- No Theology! It ought to be a bumper sticker. No Doctrine! This is called the doctrine of no doctrine.
Bad religion looks for something beyond the experience of life to justify the experience of life—and to look forward to once “this vale of tears” is left behind through death.
The experience of life is more accurately a “veil of tears,” concealing the wonder, beauty, goodness and joy of life just as it is—which can be seen only by those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand.
The experience of life is an optical illusion, now you see it, now you don’t and sometimes you never see it—with the “it” being the foundational truth of meaning and purpose lying beyond the apparent truth of meaninglessness and absurdity.
The experience of life is an ink blot—reflecting the interior orientation of those who look at life and declare it to be as they see it.
For example: Synchronicity is an encounter with more than meets the eye—which cannot be denied. A chance conversation changes our life. We have a brief exchange with a person in line with us at a checkout counter, whom we never see again and cannot forget.
Synchronous experiences buoy us up and carry us along, and are available to all who are available to them. It takes a certain perspective, outlook, orientation, receptivity, to be able to see what is before us—and what is also before us—in each situation as it arises.
That which transforms the life of one person is invisible to another. Look for yourself and see what you look at.
- Duckie 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 13, 2013 — The stream flows both ways. The disciples pull the master forth as much as the master pulls the disciples forth. Who is the master? Who is the disciple?
The disciples become like the master in following no master and in seeing everyone as their master. The master who thinks she, he, is the master is no master.
A true master takes instruction from every experience, each encounter. Is always learning. Is embarrassed to talk to others as an authority on any subject. Walks through her, through his, life in the spirit of play. Is at home with children. Delights in the gifts of the day. Laughs in her, in his, sleep.
- Great Blue Heron May 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 13, 2013 — Blue Herons come into the world knowing how to be a Blue Heron. Baby ducks come into the world knowing how to be a duck. You can imprint a baby duck with a cat, say, or a tarantula, but, put it in the water and it will swim like a duck.
Elephants don’t try to be giraffes. You can’t trick a parakeet into thinking it’s an orangutan. A pine tree doesn’t imitate a Barrel Cactus. I could go on.
Human beings like to cast about because they don’t know who they are. That’s ridiculous.
All human beings with vital signs intact knows what they like and don’t like, love or hate, what fits or doesn’t fit, what their business is and isn’t. And none of them would let me sweeten their coffee or their tea.
They could pick themselves out of a line-up.
We know who we are. We just wish we were someone else. Until we get to know them.
- Owl Flies Two — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 11, 2013 — Do it because you love doing it and not to become rich and famous. Do it because there is nothing you had rather do. Don’t do it to exploit it. Do it to do it.
- Coming At You One — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 14, 2013 — Don’t try to make something happen. See what is happening and what needs to happen, and do that.
The art of life is waiting for the time to be right—for the right moment to act—and being ready to walk through the door when it opens.
Be there when the owl flies, ready.
- Coming At You Two — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 14, 2013 — You have to live with singleness of purpose to live on the beam, aligned with that which is deepest, best and truest about you—in synch with the life that is your life to live.
Singleness of purpose cannot coexist with multitasking. You see the problem.
We have to know what our business is and do our business. The closer we can come to that, the closer we are to True Human Beinghood.
We all suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. We have too much to think about, too much to do, too many responsibilities, obligations and duties—too much clutter in our life.
To do photography, I have to be, pardon the pun, focused on photography. Nothing is quite as distracting for me as photography with a group of photographers. If I am with a group, I am not with the scene.
I see from solitude, out of solitude, with solitude, through solitude—the kind of solitude that fosters singleness of purpose and oneness with the scene—oneness with my life, the life that is my life to live.
In long-ago Japan, spiritual deepening and self-realization and expression were reserved for the second-half of life when one had made one’s way in the world and the children were grown and settled into lives of their own. When one could be focused on the one’s on business, and do the work that was theirs to do.
- Coming At You Three — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 14, 2013 — Singleness of purpose is knowing what your business is and what it isn’t and doing what is your business to do.
”Stay Out Of My Business!” “Mind Your Own Business!” These are two watchwords of the way, with the second being something we say to ourselves as well as to others.
We cannot be casual with our business, flip, nonchalant, indifferent. Our business is our heart and soul—apart from our business our soul dies and we lose heart because there is nothing to serve us as “the still point of the turning world.” Without that, we fly off in a thousand directions, with no center to ground us, identify us, stabilize us, orient and direct us.
What’s your business? Where does your soul come to life and your heart start beating? Where are you when you cannot think of a better place to be? What are you doing when you had rather be doing that than anything you can think of? How often do you go there? Do that?
Are you picking up what I’m laying down here?
- Over the Boardwalk 06 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 15, 2013, Too close to focus, but you get the idea. — Five ducks are coming in, you pick a duck. How do you know which duck to choose? You pick a duck.
We are overwhelmed with choices and don’t know which choice to choose. How do we decide?
The worst decision is to be immobilized by the number of choices. You could stand before the orange juice section of your grocery store for a long time. Too many choices. So make one and go on to the next one.
Get out of the way and let the Chooser choose. The Chooser cuts through all of the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, reason why and reasons why not, and picks a duck.
If it turns out to be a poor choice, what of it? Three ducks are coming in now. Your odds just got better.
- Heron Silhouette 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 15, 2013 — The path opens before those who start walking. Who walk with awareness. Who collaborate with the inner guide in determining direction and pace. Who trust themselves to the journey without maps or guidebooks. Who have no need of timetables or schedules. Who have no destination in mind.
- Watch out Squirrel! — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 15, 2013 — How hard would you play, or work, with everything on the line? How hard would you play, or work, with nothing on the line?
Why the difference? Why allow what’s on the line determine the quality of your playing, or working, or living?
Live to be passionately involved in your life with nothing at stake in the outcome.
- Osprey Goes Fishing 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 14, 2013 — What do you enjoy about your life?
Enjoy the things you enjoy about your life with greater frequency and longer duration.
- Catch of the Day 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 15, 2013 — I think nothing would help us with our life quite like having a sounding board—quite like being able to talk things out, talk things through.
The problem with writing in a journal is the problem with talking to ourselves. If we do that, we have to develop the art of seeing things from the other side—from the side opposite our own. Otherwise, we just express our point of view over and over, and never come to see things differently from the way we see things.
A sounding board offers a different perspective, sees things from a different point of view, and can ask questions of us that we cannot ask of ourselves—because it never occurs to us.
It is possible to develop an inner sounding board that does call us into question but, we have to be open to what we hear. Practice by making a statement about how you feel about your life—about how things are going with you—and listen to what occurs to you. It may not be words. It may be a picture or an image. An object may come to mind.
Practice listening this way to the things you tell yourself, the things you say to yourself about what is happening in your life. You’ll be helping yourself get to the bottom of you, to the heart of the matter, and figuring out what response you need to make.
In this way, you can create your own sounding board and carry it with you wherever you go.
- Spring Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 9, 2013 — All of the values that life proves valuable come together to form one perspective, orientation, outlook, attitude toward life.
Patience is compassion. You cannot be patient if you are not compassionate. You cannot be compassionate if you are not patient.
You cannot be compassionate if you are not vulnerable and capable of intimacy, of trust.
It goes on. It’s a circle of oneness—of one thing being necessary for all the others—of one value being the foundation of every other value.
And they also conflict. A values conflict is the best kind of conflict. How do we choose between equally important values when they are mutually exclusive?
We die in working it out. That’s the nature of crucifixion. Giving up this to get that, making the necessary trade-offs required by life (Life eats life, you know), grows us up and makes us humble, heartbroken, and of real help to one another along the way.
- Green Heron in a Cypress Tree — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 16, 2013 — Things can change without anything being different.
You can divorce one spouse and marry another. You can leave one job and take another. You can move from one part of the country to another. Somehow, your life stays the same.
Churches regularly change ministers and regularly remain the same. Restaurants change their menus. The food remains the same. You can put the entire contents of your refrigerator and pantry on the pizza. It’s still pizza.
What makes things different? What is the key to transformation? How can we change our life from the ground up, inside out?
How different can you be? How alterable are you at the core? If you were going to be different, how would you be then that you aren’t now?
What remains the same no matter what you do?
- Owl Flies Through The Tangle—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 16, 2013 — We need those who would be the right kind of community for us to serve as a sounding board and a balancing agent. Alone, we are off, over the edge, out of sight in no time at all.
The craziest people you know are loners. The next craziest people you know are leading some mob off some cliff. We have to find the middle ground.
The healthiest community does not act as one. Does not think the same way, believe the same things, does not live according to the same idea of how to live except the idea of surrounding ourselves with those who can hear us out, pull us forth, and provide the balancing ballast to keep us stable and centered in the path to maturation, awareness, enlightenment, insight, realization, peace and good citizenship.
(Good citizenship is providing what we need to those who also need it—offering compassionate presence and good company to one another around the table, across the board, with no stipulations or requirements beyond, “Can you use what I have to offer?”)
The healthiest community is the source of honest conversation straight from the hear about things that matter.
Honest conversation is balancing, stretching, expanding, deepening conversation. It is not debate or argument There is no room for “the dialectic” in honest conversation, with it’s pros and cons, good and bad, right and wrong, logical and rational approach to truth.
Honest conversation is exploratory, experimental, imaginative. No one tries to convert anyone through honest conversation. Everyone tries to see better what is to be seen, what may be seen, and to share what she, or he, sees with those who are looking.
The right kind of community is good for this kind of thing, and it doesn’t come ready-made for us when we step into our life. We spend our life creating the right kind of community in order to live our life. It’s one of those wonderful ironies of existence, where nothing can happen until something else does. So, we wait for it even as we work to make it happen!
- Trumpet Vine 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 5, 2013 — I can be at-one with the owl and the ducks, or not. There is a perceptible shift—a felt shift—that happens when I move from one way of perceiving the world to another way of perceiving the world. It’s the move from the world of appearances to the such-as-it-is-ness of that which is before me. It’s the move from seeing to, well, seeing. And it can be gone in a snap.
It takes focus to enter into “seeing mode,” and it takes focus to regain it when it is lost. I cannot be in two worlds at the same time.
Being in the world such-as-it-is is a communion, a being-with, that has no preferences, no agenda, no timetable. It is being open to and present with what is before me. It is prayer.
Being in the world of appearances is yada yada yada. It is where we look without seeing, talk without hearing, live without being alive to and present in the moment of our living. Multitasking is not living. It is doing a lot without being present with any of it.
The quality of a life is as much the quality of the awareness, of the consciousness, with which that life is lived as anything. If you want to improve the quality of your living, pay attention to time and place of your living. Beginning now.
- Mates for Life — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 21, 2013 — Find the interface between you and your life. Live there with your eyes open.
Without nerve endings to tell us when something is hot, we would stand too close to the fire and drink coffee that was too hot to handle. Our nerve endings are the interface between our body and our environment.
We are similarly equipped to sense our emotional/psychic impact upon the outer world within which we live and its emotional/psychic impact upon us. We are generally unconscious of the emotional/psychic interface that exists between us and the context and circumstances of our living, and blunder about, crashing and thrashing our way around in our life, wondering why it is such a mess.
Well. Wake up.
