10/31/2013 — 11/20/2013
- Don’t force anything. Be open to everything.
Or, as Lao Tzu said, “Do your work and get out of the way. Let nature take its course.”
Your work is assisting what is trying to happen, what needs to happen, without making anything happen.
Or, as Lao Tzu said, “Do your work and step back. The key to happiness.”
Stop scheming and conniving. Do your thing and go for a walk.
- Edisto Beach Sunset 02 — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 16, 2013 — Everybody except for a few malcontents has always been of the opinion that life continues after death. This isn’t an idea that was pushed on the masses by some ancient authority in order to gain power and control over them by claiming to have the keys to heaven and he would let them in if they were nice to him and obeyed his every word. This is an idea that has seemed right to people for as long as there have been people.
We can’t be tossing out those ideas just because science can’t prove that life exists after death. Science can’t decide if light is a particle or a wave. There are things that science doesn’t know, can’t know, has no business claiming to know.
These ideas about immortality and life after death have weight by virtue of the fact that they have been around from the start. They are a natural component of the species. That alone warrants our respect. One doesn’t sneer at ideas that have been around as long as these ideas have been around. And that’s not all.
It helps to believe, to think, to be of the opinion, that life goes on. To believe, etc., that the adventure continues.
An infant comes into the world with life that comes from where we do not know. We don’t know where life comes from. We don’t know where it’s going. So what’s with all the pontificating?
An infant comes into the world wondering where it is going, what is going to happen to it, what life is all about. An old person leaves the world wondering the same things. It’s great.
We come into the world, collect all these experiences associated with being alive, that couldn’t be collected any other way except by living them out, and we leave the world knowing a good bit about being alive. But not everything. There is more to it all than meets the eye. The adventure continues.
It doesn’t hurt to believe, etc., that the adventure continues and it helps a great deal. I highly recommend it. It is psychologically healthy to look at death as a doorway to the unknown, and to step through it with our eyes open, looking around, wondering what’s next.
- Mepkin Abbey HDR 03 — Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — Our life runs on ahead of us, we lag behind, reluctant to leave the comfort of all that is familiar and dear—or we abandon the path in favor of false promises and empty dreams—and our work becomes getting back on track and caught up to our life in the time left for living.
Salvation is simply waking up to the distance between the life we are living and the life that is ours to live—reorienting ourselves and being set right again, put right with what is important, with ends that are rightly ours to serve. Restored to the life that waits for us to live it, and setting out to do our thing as only we can do it, and seeing where it goes.
We resist still. We are an excuse mill generating reason after reason for not doing what is yet ours to do, for not living the life that waits yet for us to live it.
We are burning daylight, while our life rolls its eyes and commands: “Say ‘Okay’! Say you’ll do it! And come on! There is life yet to be lived!”
It’s really that easy. The path begins under our feet because if we find it under someone else’s feet, it is their path, not ours. We cannot take someone else’s word for life. Only our feet know our path.
Follow your feet. See where they take you.
Just as an artist has to trust herself, himself, to her, to his, brush, and give the brush the reins, and let the brush bring forth the picture, and engage the brush in an on-going collaborative debate over what is right for the painting and what is wrong, and when it is done and when it needs more work, so we trust ourselves to our feet, to our life, to know where we need to be and where we do not need to go.
Our life is waiting. Are we going or not?
- Cypress Gardens HDR Panorama — Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — We are party to more than we know. Even when we think we know what we are doing, we mean one thing and Psyche has something else in mind.
The unconscious has a mind of its own. Our life has a mind of its own. And we like to think we have a mind of our own. But it all mingles and mixes together, and where we stop and Psyche starts is hard to say.
Who is in charge here? Who is directing our life? Who is guiding our boat on its path through the sea?
We bear the responsibility of the choices we make, but our life takes strange turns that we could not have anticipated, and it is not at all certain that we are the sole determinant of what we do and what we do about what happens in response to what has been done.
A life lived consciously is not a life that knows what it is doing, any more than a life lived unconsciously. Our motives and always murky.
Consciousness allows us to live in the dark knowing we are in the dark, wondering what is going on, seeking—always seeking—to mine our circumstances for the gold—for the gleam, the flicker, of light, that enables us to know more of who we are than we did know, to constantly expand, deepen, enlarge our awareness of what there is to be aware of, to face ourselves and grow in our capacity to embrace who we are and who we also are, and to assist our self-development with eyes that are always striving to see, ears that are always listening to hear, and hearts that are always searching for understanding.
The circumstances of our living are replete with hints, and tips, and clues, and riddles aplenty, waiting to be sifted through, examined and culled like the fishermen with their nets, deciding what to keep and what to throw away.
Keep the jewels. Mine the gold. See what you are looking at. And be better of for having been where you have been by the way you receive where you are.
- Last Light — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 18, 2013 — Your work is not something someone else gives you to do, or something you make up to give yourself a way to pass the time (As in, “I think I’ll take up painting, or maybe birdwatching, or volunteer at the elementary school”) but what is yours to do, what you must do, what you cannot not do.
It is what brings you to life, infuses you with life, is life—a source of interest, vitality, enthusiasm.
You don’t have to have it all figured out as a life-long project at the start. You only have to start. Pick a direction and start walking. See where it leads.
Carl Jung wondered what he had a passion for and realized he had no idea—and realized further that he would never think it out, that he would have to let his hands guide him. So he thought (the place of the intellect) of what he liked to do as a child: play with blocks and stones.
He decided to build a stone house. And did. This project occupied Jung for 12 years, grounding him, focusing him, and opening the way to insight and interest far beyond anything he might have imagined at the beginning.
Bollingen Tower became for Jung a place to live and work out his theoretical foundation of the Psyche—a physical structure formed the basis of his spiritual groundwork.
Our work carries us beyond anything we may think we are doing. It’s magical, and works us as we work it, transforming, deepening, enlarging, birthing, pulling us forth and introducing us to ourselves. And it all starts with an inconspicuous step in the right direction.
- Birds on a Wire B&W — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 19, 2013 — It’s all right there before us in every moment: What’s important. What’s happening. What needs to be done about it.
Every situation has a preferred response and a wide range of less appropriate possibilities. Our place is to take stock, read what is happening, and respond appropriately. Know what interferes with the process? Our emotional reaction.
Our feelings get in the way. Know what the solution is? Feeling our feelings. Knowing what we are feeling. And feeling our way into making a proper response.
If we will feel our feelings we will find the way.
The problem is that some feelings are louder than others. The quiet feelings know things the loud feelings ignore.
Fear, for example, or desire, or hopelessness and depression, tend to steal the scene, tend to direct the action, tend to dominate the field. No other feeling has a chance to be felt, sensed, recognized, acknowledged, attended.
We have to feel ALL of our feelings, especially the little ones with the still, small, voices.
We have to quiet the loud ones so the quiet ones can be heard. We have to honor the quiet feelings. They know some stuff.
And so it is said, “And a little child shall lead them.” And it is also said, “Let the children come to me.” And, “Unless you turn and become as children, you will never find the path with your name on it (or words to that effect).”
Let your quiet feelings counterbalance the loud ones. Know what you know. ALL of what you know. Listen to ALL of your feelings. And then you make the call about what is an appropriate response to what is happening in each situation as it arises.
Keep practicing listening/hearing, looking/seeing, asking, seeking, knocking until you understand what is happening and what needs to be done about it and doing it (Repeat) until you get it down.
That is. I promise. All. There. Is. To. It. “It” would be your life. Trust me in this.
- Docked 02 B&W — Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 18, 2013 — Every situation calls us to take stock, see what is happening, and respond appropriately. And a sizable number of situations come loaded with a hook with our name on it that has the potential of snagging us and snatching us back, back, back in time to a different place where something similar was going on, making it very likely that we will respond to this situation here and now as though it were that situation then and there.
Cold, biting, belittling (Is there any other kind) sarcasm does it for me. Hooks me right into being held in place and cut to the bone and beyond. If I’m ready for it, I do all right. I see it coming and step aside. But, if I’m not ready for it, I’m a goner.
Our strategy is to be ready for what hooks us. To see the hook in the situation and avoid it. Just being aware of our vulnerability to the hook helps to avoid it in a “that was then, this is now” kind of way.
Spending time imagining what was needed in the situation where the hook was formed, and reliving it in our imagination with what was needed in place—perhaps telling ourselves what we needed to hear to offset what we were being told—can help immunize us against the power of the hook.
We have to face the source of the hook’s power and find the inner perspective or attitude required to turn it aside in order to avoid the hook in our present situations. This requires conscious, attentive, deliberate practice.
