08/01/2013 — 09/30/2013
- We can rise to any occasion and shoot ourselves in the foot at any moment. When we do what tells the tale that we came to tell.
Eventually we all run out of luck. But, we get to do our thing as long as life lasts. Lucky or unlucky, there is always our thing to do.
When life interferes with my life and I have to be away from the camera for a while, it takes about four days to get back in sync—to learn how to see again—to learn to be with a scene again.
I can’t just walk into a scene and be ready for it—and see it—and be at one with it—and know what I’m doing.
I go to the Bog Garden, but I am not one with the Bog Garden. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to take photographs—I am not there to receive the gift. I have to remember how it works.
Taking photographs is like stealing something, like forcing some image to get into my camera because I say so—muscling pictures into being. You don’t even have to see what you TAKE a picture of.
Receiving the gift is welcoming what is offered with graciousness and gratitude—it is not being choosy or disinterested.
I go to the Bog Garden to receive the gifts of the Bog Garden. Some days there are no gifts. That, too, is a gift—the gift of No Gift.
If I am unlucky and there is no gift that day, that is good fortune. No gift means making my peace with no gift, and that is quite a gift.
Waiting at the Bog Garden for the gifts the Bog Garden offers, it helps to know that I do not know. I do not know what to expect.
I do not know what a bird will, or will not, do. Everything is as though for the first time. It’s all “Wow!” I have to remember that.
I have to remember to be surprised by it all—and to be ready for anything because I do not know what is coming.
I can’t be gone from the Bog Garden for a month and be able to settle into being with the Bog Garden, receptive, waiting, not caring if I will be lucky or unlucky.
It takes a while to get back in the flow. It’s a shift of perspective, a different frame of mind.
You can’t make anything happen in the flow, but you are open to what is happening and what can happen.
You are alive to the moment of your living. How often can you say that about life Out There, where there is no flow, only currents and whirlpools?
- Mallard Landing — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 31, 2013 — Everything depends upon our getting to the bottom of everything. Pulling everything up, and out into the light of day. Seeing, seeing, seeing. Hearing, hearing, hearing, Understanding, understanding, understanding.
No hidden agendas. Nothing buried. Nothing denied. Everything known.
Notice when you dismiss something, no matter how trivial and meaningless. Honor it with your attention. Get to the bottom of the dismissal. Of all that is at stake on all sides.
Those moods you take medication to put aside? Do. Not. Put. Them. Aside. Get to the bottom of them. Feel them to the fullest. Anxiety? Be afraid. Anguish? Agonize. Depression? Be Eeyore. Anger? Look it in the eye.
Sit with all your moods. One at a time. Honor It with your attention. With your attentive presence. Allow it to become an image—a person, place or thing. Enter the dialogue. “What are you doing in my life? What are you here to help me with? What was the initiating event in my past that brought you forth? What do you have to say? Etc.”
Write it out. Renew the conversation over time. Do not try to solve anything or reach a resolution. You are making things conscious. And you are drawing lines.
Set limits on the mood. “Okay. I will grant you my full attention at (set the time and place and keep the appointment), but I cannot allow you to ruin my life around the clock. You need my attention and I need your help. I need you to step into the background of my life while I take care of my responsibilities and duties—I will always know you are there and wink at you from time to time to reassure you that you are not being confined to the dungeon like you have been before. It’s different now. I’m listening, and we will talk again.”
As with moods, so with partners and spouses and children and parents and siblings and co-workers… Talk, talk, talk. Bring it all to the table and listen to all sides.
This is not debate, argument. This is getting to the heart of the matter, to the bottom of all things. Probing, poking around, exploring, wondering, listening, seeing, understanding. You are trying to know everything before you die, trusting the knowing to be transformative, unifying, integrating, miraculous.
And when something resists being known, honor that and know what can be known about the resistance. Make gentle inquiries. See what can be seen. See where it goes.
- Heron Panorama — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 1, 2013 — Think of everything we do as compensation for something else we are doing or not doing. Who we are is always balancing, or being balanced by, who we also are. Not one of us is one, steady, dependable, reliable, rigid and constant, way of being. Everyone is a lively blend of opposite urges, interests, needs and desires. We off-set ourselves rather nicely.
Death is the only steady state.
The idea that we should be one way—and only one way—at all times, in all places, puts constraints on us that we will not abide, and Dr. Jekyll shows off (and acts out) as Mr. Hyde.
Bring Mr. Hyde to the table. Introduce him to Dr. Jekyll. Explain one to the other. Invite them to work out their relationship consciously, down to the smallest particle of a detail on all levels, so that each understands the necessity of the other, and the two work together to produce one, less extreme, though nicely balanced, blend.
What are you doing that you think you shouldn’t be doing? Or, are afraid you might do? Bring it to the table. Have a chat. What is it showing you about your extreme otherness? What’s it saying about your need to lighten up, ease off, cut yourself some slack in all areas, and stop trying to be so perfectly pleasing and exemplary according to some standardized idea of how you ought to be?
You are going to have to move toward this Other, carefully, gently, without being yanked into some far extreme that leaves the other Other out of your life, wondering what happened.
When you get to the bottom of things—all things—you live in the center of things—all things. And you discover that you are capable of whatever the circumstances require, and are able to do what is appropriate to every situation that arises, and dance with all your partners in their rightful turn. Amen! May it be so!
- Wetlands Geese — A new business card series. Image 10/20 — Something is striving to be expressed through us, to be known. Something unknown wants to be known.
The apple in the seed. The head of wheat in the grain. The You in you. The Me in me.
There is more to us than meets the eye. More than words can say. And it wants to be known.
It wants to know itself, see itself, hear itself, perceive itself—and so its yen for self-expression.
Where do we stop and We start? How do we cooperate with what we don’t know, what doesn’t even know itself?
We pay attention to dreams, and fantasies and the rush of life energy when it rises up to enthuse us with some wild excitement—and we see where it goes.
- Yellow Swallowtail 03 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 31, 2013 — Everyone is somewhere at all times. I wonder, in any moment, how many of us would prefer to be somewhere else.
My hunch is that the percentage is high, but. I would like to conduct interviews. I get in my own way often enough that I have to check out my take on things, to see if I’m seeing as well as I think I am.
And, if it turned out that I am quite wrong—that the percentage of people who are exactly where they prefer to be is high, and that of those who would like to be somewhere else is low, I would have to tell them, “You people better wake up and see what’s what! You cannot see the world as it is and like where you are!”
Liking where we are is liking our world as it is, but liking our world as it is is contributing to the world being the way it is—it is certainly not challenging the world for being the way it is (Unless we ARE challenging the world for being the way it is, but that wouldn’t apply to many of us).
Liking where we are is not seeing where we are, not caring where we are. It is leaving “well enough alone.” We are doing “well enough.” And don’t want to bother it. We are thankful “things aren’t worse yet,” and tiptoeing on eggshells, hoping they remain that way.
We have to talk. We have to come to the table, and bring all of us—all of those within us—along with us, so that everyone has his, has her, say, and says it. We have to enlarge our perspective to take everything into account. We have to be conscious of all that is possible to be conscious of—seeing things as they are and as they also are—and then decide, is this the best we can do, or are we selling ourselves way short here?
Settling for too little is selling ourselves—our soul—out, and coming up short. And we cannot let ourselves be happy with that, no matter where we are.
- Owl Bathing — A new business card series. Image 11/20 — Thinking about sex can keep us from thinking about—from facing—some things, and it can enable us to think about—and face—some other things. So, we have to think about how we think about sex. Distraction or engagement?
Sex as distraction takes our mind off our life. We forget about the realities that impinge upon us and drift off into the world of sensual delight, seeking sex as any addict would seek his, seek her, escape of choice.
Sex as engagement enlivens us to the experience of being alive—of ourselves, our partner, our relationship, humanity, existence…and the deeply spiritual reality of more than words can say—of the sacred meaning of a shared experience of intimacy and vulnerability and the pleasurable warmth of human comfort.
Everything is a threshold to the truth of ourselves as we are and as we also are—when approached with eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands. Sex is, perhaps, the most common place we meet ourselves meeting another.
Seeing our partner enables us to see ourselves, IF we look with eyes that see.
It takes two to be one. Sex as dialogue—physically and verbally—as communication that is communion—opens us both to the truth of each, and the truth of ourselves.
In the mutual engagement that is sex, we are present with the other to be seen, touched, loved and known. And discover there the truth of more than meets the eye, which is the foundation of all that meets the eye, calling us beyond the physical through the physical, into meaning and purpose and wonder without end.
- Crow in Flight 01 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, May 3, 2013 — There is not a Good You and a Bad You—there is YOU. And you are a swirling mixture of urges, inclinations, instincts, ideals, interests, values, desires, motivations… Well. You get the idea. YOU are all that any human being ever was or will be. And YOU decide what to do about it when, where and how.
As you have heard me say, we are all quite capable of rising to any occasion and of shooting ourselves in the foot at any time. So. We have to be aware of what’s what—of what is happening and what we need to do in response, what we need to do about it—in every situation as it arises.
What is appropriate in this time and place? What needs to happen here and now? How can we assist what needs to happen and oppose what has no business happening here and now, but may well need to happen then and there?
Put the Ten Commandments on the table. And put the observation found in Ecclesiastes about “for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven” on the table. And consider the table.
YOU are the table. And you have to work it out. When to do what. When not to do what. Strive to live appropriately in the time and place of your living. Strive to know “what time it is” in the sense of Ecclesiastes, and live in the moment in ways that consider and serve the moment.
You are capable of everything human beings have ever been capable of, or ever will be. Live with your eyes open, aware of how things are and how things also are—and match your actions with what is needed in the situation as it arises. And in the situation that arises from that one. Throughout the time left for living.
This is called Riding the Bull. When you Ride Your Mule, your mule becomes a bull from time to time. Hang on, and have the time of your life, because that is your life, fully lived.
- The Pier — A new business card set. Image 12/20 — Who could bear the weight of the full reality of their life, if they were conscious of it?
We can’t handle that truth, and so we become automations, hiding from, denying, ignoring how it is with us—doing what we are supposed to do and believing what we are told to believe.
If we cannot hear the truth we don’t want to hear, why hear anything? There is no alternative to truth. We don’t get the option of some other world in which to live.
The truth is the bed we sleep in each night and the life we wake up to each morning. Our task is to look into its ugly red eye and say, “Come on, you Cyclops you! Show me what you got!”
We go a round with the Cyclops, which is the truth of the life we are living, every day. We do it consciously, deliberately, intentionally—living this life, this day, as well as we can imagine living it. And doing it again tomorrow.
Hiding from nothing. Denying nothing. Pretending nothing is better than or different than it is. Bearing the pain that needs to be borne, and doing what can be done about it.
We have to reconcile/integrate/synthesize the discrepancies between the life we are living and the life we wish we were living, the life we want to be living. We cannot refuse to live this life because it isn’t what we want it to be. Where would that leave us? If we don’t live this life, what?
Live this life with our eyes open to the full reality of how it is, and look for ways to shift it toward what it needs to be, to what it can become. And let our bright wish to play center field for the Yankees go. This is our center field. We have to play it, just as it is. Everything hangs on it.
This is called growing up. It is what most adult human beings refuse to do. And that is the single reason things are in such a mess.
The revolution begins with me and you growing up. Looking our life in the eye each day, and going a round.
- Old Hammock Creek — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, November 1, 2009 — It’s never more difficult than doing what’s hard: Waking up, standing up, growing up, facing the truth of the life we are living and the life that is ours to live, seeing how things are without looking away or pretending it isn’t so—with everything included, what has happened to us and what has not happened, what our prospects are and what that means for us, what needs us to do it in spite of all that is working against it, who we still yet might be regardless of the odds and the work it will take, and stepping into the time remaining to be lived and living it with all our heart for as long as life is possible.
Are you coming with me or what?
- Watersnakes — A new business card series. Image 13/20 — Our symptoms are calling us to wake up and get to the bottom of something—to know how it is with us and how we are getting in our own way, how we are getting in the way of the way for us.
Our symptoms are indications that we are either, A) Trying to make something happen that cannot happen, or, Trying to keep something from happening that must happen.
When we treat our symptoms, they never disappear, but play the Gopher Game with us, popping up somewhere else, in a different guise.
Our symptoms are with us, in one form or another, until we listen to what they are saying—until we take everything into account and see what our symptoms are showing us about ourselves.
- Sail Boats at Sunset — Silver Lake, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, November 1, 2009 — We want some help with our life—with our idea of our life—with what we want our life to be—and cast about looking for something, anything, that might smooth our path, and ease our plight, and make our life just grand.
I may as well be the one to break this to you: We are going to have to do what we don’t want to do all our life long. If you can get yourself adjusted to that idea, it won’t be nearly so bad as it will be if you buck and snort all the way.
We were born into a mess—and we were born with a cause, a mission, a purpose to serve—and we soon developed ideas of our own. Now we have to deal with the mess, the mission and our wants and wishes. This will not be smooth and easy.
Help is out there for the mess and mission. When we live in the service of our wants and wishes, we are on our own.
We have to decide whose side we are on. Again, and again. Whose side are we on here and now? Whose side are we on in this situation? What does “Thy will, not mine, be done” mean for this context and these circumstances?
We move very slowly along the way to being awake, aware and fully alive. We don’t just understand some concept, some theory, some doctrine and BOOM, Glory Land. Enlightenment doesn’t make anything easy. It only enables us to see what needs to be done. We still have to do it. Enlightenment without courage is just a bad dream.
