August 01, 2013 – November 20, 2013
- “How To Have What You Want” is the theme of every book in the self-help section of every bookstore in the land. You will be out of luck if what you are looking for is a book on “How To Want What You Ought To Want,” or “How To Know What You Have No Business Wanting Or Having.”
The universal, unquestioned, assumption is that our Wanter knows what it is doing and can be trusted to steer us faithfully and well to the life that is exactly right for us.
The truth is that we all want the same stuff we wanted when we were in the grip of The Terrible Two’s—we have merely learned a thing or two about strategy in the meantime, and no longer melt down into screaming puddles on the floor of the grocery store at the candy counter—or the candy equivalent for our place in life.
What does wanting know? Our wanting is driven by our desperate quest for diversion, distraction, delight and denial.
Wanting is about what we want to escape, avoid, forget and be done with.
It has no association with what is being asked of us, what needs us, what is calling us to throw in with it to its lasting benefit and our eternal inconvenience and vexation.
Like, for instance, our LIFE.
Our LIFE is always asking the damned is things of us at the damnedest times. Giving us things like cancer and divorce and joblessness just to introduce us to what we are capable of—never mind that none of it is anything remotely connected with what we might WANT in our life.
See what I mean?
- Tree B&W — Andrew Lane, Indian Land, SC, October 2, 2013 — Carl Jung lays it on the line. What he has to say has been available for 75 years or longer, dismissed, discounted and ignored by Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased.
Jung’s foundational advice is: “Know what you know about what can be known!” His way of knowing is experiential: “Experience your experience regarding all that can be experienced!”
His detractors have a quick comeback: “We know What’s Best, and that’s all WE need to know!”
In reply, Jung said (And I am paraphrasing a quote by James Hollis in “Hauntings: Dispelling The Ghosts Who Run Our Lives”): “As the patient turns to either doctor or clergy both stand before him or her with empty hands and are no help because they are in the same boat with the patient. All have no love only sexuality; no faith—because they all are afraid to grope in the dark; no hope—because they all are disillusioned by the world and by life; and no understanding because they all have failed to read the meaning of their own existence.”
Hollis follows this diagnosis with his own prescription (quoting now directly): “We have all forgotten what our presumptive saints, mystics, and prophetic voices earnestly proclaimed: that if we wait upon the dark, it grows luminous; if we abide the silence, it speaks. we look to others to fix it all for us, and they fail us, because we have asked too much of them, because they are broken themselves, and because we have ignored, even fled, our own resources.”
Stop poking around in someone else’s answers, looking for something to relieve your own emptiness and misdirection! Face your own darkness and doubt, your own fear and anguish, your own insecurity and pain! You are not alone! You have within the wisdom of generations, unconscious and unknown—probe it! You have without a culture and a world populated with people exactly as you are—find those who know what you know, who hunger and thirst as you do, who can listen to and speak of the truth of their own soul, their own experience, and help one another along the way!
- GSX 65 — Waxhaw, NC, October 3, 2013 — We think the wrong things are big, and the wrong things are little.
We all have shined at something we dismiss as nothing. We have our moments. No one could do it better than we do it sometimes. We discount it as being of no importance. “Anybody can scramble eggs.”
We sell ourselves down the river because we don’t, we haven’t, we can’t… And overlook the things we do, have, can…
What’s with ranking ourselves at the bottom of our own Top 40 list? How about a little objectivity, fairness, justice and slack? How about we cut ourselves some slack? And get off our backs?
Whose side are we on? When has putting someone down ever raised someone up? When has condemnation and fault-finding made us worthy of commendation and praise? What are we doing thinking of ourselves the way we think of ourselves?
If we are going to come down on ourselves for something, we should come down on ourselves for coming down on ourselves. Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
- Carolina Lakes 06 — Lake Crandall along Trekker Loop, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, October 1, 2013 — Why grow up?
The culture leaves us ill-prepared to answer the question. The culture would have us answer why do anything from the standpoint of what we stand to gain by doing it. If we cannot exploit something to our distinct advantage, the culture would have us have nothing to do with it.
The culture admonishes: If a profit can be made, a profit will be made. But, if not. Forget it.
Growing up is about doing what needs us to do it with nothing coming back to us beyond having done it.
Growing up is about being who the situation needs us to be with nothing in it for us.
Growing up is about living as a source of grace, mercy and peace in the lives of others—for nothing in return.
Growing up is for nothing.
Why grow up?
- Great Blue Heron in Flight 07 — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, September 9, 2013 — We have the time left for living to work with.
Sure, things have happened to us. Sure, we could have done better with better choices and more of the right kind of help and cooperation. Sure, we haven’t had all we wish we had had at any point along the way.
We have the time left for living to work with.
Starting now, how are we going to live aligned with our soul’s sense of True North?
How are we going to learn to become students and stewards of soul—reading the signs, speaking the language, tending the drift of instinct and intuition and feeling the feelings that beg to be felt—in responding to what is being asked of us with what we have to offer in the service of a good that may not appear to be good to eyes that do not see?
How are we going to filter through all that we have to deal with in order to find the gold and spend it on an attitude that sends us singing in the rain, and through it, to a life others would recognize as a blessing and a treasure?
How are we going to show up in every situation that arises for the work that is ours to do there, with the tools at hand, and the gifts we have been given, to offer what is needed and grace the moment with eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands, and a presence that radiates compassion and peace?
How are we going to live in the time left for living?
- Graham Cabin — The home of Billy Graham’s paternal grandfather, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — Everything that can be seen is readily apparent, so why isn’t it seen? Nothing is hidden. It’s all out in the open, waving its hands. Jumping. Whistling. Calling our name.
What is with not seeing what we look at?
What are the presumptions, assumptions, inferences, conjectures, conclusions that get in our way? How is our seeing conditioned by how we have come to expect things to be?
If our father was abusive and our response to him was, “If I try hard enough, he will be happy,” how are we continuing to play out the theme of trying hard to make someone happy? How is that early perspective skewing the way we see things today?
If we are going to see, we are going to have to see our seeing. We are going to have to see how we see what we see and wonder, “How else might we interpret, assess, consider our experience?”
There is what happens to us and there is what we say about what happens to us—how we see it—and what we do in response. Guess where the point of transformation lies.
- Carolina Lakes 08 — Stumpy Pond, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 30, 2013 — How do you evaluate your values? How do you know that what you believe in is worth believing in?
How often do you reassess the road you are on, the life you are living?
In light of what do you determine the value of the road, the life?
How do you decide what to do? How do you gauge the quality of your decisions?
How often do you conduct a review of your journey? The degree to which you are aligned with your soul’s sense of True North?
How often do you say you don’t know how to think about these things so you are just going shopping, or just going to have a drink, and blow off anything deeper than “What’s for dinner?”?
- Waiting for a Train — Waxhaw, NC, October 6, 2013 — We aren’t as alone with our life as we think we are. There is an invisible, inner, world waiting to assist us along the way. We only have to learn to access it and collaborate with it.
For instance, we all know the “Uh-Oh Feeling” when it comes upon us. We all have walked into a room, or a bar, or a job and have known instantly that it was not our kind of place and we had no business being there. We are not blindfolded, spun around, lost and helpless. We only have to open ourselves to ourselves and know what we know.
It is amazing that we get no instruction in establishing, deepening, strengthening and maintaining our connection with the inner guides. It is deplorable that we are led to assume that the world of ordinary, physical, apparent reality is the only world—and that it is all about wealth and privilege and getting what we want and having it made.
James Hollis, in “Hauntings: Dispelling The Ghosts Who Run Our Lives,” says that we have to sort and sift myriad influences and messages and discern which ones are truly our own, and which ones are acquired from Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased and deserve to be jettisoned.
We have almost as much to unlearn as we have to learn.
We have to learn to hear and heed the right voices, discerning what truly needs to be done from all we are told ought to be done, should be done.
We have to learn how to read the signs, how to interpret the signals, how to know what we know, and do what needs us to do it in each situation as it arises.
We are more than our history (and we learned the wrong lessons there). We are our future, our calling, our life—the life that is waiting to be lived. We are our adventure waiting for us to saddle up and ride. And we have all we need to do what needs to be done. We only have to trust that to be so and step into the unknown.
Hollis says that we must accept, finally, that we are not our what has happened to us or what we have been told but our unfolding journey—and that we must step into our unknown future, heart in hand, and experience what it might bring us.
The important thing, however, is what YOU say about what he says. And what you do about it.
- Catawba Cloud — Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park, Fort Lawn, SC, October 2, 2013 — Two nights ago I dreamed I was delivered a summons. For what? Unknown. I was to appear before the court to make a case for myself. Strange. What was the nature of the inquiry? Unspecified.
In the dream, I stewed about what to do. What were my options? Who should I consult? I live in South Carolina now and the summons originated in North Carolina. I could just not show up. I’m out of their jurisdiction. I woke up still “in a stew” about what to do.
Two days of stewing has produced the realization that we are all at the place of making a case for ourselves. We are all summoned. Asked to show up. Look our life in the eye and say why we have done what we have done and not something else instead.
Leaves me wanting to take the fifth. Stay in South Carolina. Not answer the door, or the phone.
My only hope is to beg the mercy of the court, and aim to be present for what needs doing in what remains of my life.
I am to show up and live what remains to be lived of my life on my life’s terms. So are you.
It could be a piece of cake. We are in the driver’s seat. Who is to say what our life is asking of us? WE are! What a snap. “Oh, I thought you meant this! And you meant THAT? How silly of me!”
The catch is that we are our own prosecutor and the witness for the prosecution. We know when we are not living up to our life’s expectations of us—when we are letting our life down. We can’t kid the kidder.
We show up, or else.
- Carolina Lakes 04 — Lake Haigler, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, September 23, 2013 — Part of doing what needs to be done is taking up someone else’s slack. The world is filled with people who choose to not show up, who don’t do what the world needs—what we need—them to do.
Yes, I’m talking about THE brother, THE sister, Father, Mother… The one who turns a blind eye, a deaf ear to what is crying out for their attention, looks the other way, walks off to leave his, to leave her, responsibilities to fend for themselves.
Our way would be a lot easier if everyone were pulling his, her, own weight.
It’s amazing how one person not being there makes them omnipresent and in the way. We are always having to take them into account by covering for them, compensating for their refusal to be who they need to be—who we need them to be, adjusting to their failure to play their part as their part needs them to play it. By not being there, they become a central figure in the lives of everyone impacted by their absence. Their way of being important, perhaps.
What to do? Grow up! We have to grow up to deal appropriately with those who refuse to grow up! They force growth upon us. It takes maturity to manage immaturity. So, receive the gift, and go about your business and theirs, as though you don’t resent, despise, hate, detest, etc. them for their failure to show up and take care of business—because you don’t, any more than you would if they had been born physically, or mentally, or emotionally deficient, because they were, and couldn’t handle what the rest of you did just fine with, and it is up to you to do just fine with them, and let them grow you up in ways you would never grow up if they weren’t not there.
Everything is grist for the mill, you know, and we are milling our own maturation, by seeing everything as a part of the summons to show up, grow up, get out of the way and allow our life to pull us forth—even against our will, and strong desire for justice or just what’s fair.
- Around Bass Lake 05 HDR — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2013 — We aren’t here to let the unconscious direct our living. Consciousness has a part to play. Our life is a dialogue all the way.
The unconscious has its flow, its sense of direction and purpose, its intuition regarding pace and timing and what’s coming up. Consciousness understands order and sequence and how things work in a practical, down-to-earth, matter-of-fact kind of way.
Consciousness keeps the unconscious grounded and aware of the physical, social, and cultural requirements impinging upon the specific here and now of our living. The unconscious calls consciousness to a larger awareness of meaning, purpose and value. Together, they work out what is proper, appropriate and needs to be done in each situation as it arises.
Stack up the situations unfolding, merging, dividing, multiplying and you have quite a life—which neither consciousness nor unconsciousness could manage on its own.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Around Price Lake 04 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 9, 2013 — Here’s my idea of 5 rules to live by:
See what you look at.
Know what you know.
Throw away doctrine and theology, and embrace the truth of beauty in art, music, nature, good company and good food and drink.
Wake up, show up for the life that needs you to live it with the gifts that are yours to give, whether you feel like it or not, whether you are in the mood for it or not, whether you want to or not, whether it is convenient or not—understanding that it is like this: You are playing the lead character in a movie about you, and the script calls for you to live your life by doing what is called for in each scene, in each situation that arises. If you were an actual actor playing the part of you, you wouldn’t get to say, “I don’t feel like it today. Maybe tomorrow. Come back in a week. I feel like a drink now, or watching TV.” No, you would play your part, to the hilt, striving for an Oscar worthy performance. So? Live your life to the hilt! Offering what is called for in each scene, regardless of how you feel!
That was a long break. Pick up where we left it with this: square up to the way things are and what needs to be done about it, and do it in each situation as it arises for as long as there are situations, without having to profit from it in any way.
Bear consciously the pain of your contradictions (like the difference between the way things are and the way you want things to be) without trying to escape it (in diversions and distractions) or deny it, or disappear it by resolving them quickly with a solution that solves nothing. Suffer the lack of solutions and let the problem, the conflict, become an image for you. Work with the image. Paint it. Write it. Sculpt it. Draw it. Make it into music. Dance it. Express it in ways that deepen, expand its reality and make it real. And wait for the shift to happen. When the door opens, walk through.
If you think that turns out to be more than five, think of the overage as lagniappe. I’m only charging you for five.
- Around Price Lake 07 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 9, 2013 — Our symptoms are the way we carry pain unborne, anguish unacknowledged, agony denied its rightful place in our life.