The spiritual journey is the way of making ourselves conscious of all that is right here with us, unseen, unexperienced, unknown.
We think life is something that happens to us, and we are unconscious of the part we play in the arrangement and production—the creation—of the things that happen in our life.
This is not to say that we can design our own life—that we can have the life of our dreams—by being aware of the influence we have upon our life. It is to say we can have the life that is our life to live by participating in its development as full partners in its realization.
We can move from a life that is not working on any level to a life that is purring along. We have to change the way we think about what our life should be. We have to be open to possibilities different from our idea of the perfect life. We have to allow ourselves to grow up in the way that only we can grow up. We have to stop interfering with who we need to become and creating all this mess which takes our mind further off our business and obstructs our way to the way that is our way.
We have to wake up and find the interface between ourselves and our life, and live there with our eyes open.
- Solitary Sandpiper Reflection — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 8, 2013 — There is what happens to us and there is how we respond to what happens to us, which, together, set us up for what happens next. In two ways.
They set us up for what happens next by putting in motion a certain configuration of factors that create what happens next—that precipitate what happens next—that determine what happens next. We produce our own fate by the way we deal with what comes our way.
This can be though of as karma if you think of karma as momentum, as the weight of the past swinging forward into the future—in the sense of what you have done being the best predictor of what you will do—in the sense of how things have been being the best predictor of how things will be.
They also set us up for what happens next by fixing us in a pattern of response, where when this happens, we do that.
If you want what is happening in your life to change, respond to it in completely different ways. Do not do anything in response to what is happening that you have ever done before. Things will change. Maybe not for the better, but, sometimes, any change is better.
I recommend that you think through what is happening and how you typically respond, and how you might respond differently. Here’s the trick. When you respond differently, what is happening will happen with greater vigor in an effort to get you back into your typical response pattern (The law of inertia and of karma is that a body at rest will remain at rest and a body in motion will remain in motion. You are breaking the law and must break it completely if things are to be different). You must hold the line and continue to respond atypically, unpredictably. Surprise even yourself.
You only have to come up with one more unique response than the thing that is happening can trump. Your life will change. Maybe for the better.
- Owl Shakes It Out — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 11, 2013 — Let’s say you build a house and decide to landscape it yourself. You take into account the area of the country, the amount of shade and rainfall, the direction the house is facing, the amount of time you want to spend tending your landscape, and every other little detail, put your plants in and enjoy the fruit of your labors.
You do not say, “I like barrel cactus, and am going to plant them all over the lot. My Maine neighbors will be sooo envious!”
You consider the such-as-it-is-ness of your location and adapt yourself to the limitations and possibilities of the flora of your area—and live within the boundaries imposed by your context and circumstances—to create a yard that delights you through the years.
The yard is your life. You don’t tell it what it is going to be. You create what it can be within the restrictions placed on you by the time, place, nature and conditions of your living to produce the wonder of you.
You square yourself up with what you have to work with, work with what you have and see where you go. See?
- Boone Fork Cascades 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 9, 2013 — The Hero’s Journey’s other name is Growing Up. We grow up into who we are, not into who we wish we were, or who we want to be. The proper answer to “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” is “Who I am.”
We grow up into who we are by looking ourselves in the eye and not turning away from what we see because it doesn’t match up with our wishes, desires and expectations.
We look at ourselves with eyes of compassion, accept what we see and welcome every aspect of ourselves into the good company of us—engaging the strengths and gifts that each part of us brings to the whole in living the life that is ours yet to live in the time left for living.
- Northern Watersnakes — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 12, 2013 — I find myself talking to those who can hear what I have to say, which is always more than I think it will be—and less than I wish it were.
Those who know, know one another, like alcoholics can pick out other alcoholics across a room.
Those who know, know what we think isn’t as important as what we feel, and that what we believe is more on the order of what we know than intellectual assent to some statement or theory (which is sometimes called “doctrine”).
Those who know, know it’s a matter of being on the beam or off it, in the flow or out of it, with the moment or against it, invested in, and in sync with, the life that is ours to live or lost and at loose ends in the wasteland.
Those who know, know it takes a lot of living to be able to hear what needs to be heard, to be able to see what needs to be seen, to be able to understand what is there all along, waiting.
Those who know, know we grow up consciously, not accidentally—that we have to embrace the process, assent to it, join in it as full participants in the work to wake up and become who we are.
Those who know, know the truth when they hear it, when they see it, by the quality of its resonation with the tuning fork of realization within us that guides each of us to the path with our name on it, the life that is our life to live.
- Maple Leaves — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 18, 2013 — Everyone thinks they are awake. It’s everyone else who is asleep. Everyone thinks, “If all you people would just wake up and get your act together, everything would be just fine!”
- Mallard in Flight 108 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 6, 2013 — We are the interface, the threshold, between worlds. We are the boundary between worlds. We integrate visible and invisible reality. Or not.
We have to know what we are doing to do it. Otherwise, it’s a mess. As far from integration as a psychiatric ward is from a think tank—which is only a perspective shift away from being the other. We are always only a perspective shift away from being who we are needed to be, who we are born to be. We may as well be separated by years and miles, given that perspective shifts are the hardest things to manage.
We can’t just order up a perspective shift because this is Monday and we haven’t had one in a while. They happen all the time, but not because we say, “I’m in the mood for a perspective shift today.”
Anyway. We are the threshold between worlds, but it takes being awake to unlock the door and let the interchange begin, in us and through us, which transforms both worlds. And it takes ego strength to be egoless enough to swim in the currents between worlds.
Schizophrenics were shamans in another time and place, but the clash of colliding worlds is/was too much for them, and they aren’t/weren’t the kind of explorers the rest of us need.
We need those who have what it takes to be a threshold without being carried away. Carl Jung had it, and Joseph Campbell, and Marie-Louise von Franz, and James Joyce, and Alberts Schweitzer and Einstein … The list is long, but not long enough. And those on it were/are ignored by too many, and dismissed by too many others, to have the kind of impact this world needs to receive that one well. But, they kept the door open, and encourage us to do the same.
- Crabtree Falls — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 2007 — We need a sounding board. We need to be well received by compassionate presence that doesn’t let us get by with kidding ourselves about the way things are, but helps us square up to them, look them in the eye, and do what we can do about them.
We need to be reminded that even though it may be hopeless, useless, pointless and coming to a bad end, how we live in the meantime makes all the difference—as evidenced by the good company of those who care about us and do not leave us desolate and alone.
May we all have that kind of company when we need it most—and be it in the lives of others who need it—all our life long!
- Owl Yoga 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 11, 2013 — What does the invisible world need from us? My hunch is that it has been there a lot longer than we have been here. There was nothing but the invisible world for the longest of times. Then there was a shift, and here we are.
That’s the short version, and it makes as much sense as anything else. I recommend that you save yourself some time and stick with it, but you’ll do what you want to—which is exactly as it should be. Where were we? Oh.
What do we have that the invisible world could use? I’m guessing here, as if you couldn’t guess. I’m guessing we have conscious awareness and articulation going for us. Consciousness is a form of structure. It’s a path through the mess—and a means of arranging the mess, of draping the mess with meaning and purpose. We dance to the music of the invisible world so the invisible world might see it and sing.
Well. Maybe not. But it’s a nice way to think about our place in the invisible world.
- Crabtree Falls, May 2013 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — You don’t have to think up your life. You only have to live it. You don’t have to know what you are doing. You only have to do it.
Everybody wants to make a splash, have an impact, make a difference. YOU are the difference. You can’t help but make a difference when you are being you—the you only you can be.
You, right now, without doing anything other than what you normally do, have contacts, niches, routines that no one else has. Nobody can do you but you.
Now, if you do you the way only you can do you—sharing the gifts that only you have in the way that only you can—bingo, as they say at the Moose Lodge, we gotta winna here.
Ah but, you say, how do you do that? You don’t have a thing to worry about. You only have to get out of the way. You only have to take instruction, follow directions, listen to your dreams and to your intuition and to your sense of what needs to happen in each situation as it arises, and let yourself fly, or dance, or walk on water. You can do all of those things, you know, if you just trust your inner partner and let yourself show you what you are capable of.
- Crabtree Falls Detail 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — Dear God, For What? The question hammered into the wall of an abandoned New England subway station opens the door to a room full of responses.
From one point of view, it is encouraging. Someone has taken the time to bang it out and into smooth granite. The work was fueled with emotion, with passion. For what?
The work was it’s own reason for being. The work called itself forth, demanding to be done. The work itself is the answer to the question that called forth the work.
From another point of view, the question carries us to the heart of the matter. Do we need a reason for being here? For doing what we do? For doing what is OURS to do?
Do we need to believe in someone who knows why, who knows the purpose, and is busy “working it out as year succeeds to year—and the time is drawing near” when we will all know the majestic glory of the answer that dispels the absurdity and makes all the agony so worthwhile?
Do we need to believe in reasons? What is more valuable, important, beautiful: Believing in a reason for it all or believing in it—in the value of the experience of life, in the value of the work we are doing, the work that is OURS to do—beyond all reason, in the absence of reason, for no reason?
Can’t we love it all—all of it, the absurdity and the emptiness along with the joy and the wonder—so much that we would do it for nothing—and do it again, and again, and again?
Can’t we believe in the value of the such-as-it-is-ness of our life, of all of life, to such a depth and degree that nothing can keep us from giving our all to the expression of our belief in the value of what we are doing—living, being alive—past all objection, obstacles, opposition and the Cyclops standing in our way asking “For what? Why are you even trying?”
Next time that happens, grin right back at him and ask, “Why do you do what you’re doing, Dumbass?”
- Goshen Creek 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — If we cannot agree about what is good and how to do it, or what is harmful and how to avoid it, where does that leave us?
If there is not a good faith agreement among us to see what we are doing, are trying to do, want to do—and what it’s impact is for good or harm—where does that leave us?
The world is in our hands. WE are the responsible agents in charge of its care and tending. We have no business acting out of some ideology, some theory, about how we should behave, and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the actual effects our actions have on the people and the world around us.
But, how do we get those in the seats of power to understand this fundamental principle of power? How do we get those who do not care, to care?
When the disconnect between the rulers and the ruled is complete, there is trouble enough for everyone.
- Sunbathing Owl 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 22, 2013 — We have all the help we need to do the work that is ours to do. The trouble is, we want to do the work that will land us in fame, fortune and glory while we are young enough to enjoy it.
We have to grow up enough to hand over our idea for our life in a “thy will, not mine, be done” kind of way.
Once we get out of the way—get out of our way—the fun begins.
We get out of our way by taking up the work of taking the invisible world seriously—by consulting the guide within and cooperating with the invisible world in constructing a life—building a life—that is our life to live in the time left for living.
Some of us have no time to waste, hem-hawing around, trying to make up our minds about throwing in with invisible and maybe imaginary cohorts when it is our real life on the line.
So, we can’t do this until we are old enough to have seen what we can do on our own, and know we can’t do any worse with even an imaginary friend offering guidance along the way.
- Sunbathing Owl, 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April 9, 2013 — If we are going to contact the other side, we have to be willing to do our part. The deal really is, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” We talk it over and work out the details together, and we find the help we need to do what needs us to do it in each situation as it arises. But we have to jump into the deep blue sea. We can’t splash in the shallows and think we are doing anything. We’re in or we are out. The deep blue sea, I mean.