Let’s say we decide we are going to consciously serve the mission and consciously deal with the mess and consciously recognize when our wants and wishes get in the way. It’s going to change our life. And it is not going to be smooth and easy. But. It will be interesting. And meaningful. And better than anything in the whole world of things for amazement and delight. But. It won’t be easy.
- Rabbit’s View — A new business card series. Image 14/20 — Willing too much the pieces into place invites karmic reprise. Or, as they say in the deep south, “Push too hard and it pushes back.”
You can’t change anyone by yelling at them. You can’t even change them by pointing out nicely how they need to change. Your best bet is to simply tell them what they are doing. “Your feet are on the table.” “You are smoking in the house.” “You are making that sound again.”
Know what you can do and what you can’t do. Stick with what you can do. Best advice you’ll get before morning.
- Smoky Mirror — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, November, 2006 — All we need is a place to talk it out. Not argue it out. Not debate it out. Not majority rule it out. Talk it out.
We need a place to say how things are with us, and how they also are, and how that impacts us, and how we feel about it, and what we can imagine doing about it, and what we are doing about it, and what we are going to do about it.
We need a place to talk about our life and our place in it.
We have plenty of places to talk about THEIR life and what THEY should do about it. We spend most of our talking time talking about THEM over THERE.
Gays, Women, Men, Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Idiots (That is, whomever is not like WE are)…
All of our talk is about THEM over THERE. We never say anything about ME and what is going on with me IN HERE.
And, if we do, we are not allowed to continue. We are hushed, muffled, silenced with a quick, “No matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone worse off than you are (That would be some of THEM over THERE). So quit complaining and be thankful for what you have.”
The message is clear: “Stuff it! If you start talking about how it is with you, that will remind me of how it is with me, and I do not want to think about that. I want something to take my mind off of me and how it is with me by talking about THEM over THERE!”
We don’t want to make ourselves conscious of our life. It’s too painful to consider—and once we become aware of it, we will have to do something about it, and that would ask hard things of us. So, our life lies unlived, while we talk about someone else’s life throughout the time left for living.
- Sunrise — A new business card series. Image 15/20 — When our daughters were in elementary school in the 80’s, I wrote out for myself my “guiding principles” on three index cards, which I referred to until they finished college and were on their own. It goes like this:
I want my kids to be perceptive—to be able to evaluate life around them; to pick up on what’s going on; to listen and see; to be astute observers; to be aware; to know what is happening and to have some ideas about what to do about it. I want my kids to have a wide range of experiences; to have a broad sampling of life—and to be able to assimilate their experiences, to learn from them, to handle them as opposed to being overwhelmed by them.
One way of heading off overwhelming experiences is that of creating an atmosphere conducive to open inquiry, where people come together to solve problems, or, at least, to talk about the problems they are having with life.
I want my kids to be clear about their likes and dislikes, and to be comfortable with having likes and dislikes that may be different from the likes and dislikes of those about them. I want my kids to develop their ability to solve problems, and to deal creatively with life’s difficulties; to know their limits, and to refuse invitations (and taunts) to go beyond them. I want my kids to be careful with the feelings of others—to be free from the control of others, but to respect the others’ need for control.
That is, they might have to ignore the feelings of others for the sake of their own integrity, but if that is the case, I would like for them to notice, and care about, the ignored feelings; to be sensitive to the feelings of others, without being shackled by them.
I want my kids to be solid within themselves; to make their own decisions, independent of the efforts of others at controlling their deciding. I want them to be responsible for their own minds, and not bent by every whim of those around them; and to be able to change their minds.
I would want that still, for them and for each one of us, as well.
- Sunset, 10/19/2012 — Pamlico Sound, on the way from Swanquarter to Ocracoke Island, NC, October 19, 2012 — In every situation two things are true. If you can sit with the situation until you perceive every single way each thing is true, you will transform the situation and your life and the entire world. This is called The Doctrine of the Two Ways.
In every situation “This is a problem.” And. In every situation, “This is not a problem.”
Sometimes, it goes in reverse: “This is not a problem.” And. “This is a problem.”
If you can see all the ways something that is a problem is not a problem—or if you can see all the ways something that is not a problem is a problem—you have it made—as much as you can have it made.
As much as a wild burro has it made, say. Or a Giant Sequoia.
The Two Ways do not cancel each other out. The Two Ways deepen, expand, enlarge each other, and you—and make you who you are capable of being, who the situation needs you to be.
It’s all quite miraculous, and you have to see it to believe it. You have to experience it to know that it is so. That’s a problem because you have to open yourself to the full realization of what is true and of what is also true.
But, that’s not a problem because situations are always coming along, and if you didn’t have what it takes to open yourself to the full realization of what was true and what was also true in the last situation, you have another chance coming in this situation.
Once you get it down, you can’t wait for another situation to practice the art of seeing the situation as it is and as it also is, and transforming the situation into a third thing, which it also is, and changing you, and changing your world, and changing the entire world—just by seeing things for what they are, and also are.
Which is the only way anything ever changes. By seeing it for what it is. And also is.
- Yellow Swallowtail 01 — A new business card series. Image 16/20 — We are not here to get to heaven when we die. This is not a proving ground for determining our heavenworthiness.
Take the Ten Commandments in one hand, and take the observation found in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven,” in the other hand, and consider the two hands.
”Thou shalt not kill” goes up against, “There is a time to kill.” Who says what time it is? You say it for you. I say it for me.
We are here to know what time it is, and to align ourselves with what is being asked of us in the situation as it arises. Not to get to heaven, but to do what is needed, to offer what is appropriate to the occasion, in the here and now of our living—by reading the situation, not by reading some script, some recipe, or doing what somebody else tells us we should do—but doing what we feel needs to be done the way only we can do it.
Throw away the rule books and wade into your life. You make the calls that need to be made, and learn to make better ones over the course of your living, so that your living becomes a dance with what needs you to do it in the situation as it arises—to everyone’s delight and amazement, especially your own. That’s the way to do it!
- Into Arches, 5/12/10 — Arches National Park, Moab, UT, May 12, 2010 — James Hollis, in his book “Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives,” says:
“It has been my therapeutic experience that most people, even those most accomplished outwardly, lack a core permission to live their own lives: to feel what they feel, desire what they desire, and to pursue what their soul intends. Such permission cannot be granted by another; it must be seized by a person who decides that it is time to show up.”
And, fully understanding the difficulties—emotional and physical—that accompany such a decision, and how it has ramifications for the way life is lived throughout a person’s life, Hollis says, “If we wait (within) the darkness with enough humility, faithfulness and patience, it grows luminous…if we listen to the silence, it speaks, in time, to us.”
We have to work up to doing the work of being who we are in the time left for living, which means working up to “letting the chips fall where they may.” It takes time, but we cannot delay too long and have any time left for living. So we must not put off working ourselves up to doing the work of being who we are.
We are working up our courage, is what we are doing. We are deciding whose side we are on (that would be our own side), and we are deciding to step into the darkness, into the abyss of our own anxiety, fear, uncertainty and lack of courage—which is the primary act of courage: Stepping into our fear and finding out what we have to be afraid of, and seeing what we do about it. Seeing if we are really as resilient, imaginative and creative as we think we might be. Seeing if we find the help we need to be who we are and do what is ours to do in the time left for living.
All the questions have to be answered in the darkness, on the tightrope over the abyss. We cannot know anything about the journey without taking it—without taking the first step and seeing where it leads.
We are working ourselves up to taking that first step. We cannot wait too long, because the real work is waiting to be done, and only we can do it.
- The Watchman and The Virgin — A new business card series. Image 17/20 — The Tao recommends that we “do our work and step back,” that we “live from the center and let nature take its course.”
We try to muscle our way through life, to wrestle the life we want into being, to finesse our way to having things like we want them to be.
Enlightenment is realization. Is waking up. Is a shift in attitude and perspective. Is growing up. And living to be aligned with the inner sense of who we are and what is ours to do—with the feeling of what is right, with what resonates with us on the deepest level.
James Hollis says, “According to…Emily Dickinson, the sailor cannot see north, but knows the needle can.” He asks, “Can any of us find such a compass within and risk trusting our life to it? Can we afford to really ask questions such as, By what values am I really living my life?” And wonders, “Are we aligned through our attitudes, practices, adaptations against our own nature’s intent?”
We each have to answer for herself, for himself, but answer we must if we are to be a part of the shift from “off center” to “centered and focused, and aligned with the compass within.”
- Goose Wars 02 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 7, 2013 — We spend a lot of time in an “If I do this, then that will happen,” state of mind. Figuring our angles, computing our odds, factoring our advantages, running our cost/benefit analyses, deciding what to do based on the probability of a favorable outcome, exhausted by the effort and about where we have always been.
Got a suggestion for you. A shift, really. Try this for a week: “If I do this, I wonder what will happen.”
Introduce play into your life. Experimentation. Live experimentally. Not knowing what the outcome will be. Not having to have it be a certain way. Not having to arrange your life according to your idea of what it takes to please you. Don’t know what it takes to please you. Don’t know what it means for something to “work.” Be clueless. Say, “Wow! How about that!” a lot. Laugh at the wonder of being surprised. See what happens.
- owl Yoga — A new business card series. Image 18/20 — All the stuff you hate about yourself, about your life—the things you want to throw away, be rid of forever? The stone the builders reject.
The stone the builders reject is the chief cornerstone. The stone the builders reject is the pearl of great price. You are the stone and you are the builder.
Nothing good came from Nazareth, you know. So, revisit the despised material. Sift through it for the gift. It is part of your preparation.
Everything is grist for the mill. It is all an initiation rite for the rest of our life. Somehow, we will need something of everything that comes our way.
Our wounds heal us and others. We don’t want it to be that way. If we only had what we wanted, we would all be stuck at the stage of the terrible two’s.
Our trials and ordeals prepare us for our trials and ordeals. They call us forth. Require us to be who we are and also are. We become the gift we seek.
By opening ourselves to—and living—the life that is ours to live within the life we are living, we become the gift we seek to save us from our trials and ordeals. We would save ourselves from the very thing required to save us—to wake us up, restore us to ends worthy of us, heal us and make us whole.
Life is funny that way.
- Yellow Swallowtail 04 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 7, 2013 — We talk ourselves into seeing everything we see. There is no seeing anything “as it is.” We participate with reality in the construction of the world in which we live. What we tell ourselves about that world creates the world.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. The Word brings every world into being.
We speak, and it is as we say.
The interpretation, the spin, we put on things that happen to us, bring for the world we live in. WE are part of the matrix that makes up our life.
What we say about things—what we choose to believe about things—makes things “as they are.” We talk ourselves into living in the world in which we live. That world meets us as we step into it each morning.
Start looking at it differently—saying different things about it—and it will become different over night. But, it takes your full participation for it to happen. You can’t just “make something up” here. You have to MAKE SOMETHING UP here. You have to be into it. You have to BELIEVE IN—to BE—the difference you want to see in the world.
Here’s an example. My wife and my three daughters and my five granddaughters wanted my wife and I to move to Charlotte when my wife retired. I’d been retired two years in Greensboro and was happily doing by thing—part of which is writing you—saying my world into being—saying “We can be who we are in any situation, any circumstance.” I see shifting life circumstances as a place to put into practice what I preach.
So I began to shift mentally, emotionally, away from Greensboro to Charlotte—and to look for things—to look at things in ways—that would help me make that shift. The shift needed to happen. I needed to make it. I needed to grow up (Something else I preach, say: the importance of growing up). I have to change my world. I have to change to change my world. I have to speak/see the new world into being.
I’ll pick up with this next time.
- Heron with Turtle — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 4, 2013 — We see what we look for.
We hardly ever see anything we don’t want to see.
We cannot see reality—we can only see our interpretation of reality.
What happens to us cannot be separated from what it means to us.
We see the meaning of the event—we do not see the event.
By seeing things differently—by ascribing a different meaning—we change the event. What happened is still what happened, but it is completely transformed.
But. We can’t just make up some meaning. It has to be true. It has to ring true. It has to be real.
Joseph Campbell talks about the importance of “voluntary participation” in life as we live it. We cannot live as spectators, as visitors, as tourists. We have to live as full participants in the heaving boil of “the wine dark sea.”
We have to say “YES!” to life just as it is, and get in there with it, mixing it up, at-one with the experience of being alive.
We can’t be saying “No! Not this!” and “No! Not that!” This is how it is! That is how it is! Our task is to put ourselves in accord with the inevitables (Campbell’s term) of life, align ourselves with how things are, and make the best of it.
Making the best of it has to do with what we tell ourselves about it, with the meaning we make of it. The great stories put us in accord with our life by talking about dragons, and treasures, and destinies, and heroic deeds—not about getting up at 5 AM to stand on the subway platform at 6:30, to ride to our office an hour and a half away, to balance numbers in columns all day, to ride home by 8 PM to get ready to go again tomorrow. That might be reality, but we transform it by giving it a mythic meaning.
We are going to give it some meaning. We may as well give it a meaning that enlivens us and enables us to meet whatever challenges we face—whatever trials and ordeals that come our way—in the spirit of enthusiasm and energy for the experience of being alive.
But, we have to be at one with the meaning we give it. It has to ring true. It has to be real for us. We have to believe it, and believe in it.
If we are really saying, “Oh, woe is me! Oh, poor me!” that’s the meaning that is going to carry weight. So, we have to work to find a meaning we can embrace and believe in. My meaning won’t work for you. You have to find your own.
- Blue Heron 03 — A new business card series. Image 19/20 — James Hollis says, “If what we are doing is really right for us, the energy is available and supportive. If we continuously override what is right for us, that energy will first flag and then fail us.”
