to change and we are changing them by refusing to pretend that they don’t need to be changed.

    Wade with awareness into your polarities. See what you can get by with.
  182. Mallard in Flight 106 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 4, 2013 — We think a fact is a fact, that reality is reality, that the way things are is the way things are. Well.

    Facts are transformed by our interpretation of the facts. Reality is rearranged by what we make of it, how we understand it to be. The way things are is subject to the way we translate it, the meaning we make of it. No matter how trapped we are, we are a perspective shift away from freedom.

    The impact of facts, reality, the way things are upon our life is strictly dependent upon what we say they mean. We are as limited, bound, oppressed and hopeless as our imagination requires us to be.

    What do we tell ourselves about our situation—and then say, “That’s the way it is!”? And then get all hopeless, despondent, woe-be-gone and suicidal because it is obviously pointless to go on? We talk ourselves into quitting every time. Why not talk ourselves into banging away—and see what happens?

    We owe it to ourselves to see if it is as hopeless as we know it is.

    What do we tell ourselves about our situation? Say it out loud. Write it down. Describe the way it is in no uncertain terms. Get it all out. Use a five subject spiral binder if necessary.

    Now imagine what else you could tell yourself if you were free to take a different take on things. See how many different ways you can say how things are. Why take one—generally the worst one—for the TRUTH?

    I knew a guy whose image of his situation was that he was hanging on to one small tree root on the side of a sheer cliff, descending into oblivion, worn out with the effort, losing his grip, giving up. He had not considered that letting go could mean flying as easily as it could mean dying. We all have wings we don’t know we have because we never give them a chance to show us what we can do.

    We limit ourselves by failing to see all there is to see in all the ways there are to see it. We need to know what else—what all—we know if we would only listen before we make decisions based on what we “know.”
  183. Francis Biedler Forest 01 — Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Trust yourself to your life—to the life you are living and to the life that is yours to live. Do not have to know where it’s going, or what you are going to get out of it, or whether it will be worth it.

    If you are going to believe in anything, believe in your life. Trust your life. Hand yourself over to your life.

    The life you are living is the very thing you need to find the life that is yours to live. The life you are living is the doorway, the threshold, to the life that is yours to live. There are elements of the life that is yours to live already at work in the life you are living. You are already living the life that is yours to live—the trick is to live it with increasing consciousness, moving away from the things that interfere with the life that is yours to live over time, as you are able, becoming increasingly aligned with, centered on, the life that is yours to live.

    The motto for what remains of the time left for living is: Know your business and do it!

    There are things you have no business doing. Know what they are and don’t do them. There are things that, and people who, are wet blankets. Avoid them. There are toxic situations and personalities. Have nothing to do with them. Find the people who, and the situations that, are good for you. Hang out with them. Live to become increasingly focused on, aligned with, who you are, living the life and doing the work that is yours to do.

    It’s a slow process, becoming who you are. It’s taken you this long to be where you are. There is no hurry from this point on. Walk slowly, with your eyes open, through each day, all along the way, and, like that, you’re there.
  184. Owl Jam — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 7, 2013 — There are people—toxic personalities—in our life who we need to avoid. We are kin to some of them. And you know who I mean.

    You have to sit yourself down and think through what you are doing when you make yourself available to them only to pay a high price in terms of depleted energy and loss of peace and soul.

    You do yourself no favors living on a toxic waste dump and exposing yourself to toxic personalities. If you aren’t going to protect yourself, who is?
  185. One Fern — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 7, 2013 — I delight in sports teams (and individuals) that (who) play beyond themselves. A good coach is someone who can get more from her, or his, players than they have.

    Bum Phillips, an NFL coach with the Houston Oilers said “A good coach is someone who can take his’n and beat your’n. And then take your’n and give you his’n and beat his’n with your’n.”

    We are all born with a coach like that within us. We are capable of more than we can imagine. We can rise to any occasion. It takes turning ourselves over to the “coach” within to do that within the day-to-day sameness of our life.

    We give up too easily. We quit too soon. “We can’t do this!”, we whine. “It’s too hard!” We are constantly swooning before the Soul Killer questions: “Why try? What good will it do? What difference will it make? Who cares? What’s the use? What chance do we have?”

    There are teams (and individuals) that (who) constantly play beyond themselves—who don’t care what their chances are—who think odds are just some fool’s way of feeling confident about throwing his, or her, money away—who throw themselves into what needs them to do it, and do it with everything they have, and get up tomorrow and do it again.