- Meditating Owl — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 22, 2013 — We all have to go somewhere else from time to time—to drift off, float away, into reverie and woolgathering. We all have to take a walk in the Dream World, visiting with the ghosts who live there, grounding ourselves again in the flow of life that is more than our life—that is past and future mingled together with possibilities for the present that would be unimagined without drifting off from time to time, walking about.
The visible world of normal, apparent, reality can consume us—can eat us alive. We have to regularly, intentionally, step out of that world and into the other world to have a chance. We do this naturally. We are built to do it. We have to do it. It’s called “looking out the window” by Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased, in a disparaging tone, accompanied by body language of pure disgust. It is not encouraged but. It is essential for LIFE.
We have to walk about, away from mass think, away from the culture’s values and ways of doing things, which is thinking about things, reasoning things through, living logically and intellectually, and knowing what we are doing at all times.
To be alive, we have to not know what we are doing a lot of the time. We have to walk about. Reconnect with the spirit world, the invisible world of our ancestors and descendants, and take our instruction there for how to live in the normal world of apparent reality. The Dream World informs life in the visible world.
Want to know what to do when you don’t know what to do? Look out the window. Take a walk.
- Black Crowned Night Heron (Juvenile) With Duckling 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 23, 2013 — When you are ready to jump into the deep blue sea, there are two books to start you on your path. I’ve recommended them before, and will recommend them again. You should read them each time I recommend them.
The first is “Inner Work,” by Robert A. Johnson. Read it slowly, meditatively. Absorb it. Understand it. It is foundational.
The second is “The Power of Focusing,” by Ann Weiser Cornell. This introduces the process by which we read the signs and signals of the inner world, the inner guide, in healing the breach between inner and outer, reconciling, integrating and living with integrity within the polarity of the two worlds. It is a worthy tool for your work.
Do not go without the right kind of help into the adventure of your life!
In reply to comments regarding the preceding photograph, made by Diane Dollar Harris and Sandy Bundgarrd: I certainly agree with you and with Sandy Bundgaard, and all those for whom you speak. I’ll say three things in response.
1) This is not nearly as agonizing as watching the 3-inch long turtle, bite and pull under water a duckling, who struggled to keep its head above the surface for 30 minutes while its mother quacked in circles, finally, exhausted, was pulled under and drowned.
2) This Night Heron was followed by the mother of this duckling for a short distance, quacking in protest, who turned and returned to her remaining clutch. All of this was witnessed by another Mallard mother of 16 fresh from the egg ducklings feeding on a mud flat nearby.
This mother took off in hot pursuit after the Night Heron, abandoning her own brood to whatever might happen in her absence. She followed the Heron around the corner of the lake shore, out of sight quacking furiously. The Heron headed for the brush of the bank before disappearing from my view. The Mallard hen followed. I could hear the confrontation I could not see.
Presently, the heron, still with duckling in its beak, came out of the brush and flew over the lake with the enraged hen on his tail, engaging him in air-to-air combat, body slamming him in flight.
The heron dropped the duckling, which fell 30 feet or so into the water and moved enough for me to know it was still living at that point. Then the duck and the heron broke off contact with him landing on a second mud flat and the hen returning to her charge. The duckling continued to move about for a few minutes and then became still. End of story.
3) Our place is that of the mother Mallard, protesting the way things are, even though it is hopeless, pointless and coming to a very bad—and predictable—end. Our place is to exhibit and express values worthy of us all the way, who cares what the end is or what difference it makes! We will NOT resign ourselves to things because “that’s the way things are”! We will play the game under protest, and make what points we can make, even though we are going up against Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and LeBron James. Never mind the odds. We live to express the values that are at the heart of the matter, no matter what.
We take the attitude of the other mother duck, who put everything she had on the line to stop the natural process—“nature’s way”—“how things are.” We say NO! nonsensically, opposing that which ought to be opposed out of our sense of how things ought to be, the facts be damned. We live to transform the facts—to move things away from how they are to how they ought to be if only for one brief moment. We fly with the other mother duck in the service of our sense of how things ought to be, no matter what.
- Crabtree Falls Panorama 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — We have to do the good we know to be good, and change what we do as our understanding of the good changes.
Values change over the course of our life. What once was bad becomes good, what once was good becomes bad. Our view of what is important is one thing at 15, another at 35 and another at 60. But. We live in the moment in light of what is important in that moment. We live to serve the good we understand to be good—and allow experience to impact our understanding of the good, deepening, enlarging, expending our idea of the good, so that the good we serve becomes better with time.
We get to better by serving what we understand to be good here and now and allowing our idea of the good to be transformed by our experience with life.
The worse thing is to read some ideological, some theological, some scholastic, some philosophic theory of the good and rigidly comply with that all our life long. The good is as alive as we are, else slavery would still be fashionable, and heretics would still be burned at the stake, and witches would still be drowned.
- To the above post, Caroline Webb replied: Try telling this to the 57 countries which are members of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). Millions of people do not have the luxury of this kind of thinking and indeed face horrible fates if they step out of line.
To Caroline Webb’s reply, I replied: If those who are hearing me heard me the same thing would apply to me in my situation here and now. This is as subversive as it gets. Jung’s Individuation is a radical threat to the “right order of things.” When we travel consciously the road to who we are, the foundations crumble. It is not good for the economy to think for oneself, to live the life that is our individual life to live. You should not be here, reading this. You should be shopping or watching TV.
While I’m on a roll… We are all the duckling in the Night Heron’s beak. We are all the Other Mother after the Night Heron. On the path to who we are, we are on a course that takes us into the heart of Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha. We go up against the Powers and Principalities, or, as we prefer, “The Way Things Are.” Waking up is a threat to the status quo, to the systems and people who benefit from having things in place, “As They Are.” We cannot be an I without transforming every We we are apart of. We’s don’t cotton to transformation. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
- Dwarf Crested Iris — Along the path to Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — Listen to your symptoms! Listen to your life! Do not try to force your idea of your life onto your life! Do not try to make happen what you want to happen—what you think ought to happen! Let happen what happens in response to your being true to your core, your center, your Self! Let the life that is your life to live emerge in the life you are living! Let yourself come forth, bloom, transform the life you are living and life as it is being lived! Surprise yourself! Shock yourself! Enthrall yourself! Be amazed!
- The Other Mother — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 24, 2013 — The story of The Other Mother can be found in one of my replies to comments under the photo of the Black Crowned Night Heron With Duckling—The Revolution is being yourself—being the you you are built to be, doing the work that is yours to do, sharing the gifts that are yours to give, living the life that is yours to live. If you do that, you will transform the world. And all you have to do is get out of bed each morning and live the day as only you can live it. Viva la Revolucion!
- Owl — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 24, 2013 — When Native Americans go on a vision quest, they go alone. They don’t take a congregation along with them. How alone can you be? How often do you go there?
When Native Americans go on a vision quest, they don’t take their iPods and iPads and laptops with them. How long can you be without listening to music, checking your text messages and your email, phoning your friends, playing video games (including solitaire)?
We have created a culture to insulate ourselves from the invisible world. We do everything as a WE, nothing as an I, and are cut off from ourselves, isolated, and alone. The congregation, the group, the community does not protect us from emptiness and loneliness. It is the company of ourselves we seek—but cannot find because we are encased in the castings of the culture.
The old Zen hermits lived a solitary life most of the time, but gathered, when the time was right, in convents and monasteries, to enjoy the good-faith company of like-minded people, and share experiences and stories of their pilgrimages—to say what they had learned and articulate what it meant to be who they were. They swapped poems and sang songs, played their musical instruments, laughed and danced. And then returned to their hermitage.
They could be together in a way we are rarely together because they could be a part in a way we are rarely a part.
- Blue Ridge Morning—Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 21, 2013 — We get beyond being a rookie when we aren’t bothered by being a rookie. We are always making rookie mistakes. Don’t let it stop you. Do what you need to do about it and keep going.
The pros play the game through their mistakes. The rookies let their mistakes take them out of the game. That’s the biggest difference between rookies and pros. Rookies try to be pros. Pros are what the moment needs them to be—and when they are not, they don’t lose their place in the moment and become what the moment needs them to be now.
- Crabtree Falls HDR 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — If you want to improve your photography, take more pictures. Take pictures more frequently. See pictures all the time. Think about how you would take them.
Examine the scenes you walk through when you walk the dog, drive through on your way to work or to the grocery store, Imagine how they would look at different times of the day, different times of the year, different weather conditions.
Where would you go on a foggy morning? To get a sunrise or sunset? When it’s snowing? Go there at those times. Get the photographs that are there.
Don’t buy a camera and put it on a shelf. Let the camera show you the world you live in and what you can do with it. Photography is not learning the tricks of the trade. Photography is taking pictures. The tricks you discover that way will stay with you for life. And the pictures will be with you, too.
- Zen Maple Leaves — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2013 — We have to square up with the such-as-it-is-ness of each situation as it arises—which includes our reaction to the such-as-it-is-ness of each situation as it arises. We have to resist what must be resisted. Oppose what must be opposed. Assist what must be assisted. Defend what must be defended. Support and encourage what must be supported and encouraged. Etc. No. Matter. What.
We don’t have to win. We have to fight the good fight. We don’t have to prevail. We have to be what the situation needs us to be. We have to do right by the situation, regardless of the odds, the chances, or the outcome.
We have to square up with all of that and do what needs to be done, anyway, never the less, even so, no matter what.
That’s the way to do it. Loving every minute of it. That’s what we are here for: Doing what needs to be done—what needs us to do it—no matter what, regardless of the outcome, all our life long. Wow, what a ride!
- The Search for the Holy Grail — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, Spring 2007 — It takes time. Lots of time. More time than you want to allow. More time than you think you have. It takes all your life—all that is left of your life.
Waking up, I’m talking about. Coming to your senses. Literally. Feeling what you are feeling, what you are sensing, and knowing it, and deciding what to do about it.
Deepening your relationship with your unconscious—with the part of yourself that you are unconscious of, that you know nothing of, that you don’t know. Knowing that part of you that you don’t know. Takes time. Takes the rest of your life. Better get cracking.
Get cracking paying attention to your nighttime dreams and your daytime flights of fancy and the meandering, wandering, drift of your imagination. Where do some of these things come from? Why now? Why here? In this moment? What is happening here and now that brings that to mind? Get to the bottom of it.
Get cracking getting to the bottom of these things. Waking up. Listening to your senses and to the symbols and images coming to you from the unconscious world, calling you to wake up, pay attention, and collaborate with the Guide Within who needs your cooperation and is there to cooperate with you in living the life that is yours to live in the time left for living.
All of this takes time. Why waste a second of it in some other pursuit, in some other direction?
- Duckie 08 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2013 — Sometimes, no matter what you do, the outcome is going to be the same and it isn’t going to be good. Don’t let that stop you. Do what needs to be done the way it needs to be done, the way only you can do it, and let that be that.
It doesn’t make any sense, but it makes as much sense as anything else could make in an absurd, nonsensical, situation. Some things don’t make any sense. Don’t tangle yourself up trying to make sense of things that make no sense. Do what you feel is appropriate, what is right in the situation, and let the outcome be the outcome.