We are training ourselves to deal with our life one situation at a time. We are healing ourselves, growing ourselves up, and teaching ourselves to respond appropriately to what is happening in each situation as it arises. We are giving ourselves the gift of life.
- Congaree National Park Reflection — An Old Growth Forest Preserve near Columbia, SC, November19, 2013 — We feel when to override our feelings and when to follow them, but we are following them even when we override them.
Even our feelings are conflicted, and we have to feel our way through the ambivalence to decision and action.
This is tricky. We cannot be obsessive/compulsive about getting it right. If being right is a hook for you, you have to sit with it and let it carry you back to when the hook was formed. Who were you trying to please then and there? That’s who you are still trying to please here and now. You think getting it right will win him, will win her, over.
It’s time you woke up about that. Nothing could have won him, have won her, over. He, she, was beyond winning over. And wouldn’t have been worth having on your side even if you could have won him, won her, over.
He, she had, and still has, an irrationally commanding position in your life. It’s time you demoted him, her and put him, her, in his, her, place. You can’t take your place in your life until you have him, her, in his, hers.
You have to take command of your own life. It is insane and neurotic to think you have to be right all of the time. It’s wrong to be right all of the time. Sit with that until it hits you between the eyes. There are times when it is right to be wrong and wrong to be right. Let that work you over.
In other words, wake up! Get out of the way! And allow yourself to feel your way into knowing when to override your feelings in deciding what to do, letting being wrong guide you into figuring out what got you off the track, and factoring that into future situations that are similar to this one.
It’s all painstakingly slow, but you are forming your personality, attitude and your relationship with your heart and soul. You don’t do that over night. Besides that, it is all you have to do throughout the rest of your life and beyond. So, what’s your hurry? What else do you think there is?
- Magnolia Cemetery HDR 03 — Charleston, SC, November 15, 2013 — Carl Jung said, “An old man (and I would add old woman) who does not know how to listen to the secrets of the brooks, as they tumble down from the peaks to the valleys, makes no sense… He (she) stands apart from life, mechanically repeating himself (herself) to the last triviality.”
We don’t have a place in our life (the one we are living) for growing old and dying. We try to stave off aging and death at every turn and great expense. We pretend the inevitable is not so. We will be young forever. We will to be young forever. As though that is going to do something for us.
What is going to do something for us is to live aligned with our life—the life that is our life to live. Our LIFE requires us to to be at one with our LIFE—and our LIFE has a beginning and an end. We are born and we die. Beyond death (I like to believe) LIFE continues, moves on, and we will see what that means for us, but for here and now, we know this physical existence has a beginning and an ending, and it is our work, our place, to align ourselves with the truth of our physical unfolding, blooming, wilting, and dying.
We have to attend the developmental tasks of life at each stage of living. We take up the task of dying long before our death. We consciously mine our experience for the gems of true value. We open ourselves to past, present, and future in order to know what we know and make of it what we can. We change our mind, light of our personal reflections on our experience, about what is important, valid, true and real. We take up the process of saying good-bye to all we have loved, withdrawing from the mainstream, taking pleasure in relationships that allow us to be who we are, as we are, and looking forward to the mystery beyond death, allowing our imagination to prepare us for what, we do not know.
We continue to grow up, embracing reality and adjusting ourselves to it, throughout our life, letting come what’s coming and letting go what’s going, and seeing where it leads.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Wood Duck 02 — A resident of the Aviary at Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — Heraclitus said, “If you went in search of it, you would not find the boundaries of the soul, though you traveled every road, so deep is its measure.”
We speak of “our soul,” but soul is not contained within us. We are contained in soul.
We swim in soul, in Psyche, as fish swim in the sea.
We are awash in soul, and our goal is to get to know that which is unknown to us.
We are the mediators. We stand between worlds—physical and spiritual—and establish connections. We reconcile opposites. Integrate polarities. Harmonize contradictions. Make peace.
It is strange, don’t you think, that all of our senses attune us to the physical world? Why are the senses that put us in accord with the spiritual world—that would be insight, intuition, instinct, imagination, to mention four—ignored, neglected, undervalued?
Why are they not honed, deepened, expanded? Why are we led to believe that the physical world of ordinary, normal, apparent, reality is the only world? Why are we left to figure out ways of approaching the sphere of soul, of Psyche, on our own? And ridiculed when we do?
Our calling is to be conscious of that of which we are unconscious, to know that which is unknown to us—and to align ourselves with it—so that consciousness and unconsciousness become collaborators, partners, in the production of the life that is ours to live in the time left for living.
With as far as we have yet to go, you would think we’d get started.
- Still Life With Wood — Hammock Island, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — Too often we live at odds with ourselves without knowing it. Consciously, we serve intentions and purposes that carry us in one direction, while the unconscious would have us serve intentions and purposes that would require a U-turn-type change of heart and mind.
When we ignore our unconscious, it tries to wake us up and get our attention with the tools at its disposal. We shoot ourselves in the foot a lot. Our life seems to be out of synch somehow. The harder we try, the farther from having things like we want them we seem to be. Things aren’t right with us, and we don’t know why. We have such a good life—we should be more content, more at peace, with it all…
When our conscious goals and values are at a variance with the goals and values of the unconscious, we pay a price. When we wake up, we change our mind about what is important. WE begin to live in ways that take the unconscious seriously—that narrow the divide between the world of conscious values and reality and the world of unconscious values and reality.
If our conscious ego weren’t so cocksure of itself in its smug, arrogant, way, our unconscious shadow wouldn’t be so compensatorily dark and devious, and at odds with our conscious direction.
We can speed up the process of waking up, of growing up, and coming together with the unconscious by paying attention to the images that arise spontaneously within, either in our nighttime dreams or our daytime fantasies—hearing what they are saying, seeing where they take us.
When our mind drifts away into thoughts and reverie of its own, while we are driving, say, or taking a shower, where does it go? What themes are constantly repeating themselves to us without our conscious intention?
Play with your images—not images you create, but images that are there, trying to engage you and show you what you are missing/ignoring about your life, yourself. Listen to them. Talk to them. Ask them the questions that beg to be asked. Make the connections between your spontaneous interior life and your conscious, deliberate exterior life.
Your work with your own images will save the day, the year, your life—and restore you to goals and values worthy of you, IF you cooperate, and make the changes that need to be made in the life you are living.
- Road to Botany Bay HDR 01 — Edisto Island, SC, November 16, 2013 — We are at the mercy of forces quite beyond us, and are only a lab report away from the radical alteration of life as we know it.
It all “hangs by a thread,” “turns on a dime,” and “fine is the balance, thin is the line, between having it made and having nothing at all.”
What do do? What can be done! And let that be that!
We have resources available to us that we know nothing of. We are only a slight perspective shift from the “very present help” of the entire invisible world. We only have to relax ourselves into it to know that it is there.
But. There’s a catch. In order to relax ourselves into the presence of the invisible world, we have to release our grip on the props and pillars of the visible world, and know that what grounds us is not to be seen.
To know that, we have to practice engaging the supportive presence of the invisible world.
We have to look to it for guidance and direction, learn to read its signals, understand its language, intuit its drift and embrace its consolation.
Then, when the lab report comes back, we can face the implications in the presence of more than words can say, and step with confidence into a future that appears to be “as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.”
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach III — Hammock Island, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — Listening to soul, collaborating with soul, embracing and expressing beauty—which includes the beauty of YOU—in each situation as it arises works in the sense of grounding you, centering you, gracing you with peace and well being, and enabling you to be just as you are, just who you are, in every circumstance of life.
It does not ply you with fame or fortune or get you what you want. You still have to wash the dishes, pay the house note and the car payment and get the dog to the vet. Everything remains the same on one level, and nothing is the same on another.
Throwing in with soul is the path to all things good. And it’s a rocky, twisty road. Hang on and laugh all the way “with the wind of the spirit that blows where it will forever in your hair”!
- Big Bay Creek — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — I’m a month away from being 69. My stamina is not what it used to be. I can no longer bust it from before sunrise until after sunset, working scenes, looking for scenes, getting to scenes.
Getting to scenes is a problem. Flying from Charlotte to San Francisco to drive to Yosemite, or to Las Vegas to drive to Death Valley, is ridiculously out of the question.
I hyper—or hypo—one of those—extended my left knee scrambling down a rocky slope to a photograph, twice within a month, two years ago and it doesn’t handle fatigue well. So, sitting in flying position and hurrying through airports to make connections are laughable.
My trifocals work fine, but being clear about focus looking through the viewfinder, or even on the camera’s LCD screen is iffy.
I’m saying I’m restricted in a number of ways, limited to the scenes I can drive and walk to, and able to take the pictures I can still take, and let the scenes go in the far away wonderlands of distant national parks. There are photographs I cannot take.