    Now you’re talking! That’s the way to do it! We’ll show that Cyclops a thing or two!
  186. Owl Yoga 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 8, 2013 — It is not easy. You can do what is hard or you can do it the hard way. It is hard however you do it.

    There is no such place as Easy Street and enlightenment is not the way to it.

    Here is what Marie-Louise von Franz said: “…the deeper and closer people get to the Self within themselves, the more confused and complicated the situation becomes. It does not become easier.”

    When we live to make the unconscious conscious—which is what enlightenment, awareness, realization and waking up do—we make conscious the conflicts, ambivalence, polarities and paradoxes that are at the heart of the way things are. “Life eats life!” What kind of sense does that make?

    The world of the unconscious is not a rational, logical, reasonable, sensible world. We can feel strongly in opposite ways about the same thing. Good is bad and bad is good. Right is wrong and wrong is right. What kind of sense does that make?

    If you are waiting for things to make sense, you are standing in the wrong line. Sense is not what enlightenment and waking up are about. When we wake up, we wake up to the contrariness at the center of truth. If you can be cool with that, you have what it takes to continue the journey.
  187. Duckie 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 8, 2013 — We have figured things out for ourselves and gotten this far over thousands of years. When we started, we didn’t know what a piano was. Now we have electronic pianos, of all things!

    We sell ourselves short. No one told us nothing. Okay. Anything. No one told us anything. We started with nothing on all fronts. Look around. Everything you see came from us. We brought it all out from within ourselves.

    If you are going to ever take off your hat to someone, take it off to us. Tell us to take a bow. Parade us around the room. No! Parade us down some main street behind a band (We made bands, too) and ahead of the floats (I don’t know where floats came from. Probably from the same person that thought up high fructose corn syrup. We’ve come up with some doozies to go along with everything else).

    We’ve done all this starting with nothing!

    So don’t be dismissing yourself and talking about what you can’t do and how you’ve never done anything and will never do anything so why try, or whatever you say to put yourself down and keep yourself from tackling anything like, say, for example, your life. You come from good stock. Your ancestors handled Wooly Mammoths and life without toilet paper. Don’t be thinking you can’t do anything.

    You are part of a species that has done everything you see when you look around, without an instruction manual or a tool box. That’s something. You are something. You should get out of your way and let you show yourself what you can do.
  188. Two Sandpipers — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 8, 2013 — A Solitary Sandpiper and a Spotted Sandpiper is my best guess. — We aren’t stupid. We know what fits and what does not fit, where we belong and where we have no business being. We know what’s what.

    Ants find the picnic, flowers turn to the sun, and we know what works and what doesn’t. So what’s the problem?

    We have a better idea. We have big plans. We will not be saddled with what works, what fits, and where we belong. We have bigger fish to fry. It takes a long time to come down off of our high horse.

    We cannot wake up without growing up. Growing up IS waking up—realizing how things are regardless of how we wish they were or plan on them being, and squaring ourselves up with what works, what fits, and where we belong—aligning ourselves with the life that is ours to live and bringing it forth in the time left for living.

    We could get there quicker if we weren’t so sure we had it figured all out.
  189. Goshen Creek 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 9, 2013 — We have to bring our conflicts forth. We have to open ourselves—and wade right in—to our conflicts. We have to make our conflicts conscious, and bear the weight of the agony of mutually exclusive wants, desires, obligations, responsibilities, duties. We have to embrace our polarities, and our paradoxes, and our conflicts of interest. We have to make our peace with them all.

    We do not make peace among them. We make our peace with the fact of them. We are torn, divided, at odds within and without. Yet, we spend our time and energy denying that it is so, pretending all is well, declaring unto all—and believing it ourselves—that we are “just fine.”

    We must bring our conflicts forth and work them out.

    Conflict made conscious will bring us forth. Will define us. Will show us, and others, who we are.

    Only the conscious struggle with conflict will expose our loyalties, will make known our allegiance, will disclose what is important, will reveal our heart and make known our identity.

    Apart from that struggle, we are all talk. We say this is important or that is, that this is who we are and that is who we are not, and yada-yada-yada… We don’t know nothing, okay anything. We don’t know anything about who we are until we make the unchooseable choice. Again and again.

    And we are back to the Jung quite about it getting harder as we get down to the heart of the matter and begin to know a thing or two about who we are. It is agony being whole. Being One. Being integrated—awake, aware, alive.