What is right in some situations has to be felt, intuited, it cannot be reasoned out, thought up, known for sure to be the right thing to do. Five ducks come in to land, you have to pick your duck and focus on that one duck, holding down the shutter all the way to landed. You have no way of knowing which duck will be the best duck, will give you the best photograph of a duck landing. The right duck is the one you choose to be right in the moment of choosing. You would never reason it out and you don’t have time to think about it anyway. Pick your duck. Do right by it with your camera. No second-guessing, lamenting, bemoaning your choice. More ducks are on the way. You’ll get to choose again.
- Cardinal Leaving — An oil painting filter applied, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 26, 2013 — I use the oil painting filter with photographs that are out of focus but cool and unrepeatable. — There is no hurry. There is only paying attention. We aren’t getting somewhere. We are waking up. When we wake up, all we wake up two is the moment we are living and what needs to happen there—to the gifts we have and how they are being called forth in this here and now to do what needs us to do it.
We aren’t setting ourselves up to reap some great reward or be recognized as the greatest human being who ever has been or will be. There isn’t something we are going to get out of all this work to wake up beyond being awake.
It isn’t a competition. We aren’t here to see who can wake up first, or be the most awake of anyone who has ever claimed to be awake. We are just here to wake up, look around, see what is happening and what needs to happen in response to it, what needs to be done about it, and do it, with the gifts we have been given, in each situation as it arises, all our life long.
And there is no hurry. And no time to waste.
- Great Blue Heron May 08 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 13, 2013 — It helps to be of one mind—to know what is of the path and what is not, and to stay on the path. The Dali Lama would not follow me through my life, because that would not be on the Dali Lama’s path. I would not follow Beyonce through her life because that would not be on my path.
It helps to know what your path is, and isn’t—what your business is and what it isn’t. Walk your path. Tend your business.
- Blue Ridge Morning 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — When we are living the life that is our life to live, invisible forces assist us along the way. We find what we need to do what needs us to do it. The other world works with us to do what needs to be done in this world. It’s magical. And real.
And we cannot turn it to our advantage. We cannot exploit it, profit from it, use it to our everlasting benefit, gain anything from the principle at work in the experience, which is “We will have what we need to do what needs us to do it.”
The only good it does us is the encouragement and assistance it provides us in doing what is good. When we depart from doing what is good to serving our own personal good, it leaves us to our own personal devices, schemes and scams. When we move away from doing what is good we move into playing politics or becoming warlords.
Politics is the game where everyone is trying to get a larger piece of the pie at everyone else’s expense without looking like they are pulling a fast one. Warlords just run over everyone in their way to get what they want. Warlords are politicians who have no patience with the game.
And then there are those who do what is good because it is good and not to gain anything from it. My recommendation is that you hang out with those people and endeavor to become one yourself. They know what’s what.
- Goshen Creek 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — When you do what you do and I do what I do, it gets done. I can’t do what you do. You can’t do what I do. We can’t do what Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased tell us to do. You have to do what you do, and I have to do what I do—not to please anyone, but to do what we do for no reason beyond it’s what we do. Individually.
- Four Ferns — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 7, 2013 — You could do a lot worse than meandering through your life trying to see what you look at, trying to hear what you listen to, trying to understand what is before you. You can start with anything—a measuring cup, a house key—it doesn’t matter. Seeing it leads to something else. Whatever you hear carries you to something else waiting to be heard. Whatever you understand transports you to something you don’t yet understand. We are moved through our life to the life that is ours to live—to the things that are our thing—as we see, hear, and understand what is to be seen, heard and understood.
- Fog in the Valley — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — Evil is easy. Good is hard. Good goes easily over into evil. Evil becomes good with much suffering.
Evil cares only for its own good. Good cares for the good of all.
Evil will do anything, say anything, promise anything, in the service of its own good—in the service of evil. Good draws lines and will not do some things no matter how much apparent good might be done.
Evil’s good can become the pain, suffering, agony and death of innocents. Good’s good is not that flexible.
Evil is opposed to good. Good is opposed to evil. They are polar opposites, inseparably at odds within every living thing.
Suffer the conflict consciously. Bear the pain. Do not think you are better than you are, or be worse than you have to be. Live toward the center. Extreme good is easily confused with extreme evil. The old saw is on the mark: “It is easier to be a Saint than to live with one.” Evil is easy. Good is hard.
- Mallard Hen Detail 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 28, 2013 — Imagination is the critical factor in our response to life. If you are going to improve your chances of bringing your LIFE to life in the life you are living—and of living with balance, focus, insight and a sense of humor upon the heaving roll of “the wine dark sea”—improve the quality of your imagination.
How to do that is the question. Imagination requires perception and inquiry—two things that are prohibited by the culture.
The culture is fueled by the economy. Advertisers don’t want you thinking about what they are saying and questioning what you are hearing. Advertisers want you sitting stupidly and being dumb, and doing what you are told to do. Advertises want you reacting to the stimulus they provide, not responding thoughtfully and imaginatively to your experience of life.
You begin to improve your imagination when you start thinking about your thinking, seeing the way you see things and wonder how else you might think and see. Play with the possibilities. Do things differently. Imagine new ways to wash the dishes and drive to the grocery store. Shake up your life with imagination. Imagine your LIFE and bring it to life in your life.
- Sandpiper Reflection—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2013 — We all look at the same world. Why do we see it so differently? It’s amazing. How can you not be amazed at Liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans? How can that be?
How can people look at something like, say, the beginning of the physical universe, and see such different things? Amazing. Or homosexuality? The list is long that contains every single thing.
I don’t care what you look at, there are different ways to see it. Dramatically different ways.
How can any of us say, “This is the way things are!”?
- Spring Panorama 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 9, 2013 — When you don’t know what to do: Get. Out. Of. The. Way.
Not knowing what to do is having some want, some desire, some interest that is being blocked. You know what you want, you just don’t know how to get it. When you are being blocked, it is time to take stock.
Taking stock means listening to the other side.
The other side exists on at least two levels. The other side is the invisible world, the world we are unconscious of, the world we don’t know anything about. It is the other side—the foundation actually—of normal, apparent reality.
To see things from the other side, from the standpoint of the invisible world, to get the invisible world’s take on things, we have to get out of the way.
The other side is also the opposite of our typical take on things. We tend to look at the world the same way all the time. We see something once, size it up, box it, label it, tie it with a bow and put it on the shelf it belongs on with all the other things just like it in similar boxes and bows.
The other side would have us see what else it is, how else it could be seen, sized up, boxed, labeled, bowed and shelved.
We have to look at things from all sides, upside-downside, inside-outside, this side-that side… Nothing is only what it appears to be. See. What. You Look At.
To do that, we have to get out of the way.
When we get out of the way, our interests, wants, wishes and desires get out of the way with us. With nothing to interfere with the reception, what needs to be done stands plain before us, saying, “It’s about time, honey. Let’s get going!”
- Boone Fork Cascades 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 9, 2013 — We know what we want and we live to make it happen. We know what we don’t want and we live to keep it from happening. We are not interested in what needs to happen—in what needs us to assist and serve its happening. We have bigger fish to fry.
The truth is that we DO have bigger fish to fry, and they are not the fish we think are the big ones. The really big ones are the ones we aren’t interested in, the ones we don’t know anything about, the ones that need us and only us to fry them.
We live a life that is too small for us. We live in the service of small little clothes, and small little shoes, and small little houses, and small little futures. We are stuck in a small little world that is the biggest thing we can imagine, want, wish for and desire.
It’s time we let ourselves show us what we are capable of—by laying aside the quest for our next greatest desire, and listening, looking, instead for what desires us.
We are all over what we need. What needs us is the question. All we can come up with are the people and pets who want us to tend and care for them all our life long. We’re thinking too small again. We have to think bigger.
What needs us? Do not look outside, look inside. What is stirring in us that needs us to bring it to life? What would love for us to give it attention, listen to its needs, devote ourselves to its service? What are we ignoring about ourselves? What are we discounting, dismissing about ourselves? What are we aborting by refusing to give it a chance at life?
(The people who would refuse a woman’s right to abortion are missing two crucial factors. 1) There are women who are pregnant who cannot carry their pregnancy to term for whatever reason. They. Cannot. Carry. Their. Pregnancy. To. Term. 2) They are aborting aspects of themselves that need to be birthed into being—which they ignore by focusing on bringing an end to literal, actual, external abortion by others. We see in others what we cannot see in ourselves. We are doing what we cannot tolerate in others or allow them to do. The mirror stands before us at all times. We only have to open our eyes to see ourselves when we look at others.)
- Table Rock — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — We have to carry our own burden, bear our own pain. This is called growing up, facing up to how it is with us, picking ourselves up and stepping into our life just as it is in order to do what can be done about bringing forth the life that is ours to live within the life we are living in the time left for living.
Pain not borne, burdens denied and laid aside, haunt us as symptoms, as self-sabotage, as fate—demanding that we wake up and give them their rightful place in our life. What we refuse to face consciously becomes an unconscious presence clouding our life.
They do not make enough alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medication to erase the truth of what has happened to us, what we have done (or failed to do) about it, and how that continues to interfere with our life. Nothing is more burdensome than the burden of the burden—more painful than the pain—unborne.
This is what happened. This is what I did, or failed to do, about it. This is how it has impacted my life to this day. Now, what I am going to do about all of that is: square up to it, face it, bear consciously the pain of its impact and the contradictions that may exist between then and now, and let it be because it is—and step into each day knowing the truth of how things are, living, nevertheless, in light of how things need to be as I take up the work that is mine to do and find ways of living the life that is mine to live within the terms and conditions, nature and circumstances, of life as it is for as long as life is possible, with kindness and compassion, mercy and tenderness for my self and all who come my way.
- In response to a comment on Duckie 03, posted on May 10: We participate fully—and consciously—in that which we oppose completely—and consciously. This is the paradox, the polarity, at the heart of our existence. We have relaxed the tension to the loss of soul. Native Americans honored and gave thanks to the bison they killed. Their meals were sacrificial and sacramental offerings and gracious receptions of life to life. They did not kill and eat without recognizing their participation in the mystery of Life Eats Life, and were more alive than we are because of it,
- Nesting Herons — Two juveniles and an adult, Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — The corner stone of all the religions (And Buddhism has prayer flags, a pantheon and a merit system—which means somebody is keeping score—and that’s a religion in my book) is “one God.” One source from which life, meaning, purpose and values spring. The fight breaks out over whose version of God is the real thing. Dumb religions.
We could bring peace to the religious world with one simple rule: Don’t believe in God, BE God. BE the God you declare to be God—don’t argue for that God’s supremacy. Be one with the God you call God. Whatever is good about the God you call God, exhibit it, express it, exude it, BE it.
If everyone were living to be at one with the God they say is The One, what a world it would be.
- See You Later, Owligator! — Barred Owls in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, April, 2013 — Being conscious of our conflicts without having to arrive at a mutually satisfying conclusion for all sides—just being completely aware of our conflicts and waiting to see what happens—would do as much to restore peace and harmony to our life as anything else we might imagine. It’s amazing what bearing the discomfort of conflict will do.
- The Shape of Mallard — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 30, 2013 — Truth lies beyond the scope, outside the bounds, of the norms, standards, mores, conventions, preferences and good tastes of its day.