We cannot live at odds with ourselves without paying a price. Every time we ignore the drift of soul, our body keeps score. Over the course of our life, we begin to look like the life we have lived.
Our place is to get on the beam and stay there—to find the things that give us life and do them—to live toward that which is right for us, even if it is difficult.
- Into the Air — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 1, 2013 — You have to know what your inevitables are, and make room for them in your life. You have to accommodate them, acquyiesce to them, adjust to them, let them be—because they are inevitable.
Your husband, partner, lover isn’t going to treat you better in the next ten years than he did in the last ten. Neither is your wife, partner, lover. Are you staying or not? Either way, you have to come to terms with the terms of your decision, and grow up about it. You have to embrace the terms of your decision for what they are—because they are inevitable. They are the terms of your decision. So accept them and get on with your life.
We are always saying, “Oh, we can’t live with this, and we can’t live with that,” when “this” and “that” are inevitable. They are the terms under which we live.
We live protesting and pouting all our life long because we live under these terms and not those over there. We want better terms, a higher quality of inevitables. But. Here we are. This is it. Now what?
Stand up and step into your life and do what you can with it in the time left for living.
We are going to get old, we are going to die, we are going to run out of luck a little at a time or all at once. AND we have a life to live—within, around, among, through and in spite of all of the inevitables that constitute the terms and conditions of our life. So. Embrace your inevitables! Live your life!
- Yellow Swallowtail 03 — A new business card series. Image 20/20 — What is so hard about equal rights across the board to every citizen of the United States? Without regard to anything? No freedom and privilege to one that is not granted to all others? Equal Is Equal! What is so hard about that?
- Tricolored Heron in Flight 03 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 13, 2013 — I’ve never known anyone in authority who didn’t know what she, or he, was doing, reflecting the old adage, “Often wrong but never in doubt.” The country is being run by those in authority. When have you heard a politician say he, say she, didn’t know what he/she was talking about? We need more people at the helm who know they don’t know what they are doing—and consult someone other than those with authority to guide them.
When it comes to knowing how to do all of the important things—like living your life—it is crucial that you know that you don’t know what you are doing. AND that you know nobody else knows what they are doing either.
We have to talk it out and feel our way along.
Talking it out is hard because there is always someone in the crowd who is “often wrong but never in doubt.” There is nothing like conviction for swaying the vote. Every politician is elected because she, because he, is able to convince more people than her, than his, opponents that he/she knows what he/she is talking about/doing. If you give someone like that control of your life, you may as well go sit in some cemetery and wait for the grave diggers, because it’s all over for you.
You don’t know what you are doing with your life. Nobody does. Don’t let that stop you from living it. Let that free you up to live it. You can’t do any worse than all those people living their life in the sure conviction that they know what they are doing and are right about it. And you will probably do a lot better. You owe it to yourself to find out.
So, “get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome” (Joseph Campbell).
- Smoky Mirror — A new business card series. Image 21/20 — Our thing will grow us up—against our will—if we give ourselves to it, and do it as it needs to be done, in our life as we live it.
Our thing will bring will bring everything to light, and require us to deal with all of it on every level in order to do our thing, the way it needs to be done, the way it needs us to do it.
Let’s take the camera, for example. The camera requires me to stand long hours waiting for the heron—or the owl—to fly. And to deal with the criticism of those who don’t understand why it takes so long to take a picture.
The camera requires me to read the manual, and do internet searches about techniques I don’t understand, and figure out how to get the camera to do what I need it to do.
The camera requires me to get up early and stay out late. To let disappointment, and frustration, and slow reflexes be part of the process of photography, as surely as the satisfaction of a thoroughly pleasing photograph is.
The camera requires me to be somewhere else when other people (that would be family members) want me to be where they want me to be.
The camera requires me to define myself—to identify myself—as a photographer and let all the other things shake out as they will around that central identity.
For example, I don’t do vacations the way normal people do vacations. I take photo trips. And I’m not available for social engagements—I’m taking pictures.
All of this, and more, comes packaged with the camera, and spills out of the box when I open it, claiming me and sending me off to do its will in my life.
It’s the same with you and your piano, or your bird watching, or your vegetable gardening. Your thing will eat you alive, and give you life—and you would be crazy not to provide what it requires and receive what it has to offer.
- Tricolored Heron in Flight 06 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 13, 2013 — There are people who lived with their doors locked, their shades closed and their lights off, and walk through the world in a state of chronic anxiety, worried about all the things that haven’t happened yet, but could, at any time, break forth to ransack, pillage and burn the empty ruins that remain of their life.
They live their life in possession of the Fear Demon. That’s one way to do it.
They could also dispossess the Demon, but that would require waking up, opening the shades, cutting on the lights, and walking directly into their life, determined to discover if life can give them something they can’t handle with the resources available to them and the gifts they have to bring to bear on each situation as it arises.
It’s all an initiation rite. Everything is preparing us for everything else. Or sending us into hiding. It’s going to be what we make it out to be, make it up to be. How we see things determines what we do about them.
The Fear Demon is a Fear Complex. A Complex is like an apartment complex, or ghetto, with experiences, encounters and memories living throughout it, to constantly remind us of what they have seen and felt and lived with and know to be true.
A Complex is a collection of psychological bruises nested, or clustered around a central idea or theme. Anything remotely reminiscent of the theme can trigger a reaction that is responding to the all of the original events.
Your father was an alcoholic who beat your mother and you every third or fifth time he came home drunk. Now, thirty years later, the odor of beer causes you to throw up. That’s a Complex for you. You could call it an Alcohol Complex. Or an Abusive Father Complex (And you could throw up every time you see/hear a father yelling at his child—or at the umpire—at a Little League Baseball game).
And people have Anxiety/Fear Complexes that keep them from facing their life all their life long.
The cure is as bad as the malady. You have to face the Demon. A little at a time. Feeling the pain. Throwing up. Remembering. Reliving. Helps to have the compassionate presence of someone who understands Demons and knows the process of dispossessing them. You might have to find a good therapist. A good therapist is one who has been where she, where he, is asking you to go. Wounded healers are the best kind.
- Belted Kingfisher 05 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 9, 2013 — Nothing is more important than knowing what’s important. The most important thing in the world, or beyond it, can stand before you, begging for your attention, devotion, loyalty, obeisance, and if you don’t recognize it’s importance, it may as well not waste its time on you. That makes knowing what’s important the most important thing.
So. If you are going to know something, know what’s important.
So. How do you know what’s important?
Start with what you think is important. See what it has to show you about what’s important.
You will learn all there is to know by starting with what you think you know and letting it show you what more there is to know.
The problem is that we generally stop with what we think is important, with what we think we know, and think it is someone else’s fault that what we think doesn’t work. The principle in place here is: “The theory expands to take into account facts that contradict, deny, refute the theory.”
Creationism, for instance, expands to take the fossil record into account by saying, “Fossils are God’s way of testing our faith,” or something equally obtuse regarding the facts of fossils, and carbon dating, etc.
The same thing applies to the opponents/enemies of global warming. Their theory expands to explain the facts that are contrary to their theory.
This is how you never change your mind about what you think is important, about what you think you know. Don’t do it this way.
Let what you think is important show you what IS important, even if that is contrary to what you think. ESPECIALLY if that is contrary to what you think. You will learn to think better about what is important this way. You will learn to know what is important. Then it is only a matter of doing it. That is really the most important thing.
It doesn’t matter what you know if you don’t live like you know it.
- Great Blue Heron 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 13, 2013 — It’s all going to hell, and we have to get it back in place—by being in place ourselves. We cannot allow hell to distract us. Our focus has to be on finding the center—our own center—and maintaining its place in our life. We have to be at one with the source of life and being—of what is, of what constitutes, life and being for us, personally.
And don’t give me the “We cannot be at one with what constitutes life for us when our life is snatched from us and nothing worth living for remains!” line. Nothing can take your center from you. You give that up yourself. You say, “Okay. Fine. If this is how it is going to be, hell everywhere I look, I’m just going to hell myself. I’m already there. I may as well be where I am.”
You have to hold the center in place when everything else disintegrates. You are the core piece to your own integration. When you aren’t at one with the core, there is no core. When you let go of the center, there is no center. There is a sense in which YOU are the core, the center!
Jesus could say, “The Father and I are one!” We can all say that, must say that. “The Center and I are one!” What becomes of the Father when there are none to be at one with the Father? What becomes of the Center when there are none to hold the Center?
Always in every generation there are at least “Six thousand knees that have not bent to Baal”! Our knees have to be among them. We have to know our place in the Center and keep it when everything else is out of place. In this way, we restore the harmony. Reestablish the balance. Reinstate the symmetry. Return the synthesis, the wholeness, the unity of all things with themselves and with one another.
Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” Life is contagious. You cannot live disconnected from the core. Connected to the core, you become alive, and infect everyone with your refusal to join them in death. And the world comes back together through the integration of those who refused to join it in disintegration.
- Mallard Landing 11 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 11, 2013 — When someone tells you you are selfish, it’s because they don’t want you doing something your way—they want you doing it their way. Now, who is selfish?
- Tricolored Heron 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 13, 2013 — It is all useless, pointless, hopeless, futile and coming to a very bad end. Don’t let that stop you, or even slow you down.
Don’t let your outcomes erode your effort. You have a life to live! Live it to the fullest, no matter what! THAT will take the wind out of the Cyclops’ sails! Show him a thing or two! Put you on the right side of what matters most!
“Get in there and do your thing—and don’t worry about the outcome!”—Joseph Campbell
- Goose Wars 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 14, 2013 — When you live out of your own core, your own center, your own source of life and being, you live out of the center of what is important to you, of what is right for you—not out of what someone has told you is important or ought to be important.
You live out of your attachment to what matters most to you because it matters to you—not because someone told you it should matter, but because it does matter, more than anything else, including your ease and comfort and everlasting convenience.
If something is important to you only until it gets in your way, and begins to cramp your style, and asks hard things of you, and is a real bother, and you have to shuck it because it just isn’t worth your time and attention any longer, it was not central to your life and being.
It was not important. It was only something you liked for a while, like snowboarding, perhaps. It was something you could put on and take off with the flow of the seasons, or your whim of the moment.
When something is important to you, it owns you. It’s your Daddy. Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.” There you are. Who’s your Daddy? What do you do because you have to do it, because you have no choice in the matter?
The last line in the movie, “On Stranger Tides,” belongs, as it should, to Captain Jack Sparrow: “I have no say in it, Gibbs. It’s a pirate’s life for me. Savvy?” When something is important, it grabs you, and won’t let you go, and compels you into its service for life. That’s what you are looking for. You are looking for what is looking for you. Savvy?
- Belted Kingfisher 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 22, 2013 — You can’t make someone skinny by telling them how fat they are. This principle has ramifications throughout your life. And the life of those who tell you how fat you are, or fat’s equivalent.
You can’t make someone listen to you by telling them they should listen to you. Or make someone stop telling you to listen to them by telling them to stop telling you to listen to them.
See how many different ways you can apply this concept in the coming week.
The way to stop someone from telling you to listen to them (or to do what they advise) is to ask, “How much do I owe you for minding my business?” or, “What kind of cake is that you’re selling?” And when they say, “I’m not selling cake.” Say, “It sounded like you were selling something. I was hoping it was cake. I use a piece of red velvet cake.” When they snort and get back to telling you what you should do, say, “I’d like to stay and chat, but I think I’m going to find some red velvet cake,” and walk off.
- Dragon Fly 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 22, 2013 — You don’t run out of corners. You turn a corner, and there’s another corner. The path is a journey with endless corners.
A load is lifted, which opens the door to additional loads. It’s great. I wouldn’t take anything for it. Life in the raw. Right here, right now. I’m loving hating it.
My situation is not your situation, yet we have the same situation. We aren’t running out of corners. We deal with this, and then we deal with that, and then there is something else to deal with. That’s how life is.
Life does not exist in some idyllic state of endless bliss. Live is endless corners. Infinite hurdles. If you can square yourself up to that, you have it made. As much as you can have it made with all the stuff you have to deal with.
- Faux Falls — An artificial waterfall at the Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 8, 2013 — There is knowing what’s what, and there is remembering what’s what. Both require distancing ourselves from what’s what on a regular basis—which is, itself, a part of what’s what.
Distance is indispensable. You have to play the part of a hermit, a recluse, an old Taoist poet in a cave on a mountain above the clouds to have a chance at knowing and remembering what’s what.
You have to withdraw, live apart, disappear. But who can do that in this time and place? We have responsibilities, duties, obligations!
One of that Holy Trinity is knowing and remembering what’s what. Fail there, and everything goes to hell.
We have to step out in order to step in. We have to build regular, repetitive retreats into our routine. They can be brief. They don’t have to be Ten Day Silent Refuges (which is overdoing a good thing). They can be ten minutes here, twenty minutes there.
You are building in vantage points, places to reflect, reconsider, review, realize and remember what’s what throughout each day.
The Army has a saying: “Deflect in place.” Leave the world without going anywhere. Seal yourself off from the insanity of your life in order to seep yourself in sanity—in knowing and remembering what’s what. In order to ground yourself, center yourself, focus yourself on what’s important here and now, and live out of that in dealing with what must be dealt with here and now.
Give yourself a Time Out. Go sit in a quiet place. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Create a grounding ritual that carries you back to the Core of who you are and what you are about. YOU are the Core! What’s what with YOU at YOUR core?