When we refuse to feel our feelings, our body turns against us in an attempt to wake us up to what we are not doing. When we refuse to suffer, we suffer.
And we invent medical science to treat our symptoms. And take medication so we won’t feel our life.
You can see that this isn’t going anywhere.
We have to feel our life. It’s the only way to know what to do with it.
We can’t get all mental, and intellectual, and think our way through, or out of, anything. We LIVE our way along the way. And LIVING is FEELING. EVERYTHING. And thinking about what would be appropriate to do in response. And doing it.
This is called keeping our life aligned with who we are and what we are called to be about.
When we get out of alignment, we feel it. Then, what do we do? Feel the pain and do the work of realignment? Take a pill? Have a drink? Or a smoke? Overeat? Develop a symptom? Ignore what we’re doing? Wonder what’s wrong?
When we kid ourselves, our bodies keep score. Our symptoms are our body’s way of waking us up, seeing where we are kidding ourselves, and realigning ourselves with the way that is the way for us—with the soul’s sense of True North. And pay the price, consciously, with full awareness of what we are doing and what we are doing about the response to what we are doing—feeling what we are feeling and thinking about it, not hiding from it, feeling it. Consciously suffering the pain of being alive.
- Around Price Lake 02 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 9, 2013 — This is what I have to say to John Boehner, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and all human beings everywhere:
Do not allow your principles or your ideology prevent you from seeing and doing what is important.
- Boone Fork Cascades 01 HDR — Boone Fork Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 9, 2013 — James Hollis says (In “Hauntings: Dispelling The Ghosts Who Run Our Lives”), “Families are healthiest when they serve as launching pads for each person in route to his or her separate journey; they are most pathogenic when this project is subverted by its most narcissistically needy members or by the collective timidity of others to grow up, show up, and strike off on their own separate journeys.”
You could replace the word “families” with the word “churches,” or the word “schools,” or the word “communities,” and his paragraph would be equally true.
We are here to grow up and to assist one another with the process of growing up. Any other aim misses the mark, which, in the Bible, would be called a sin—no matter how holy and righteous the aim might appear to be.
- Carolina Lakes 17 — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2013 — Settled into South Carolina and between photo excursions, I am reading what I have written over the course of my life. This comes from March 24, 2007:
Everything flows from acceptance. We can’t say NO! until we can say YES!
NO! without YES! is angry, belligerent, insistent and demanding—and increases resistance, deepens resistance and creates a counter force to oppose change and maintain the status quo. True revolutionaries don’t appear to be revolutionary at all.
True revolutionaries reject nothing, forces nothing, insists upon nothing, does nothing. But. It is a special kind of noting that is done.
It is a nothing that transforms everything by exposing everything, by disclosing everything, by revealing everything to be just what it is.
When it is seen that the emperor has no clothes, the emperor dresses appropriately. When the dead horse on the dining room table is made apparent, the Dead Horse Removal Team is called in and the house becomes livable.
True revolutionaries are mirrors reflecting the way things are, making it impossible to ignore, dismiss, deny that things are what they are, waking people up and opening the door to the possibility of change.
Once things become apparent, transformation is inevitable. When the way things are are recognized for exactly what it is, it moves toward what it ought to be.
- False Kiva Revisited — Canyonlands National Park near Moab, UT, May 2010 — The Dali Lama is as awake as he can be. Jesus and the Buddha were as awake as they could be. We only have to be as awake as we can be.
It is exactly what we make it out to be, and it isn’t going to change until we make it out to be something else.
Everything has to be set aside for the sake of what needs to be done in the situation as it arises. Every. Single. Thing.
Everyone has to see and serve what needs to be done in the situation as it arises. Every. Single. One.
The only sweeping, absolute thing that must be done in every situation no matter what is whatever needs to be done in each situation. Do. What. Needs. To. Be. Done.
Each moment is a fresh moment. What needs to happen there may never have happened before, or may never need to happen again.
Your moments are as unique as you are. You make each one unique by the quality of your response to it.
So “get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome!” (Joseph Campbell)
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Around Price Lake 16 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 9, 2013 — The antidote and cure for whatever ails us is tenderness, kindness and compassion.
Forcing our way, compelling others to do what we want, punishing them when they do not, insisting that everyone do it our way or else, etc. creates its own opposition and results in polarization and contradiction which freezes everything in place like a good neck cramp and prevents anything like life from ever happening.
Sound like Congress to you? Or, maybe your family at Thanksgiving? Or your family any time?
The solution, of course, is to explain the situation to them and get out of the way:
”The antidote and cure for everything, including a good neck cramp which stifles life entirely, is tenderness, kindness and compassion. Now, I’ve told you all you need to know—what is happening, what is going to happen, and what you can do about it. That is all I am responsible for. At this point, it is strictly up to you. You have to decide what you are going to do about it. You are on your own. I cannot be held accountable for anything that happens from this point on. You have to do what seems good to you and suffer the consequences.”
Jesus would say that from here, you shake the dust off your sandals and live your own way to tenderness, kindness and compassion—which is exactly The Way everyone keeps talking about, the way of life, light and peace everlasting, world without end, amen.
- Around Bass Lake 03 HDR — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2013 — When the door opens, we have to walk through! The door is always opening and we are always walking by with out eyes on some other prize, complaining because the door never opens for us.
The door we WANT to open doesn’t open. We’re standing before the wrong door.
To stand before the right door, we cannot allow what we want to blind us to other possibilities.
When we say we want this or that and do everything we can think of to have it, but keep shooting ourselves in the foot, we have to wonder about the mixed messages. We want it but we keep ourselves from getting it. It’s time we have a talk with ourselves.
Call a meeting. Make it mandatory. Sit down with them all. Ask them what they want from you. Ask them how you could better represent the best interest of all concerned with your choices and actions. Ask them how you could be better aligned with the needs of the whole. Ask them to tell you everything they have to say while you listen and take notes.
Take notes. Listen. Don’t let them go until everyone has said what they need to say. Thank them. Take a long walk. Then read your notes and reflect on what you heard and how you live, and what you can do to change your living to take what you heard into account.
The door is always opening. If you aren’t seeing it, we have to look at what you’re looking for, and make changes where changes need to be made.
- Sailboat Mooring 02 HDR — Bath Harbor on Bath Creek, Bath, NC, October 12, 2013 — There is nothing like the aloneness of living our own life, yet, what are we going to do, not live it? Let someone else tell us how to live it, what to do?
And, if we give ourselves over to someone else, to Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased, say, we discover too late that there is nothing like the agony of having failed to live our own life. Who is going to give us a second chance? Another life? This. Is. It.
It is our call to seize the opportunity and live our own life, or not.
We should receive more in the way of encouragement to do right by ourselves. People should be lined up from birth throughout our life, cheering us on, saying, “Yeah! Go be you! You can do it! Go for it!”
Every child should have a cheering section urging her, urging him, on every step along the way.
- Sunset 01 HDR — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 13, 2013 — We have such tender souls. It is not without meaning that the Savior is described in the Bible as one who does not crush a bent reed or extinguish a dimly burning candle.
Take that image and compare it to all of the would-be saviors you have ever known, destroying the you that you are and replacing it with the you they would have you be—all in the name of the highest good, of course, which would be getting you to heaven and away from hell at all costs. Even at the cost of your own tender soul.
That is not the way to do it.
Here is what I have to say to them—and to President Obama at this moment in the nation’s history, because the principle applies across the board, around the table:
What is best for the country (or the individual, or one’s own soul) is not best for the country (or the individual, or one’s own soul). Do not sell out the country (etc.) in the name of what is best for the country (etc.). Bear the pain! Pay the price of not paying the price (of what is truly best for the country, of sacrificing one’s own tender soul)! Do not sell out the country (or one’s own tender soul) for a bowl of porridge, even though the odor is compelling and it seems as though a bit of soup is exactly what the situation is crying for.
“The way out is the way through,” and we have to trust ourselves to ourselves even when it seems as though we are lost, without hope in the world and do not know what we are doing or where to turn. When that is the case, the rule is simple: Be still, breathe slowly and deeply, and listen for “the still small voice.” And take a chance. On you!
- Louisiana Sunset 01 — Lake Concordia, Concordia Parish, Ferriday, LA, ca 1975 — We have such tender souls, and we are their keeper, their steward, their ally and aide. Not their owner.
The soul we keep is not ours to do with as we will. We guard, protect, consult, serve, attend, and befriend. We are our soul’s own soulmate, solely responsible for its health and well-being.
How are we doing?
Are we strong in our soul’s behalf? Faithful, loyal, true and brave? Is our allegiance unflagging and our devotion beyond doubt? If not, why not?
Who knows better than we do what our soul requires, asks, needs? What do we mean living to please someone else, to do what others tell us should be done? Whose side are we on? If not our soul’s own side, why not?
- Two Pelicans — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 14, 2013 — We feel our way along the way with soul the way we feel it’s time to go for a walk, or time to have another cup of coffee, or time to invite a friend out to lunch. How do we know any of these things? We sense them. Feel them.
But. This kind of feeling has nothing to do with emotions. It is about pace and timing, direction, preference, inclination or disinclination… Some people are horse people, some people are beach people. How do they know? That’s the kind of knowing we need to encourage, develop. It has nothing to do with thinking.
We do not think our way to the life that is our life to live. We know it and we know what it is not. But we don’t know how we know—and it doesn’t matter.
What matters is knowing what we know, and acting on it like a sailor adjusts her course to be aligned with the compass’ direction.
It is not a moral course we follow out of some guidebook of ethics and values. Jesus was called a glutton and a wine bibber, a blasphemer and a son of Satan because he followed the lead of his soul against the current of the morals of is day—eating with tax collectors and sinners, associating with women, and with Samaritans, and claiming to be one with God.
The way of soul is not the way of the culture or the way of the popular understanding of God, or the way of the popular understanding of a follower of soul. Soul cuts a new path through the heart of the wilderness and invites us to come along. Our place is to heed the invitation and become a sidekick on the adventure with soul.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Running — Ferriday, LA, August, 1974 — Everything goes on the table. Everything. Nothing is held back. Kept safe. Held close. Nothing.
It’s like this: We. Are. Going. To. Die. What do you think will be left then? Nothing. So, we hold onto nothing now, because to hold onto something now is to pretend that we can hold onto something. Is to deny that we hold onto nothing. Is to lie to ourselves about the most important thing: Growing up.
Growing up is to hold onto nothing. Is to put everything on the table. Is to let everything go.
When we let everything go, we receive everything. Everything becomes our teacher in the art of growing up.
Everything is grist for the mill, we say. We are milling maturity. Maturation. Growing up. To work the program, develop the art, everything has to go on the table. Everything.
What are you holding back? Protecting? Keeping for yourself? The last things to go? Put. Them. On. The. Table.
Feel the resistance? The resistance is conflict. You are conflicted over what goes on the table. You don’t want everything to go, even though everything is going. You want to kid yourself. Fool yourself. Lie to yourself. Pretend you can hold something back.
Another word for conflict is bind. You are in a bind when you are conflicted. When you want this and want that and this and that are mutually exclusive. When you want to grow up and want to hold something off the table. When you want to have your cake and eat it too.
Dig in at the point of resistance, conflict—at the point of being in a bind. Sit bound. Tied in a knot. Unable to move. Or breathe. Because you want mutually exclusive things.
Search out your binds, your conflicts, your contradictions. These are growth thresholds, openings, apertures.
It looks like the opposite. What is closed cannot be opened. What we are closed off to cannot open us up. That in itself is a contradiction, a conflict, a bind. Dig deeply enough into your binds and they open to life and light and peace.
We grow through our binds. Everything happens at the point of conflict, contradiction. People who deny their binds, run from them, hide, have no hope of growing up. They are forfeiting their one chance at doing what they are here to do, which is grow up.
So, notice what you are dismissing, discounting, denying. There is conflict there you don’t want to face. What you are not facing is your bind. Put it on the table along with everything else. Consider the table. Find your binds. Get to work coming to terms with your conflicts, your contradictions. Square up to them.
It will wake you up to you. We cannot wake up to how things are without developing the art of maturation. Without growing up.
A closed door is still a door. Is the best door there is. Sit before it. Become aware of it. Wait for it to open. Walk through. Do it again with the next door.
That’s how it works. Growing up.
- Comorants 02 — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 14, 2013 — You didn’t get here by thinking your way along. You are just lucky to be here. Luck is another way of speaking of grace. Grace is as lucky as it gets.
Some people like to say luck has nothing to do with it, that it is Providence all the way. I like to say aren’t we lucky that God is so providential.
Our life turns on fortuitous openings and chance happenings. No one could design the course our life has followed. It’s grace all the way.
Expect to be lucky. Count on being lucky. Trust your luck. But don’t push it. Pushing your luck is taking grace for granted. And the gods don’t like it when we presume on their grace.
There is a difference between counting on grace and presuming grace will be there when you need it. No presumption allowed!
The difference between counting on grace and presuming on grace is the difference between trust and arrogance.
Do not give up on grace. Do not say, “Well, this is it! This is the end of the line! It’s all over now!” Trust yourself to grace at all times. See what grace can do.
Throw yourself into living your LIFE, the life that is yours to live, the life that needs you to live it, and count on grace to show the way.
- Mothball Fleet 02 — Swan Quarter Mooring, Hyde County, NC, October 13, 2013 — The agony goes with the way—goes with us all along the way—goes with us all, along the way. Ulysses never escaped it. Neither did Jesus. Nor will you. Gethsemane and Golgotha and the Cyclops await us all.