Truth is scandalous, obscene, heretical, disgusting, immoral, unheard of. You cannot approach truth with the methods and means of traditional examination and inquiry.
So much for passing truth down through the ages, handing it along from one generation to the next, enshrining the teachings of the Ancient Ones, immersing ourselves in the ways of the gurus…
Truth, like the good (And where DOES that line lie?), is as alive as we are. You have to be alive to know the truth, to recognize it when it comes tearing through the times, taking corners on two wheels, turning over apple carts, making waves, rocking boats, stomping on egg shells, flattening everything in sight.
Jacob Bronowski said, “If you want to know the truth, you have to live in certain ways.” You have to live truthfully. You have to be ready for truth when it comes along by being already there ahead of it, wondering why it’s taking so long.
The more you see things like they are being seen around you, like they have always been seen, the less able you are going to be to recognize truth when it rings your doorbell and asks if you want to come out and play.
If you’re going to say, “Yeah, Baby!” to truth, you have to be weird.
And so, when Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you…” They killed him. The Ancient Ones were anything but weird. They didn’t cotton to weird. So. Who was dead, and who was alive? Who rose from the dead? Who couldn’t be killed?
Truth can’t die. That’s as weird as it gets.
- Magnolia Plantation Bridges 01 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — We can’t do anything about our perspective. It’s like our fingerprints. It happened to us. We didn’t pick it out of a pile, and can’t sent it back where it come from. And when it changes, it won’t be because we made it happen.
Try to get an alcoholic to change the way he/she looks at a drink. Even alcoholics who are 100% behind the idea can’t do anything to occasion the shift. Yet, the shift happens for a lot of alcoholics. But not for all of them.
Smokers? Same story.
I didn’t grow up thinking the way I think. The way I think has changed a number of times over the course of my life. Each time my thinking has changed, it happened to me. It changed on its own. Of its own accord. I didn’t arrange it.
If you are an ocean person or a mountain person it’s because you are an ocean person or a mountain person, not because you said, “I think I’ll be an ocean person (or a mountain person).”
The way you perceive things, think about things, value things is the most idiosyncratic thing about you and you don’t have anything to do with it. It changes without your instigation, or even, your permission.
Now, we can resist the alteration of our perspective, and we can assist it—but even that, the resistance and assistance, is part of our perspective, and we can’t claim to be responsible for even that much. Which leaves us helpless and at the mercy of the way we see things.
It can change, but it will change in its own time, if it changes at all.
Which raises the question, “How different can we be?” And, “What is in charge of the process of transformation?”
I speak to only those who can hear what I have to say because it’s a waste of our collective time for me to do anything else.
- Red October — That’s his name. Fourteen feet long. Audubon Swamp Garden, Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — We would be different if we could be. More like we ought to be. More like we will be one day. In the meantime, we have to hold on to the idea, belief, conviction that change is coming. Slower than we would like, but faster than we think.
We have to trust ourselves to the process and be conscious of everything we can be conscious of. And wait. For the magic to happen.
We are already more like we are than we were. And we didn’t do anything to make it happen. It’s working. Give it time. Change is a-coming.
- Goshen Creek 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — A mob cannot change its mind. Mobs often come disguised as well-dressed masses. It is difficult, sometimes, to distinguish a mob from Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased.
If you want to think clearly, you have to separate yourself from the noise of the crowd—or the congregation—or the convention—and sit for a while in some quiet corner of the natural world until you can hear “the still, small, voice” of your own heart, and be washed in the wonder of life from time immemorial.
- Magnolia Plantation Bridges 02 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — When “the world is too much with (me),” I lose my place. I forget where I am. I forget what I’m doing.
We think the external world of normal, apparent, reality is the only world. We think it is the source things of all things good and wonderful. We live to arrange things like we want them to be in the physical world.
We think if we marry this person, have this job, pay these bills, etc., we will have it made. We live to have it made according to our current idea of what constitutes having it made. It is all out there, to be done out there, to be made right according to our idea of what is right out there. And we strive endlessly to get things in place out there so that we can, at last, enjoy the fruits of our labors, relax and be glad.
Well. Things keep going against us and we have to work harder to be happy with how things are because they don’t stay that way long if we ever get them there. We are hamsters in a cage, spinning, spinning and going nowhere.
There are three statements which, when understood and applied, will transform our life and the world in which we live. “Know thyself.” “To thine own self be true.” “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
The thy’s and the thine in these three statements are the same. Throw away everything you have heard and thought about the “thy” in “Thy will, not mine, be done,” and explore the possibility that the “thy” there is the grounding center of your own heart and soul. Align yourself with your own center and you have it made.
All the wisdom you need is found in the center of your own heart.
What you need most to do intersects with what some situation needs most to have done. You only have to be awake to the intersection when it comes along.
- Owl Playing Dead 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 1, 2013 — An accurate assessment of ourselves and our place in life is difficult to come by. We over-inflate or under-inflate with ease. Inflation and deflation are the poles between which we plot a position for ourselves determining the quality of our life and how we are doing in it. Quickly shifting between the poles in extreme fashion is called bi-polar disorder.
Our assessment of ourselves and our place in life is completely subjective and wholly arbitrary. We have no idea of what we are doing and shouldn’t be in the business. We think too much of ourselves, or too little. We would do well to get out of the way.
Stop with the grading! Believe this: Everything that has happened in our life, for good or for ill, has uniquely positioned us to offer exactly what the rest of our life needs us to bring forth.
I don’t care if you spend your time thinking you are great or worthless or somewhere in between. I’m asking you to stop thinking of yourself as great, worthless or somewhere in between. The instant you catch yourself feeling good or bad about yourself, feeling high or low, STOP IT! Get. Out. Of. Your. Way.
You are uniquely positioned to provide exactly what the rest of your life needs you to bring forth. Get out of your way and trust that to be the case. The truth of my position will be borne out in your experience IF you trust it to be so and stop looking for evidence to refute it.
You are perfectly, beautifully, wonderfully YOU! No one else could do it the way you can do it. No one else could live your life the way you can live it. No one else fills the niche you fill, has the opportunities to bring forth what you have to give where, and when, and how you do. You are unique and irreplaceable.
Let that be so because it is so. Get out of your way. Get out of your head, with it’s judgments and evaluations, and start listening to your heart and its leadings and guidance. And trust that you have exactly what you need to offer what is needed in each situation as it arises throughout the time left for living. Because you do.
- Wing Span 02 — Barred Owl, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 1, 2013 — All of us go to sleep. None of us can make ourselves go to sleep. We can assist sleep by not drinking alcohol, or caffeine, or eating chocolate (caffeine), or citrus fruit, etc. before going to bed, but we cannot force sleep before its time.
If we get out of the way, sleep will come, though perhaps not on our schedule.
How else can we interfere with our life, trying to force what cannot be forced?
We are here to attend, assist and serve—our life. Not coerce it into contortions at odds with its spirit and direction.
If you are going to listen to anything, listen to your life—and be what it needs you to be—in the time left for living.
- Francis Beidler Palmettos — Francis Beidler Forest, Charleston, SC, April 26, 2013 — You have to decide what you are going to keep and what you are going to throw away. This is the choice that determines everything about you, what you keep and what you throw away.
- Magnolia Plantation Bridges 03 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 27, 2013 — Carl Jung said, “I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life.”
We don’t think in terms of neuroses these days but give neurotic symptoms their own names: depression, anxiety, obsessive/compulsive disorder, obesity, violence, drug abuse, addiction, etc. These symptoms are characteristic of the culture of the world! Of a world that has contented itself “with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life” for generations!
Chunk your answers! Get busy digging into the questions of life! The valuable answers are the ones you have to dig out on your own. The cheap glass ones are handed out in tracts on street corners, and preached from the pulpits of the churches, and bound up in the volumes of books lining the shelves in the self-help section of bookstores, and lip-synched by gurus, therapists and counselors.
The real jewels are guarded by dragons deep in the center of mountains hidden in regions long forgotten, waiting for those who have what it takes to dig them out.
You don’t go there in tour buses or on spiritual retreats. It’s an individual journey you make alone with your mule. A spirit quest for those with the heart for soul searching and the resolve to find answers that are our own.
That’s what you will do with the rest of your life, if you’re game.
- Beacon Heights Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, NC, May 21, 2013 — What motivates you? Moves you? Enlivens you? Connects with you on the deepest level? Brings you together within yourself, focused on—and at one with—this one thing? Heals you, restores you, makes you whole?
Maybe it’s a camera, or writing, or both. Maybe it’s reading and underlining passages. Maybe it’s horses, or drumming, or digging in the yard. The world is filled with possibilities. But do not think that any of them is the end of the line for you, that any of them is all the world of possibility has to offer you. Whatever it is, it is only your mule.
You and your mule are on a journey to the heart of who you are. Ride your mule as far as it goes. When it plays out, look around for another mule. Our mules pass us from one to another because it’s a long trip, and we are carried along by the things we love—by the things that interest us, the things that catch our eye, that click with us, that are life itself for us. Life is carrying us to life by way of our interest in life, our love of life, our deep affinity for life itself.
- Sunbathing Owl 03 — Barred Owl, Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 1, 2013 — Our symptoms are indications of divisions within. We are divided against ourselves. We want what we know we have no business having. We are at war with ourselves over how we will live, what we will do—over what is important—over what deserves our highest allegiance.
All of this is, of course, underground and quite unconscious. As far a we are concerned, we think things are just fine, and can’t understand where these symptoms come from. And, we have no intention of getting to the bottom of it. Of stirring things up. Of discovering what our conflicts are and doing the work of reconciling them consciously.
Carl Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents.” And, “The greatest tragedy of the family is the unlived lives of the parents.”
Guess what is unconscious in the lives of the parents—and perhaps in the family as a whole. The unlived lives of the parents lives in the shadows, unknown, unacknowledged, unconscious—and cast a long shadow over the future lives of the children.
We do our children and ourselves the biggest favor in the whole display case of favors by being aware of the things we don’t want to think about. Our work is to integrate the opposites, heal the divisions, expose the conflicts, and get to the bottom of how it is with us and what we need to do about it. Our symptoms are a good place to start. Our dreams and our fantasies are not far behind.
- Still Life With Log — Haw River State Park, near Brown’s Summit, NC, May 31, 2013 — You know what you like and what you don’t like, what you love and what you detest, what is good for you and what is bad, what is right for you and what is wrong, what is life for you and what is death…
With what do you spend your time? How much for one and how much for the other? And when there is a conflict between one and the other, which takes precedent? Which goes on the back burner until a more convenient time?
It is at the point of conflict between what is life for you and what is death, etc. that you have to stand up and step into the fire—that you have to take the heat and work things out in a way that takes your benefit and your deficit into account each time there is a conflict. And, you have to begin siding with your benefit, or working your benefit into your life, and taking the heat for doing that.
Everything about your life in this world would disappear everything about your LIFE in the other world. Everything about this world thinks this world is the only world and you have to forsake your connection with the other world to prove your allegiance to the things of this world.
Well. Your allegiance lies with the other world. This world just keeps our body going in the service of soul. This world is not the Be All And End All it is reputed to be. This world is just a feeding station that nourishes our body for its work with the other world.