You integrate yourself within the disintegration and fragmentation of your life when you step out of that life in order to know and remember what’s what. Living within the chaos as an integrated whole has a transformative effect on everything there. And you didn’t do anything but know and remember what’s what—and live in light of it in the way only you can.
- Horseshoe Bend Panorama 01 — Page, AZ, May 17, 2010 — There are people who cannot be still because they can’t face the fear, the anxiety, the agony of not knowing who they are and what they are about. They cannot sit in the silence, listening, receiving well all that they hear, that they are aware of.
What they hear is too terrible to bear. Accusations. Questions, Doubt. Condemnation… They don’t know how to respond, what to say. They feel a desperate need to mount a defense they can’t begin to construct.
Compassion and grace, kid. Compassion and grace. Befriend the accuser. Thank him, her, for his, her, astute observations. Give him, her, the “you can’t make people skinny by telling them they are fat” line. Ask him, her, how he, she, means for his, her, approach to be helpful.
”Who in there has something to say that is helpful?” Ask that loudly, insistently. Wait for an answer.
Take the “I can’t do all of this by myself” approach. Ask for suggestions, not criticisms. Ideas, encouragement, support.
Ask, “Who in there is on my side?” See who comes forth.
Form alliances. Create an inner atmosphere of mutual consolation and collaboration. Show up for conferences on a regular basis.
When you ask for guidance, take it, trust it, rely upon it, follow it. Don’t make sport of the Inner Circle. They are your people. It they are giving you a hard time, it’s because you’ve ignored them, dissed them, repressed and suppressed them.
Carl Jung said, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” You have to bear to look—and listen—and receive well what you find there. Compassion and grace, kid. Compassion and grace.
- Goose Wars 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 7, 2013 — “Strive to do no harm” is a helpful guide to life together. We have to learn to stay out of each other’s way—and out of our own way. We cannot be imposing Democracy, or Capitalism, or Christianity (Whose idea of Christianity would that be?) on the rest of the world, or even our neighbors across the street, or even our innermost selves.
But. How do we create an environment in which everyone honors, respects, and exhibits that understanding? We have been killing people who are not like we are from the beginning. And there are more people who are not like we are than there ever have been. You see the problem. Killing people isn’t working. But. It has the momentum. How do we stop it and “let bygones be bygones,” and start over, striving to do no harm?
That would be like imposing Democracy, or Capitalism, or Christianity upon ourselves and those who are not like we are. So. We have something that isn’t working with no way to change it and we are afraid to stop it—because if we don’t kill those who are not like us, they will kill those who are not like them, and where would that leave us?
What to do? How do we get out of the mess of our own (corporately speaking—“our” is all of us, world-wide) making?
You aren’t going to like this, but it is the best I can do: One by one, we “strive to do no harm.” One by one, we stop imposing our way for the world upon the world, and stop imposing our way for ourselves on ourselves. One by one we start listening to, and collaborating with, the guidance of the inner world, of the core, of the center and ground of our own being—and trust that what is good for us at the level of our soul is good for the world.
One by one, we let soul take the lead. And see where it goes.
- Great Blue Heron Landing 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 20, 2013 — We are here to grow up, not to have our way and get what we want.
We think it’s all about having our way and getting what we want. If we can’t have our way or get what we want, why live? Why go on with it? What could life possibly hold for those who are not having their way or getting what they want?
We can think this way because we have not been properly instructed in living in service to our soul. We don’t even know how to attend our soul, how to listen to our soul, how to know what our soul would have us do in it’s service. We have work to do to get to the point of doing our work!
We have to get together with our soul before we can begin to do the work of soul. When we get together with our soul, we understand what it means to say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” It doesn’t mean what we think it means: “Give us a little red sports car, if it be thy will.”
It means that nothing is more important than doing what needs us to do it—than doing what our soul needs us to do. And it has nothing to do with having our way or getting what we want. Our way and what we want are the first things to go. Duty, Desire and Fear are the next things to go. Then, it is only us and our work.
And our work is not imposed from without. It comes forth from within, as fountain pouring forth the waters of life, in a “What I do is me/for that I came” (G.M. Hopkins) kind of way.
Get that down and you have it made.
- Green Heron Silhouette 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 20, 2013 — The unconscious is incapable of discrimination. What something is is what it is, always and forever, eternal and unchanging. It cannot be what it is and what it is not.
Consciousness can discriminate, must discriminate, cannot pretend that something is only what it is, but knows that it is also more than it is, more than it appears to be. Each thing is what it is and what it also is.
Consciousness can hold contraries, opposites, together. Unconsciousness cannot. Unconsciousness needs the discriminating power of consciousness. Consciousness needs the unifying urge of unconsciousness. It is the work of consciousness to make all things one by integrating, synthesizing, reconciling, uniting their opposites. Two (or more) becomes One.
Consciousness tends toward unconsciousness in its refusal to bear the pain of the awareness of contradiction. But consciousness has to do its work, has to BE conscious of the ways This Is Not That in order to integrate the opposites into Thou Art That.
Our symptoms are gifts from the unconscious reflecting a conflict that needs to be recognized, acknowledged and synthesized, or borne within the conscious tension of the polarities.
Our complexes are the source of our symptoms—unconscious psychological/emotional (Where DOES that line lie?) bruises triggered into life by some present experience, and physically we return to the initiating experience as though Now Is Then—and we have to make it all conscious, remembering and discriminating, making the One into Two (or more)–That was then, This is now—and consciously integrating all into I/Me, Here/Now.
There are no shortcuts or quick fixes for making the unconscious conscious and healing the wounds within. Consciousness has to realize the nature of its task and enter into its work with compassion and patience, grace and courage—for the inner world depends upon our being lights in the darkness, to restore and make well.
We serve more than our own ideas of success and security. We are all the saviors of our own inner world.
- Used in Short Talks On Good and Bad Religion–Mallard Landing 10 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 14, 2013 — The Gospel without doctrine or theology is the raw experience of grace at work in our life.
When you try to explain the raw experience of grace at work in your life, and make it available to everyone by telling them exactly what they must do and believe in order to experience it, you get doctrine and theology.
You could talk about grace without becoming doctrinal or theological, but you would have to be poetic and metaphorical.
Sheldon Kopp observed, “Some things can be experienced but not understood, and some things can be understood but not explained.” Grace is one of those things.
The raw experience of grace at work in our life is the ground of all good religion. Explanation and exhortation is the ground of all bad religion.
If you want to be religious in the best sense of the word, put yourself in the path of the raw experience of grace. And don’t try to say what happened.
Grace is the full experience of the right time meeting up with the right place in the right way to stun you with the wonder of the impact.
To put yourself in the path of that kind of experience, you have to try new things, shake up your life, see everything you look at as though for the first time, open yourself to wonder. And delight.
To experience grace, you have to be able to experience your life. All of it. If you are closed off to your experience, grace has no chance.
Grace is more than words can say, more than can be said. You can’t explain right time, right place, right way. You woulda hadda been there.
- Rose of Sharon 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 20, 2013 — What you look for determines what you see. If you are looking for spider webs or flowers, you are going to see spider webs and flowers—and you are going to miss the Blue Heron when it flies and the Green Heron when it lands.
If you are looking for sunsets, you are going to miss the owl catching dinner in the woods.
Our looking carries us to what we seek, and past what we are not interested in.
I walk slowly along a boardwalk. My wife walks slowly through clothing stores.
The questions we are asking limit the answers that engage us.
We have to expand our vision if we are to see more than the world of our everyday.
Start looking to see what else—what all—there may be to be to catch your eye, speak to your soul, transform your life.
- The Web — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 20, 2013 — You have observed the life of those whose orientation is toward getting, having, owning, possessing, amassing, controlling, guarding, protecting, defending…
And, you have observed the life of those whose orientation is toward giving, sharing, supplying, awarding, granting, bestowing, conferring, offering, blessing, providing…
What conclusions do you draw from your observations?
How are you applying what you have observed to the way you are living your life?
- Goldenrod 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 22, 2013 — We only have to know what we know and do what needs to be done about it. There is nothing more to it than that. That’s all it comes down to. What makes that so hard?
We are always selling ourselves short. We can’t this. We can’t that. Poor, poor us. All we have are these eyes, and these ears, and these hands, and the world is so big and mean… Wanh, wanh, wanh…
We’re lazy. Undisciplined. Lethargic. We live in search of the right kind of Mama, the right kind of Daddy, who will dote over us, dole out to us, and take care of us the way we want to be taken care of, like the over-grown two-year-olds we are.
Anything but growing up and living our own life within the nature and circumstances of life as it is every day for the rest of the time left for living!
Listen. To. Me. We have to know what we know and do what needs to be done about it.
Knowing what we know means seeing things as they are. It means paying attention. Being attentive. Being aware. Of the outer world and of the inner world in every moment. It means seeing, hearing and understanding. It means being perceptive. It means listening, looking and making inquiries. It means being curious and inquisitive.
It means comprehending our dreams and our symptoms, our daydreams and our fantasies. It means noticing every time we dismiss something, discount something, ignore something. It means reading the world, other people and ourselves like we might read the face of our heart’s true love.
Knowing what we know means knowing all we know and aren’t conscious of. It means making the unconscious conscious to the extent that can be done.
Doing what needs to be done about it means doing what needs to be done about it.
That’s all there is to it.
- Tricolored Heron in Flight 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 14, 2013 — Self-reflection is our primary tool. This is different from always second-guessing ourselves, or being self-conscious and afraid to act.
Being self-conscious in the way the term is generally used (in the Deep South) is to be self-critical—it is to engage in self-torture, self-censure, and self-condemnation.
When we are conscious of being who we are, where we are, when we are, why we are, how we are, we are conscious of being self-conscious, and catch ourselves in the act of imposing stern judgment and disapproval.
To be self-conscious in the sense of being self-reflective is to be self-aware—knowing who we are, where we are, how we are, etc., here and now, in the present moment of our living.
To be self-reflective is to see ourselves in relation to all else in our life—to observe ourselves in action without critique.
To be self-reflective is to be curious: “I wonder why I do that? I wonder what would happen if I did something else instead?”
To be self-reflective is to know what our patterns are, and to get to the bottom of them all. What’s going on? Why this and not that?
If we are going to live out of the core, grounded and centered in who we are, we are going to have to get to the bottom of us, which means being interested in what we do and why we do it.
Curiosity, not judgment. Inquiry, not inquisition. Self-reflection.
- Great Blue Heron — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 21, 2013 — Four equals two, two equals one. The dialectic is thesis plus antithesis equaling synthesis. We think it equals war.
Dialectic, to our way of thinking is argument producing a clear winner and a clear loser—as though that settles something.
The dialectic is actually conversation that takes into account the one and the other to produce harmony, reconciliation, integration, synthesis and wholeness.
We are talking about you and yourself, yourselves, here. You and your partner/spouse. You and your friends. You and your parents. You and your in-laws or their equivalent. Democrats and Republicans. The United States and the rest of the world, or any one nation and all the other nations…
Wherever there is a conflict of interest, and what other kind of conflict is there, there is the opportunity for the healing dialogue, dialectic. And the opportunity for war.
We choose war because we’re stupid.
Waking up is waking up to our stupidity and choosing to be vulnerable instead. “Put away your swords.” Beautiful words ignored by those who post armed guards in worship services, and everywhere else.
We catch an aroma of biscuits fresh from the oven and we think we’ve eaten breakfast. We act as though we are not starving. Ignoring the truth that inasmuch as we have done it to anyone, we have done it to ourselves.
Thou Art That, said the old Zen monk.
One is two. Two is four. Four is all there is. If you are One, you are everyone. Ever. Always. And you have no real interest to call your own. And the world is healed by your presence, even though you do nothing out of the ordinary.
But, don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. You’ll see.
- Heron with Catch — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 14, 2013 — There is what happens to us, and there is how we interpret what happens to us, and there is what we do in response to what happens to us.
We control two out of three.
Our life is in our hands.
We are the only constant in all of our experiences with our life. The other players change over time.
Our life is in our hands.
You would think we would think about the part we play in creating the life we are living. And experiment with different responses to the same old same old, just to see what impact that might have.
Our life is in our hands.
Our opinion of things can prevent us from responding appropriately to things. It doesn’t matter what you think about each hard ground ball. It matters that you field the ball and make the proper play.
Our life is in our hands.
We keep waiting for some external shift in our circumstances to make all things swell. All of the internal switches are within our reach.
Our life is in our hands.
Waiting for us to stand up and do what we know needs to be done in each situation as it arises throughout the time left for living—so it can do hand stands and back flips, and tell us how proud it is of us, and how it was betting on us all the time.
- Into Zion — Zion National Park, Springdale, UT, May 19, 2010 — Consciousness discriminates and differentiates. Consciousness sees what it sees here and now, without confusing this with that or now with then. Consciousness draws lines. Sets things apart. Deals with this the way this needs to be dealt with and doesn’t continue to split wood and stack it when it moves into a house with gas heat.
Unconsciousness falls short on all of these assignments. It is all one blurry, indistinguishable blob with unconsciousness. Unconsciousness associates explosions with the unspeakable horror of battlefields and cannot go near fireworks displays when peace is declared and celebrations begin.
Then is always now with the unconscious. What happened is always happening. If there is anything about This to remind the unconscious of That—to flash the unconscious back to That—then, This IS That, and we must respond Now as we did Then.
We can live consciously or we can live unconsciously. We can live with consciousness directing our life, or we can live with unconsciousness directing our life. But. We cannot live consciously without making the unconscious conscious—without experiencing the agony of repressed, or suppressed, emotions, and very deliberately acknowledging their impact, and putting them ever so gently in their place, and taking the time to tend them kindly when something brings them to life, igniting old memories and requiring us to consciously tend the wounds and hurts that are with us always, but are very much then and there, not here and now.