    Being dead is so painless, so smooth and easy. But. You’re dead.
  190. Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Duckie 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 10, 2013 — Nature is heartless. The concept of Justice is foreign to the natural world. Life eats life. Nature requires fecundity—more life than is needed—more than enough to go around—to keep life going.

    People are always taking a peek at nature and saying, “How can anyone look at all this beauty and not believe in God?” Well. The beautiful little duckling is turtle food. The little turtle is Great Blue Heron food. The helpless little worms have the last laugh, feasting on what is left of everything else. It is easy to look at nature and not believe in God at all.

    The God of Life and Being is quite beyond, and other than, the natural world. We, you might say, are God’s gift to nature. We are the conscience, the consciousness, and the source of values sorely lacking among the birdies and beasties.

    Our place in the natural order of things is to say Yes! to it, and No!

    This is the conflict at the heart of things. We have to say Yes! to it because this is the way things are—this is the world we are born into. To reject it would be the height of arrogance and presumption. We are of that world. When given a chance, we have done no better than the rest of nature. But, to our credit, we are justly appalled by our own behavior.

    We recognize a higher ought-to-be than the Law of the jungle. And so, we say Yes! to No!

    We say this is the way things are and they ought not be that way! And, if someone should object that we cannot oppose God, I would reply that is exactly what we are here for: To oppose God if God is as heartless as the natural world. To call God to wake up and do better!

    Of course, I think God is not as heartless as the natural world. I think God stands apart from the natural world, and calls us to oppose it ourselves—even as we participate in it!

    This is a grand contradiction that we are asked to embrace and live out—being sources of all that is lacking in nature: compassion and grace, justice, mercy, peace, kindness, generosity, etc., without cutting ourselves off from nature or holding ourselves aloof.

    We bear in our own bodies the tension of the polarity between the way things are and the way things ought to be, and do not relax the burden of that tension even though it bears down on us like a great cross that we carry throughout our days.
  191. Two Ferns — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 7, 2013 — We think there is somewhere to go on this journey, somewhere to get to. We think we are moving from were we’ve been to where we are going to be when we finally get there.

    We are not going anywhere. We are waking up. When we wake up, we will be right here. Awake. Aware. Alive.

    And we will be who we are.

    There is a sense in which we are already who we are, we are just asleep and don’t realize it. Who we think we are is not who we are, but when we become who we are, we will say, “Oh sure. This is who I have always been.” And we will be right.

    Who we are is who we always have been—and who we will be when we wake up and consciously—and conscientiously—align the outer us with the inner us, and deliberately live the life that is ours to live within the life we are living.

    That will change things—in ways that will awaken everyone who can be awakened.
  192. Trumpet Vine 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 5, 2013 — There is always something else to be aware of—always the possibility of seeing what we see from a different point of view.

    I step into old scenes and see new ways of seeing them. I go through old photo files and see new ways of presenting them.

    You think you have something all wrapped up, maybe in butcher paper, and stored away, maybe in the freezer, where it will never change on you and always be what it was when you put it there. Well. The joke’s on you.

    We waste our time nailing things down. Hammering things out. Putting things to a vote. Unanimously agreeing that THIS is the way this thing is and it will never be anything but what we say it is. Thinking we’ve done something.

    We will never see everything, and we will never see anything all the ways it can be seen. All it takes is a little more looking to know this is so.
  193. Roaring Fork Falls 01— Pisgah National Forest near Little Switzerland, NC, May 9, 2013 — Stepping stones along the way…

    1) Our idea of God is not God.

    2) It takes a lot of looking to be able to see.

    3) We can do what is hard or do it the hard way. It is not easy. Ever.

    4) We experience things we don’t understand. We understand things we cannot explain. The left hemisphere of our brain is not the seat of Real Knowledge. The task of the left hemisphere is to know what the right hemisphere knows.

    5) When you don’t know what to do, sit down, shut up, and listen to what you feel. Feel for what you know. When we know what we know, we know what we need to know. If you don’t know what to do, what do you know?

    6) Practice seeing what you look at, hearing what you listen to, knowing what you know.

    7) Who do you know that you admire the most? What do you admire about them? Practice being like them in those ways.

    8) We know what we like and we know what we don’t like. We know what fits and what does not fit. We know where we belong and where we have no business being. We know what we love to do and what we detest doing. We know what fills our hearts and what kills our soul. We know what is good for us and what is bad for us. We know what energizes us and what depletes us… So. What’s the problem?