But. This world has developed a degree of self-imposed importance that is out of proportion to its design. We are born into obligations, responsibilities and duties that obscure, or obliterate, our relationship with the other world. It is easy for us to think that our primary concern should be for this world. We have to work to reorder our priorities.
We have to work the other world into our life in this world—often having to “choose this (moment) whom we will serve,” on a situation-by-situation basis, recognizing that we “cannot serve two masters.” And we constantly have to work it out, which world we serve with our life here and now.
We have to make it conscious, our relationship between the worlds. We have to stand up and step into the fire and take the heat. Situation-by-situation. All our life long.
- Free Falling Owl — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 2, 2013 — You have to work your way back into a living relationship with the other world, the invisible world, which is the source of life and being, meaning and value. Start with what you love.
You have to work to love what you love because this world of normal, apparent, reality will do its best to separate you from it. This world stands like a Cyclops, blocking our way to the other world. Who do you love? The Cyclops or you?
My current metaphor for what we love is a mule. Ride your mule! Stay on the mule! Your mule will take you to where you need to be! Your mule knows the way! Trust your mule! Trust yourself to your mule!
This world would insert itself between you and your mule—would have you bury your mule, forget about your mule, become the mule for this world, working in its service, being good for the economy, not rocking any boats or making any waves, all your life long. You have to work it out—paying the bills and your dues in this world while maintaining a healthy relationship with your mule and with the other world.
Now, your relationship with this world has corrupted your ability to evaluate what is truly good, truly important and what truly needs to happen in a situation. We come to our situations burdened with a lifetime of shoulds, oughts, musts, and have-tos, and cannot get outside of how we have been taught to appraise things in order to see things for what they are.
Learning to live soulfully is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. And the most essential. The work requires us to maintain our relationship with our mule—to love what we love—AND pay our bills and our dues in the world of normal, apparent, reality. We do the work by bearing the conflicts between the worlds consciously, with full awareness of the pulls in opposite directions in each situation as it arises—and working it out, situation-by-situation, all our life long.
- Crabtree Falls 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 21, 2013 — We are not born under the curse of Adam’s sin, having to be relieved of our burden by the death of God’s Only Son Jesus Christ Our Lord, The Second Adam. We ARE Adam. And Eve. And we are The Second Adam. And Eve. Here’s the deal:
Our view of the good, of what is important, of what matters most, is skewed by our investment in what is good for us. What is good is what is good for us. What is good is what we can exploit to our advantage. What is good is what we can bend to serve us, improve our lot, deliver us from what we don’t want and land us on the happy shores of what we do want.
Sound like the Garden of Eden to you—where we sacrifice everything for the sake of what is pleasing to us? It should. This world is the Garden of Eden. The work is to live in this world as those who belong, heart and soul, to the other world, the invisible world, the world of the spirit who is like the wind that blows where it will, with no regard for the implications its blowing has upon those who live under the banner of “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
This world is also the Garden of Gethsemane, where we enter the struggle, again and again, in each situation as it arises, to be who we are, to see things as they are, to do what needs to be done as it needs to be done, no matter what the implications are for us personally, for no reason beyond it needs what we have to offer and there is no one to do it but us.
Eden or Gethsemane. We stand with a foot in each garden and make a choice regarding the nature of the good we will serve in each here-and-now of our life.
Here is the test Jesus faced in the wilderness and again in Gethsemane, and the test that is ours to face again and again throughout our life: We have to stay on the mule by being who we are and doing what we love—without trying to exploit it to our advantage in any way.
We just do what we love. We just stay on the mule. And see where it goes. It will go through the heart of Gethsemane, and across the face of Golgotha, and to the Empty Tomb, again and again. We pay the fare and ride the ride. And what a ride it is!
- Wing Span 03 — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 4, 2013 — We have to reflect on our life experience and draw our own conclusions about what is important and what we are going to do about it. No one can be coerced into embracing The Truth.
I don’t care what it is, it isn’t true until it is true for us. It isn’t meaningful until it means something to us. It isn’t good unless it is good for us. And we have no business saying what is true, meaningful and good until we have experienced it first hand and know that about which we speak.
Which means we have to open ourselves to our experience, reflect on it, and draw our own conclusions about what is important and what we are going to do about it. And do it.
Nobody can do it for us.
- Owl Playing Dead 03 — Barred Owl sunbathing in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 1, 2013 — The owls are teaching me to photograph owls. That’s the kind of teacher you need. You don’t take a course in owls at the local university. You don’t sit at the feet of One Who Knows All There Is To Be Known About Owls. You don’t seek out Owl Gurus and wait for them to reveal the Great Secret About Owls Photography. You just find an owl and start taking pictures. You’ll learn all you need to know by doing what you want to know how to do.
If you want to know how to be married, find a spouse. If you want to know how to be a parent, have a child or two.
Do not think you know how to be married before you find a spouse. That will ruin your chances.
Do not think you know about being a parent (after all, you had parents) before you have children. That will ruin their chances (like your parents ruined your chances).
Do not think you know anything about anything until you do the thing over time.
You know about milking cows by milking a herd of Jersey’s.
You know about playing second base by suiting up and taking the field—and chalking up the errors.
You know all those things you don’t do (dancing, for instance) because you don’t know how to do them? If you want to do them, start doing them. If you don’t want to do them, just start saying you would do them if you wanted to.
Which gets us to your mule. I don’t care how poorly you are currently riding your mule (That is, doing the things you love to do). Do not give it up because it is hard to work mule riding into your life. Keep climbing back up on your mule. Aim to ride it longer each time you get on.
Riding your mule is the only way to learn to ride your mule.
- Boardwalk Panorama 02 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 4, 2013 — You do your thing AND pay the bills, AND change the diapers, AND do the laundry, AND go to work, AND mow the lawn, AND… You do your thing along with all the other things that comprise your life. But. You do your thing.
- Cardinal in Flight — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 5, 2013 — We have to know what our thing is, and honor it. We have to do what we love to do. We have to be who we are.
We cannot just live the life that was handed to us—the life we fell into—the life that was the course of least resistance—the easy life—the one we could live without effort because someone was telling us what to do and how to do it and by when to have it done.
We cannot play the part we were told to play.
What do they know who did, who are doing, the telling about who we are? Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased would have us live in ways that are convenient for them. What do they know of us? What do they care about us?
That’s our place—knowing ourselves, caring about ourselves. If we don’t do it, it won’t be done.
When you stand up in the life you are living and take a step toward the lift that is your life to live, there will be opposition. Resistance. Discouragement. They want you being who they want you to be. They are not on your side.
Begin cultivating relationships with those who are on your side. Who let you—who encourage you—to be who you are. Who are good for your soul, your heart. Who you can be with without being on guard, defensive, anxious, fearful, careful.
You’ll need some buds to keep you on your mule, to help you recover from the Cyclop’s mauling, regain your balance, stand back up and take another step toward the life that is your life to live, toward the you you are.
- The Outing — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 28, 2013 — Living well is the lesson. Living poorly is the teacher.
You miss the point, and remain where you are, when you take living poorly as evidence of your inability to live well.
You look at these photographs and you think I do photography well. I do photography well because I do photography poorly, well.
When you live your life poorly well, you sit with your poor performances and your poor outcomes and you mine them for the gold. You see what they have to show you. You take what they have to give you. And thank them for their kindnesses.
Every dream you dream is about you. And, if you don’t dream, that is also about you. Mine them for what they are worth. See what they have to say to you about you. Receive it well.
Every dream is saying, “Look! This is the way things are with you! This is how it is with you! What are you going to do about it?”
If you dream of someone you know driving too fast and running off a cliff, reflect on how fast you are living your life and how many red lights and warning signs you are running through.
Treat your life as though it were a dream. When you live poorly, listen! Look! See! Hear!
Look into every aspect of your poor behavior, choices. See all that is to be seen, from every side.
Two days ago, I missed the owl flying at me. Seven photos were out of focus because the camera settings were not what I thought/assumed they were. I’m still getting the good out of that disappointment, and will for some time yet. It is showing me me like a bad dream would.
My actual daytime life and my nighttime dreams are mirrors reflecting me to me, asking me to adjust my ways so that I might live well in the time left for living. Beautiful help for one who can use all the help he can get. Perhaps you know someone like that, too.
- Spring Panorama 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — We are running out of time. We cannot be throwing time away, spending time on the things that take our mind off our business, that serve as escapes, distractions, diversions, from and compensations for, the life we are living. The life we are living gets too much of our time, while the life we are called to live—that is ours to live—that waits to be lived—languishes for lack of time and attention.
We have to find our thing and do it. We have to attend our dreams and the life we are living—including the escapes and diversions—for hints and clues about the life that is ours to live.
We have to be on the track of the life that is ours to live like hounds after a fox. We have to be single-mindedly devoted to task of being who we are, of doing what is ours to do while are still capable of functioning purposefully, and know what “clicks” with us when we see it.
We have one thing to do in the time left for living: Find our life and live it. Anything that detracts from that is in our way.
- Goshen Creek Cascade — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 21, 2013 — I remarked about a photo of me a friend had taken, with my camera duds on and camera in hand, “I look like a man who has lost his mule, wondering what now.” The comment immediately flashed me back to the observation that “Searching for Zen is like a man sitting on his Ox, looking for his Ox.”
I’m holding my mule, looking for my mule.
I understand our mule to be that which carries us through life and gets us where we are going. It is what gives us life and provides us with the wherewithal to get up and get back in the game. It is our incentive, our motivation, our joy of life, living and being alive. Our mule is our heart’s true love.
Know what your mule is. Ride it.
- Straight On 01 — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 3, 2013 — Don’t let that it’s useless, pointless, hopeless, futile and coming to a very bad end stop you, or even slow you down!
Geese that start out with four goslings and end up with one keep going as hard as if they had all four. Ducks that start out with sixteen and end up with seven keep at it as though they still had sixteen.
Do you think if you explained it to them, food chain, turtles, owls, hawks, chances, odds, and how it is to them they would all OD on bread and there would be no more geese and ducks?
They have their business—their work—their thing—to do and they do it, no matter what their chances are.
I believe in me and I believe in you and I believe in me-and-you-together. More than that, I believe in More To Me Than Meets The Eye Even Mine and I believe in More To You Than Meets The Eye Even Yours and I believe in More To Me-And-You Than Meets The Eye Even Ours.
If I can get you to join me in believing this, nothing can stop us. Then, we aren’t doing it because it make sense—we are doing it because that’s what we do, it’s who we are. We don’t care about the chances.
We are in league with each other and with More Than Meets The Eye—for what, we do not know and do not care. We are here, we know that, and we have business, work, a thing to do, we know that. And, we are here to help each other remember and do what is ours to do in the time left for living no matter what because there is More To It All Than Meets The Eye—and we have no business looking at any of it and deciding that’s all there is to it and it isn’t worth it so we’re quitting.
So get on your mule. We’re going for a ride. Even if it rains.
- Sunset at Reedy Fork — Lake Brandt Greenway, Bur-Mil Access, Greensboro, NC, December 8, 2012 — We do better with the right ratios of nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest. And nothing is easier to neglect and ignore. If you were to ask me to help you with your life, I would say, “Get your ratios right, and then we’ll talk.”