Enlightenment doesn’t do a thing for us. The agone—the Greek word that is translated “race” in Paul’s two statements regarding what is before us on the hero’s journey: “I have fought the good fight—I have finished the race, the agone.” And, “I have run with perseverance the race, the agone, that was before me”—the agone is the price we pay for being alive, for living the life that is ours to live, for doing what is ours yet to do.
Sitting under the Bo Tree was hell for the Buddha, and the path of enlightenment, of waking up, of realization.
When we wake up, we do not see the path to escape and delight in strawberry fields forever. We see how it is, know what is being asked of us, pick up our cross and step into the work of reconciling opposites and harmonizing polarities and doing what needs us to do it—what only we can do.
There is nothing in any of that about liking it—about enjoying a soft and easy life, having it made, with nothing but relief and relaxation, accolades and gentle breezes through long years of smooth sailing.
Ulysses sums up what remains of our life for us: “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship / and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”
That is running with perseverance the agone that is yet before us in the form of the life that is ours to live.
- Ocracoke Lighthouse 02 HDR B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 16, 2013 — A Zen law states: “The ability of the archer to hit the bulls-eye varies in inverse proportion to the size of the prize for hitting the bulls-eye.”
Or, in the common language of the people: “The more seriously we take things, the less well we do with them.”
In other words: “Lighten Up!”
Play with your life! Dance with your life! Experiment with your life!
It isn’t like we’re being graded. We’re learning to live. And we learn to live by trying out different ways to live until we find a combination that is exactly OUR life in every sense of the word.
Living someone else’s idea of our life is NOT the way to do it.
We learn to live by playing with the possibilities, and laughing a lot.
How will you play with your life today?
- Sea Oats 02 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — Take everything personally. It is all about you. Everything you see is a projection of you. A metaphor of you. Everything you dream about is you.
A dream about your husband, your wife, your partner is not about your husband, wife, or partner. It is about you. You are seeing in your husband, wife, or partner what is incumbent upon you to see in you.
Let’s say in your dream, your husband, wife, or partner says to you, “You think you’re better than me.” And, in the dream, you say, “I can do some things better than you and you can do some things better than me, but that doesn’t make either of us better than the other of us,” and you are disgusted and aggravated because your husband, wife, or partner can’t see your point. And you are angry because they won’t grow up and see things like you do. You think you’re better than they are because they refuse to grow up.
It is not about them. It is about you. You will not grow up. You refuse to grow up. You talk about growing up, but you will not grow up—not all the way. There is someone within who will not budge. “You can talk all you want to about growing up, but I’m not coming along on that ride.” And you can’t grow you up any more than you can grow up your husband, wife or partner.
All the grow up stuff about you is just fluff and show, because down deep there is refusal to come out of the darkness into the light. “You think you’re better than me. I’ll show you. I’m not having anything to do with growing up. Without me, you’re just a box of smoke.”
And the work begins. Not growing up that aspect, those aspects, of yourself which will not grow up, but with you sitting with the darkness, in the darkness, that is quite content with, and thoroughly committed to, remaining dark—and you coming to terms with how it is with you.
It will make you humble. It will humiliate you. It will bring you humility. And that’s a lot more grown up than you were back when you were being all sanctimonious and blaming your husband, wife, or partner for refusing to grow up.
It’s you that won’t grow up. Find ways of being compassionate and kind to the dark side within. Grow up and receive well the dark side of you that refuses to grow up.
And know that we walk with a limp all along the way, and carry the burden of that which does not want to go through out the hero’s journey.
- Hammock Creek 01 HDR — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — There is more that we don’t know than we do know. So stop thinking that this is all there is to it. And stop thinking that what you think you know about the rest of it is as much as 1% accurate. How much of what they thought they knew 10,000 years ago was as much as 1% accurate? So stop thinking that you know anything, and live the mystery!
- Moonrise 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — Where do you go to be real? You are real when you are expressing who you also are—the other sides of you which are generally suppressed or repressed because they would not be welcomed, received well, honored and understood in the places you generally frequent, with the people you are generally around.
I used to be able to count the people I am free to be real with—who I also am with—who I am in the moment with—on both elbows. It used to be that my camera allowed me the greatest range of being. But, I’m retired now, and am less constrained to one way of life. My circle of places to be and people to be with has greatly expanded—I have you and those like you now—and I relish the joy and wonder of people who are real enough to recognize the importance of and need for being a place where others can be real, and make themselves available for encounters with realness, where realness meets realness, throughout their life.
Being real—being who we are and who we also are—and allowing others to be real is the requirement for entry into the Land of Promise, the Grail Castle, Nirvana, the Elysian Fields, and all places worthy of us.
Practice being real by bringing yourself forth—by being who you also are in places and with people you think might be able to receive you well—and see what happens. You will be changing the world, and creating the atmosphere necessary for being alive in the world.
Go to it! You only have the time left for living to work with!
- Parker’s Creek 01 HDR — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 19, 2013 — We practice feeling what we feel. And when we get that down, we practice seeing what we look at.
When we get seeing what we look at down, we practice hearing what we listen to.
When we get hearing what we listen to down, we practice knowing what we know.
When we get knowing what we know down, we practice sizing things up.
When we get sizing things up down, we practice doing what needs to be done in the situation as it arises.
When we get doing what needs to be done in the situation as it arises down, we practice doing it in each situation that arises.
- Soundside Panorama HDR 01 — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 19, 2013 — We are capable of more than meets the eye, of more than can be imagined. We don’t know who we all are, who we are capable of being.
We live to discover who we are—who we also are. To know ourselves and what we are capable of and where our interests lie. We show ourselves who we are.
The path to discovery is the way of feeling our way along, sensing what is called for, living instinctively, intuitively.
We allow ourselves to show us who we are, who we also are, who we are capable of being in bringing forth what we have to offer the here and now of our living.
We do not manage our life. We do not know what needs to happen and how to make it happen. Our life shows us what it needs from us.
The wrong way to live is to think we know the right way to live and impose our idea of rightness upon this and all future situations.
We live our way into being who we are, and also are. We do not think our way there, as though we know beforehand what there is to be known.
We have no idea of what is going to be asked of us, given to us, by the time and place of our living. We live to see, to know, to understand. To be dumbfounded. Surprised. Amazed. By ourselves. Showing us who we are.
- The Crack of Dawn 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 18, 2013 — Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling maturity here.
Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling awareness here.
Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling wakefulness here.
Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling savvyness here.
Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling aliveness here.
Everything is grist for the mill. We are milling softness, tenderness, gentleness, kindness, compassion, mercy and grace here.
Everything that happens to us is exactly what is needed to bring forth what needs to happen.
Everything is serving something else. There is no getting there. No arrival. No culmination. No quitting.
Everything is grist for the mill.
- Ocracoke Lighthouse 03 B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 18, 2013 — I have a friend who told me he became a sailor when he realized the sea was out to get him. Before that he was just sailing a boat on open water. Recognizing what the deal was put him in a different relationship with his boat and the ocean. It always helps to know what the deal is.
The sea is an old metaphor for the unconscious. The unconscious is out to get you. Do not think for a minute that it is your friend, that you can tame it, that you can trick it into doing what you want it to do (Using “The Law Of Attraction,” say, or “The Power of Positive Thinking”).
The sea has its ways, and we are afloat upon purposes we are not party to. Our life has a life of its own. We may sit on the horse, to mix metaphors on you, but it is unbridled, and follows unseen paths to places we cannot imagine and would never choose for ourselves.
If we can come to terms with The Deal and understand the sea is out to get us—to wake us up to a reality beyond anything we would want for ourselves—to show us in countless ways, “You may have meant it for that, but God meant it for this”—we will have grand adventures unlike anything we ever had in mind, but we will not be in charge, in control, or even in possession of a clue about Who is on first or What game we are playing.
It will be great, but you will have to trust me in that.
- Stacy Creek Mooring 01 HDR — Stacy, NC, October 20, 2013 — The life that is our life to live—the life that needs us to live it—the life that will not be lived (that no one will live) if we do not live it—has very little to do with the life we are living, or with the life we wish we were living, the life that we long to live, the life we pout about and mourn because we have no chance of living it.
The life that is our life to live is dying it’s own mournful death because we refuse to wake up, wise up, square up, grow up, show up and do what is ours yet to do because we are so dead to our own calling, gift, genius, and possibilities, thinking, as we do, that we are stuck with this old life that we are living and nothing good can come out of our own personal little Nazareth, and this old stone of a life that is such a dead weight weighing us down and keeping us from flying could never become the cornerstone of an unimaginable house of living wonder.
- Used in Short Talks On Good and Bad Religion, and in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Surf 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 19, 2013 — Fritz Kunkel says (In “What It Means to Grow Up: A Guide in Understanding the Development of Character”) that our philosophy of life, our, our point of view are ours to work out for ourselves and says “we must seek our own point of view, call our own experiences into council, develop our judgment, deepen and correct it again an again—until in this way we become mature, grow up, gain wisdom” (or words to that effect).
Thomas Kuhn (in “The Structure of Scientific Revolution”) said that science progresses by encountering experiences which contradict theories and force an expansion, or a revision, or a dismissal of the theories in question.
Everything becomes clear with time and experience. We work out who we are and what is important, how things are and what needs to be done about it over the course of our life.
We need the freedom to examine our experience, engaging the contradictions and discordance, and allowing the questions raised to lead us along the way of an ever emerging realization of truth—without ever arriving at The Truth, but always growing in our capacity to imagine a different truth at every transition point in the journey.
May that be the way it is for us all, along the way!
- Clouds in Our Wake 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pamlico Sound, NC, October 20, 2013 — Our life is lived inside the right lines and outside the right lines.
The work of maturation, of growing up, waking up, squaring up, sizing up, standing up, showing up and doing what needs to be done in each situation as it arises, one after another, all our life long, is the work of knowing which lines to honor and which lines to ignore.
It is the work of knowing where to live: Inside which lines and outside which lines.
No one can help us with that. No book can tell us that. We figure it out for ourselves. Gradually. Painfully. Over the entire course of our life.
- Cormorants 03 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pamlico Sound, NC, October 19, 2013 — Living is the lesson. Life is the teacher.
We experience our way into knowing what is happening and what to do about it.
We experience our way into knowing what is important and what is a Messianic pretender.
We experience our way into knowing all that we need to know to live the life that needs to be lived in the time and place of our living.
We can’t rush any of it.
There are no shortcuts on the road to where we’re going.
We take every turn, including U-turns out of dead ends, and away from cliff edges, and quick exits from places we have no business being.
And build up our experience quotient over time.
And draw on it in creating new experiences.
And modify it as needed.
To use in conjunction with instinct and intuition in sensing what is called for and dancing with our life, laughing, with the wind of the Spirit that blows where it will forever in our hair.
- Pilings 01 B&W — Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC, October 19, 2013 — We are in a fight with our life for our life and our soul. Here’s how it is:
The culture of a place, Apple, say, or Amazon, or Google or Yahoo, is the ethos of the place, the we-ness of it: “We do it this way here.”
Every institution, every corporation, is run in this way: This is the way it is done here. You do it this way or leave.
This is the way it is done here. This is the way to think here. This is the way to act. The way to be. You have to do it like this in order to be one of us.
We take you away from you and throw you away and give you us in place of you. Now, you’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
The military certainly doesn’t want you thinking and acting like you! You have to think and act like you are supposed to think and act there!
It isn’t Viet Nam or Iraq that’s the problem. The military kills you before you get into combat. And then expects you to put yourself back together when you are discharged.
And it’s that way with every institution and corporation. The bigger and more important the group is, the smaller and less significant the individual is. But the individual is the hope of the world. And is lost to the world.
I had to leave the church or become the church. There was no place for me, there is no place for an “I,” in the church. Or any business.
No thinking allowed here! Only fitting in here! Only doing it like it is supposed to be done here! Individuality is out of the question here!
No corporation can operate with employees thinking for themselves, doing it like they think it ought to be done. That would be chaos.
You have to be a company man or woman, a team player, with no mind of your own. Do you see the stress that generates? Try not being you! See what that feels like. See what that does to you.
Try disconnecting you from your own life—letting The Company direct your living! Do you know what happens to your soul in that environment?
Your soul disappears in a Puff. You live in a wasteland, empty of life, devoid of soul. They pay you for that. Try buying back your soul!
What do we sell our soul for? We get more for it than a bowl of hot porridge but. We are no better off for it.
What to do? Be aware of it! Wake up to it! Live in two worlds! This is called walking two paths at the same time. “Defect in place.” Do it their way when they are looking. Do it your way in your spare time, on weekends. Make your own breathing room, your own being space, your own sanctuary, oasis.
Make your own place where you can be real. And go there often. Savvy?
- Ocracoke Sunset Mirror — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pamlico Sound, NC, October 17, 2013 — We have to pause on a regular basis to remember who we are and what we are about. Life can knock us off track. We stay on the beam by being centered and focused on the beam. You can’t walk a tightrope with a wandering mind.
So we sit and remember. Or walk slowly and remember. Who we are. What we are about.
We open ourselves consciously to the unconscious—to the invisible world. We reestablish connection. We reflect on last night’s dream. We reorient ourselves in space and time. And consider what is happening here and now.
What needs to happen? What needs to be done about it? How can we meet the moment with the gifts, art, genius that are ours to bestow? How are we being asked to bring ourselves forth even here, even now, to engage our life—the one we are living—with our LIFE—the one that is ours to live?
This is not how to master our life—the one we are living—and make it go the way we want it to go (What does wanting know?). This is about how to live our LIFE—the one that is ours to live, that only we can live—in this here, this now—as blessing and grace upon our situation whether our situation realizes it is being blessed and graced or not.