    9) Ask the questions that beg to be asked. Ask the questions that beg you to ask them, not the questions someone else tells you to ask. You can ask your own questions—and must!

    10) Don’t think answers are going to do anything for you. An answer is just a step on the way to a better question. Question the answers.

    11) Probe. Poke. Play around. Wander. Wonder. Explore. Experiment.

    12) Everything worth knowing comes about by playing imaginatively, creatively, with what is known, or thought to be.

    13) Playfulness, imagination and creativity are the same thing. Do not think you can think your way into new ways of thinking. You have to play your way there, imaginatively, creatively. Generally, you have to do something and think about what you did to see things—to think—differently. Playfulness leads the way.
  194. Owl Flies Panorama — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 10, 2013 — Think about the people you hang out with. How many of them are able to help you with your life—with the life you are living and with the life that is yours to live? How many of them distract you from your life—either or both of them? How many of them interfere with your life—are an obstacle to living your life? Think about the people you hang out with.
  195. Floating Princess Tree Flower — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 10, 2013 — Your primary obligation is to the life that is yours to live. You have to find it and live it—within the context and circumstances of the life you are living. There is nothing easy about it. But it can be fun. And meaningful. And interesting. And it can save your life—physically and emotionally/spiritually.

    Being connected with—living aligned with—in service to—with loyalty and allegiance to—the life that is ours to live revitalizes our life—physically and emotionally/spiritually. It heals us. Makes us well. And turns out to be all that was ever missing in our life—the life we are living.

    We are at loose ends, adrift, aimlessly wandering, going through the motions, with our heart not in what we are doing because we are not on the beam, not on track, out of sync with ourselves and living a life that is not ours to live.

    All of that changes when we take up the work that is ours to do—which has nothing to do with the work we do to pay the bills. We come to life and are alive when we align ourselves with the life that is our life to live.

    Our primary obligation is to find that life and live it. How are you doing with that?
  196. Three Ferns — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 7, 2013 — Authenticity is a function of transparency—not that we are transparent to others, but to ourselves. We cannot kid ourselves, play games with ourselves, be blind to ourselves, and have any chance of living an authentic, genuine, really us life.

    So, when you look at yourself in the mirror, see who is there. Not to condemn, berate, shame, despise! Just to see. Just to know.

    The rule is simple: No holding anything back from ourselves. No hiding anything from ourselves. No pretending that things are different than they are.

    To be who we are, we have to start with who we are—just as we are, right there, in the mirror.
  197. Going — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 11, 2013 — We think a high standard of living is a substitute for being alive. What are we doing with our life, is the question. What is a high standard of living for?

    We live to serve the economy. But what does the economy serve? What is the goal of the culture? What is the culture here to help us do?

    I was a minister for 40.5 years. In order to be paid, I had to not do my job, or one of them. Of course, I cheated where I could get by with it, but it was always a question of where I was going to cheat, here or there?

    As a minister, my primary job was to take care of the church. Serve the church. That would be the building and the grounds and the bank account of the church. The organization. The paraphernalia.

    My secondary job was to care for the people and help them get together with their life.

    What’s a church for? Well, practically speaking, a church is here to grow the church, develop the church, have more programs this year than last year. Have an increasingly large budget. Be opulent. Obese. Everlasting.

    The people who come to the church are there for the church. They have to be involved in the church, which means doing what the church needs them to do, wants to have done.

    Well. Where in that scheme are people helped with their life, with the life that is theirs to live? The church just tells them what to do. It doesn’t help them find what is truly theirs to do. It doesn’t invite them to stop giving their money to the church and start spending it on the things and the experiences that will bring them forth and serve them well in their individual lives. They have no individual lives. Their life is the church.

    The same principle is at work in the economy. We are here to serve the economy. “Go shopping,” was George Bush’s great line. That was the best he could do. All he knew. And we elected him twice. It’s where we are as a culture, as a country.

    It’s easier to just not worry about it, about our life, about what is ours to do, about our work, our genius, our talent, our gift. A high enough standard of living takes our mind off the emptiness of our life. And we can always go to church and hear them tell us it will all come together for us in heaven when we die. But we are already dead. Why don’t they do something about that?

    The church ought to be raising people from the dead—helping them transform the culture from a wasteland into a vibrant source of life for everyone.
  198. Owl Flies, One—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 11, 2013 — We have to work it out. Working it out is living within the tension, within the conflicts, within the polarities, within the opposites, that define our life.