- Hydrangea Blossoms — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 11, 2012 — We are constantly working it out—the conflict, opposition, contraries within and without. We cannot eradicate dissent, though we try mightily, though it would be to our demise if we could.
Vitality and life depend upon polarities which respect and honor the other. We sit down and talk. We expand, enlarge, deepen each other with ways of seeing that take into account what the other is missing, overlooking, ignoring. But. We do not convert, change, disappear the other. We have conversations. We do not win arguments.
And rising, we do what we determine needs to be done, after we have said and heard all there is to say and hear. Over the course of a lifetime of conversations with our opposing sides, within and without, we grow, we change our minds about what is important, we become richer, deeper, increasingly open and compassionate with ourselves and each other—because we have talked with respect and honor for each other and the views we hold.
We have not gone to war. We have not made dissent illegal. We have not converted or expelled the opposite views and those who hold them. And the world is blessed for it, as are we all.
- Wing Span 01 — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 1, 2013 — We are always growing up, never grown up. We are capable of infinite expansion, enlargement, realization and depth. We have unlimited potential in the area of bigness of heart and mind, compassion, understanding, comprehension and understanding.
Why die small and narrow, tight and constricted?
Why not go to sleep bigger than you were when you woke up?
Why take pride in thinking like your parents thought, or like people thought 2,000 years ago?
Why say, “The Bible says,” as though that is all there is to say? All that needs to be said? Why not wonder what the Bible should have said, or would say if it were being written today?
Why be bound to a worldview that requires us to not know, not look, not ask, not see, not hear, not wonder, not imagine, not care, not explore, not experience, not be more than those who have told us what to think and what not to think?
- Pamlico Sound Sunset Panorama — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 2011 — Not one of us has been as old as we are. We are entering a new world. Do not think we can get by there on the strength of our experience in the world we are leaving as we step into the Unknown. We will need more help there than we can be to ourselves.
We will do well to rely on the help ourselves can give us.
We have to cultivate a living, vibrant, relationship with the unknown knower within as we enter the Unknown Regions of our life, and deal there with what waits for us, drooling.
The unknown knower and her, his, aides, have seen it all, several times, before. They have access to the collective wisdom of the species—and beyond. And stand ready to assist us in finding our way through the encroaching realities.
Do not think you have to do it alone. When The Panic seizes you, relax into the presence of those inner aspects of you residing in the unconscious-because-we-are-not-conscious-of-it-world. As we make them conscious—by working with our dreams, fantasies and the spontaneous images that appear in our imagination—we take comfort in their company, and find what we need to manage our life with the things we find waiting.
- Owl Bathes II 01 — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 31, 2013 — What kind of help do you need with your life? Where do you go to get it?
I need a sounding board. I talk things out with myself. I carry on an inner dialogue at all times. I’m constantly surprised at what I have to show myself.
When I’m able, I carry on the same kind of conversation with those who are capable of hearing what I have to say in the external world of visible, physical, reality. There aren’t many who take the time to listen, to hear me out.
There are many who would apply some culturally approved nostrum, some popular salve, to my wound or problem, to dispense with me and get the focus of the conversation back to them.
I need to talk with people who have experienced their life and thought about it, reflected on it, and come to their own conclusions about how things are. I need to hear their insight and perspective. I need to know what they see and how they see it.
I don’t need people who talk to me of what they have been told. I want to know what they have seen and what they think about it. I want them to tell me what they think, not what they have been told to think.
The culture, and the church of the culture, needs people who don’t think, thinking what they are told to think and doing what they are told to do.
We cannot live our own life until we are able to think about the life we are living and the life that needs to be lived, and find ways to live the live that needs to be lived within the life we are living. This is the revolution. It is carried out by those who see, hear, reflect, understand, and live in response to all of that, in light of all that.
What kind of help do you need to do that? Where do you go to get it?
- Owl Bathes III 01 — Barred Owl in the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 9, 2013 — There is a saying in the Deep South (and maybe everywhere else), “It is so loud I can’t hear myself think.” If you don’t want people to think about what you are saying, yell at them.
Think of the places you go where it is too loud to hear yourself think. Where it is too loud to think.
Rock concerts. Nobody is thinking at rock concerts. Everybody is into the spirit of the concert. Who needs to think?
Political conventions. Nobody is thinking at political conventions. The speakers are amplified and saying what everyone expects to hear and no one has to think about anything.
Revivals and some church services, particularly those built on the rock concert theme. Same as political conventions. They are telling us what we expect to hear so who needs to think about it?
Where else do you encounter an environment where it is too loud to hear yourself think?
It’s a tool of propaganda and a torture technique for prisoners of war.
And it underscores the importance of silence in seeking the grounding center of ourselves. We find our life unfolding, emerging, in the silence of reflection and awareness. If we hope to be who we are, we have to have quiet places in our life where we can hear ourselves think. And go there often to listen.
- Jennette’s Pier Panorama — Nags Head, NC, October 2011 — I think of the soul as the seat of meaning and value. It could the the threshold to meaning and value. The doorway, the portal, the channel, the… The precise relationship between the soul and meaning and value is not mine to determine. “Seat” suits me.
Soul comes alive in the presence of meaning and value and dies when we live our life in the direction opposite, and opposed, to meaning and value. Soul thirsts for meaning and value, lives for meaning and value, lives on meaning and value. When meaning and value go, soul is not far behind.
Soul loss is loss of meaning and value.
How meaningful is the life you are living? How valuable is your life to you? Where is meaning and value lodged in your life? Where are they to be found? What do you do that has meaning and value for you?
Soul is your built-in guide to meaning and value. It is a compass pointing to meaning and value. It is a barometer measuring the degree of meaning and value in your life.
If you are empty, depleted, joyless, hopeless, too long devoid of meaning and value, it’s time to do some soul work.
Sit facing an empty chair—as empty as your life is. Imagine your soul in that chair. Tell your soul you know the chair is not empty and that your life is capable of being filled to overflowing with meaning and value. Ask soul to help you restore meaning and value to your life by pointing you in the direction of that which is, or will be, meaningful and valuable, and by encouraging you in its service.
Now you have to fully cooperate with soul to infuse your life with meaning and value—you have to be a willing partner with your soul in producing a life worth living, but you have exactly what you need, waiting for you to give it the go ahead. So. Go ahead.
- Great Smoky Mountains Sunset Panorama — Clingman’s Dome Parking Lot, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC & TN, November, 2011 — We have to live aligned with—be true to—what we know to be good. NOT to what someone else tells us is good.
Of course, there is a price to be paid for living this way but. There is a price to be paid for living any way. Who do you want to be able to live with is the question. The answer better be your Center-most Self.
You live aligned with your Center and the entire world will be better off for it, never mind what They (The Ones Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased) say. Regardless of the price you have to pay.
One of the prices you will have to pay is that you will have to change your idea of the good. What you know to be good will not be the same throughout your life. Your life will impact, form and shape your idea of the good.
There are people who have a better idea of the good than we do. There are people who know a better good to be good than the good we know to be good. Our idea of the good, what we know to be good, shifts in the presence of a better good than the one we perceive to be good.
Women, gay people and people of color continue to struggle toward—and call us to serve—a better good than the one most of us over 60 (and a lot of us under 60) thought was good in our childhood and youth.
The good is as alive as we are. As we grow closer to our Center, we recognize a good to be good that is different, that is better, than the good we called good when we were arrogant enough to think we knew what we were talking about. We have to deep the door of our heart open to a better good than the good we call good, even as we serve that good with all our heart.
Changing our mind about the good is one of the prices we pay in serving the good we call good. It is not the only one.
Jesus, the Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rumi and a host of others lived out before us—modeled—what it means to live in the service of the good we know to be good. They didn’t kill anyone over whose idea of the good was the right idea. They lived out of their idea of the good with kindness, compassion, gentleness, reverence and good will for all, friends and enemies alike. And they were open to changing their idea of the good as their life opened their eyes to a better good than the good they once called good.
May we all be like them in our own way. Amen! May it be so!
- Duckie 10 BW — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 2013 — I am interested in getting you together with your life, with the life that is your life to live, the life you are built to live, the life that only you can live—not the life someone has handed you and told you to live, but the life that fits you from the ground up, from the inside out.
That’s all there is to it: Getting together with your life. Living your life—the life that fits you—the life that is exactly right for you.
This is where you come in. Only you know what fits you, clicks with you, resonates with you, is exactly right for you. No body can look at you and tell you what shoe fits. You have to try the shoes on. My wife won’t let me order a pair of jeans for her online. She has to try them on. Only she knows what is right for her—jean-wise and every other-wise.
So you have to say what is right for you, and you have to hold the line against all comers. They will try to talk you out of what fits and give you what does not fit. They will try to take your soul away from you. Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased are soul killers. You are your first line of defense. You have to say no to those who try to take your life from you and give you some other old life instead.
You have to live your life. You have to be one with your life. You have to live from the center of you. There is nothing beyond the center. When you live from the center you are at one with God. When you live your life you are one with God. You stand with Jesus when he said, “The Father and I are one.”
Of course. And you are fulfilling the commandment that didn’t make the top 10: You must be holy as I am holy. You must be at one with your self as I am at one with myself. Says the Lord, or words to that effect. That’s what you do when you find your life and live it over all objection and opposition.
And only you know how to do that. Only you know when you are on the beam and when you are off the beam, when you are on your mule and when you are off your mule.
Get on your mule and ride!
- Groundhog Mountain Picnic Tables 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA, June 10, 2013 — We live at odds with ourselves, at war with ourselves. We are not on our side. And we have the symptoms to prove it.
We prefer knee surgery to losing weight. We prefer eating ice cream to a walk around the block. We know what a healthy lifestyle is and live the way we are living.
Our health problems would take a quick turn for the better if we just got our ratios right (Nutrition, hydration, exercise and rest).
Why aren’t we on our side? Why do we live against ourselves? Against the flow of our life—the life that is our life to live?
- Dugger’s Creek HDR 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway at Linville Falls, NC, June 11, 2013 — What thrills you these days? What do you enjoy about your life? What do you love about living?
What are you doing with your life that you believe in? What are you doing that you don’t believe in?
Usually, when we feel bad about our life, we think rearranging external factors would do the trick. Change our spouse or partner, say, or jobs, or neighborhoods, or areas of the country. It goes deeper than that.
Our life is a reflection of our relationship with our life—of our involvement, engagement, investment. It isn’t a screen concealing us from the world through deceit and duplicity, presenting a pretend us for all to see—an us we wish we were, while we live on the admiration and envy we get for not being who we are.
Our life is who we are. Who we are is our life. “What I do is me/for that I came”—Gerard Manley Hopkins.
What are you doing that is you, that is what you came to do, that flows from the center as naturally as spring of cold water flows up from the earth?
- Silhouette 01 Black & White — Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA, June 10, 2013 — The Wasteland can be anywhere, everywhere. It’s whereabouts is entirely determined—and easily predicted—by the presence of those who have eyes but don’t see, ears but don’t hear, hearts that don’t understand.
The Wasteland is always a slight perspective shift away from the paradise of The Promised Land. All it takes is seeing to see that it is so.