That’s what aging does to us. It takes us away from where we wish we were, and removes from the list of possibilities things we wish we could do. As you grow old, we have to give up some things—until, eventually, we give up everything.
Look at it as practice. We are learning over the course of our aging to hand it all over. To let it go. To say good-bye.
That’s the process. That is how it has always been with everyone who has gotten old enough to experience getting old. We take our place in a long line of those who have been where we are, or will be if they keep breathing. It’s an honor to be there, to stand in that line, and walk slowly on to where we are going, taking it all in, loving everything about it all, exactly as it is, because it’s all life and you can’t beat it anywhere for wonder and majesty, and miracle, and goodness beyond words.
In that line, attitude is everything. How we accommodate ourselves to the reality of our life determines how well we live our life in the time left for living. The challenge is always to let come what’s coming and to let go what’s going, and to enjoy what can be enjoyed about the here and now of our living for as long as we are alive.
Get that down and you have it made. As much as you can have it made within a context and circumstances that could be better in 10,000 ways. So what? This is the way it is. What are you going to do, whine, moan, cry and complain—or live the life that is yet to be lived in the time left for living?
- Moonset 02 — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 19, 2013 — Trusting ourselves to our life is the pass/fail test for living it. We have to believe we have a life, for one thing, that is different from the life we make up for ourselves and pursue for all of those steps up the career ladder—or for all of those years of doing whatever we get paid to do.
Believing we have a life, unique to us, that is waiting for us to wake up and live it is quite a stretch.
We want to believe the Force is with us to help us live the life we have in mind for ourselves. But to believe something like “the Force” is with us if we align ourselves with the life that is our life to live, and live it, leads directly to the question, “What’s in it for us?”, which kills the deal.
We cannot live our life—the life that is our life to live—wondering what’s in it for us. We get to LIVE OUR LIFE, but that’s nothing to our way of thinking because our life is supposed to pay off in some kind of fabulous way. Our life is supposed to pay off. We live our life to make it big, retire early and have a blast.
You see the problem. This is going to take a complete revamping of our entire outlook, orientation and point of view. This is called “repentance” in Christian dogma, which means that “sin” has absolutely nothing to do with morality and everything to do with thinking the wrong things are important. “Repentance,” then, is changing our mind about what is important and reorienting ourselves to, aligning ourselves with, what truly matters. That would be the life that is waiting for us to live it, with nothing in it for us if we do.
If you can get yourself squared up with this idea, you will then be able to trust yourself to your life, and that will make all the difference. You’ll see. But, you have to trust me in this.
- Congaree National Park 09 — An old growth forest preserve near Columbia, SC, November 19, 2013 — We are constantly at war, trying to force things to be what we want them to be, or to keep things from being what we don’t want them to be. Not one of us is listening intently to, and honoring deeply, what things need to be and adjusting our life to accommodate that, serve that.
We aren’t stepping aside, standing back, acquiescing, submitting, giving way, serving purposes that are not OUR purposes, working toward ends that are not OUR ends—that’s SURRENDER, and we aren’t going to surrender our ideas of how things ought to be for anything! We are going to have what we want whether we have any business having it or not!
There you are. That’s how we came to be painted into this cozy little corner. We did it to our own selves, as they say in the deep south. Our attitude toward living makes our life unlivable.
It is the culture’s attitude that we possess, profess: Grab, take, seize, commandeer… Buy, spend, acquire, amass, control… We will be happy only when we rule our world.
Domination and dominion rule the day, the world, our life. We fight to get and to keep from losing. It was stupid from the start, but we are all caught up in it now, and can’t find the way out.
The way out is right before us: “Put down your arms!” “Those who seek to find their life will lose it, but those who lose their life in the service of that which has need of them and their gifts in each moment of their living will find it!”
Okay. That’s too big a stretch. How about this: Step consciously into each situation as it arises with what you want for, from, that situation in one hand and what needs to—what is begging to—happen there, and consciously make a choice about which hand you are going to support there.
That’s a start. Let’s try it that way and see what happens.
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach IV — Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — All it takes is everything. All you have. But. What are you holding back for? Give it all you have. See where it goes. It isn’t like there is some reward for having something left when it’s over.
- Edisto Beach State Park Moonrise 02 — Edisto Island, SC, November 16, 2013 — A good many of our difficulties can be traced directly to our refusal to let go of what we think we have to have. The fix is easily arranged: Let go of what you have to have.
It’s the hellbent determination to have what we think we have to have that creates weal and makes woe for ourselves and others throughout the history of the species.
What’s having it going to do for you? What is being determined to have it no matter what going to do for you?
Ah, but, don’t tell me. It’s the principle of the thing, am I right? We can’t stand the idea of giving up what we have to have, standing down, standing aside, while someone else scoops up what he, what she, has to have at our expense.
Well. How big is that? How grown up is that? How perceptive, enlightened, awake, aware, insightful is that? Who all are we hurting to keep someone else from winning? How often have we gone to war to keep from losing face?
We have lost a lot more than face, as a species, over time, refusing to let go of what we had to have.
Want to immediately transform you circumstances, your attitude, your emotional state of being? Let go of what you have to have—from the inside out.
Letting go is an inside job. You can pretend to let go. You can say you are letting go. But. You can’t let go until you change your mind—until you let go inwardly. When you do that, it’s a new world Goldie. A brand new world.
- CSX 627 — Waxhaw, NC, November 5, 2013 — The Simon and Garfunkel song about “There’s nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town,” and Jesus’ words about leaving “the dead to bury the dead,” address the same issue, namely how easy it is to be dead and how hard it is to be alive.
Being dead is doing what is expected of you—either what others expect of you or what you expect of yourself. If you never surprise yourself, that’s as bad as never being a surprise to others. You’re dead either way.
The only way to not be dead is to not know what to expect next of you, whether you are you or the others.
Here’s a quick reflection on two dead people. My mother, Katheryne, and her oldest sister, Lois (Who was also called, you have to have some association with the deep south to appreciate this) Sister. No kidding. The woman had a name all her life, and she was called Sister. That’s the way they do it in the deep south. They don’t call you by your name. It might give you airs. Or, worse, ideas.
Anyway. Lois was the first born and was the dutiful child, always—I mean always—doing what was expected of her. Foregoing anything like a life of her own and staying in Itta Bena, Mississippi to live at home and care for her parents.
She even did what was expected of her in the way it was expected: Sweet, compliant, never an unkind word (or thought). Never angry, always placid and unruffled, doing her duty as though it were the purest joy. There were no faults to be found in Lois. She embraced the role handed to her at birth and lived it the way it was supposed to be lived until her dying day.
My mother, Katheryne, was the baby, and also did what was expected of her except for short bursts of protest which were required because she was more conscious of her bondage than Lois was. She tried breaking the bonds by dropping out of college and eloping to marry my father but chose someone to marry who was exactly what she was trying to escape, and found herself married to expectation. Oh dear.
So, Katheryne surrendered and did her part, only not really. Katheryne did her part with seething resentment just under the surface, playing her part only partially, hating herself and the world of expectations every day, being torn between keeping up appearances and being Katheryne.
Now, at the end, the anger spills over and out when the dosage of her meds needs adjustment, or her medication needs to be changed, and you do not want to be around. She was robbed of her life, and she was a complacent accessory to the crime, doubling her grief.
Expectations aborted those two lives aborning, and millions of millions like them.
Joseph Campbell said, “The wasteland is where you do what is expected of you, where you never have a life of your own,” or words to that effect. Life is impossible in The Wasteland. Yet, it’s easy there, and comfortable, and there’s a place for everyone there. It’s home. And it devours your soul.
If you are going to be alive, you are going to have to be true to your soul. You are going to have to champion your soul. Let your soul have the reins, take the lead, show you the way. But your soul is one with the spirit that is like the wind, blowing where it will, expectations be damned. Even your own.
Go with it! Go, not knowing what you will be doing next! Go! While you can!
- Cypress Gardens 04 — Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — We find the way to the Land of Promise by squaring up to our conflicts and polarities and doing the work of integration, reconciliation, harmony and peace.
We are at war within, oppositional to the core. What we want is blocked by something we also want—or think we ought to want. We don’t have a clear path to anything.
You’ve heard it before and here it comes again: I want to be the best father in all the world and I don’t want to be a father at all! And you can replace “father” with every other role I play, every other persona I assume.
The more conscious we become, the more aware of our conflicts, contraries and opposites we are.
We think we are crazy. We are simply torn. Ambivalent. Of two minds. Or three. Maybe four. Or five.