We have to be one with our LIFE to live it. We have to be who we are, doing what we are about with intention and deliberation. It takes focus and concentration to be alive in any here and now. We cannot live accidentally.
So, we sit and remember. Walk slowly and reflect. Merge with our LIFE and reemerge in our life to be who we are there, doing what we are about.
- Cormorants 03 B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pamlico Sound, NC, October 19, 2013
Sheldon Kopp said, “We are all born into families and cultures we didn’t choose, given names we didn’t pick, instructed in behavior and values we might not have selected, and too often end up expected to live lives designed by others. Once we realize our assigned identity has no personal meaning, we all have the freedom, the right and the responsibility to work out for ourselves who we are and what we are to be about.” Or words to that effect.
The work required to be who we are, to do what is ours to do, can seem so overwhelming that, like the groundhog seeing its shadow, we duck back underground to ride out what remains of our life in the apparent safety of a prescribed identity.
Living can be like dying. And not living is very much like being dead.
It takes courage to be alive, and we create courage by pretending to be courageous, and stepping into the full light of conscious living, and seeing what we can do with the life that is ours to live in the time left for living—denying the Cyclops another victim, and taking up the path with our name on it to see where it goes.
- Moonrise 02 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pamlico Sound, NC, October 19, 20137
Sheldon Kopp said, “We must know what we feel, say what we mean, and do what we say.”
We must be transparent to ourselves, and be who we are, and who we also are, in ways appropriate to the occasion, all our life long.
I have lived my life around people who did not have their own mind, and certainly did not dare to speak it. These people have been dead to themselves, saying what they were expected to say, doing what they were expected to do, being who they were expected to be all their life long—never once daring to be who they were by serving interests important only to them—and compensating for their failure to be themselves with too much alcohol, or too much medication, or too much Bible.
Sheldon Kopp said, “The dragon we must slay is no more than the monster of everyday expectations about how we ought to live our life.”
The dragon so rules our life that we don’t even notice its shadow darkening our days, but compliantly follow the path from the barn to the pasture back to the barn in our place in the line of cows, free from the pain of awareness, wondering why anyone would want a different life than this, where all our needs are met and all threats are repelled by the nice fence that keeps us forever safe and secure.
The dead don’t worry about dying, and aren’t plagued by the fear of grief, loss and sorrow.
There is a lot to be said for never taking a chance on life.
And so, Jesus advised leaving the dead to bury the dead and seeking our own way in the land of the living.
We don’t need anyone’s permission to be who we are, or to serve the life that is ours to live. We are the only one who has to be on board that boat as it leaves the harbor, bound for who knows where, but guided by our soul with its unfailing sense of True North.
- Skinny Dip Falls Detail 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, October 24, 2013 — The theology of no theology would sound like Jesus of Nazareth. “Don’t talk of God,” he said. “BE God!” Or words to that effect.
Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it—by DOING it! Don’t talk about it! DO it. Love your neighbor. Don’t talk about loving your neighbor.
And don’t talk to your neighbor about God. BE God to your neighbor. Treat your neighbor like God would treat your neighbor. And quit all that talking.
Now we’re talking!
- Storm Clouds Gathering HDR 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest at Pisgah Inn, NC, October 24, 2013 — There is what you can do, and what you can’t do, and what you have no business attempting. It’s up to you to know where the lines lie, and to be right about it.
There is what we want to do, and what we need to do, and what we have no business being involved with. It’s up to you to know what’s what, and be right about it.
We spend our life figuring it out. Working it out.
Knowing where the lines lie—which lines to live within and which lines to erase, breach, ignore.
Knowing what needs to be done and what needs to be left undone.
The books and lectures are no help to us here. Guidelines, standards and norms trick us into thinking we know something when what we need to know is that we don’t know and need to listen to insight, instinct, intuition and the drift of heart and soul—and then summons our courage and take a chance, trusting ourselves to have what it takes to deal with whatever outcome may emerge.
Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
Our life stirs to life thinking we may yet learn to live it, hoping we will throw ourselves into it and see where it goes.
- Looking Glass Falls HDR 01 — Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, October 25, 2013
Live toward as much as you know of what is good and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is right for you and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is meaningful for you and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what you love and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is kind and tender and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is just and decent and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is compassionate and gracious and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is yours to do and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of your heart’s desire and direction and see where it goes.
Live toward as much as you know of what is the essential truth and character of the living being you are and see where it goes.
- High Falls in Shadow (Aren’t we all?) — DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC, October 25, 2013 — What’s money for? Accumulating? Amassing? Investing? Guarding? Protecting? Owning? Flaunting?
If you have money, you have someone trying to get it.
Money is only good for paying the bills. If you use money to run up bills, you’re wasting it.
Money is only good for paying the right bills. What are the right bills? That’s your question to answer.
The right bills pay for the tools that enable you to do your work—the work that is yours to do—that enable you to live your life—the life that is yours to live.
To know what the right bills are, you have to know what your work is, of what your life consists.
To know that, you have to wake up.
We use money to avoid waking up. We use money as a diversion/distraction to avoid the work of knowing what our work is and doing it, of knowing what our life is and living it.
We want to live the life we want to live—not the life that is ours to live—and we need a lot of money to take our mind off the emptiness of the life that is not our life to live.
Growing up is the solution to all of our problems today. To grow up we have to change our mind about what is important and do what we do not want to do, which is the thing we were born to do, the thing that no one can do but us, the thing that is dying for us to do it, which we refuse to do because we have eyes for other things.
There you have it, as clearly as I can spell it out for you. What are you going to do about it?
- Eagle B&W — Swan Quarter, NC, October 13, 2013 — Instead of using money to buy the tools that help us do our work and live our life, we use money to buy props that make it look like we have a life, like we are really living, like we are alive.
We are building four-lane highways through the mountains when we should be rationing fossil fuels around the world. What are we thinking? That the good life will last forever.
The good life is a sidetrack. Is a dead end. Is a hypnotic lie protecting us from the truth of the life that is ours to live. The life we know we are not living and don’t want to live because it asks hard things of us and we like it soft and easy.
We want to live without doing the work of being alive, which is the work that is ours to do, which we are not doing because it doesn’t pay off. We can’t exploit it so we say there is nothing in it for us.
Nothing but life. And meaning. And purpose. And goodness, truth, wonder, beauty, magic and miracle.
We sell our soul for glass beads and silver mirrors and wonder where the emptiness comes from.
Our life is only a perspective shift away, waiting for us to wake up and change our mind about what is important, and say, “Okay. I’m yours. Let’s see what we can do with the time left for living.”
- Sliding Rock HDR 01 — Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, October 25, 2013
We have to be jolted awake because things are not how we have been told that they are—because things are not the way we have assumed they were—because things are not what we want them to be.
The path to enlightenment, satori, awakening, realization and awareness winds through shock and consternation. We live between Not This! and This Too!
We live within the tension of mutually exclusive polarities. We want to live the life that is ours to live apart from the life we are living. We want to be lifted from this vale of tears and deposited on the yonder shore of life, and light, and peace. We want to give ourselves to Jesus, or any would-be savior, and have our burdens lifted, our sorrows melt away.
Sorry, not really, to be the one to tell you but. We live with how things are and how things also are. That is how things are—and we have to make our peace with it, come to terms with it, grow up about it, let it be because it is, and laugh at the irony and paradox that bring us to our senses by ringing our door bell and inviting us to play.
In AA parlance, we cannot white-knuckle it, but we can fake it until we make it. The difference between the two is waking up, growing up, wising up, facing up, squaring up, standing up, showing up and living the life that is ours to live smack in the middle of the life we are living.
Reality is the bed we sleep in at night and the world we wake up to each morning. THAT is where we get to work, bringing forth who we are to heal, and make peace, and transform with the gifts, and the art, and the genius that are ours to offer in the time left for living.
What? You thought enlightenment would do something for us? Enlightenment asks us to do something with it! Like live it, here and now—where we are, when we are, how we are, why we are, what we are, who we are.
If we can say yes to that, we are what the world has been waiting on, and we will all bless one another, and all living beings, with the beauty of who we are, in the midst of how things are. World without end. Amen.
- Dry Falls 02 HDR — Nantahala National Park, Cullasaja River, Cullasaja River Gorge, Hwy 64, NC, October 27, 2013
Put aside your expectations, ambition, hopes, dreams, desires, wants, wishes and fears, and simply sit with your life.
Listen to your life.
Your life is what has gotten you to this place, this here, this now. And it is what will take you on to the next place, the next here and now.
Your life is the mule you ride through your days. It would behoove you to treat it well. To nurture it, nourish it, attend it, listen to it and work out with it what to do in each here and now, and what to do next.
Collaborate with your life about how you will live.
Do not force your way on your life, yanking your mule about as though you know what needs to be done, and how you need to go about doing it.
You don’t know any more about living your life than you did the day you were born.
You know more about how to get what you want, but you don’t know any more about what you ought to want, or how to manage conflicting wants, or how to deal with wants you have no business wanting. Or how to know anything about what your life needs from you.
You could use some help with all this. You could use some discipline, courage, direction. You could start by sitting with your life, listening, feeling your way into an association, and on into a partnership. And see where it goes.
- Dry Falls 01 — Nantahala National Park, Cullasaja River, Cullasaja River Gorge, Hwy 64, NC, October 27, 2013 — Your soul is the only bible you will every need to read.
Your soul IS the Bible!
YOU are the Bible!
All those Bible studies that people never get enough of are evidence of a hunger unnamed, unknown, unrecognized.
When we live to “study the Bible” and “know the Word,” we are close, but oh so far away.
We are seeking to find our way back to ourselves, to the soul of our beginning, our being, which we have lost in our fascination with the forbidden fruit of the false promises and empty illusions of satisfaction and glory in the world of normal, apparent, reality.
The Bible that we can’t get enough of because we are reading it wrong is about us, is us—and when we read it correctly, it lays us out before our eyes and we see ourselves in every verse, and know, along with David the King, that WE are the one!
Or, as Jesus would put it, “Those with ears to hear, let them hear!”
We cannot find “out there” what is missing “in here”!
All the biblical metaphors are images pointing to the Mystery of Being. We kill them by making them literal.
There are people, still yet, out there even today, looking for Noah’s Ark. That’s missing the point.
And don’t we all miss the point in our own way, every day of our life? Asking Jesus, as did Pilate, “What is truth?” and, looking for it in our own way, ignore the truth welling up, pouring over, splashing out of our own soul—joining the builders rejecting the cornerstone again and again, thinking truth is Jesus when all the time WE are Jesus, condemned and crucified by who we also are.
We play out all of the old themes of the Bible in our own life, cycling through them all again and again, like Christmas and Easter on an eternal cycle, never getting anywhere, never doing anything, repeating, repeating, repeating the old story which is never recognized for what it is: Our life being played out before our unseeing eyes because we think it is about then and there, and not here and now.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Looking Glass Falls HDR 04 — Davidson River, Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, October 28, 2013 — Everything is funny from some perspective. Yet, shifting perspectives is impossible without a significant amount of work. The work is sitting with the pain until something shifts.
Helen Luke said, “Unless a man or woman has experienced the darkness of the soul, he or she can know nothing of that transforming laughter without which no hint of the ultimate reality of the opposites can be faintly intuited.”
We have to bear the pain to get to the laughter. We don’t bear the pain in order to get to the laughter. We bear the pain because the pain is ours to bear. It is the way.
The way is painful, and bearing the pain is the way of progressing along the way. The way of life.
Bearing the pain transports us to transcendence—and to the recognition of the impossibility of growing up except by going through the pain.
We grow through the pain—through bearing the pain consciously, intentionally, intensively. The pain of conflict, contradiction, opposition, obstruction, betrayal, negation…
We cry, and crying, we get to the point of laughing at our crying because it is appropriate, and essential, and a wonderful critique of how things are. Tears are necessary. Who could live with what must be lived with without weeping? Wailing?
And laughter is there to mark the rightness of our tears, as a resounding YES! to the fitting nature of our protest against the way things are.
We are doing it right, crying! And we are going on with it, crying! We are not quitting! We are living on toward the goal of goodness, decency, justice, mercy and peace—in spite of all that is arrayed against us, regardless of the odds, who gives a damn about our chances? We are in it for the long haul—no matter what!
And we laugh, celebrating our triumph over all that would stop us. We laugh at the ludicrous nature of the whole show—at the absurdity of giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the work of our life in the conditions under which we live. We laugh at what cannot be said, explained, or understood. Only done. And we do it.
We show up laughing for the work that is ours to do. We take our place in the long line of those who have taken their place before us. We step into our life—the one that waits for us to live it anyway, nevertheless, even so—and take on the day, every day, bring it on!
Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it! I’m proud to be one of us in doing what needs to be done regardless of the price to be paid!
- Glen Falls Detail 01 — Nantahala National Forest near Highlands, NC, October 27, 2013
Ask the questions that beg to be asked!
We are where we are today, on every level, because the questions that begged to be asked, needed to be asked, should have been asked, were not asked.
Who says women, black people, immigrants, the poor, gay people, people with special needs, etc. are inferior and can be treated as though they are?
How do we know the people who say such things and do them know what they are talking about? What do they stand to gain for saying what they say, doing what they do? Whose good is served by the good they call good?
What makes them think that what they think is so?
We suffer the consequences of all the unasked questions.
Start asking the questions that beg to be asked.
And ask the questions those questions stir up.
And ask the questions the answers generate.
Get to the bottom of all things.
Put it all on the table and consider the table. Taking everything on the table into account, the question that begs to be asked then is “What are you going to do about it?”
Don’t forget to ask that one. And answer it.