    How much for them, how much for me? Always the question. We have to work it out again and again in each situation as it arises. Sometimes, we decide for them. Sometimes we decide for ourselves.

    There are no global, eternal, everlasting, once and done for ever and ever amen decisions about how to do it. We always have to work it out.

    We can be overwhelmed with the business of living—changing diapers, getting the dog to the vet, mowing the lawn, unstopping drains, etc.—to the point where we have no time to consider the life that is ours to live.

    And we can drift so far into escapism, dreaming of the life we wish were ours to live that we neglect, abandon, and betray our responsibilities, duties and obligations to the here and now needs of the life we are living.

    We have to work it out.

    Working it out starts with waking up. When we wake up, we wake up to the allness of it all. We wake up to everything that has a claim on us. It’s too much. We want to hide. That’s why we were asleep in the first place. Being awake is agony. It starts with the anguish of realization, the suffocating fear that it’s too much for us and we cannot possibly work it out. The fear is part of the allness. Put it on the table with the rest of it. Something else to work out.

    The German word “weltanschauung” points to a world-view that takes it all into account. Asleep, we have a very narrow weltanschauung. Awake, it encompasses the whole banana. We have to see it all. And work it out.
  199. Boone Fork Cascades 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 9, 2013 — The busy-ness of our life can interfere with our business. “Stay Out Of My Business” could be a bumper sticker or a tee-shirt slogan because life intrudes. The flow of our life is redirected by the tsunami of our other life.

    And we are back to the Odysseus quote from the Odyssey: “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship / and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”

    We can’t let the rolling waves of “the wine dark sea” of life deter us from “our business”— even though we might have to set it aside while we deal with the disruption, disarray and disorder of the way things are.

    We have to remember what our business is even when we cannot get to it for a while, like until the kids get out of college. There isn’t an expired by date on our business. Swimming through the heaving sea is doing our business, just in the very early stages.
  200. Blue Ridge Spring 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 9, 2013 — Life is a mixed bag, blessing and curse, good and bad, bad and good, good going over into bad, bad going over into good. It’s complicated. It’s complex. It’s chaos. Don’t let it stop you!

    We get as far forcing ourselves to move—willing ourselves to get back up and see what we can do in “the winter of our discontent”—as we do dancing merrily through the lush meadows of spring.

    A friend talked with me about her experience with postpartum depression, saying she had to force herself to dust the end table in the morning and the coffee table after lunch. “Just one thing like that a day was insurmountable and all I could do for too many days.”

    For what? We do not know.

    We believe in more than meets the eye. We trust ourselves to a purpose beyond our power to conceive. We sense that we are here for more than ourselves—that we serve LIFE in ways we cannot imagine. And deal with death doing it.

    Death comes in all forms. We carry the banner of LIFE. The Cyclops is death standing in our way, grinning. We must not die before our time.

    Why? Why do I say that? What evidence do I have suggesting that it matters? What can I put forth in defense of my position? In asking the questions, we take the side of the Cyclops. We become the voice of the Soul Killer, the Life Eater, and take sides with them against us.

    Whose side are we on? The side of LIFE, or the side of DEATH? It’s the fundamental choice. Are we here to be alive or to die—to live while we are alive or to die before we are dead?

    I’m betting on life, on LIFE. I’m betting we carry, somehow, the hope of the species—the hope of more than the species, of that which is beyond the species—the hope of that which we do not know, but serve, with loyalty and allegiance and courage and determination for as long as we are alive.

    And I’m looking for the good company of those who are willing to be traveling companions, supporting one another in the belief that we are here to be alive and will be, by God, for as long as life is possible. You sign on for the journey by sauntering up to the Cyclops in his most recent manifestation and spitting in his ugly red eye.
  201. The Bog Garden is at the corner of Hobbs Road and Starmount Drive — across Hobbs Road to the east from the Bicentennial Garden. Hobbs road is the western boundary of the Shops At Friendly. Proceeding west on Friendly Ave., you would pass the Shops at Friendly and turn right (north) on Hobbs Road, straight through the traffic signal at the intersection of Hobbs and Northline Ave. and turn right at the next street which would be Starmount Drive. It’s about a 12 acre natural habitat park and about 6 acres of it is Benjamin Lake. A great place to hang out with a camera!

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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, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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