We have to recognize the fact that we are at odds with ourselves over every substantial thing, and let it be, because it is. And if we think we shouldn’t be that way, that’s just another conflict coming to the surface.
We have to bring them all to the surface. Face up to them. See them. Name them. Number them. And get to work making peace.
NOT disappearing them! NOT erasing the tension by “making a choice” for one side or the other! Death doesn’t end a relationship. Divorce doesn’t end a marriage. and Deciding doesn’t end a conflict.
We are not about the work of resolving our conflicts and making everybody in there all smiles and happy, being sweet, getting along, and agreeing not to make a problem.
We leave our conflicts in place and consciously work out the relationship between the opposites, making room for all sides in the life left for living. How we do that is being aware that we need to do it constantly, continually for the rest of time and maybe beyond.
We feel different ways about every important thing. Sometimes it’s like this and sometimes it’s like that, and that’s how it is. Let it be that way. Be attentive and aware and do not hide from the clash of opposites. Wade right into it and say, “Okay! I get it! We have strong feelings in different ways about this. What are we going to DO about it together?” And see what happens. See where it goes. See what we do. And repeat the process again every time our opposites flare up.
We mediate the tension. We do not erase it.
- Edisto Beach Sunset 04 — Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto Island, SC, November 16, 2013 — We want it to be easy. That’s the stopper. We don’t understand that easy is hard. Short is long. Fast is slow. We go for what looks good, sounds good, and it turns out to be bad for us. But, we’re like the monkeys going for the marble in the coconut. Determined. Stupid.
We want thinking to do it. Intellectual comprehension and understanding should be enough. A creed to memorize. Discuss. Think about. Discuss some more.
We don’t want to have to feel our way along in search of the current of our life, the drift of our soul, and always be aligning our living with the pace, timing and direction of the invisible world.
We have things to do in the world of normal, apparent, reality. Important things. We don’t have time to ponder invisible realities. We have our hands full juggling the demands of life in the Real World.
What we want is some formula for smoothing our way, easing our load and delivering the goods in the here and now of our living, without distracting us from the things that, well, distract us.
And there are plenty of formulas whizzing around. A new one comes out every month or so. Ideas for having it made are everywhere.
We can talk about living without doing the work of being alive until we are officially, literally dead. And buried.
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach V — Hammock Island, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — Shel Silverstein (Google his name and “Helping”) said, “Some kind of help/Is the kind of help/That helping’s all about/And some kind of help/Is the kind of help/We all could do without.”
The right kind of help does three things: It stabilizes us. It grounds us. It orients us. We can take it from there.
We all need stabilization, grounding and orientation at different points in our life. We do not need Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased taking over the controls and telling us what to do to live the life they would have us live.
People do not help us by telling us to be who they would have us be.
Helpfulness helps us create our own space for finding our own way by making our own mistakes and our own self-reflection, self-assessment, self-correction in light of our own self-determination of what is important and how best to serve it in the time left for living.
No one can tell us what is important beyond “It’s important to know what is important and to decide for ourselves what that is in each situation as it arises.”
To do that, we need to be stabilized, grounded and oriented. And that requires the caring presence of those who know how to listen to us and remind us that we are the only one who can determine what is important in light of what we know to be so about ourselves and the situation that is unfolding—and bringing us forth—in each moment of our living.
Spend your time with people who can help you like that. If you don’t know any of those people, enlarge your circle of acquaintances—and work to become one of those people yourself. Be what you need, and trust that like will attract like. At the very worst, you will be the kind of help that help is all about, and that is what the world needs most.
- Great White Egrets in Flight 01 — Mepkin Abbey, Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — We need to be in conversation with the invisible world. The catch is that in order to do that, we have to be transparent to ourselves. We already are transparent to the invisible world.
The invisible world sees us exactly as we are in our “such as-ness.” Nothing is hidden from the invisible world. Everything that we don’t want to see, don’t want to admit, about ourselves is hidden from us.
We have to know as much about ourselves as the invisible world knows if we are to have honest conversations, straight talk, as between equals. Otherwise, it will be the kind of “honest” conversation a drunk has with his therapist, or his spouse.
We have to face up to ourselves—become transparent to ourselves—if we are to say anything about ourselves that is honest, truthful and straight from the heart.
We fake it with ourselves all the time. We can’t fake out the invisible world.
The entire spiritual journey turns on our ability to look ourselves in the eye and see what we see, and know what we know. If you want a spiritual practice that will make a sure enough difference in your life, practice that.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Docked 02 B&W — Shrimp boats at Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 15, 2013 — How different can we be in the time left for living? We owe it to ourselves to find out.
How differently can we live?
How quieter can we be? How reflective? Aware of and sensitive to what is happening?
How out of the way can we be? Stepping in when it is appropriate to offer what we have to give, and stepping out when it is appropriate to stand aside?
How non-intrusive, non-invasive can we be? Engaged with our life and with others as a full participant in what is going on, with nothing at stake in the outcome?
How free can we be to come and go as necessary in assisting what needs to be assisted and doing what needs us to do it, without being hooked by that which needs us into taking care of business that is not our business, into shouldering burdens that are not our burdens?
How joyfully, laughingly, can we dance with the contradictions and polarities and mutually exclusive opposites which meet us at every turn—Scylla and Charybdis—demanding that we choose between them and serve them exclusively with our life?
How well can we meet our life and do what is ours to do without taking any of it seriously, or being weighed down with having to do what cannot be done?
How light can we be on our feet? How loose can we ride in the saddle?
How attentive can we be to the drift of soul, to the deep currents of our life? How conversant can we be with Soul, with Psyche, with the purposes and interests of the invisible world?
How attuned can we be to the contraries at work between the worlds, and hold within our own body the pull to be owned by each—consciously weighing our choices and leaning toward one or the other as we deem appropriate in each situation as it arises?
How consciously can we bear the responsibility for our own decisions, our own life, and live with a foot in each world, doing what we determine needs to be done as we see fit, after considering our options and feeling our way into living aligned with the invisible world within the context and circumstances of the visible world?
How surprised can we be by how we live our life, and where that carries us, in the time left for living?
We owe it to ourselves to find out.
- Bench — Waxhaw, NC, November 28, 2013 — There is a difference between feeling it and thinking it. And there is a difference between impulsive buying and knowing when it is time to act. And no one can tell you what the difference is. You have to live your way into knowing how to live.
You have to live with your eyes open, looking at everything and seeing what you look at. Noticing when you dismiss, discount, ignore something, and going back to look it over. You have to feel the life you are living. Developing your feel for your life is like learning to swim or ride a bicycle, and it is a lot more important.
- Banks Presbyterian Church B&W—Marvin, NC, November 30, 2013, an iPhone photograph—We have to help people help us. When we move toward our life, our life moves toward us.
We cannot sit and wait for our life to show up with all the wherewithal required to live it, knock on our door and invite us to come join the fun.
We cannot memorize a few rules and procedures (Like the 6 Steps to Salvation or the Prayer of Jabez or the Power of Attraction) and expect doors to open before us and lights to come on in the darkness.
We have to actually take the initiative. We have to say THIS is the life for me, and I am going to live it, no matter what, and start living it. No matter what.
An artist doesn’t just start selling paintings. An artist paints paintings. She doesn’t sell them. She paints them. Until storing them becomes a problem. She sells one or two along the way and has to find ways to pay the bills all along the way, and keeps painting all along the way.
The way for an artist is painting. The path of painting leads to painting. An artist doesn’t paint to make enough money to do something else, to do what she really wants to do. She really wants to paint, has to paint, must paint. That’s an artist for you.
When an artist takes up the brush and starts painting, the way opens up just enough to allow the artist to paint. No more, no less. As the artist continues to paint the way continues to open up just enough to allow her to continue to paint.
Life for the artist is painting. The artist moves toward her life by painting. Her life moves toward her by enabling her to paint.
If that isn’t what you had in mind, you have to wonder what it is that you expect painting to do for you. You have to wonder what it is beyond painting that you are living for. You have to wonder what it is that you want out of life. And you have to wonder what that has to do with your life. Your LIFE. YOUR life.
Maybe you are trying to get something your life isn’t going to give you. Maybe you have to come to terms with the difference between a career and a life. Maybe you have to wrestle with what’s worth living for, and mine the life you have been living for the hidden treasure that you have discounted, dismissed, ignored.
- Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge 02 — Connecting Charleston, SC with Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 15, 2013 — Are we living our life or escaping our life? As individuals? As a culture? As a world?
What fuels the economy? Life or escape from life?
When Jesus said, “If you are going to be my Buds, you’re going to have to pick up your own cross every day,” do you think he meant “Live your life!” or “Escape your life!”?