If we are going to live consciously, we cannot be in a hurry. We cannot “get over” some of the things that have happened to us, but must bear them well—bear them consciously—to keep them from contaminating our present with continued intrusions of the past.
- Thinking About Dinner — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 23, 2013 — Embrace vulnerability. Practice vulnerability. Dance with vulnerability.
What do you think you have to lose? lose it and you are safe at last.
We put all of our energy into guarding and protecting our interest, which is really nothing more than our way. We confuse having our way with our best interest—ignoring the possibility that having our way may not at all be in our best interest.
It could be that what is in our best interest is learning to live vulnerably.
For one thing, we cannot be intimate until we can be vulnerable. We cannot be compassionate, merciful, empathetic, kind, generous, gracious, etc., until we can be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the hinge upon which a life of true value turns, the ground in which a life of true value is rooted.
Everything rests upon our willingness to be as vulnerable as we are.
I don’t mean be stupid. I mean stop being stupid by trying to live your life while avoiding the blows and wounds of living.
James Hollis says, “Suffering awaits no matter what choices we make. The suffering of authentic choices, however at least gives a person a meaning, which the various flights from suffering we undertake deny. One form of suffering enlarges, one diminishes; one reveres the life which wishes to be expressed through us and one colludes in its sabotage.”
Waking up is waking up to the importance of vulnerability and stepping into our life laughing at the idea that we can be safe from the vicissitudes of time and circumstance.
- Blue Winged Teal Taking Off 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 25, 2013 — We have to live out of our own authority. We draw our own lines. We set our own boundaries. We choose our own direction. We decide what we say yes to, and no to. We live our own life. We are responsible for ourselves.
It takes a lot of soul searching to be who we are, where we are, when we are, how we are—to rise to every occasion and respond appropriately to each situation as it arises.
We have to wake up to do that, and waking up is a lot more involved than setting the alarm clock before we go to sleep.
Waking up is showing up. We had rather not. Better to be unaware, unconscious, tuned out, numbed out, not here, not now, somewhere else, anywhere else, but here, now.
James Hollis says, “We are here to be HERE, to go through it all, and to retain our dignity, purpose, and values as best we can. That is all we can do, and all that life can ever ask of us.”
Nobody can do that for us. No one can tell us what to do, when, how, for how long. We listen to our own soul for courage, guidance and direction, and decide for ourselves what it means to be alive, and what we need to do about it in the time left for living.
- Tricolored Heron in Flight 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 26, 2013 — We have this idea that there is someone to please, someone who must be happy with us or else. Wonder where that came from.
Bad preaching is the root of all our ills.
Take a baby, any baby. All that baby needs is some guidance regarding how to be who she, who he, is within the terms and conditions of her, of his, life.
How to take ourselves into account to the same degree that we take everyone else into account—how to accord other people the same respect and concern for their unfolding and becoming as we devote to our own.
How to commune with our soul. How to value and develop our sense of what resonates with us and what does not (We know bad preaching when we hear it, but we override our own resistance and submit to misdirection and destructive instruction because we weren’t taught to listen to our inner sense of what is right for us and what is wrong for us, and trade our own personal authority for a bowl of cold oatmeal.
And spend the rest of our life trying to get back to who we were and what we knew when we were born.
- Great Blue Heron 09 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 26, 2013 — I have a friend who says (shouts): “Live without ANSWERS!”
Could be a bumper sticker.
”Everybody’s looking for answers,” said Ulysses Everett McGill in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
We think answers are the ticket to a better life. If we only knew the answers we could find our way to making sense of things and knowing what to do about them to get them to go our way.
We are always thinking about having our way. We never think about changing it, having some other way instead. Never crosses our mind.
We could handle life a lot better if we just had some answers. We could turn things our way if we just had the answer to how to go about doing that.
So, we set out to find the answers and keep multiplying the questions. You’d think we would set that quest aside and take up another one, like how to live without answers.
There is not much to it. Pick up the next thing that needs doing and do it without needing to know why. What’s so hard about that? Don’t even pause to answer the question. Go pick up the next thing that needs doing and do it the way it needs to be done. And see where it goes.
- Heron Landing 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 26, 2013 — It helps to have no opinion about anything, but I have an opinion about having an opinion. I certainly have an opinion regarding sickness and health, and lots of other things as well. In-laws, for example.
Having no opinion about anything would be like being dead. But, you would feel no pain. But, you would be dead.
How about this: Have extreme opinions about very few things.
An extreme opinion is one that causes you to lose your peace.
There are things worth losing our peace over, but not as many things as we generally think.
We each have to decide for ourselves what they are—no one can tell us what is worth losing our peace over.
- Two Ducks Landing — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 25, 2013 — When things don’t click into place, we are left with working with them as they are, to see what can be done with these facts, this reality, here and now.
The here and now is persistent and demanding—insisting that we take it into account and deal with it, never minding how we wish it were or want it to be.
You have all the makings of a major league baseball player, speed, talent, power on both sides of the plate, great arm from the out field, but. You can’t hit a curve ball. You may coach baseball at the high school or college level, but you won’t play baseball in the major leagues. That’s how it is.
Just because you have a dream doesn’t mean it will be your life. Doors will not magically open because you have a dream. People will not rush to your side, picking up after you, sweeping the way before you, asking, “Mr. Dollar, how can we be of help to you today?”
You’ll have to face up to and find ways of handling all that stands in your way, forcing detours, U-turns, reversals, and new plans of action, new ways of approaching your life and your future. A thousand manifestations of the Cyclops stretch out before you, waiting their turn. You have to take them as they come. There is no one to step into your life for you to give you a break.
Our life is working our life into being as it can be within the context and circumstances of our living.
Our life is our practice. We live our life taking care of business, dealing with all the things that interfere with, that inhibit, our life.
If we can’t play baseball, maybe we can coach it. If we can’t coach baseball, maybe we can volunteer to help show a Little League team how to slide into second, or throw to the plate from the outfield. Maybe there is a place for us in baseball other than playing.
It is our work to find what we can do, and do it, in living our life as it is able to be lived, in and around the terms and conditions that define our here and now, throughout the time left for living.
- Tricolored Heron Mirror 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 29, 2013 — How do you attend your soul? How do you commune with your soul? How do you sense soul’s drift? Know where soul belongs and has no business being?
It takes focus to live at one with our soul. We have to practice being present with our soul—attentive, aware.
Play the game of following your best guess about what your soul would have you do, and see where it goes.
Trust that you will learn to be a better guesser over time.
Remember: No one is taking names, giving grades, calling your parents, handing out citations, making arrests, issuing sentences, hauling you off to jail. You have nothing to lose. Guess away!
Play your way into being your soul’s best friend.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Green Heron in Flight 15 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — Our life is a dance with ambivalence and contraries, contradictions and opposites. What we want is blocked by what we also want, and we have to decide what we want.
We live within the tension of polarities. On the one hand this, on the other hand that, and on still another hand, that over there.
It’s a trade-off. We give up this to get that.
The monkey with its hand in the coconut has to let go of the marble in order to be free, but it wants the marble, and sacrifices its freedom in the trees for a life behind glass or bars.
We have to sit down with ourselves and choose what we are going to love and what we are going to let go. Because we are kidding ourselves if we think we can have it all.
This is called growing up. Growing up will break your heart. Refusing to grow up will kill your soul. You have to choose, sitting there in the jungle with your hand in the coconut clutching the marble, what it’s going to be—what sacrifice you are going to make: Your heart, or your soul.
This choice is the ground of every rite of initiation. You leave Mama and step into the world to fend for yourself and find your way on your own. Heart says, “MAMA!” Soul says, “Are you coming or what?”
When we make the choice for soul, we discover that we were only alone in making the choice. Once the choice is made, we are not alone at all. We are in the company of soul and all of soul’s friends, and have only to tend that relationship to find what we need to do what needs us to do it all our life long.
But. The choices keep coming up. Heart or Soul? We grow up again and again all the way.
- Used in Short Talks On Good and Bad Religion — Pecking Order — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 23, 2013 — We are distracted by the 10,000 things. Our life is one distraction after another. We cannot be centered, grounded and focused because of all the things coming at us from every side at all times. The entire culture is suffering from Attention Defect Disorder. We all need what true religion has always offered: Nothing!
How much of Nothing! can you stand, for how long?
Work to increase your tolerance for Nothing! in your life. It won’t cost anything, and you can practice it anywhere. And it will open you to Everything! in ways you have never thought of anything.
But, don’t take my word for it. Discover the worlds awaiting when you sit still and do Nothing!
- Blue Winged Teal in Flight — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 25, 2013 — In waking up, we separate ourselves from our way, and recognize that how we want things to be has nothing to do with how they need to be.
In order to see, we have to see beyond ourselves—we have to see more than meets the eye.
We live best when we get out of the way and allow our life to live itself through is—when we participate in, collaborate with, our life.
Learning to live well is learning to see, hear, and understand what is happening and what needs to be done about it.
The thrust of the culture is toward how to get what we want. The focus of the culture is having our way. Nothing could be more detrimental to us or the culture.
Our life exists apart from us. We do not create it for ourselves. We do not decide what we want and live in light of that.
What wants us is the question—not what we want. What claims us in such a way that we sacrifice everything we thought we wanted to serve it?
What owns us? To what do we belong? Are we owned by the thing which has actual rights to us? Do we belong to that which is our proper owner? Do we know who our Daddy/Momma is?
Who is your Daddy? Who is your Momma? If you don’t know that, you are an orphan, lost and alone in a life you have to make up for yourself.
Look at what you are living for, at what you are living to do, and ask if that needs to be done and if it needs you to do it.
If you are living to be entertained—if you are living to take your mind off your life—you could do with a search for your Daddy, your Momma.
We live the life that is ours to live by being owned by what has an authentic claim to us—by aligning ourselves with and living in the service of the life that needs us to live it.
if you are looking for a mission, finding and living that life is it.
- Tricolored Heron Silhouette 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — We have to suffer the pain. This is called picking up our own cross and carrying it daily. It is the cross of our life—of the life we are living and of the life that is ours to live within the life we are living.
It is the cross of growing up. It is the cross of squaring ourselves up with the difference, the discrepancy, the discordance between the way things are and the way we wish things were, the way we want things to be.
There is no escape from the legitimate suffering that comes with being alive—with facing what must be faced and doing what needs to be done about it.
This is the agony of “The Terrible Twos” which we never outgrow. It is not the child at two who is terrible, but the reality the child has to come to terms with.
The child at two is facing the terrible nature of the way that is not his, is not her, way—and is having to square himself, herself, up with what is being asked of him, of her. That work continues throughout the child’s life.
It is a terrible thing to have to choose between what you want and what needs you to want it. We have to suffer the pain. We have to do what is ours to do. And we have to do it in the spirit, in the way, with which it needs to be done—not all pouty, sour and begrugingly, but fully participating in the rightness of our action regardless of how we feel about it.
Everything rides on our living our life out the way it needs to be lived out—the way it needs us to live it out.
Everyone who has ever known anything has known it comes down to the spirit with which we live our life—the life we are living and the life that needs us to live it within the life we are living.
It’s always only a matter of the spirit with which you get up and do what needs to be done, and do what needs to be done after that. Get that down and you have it made.
- Mallard Landing 12 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — Spin it! Spin it! Spin it! In ways that serve your peace and well-being!
What something means is what you say it means—THAT’s how it impacts you, and how something impacts you determines what is called forth in you. How you respond to the event depends upon the meaning you ascribe to the event, upon what you say about it, upon how you spin it.
Nothing “is what it is.” Everything is how we understand it to be. How we perceive it. What we say about it. How we spin it.
Spin it in ways that propel you into a liveable future! Spin it in ways that springboard you into meaning and purpose, direction and aspiration, determination and hope—and into a life well-lived.
- Green Heron Leaving — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 22, 2013 — I don’t care what you believe or what you say you’ll do. I care about what you do.
Can you do it? is the question.
Can you deal with the termites that eat away at your life—the life you are living and the life that you are asked to bring forth within the life you are living?
Can you deal with the distractions, and frustrations, and disappointments, and failures, and responsibilities, and duties, and pressures, and, and, and…AND live the life that you are living, AND bring forth the life that is yours to live within the life you are living?
These questions take us to the heart of the matter, and require us to live the answers, not speak them.
- Owlisthentics 01 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 22, 2013 — We don’t want to face what is to be faced.
Col. Nathan R. Jessup, the Jack Nicholson character in “A Few Good Men,” nailed us with his, “You can’t handle the truth!” line.
We. Can’t. Handle. The. Truth. In any form.
The culture and the economy (Where DOES that line lie?) are based on keeping us safe from the truth, and offer us an ever new and improved line of escapes, diversions and distractions—and we, in turn, offer it/them our money and our life.
To take back our life from the Never-Never-Land of illusion, delusion and denial, we have to wake up, stand up, grow up, and face up to the truth of who we are, and how it is with us, and what is ours to do about it. And do it.
It doesn’t get any harder.
All we want is someone to take our troubles away.
It starts right here. Our troubles are ours to deal with, solve, resolve, work out, handle, manage, oversee, and take care of. And we never run out of them.
But, they will lead us, if we let them, into the wonder of who we are—and also are—and force us to bring forth qualities we didn’t know we had, and introduce us to resources we we didn’t know were available, and lead us along a way we didn’t know existed, and serve us as a threshold to a life and a world we didn’t know were possible.