- Ocracoke Lighthouse 04 B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 20, 2013
We cannot outrun our life. Our life knows where we live.
We cannot hide from our life, escape our life. We can only deny it, refuse to live it, and pay the price.
Of course, we pay a price to live our life, but. It is a different price than the one we pay for not living it.
When we don’t live our life, but try to hide out in some substitute life, some pseudo life, some faux life, pretending it is the life for us—or resigned to it because we think there is no alternative under these circumstances, with these resources—there is hell to pay.
Hell in the form of symptoms, stone walls, dead ends, nothing working as it should, and the nagging feeling that we are off the beam, out of place, lost with no guiding beacon to lead us to our destination.
When we live our life, there is the price of the struggle to be who we are in ways contrary to the expectations of ourselves and others regarding how we are supposed to be.
People won’t understand. Will think we are strange. Will dismiss us, discount us, and fail to understand what we are about.
And we will have to consciously decide again and again whose side we are on—ours or not-ours.
But, we won’t be lost, wondering what’s what. We will always know the core secret. We. Are. Who. We. Are.
Remembering that will ground us, center us, and focus us on the work to create ourselves one day at at time, one situation at a time, no matter what, for as long as life is possible.
I don’t know how you do that, remember who you are, but I write reminders to myself all the time.
These vignettes which I am privileged to share with you (thank you very much for encouraging me at the work of keeping myself on the beam) are examples of the kind of grounding writing I do. These things are for me. If they help you, that’s fine, but I write them to help me.
We have to do something to pull ourselves into focus, and keep ourselves focused on being who we are, and doing what we are about, moment by moment, situation by situation, over the course of our life.
The writing it out—the effort at articulation, the work to put it into words—creates, expands, deepens our awareness of ourselves and how it is with us, as we struggle to find the words to say what we sense, somehow, regarding who we are and what we are—what it is—about.
The work of articulation, of expression, is what an artist does with a brush. And it brings the artist forth on the canvass for the artist to see, and be astounded.
So, we have to write (or draw, or paint, or etc.) constantly, always, to create ourselves anew—to create more of ourselves each day than we were the day before—receiving the gift of ourselves from ourselves.
It’s work. Requiring discipline. But it’s life for us, and part of the price we pay to be alive.
If you don’t do something regularly to keep yourself focused on being who you are doing what is yours to do, it’s time you started.
- The Oak at Springer’s Point HDR 01 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013
People are saying, “Not this! Not that!” and doing everything they can think of to get away from their life, and into some other, better, finer, life instead.
Look at them. You can see in their body language, and shape, and facial expression everything you need to know that they are not doing well.
They need a heart transplant—as in a complete change of heart.
They are, in New Testament terms, “Harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.”
Except, they are not sheep!
They are the shepherds of their own inner flock, who have refused the role, and have become lost themselves, and are indistinguishable from the sheep they are supposed to be tending.
Well, that’s ridiculous! Who is in charge here? Who is guiding their boat on its path through the sea? If they refuse to do it, who is to do it for them?
These people need to wake up and become the shepherd they are—shepherding themselves to life by squaring up to the life they are living, and living the life that is theirs yet to live beginning right now, where they are.
The realization and acceptance of what is theirs to do would alone be enough to effect an immediate transformation of their spirit and attitude, which would have a contagious effect on their surroundings and, as they begin to do the work that is theirs to do within the life they are living, their impact would right the world, restore harmony and raise the dead.
And that’s just the beginning.
So what’s with this hopelessly dour what’s the use look? Ask them that, the next chance you get.
I’d like to know what is holding them in place, when life is at their door waiting for them to open it, come out and play.
- Carolina Lakes HDR 12 — The Lake at Crowder’s Mountain State Park near Gastonia, NC, October 6, 2013
What do you know of God that you didn’t hear from someone else, or that didn’t come from the Bible?
What you know of God in this way won’t be theological or doctrinal. It will be exclusively experiential.
What has been your experience of God?
Where would you go right now to experience God?
What have you learned of God in the arms of your lover? In the company of children? In the eyes of your dog?
Where are you most often with God?
What is it about the God you know that wouldn’t be said about the God you have been told to believe in?
Which God are you going to go with?
- Turtle Back Falls Detail 01 — Horsepasture River, Gorges State Park near Cashiers, NC, October 26, 2013
Your life runs through it all—through all you face and must deal with, and hate, and wish with all your being were not in your path.
Your life is there in all that you would avoid, escape ignore, deny—calling you out, bringing you forth, shaping you, identifying you to you, presenting you to you, offering you to you, in ways you would never be you without the experiences you detest.
The whole thing is a gift waiting to be seen, acknowledged, opened, embraced, lived.
The trick is thinking of it that way.
How we think of things tells the tale.
- Approaching the Viaduct — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, NC, October 8, 2013
You have to get out of your way, off your back and on your side.
You have to let you show you what you are capable of.
You have to shut up with the “I can’t do that,” “That’s not me,” “I don’t have the talent, the ability, the skill, the…”
You have to wake up to the truth that you have no idea of what your thing is because you won’t try anything.
You have no idea of what you can do because you haven’t done anything you didn’t want to do, didn’t feel like doing, weren’t in the mood to do to find out if you could actually to it or not.
What is your life aching for you to do that you won’t do because you don’t want to do it and think you can’t?
What does your life keep throwing at you that you keep dodging, ignoring, dismissing, discounting, in favor of the same old, same old, life that you despise, but are comfortable wishing were different without doing the first thing to see how different it can be?
Give your life a chance to show you what you can do.
- Fall Woods 02 — Six Mile Creek Road, Indian Land, SC, October 31, 2013
You can think of your life as standing in your way. Opposing you at every turn. Keeping you from really living, from being truly alive. An obstacle to overcome. Resisting you without ceasing, forcing you to compel it to go your way.
You can live out of an adversarial orientation toward your life, going another round every day. A lot of people do it that way. Seems to work for them.
And, you can think of your life as pulling you forth, shaping you, creating you, giving you the gift of you, calling you to use the gifts you have in living.
You can live out of a collaborative orientation toward your life—open to what it has in store, joining it in the work to become what it—what you—might yet be.
There are things about you you would never experience if you lived the kind of life you wish were yours to live. You would die dumb to your gifts, your art, your genius, YOU!
Why not look at your life as a laboratory inviting experimentation? A place to live your way into who you are and what you are capable of doing? Using the challenges ou face, and resources at your disposal, to create yourself in the process of living your life?
What has banging heads with your life ever done for you?
- Carolina Lakes HDR 18 — Lake Crandall, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013
Too many of us have to get to the end of our rope before we can change our mind about what is important. Some of us are too prideful even then to admit we were wrong, and resolutely pursue our course, clutching tightly our convictions all the way to suicide, or a total psychological disintegration.
Once our mind is made up and we are sure we are right about the way we see things, we gorge on what is killing us until we are quite dead on every level.
It should be easier to change our mind.
Expectation, assumption, presumption and inference—arrogance, hubris and hard-headedness—need to be recognized early on, confessed, repented and expelled, so that we might step fully into what remains of our life in the time left for living.
The key that turns the lock that opens the door for all of this is honest conversation.
Where do you go for honest conversation?
My bet is that you have to talk in cliches, banality and inanity with all the people you know.
You repeat entire conversations about safe subjects, and you never say anything new, anything different, anything honest, straight from the heart, about the things that are dying to be said.
Honest conversation is avoided at all cost everywhere.
It would lead us into unexplored territory. Ask hard things of us. Change our life. We can’t have that.
Comfort and security require things to remain exactly as they are forever. Never mind that it’s killing us.
Victims cling to their abuser, even if their abuser is themselves.
The way out of hell winds straight through the heart of hell.
We have to change our mind about what is important. And that is hell. And, it is the path to heaven, to life like we have never lived it, abundant, resplendent, pouring over, spilling out—ours to have in the time left for living for the small, but recurring, price of honest conversation.
- Goodale State Park 06 — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013
Lao Tzu said that the way to do anything is to not strive to do it—to not force it to be done—but to let it do itself.
Let your life live itself. Let your life live you.
Be the door through which your life walks into the world.
The window through which the world sees your life.
How would you do that?
By not doing it!
By simply getting out of the way and allowing it to happen.
What are you keeping from happening by trying to make something happen?
Assist what needs to happen by stopping your constant striving, pushing, forcing, interfering, struggling, trying to make something happen.
If you are going to do anything, just do your thing and stop trying to make something of it.
- Goodale State Park 07, B&W — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013
Wholeness, oneness, is not everybody lock-stepping their way through the world, singing the same song on key, voting the same way on the issues and agreeing down the line about how things are about every single thing.
Wholeness, oneness, is living with awareness and acceptance of our differentness without trying to force anybody to see and do it anybody’s way.
Wholeness, oneness is integrating our opposites without erasing them, so that my way helps develop and bring forth your way, and your way does the same for my way, and we grow each other up in ways that are helpful to each of us and beneficial to all of us.
What became of honoring, respecting, appreciating and celebrating each others idiosyncrasies and peculiarities?
When we deny those things about ourselves, and refuse to allow them in others, we destroy our individuality, and theirs, and we all become cookie-cutter people, living a life someone else chooses for us and tells us to live.
We can live together in ways that call forth what is unique about each of us, and in so doing we strengthen all of us.
I am the only one who has to do it my way.
You have to do it your way.
And we help each other do it the way we are best suited to do it—by seeing, hearing, understanding and knowing who each other is, and helping each other come forth and be who only she, who only he, can be.
You can start doing that with the next person who comes your way. You can’t find a better homework assignment anywhere.
- Goodale State Park 01 — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013
It’s never too late to wake up!
To stand up and square up with how things are and what needs to be done about it.
To step up and live the life that is ours yet to live in the time left for living.
Thinking that it is too late for all of this—thinking that they missed their chance when they were young, and now have no hope—is what turns people to the wall to wait out their years.
That’s a great pity.
We have to live throughout the time left for living, no matter how old we are!
- November Orchard 03 — Springs Farms peach orchard, Fort Mill, SC, November 2, 2013
Let’s give our soul as much factual reality as we give our liver or our blood pressure. And, to get soul away from all the trappings of theology and doctrine, let’s call soul, “psyche.” “Psyche” is the Greek word for “soul,” but it doesn’t come packed with the associations that “soul” is burdened with.
Grant Psyche factual, actual reality. Consider Psyche as an invisible, intangible “wider consciousness” that is unconscious—hence, unknown—to us, but seeks communion and collaboration with us.
You know how we are limited in our physical sensory perception to certain wavelengths of light for seeing and certain frequency levels for hearing? Well, entertain the possibility that Psyche is capable of perceiving things, the future for example, that we cannot discern.
Entertain also the possibility that Psyche has a stake in us and can commune with us by way of instinct and intuition, dreams, visions and hunches, etc.—and can guide us in ways that serve Psyche’s interests, whatever they may be, and to some extent, ours as well (In the Old Testament sense of not muzzling the ox, perhaps).
Entertain also the possibility that it is in our interest to “throw in with Psyche,” and live as Psyche’s “side kick” in the world of normal, apparent reality—because that is the way meaning and purpose are realized (though perhaps at the expense of physical comfort, convenience and privilege).
At-one with Psyche, we are at-one with ourselves, on track, on the beam, in tune, in touch, and living our life as only we can live it.
At odds with Psyche, we are on our own, for better or worse—physically, materially, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.
I’m saying, we would be wise to be attuned to Psyche and follow Psyche’s lead within the terms and conditions of life as we live it.
How to do that is the question we live to answer. We start by opening our eyes and ears—seeing what we look at, hearing what we listen to, sensing what we sense, feeling what we feel, knowing what we know, and being open and receptive to more than meets the eye and more than words can say.
We practice taking Psyche seriously, and see what occurs to us, what calls our name, points the way, and where it goes.
- Used in Short Talks On Good and Bad Religion — Lake Haigler Fall HDR 01 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — The test of any belief, of any, of any faith is this: Does It Help You With Your Life? Does it bring you to life? Does it enable you to live the life that is your to live in the time left for living?
Or, does it hand you a life made to order by someone else, some authority, someone who knows what’s best and must be pleased or else? Does it tell you what to do and how to do it, what to think, and what to avoid at all costs?
Does it call you to ask all the questions, or does it tell you to not ask questions? Just take what you are handed and do what you are told?
Does it invite you to open yourself to beauty in all forms—to embrace, experience, relish, adore, exhibit, express and serve beautiful ways of responding to the wonder of who we are, where are, when we are, how we are, what we are, why we are?
Or does it give you a long list of things not to consider, of places not to go, of people not to associate with, of experiences not to have?
Does it open you to life or close you off from life?
- Lake Haigler Fall HDR 06 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — Only we can wake ourselves up. No one can do it for us.
We only have to hear what we have to say.
To do that, we have to say what we have to say. And listen to what we are saying.
It’s never more difficult than that. Talking to ourselves. Listening to what we have to say. Waking up.
- Lake Hagler HDR 02 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — We all need help with our life. Not one of us can hope to live our life without the right kind of help delivered in the right kind of way.
Our place in the lives of others is to help them with their life. Our spouse, partner, lover? We are here to help them with their life. And they are here to help us with ours.
It is not about how we can exploit them or our relationship with them to get them to do things our way. It’s about how we can help them with their life. And how they can help us with our life.
We all have to know what our life is and what would be helpful to us in living it. What do we need to live our life?
We should talk with each other about our life, what it is and what would be helpful to us in living it. We should make our life our highest priority. Living it well is what matters most. What would be helpful? We need to know.