Living our life requires us to live not-our-life in the service of our life. We work to pay the bills so we can live our life. Not so we can escape our life.
Our life fuels not-our-life and not-our-life pays for our life. And there is no room in that scenario for escape from life.
Our life is the source of life. If we are dragging through the days and slipping toward the end of our rope, the answer is not to escape from our life but to live our life. To live OUR life. To live our LIFE.
Try it before you scoff it to death.
- CSX-5203 01 — Waxhaw, NC, November 30, 2013 — It starts with a line. An imaginary line. Drawn in a circle around ourselves. Inside the circle is Us. Outside the circle is Not Us.
Me and Not Me. I and Not I.
Knowing where I start and Not I stops, where I stop and Not I starts, is essential knowing.
Knowing everything that can be known of what is inside the circle is also essential knowing.
As is knowing everything that can be known of what is outside the circle.
The more we know, the more we are able to be who we are within all that we are not.
That would be the goal. To be who we are within who we are not. To live our life within the context and circumstances of our living.
This is a trick, and it is facilitated by knowing what can be known inside and outside of the circle.
What inhibits our knowing? Ah, the games we play—and the games that are played against us. Sometimes the games we play, we play against ourselves.
Inside the circle there is a lot of stuff going on. Like motives and desire and fear and insecurity and anxiety, and things like that. Outside the circle there is a lot of the same stuff going on. It’s crazy. And crazy-making. Keeping up with it all will spin your head around.
So, we have to take retreats. Pilgrimages. Walk-Abouts.
We have to take stock. Reflect. Listen. Look. Hear. See. Know.
We have to know what is happening inside and outside of the circle. We have to know what we are feeling. We have to know what we know. And decide what to do about it. And do it. In order to be who we are, living the life that is ours to live, in the time left for living.
Looking, listening, seeing, hearing, knowing, doing, being. That’s the formula. Draw your line. Get to work.
- October Maple — Indian Land, SC, October 28, 2013 — Everything that has happened to us was an essential component in our being where we are, here and now. Change anything about our past experience and you change us. We are who we are because of how we responded to what happened to us. We will become who we will be by how we respond to what happens to us.
Our response to our life determines the quality of our living. That being the case, you would think we would be more careful in our awareness, and selection, of response options.
“All things considered,” leads us to a different place than knee-jerk reactions and living without reflecting on what is happening and what needs to be done about it.
This doesn’t mean thinking of what we “ought to do.” It means seeing what is happening and seeing what needs to be done about it and seeing how that works and seeing what is happening in response to what we did and seeing what needs to be done about that…
It’s a seeing/feeling thing. Not a thinking thing.
We FEEL our way into living appropriately, properly, attuned to, and aligned with, what needs to happen in each situation as it arises.
You may think that’s stupid. How do you feel about it?
Do you think when to go to the toilet? Or feel when to go?
Do you think when you have had enough coffee or gumbo, or do you feel when you have had enough?
We feel when to go to bed and when to change sleeping positions. We feel most of the things we do in a day. But, we think we have to think our way through the important stuff. Wrong. We can feel our way there, too.
Practice feeling what you feel. Practice feeling how to respond to your life. Practice trusting yourself to your feelings.
Even though you are sure your feelings led you into your first marriage, it may be that there were little nudges along along the way to NOT get married to that person, which you sat aside in favor of doing what you did anyway, for reasons we do not to this day understand.
At any rate, reflect on what is guiding your boat on its path through the sea, and see where that reflection carries you.
- A Stand of Pines — Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson, SC, October 30, 2013 — One of the foundation stones of the culture—and this is every civilized culture—is seeking the advantage and exploiting it to our everlasting benefit and satisfaction. We are out to get what makes us better off and out to avoid what makes us worse off.
Better off or worse off in terms of what? Wealth, glory, joy, delight, ease of life, privilege and one-upping everybody in the world.
Our life goals come down to two things: We want to have it made and we want to have fun.
We are too shallow to splash.
Here’s one for you. There is no advantage. Not in the way we think of advantages. Give us all of the advantages. What does that do for us? Give us having it made with nothing but entertaining pastimes to occupy our days. How does that deepen us, expand us, enlarge us, grow us up?
An advantage is whatever helps us to live our life, to be who we are, to be just who we are doing what is ours alone to do.
No one can be who you are but you. No one can do what is yours to do but you. Anything that takes you away from that is disadvantageous—both to you and to the world that desperately needs what you have to offer, though it doesn’t know that, and would say it isn’t so.
Forget living to gain the advantage. Live to find your life and live it in the time left for living. Forget giving people what they want so they will be happy with you and you will have a place with them forever. Give people what they need out of what you have to offer, whether they know they need it or not.
Know what your business is, and be about it. Know what your business is not, and avoid it. So that at the end of your days you can say you lived your life as well as you could make it out as well as you could imagine living it, without worrying about the advantages.
- Carolina Lakes 19 — Lake Francis, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — Excuses are everywhere. We can justify anything on some high moral ground.
Don’t kid yourself. That should be the first commandment.
We have to be transparent to ourselves. That should be the second commandment.
We have to live truthful lives—in the sense that our life is at one with who we say we are, with who we intend to be, at the deepest level. It doesn’t mean, “Do not tell a lie.” That’s crazy. Lying comes in quite handy from time to time. It means, “When you lie, know you are lying and do not lie to yourself, and do not believe it for a minute if you ever do.”
Lying to ourselves is the dumbest move of all time. We have to be at one with ourselves. We have to be on our own side at all times.
What are we doing is the question. How is what we are doing helping us live the life that is ours to live? What does it have to do with OUR LIFE?
We have obligations, responsibilities and duties that have nothing to do with OUR LIFE but everything to do with our other life, you know, the life we were born into, the life the culture hands us at birth, the life that pays the bills and serves the economy and is what everyone expects us to live. That’s our other life.
OUR LIFE is the life we were born to live, the life no one but us can live, the life that we alone can live.
We have to live two lives at once. This is called walking two paths at the same time. We have to be careful to get the ratios right. How much for our other life and how much for OUR LIFE?
It isn’t enough that we balance things out. We have to tilt the table toward OUR LIFE.
We have to bring OUR LIFE forth amid the shallow routines, trivial pursuits, and narrow expectations of our other life. Talk about shaking the foundations!
Our other life can no more contain OUR LIFE than a chrysalis can contain a butterfly.
But. We are born to fly. We must not kid ourselves out of what is ours to do. Everything rides on our being who we are in the time left for living. Everything.
If you are going to believe anything, believe it matters at the very heart of all things that you are yourself, that you do your thing.
- Moonrise 09 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, October 22, 2013 — We know wisdom when we hear it, or read it. We have the capacity to recognize wisdom when we are in the presence of wisdom.
This means you are fully capable of hearing wisdom when you speak it, or write it, or catch it rolling in like waves on the shores of your soul.
Your own wisdom waits for you to acknowledge it and bring it to life by bringing it forth and speaking it, writing it, into being.
And if you tried that once and they laughed at you, all that means is that you encountered one of the manifestations of the Cyclops in your life, and you have to find a way around their laughter in the service of your wisdom.
Speak it into being in the presence of someone else. Keep it up until you find some who do not laugh, but help you bring it forth, by engaging you in conversation from the heart about things that matter.
Write it regularly. Create a blog. Tumblr is easy, and free. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Say what needs to be said. It will lead you to something else that needs to be said. There is no end to it.
Surprise yourself. Let yourself show you how wise you are. Know what you know. It’s amazing, the depth of our soul. Once we start poking around in there, it goes forever. But, you’ll lose track of time, so no one cares how long we wander, wondering, lost in amazement, at one with ourselves and all others, more at home with every step.
- CSX 5432 — Waxhaw, NC, October 3, 2013 — You have to speak yourself, write yourself, into existence. You cannot think your way into being who you are, doing what is yours to do, giving what is yours to give in each situation as it arises throughout the time left for living.
It helps to have an audience, but it is not essential. I have large three-ring binders filled with things I had to say while I worked through my shyness, my hesitancy, to stand apart from the expectations of others and be who I am.
I wrote while I developed my courage to speak what I had to say, but without writing it, I would have never followed it out, the path of proclamation, to realization, awareness, awakening, understanding—to knowing, doing, being.
That’s why you can’t just think it. Thinking cannot carry you far enough. We think in phrases, sentence fragments. Thinking is like, excuse me for the comparison since I’ve never had even one and don’t know what I’m talking about, labor pains. Writing is delivery.
Writing carries thinking forward, deepens thinking, expands thinking, enlarges thinking. Writing is thinking about thinking, feeling about thinking, taking thinking where it never imagined going.