All we want is someone to take our troubles away—and our troubles are the path to life, and light, and peace beyond imagining.
- Great Blue Heron in Flight 02 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — The culture is no help when it comes to meaning and purpose, to zeal, zest and passion for life. We do those things on our own.
The first step is to stop doing all the things that interfere with our experience of meaning and purpose, and inhibit our living with zeal, zest and passion for life. The culture is good for interference.
To move toward ourselves is to move away from the culture. To be immersed in the culture is to be lost to ourselves.
It is not enough to move away from the culture. We have to move toward ourselves. When we sit, we sit with ourselves. When we listen, we listen to ourselves. When we look, we look at ourselves.
We observe ourselves without censure, without judgement. Just seeing, just hearing, just understanding.
Where do we find our peace? What do we revere? What do we do that we love? How often do we do it? Where do we belong? How often do we go there?
Where are we stuck? What are our excuses? What are the questions we are not asking? What are the things we keep doing that aren’t working? The things we keep saying are true that aren’t so?
it takes paying attention to ourselves to know these things and move toward ourselves and away from the diversions and distractions of the culture.
- Tricolored Heron Silhouette — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — Detox your life. That’s my best advice. And start with the small things. Salt. Quit adding salt to anything. And commercials. Mute commercials.
Work your way up to people who are not good for you. Get them out of your life.
And the people who are not good for you who you cannot get out of your life, like your boss? When you cannot distance yourself physically, distance yourself emotionally.
We all have to live in a toxic environment on some level, but we all can disappear ourselves from every environment without going anywhere.
But oh! Our responsibilities! Our duties! Our obligations!
That’s what I’m saying. Our responsibilities, duties and obligations keep us in place physically, so we have to disappear in order to fulfill our responsibilities, duties and obligations to our heart and soul.
You are going to neglect some responsibility in order to serve another. Neglect the right responsibility, is what I’m saying. Fulfill it only to the degree that you must, then disappear.
In order to pull this off, detoxing your life, you are going to have to pay attention to what is good for you and what is bad. People who claim to be your family are often the ones who are bad for you. They understand the term “family” on a purely biological level. Jesus puts them in their place: “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins and great-uncles? Those who understand the will of one greater than they are and serve it with their life!” Or words to that effect.
Find who your people are. Hang out with them. Steer clear of the toxic personalities who violate your boundaries and make off with your life. Spend time with those who receive you well and honor your life.
You are already breathing easier, aren’t you, just thinking about it.
- Green Heron Silhouette — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 23, 2013 — If you’re doing whitewater rafting or kayaking, you don’t say, “Where did all this white water come from? What are all these boulders doing in my way? Why do the obstacles and difficulties and problems keep coming at me?”
Your life is a whitewater run.
It will teach you how to stay upright and afloat most of the time—if you settle into where you are and how things are and live with your eyes open.
- Crow in Flight Silhouette — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, July 31, 2013 — We are not here to be entertained. We are not born to hang out at the mall until we die. We do not belong in lives that are too shallow to splash. There is more to us than meets the eye—any eye.
The more we see, the more there is to be seen. We are infinite with only a lifetime to experience and bring forth—to bring forth and experience—who we are, and who we also are.
We are burning daylight thinking we are tourists wondering what’s for lunch.
Wake up! Tell yourself every time you look into a mirror. Wake up! See what you look at! Feel what you feel! Taste what you taste! Touch what you touch! Smell what you smell! Hear what you listen to! Experience what you experience! Notice what you discount and dismiss! Pay attention to your life—it will teach you everything you need to know!
Living is the lesson. Life is the teacher. Show up and pay attention. Every moment of every day.
- Green Heron in Flight 13 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 9, 2013 — Meet fear with courage. It’s the only thing to do.
Remember the Wizard of Oz. The lion developed courage by acting courageously. He faked it. Pretended. Acted as though. He wasn’t courageous until he behaved courageously.
Be afraid. Be terrified. Shake in your boots. Act courageously.
That’s all there is to it.
Pretend you are in a movie, playing a role that calls for you to be courageous, in a situation that horrifies you. Play the role courageously. Convincingly. Win an Oscar.
Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
- Tricolored Heron in Flight 11 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — People are those who think I should live according to their ideas for my life. My people are those who are quite willing for me to live according to my ideas for my life.
If you compute the number of people in your life and the number of your people, you will find that your people are vastly out-numbered. But, you have exactly the right number to counteract the weight of the vast majority, and to provide you with the support you need in determining the pace and course of your own life.
It is important to know who your people are, and to spend time with them. They are an oasis on the journey, assisting with recovery and reorientation, and say, in effect, “You’re doing fine! Live on! Live on!”
Words we need to hear in order to step back into the work that is ours to do, amid the swell of those who think we should do it differently, or not at all.
- Heron Landing Mirror — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 31, 2013 — When it becomes apparent that nobody has your back, and you are alone with the work of arranging a livable future, you are not alone.
This is where the Invisible World shines. It is filled with—“people” won’t quite do it—characters who are not only on your side, but also are dedicated to the task of assisting you with your task. All you have to do is ask for help with your work—in the spirit of one who is completely committed to the work—and help is delivered, in unexpected, surprising, amazing ways.
Trust that it will be so, and get out of the way. It is already on the way before you ask—waiting for your help in welcoming it into your life and assisting IT in doing the work of helping you do your work. Perhaps, to your own shock and consternation.
When you enter into cahoots with the inner world, you step into a different world—where up is down, and right is left, and wrong is right, and nothing is as you would expect—where, when you are thinking one thing, you find another—and don’t know enough to rule anything out, but have to play along in a “Thy will, not mine be done,” kind of way, and trust yourself to the flow of your life even when it means swimming against the current of how you think things should be.
Welcome to Wonder Land! Let’s play ball!
- King of the Pond — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 23, 2013 — No matter how long we live, we will still be growing up when we die—and we will have longer to go than we’ve gone. That’s what eternity is for, and it won’t be long enough.
Everything is a potential threshold to a larger, deeper, more compassionate, kinder, gentler, more gracious—and more persistently insistent on things being as they need to be—us.
May we live to make it so!
May we miss no opportunities to grow up and be who we need to be in each situation as it arises—whether we want to or not!
- Bog Buddies — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 31, 2013 — Everyone who knows, knows the same thing. Everyone who knows, resonates with the same understanding. Everyone who knows, sees with the same perspective.
For example: A man came to Jesus whining about his brother not being fair with him, and Jesus said, “What business is that of mine? You have to work out your own problems!” or words to that effect.
Everyone who knows knows what their business is and isn’t, and what is theirs to work out and what belongs to someone else to work out.
Or, as the tee shirt slogan says, “Let me drop what I’m doing and take care of YOUR problems for YOU!”
- Joe Pye Weed — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 7, 2013 — Pay attention to the right things! It takes a lifetime, sometimes, to know what the right things are.
We can shorten the time by paying attention to the things we pay attention to—by thinking about the things we think about—and wondering, “Why this and not that?”
Are we interested in the things we think about, or stuck with them—glued to them—as though they are the only things to think about, and we would never think about thinking about anything else instead?
Try thinking about something else instead. What would you start with? What would be on your list: Things to Think About That I Have Never Thought About? Why those things and not some other things?
We are slowly digging around in where your interest lies, stirring things up, turning over the mulch pile, bringing hidden things to light—to life, raising the dead.
We only have the time left for living to pay attention to the things that are dying for lack of attention. The degree to which we do that will tell the tale.
- Great Blue Heron 06 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 10, 2013 — What is called for? Do it!
Whether you want to or not!
- Mallard in Flight 111 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 13, 2013 — What is called for is calling us to grow up.
What is called for is calling for us to do what needs to be done—what needs us to do it—whether we want to or not. Whether we are in the mood to do it or not. Whether we feel like it or not. Whether it is in our best interest or not. Whether…
What is called for is calling for us to lay aside our plans, hopes, dreams, aspirations, desires, aims and ambitions, and give ourselves to its service in a “thy will, not mine be done,” kind of way.
When we get out of our way, we become the Christ. And we know what happened to him.
- Mallard in Flight 112 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 25, 2013 — Can you do it? is the question.
Can you face what is to be faced and do what is to be done about it?
Can you do what is called for in each situation as it unfolds, arises, no matter what, one situation after another all your life long?
Can you put yourself aside in serving what has need of you—in living the life that needs you to live it—regardless of what that might to to the life of your dreams?
Can you stop fantasizing about what is easy, and about how you wish things were, and start squaring up to how things are, and what that means for you, and how you need to respond to it in the here and now of your living?
A determined, committed, “YES!” to these questions is the threshold to LIFE beyond imagining. The key is the courage to open the door.
- Mallard in Flight 113 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 31, 2013 — Sheldon Kopp said, “We all have something precious to offer—something that exists in no one else. When we turn lovingly toward whatever stirs our hearts, our personal treasures are revealed…”
We have to trust ourselves. One overlooked aspect of growing up is coming to the place of trusting ourselves at last—finally giving ourselves over to ourselves and saying something on the order of, “Okay! Fine! See what you can do! Just tell me what you need! I’m here to help you every way I can!”
Of course, we have to mean it. We have to get out of the way, and trust ourselves to lead the way, so that we might find the way that has been right there all the while we dismissed it, looking, as we are wont to do, for some other, bigger, finer, brighter way instead. That’s the way it is with ways that are ours and not ours.
We have to trust ourselves to ourselves, and let our life become what it is trying to be.
- Mallard in Flight 114 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 31, 2013 — Sheldon Kopp reminds us that “when we avoid revealing our true selves others,” we often forget who we are—and have a hard time remembering.
Kopp says, “Once we begin to risk living openly and in good faith, we may lose interest in trying to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, and get on with living a life that is worthwhile (and meaningful) to us, regardless of what it might mean to others.”
We cannot find our way to the path with our name on it without embracing our vulnerability and betting everything on The One Who Knows Within—and trusting Him/Her with our life in a “thy will, not mine, be done” kind of way.
It’s not that we know what we are doing. It is that we don’t have a clue, and know it—in feeling our way forward from one situation as it arises, unfolds, to the next, doing what is right for us—what we feel is called for—in each situation, and letting the outcome be the outcome—which will bring forth our own truth with increasing clarity over time.
The more we live in light of our own truth, the more it will become clear to us, and the way that is our way will open before us, one situation at a time.
- Mallard Ovation — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 30, 2013 — All this “personal growth” we’ve been hearing about, and undertaking, all these years? It’s really only “growing up.”
There is no growth other than growing up. As we grow up, we face things as they are—we see what we are looking at—we listen to what we are hearing—we know how things are and how they also are (which is how they are), and what needs to be done about it with the gifts we have to offer, in each situation as it unfolds, arises, and we do it.
One thing leads to another, and we live out our life, sizing up and responding to each situation as it unfolds/arises—growing up more with each one—becoming more who we are and less who we are not—realizing the truth of Jung’s dictum: “We are who we always have been, and who we will be,” to our surprise, delight and amazement.
So. That’s the paradigm. Where do we start? Exactly where we are!
The path always begins under our feet.
We think, of course, that “nothing good can come from Nazareth,” forgetting that “the stone the builders reject becomes the chief cornerstone.”
We think we can’t do anything with this old sorry life, with these old sorry choices, and this old sorry future. We think we have to have a bigger, better, finer life, with bigger, better, finer choices and a bigger, better, finer future. And sit, helplessly, wistfully, wishing for some fairy godmother, some genie out of a bottle, to appear and give us the right start so that we can finally “be somebody instead of this bum, which is what (we are).”
Well. Who wouldn’t be better off with better choices? With better parents and a better place of origin? But. We are all where we are. And this is where it begins, here and now.
So, start with your attitude, with your perspective. It is never what happens to you. It is always the spin you give it, the way you interpret it, the meaning you ascribe to it, that determines your lot—that opens you up to your future, or closes you off from it.
The truth is the bed you slept in last night and the world you woke up to this morning. How are you going to see it, understand it, interpret it, spin it? What are you going to do with it? About it?
You are the magic. You are the wizard. You are what you have been waiting for to come make your life grand. Stop making excuses. Get with the program. Do your thing as only you can do it with the resources available to you right here, right now, and see what happens.
- White Heron — Lake Daniels, Greensboro, NC, September 12, 2013 — We all would do better if we had the right kind of help, but until that comes along, we are left with helping ourselves.
We help ourselves by not being stupid.
By not forcing into place the things we wish were in place.
By not expecting things to be different than they are.
By taking our consolation where we find it.
By giving ourselves a time out and closing the door, even it it is only the door to the bathroom.
By recognizing that it is always up to us to step forward to meet what is on the other side of the door, and do what we can with it.
By remembering the Four Rules of Life:
1) Show up.
2) Be aware of how things are and how things also are.
3) Be true to yourself.
4) Don’t take it seriously.
- White Heron 02 — Cane Creek Lake, Lancaster County, SC, September 16, 2013 — We come to life in the work to reconcile, integrate, make our peace with the opposites, dichotomies, conflicts and polarities in our lives. With nothing to stir us to life, we are mostly dead.
Yet, we live to be conflict free. “All we ever wanted is smooth and easy,” is an AA assessment of where we have to get to work: Coming to terms with that which is fundamentally contrary to our desires: It isn’t smooth and it isn’t easy.
We don’t want anything to do with the path to life. Let us live out our life with “nothing but the dead and dying…in our little town”!