How are we going to help others if we don’t know what would be helpful? How are we going to know what would be helpful if we don’t know what our life is and what we need to live it? How are we going to know any of these things if we don’t talk about it?
- Moonrise 07 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 22, 2013 — I don’t know what the smallest degree of adjustment is possible in a mid-course correction, but one half of that applied to our life would be enough to change the world.
How different are we willing to be? How different can we be by this time tomorrow?
If you are casting about wondering where to start, how about silence? Sitting quietly for at least 20 minutes twice a day? Quietly and consciously.
Pay attention to what comes along and how you respond to it. Sit still and watch what happens.
Oh, sitting quietly means no music, no TV, no books or magazines. Sitting. Quietly.
- Cullasaja Falls HDR 02 — Cullasaja River Gorge, Nantahala National Forest, Hwy 64 near Franklin, NC, October 27, 2013 — Our expectations, ideas, desires, ambition, self-interest, assumptions, inferences, beliefs and opinions (etc.) get in our way. Block our way. Prevent us from being who it is ours to be, keep us from doing what is ours to do.
We think we are here to get what we want, have our way, sit back and relax, enjoy our life, take it easy, have it made.
What we think it is about keeps us from being about what we are here to be about.
We are here to live our life, which is not the life we have in mind for ourselves—and to help others live their life, which is not the life they have in mind for themselves.
This is hard work. We have to walk two paths at the same time.
We have to live the life we are living in order to pay the bills—the right bills—and hold body and soul together while we also do the work of soul, the work soul would have us do, the work that is ours to do, the work we are born to do, the work our gifts, art and genius are uniquely fashioned to do.
And we think we have no gifts, especially no art, and that genius is a word that would never be used in conjunction with us. Our soul has its work cut out for it, getting us to do our work.
Here’s the starting orientation: Open yourself to the possibility that you have a soul with a life for you to live which is different from the life you are living, and it is your place to realize this and to consciously bring your two lives together—experiencing, expressing and exhibiting who you are and who you also are with grace and compassion in the time left for living.
Open yourself to your soul and see where it goes.
- Dawn’s Light — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 21, 2013 — You have your life to live and I have my life to live.
We are here to assist one another with the life that is our life to live—not to interfere with one another’s ability to live her life, his life, but to help the other in becoming attuned to and aligned with her life, his life.
How we do this is by seeing, hearing, and understanding who the other is and also it. And saying what we see, hear and understand, so that the other might also see, hear and understand—or correct our perception—so that we we all see better, hear better, understand better how things are and how they also are.
And we leave it to the other to work out the implications of her, or his, now enlarged perception of her life, of his life and what is being asked of her, of him, and what she, what he, is going to do about it.
We see, hear, understand, know, do, become.
Through conversation with those who are also about seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, becoming.
No one has the formula. We are all finding our way. Working it out—how to be who we are, how to do what is ours to do, within the life we are living.
- Carolina Lakes 23 — Stumpy Pond, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — Our symptoms are just the conditions within which we bring forth our life. They may wake us up to who we are and what needs to be done, but they may not go away just because we wake up to who we are and start doing what needs to be done.
Do not look at living the life that is your life to live as some kind of escape from the life you are living.
We live the life that is our life to live within the terms and conditions of our other life—of our physical life in this world of normal, apparent reality. That world does not disappear even when we live in tune with the invisible world.
We live with a foot in each world, and make it work.
Don’t tell me, let me guess. “But, what’s in it for us???” is the question welling up in all who read this. Am I right? “What do we get out of living the life that is ours to live?”
We get to live the life that is our life to live within the terms and conditions of our other life. That is the adventure of a lifetime. You would have to be dead to not get a bad case of the happy squeals just thinking about it. But hold those squeals down. What would the neighbors think?
- Goodale State Park 09 — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013 — How we manage our conflicts tells the tale.
We have the idea that we shouldn’t have conflicts, and that when we do, we should get rid of them as soon as possible. Conflicts are to be avoided, denied, dismissed, discounted, ignored, disappeared, escaped…
Those “Happy Pills” that have been around for four generations or so? Conflict Destroyers! “Conflict? What conflict? I don’t even know what the word means!”
When we bury our conflict, we bury our life with it.
Life is conflict. Being alive brings our conflict forth. The Cyclops? Just another term for Conflict.
Oh, but, our little hands are already wringing at the very idea of me talking this way.
It’s YOUR LIFE talking to you through me! Your life has to get you to wake up to the necessity of facing and working through your conflicts in a conscious, deliberate, intentional way in order to be lived in the time left for living, and you just want to turn off, tune out and move to La La Land with it’s rainbows and white picket fences forever.
What do you think “Thy will, not mine, be done” means?
What do you think “If you want to be my disciple, you have to pick up your cross daily and follow me (That is, And do it the way it has to be done)” means?
And you just want to believe in Jesus and wait to be gathered to the heavenly regions (Read: La La Land in the Sky)!
Well. You have a life yet to live and the Cyclops is blocking your path. What are you going to do? Face up to your conflicts and wade into them and do what needs to be done with them, or not?
- November Orchard 05 — Springs Farm Peach Orchard, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — We are into achievement, accomplishment, productivity, getting things done. Soul is into being with, enjoying, experiencing, communing, relishing.
You see the problem.
The culture tells us if we aren’t operating out of the Type A Orientation we have ADD and need to be on medication in order to get with the program.
Soul would say if we aren’t on Island Time we have missed the boat.
This is a conflict we have to work out. How are we going to live soulfully in this culture?
We have to carry consciously the contradiction if we are to walk two paths at the same time, and be servants of soul in a world that scoffs at the idea of doing it as soul would have it done.
- Goodale State Park 05 B&W — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013 — We are pinned down, held in place by, and remain stuck because of, our expectations, fears and desires. Wishing things were different than they are keeps things as they are.
We wish things were specifically different, and because we see no path to that goal, we reject all paths to any goal. We despise all goals that aren’t at one with the goal we desire for ourselves.
Change begins with opening ourselves to possibilities not our own, beyond anything we are capable of imagining, allowing our life to lead us into living in ways we would never choose for ourselves.
Which puts the old idea of “freedom of the will” right out the door.
I hear a lot of talk about “free will,” but I’ve never seen a lived demonstration of it. Sounds like wishful thinking, to me.
We are not free to will ourselves to want what we ought to want instead of what we do want—to think the way we ought to think instead of the way we think—to see the way we ought to see instead of the way we see. To value what we ought to value instead of what we do value—to do what we ought to do instead of what we do—to be who we ought to be instead of who we are…
Let’s see some free willing going on instead of hearing all this talk about it! Show me someone who is free to will something into being that is radically, or even slightly, different from what he, what she, has been trying frantically to will into being all his, all her, life! Anything.
How free are we to embrace what our life is trying to give us? If you want to be free, start being free to be different from who you want to be, from who you think you ought to be, and see what your life can do for you.
Your life’s proclivity lies in loosing the bonds of suppression and letting the oppressed go free.
But the people who left Egypt immediately wanted to return. If you are going to follow your life to the Land of Promise, you have to have what it takes for the journey.
You have to be free to embrace what your life has in store. Whatever your life has in store.
- Carolina Lakes HDR 25 — Stumpy Pond, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — It is all miracle and grace.
You can talk about “the plan of salvation,” if you want to, but it’s all miracle and grace.
You can’t develop a formula or a recipe or a technique or a strategy or a method or an approach or a plan of any kind for waking up, changing your mind about what is important, and giving yourself to the work of living the life that is your life to live within the life you are living in the time left for living.
If you do it, it’s a miracle and solid evidence of grace at work in your life.
If you don’t think it’s a miracle and grace, wake up and get with it!
- Tree Line Panorama 01 — Jim Wilson Road, Lafayette County, SC, October 31, 2013 — Photography is showing up with a camera and waiting for the picture to appear.
Our ancestors spent a long time waiting between things. The natural world waits a lot and acts when the time is ripe for action.
Are you getting a spoon into what I’m serving up here?
We cannot hurry the big stuff. The sun rises and sets at the time of its rising and setting. We have to be there before hand and wait.
You might be ready for your life to do something a long time before your life is ready to do something.
The journey is a lesson in discipline and patience, persistence, faithfulness and courage.
We cannot hurry sunrise or sunset, or very little in between.
Watch. Wait. When the door opens, walk through. If it becomes apparent this door isn’t going to open (For example, the wind is not going to stop blowing before the light is gone), walk on.
How do you know whether to wait or walk on? We don’t know any of the important stuff. We make a choice and stay or go.
If we choose poorly this time, we hope to choose better next time, or the time after that.
There is plenty of room for grace, compassion and forgiveness on the journey. We’ll get enough of it right. You’ll see.
- Wood Duck Box Panorama — Goodale State Park, Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013 — It works like this. I catch a whiff of something, a sentence, or a paragraph, or a thought, and I start writing. I have no idea where it is going, or what I am going to say next.
One sentence leads to another, and the thing is written. I’m not doing it so much as feeling my way along, being led, being drawn out, unfolded, shown what is to be said in the act of saying it.
You don’t think it up and then write it out. You start writing to hear—to see—what you have to say, what you need to hear, what you need to see. You write to be shown what’s what.
If I’m good for anything, if I can take credit for anything, if I can say about anything, “THIS is what I (with the “I” in bold and italicized) do,” it is come up with the right word from time to time.
Something wants to be said, and I’m helping it be said, feeling what needs saying, and getting to the point where we need a word and I (Bold, italics) come up with it. That’s my specialty. Finding the right word.
You think I’m writing these vignettes. I’m just writing them down, and coming up with exactly the right word from time to time. My gift. Glad to share it.
But, I’m saying that you could try this our. Learn to distinguish a good place to start from a not so good place to start. Learn to catch a whiff of something that needs to be said. And sit down and write it out, and see if it hooks you up to a train of associations, and before long you’ve written paragraphs you didn’t know were there to be written.
A word of warning. Don’t try to make anything out of it. Don’t think in terms of becoming a best selling author. Write for the writing, to say what needs to be said, and see where it goes, but don’t have any destinations in mind.
You are along for the ride. And what a ride it will be. Seeing what you have to say. Who would have guessed it!
- Carolina Lakes HDR 27 — Lake Crandall, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — Photography is being there with your eyes open. You can take a better photograph in a wider variety of light conditions with a camera that will allow you to control lens size, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus point and frames per second but you can take a really good picture with a camera phone or a point-and-shoot IF YOU ARE THERE. With your eyes open.
Being there is being at the right place at the right time. If you can do that consistently, reliably, you will learn to take better photographs just by taking photographs and learning from your mistakes.
The instructional videos, seminars, books and lectures can be helpful for cutting down your learning curve where composition, exposure, focus, lighting and subject matter are concerned but. If you aren’t going to be there, with your eyes open, you are wasting your time.
You have to show up. Right place. Right time. Consistently. Reliably. Dependably. You can figure everything out on your own over time IF YOU SHOW UP, with your eyes open!
We’re talking about your life here. You have to show up. You have to be where your life needs you to be, when your life needs you to be there, with the attitude required to see what is happening and what needs to happen, and the courage required to do it.
You can’t be distracted. Absent. Unaccounted for.
Living well comes down to being there. You’ll learn what you need to do by doing it.
We all live better over time just by being there with our eyes open.
Be there with your eyes open is the only rule for life you need to apply. Everything else will fall into place around that.
- November Lane HDR 03 — Faires-Colthrap Cabin, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 7, 2013 — Start anywhere. Really. Start anywhere and get out of the way, and see what happens, and what it has to say to you, about you.
Start with a word, just playing around, and see what associations spin off from the word. See how long it takes to get to a word and its impact upon you that you know you need to explore, face, feel.
Or start with a scene. You walking along a beach, riding a horse, walking your dog… Any scene will do. Now, out of the way with you! Watch as the scene unfolds in your imagination. What happens. How much can you take as a spectator before you insert yourself into the scene and forceably take over the direction—and even with you directing consciously the action, see how long it takes before something completely surprising happens in the fantasy you are directing.
Where. Does. This. Stuff. Come. From?
Play along with me here. Let’s pretend it comes from your soul—from Psyche, who is dying for you to play with her, to follow her lead, and come to terms with who you are and also are and what you are about, what life you are being asked to live.
Psyche is waiting for an invitation to lead you to you, and what remains for you to do in the time left for living.
You can start anywhere.
- Lake Haigler Fall 04 — Lake Haigler Loop, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — You have to have a place apart where your other world does not intrude.
Running or walking might be it for you. Tending your horse. Playing the piano. Sitting with a friend. Roaming around with a camera…
You have to have a physical space in which you can say, “This world is off limits to my other world.”
A world apart that we enter consciously, and leave with a promise to return, is balm for the soul, breathing room for Psyche, where we can be completely real, here and who we are.
You can’t fake anything with a horse, or with some friends, and that puts you in a different mindset. It makes listening/playing possible.
When we are playing properly—that is with complete freedom, without worrying about what is proper and what is not—we are listening well, without knowing or noticing we are listening.
We are fully here, now, open to the moment and what it brings to life in us. That’s listening with our body as well as with the ears of heart. It is knowing how things are with us, and how much more of us is available to us in this world than in that world.
This is essential knowing, and you don’t get it from a book, unless books are your world apart, and then you don’t get it from reading A book, but from the experience of the wonder of books.
The world apart grounds us, centers us, restores us, stabilizes us and equips us to renter our other world and live there as only we can to heal and renew and reclaim that world to the extent that is possible.
The world apart enables us to realize and bring forth the gift, art, genius that is ours—to be who we also are, to assist the emergence of the life that is ours to live within the life we are living—so that the two worlds come closer together in our consciousness, and we live as a blessing and a grace in one world because of the reality and proximity of the other world.