When I started this little piece five paragraphs ago, I had no idea of where it was going. Writing is like that. It opens doors where you never expected a door to be, takes off in the darkness to places unknown, dragging you with it. Go! See what more you have to say than you ever thought of saying!
Write, talk, your way into being who you are! Do not settle for who you are supposed to be, saying what you are supposed to say, bearing the expectations of others to your grave.
- Carolina Lakes HDR 25 — Lake Francis, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials access, Fort Mill, SC, October 31, 2013 — We are boxed in by 10,000 things. Things we can’t do, so why try? Things we once did and think we must do forever. Who we are is defined as who we have always been. It is never considered from the standpoint of who we are becoming, of who we are capable of being. We ARE our potential as much as we are our past.
We are capable of interests we have never met, of enthusiasm unbounded for tasks we have never attempted. What’s stopping us? Who we have been. Who we are supposed to be.
We saddle ourselves with the “supposed to be” as much as anyone. We think “This is it. This is how it has always been. This is how it will always be. Once a loser, always a loser.”
It starts with a different perspective. A slight shift in the right direction.
We are always waiting for the shifts to occur, for some door to open a crack and let the light through. Our place is to go with the shift when we sense it, to open the door further and step through. NOT to think the shift was just a sound in the night. NOT to pull the door shut and nail it in place.
Whose side are we on? What kind of adventure is this, keeping things carefully in place through long years of sameness until death carries us safely away?
- Moonrise 03 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 22, 2013 — When Jesus said, “Whoever hears these words of mine and believes them is like a person who builds his house on sand… And whoever hears these words of mine and does them is like a person who builds her house on rocky ground…”
And, “Don’t be coming to me saying, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do many fine works in your name though, ‘cause I’ll look you in the eye and ask you what did you do in behalf of the least of my brothers and sisters. What did you do in behalf of the outcasts and the downtrodden and the untouchables of your day?”
And, “You can tell a tree by its fruit.”
And, “Wisdom is known by her children.”
He’s saying, “Don’t come talking to me about your theology and your fine beliefs. I don’t want to know how well you believe. I want to know how well you live. And I don’t care how well your life matches up with how you think you ought to life. I want to know how well you live the life that is yours to live, no matter what people say about you for doing it.”
“And if you want to know how to know what life is yours to live, link up with the spirit that is like the wind blowing where it will, and let the spirit direct your living without a map, or a guide book, or an instruction manual to go by.”
“Wing it—that’s what you do. Make it up as you go. Let your best guess about what is called for in a situation lead you in responding to that situation, and learn to be a better guesser with time.”
“If you are afraid to live, you’re deader than dead, so don’t let your fear stop you. Take a chance on life. Throw everything you have into being alive. Do your thing without worrying about the outcome. And you’ll be just fine. I promise.”
- Bench 02 B&W 02 — Waxhaw, NC, December 3, 2013 — How do we know what to do? How do we decide what to do? How do we know we are right in doing what we do? By what authority do we live?
Joseph Campbell said we know when we are on the beam and when we are off of it.
Carl Jung said our life is our touchstone, our guiding light.
When we look at our life and see what we look at, we know whether we are right about the way we say our life needs to be lived. Our life verifies or refutes our ideas regarding the way our life should be lived.
“The proof is in the pudding.”
The authority by which we live our life is our own self-assessment. We are self-guided, self-correcting, self-orienting, self-reflecting, living beings. The quality of our living is determined by our degree of awareness of the degree to which our life is working.
Working, not in terms of the amount of money we are making, or the expanse of our power and control, but in terms of our alignment with our inner sense of direction—with our feel for who we are and what we are to be about.
We know when we are mostly alive and when we are mostly dead. We have to know what we know.
We decide for ourselves how well we are living.
And, fooling ourselves is what we do best.
This makes, Don’t Trick Yourself the first commandment. Be Transparent To Yourself is the second. Trust Yourself To Yourself is the third. Get these down and you are on your way, with everything you need for the journey well within reach.
The journey to where? The journey to life, living and being alive!
- Beech Grove — On the path to Skinny Dip Falls, Pisgah National Forest, Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, NC, October 24, 2013
We are always being called forth by our circumstances—challenged to show ourselves who we are, what we are made of—asked to stand up and meet the day.
And we want to sleep through the challenge each time. The bed is warm, and there is a cold wind blowing outside, a cold rain falling. Adventures don’t start like this. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe one day. We’ll call when we are up for it.
Our life says “Now!” and we say “Yes!” or “No!” And that’s the choice that tells the tale.
I’m here to encourage the “Yes!”—no matter what the circumstances are.
I don’t care how cold it is, or how tired you are, or how little you feel like doing what needs to be done. We all need help with our life—the life that we alone can live. On our own, we may turn down every invitation to rise to the occasion, every plea to allow the mysterious Other within to show us who we are and what we are capable of doing.
We will never discover those things without standing up and meeting the day—by stepping into the circumstances that greet us, the situation as it arises, and assessing what is happening there, and what needs to be done about it, and doing it—trusting that help will be available in surprising ways to assist us through these circumstances to those that wait their turn to challenge our creativity and resolve.
We have to believe that both our spirit and our help will be sufficient to the task. Believing that and going to meet the day is called a leap of faith.
Take a running start and throw yourself into the maw of the day, every day! See what you can do with it. Live to surprise yourself.
- Driftwood Stump 01 — Boneyard Beach, Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013
What blocks you in? Holds you in place? Keeps you from doing what you know needs to be done?
Where are you stuck?
What are you waiting for?
I’m not saying cast caution aside, ignore your reservations and plunge ahead.
I’m saying know what stops you.
Name it. Consider it. Assess its legitimacy. Make a guess as to how long it is likely to block your path.
Decide what you need to do about it.
Some things wait for a shift we cannot predict or imagine.
Maybe it is an inner shift.
Maybe it is an outer shift. A shift in circumstances.
Maybe you do nothing and wait for the shift to happen.
It’s important to know what is holding us back, and what it would take to free us up, and what we are waiting on in order to be free.
It is important to know what form our bondage takes, and what manner of deliverance it calls for.
Just knowing what is in our way sets in motion invisible forces. Feeds the revolution. A slow fire burns hot, just like a fast one.
But. When the door opens, walk through.
- Empty Tracks — Waxhaw, NC, December 2, 2013
When you’re in the market for train photos, you go to the tracks when the light is right and hope for a train. A train picture in bad light is just a train picture in bad light. A train picture in good light is a photograph. The rule applies across the board, around the circle, no matter what photo you are in the market for.
Sometimes a train is there, and sometimes—most times—it isn’t. But what are you going to do? Not chance it? What kind of photographer doesn’t go hunting for a photo when the light is right, and hope a subject will arrive in time?
We have to play through the train not being there, live through it. We were there. That’s all we can do. Be there. When the light is right. Maybe the train will be there next time. Maybe not.
We have to play through the nots. Live through them.
We have to play around and through the bad breaks. We have to live with the pain. Bear the pain.
The pain is part of it.
We can have a long run of pain. A football team can lose a lot of games to fumbles, and interceptions, and punts run back against them for touchdowns. A football team can lose a lot of games on the last play of the game, in the last minute of play. They can get down. Their fans can get down. Start talking about being jinxed. Cursed. Fated to never win a Big Game.
They can start believing their own self talk. Hypnotize themselves. Start quacking like a duck, clucking like a chicken, creating new and exciting ways to lose just because they believe in the inevitability of losing.
Don’t believe anything. That’s my best advice.
Just keep showing up. Keep playing football. The tide will turn. One day the train will be there when the light is there, when the sky is there. It will be a miracle of grace and timing. But, we are there to see it, with a camera.
We have to live through the pain of disappointment just like we would live if there were no pain, if there were no disappointment. That’s our work. Or part of it, anyway. A big part of it. It is the key to all that follows: Showing up—eager to see what happens.
Showing up is growing up is waking up, growing up—is realizing that it’s all about showing up, waking up, growing up.
We may think initially it’s about taking a train photograph. But it’s about showing up. Waking up. Growing up. Eager to see what happens.
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach, II B&W — Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — I know a woman, okay, lots of women. Okay, lots of women and men. Lots of people. Who is not free.
Who keeps looking over her shoulder. Seeing people who are not there. And haven’t been there, now, for most of her life. But, who were there early on, and made an impression.
She keeps trying to please people who aren’t there. She’s trying to make ghosts happy.
Freedom is an inside job.
It’s the old saw about “You can take the people out of Egypt, but you can’t take Egypt out of the people.” It’s a Biblical metaphor. Moses leading the people out of Egypt, but they are of Egypt, so they have to wander around in the wilderness for a generation, waiting for a new crop of people to be born in the wild places and grow up not knowing what they can’t do, and not thinking always of what must be done, the way it was done back in Egypt.