We begin the lifelong work of being alive by grappling with the unwelcome realization that how things are isn’t how we want things to be. Once we make our peace with that, we have it made—as much as we can have it made with things not going our way all the way along the way.
All of our trouble with our troubles can be traced to our refusal to reconcile ourselves to having to do the work of reconciliation from birth to death.
What do you not want about your life today? Step into it and do what you can about it. There will be something else tomorrow, or maybe by lunchtime.
If you can square yourself up to it not being the way you want it to be, the Cyclops will lose its power over you, and it will be a long smooth and easy ride through the bumps, drop-offs, twists and turns—as you become who you are by dealing with all you don’t want to do.
- Light and Shadow — Virgin River, Zion National Park, near Springdale, UT, May 21, 2010 — People who have no life spend their time calling/texting one another asking, “What are you doing?”
Doing is a substitute for living, and doing nothing is not allowed.
The kind of doing that is an expression of being comes forth from nothing. Every creative act is creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing—out of stillness, out of silence, out of reflection, contemplation, meditation. Out of prayer.
We think of prayer as asking for something or as thanking/praising for something so that we can ask for something else. Prayer is perception.
Prayer is perceiving how things are in their allness—receiving well the world and ALL that is therein—and what needs to be done about it.
Appropriate action proceeds from this kind of praying. The seeing, sensing, feeling kind of praying, which is the foundation of doing. We pray by seeing things as they are and what needs to be done about it, and then we act, we do, in response to the prayer.
Prayer is the intentional connection with the Seer within—the first step in the three step, collaborative, process of Seeing, Being, Doing.
At-one with the inner, invisible, unconscious, world, we live and act in the outer world as visible expressions of invisible grace. We incarnate transcendent reality.
We become thresholds, openings, apertures to numinous wonder—to more than meets the eye—to more than words can say—blessing the world with lives that are sacraments to all that is holy, rendering absurd, if not obscene, the question, “Whacha doin’?”
- Mallard in Flight 115 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — We pay a price for knowing what we know. And, if we don’t pay a price for knowing what we know, we pay a price for knowing what we know.
And if that is all double talk and Dollaresque for you, try this:
True religion is what remains when we remove doctrine and theology from religion.
When we remove doctrine and theology, we are left with the raw experience of what has been called God, but which I refer to as numinous reality—because God has been reduced to the doctrinal orthodoxy of Protestant Christianity and we need to realize that God cannot be constrained to our ideas of God, but is eternally breaking out of prison, so to speak, to startle and confound, and send the people in search of new ways to understand their experience and live in light of it in the time left for living.
- Great Blue Heron In Flight 04 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — Those of us who don’t pay a price for knowing what we know pay the price of not knowing anything worth knowing.
We know only what someone has told us.
Everything we know about God, for instance, comes out of some old Book of Doctrine, out of some old Catechism—as though the questions and answers it offers are the only questions and answers to be asked and answered—and doesn’t—because it cannot—touch the periphery of Truth, which is beyond words, and incapable of being said by answers or asked by questions.
The Truth of an apple pie is known only in the eating. You can read a recipe all you want, and form denominations and non-denominations built on The Right Way To Believe About Apple Pie, but you won’t know anything about apple pies until you eat a fair sampling and form your own opinion.
The God who is God lives in exile in some forgotten Land of Promise, while the people dance and bow before the latest incarnation of their idea of God—killing and shunning and shaming in the name of their idea of God—and paying the price of paying no price for knowing what they know.
- Abandoned B&W — Lancaster County, SC, September 17, 2013 — The meandering of the river is no threat to the sea.
Think of the river as your life. Think of the sea as you waking up.
There is no such thing as a mistake when there is nothing but mistakes, and every mistake leads you to a different turn, and each turn wakes you up.
We think it is about our everlasting convenience, comfort and pleasure. It’s about waking up.
The Cyclops is a necessary component in our understanding how things are (which includes how things also are), knowing what to do about it, and doing it in each situation as it arises, unfolds, all our life long.
We can never take everything into account because there is always something we have no way of knowing—there is always something invisible, unknown, that we are unconscious of, completely oblivious to, out of our field of vision—coming along to wreck our plans.
Native Americans could not have seen Columbus coming.
We cannot be smart enough to avoid the Cyclops in all of his manifestations. Staying home under the covers is surrendering to the Cyclops whispering, “Come here, Baby. I’ll take care of you. Just stay here in the dark with me. Don’t open that door and attempt to live your life. You will be safe here.”
A life that is safely unlived is no life at all. The Cyclops wins. We have to go through the Cyclops to live our life—to be fully alive in the time left for living. There is no way to avoid dealing with that which blocks our way—which includes ourselves and those who love us dearly.
”Whose side are you on?” is always a pertinent question. We start with asking it of ourselves.
We cannot avoid mistakes, false starts, wrong turns and pain, pain, pain. We are quite right to be afraid. We are quite wrong to take our fear seriously.
We have to wake up and be fully alive at all costs. We have to deal with everything that comes our way as consciously as we are capable of being in each moment of our living. That means bearing the pain of being alive. Of being awake. Of being here, now, no matter what. And figuring out what needs to be done. And doing it.
- Heron Going — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — I’m not interested in what you believe. I’m interested in what you know—and what makes you think it is so.
We either know or we don’t know. What does believing have to do with it?
I don’t believe anything. I know some things, but I don’t know more than I do know. So, I ask a lot of questions and poke around, stirring things up, turning things over, wondering what this has to do with that—if anything.
I much prefer this approach to having to memorize what I believe and ask Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased if I have it right.
We don’t believe, or believe in, what is important to us. We don’t think it up, decide, vote on it.
What is important slips up on us, seizes us in the heat of the moment and won’t let us go. That’s how we know what’s important.
We have to put ourselves in positions that disclose, that reveal, what is important to us. We cannot be afraid to find out. We have to go seeking after what is important, daring it to show itself to us, grab us by the neck and force us to do its will throughout what remains of the time left for living.
Or, we could just hang out at the mall or flip through the channels as though we don’t know nothing is there. Heron Going—Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — I’m not interested in what you believe. I’m interested in what you know—and what makes you think it is so.
We either know or we don’t know. What does believing have to do with it?
I don’t believe anything. I know some things, but I don’t know more than I do know. So, I ask a lot of questions and poke around, stirring things up, turning things over, wondering what this has to do with that—if anything.
I much prefer this approach to having to memorize what I believe and ask Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased if I have it right.
We don’t believe, or believe in, what is important to us. We don’t think it up, decide, vote on it.
What is important slips up on us, seizes us in the heat of the moment and won’t let us go. That’s how we know what’s important.
We have to put ourselves in positions that disclose, that reveal, what is important to us. We cannot be afraid to find out. We have to go seeking after what is important, daring it to show itself to us, grab us by the neck and force us to do its will throughout what remains of the time left for living.
Or, we could just hang out at the mall or flip through the channels as though we don’t know nothing is there.
- Heron Gone — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — We don’t wait to be invited to be who we are, seeing what is to be seen, hearing what is to be heard, understanding what is to be understood, and doing what needs to be done about it.
We don’t need permission to perceive the situation as it unfolds and respond to it appropriately, taking everything into account that can be taken into account.
Forget tiptoeing on eggshells! Forget who would like it (Your father, for instance, or your mother, or the sister-in-law you know the one I mean). Do what is crying out to be done and pay the price of your indolence.
Being true to ourselves is being true to our take on things, to our perspective, to our perception of how things are and what needs to be done about them—and paying the price of seeing the way we see and doing what we think needs to be done about it.
Or, as Jesus said, “If you want to be like me, you have to pick up your own cross daily, and do your thing, and take your lumps. Forget getting everyone on your side or on board with what you think needs to be done. Don’t live your life by majority vote. Crosses are for those who do it like they think it needs to be done. So, get in there and mix it up. See what you can make of it, do about it, in the time left for living!” Or, words to that effect.
- Carolina Lakes 01 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, SC, September 17, 2013 — My mother is approaching 90, and lived her life compliant and appeasing, only to discover at the end that she was accruing no merit points, and has nothing to show for her conformity and submission other than the loss of her chance at life. And. She. Is. Not. Happy.
With no one to blame but herself, she blames everyone but herself. Having never taken stock, evaluated her response to her environment, or its impact on her, she is now in no position to “see” anything except that is isn’t fair and she doesn’t like it. Or anyone.
Her contract with life was invalid from the start, but she plugged away at it, certain that if she did what others expected of her it would all work out in the end. Here, at the end, she has to reconcile herself with facts gone awry.
With no practice in the art of awareness and reconciliation, she can’t hope to practice it now, and has no recourse but to rant, and wail, and “take her anger out” on everyone who comes her way.
Consciousness is our only tool. When we bury our awareness of what is happening, and what needs to happen, and what needs to be done about it, and what we are doing about it, and how it’s working—how what we are doing, or failing to do, is impacting ourselves and our world—and what we need to do instead, we capitulate to our circumstances, deny our place in our own life, and set ourselves up for an existence of little value to anyone, especially ourselves.
I learned everything I needed to know about living by watching my parents with their own life, and thinking “These people don’t know a thing about being alive!” So, I turned away from them early on and learned as much as I could from people who did seem to know what they were doing—mostly people I never knew, personally, but met in their books, or as characters in books.
Reading saved me. Tevya. Zorba The Greek. Atticus Finch. Hester Prynne. George Eliot. Helen Keller. Joseph Campbell. Carl Jung. The list is long of admirable people who took their own readings of their world—and took their own responsibility for responding in ways they deemed to be appropriate to their world, and let the outcome be the outcome.
None of them, at the end of their life, had any reason to hate themselves for having failed to be alive in the the time of their living. May their tribe increase!
- Schoodic Wave — Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME, October 2, 2008 — How do we know that what we think is so is actually so—around the table and across the board? How do we know that what we value is actually valuable? That what we hold to be important is worth our time?
How do we evaluate our values, our perspective, our position? What makes us think we are right? Who are the authorities we look to to confirm us in the views we hold dear?
And what does our behavior declare to be important in spite of our words, and protests, to the contrary? Why do we say one thing and act in ways which contradict what we say?
Who is in charge here? Who is guiding our boat on its path through the sea? Who are we kidding?
And why do we have to kid ourselves? Why don’t we listen to ourselves? Let ourselves tell us what is important, instead of sabotaging us in a thousand ways in an attempt to get our attention and have us align ourselves with its aims and interests?
It wouldn’t hurt to think about these things from time to time.
- Great Blue Heron in Flight 03 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 18, 2013 — We need to say what we need to hear—so we have to start talking, from the heart, of things that need to be said/heard.
And we don’t know what they are.
So we have to start talking—and listening—deeper than usual. Asking questions that beg to be asked, that no one is asking. Saying things that no one has said before. Playing with ideas, and opposites, and contraries, and polarities, and wild notions.
Risking blasphemy. And censure. Rocking boats. Making waves. Allowing one thought to lead us to another. Manufacturing amazement by talking (or writing) of unheard of things.
We have no idea of what depths we are capable of—of what depths we contain—until we start swimming in the sea of ideas we generate by starting to talk, or write, with nothing in mind, listening for what needs to be said.
It is like conversing with invisible friends. Them talking to you through you. Waking you up to more than meets the eye, waiting for you to collaborate with them in living the life that remains to be lived.
And you thought you knew everything, and that your life was boring, and you were at a dead end, with only hopelessness to keep you company.
Ah, the places you’ll go! Even yet!
- Carolina Lakes 02 HDR — Lake Haigler, Anne Close Springs Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — We are what we seek. Want to know what you need to become? Look at what you find to be attractive in other people.
The people you fall in love with possess the qualities and characteristics that are struggling to come to life in you. You assist their development by shifting your attention from the person you are orbiting around to bringing forth in yourself the traits you admire in him or her.
We see ourselves in other people—particularly those who are emotionally charged for us. They stand before us as mirrors reflecting us back to us. The things we admire in others are latent in ourselves. The things we detest in others are hiding out in us.
Want to know who you are? Take a look at who you love, and who you hate. Then get to work deciding what to do about you!
- Faires-Colthrap Cabin 01 — Anne Close Springs Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — Everything is grist for the mill. Everything is exactly the thing required at exactly the time required to wake us up, call us forth, grow us up, provide us with the work we need to be who we are.
We say yes to it, or no. And that tells the tale.
- White Heron 03 — Lake Daniels, Greensboro, NC, September 12, 2013 — We create the environment in which we live by the quality of our participation in our life—by the degree of our CONSCIOUS participation in our life.
Being conscious is the way of collaborating with the unconscious. The more consciously we live, the more aligned with the unconscious we are.
The more conscious we are, the more unconscious we are, in that we find ourselves doing things for no reason, that we don’t understand.
We participate in the production of our own life. We create the karma, the environment, the momentum and direction that brings us forth, or not.
We generate karma, good or bad, by the quality of our participation in our life—by the degree of consciousness with which we live our life.
There is that which is working to bring us forth—which is striving to elicit from us the response required to be who we are.
There is that which endeavors to secure our cooperation, collaboration, participation in the production of the life we are called to live.
Our conscious, deliberate, intentional, willful cooperation is essential. It all hangs on our saying YES! to the life that is our life to live. We have veto power over the gods.
This is the meaning of “Thy will, not mine, be done.” We hand ourselves over to that which knows more than we know, and trust ourselves to it, often against our will.
We cooperate with the process of being alive, of bringing forth who we are within the life we are living. We do not direct it, manage it, control it. We say yes to it, or no.
Our role is to be responsive collaborators, living in relationship with the heart, the core, the ground of life and being, to assist what needs to happen in each situation as it arises—with the gifts that are, the genius that is, ours to offer. And see where it goes.