- November Orchard HDR 08 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 7, 2013 — It’s a good thing to pay attention to our guiding ideas—to know what directs our boat on its path through the sea.
We can be guided by ideas we’ve never examined—that no one has ever examined. We can be led along throughout our life by ideas that couldn’t stand the light of day.
If we called them forth and put them on the table and walked around the table, we would be embarrassed to have any association with them. Or should be.
We have embraced things as so that never were so, and never will be, and we tucked them away without a thought and live as though the people who told us those things knew what they were talking about.
Our task is to pull them forth, our guiding ideas, and make them conscious, think about them, examine them, embrace what needs to embraced, replace what needs to be replaced and discard what needs to be discarded, so that we are led on by ideas that we affirm to be valuable on the deepest—and highest—levels, and can trust ourselves to them and the work that is theirs to do.
- CSX 5283 01 — Waxhaw, NC, November 7, 2013 — We get to our guiding ideas by paying attention to the way we live our life. Our life is our values.
It doesn’t matter what we profess, what we say we believe, what we think we think is important. What matters is what we do. That’s where we see our guiding ideas at work in our life.
Our guiding ideas are unconscious unless we have done the work of consciously examining them, embracing them, and aligning our life with them. We absorb them from our environment, from the attitudes of our parents, the culture, and the institutions which imprint us early on.
An aspect of growing up is the task of grounding what remains to be lived of our life upon ideas that are worthy of us—that are capable of guiding us to a life of value.
So, we pay attention to the way we are living and inquire of actions and tones of voice and facial expressions, “Where did that come from? What guiding idea is that serving?”
We get to the bottom of us as we are, and sit with that, and think of how we need to be different in order to express and exhibit values that are actually valuable—and work those values into the life we have yet to live.
- Fall Woods 06 — Edward Lane, Indian Land, SC, November 3, 2013 — Everything is a path to awareness when viewed metaphorically or metapsychicly, that is, when probed for it’s meaning for us on an inner level.
Outward events have an inner meaning. We live in a dream and interpret the dream while we dream it.
Consciousness is conscious of the dream we are a part of and interprets it in light of its meaning for us personally.
Fall does it for me. I love the colors and I love arranging the colors and objects, that would be trees and rocks and water, etc. in a frame. This is the work of peace, wholeness, harmony, integration, reconciliation, oneness, symmetry, synthesis and accord.
That’s my life. That’s what I do. My photography is me, speaking to me about me, and healing me, bringing the fragmented parts back together, learning to dance and play and sing. I’m restoring me with a camera. Bringing me into focus. Seeing me when I look at what I see in the viewfinder.
I take a wrong turn on the way to dinner and trust me to get myself back on track. It isn’t about a wrong turn on the way to dinner. It’s about trusting myself to get back on track.
I’m graced with acts of kindness and compassion and I see it as pointing to a wellspring of tenderness and mercy for me coming to me from beyond me yet within me.
The visible world is evidence of the invisible world, is a threshold to the invisible world, is a portal, an aperture, a window to unseen wonders opening before us every day as an endless blessing for eyes that see.
- Looking Glass Falls HDR 06 — Davidson River, Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, October 28, 2013 — We have to look at what we see to see it.
Assumptions, presumptions, inferences, arrogance and ignorance stand in our way, and we think we see things that aren’t there.
We see what we look at through the filters of experience and knowledge, and swagger up to the thing saying, “I know who you are. I know your Momma and your Daddy. I learned about you in fifth grade. That’s all that can be said for you.” And walk on as though we are in possession of that thing’s secrets and innermost desires.
The adage, “There is nothing new under the sun,” capsules our attitude perfectly. Nothing is ever new for those who look at the world through old, tired eyes, cynical and sarcastic, who know all they need to know about everything, and can’t be told, or shown, anything they don’t already know.
Deliver us from people who never see anything new! And please, oh please, never let us be found among them! Give us eyes that make all things new by the way we look at everything! Starting right now with the next thing we look at!
- Lake Haigler Fall HDR 05 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Hwy. 21 Access, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013 — We never get anywhere thinking about a thing. You can sit thinking about apple pie for your entire life and you won’t be any closer to knowing about apple pie when you are done than you were when you started.
You can read books about apple pie, memorize recipes, talk to cooks and servers. You can recite ingredients and debate the intricacies of cooking temperature and the advantages of a la mode. But, you won’t know apple pie for all the testimonies you hear or the words you use to describe it.
Thinking does not come first where apple pie, or most of life, is concerned.
We have to open ourselves to the experience of a thing and then think about that.
We have to let the wonder of life inform our thoughts, and talk about it with the sense of that wonder still fresh in our mind.
Too many people talk about religion, or sex, for that matter, without the wonder.
They consider themselves experts, authorities, but you can tell from listening to them talk that they have never even caught a whiff of apple pie straight from the oven.
- Ocracoke Lighthouse 01 HDR B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — Do not think that there is another person whose company will be life itself for the rest of your life, and if you can only find the right person, you will be happy, at peace and fulfilled forever.
This is the delusion of romantic love. It sells books and movie tickets, music and perfume. It’s big business. Those who stand to gain from your business would love for you to believe it is so. It is not so.
We do not find life in another person. We escape from life in another person—in the happy fantasy of true love with another person.
We run from our responsibility for bringing life forth from within ourselves into the loving embrace of Mr., of Ms. Right. We dream longingly of what we would do and how it would be, and wait for the phone to ring, the door to knock, while our life waits, wondering when we are going to wake up and get with the work that is ours yet to do in the time left for living.
Life is ours to live or not. It does not come to us in the form of a handsome stranger or a winsome lass. It lies hidden away in our own soul/Psyche, hoping we will take up the search for the treasure, wrestle it from the dragons (Whose names, according to James Hollis, are Fear and Lethargy) who guard it, and bring it forth as a blessing and a grace upon all who come our way.
We waste our time looking for someone who will do for us what we must do for ourselves: Claim our life and live it. That is the adventure for someone else to hear of and for us to have!
Your life wants to know if you are coming to rescue it and live it out. Is dying to know if you are. Are you?
- November Orchard 10 — Springs Farm, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, November 2, 2013
Your life is your practice. Practice openness to your life. Practice living your life.
Living your life is not accidental. It is focused, deliberate, intentional and conscious.
Living the life you fell into when you stepped out of the womb is accidental.
Oh, there are a few rules to keep about making your mother or your father, and the preacher, happy, but beyond that, you just follow the lead of the company you keep, and go through the motions of living without any life about what you do, and nothing vibrant and compelling to pull you into each day.
Living YOUR life is altogether different.
Living YOUR life is your practice.
What would it mean to live YOUR life? How do you think YOUR life might be different from the life you are living? What are some things you might do to work YOUR life into the life you are living?
Interpret/listen to your dreams. Notice what catches your eye and look closer.
Watch for white rabbits and see where they lead.
Learn to sense when instinct stirs to life, and leads—and intuition guides.
Trust yourself, your inner voice, your sense of what is life and what is death, your feel for where you belong and where you have no business being.
Create places in each day where you sit quietly and listen to you. Go there, sit down, and say “Okay soul,” or “Okay, Psyche,” or “Okay (whatever name fits your sense of the inner core, ground and source of your life and being). I’m here, listening, and open. How can I be of help? What do you need me to do? What now? What next?”
This is the important part: You are not some mindless servant of Psyche/Soul. You are a full partner in the life you create together with Psyche/Soul. You have conscious veto power. You have input. You know how the world of normal, apparent, reality works. You know sequence and order. You’re good at that.
Psyche/Soul knows stuff, and you know stuff about how to do what needs to be done—what is practical, what is appropriate, what is protocol, what the rules are governing life as you live it. And you have to put the brakes on when that is the thing to do—but not when you are just afraid of what might happen.
You have to be fearless, and you have to be smart. Or as Jesus put it, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” It is very much essential that you play your part in working out with Psyche/Soul what to do when, where and how.
Collaborating with Psyche/Soul, you produce YOUR (joint) life. And save the world.
Someone should explain this to us when we step out of the womb.
- Shadow Lane Panorama — Lancaster County, SC, November 10, 2013 — We have to do the work.
The work is growing up. Opening up to the truth of how things are and who we are called to be in response to it by applying the gifts, art, genius that are ours to give and living the life that is ours to live in the time left for living.
The work is waking up and being conscious of what is happening and what is being asked of us by soul/Psyche—being conscious of what we need to do differently—beyond our normal response to the circumstances and context of the life we are living—to live OUR life in each situation as it unfolds.
We have to be conscious of OUR life and of the situation that is unfolding before us, around us, and bring OUR life to bear on the here and now of our living.
This is work.
It is the work of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing and being.
We can only do this work out of an orientation, an attitude, of focused, reflective, silence and attentive, caring, presence.
No reading from a recipe book. No following someone else’s orders or recommendations. No listening to some authority for directions. Living in the raw in response to our take on what is being asked of us by the situation and our best sense of the gifts, art, genius that are ours to give in that moment of our living.
This is the work of being human. The sum total of the Hero’s Journey. It’s great once you get the hang of it. You get the hang of it by “getting in there and doing your thing and not worrying about the score.”
Go to it!
- Around Bass Lake 02 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 8, 2013
We have to do our own work in bringing ourselves forth to meet our life by living the life that is our life to live within the terms and conditions of the life we are living.
And we can only do this from the security and stability of relationships that are loving, understanding, supportive and encouraging.
We are on our own, and we can’t do it alone.
This is one of the contradictions that defines our existence.
Nothing can happen until something else does.
Laughter at the absurdity of our situation keeps us from being canceled out and rendered immobilized and incapable of doing anything.
It’s just ridiculous. Who could possibly take it seriously?
So. We start doing what we can think to do on our own, alone, without a friend in the world—never minding that we cannot do it—and we meet someone, or remember someone, or someone looks to us to be the friend they need, and it takes off from there.
We live toward the best we can imagine in this moment, right now, and we find what we need to make it to the next moment.
This is the meaning of the Biblical story of manna in the wilderness.
Who knows where help is coming from? We have to believe help is coming from somewhere, and live as though it is.
We have to live in this moment as those who know we are going to have all the help we need, and see where it goes.
The last thing we want to to is let our apparent helplessness and hopelessness become facts by treating them as though they are. Treat them as though they are not.
And go meet the moment, wondering what will meet you there.
- Around Price Lake 13 HDR BW — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, NC, October 11, 2013 — All of our escape attempts are paths along which we meet whatever we are running from.
The trick is to face the monster we fear, call it by name, spit in its eye, have it out.
When we face what we fear, we find ourselves. We run because we are afraid we don’t have what it takes to do what needs to be done—because we don’t know who we are.
Facing our fear pulls forth some aspect of ourselves we didn’t know was there, introduces us to ourselves, births us anew into a life waiting to be lived as a Fear Facer.
Fear Facers are the only ones who have what it takes to live the life that is their life to live, the life that has their name on it, the life that wakes them up from their stupor, calls them forth, invites them to be alive by being who they are.
Gay people talk of “coming out” when they declare themselves to the world saying, “This is who I am!”
We all have to “come out” in one way or another. We are all ashamed of who we are, afraid to find out what we are made of. What if we don’t measure up? What if we can’t do it? What if we don’t have a gift, an art, a genius?
We had better “stay in the closet” and live the life they hand us, and do what Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased tell us to do. It’s safer that way, softer, easier. Death is always a warm blanket of denial saving us from our fear.
- Looking Glass Falls 07 — Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, NC, October 28, 2013 — The work is being open, being honest, being real, being transparent to ourselves.
The work is being conscious of our opposites, our contradictions, our inconsistency and ambivalence.
The work is bearing the tension of the polarities, internal and external, within which we live, integrating mutually exclusive opposites, reconciling contradictions, saying yes to this and to that—neither of which can live in the same world, much less the same person—letting both be because they are.
The work is kindness and compassion, vulnerability, intimacy, mercy, tenderness, grace and good will—for ourselves and for all who come our way.
The work is not “doing something.” Not finding “what is ours to do” and doing it. Not achieving, accomplishing, acquiring, amassing, succeeding…
The work is being someone. Being who we are. And who we also are. Consciously. Reliably. Dependably. Consistently—even with all our inconsistency—within each situation as it arises, meeting what is asked of us with what we have to offer, and letting that be that, in each situation that comes along.
The trick is being able to see all of it for what it is, and laugh at it all—at the very idea of it all—and get in there with it and do our thing, endlessly, relentlessly, laughing at that, too—and loving it all because it is life, our life, and this is our shot at it, just as it is, and it would be so wrong to not love it, to not live it with all our heart and soul, for as long as life is possible.
- Goodale State Park 04 — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013 — Don’t think waking up, being alive, doing your work, honoring your opposites, conflicts and contradictions is all endless delight. They don’t call it the HERO’s Journey for no reason.
It asks hard things of you. Remember what happened to Jesus. And Socrates.
You think you will be well received, appreciated, admired and applauded. It’s a blessing if you’re just ignored, discounted, dismissed, written off.
You think it’s all laid out for you and you only have to show up and follow some invisible orders. You still have to decide what is being asked of you, which is the path among all the possibilities, what is yours to do, what now, what next.
You think it is going to be easy once you make the commitment, leave the nets to follow your heart. The tests keep coming. The Cyclops does not sleep. Over and over, you have to determine whether it’s your heart calling you or a Siren’s song you hear. Is it a White Rabbit, or a Red Herring, or a Wild Goose? You have to go to know. Dead ends, U-turns, and false starts are all a part of the Journey.