Once the doors to the prison are opened and we step out into the bright light of our own life, and are free to live it as we see fit, we still have to do the work of our own emancipation. And allow our souls to roam the earth unfettered, to fly like the wind where they will, and dance with them, laughing with the fresh joy of unending wonder forever.
- CSX 803 01 — Indian Land, SC, December 6, 2013 — You have to have an inviolable commitment to a way of life that expresses, enables, supports and is aligned with your LIFE.
Our LIFE informs and directs our living. We cannot live in ways that contradict and are contrary to our LIFE.
Our LIFE is the foundation of culture.
On its own, the culture knows nothing of life, living and being alive—and can only produce maintain and a sad substitute for life that is worshiped and served by people who have forgotten how to live.
To be counter-cultural is to live your own life—your own LIFE—the life that brings you to LIFE, that exhibits, expresses and serves who you are and what you are about, which is always emerging and unfolding and becoming more and more as it is over the full course of your living.
The Revolution is to create a culture that encourages, supports and enables each person within the culture to find and live the LIFE that is theirs to live.
We do that with no theology and the only doctrine being that of No Doctrine.
We find the way that is our way by ditching all ways and starting over from the beginning with each child born—listening, looking, seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being.
There is no regimen, no method, no strategy, no approach to LIFE beyond listening, looking, seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being.
Eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands, knows what is happening in each situation as it arises, and what needs to happen in response, does it, and, in doing it, becomes what is needed in the moment, and beyond the moment, to be what is needed in all moments (Seeing, hearing, etc.).
So much for socking away a fortune and whiling away the rest of your life with your feet propped up, smoking cigars and drinking champagne, wondering what entertaining pastime will be the order for the rest of the day.
- Scotland Avenue — Indian Land, SC, December 6, 2013
What we do has to matter—to us. We have to care about what we do, how we live. Our life has to be important to us.
Living in the service of what is meaningful to us is the key to being fully, vibrantly, energetically alive.
You would think this would be obvious, but.
We discount ourselves all too easily.
We allow others to cancel us out—override our choices, preferences and inclinations—and tell us how to live our life.
We live too easily according to someone else’s direction—as though we are merely extras on a set in a movie about Important People, and have no place, or mind, or life, of our own.
We cannot think of finding the path with our name on it until we can find our own voice, speak our own mind, and live out own life—in ways that are appropriate to the occasion, fitting and attuned to the moment of our living, sensitive and responsive to the needs of the situation as it arises, and coming from our own heart, as a gift to the time and place of our living.
Not from some script written for us by Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased.
In living a life that has our name on it, we have to be able to give our name to it, along with our heart and soul.
We have to be able to put our self into it and claim it as our own even as it claims us as its own—and own it, proudly, because it is ours, and is meaningful to us.
What we do has to matter—to us.
- Blue Mail Box — Road to Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — You do it for you. For yourself. Because you are intensely curious about what you can do with it, about what will happen next, and how you will respond to it, and where it will go from there, and how you can take what you have to work with and do right by yourself and your situation and all those concerned, and how it will change you and how you will change it, and how you will shape yourself and your life in response to your life, channel and stream, carrying and coursing through time, swirling with wonder and amazement at the very idea that you could do this with that.
- Price Lake — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 12, 2013 — It starts with us sitting with our life. Not the life we are living. The life that is ours to live. The life that is waiting for us to live it.
In the beginning, we may have no idea of what it might be. If that is the case with you, sit with the idea that it might be. Open yourself to the possibility that you might have a life that is yours to live, that only you can live, that is waiting, even yet, for you to live it.
Open yourself to the possibility—if you mean it.
Don’t be playing games with your LIFE. Don’t be teasing your LIFE into showing itself to you for you to laugh at, and say, “You must be kidding! I have bigger things than you in mind! Go back where you came from! Leave me alone!”
You have to mean it.
You have to be committed to the work of living what shows up. You can’t even say, “Come back later. Let me think about it.”
When the disciples’ life showed up in the shape of Jesus, they didn’t say, “Let me think about it. Come back, maybe next year.”
If you aren’t going to live your life, don’t even bother. Your life knows. You can’t pull anything over on your life. You can’t fool your life. It won’t show up. It will keep waiting. Waiting for you to get hungry for it. Desperate. Desperate enough to do anything for the wonder of being alive. Ready to see if you can be surprised by how alive you can be in the time left for living.
When you get to that point, sit with the possibility of having a life to live and open yourself to it.
Then, get up and go about your business in the life you are living, but always ready, watching, waiting for what has been waiting for you all these years to show up and wink at you and say, “Let’s have at it.”
- Dunes 03 HDR — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 14, 2013
All the parables of Jesus were dreams he’d had the night before. I’m just making that up, but. It’s plausible.
Try it with your own dreams. Report your dream in the third person and begin it with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”
Here’s one of mine from last night:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is handcuffed by shadowy figures and left alone, and it is up to him to free himself from bondage. He rummages around in the house where he is being held and finds a Dremel tool, and sets to work installing the sanding disk to cut through the metal of the handcuffs. He fashions an insulating pad to keep the friction from burning his wrists, and begins the process of releasing himself from captivity.”
Ain’t that how it is, though?
It’s all up to us. We bind ourselves, and we free ourselves from ourselves.
- Our dreams say, “This is how it is in your life. What do you think about that? What do you think needs to be done in response? What are you going to do?”
The shadowy figures are my own fear and desire and arrogance, my parents and my response to the way I was parented, and all the other figures of my past and present, including all of Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased…
- They are my responsibilities, obligations and duties… Everything that boxes me in, holds me in place, prevents me from taking the chance of living my own life—living out of my own idea of how my life needs to be lived, out of my own sense of direction, purpose, and meaning.
The dream tells it like it is. All dreams do. We only have to wake up, pay attention, and get to work.
We get a parable every night to help us with finding our way through every day. It’s up to us to take it from there, aligning ourselves with the life that is ours to live on our individual path to the Grail Castle in the Land of Promise.
- Lake Haigler Fall 10 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Hwy 21 Access, Fort Mill, SC, November 3, 2013
Our life— the one we’re living—has to support our LIFE—the one we are called to live, the one we are here to live, the one only we can live, the one that is ours alone to live.
We generally want our new life, the one we are called to live, to support our old life, the one we are living.
We want to live like we have always lived, with a little spiritual inspiration and assurance that our eternal bliss is secure as long as we genuflect, cross ourselves, pray and believe the right things, and earn merit in a few other superficial, insignificant, ways.
But we still want to be able to hate gay people, poor people and women, black people and immigrants. We don’t call it hating them, in fact, we say we don’t hate them, but they can’t tell the difference.
The Mafia made, perhaps still makes, nice donations to the Catholic Church to ease its conscience, or what was left of it, and went right on about its business.
That’s what we want in a church—something that doesn’t get in our way, and allows us to go right on about our business. We don’t want a church messing in our business. We certainly don’t want a church telling us we have no business being in the business we are in, and that what has always been called God has some other business for us to do instead.
What we want in our spirituality is a nice pat on the back and three Hail Marys to help us feel better about the life we are living.
We have to live our life in a way that enables us to live our LIFE, that is an extension of our LIFE, that expresses and exhibits our LIFE, that is thoroughly compatible, in synch and aligned, with our LIFE.
Otherwise, the whole thing is a sham and a lie, and we are guilty of self-deception, which is blasphemy and sacrilege to the core—an outrageous, contemptuous, abortion of the LIFE we are supposed to be aborning.
Our new life turns our old life inside out. New means new.
- Country Sunset 01 — Indian Land, SC, November 25, 2013
James Hollis says that fear and lethargy are the two dragons guarding the treasure of our own life. In living the life that is our life to live, we have to face up to, and deal with, fear and lethargy all along the way.
What if we are wrong? Maybe this isn’t the right life for us. What if we fail? What if we can’t do it? How will we cope with the humiliation? This old life isn’t so bad. If it gets worse, we could take up the new one then. We could start working on it after we find a new job, after the kids are on their own, after we retire…
It’s better just to think about a new life. Fantasies are easier and more fun than reality. We’ll console ourselves with day dreams and leave the work undone.
Some manifestation of the Cyclops stands blocking our path at every turn. Fear and lethargy are two of his favorite ways of stopping us cold, spinning us around and sending us running off to take refuge in the old, lifeless, ways, and waiting to spend eternity reciting the mantra of Terry Malloy: “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am,” with the laughter of the Cyclops ringing in our ears.