- CSX 3011 01 — Waxhaw, NC, September 24, 2013 — Jesus said, “If you want to be my disciple, you have to pick up your cross daily, and follow me by listening to what resonates with you and allowing your spirit, which is like the wind blowing where it will, to carry you down paths with your name on them, which you would never think could possibly have your name on them because they don’t jive with your idea for your own life, and so, you have to lay what you think, expect, hope, desire, dream of and want for yourself aside in a ‘Thy will, not mine, be done’ kind of way in order to keep pace with your heart and your spirit because you never know what they are going to ask of you next, so you have to be light on your feet and sit loose in the saddle because your life will take some turns too sharp, or too subtle, to see if you have your nose buried in some book about how to do it—even the Bible—so you have to trust yourself to know what’s what even when you have no idea of what you’re doing, or what to do next, or where you’re going, or why you are on this path which can’t possibly have your name on it—understanding that is exactly what faith is: Trusting yourself to know what is right for you when Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased And Love To Parade Around As Though They Are Religious Authorities And God’s Own Spokespersons are telling you you are going straight to hell, and demanding that you explain to them what you think you are doing, even as you leave the dead to bury the dead and shake the dust off your sandals when you walk away from them because your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing, and you know you have to be cool with not knowing what you are doing in following me by listening to your own heart and doing what resonates with you whether anybody understands and supports you and offers the right kind of help in the right kind of way, all your life long, or not, and if you can dig this, you can put your shovel down, and start dancing to the music of your own soul even though there is a cross included called ‘Dealing with people who don’t have a clue about what you are doing and think they know everything.’ Don’t let them stop you, or even slow you down.”
Or words to that effect.
- Haigler Loop Trail 01 — Anne Close Springs Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — The cross we bear daily is the weight of our own life, the agony of making our own decisions, of choosing our own path, of being responsible for seeing, hearing and understanding what is happening in each situation as it arises, and knowing what needs to happen, and summoning the courage to do what needs to be done, and doing it with the skills, talents, gifts and genius that is ours to share, without being sure of any of it, but trusting ourselves to our best sense of what is called for, and stepping into the void, and seeing if we fly.
Heroes are those who do what they sense needs to be done in the privacy of their own life and in the moment of their living, without anyone to urge them on and the united chorus of the masses ringing in their ears: “What do you think you are doing? Get back in line! Mind your own business! Don’t make waves! Who do you think you are? Sit down! Shut up! Do as you are told!”
Rosa Parks takes her seat. HER seat. And invites us to take up our cross daily and do it in our moments like we see her doing it in hers.
Now, you’re talking! That’s the way to do it! Not knowing what you’re doing, but doing what you know must be done!
- Tricolored Heron Landing — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, August 18, 2013 — James Hollis said, “The primary task of the second half of life is the recovery of personal authority, namely, to discern what is true for oneself and find the courage to live it.”
We live to free ourselves from the constraints and compulsions that have dogged our heels throughout the first half of our life, and claim our right to make our own mistakes, decisions and choices—asserting our authority to be who we are, where we are, when we are, how we are, why we are, what we are.
In the second half of life, we aim for freedom of movement—the freedom to perceive and respond appropriately to the here and now of our living, without being constrained or compelled to a particular course of action based on something not here, not now, but a ghost from the past, or a specter from the future, interfering with our life, keeping us from being alive and open to what needs to be done and needs us to do it, right here, right now.
Living this moment as a servant of what is called for in this moment—and doing it again in each moment following this one—and deciding for ourselves what is being asked of us and what constitutes an appropriate response, without wondering what anyone would have us see or do instead, and without having to collect any permission slips before following our instincts and listening to our intuition—this is our calling. May we live to do right by in in the time left for living!
- White Heron 04 — Cane Creek Lake, Lancaster County, SC, September 16, 2013 — When we know what we know, we know we can trust ourselves to know what needs to be done in the situation as it arises, without having to think about it or reason it out.
The knowing that is true knowing is instinctive, intuitive. When we get out of the way, we find ourselves doing something, saying something, without having any idea that that was the thing to do, to say.
When we get out of the way, we are amazed at our ability to respond appropriately to the situation without knowing what to do or say, and not knowing that we even have the capacity, the capability, of being what the situation needs. We surprise ourselves, and don’t know where any of it comes from.
Whenever I’m in a situation, or can anticipate a situation, where I have no idea what to do or what should be done, I tell myself, “I’ll know what to do when I find myself doing it,” and quit stewing over what to do—quit trying to figure out beforehand what is completely beyond me. I trust myself to come up with the solution when I think there is no solution.
This is the kind of knowing to strive for—by working to get out of the way.
About 2,500 years ago, Lao-tzu, or someone equally astute, said (In chapter 20 of Tao te Ching):
Other people have what they need–
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.
Other people are bright–
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharp–
I alone am dull.
Other people have a purpose–
I alone don’t know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean.
I blow about as aimless as the wind.
I am different from ordinary people.
That’s what knowing what we know will do for us. If you are going to know anything, know what you already know!
- Wildcat Falls 01 — Cherokee Foothills Scenic Hwy, Greenville County, SC, September 26, 2013 — Faith has nothing to do with what we believe. It is exclusively limited to what we trust ourselves to—to what has our allegiance, loyalty, troth, and fidelity.
Trust yourself to know what is good for you and what is not, to know what is right for you and what is wrong, to know what is life for you and what is death, to know where you belong and where you have no business being.
No one knows what is right for us but us. We are all alone in the search for our LIFE, OUR LIFE. No one can find our LIFE, or live it, for us.
No one can tell us which LIFE is our LIFE to live. We have to do the work ourselves. We have to trust ourselves to know what is LIFE for us.
We have to bring forth our LIFE—the life that is our life to live—within the life we are living—the life we find waiting when we are born.
We know when we are alive and when we are dead (though we be 98.6 and breathing). We can trust ourselves to know that—to know our LIFE from our other life.
Our LIFE is what brings us to life, what infuses us with life, what energizes us and sends us forth to LIVE. Our other life supports our LIFE
Our other life enables us to pay the bills. Our LIFE enables us to be ALIVE in the deepest, truest, most vital and vibrant sense of the word.
We have to find, align ourselves with, bring forth and serve our LIFE within the context and circumstances of our other life.
This is our work. No one can do it for us. If we do not do it—do not trust ourselves to do it—it will not be done.
This is the hero’s quest, to find our LIFE and live it within the context and circumstances of our other life.
This is the search for the Holy Grail and the Land of Promise and the Spiritual Journey: Finding and living the LIFE that is LIFE for us.
We cannot trust ourselves to—have faith in—anyone else to know what is right for us, to tell us which life is our life to live. We look to ourselves for guidance. We listen to ourselves for direction. We trust ourselves to find the way with our name on it.
Anyone who would tell us that we don’t know what we are doing, that we cannot trust ourselves, is like Peter standing before Jesus saying, “Surely this must not happen to you!” And deserves to be told, “Get thee behind me Satan! For you are not on the side of God but of Those Who Think They Know But Don’t Have A Clue Because All They Know Is What Someone Told Them!”
- Graffiti Rock 01 HDR — Greenville County, SC, September 26, 2013 — I have enough to worry about, so I’m drawing a line. I’m not going to meet any more people because I don’t want to worry about remembering their names. I’m not going to get a pet because I don’t want to worry about it’s bladder and bowel movement needs (or it’s Vet needs, or its diet needs, etc.). I’m not going to buy a vacation house because who thinks having a house is a vacation? This is it for me. No additional worries until some of the current ones disappear.
- Foothills 02, Caesar’s Head State Park (“Caesar” is a corruption of the Cherokee word for “chief”—an unforested peak in the park resembles the profile of a “Chief’s Head”), SC, September 26, 2013 — Trials and ordeals, kid. Trials and ordeals. Everything hangs on how we view, think of, receive and deal with our trials and ordeals. Without our trials and ordeals we would be adrift on some placid sea in some dreadful wonderland with nothing but rainbows and white picket fences and Big Rock Candy Mountains as far as the eye can see. Sounds like some childhood dream of heaven, without the choir practices with angelic accompaniment.
Trials and ordeals are the ticket to authentic life—to knowing what we are made of because we’ve had to rely on it, had to pull it forth, to manage our life in the wake of being run over, or run through, or both.
But, too often, we refuse the invitation to square off with our trials and ordeals and see what they can show us about who we are. Too often, we sit passively with our hands in our lap, accepting what the Lord in his infinite wisdom has seen fit to deliver unto us, faithfully failing to raise objection, or have it out with God and the Devil and whomever else might be roaming through our life to pillage and plunder at will.
Passive “acceptance” is far from active engagement—the “voluntary participation” (Joseph Campbell) in our life that is essential to bringing life to life there. Saying “YES!” to life—to the full experience of being alive—requires us to see trials and ordeals as initiation rites for the next step in our development, in our growth (which is always “growing up”), on the path to Full Humanbeinghood and a well-deserved place in the ranks of the species.
Our trials and tribulations pull us forth. “It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses” (Joseph Campbell).
- Shadows 01 BW — Scotland Avenue Fence, Indian Land, SC, September 28, 2013 — We are here, as the carriers of consciousness, to collaborate with Psyche/soul (“Psyche” is the Greek word for “soul”) in living the life that is ours to live in the time left for living.
Psyche/soul doesn’t have all of the answers, and is far from being all grown up itself. We are not the lacky, the handmaiden, of Psyche/soul, without an intelligent thing to say or a savvy word to add to the conversation.
We grow up together, human with Psyche/soul, maturing together in the work of our joint life within the hard world of space and time.
We have veto power. We can override and instinct or an intuition. Bite our tongue. Finesse our way past obstacles in a way that might leave Psyche/soul speechless. We have our contribution to make to the soup we stir together with the Unconscious side of ourselves.
It’s a partnership, a palhood, a counsel of sojourners—visible and invisible—on our way through the trials and ordeals of physical existence, from one another and from the experience of life, how to do it.
We are—each of us is—a mutually dependent collection of perspectives, needs, interests, urges, appetites, memories, feelings, desires, gifts, abilities, skills… with the joint task of working together for the good of the whole, consciousness and unconsciousness coming together to bless two worlds, visible and invisible.
The opportunity to participate in that undertaking should be enough to propel us all out of bed each morning!
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Carolina Lakes 03 — Lake Haigler, Anne Close Springs Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — The Cyclops grabs us again by the neck and body slams us until he can no longer raise us off the mat.
And we rag-doll it through to the bell, thinking we are earning merit that will be repaid aplenty in the eternal habitations, and never once thinking that we may be missing some crucial aspect of life by not asking the questions that beg to be asked, or working through the contradictions and contraries that swirl about demanding resolution, or getting to the bottom of what is being asked of us—being called forth from within us in response to the demand that we rise to this occasion and do it the honor of making of it what we can, and developing the skills required to meet the next manifestation of a bigger, meaner, Cyclops drooling at the idea of having its way with us when its turn comes.
No one grows up without facing up to her, to his, trials and ordeals. No one wakes up without growing up. And no one is alive without being awake and aware.
Trials and ordeals, kid. Trials and ordeals are the way of the hero’s journey.
Or, to put it another way, the path to the Land of Promise, the Kingdom of God, Nirvana, Heaven and the Holy Grail winds through the heart of Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha.
The price of resurrection—new life—is dying the right kind of death.
- Silver Lake 03 — Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seasore, NC, November 1, 2009 — James Hollis said, “So many adults, many of them highly accomplished in the outer world, suffer from a lack of permission to really be themselves, to fee what they really feel, desire what they really desire, and strive for the life that really wishes to be expressed through them” (in Hauntings: Dispelling The Ghosts Who Run Our Lives).
We are in our own hands. It is our place to develop our awareness and resolve, and come to our aid when Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased presume to tell us what to do—as though they know better than we do about what is right for us.
We have to defend our right to our own life with courage, determination, resiliency, consistency and good humor. If a mistake is to be made, it is OUR’s to make, and does not belong to some intrusive Other calling out directions from the stands.
- Great Blue Heron in Flight 05 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 16, 2013 — Articulating the problem clarifies the problem. Once we see the problem, the solution—which includes recognizing and coming to terms with the fact that there is no solution—becomes obvious.
Carl Jung said, “None of the real problems in our life can be solved, only out-grown,” or words to that effect. Growing up is the solution to all of our problems today.
We facilitate the process of growing up by being clear about what our problems are. Nothing promotes clarity like articulation.
We have to say what it feels like to be who we are, where we are, when we are, how we are, why we are… We have to say what is happening, and what we are doing about it, and how well that is working, and what we can imagine doing that we are not doing.
We have to say it to those who can understand what we are saying without trying to take over the controls of our life by telling us what to do or what we should have done—without condemning, converting, advising, directing—or commandeering the conversation away from us and our problem and steering it to them and their problem.
We have to talk to those who know how to listen. Easier said than done but. That just means we have to be paying attention, noting the people who know now to listen, and spending most of our time talking with them.
We need to be forming our communities of innocence, our council—or circle—of elders (those with enough life experience to know more than what someone else has told them). We need to be finding the people we can talk to about the things that matter, and talking to them.
If you think there is something more important than the right kind of conversation for finding our way in the life we are living and bringing forth there the life that is ours to live, you aren’t old enough to be included in a circle of elders, and need to become more experienced and savvy in order to be worth talking to.
- 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.
Back up the way a bit, I said in one of these vignettes, “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.”
[JD1]Sent to Helen Wolff
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