Jesus came from Nazareth. Nothing good comes from Nazareth. He was the stone the builders rejected that became the chief cornerstone. He lived from the center of his being and transformed, by his simple presence, the lives of all of those who could be transformed—who had eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts that understood.
Seeing Jesus is being Jesus. Seeing the Buddha is being the Buddha. In an “Oh, NOW I see” kind of way.
When we see, we see. We get it. We do it. We become it. We are it. We see that we are it all along.
When we live from our center, we transform the world, without doing anything.
This is the Taoist/Zen (Zen is what happened with Buddhism met Taoism) principle of Wu Wei—doing by doing nothing.
It all comes together in the center. All is one there.
All is many in The Wasteland, at odds, competing, striving against each other to be the best, to have the most, to be #1.
In the Center, there is no #1. All is One. There is no conflict at the center—it is all complimentary there, with opposites reconciled and at peace with their polarity.
Helping the other be who she, who he, is, helps us be who we are. We are all one in the work of becoming ourselves with no threat to anyone, at the expense of no one.
Seeing is laughing, doing, being. Like that, Poof, The Wasteland becomes The Promised Land.
- Mabry Mill in the Rain 02 Detail — Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA, June 10, 2013 — No book can tell you where to place your tripod or where to stand, squat, or lie with camera in hand.
No book can tell you what the right exposure is for any scene (My Duck Landing and Wild Geese and Geese In Flight series’ are all woefully over-exposed and make me happy).
No book can tell you what is pleasing to you.
No book can tell you how to do it.
You know how to do it by doing it, reflecting on and evaluating what you did, and doing it again until you get it right according to you.
YOU are the one who must be pleased with your photographs and with your life.
No book can tell you how to be YOU. And nobody can either. Except, of course, YOU.
- Goshen Creek 10 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, June 10, 2013 — We have to set ourselves aside in order to consider what our life—the life that is our life to live, not the life we have fallen into—is asking of us, needs of us.
We have to take seriously the world we know nothing about, the invisible world, the unconscious world—and we have to work to make it conscious. We have to align ourselves with it and enter into a partnership with it, collaborating on what we do, how we live.
We belong to that world, and are alive in this world of conscious, physical, reality in service to that world. We have to establish a working relationship—consciously—with that world, with the unconscious world.
We do this by feeling the connection, not by thinking about it.
When we feel at peace, at ease, at-one with what is happening, at home with where we are, as though we are where we belong and everything is right with us and our life, we are in synch with the invisible world.
When we feel as though something is missing, as though something is not quite right somehow, as though we are out of rhythm with our life, we are disconnected from the invisible world.
We are looking for flow, harmony, resonance, congruity, accord… And how that feels in our body.
Dreams and fantasies, symbols, metaphors and images that stir us emotionally are contact points with the unconscious world, inviting us to reflect on and examine what is trying to come to consciousness in these experiences. We make the connection between the experience and our life—the live we are living and/or the life that is ours to live.
The unconscious world has an investment in us, has something at stake in us, needs something from us. When we cooperate with the unconscious world, we discover a sense of meaning and value and purpose that affirms the track we are on, the direction we are taking, and we know we are not alone in this experience we call life.
- Summer Fence 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, June 11, 2013 — There are no external possessions, acquisitions, relationships, gains, or advantages that can provide us with more than an internal shift does.
The shift from out to in is the turning point marking the time and place of our true birth. That is when life begins.
When we take out and make it conscious, see it as it is, we bring it in and transform our relationship with it, which transforms it. Out is transformed when we bring it in. So is in. That is the process which makes all things new.
Things mean one thing to us before we become conscious of them, and a host of other things to us as we make them conscious. Nothing is as it appears before we see it. Nothing means what we think it means before we become conscious of it.
Consciousness changes the world. Both of them, visible and invisible.
Living with awareness is the revolution that gives life and kills no one. Except, of course, those who die to what they once thought was important.
- Belted Kingfisher 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, June 13, 2013 — Our life will teach us everything we are capable of knowing—show us everything we are capable of seeing.
Our life—the life we are living, the life we fell into—is an inkblot. We see “out there” things that need to be seen and made conscious within. We have to understand the “out there” as a mirror of sorts, showing us the “in here” if we take the time to see what we are looking at.
If our life, the life we are living. the one were born into, the one we fell into, doesn’t wake us up, we cannot be awakened!
We have to wake ourselves up. No one can do that for us. If we don’t do it, it will not be done—and we think we are wide awake just as we are.
When we wake up, we wake up to the disparity between the life we are living and the life we are capable of living, that is our life to live.
When we wake up, we wake up to the difference between our life as it is and our life as it should be.
The life that is ours to live, that we are built to live, that only we can live, is the life we would live if we were awake.
How awake can we be in the time left for living? We owe it to ourselves to find out!
- Magnolia 2013 01 — Greensboro, NC, June 2013 — When you fall in love with someone, that person is a carrier of you, bringing you to you. You are falling in love with yourself. Wake up to that!
Bring forth in yourself the qualities and characteristics and values and way with life that you find attractive about the other person. He/she is you in this regard. Become him/her.
If you want to spend the rest of your life with him/her, that’s fine as long as you become what you attracts you and as long as he/she helps you with your life—the life that is your life to live—by helping you find your center and be who you are.
If he/she tries to make you some kind of stupid love slave, forget it. You should wear a tee shirt: I Am Not Your Love Slave!
- Dugger’s Creek Falls — Blue Ridge Parkway at Linville Falls, NC, June 11, 2013 — We reside in a culture that neither nourishes our body or our soul. We have to take those matters into our own hands.
We are responsible for the care and tending of ourselves. We cannot fall in with the crowd and go where they take us, where they tell us to go, and find what we need.
Who directs your life? To whom do you look for direction? With whom do you check before you do anything? How much do you do that doesn’t have someone else’s stamp of approval? Who is in charge of your life?
The right of the people to self-determination shall not be infringed! The right to self-direction is the birthright of every human being! And we sell our birthright for a bowl of porridge—or, in today’s terms, a trip to the mall.
We treat ourselves and our life lightly, frivolously, flippantly, without consideration—certainly without the consideration we deserve and require. We think we can go just anywhere, do just anything—that it doesn’t matter how we live.
Make no waves, rock no boats, tip-toe on eggshells, go along to get along, whatever THEY say is fine with us…
Our allegiance is to ourselves. We are here to nourish our body and our soul. It matters how we live.
- Olena Puckett Cabin 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, VA, June 10, 2013 — We have the idea that the invisible world is ours to ransack and plunder to our benefit, advantage and everlasting satisfaction.
We read our horoscopes to get a leg up on the day. Tea leaves, chicken bones and the stars, when interpreted correctly, will lead us to victory in war and love—and provide us with an abundance of wealth and happiness.
Go and learn what this means: “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
The invisible world is not here for our profit and gain or our comfort and convenience. It does not serve us. We serve it.
When we place ourselves in the service of the invisible world and get out of the way, strange and wonderful things happen through us and around us—which we cannot begin to predict, anticipate, explain or control.
They are just there—to amaze and confound us, and to keep us wondering and alert to what may happen next.
It is LIFE unfolding, emerging, coming forth, dancing before us, laughing.
Our left hemisphere is dizzy and can’t keep up. Our right hemisphere is wiping away the tears, thinking, “At last! At last!”
- Early Light — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, June 11, 2013 — You get things in place and wait for the owl to fly. For the ducks to take off. For the door to open.
There is a lot of waiting. Nothing seems to be happening. Nothing is moving. Wait. Watch.
Things don’t happen in a timely fashion, according to our schedule and convenience. Want a homegrown (which is quite different from “vine ripe”) tomato? You have to wait for it. “Vine Ripe” tomatoes came in vogue because people don’t want to wait.
Things don’t line up all neat and orderly with sequential steps to the goal. They unfold in strange ways, a little at a time, on all sides, at once, just doing what’s next until the thing is done, like a rose bush blooming or a homegrown tomato ripening.
You can’t plant a row of tomato plants and know which one is going to have the first ripe tomato, or when. You have to get things in place and wait.
Things happen in their own time, in their own way, and surprise us with their suddenness and their perfection. The owl flies and we forget what we are doing. The ducks rise and we forget where the shutter button is. We were waiting but we weren’t ready. We were thinking it would be some other way, different somehow. We were ready for that, for the way we thought it would be in our mind.
Don’t think it will be a particular way at a particular time. Wait. Watch. Be ready. To walk through the door when it opens.
- Summer Days Panorama 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, June 11, 2013 — My whole point can be summed up with: “See what is good and do it.” When you see what you are looking at, you see the good and do it.
To see the good is to do it. It’s the height of dysfunction to know what is good and not do it. I don’t know anybody who is that out of line.
All the dysfunctions I know of are an aberration of the good—they call what is not good, good. They serve a good that is not good.
Hitler, for example, was wrong about what was good. It wasn’t that he saw what was good and was intentionally evil. He did not see.
If you want to change the world, just see the world as it is. Seeing what you look at transforms everything. Seeing is the revolution.
If you want to change the world, show it itself. Mirror the world to the world. But know that it will kill you to avoid seeing. Just saying…
- Goshen Creek Cascade 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, June 11, 2013 — When we wake up we see reality. We see the way things are, which includes seeing the way things also are. We integrate the opposites—we do not dismiss, discount, ignore one polarity in favor if the opposite one.
We see polarities—the way things are and the way things also are—and create within our bodies a synthesis that takes everything into account. This is the work of consciousness, of awareness, of seeing, of being awake.
When we can see things as they are without having to have things be different than they are, we are seeing things as they are.
The natural world helps us in the work to see things as they are by being just what it is.
If you spend time with the natural world—enough time to see it as it is, beyond your desires for it—it will open you to yourself.
When we see, we see things as they are, we see ourselves as we are, we see what is happening and what needs to be done about it.
The moment carries us deeper into our life, into ourselves. We birth ourselves by responding to the moment’s need of what we have to offer. Seeing is the way of life—the way to life—the way of being alive in the life we are living.
- Summer Days 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, June 11, 2013 — Our life is like a dream which wakes us up to the life we are called to live—if we look at it with eyes that see. We read our life—interpret our life, what is happening in our life, what we are doing about it—as though it were a dream, that it may show us what there is to see.
We don’t have to do anything more than see what we are doing.
Seeing what we are doing transforms what is done, and aligns us with the soul’s way of doing.
All roads lead to the center, and we can start that journey anywhere, at any time, simply by being conscious of where we are and what we are doing.
Practice being conscious by looking at something—anything—until you see it. Look at it from all sides. What associations come to mind?
The object or image becomes your guide to awareness, to consciousness, to seeing into you as you look at the object or image.
When we see anything for what it is, we see ourselves. Everything mirrors us to us when we have eyes to see.
When we see ourselves, we adjust ourselves, we shift ourselves, we align ourselves with the soul’s way of being/doing.
- Magnolia 02 — Greensboro, NC, June 2013 — How much time do we spend not being where we are?
How much time do we spend being where we are?
What is it about where we are that makes it necessary, and easy, to not be there?
What is it about where we are that makes it necessary, and easy, to be there?
What can we do to reduce the time spent in the places where we are not being where we are, and increase the amount of time spent in the places where we are being where we are?
- 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) onto Hobbs Road. Go 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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