Always the work. Looking. Listening. Hearing. Seeing. Waiting. Watching. Trusting. Chancing. Wondering. Doubting. Fearing. Venturing. Asking. Seeking. Knocking…
”Foxes have their holes, and the birds of the air have their nests, but those on the way to becoming a True Human Being have no place to call home because the path winds on.” Which makes the path home. And the way is life itself. But don’t be expecting a hero’s reward for taking up the hero’s journey. The adventure is the gift. Or, as Baruch came to understand, “You receive your LIFE as a prize of war!”
- Old Santee Canal State Park HDR Black and White 02 — Moncks Corner, SC, November 13, 2013 — The profit motive is #1 on the list of things that have us where we are today. Another term for “the profit motive” is “Greed.”
Now someone is bound to object, “What’s greedy about the profit motive?” And I’ll reply, “It’s the very foundation of the profit motive. Without greed, there would be no profit motive. There would be nothing more than, “I see you need some help with that. Here, let me give you a hand.”
As it is, we look to maximize our advantage at someone else’s, or everyone else’s, expense. We don’t do anything without running a cost/benefit analysis, determining what’s in it for us, and how long it will take to garner a hefty return on our investment of time and energy. If the numbers aren’t right, we pass.
We do not assess our situations in terms of what is needed and what we have to offer with the gifts, art and genius that is ours to share that might be able to help meet the need.
We look at our situations in terms of how we might exploit what we find there in the service of our best interest.
So, you see how revolutionary it is to think of living our life with a view toward bringing forth what resides within, without a thought for what is in it for us or how we might use our gifts, art, genius for our eternal benefit and everlasting glory, but intent only in offering what we have to give to do what needs to be done, and being glad to help where we can.
That attitude will not be good for the economy.
Living to serve the economy is not good for you.
Viva la Revolucion!
- Carolina Lakes HDR 20 — Lake Francis, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — We cannot have our own perspective without thinking about it—without seeing our seeing, thinking about our thinking, wondering what cants us toward seeing and thinking the way we do and experimenting with different ways of seeing and thinking and evaluating the value of our experience from different points of view.
As long as our perspective is handed to us by someone else, our parents, our preacher, the source of our news and commentary on the news, we are an extension of someone else. To be who we are, we have to look with our own eyes and evaluate what we see in light of our experience and the impact of the way we see on our life.
Here’s my theory: The more conscious we are, the more valuable are our values and the better aligned we are with what is important to us, and the more what is important to us is likely to be actually important in terms of universal values that have proven to be important throughout the ages.
I would like for you to live so as to evaluate my theory and see what you think.
- Angel Oak HDR 02 — Angel Oak Park, Charleston, SC, November 14, 2013 — Our life comes to us when we aren’t looking for it. When we don’t expect it. When we are going about our business in our other life, not even thinking about our real life—the one we aren’t living. The one we aren’t even thinking about.
Our life comes along calling us like Jesus calling the disciples. We don’t pay any attention to it because we think we already have our life. And we don’t even look up. We just go right on with life as it is supposed to be.
But, we wonder sometimes if there shouldn’t be more to it.
All it takes is listening to our life the next time it comes around calling our name, saying, “Come follow me. I have some things for you to do,” to find out.
- Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge 01 — Cooper River, Charleston-to-Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 14, 2013 — All of our emphasis upon achievement, accomplishment, acquirement and success is compensation for our vulnerability, impotence, helplessness and insufficiency.
We have to learn to be who we are, what we are, how we are, as we are—with the right spirit, the right attitude—if we are to have a chance at being who we also are, living the life that is also ours to live.
We throw aside the life that is ours to live in an obsessive/compulsive frenzy to live the life that is NOT ours to live.
All of my fantasies are about protection, invincibility, indestructibility, omnipotence, safety… The gods we worship are almighty, victorious, omni-everything. We run smoothly past the insignificant detail that Jesus was born into insignificance, and died there. Born in a manger, died on a cross. You don’t get more nondescript than that.
But we make him King of Kings. We won’t tolerate his Nowhere Manness. He’s The Man.
Well. He’s The Man because he is NOT The Man at all. And invites us to be, as he was, who WE are: Not The Man, Not The Woman. Not infinite, not eternal, not everlasting, nothing special at all. Vulnerable, impotent, helpless and going nowhere too slowly to know he’s already there.
My entire life has been spent doing what cannot be done. Waking people up. Calling people to live their own life. Connecting people with the life that is theirs to live in the midst of the life they are living. I can’t do any of that. Neither can you.
We cannot wake anyone up. It’s an inside job. No one can wake up before her, before his, time. We can only encourage people who are waking up to be as awake as they are. Where the others are concerned, we can only wake up to our inability to wake them up, leave the dead to bury the dead, shake the dust off our sandals and walk on, talking to the people who can hear what we have to say, who don’t really need to be told anything because they already know it.
But. Everybody needs encouragement. A wink. A nod. A little help from their friends.
What we are about is doing what cannot be done, what makes no difference, what has no chance, what will never work, what is completely hopeless, what does no good…
That’s the Cyclops talking. We become the Cyclops when we say these things to ourselves. The Cyclops stands before us in the form of the people who say these things to us. “You’re wasting your time! What do you think you are doing? Nothing you say or do matters!”
Yeah! All right! Now you’re talking! That’s the way to do it! Only a REAL Man or Woman can waste his or her time doing that which must be done and cannot be done. Only a REAL human being an be a fool to that extent and degree. Those are the ones who know what being born in a manger, and being from Nazareth, and being the stone the builders reject, and dying on a cross are about—and can do it all as it should be done, because that’s being true to ourselves in the best possible sense of the term.
Living the life that is ours to live and refusing to be deterred by how little it matters, by how little good it does, by how much of a waste of time it is… Smiling because we know it’s OUR life and we are going to live it anyway, nevertheless, even so!
Changing the world. Transforming the world. Saving the world. Dong nothing. Deliberately. As it needs to be done. Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
”Get in there and do your thing and don’t worry about the outcome!”—Joseph Campbell
- Steps at the Gardens of Mepkin Abbey — Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — (Mepkin Abbey is a Trappist monastery built on the site of Mepkin Plantation in 1949 which was the hunting retreat of Clare Booth Luce and Henry Luce, who are buried on the grounds of the Abbey) — There are no side trips on the Path.
The Path is always underfoot. When you think you are off the Path, you are on the Path. It only takes a moment of reflection to make the connections that shift your perspective and open you to the moment of your living and it’s relationship with the heart of your life.
The trick is seeing the Path in every moment. It only takes looking to be able to see, if you remember to see what you look at.
- Magnolia Cemetery HDR 01 — Charleston, SC, November 14, 2013 — The Path is always underfoot. It only takes seeing it to know it is so. We don’t have to go anywhere to find it. It does not lie waiting to be discovered across the ocean, or in the high Himalayas, or in the instruction of some grave spiritual authority. It is always right here, right now.
It only takes thinking differently about where you are to wake up to the truth that you are already there.
Carl Jung said, “There resides in each of us another, whom we do not know.”
That other one within knows all we wish we knew. It only takes openness to what is there, to what is here, now, to know what we need to know to live appropriately in response to the situation as it arises.
When we wake up, we wake up to what is happening and what needs to happen in response to it. Then it only remains to be seen if we have the courage to do it. That’s all there is to it.
What else is there to want, or have, or know, or do?
- Ghost Trees on Boneyard Beach I — Hammock Island, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 16, 2013 — Carl Jung says the test for the depth and quality of your alignment with the drift of the Invisible World is how your life is going. And this doesn’t have anything to do with the way the world would rate your life, or with the ease with which you are living. It has everything to do with the rightness of your life, with the fit and feel of your life, with the degree to which it is YOUR life that you are living, that it belongs to YOU and YOU to it. Hand and glove. You and your life. Your life and you.
And you are the only one who can make that assessment.
There is no objective standard of measure for determining how close you are to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Land of Promise, Nirvana, the Elysian Fields, the Grail Castle, the Hero’s Reward, or however you chose to think of as where you will be when you get there.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And you are the one doing the taste testing. What you say, about your life, how it fits and feels, goes.
- Ghost Trees on Boneyard Beach II — Hammock Island, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — It is essential that we keep faith with ourselves—that we live in good faith with ourselves—that we do not break faith with ourselves.
But. Kidding ourselves is what we do best. No! Telling ourselves what we want to hear is what we do best! No Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best! No! Keeping ourselves in the dark is what we do best! No! Selling ourselves a bill of goods is what we do best!…
The drunk who swears that was his, her, last drink is being honest, is telling the truth, believes it is the truth anyway. He, she, is not lying but he, she, is wrong. But try to convince him, her, that he, she, is wrong. Yet, it is only a matter of time—until the scene is repeated.
In order to keep faith with ourselves, in order to live with ourselves in good faith, we have to be transparent to ourselves.
In order to see ourselves as we are and as we also are, we have to bear the pain of the contradictions we don’t want to face. We have to grow up.
Who wants to grow up?
So we light up a cigarette. Gain another pound. Fail to exercise again today. Refuse to put ALL of us on the table and consider the table.
We break faith with ourselves.
It all begins with keeping faith with ourselves—with living in good faith with ourselves. Until we can do that, we are all pose and posturing. No heart. No soul.
Heart and soul come into the picture when we look at ourselves in the mirror and see what’s there—and do what knowing requires.
- Cotton In The Field — Near Columbia, SC, November 19, 2013 — We do love a parade. We love to parade around. Put on airs. Strut about. Show off.
Money is for showing off. Why be wealthy if you can’t show off? What’s the point of having money if you look like everyone else?
The kick is that with money, we look like everyone else who has money. The trick is to look like yourself whether you have money or not. Looking like yourself is a great way to show off because it doesn’t require any special effort. You don’t have to think about it. What people see is who you are and it’s nothing special—and it makes you one of a kind.
The world is dying for people who are who they are, without fanfare, trumpets, parades and showboating—who aren’t pretending to be someone else. The world is saved, that is, put on the right track, by people who are grounded in themselves and content with being who they are.
But, it sounds so plain-cut, so normal, so invisible. We want to be SOMEBODY! We want to be SPECIAL! And have everybody know it. Which denigrates how special we are, and puts being ourselves on par with being a small fish in a large school of small fish. We have higher aspirations.
We want to stand out. And, we want to fit in. Being ourselves is standing out by not fitting in. We want people fawning over us, gushing, carrying on, while we say, “Oh, it’s nothing.”
Carl Jung said, “Only a life lived in a certain spirit is worth living.”
That “certain spirit” is quite happy being who it is, how it is, where it is, when it is, what it is, as it is, why it is… Enjoying its gift, its art, its genius. Being itself, awash in the wonder of itself, and pleased to be itself in relationship with other selves being themselves in the right spirit, with the right attitude and the right frame of mind.
The most special people in the world have that kind of “certain spirit” about them, and bless the lives of others with vitality and grace—without doing anything more than being who they are.
- Airbourne Ibis 01 — Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 15, 2013 — It is only being alive that we are after, that the Unconscious, Invisible, World is after. The Unconscious strives to be conscious of being alive. We are the carriers of the Unconscious, the threshold between the Unconscious and Conscious worlds. We are the door. You can imagine what our being mostly closed to everything does to the Unconscious we carry.
You can imagine what our being mostly dead on every level except that of vital signs does to the Life That Would Be Lived within us.
Is there any wonder that we are visited with symptoms and find ourselves feeling bad about our life and down on ourselves for no apparent reason?
We are disappointing those who depend upon living vicariously through us, through our raunchous openness to the raw experience of life, living, being alive.
We don’t want anything to do with life in the raw. We want our life third or fourth hand, thank you. We want to hear what someone else did from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who wasn’t there but who got it first hand. That is as alive as we allow ourselves to be.
But it is being alive that we are here for. We are alive to the extent that we experience consciously touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing, feeling, loving, wondering, going, doing, being emerged in and engaged with LIFE.
Celebrate spring flowers and the fruit of each season. Sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, snow fall, thunderstorms, color, texture, light, shadow, form, shape, beauty in art, music, nature, good food, drink and conversation. Success, failure, triumph and disappointment, love and loss, victory and defeat. The. Whole. Grand. Experience.
This is not hard. We could start right now.
- October Orchard 01 — Peach Trees on Springs Farm, Fort Mill, SC, October 29, 2013
We do what needs to be done in each moment the way only we can do it with the gifts, art, and genius that are ours to offer a world that is dying for the very things we have to give—and let that be that.
Lao Tzu said, “Do your work and step back. Let nature take its course.” But. Your work has to be YOUR work, the work that is as unique to you as your fingerprints.
Everybody has fingerprints, but only you have yours. There may be ten million poets or artists, but no one can poet or artist like you.
Bring yourself, just as you are, to the moment—with nothing to anticipate or fear, yearn for or dread. Just the moment, with its need, and your perceptive gaze, and your gracious presence.
Of course, the moment will not always be kindly receptive, or even notice—and some moments need more than the tender application of grace and presence.
Some moments call for a stout NO! and a summons to accountability.
We stand in the way of some moments and refuse to budge until what is there with us in the moment apologizes, and changes its mind and its direction.
And sometimes, we pay a price for doing the right thing, the necessary thing, the needed thing.
But, we would pay a greater price for not doing it, for looking the other way, pretending not to notice what that moment needs.
So, it comes down to us and the moment, for as long as there are moments.
We see each one. We assess it. We offer it what we deem it needs ,out of our store of gifts to give, and we see where it goes.
It will go right well for all concerned. I’m confident of that.
- Mallard — The new business card series. Image 8/20 —
[JD1]Sent to Helen Wolff
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