What to do? DO IT! DO THE THING YOU KNOW MUST BE DONE! Past all objections, denunciations, ridicule, put-downs and anticipated horrors. Shut up with the reasons why not and DO THE THING!
Or, take your place with Terry Malloy, wishing you had.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Molasses Creek HDR 02 B&W — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013
We each have to find our own way. It’s unmarked. There is no map or directions. We divine it. We douse it. We sniff it out. We hunch it. We feel our way along.
Joseph Campbell said, “We know when we are on the beam and when we are off it.”
We know what is right for us and what is wrong.
Where we belong and where we have no business being.
It’s a problem when what is right for us is also wrong for us.
When what is wrong for us is also right for us.
When we belong where we have no business being.
That’s when we earn the right to call it “Our way,” and not some way that we lucked up on, that was given to us, handed out like charity to the poor, like crumbs off some heavenly table.
We have to work it out, our way, amid conflicting interests and mutually exclusive demands and expectations, and contradictions like you wouldn’t believe. But you can’t deny them.
Wanting to know what to do is wanting someone to tell us what to do—wanting to be off the hook—wanting to be free of the responsibility of deciding for ourselves what to do, of making up our own mind regarding how we are going to live our life.
We each have to find our own way!
- Canoes, B&W — Price Lake, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 12, 2013
It starts with us sitting with our life. Not the life we are living. The life that is ours to live. The life that is waiting for us to live it.
In the beginning, we may have no idea of what it might be. If that is the case with you, sit with the idea that it might be—that you might yet have a life to live.
Open yourself to the possibility that you might have a life that is yours to live, that only you can live, that is waiting, even yet, for you to live it.
Open yourself to the possibility—if you mean it.
Don’t be playing games with your LIFE. Don’t be teasing your LIFE into showing itself to you for you to laugh at, and say, “You must be kidding! I have bigger things than you in mind! Go back where you came from! Leave me alone!”
You have to mean it.
You have to be committed to the work of living what shows up. You can’t even say, “Come back later. Let me think about it.”
When the disciples’ life showed up in the shape of Jesus, they didn’t say, “Let me think about it. Come back, maybe next year. No, wait! We’ll call you.”
If you aren’t going to live your life, don’t even bother. Your life knows. You can’t pull anything over on your life. You can’t fool your life. It won’t show up. It will keep waiting. Waiting for you to get hungry for it. Desperate. Desperate enough to do anything for the wonder of being alive. Ready to see if you can be surprised by how alive you can be in the time left for living.
When you get to that point, sit with the possibility of having a life to live and open yourself to it.
Then, get up and go about your business in the life you are living, but always ready, watching, waiting for what has been waiting for you all these years to show up and wink at you and say, “Let’s have at it.”
- Bath Creek — Bath, NC, October 14, 2013 — Whether there is life after death is not our question to answer. That will take care of itself.
Whether there will be life before death is our question to answer. How alive will we be in the time left for living? How alive are we willing to be?
- As It Was In The Beginning… — Indian Land, SC, December 9, 2013 — Jesus is the center, ground, and foundation of life. The way Jesus did it is the center, ground, and foundation of life. And Jesus invited everyone to follow his lead and do it like he did it. But. This doesn’t mean what you think it means.
The word “Christian” means “Little Christ.” If we are going to be good, proper little Christs, we’re going to have to throw the Bible away and listen to the music only we can hear, and dance with our soul throughout what remains of our life.
Jesus was out of accord with every Book of Order of his day, and said, “Look at me! This is the way to do it! Set yourself free! See where it goes!”
It may go to a cross. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You owe it to yourself to find out.
Jesus was as far from the center, the ground, the foundation of who he ought to have been, of how he should have done it, as you can get and still be recognizable. Jesus was out there. Outside the gates. Outside the walls. Outside the boundaries of the expected and the ordinary, the respectable and the mundane.
Jesus was a wild man. A blasphemer. A heretic. A Son of Satan.
Jesus lived with the wind of the spirit that blows where it will forever in his hair.
How long has it been since you lived like that? What are you waiting for?
Stop listening to what some preacher says, some Sunday school teacher, some Bible wielding Blind Guide, and start listening to the music only you can hear, and dancing wildly with your soul through your life.
Jesus scared everybody who knew him. If you aren’t scaring yourself, you aren’t living. If you aren’t afraid of what you might do next, you are too far from the edge to be in the center of your life like Jesus was in the center of his life.
You have to get out there a little bit, where the wind howls up from who knows where, blowing strange notions and wild ideas our way, blowing us as far from Orthodoxy as we can get and still be recognizable.
Now, we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
Live to scare yourself to death! That’s the only way to resurrection and life!
- Moonrise 05 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013
Here’s where it gets interesting: We have to keep faith with both worlds, with both lives—the life in this world of normal, apparent reality, and the life that is ours to live as a mission from the other world, the invisible world, the world that has to be believed to be seen, the world where believing is seeing.
Both worlds have a claim on us. We have to show up and do what is asked of us in each.
Our LIFE, the one that is ours to live, is grounded in the life we are living. We have to be living the life we are living to have any hope of living the life that is ours to live.
This gets us to the essence of Jesus’ observation that those who are “faithful in little can be trusted to be faithful in much.”
If we do not live the life we are living in good faith to the requirements and obligations of the visible world, we cannot do it with the LIFE the invisible world calls us to live.
We can’t think that we could be worthy of trust by the invisible world if we can’t be worthy of trust in the visible world. We have to do what is needed in both worlds.
We have to submit to the discipline required to live in each world.
And we have to pay attention. Be aware. Be conscious of what we are doing in each world.
Thus, the need for stepping back, taking stock, reflecting, examining, inspecting, assessing, looking, listening, seeing, hearing… We have to work silence, stillness and solitude into our routine. If we can’t do it daily, how about once a week? Once a month?
We have to find the time required to do right by our time in both worlds. Each depends on it
- CSX 843 01 — Indian Land, SC, December 9, 2013 — There is an old sea saw (I couldn’t help it) that goes: “The sea will teach you all you need to know, but you better learn quickly and thoroughly—you take your chances with every wave and you’re a fool if you bet on the sea.”
When you’re walking on water, you have to remember you’re walking on water.
The wrongest thing to think is to think you know what you’re doing.
Old pros become rookies when they don’t give the game their respect.
All of this is to say, take your time with your life. Both of them. The life you are living and the life that is your to live within the life you are living.
Honor your life—both of them—with respect and humility.
Arrogance is a big gun aimed at your foot.
Spend time with your life—both of them—listening, looking, seeing, hearing, asking, seeking, knocking.
Let your action flow from your resonance with your life. Both of them.
- Lake Wylie Dam Panorama — A Duke Energy Hydro-Electric Plant near Fort Mill, SC, December 6, 2013 — What is the source of your deepest joy? How often do you return to the source, and drink from it? How much time to you spend with it in a week? A month?
How close to you come to meeting your Joy Quotient each week? If you are lagging behind, why?
- Mothball Fleet 01 B&W — Swanquarter, NC, October 13, 2013 — The Shrimp Boat Museum, Hyde County, NC — I didn’t think I had the prerogative of “No!” growing up—and I think the facts would bear me out—so I said “Yes” when I thought it was expected of me, which was too often for my own good, but which I thought was completely necessary for my own good.
If I could change one thing about my childhood and youth, I would give me an environment in which “No!” was allowed me. Truth be known, I would give myself that even today.
It’s amazing how many people think they have the right to take the “No!” away from us—who cannot take “No!” for an answer—who push us toward living in ways that have nothing to do with what is good for us.
Look at your social calendar. How much of that which is found there is good for you and how much of that is a social obligation to which you cannot say “No!”?
How much of your free time—the time which you are free to determine how it is spent—it taken from you in the service of things you have no business doing? That would serve you better if you devoted it to riding a horse, or waking in the woods, or sitting sipping wine?
Why do we have to make such an effort to grace ourselves with endeavors that would be truly good for us, and with avoiding endeavors that would not be good for us at all? Why do other people assume they know better than we do what to do with our time?
It is my goal in what remains to be lived of my life to become a hermit in the service of “No!” and let them deal with it as they are able.
Now, we all know I won’t be able to pull that off to the extent that it needs to be done, but. Having the goal will goad me into working “No!” into my life with increasing frequency, and any improvement will be helping myself in the right direction. If we are ever going to help ourselves in that way, we better start moving. At the end, no one gives you “No!” at all.
- Moonrise 04 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — There is that which we can control and that which we cannot control. If we are in the grip of that which we cannot control, we can influence it by the way we receive it and respond to it.
Let’s say you are having surgery tomorrow, or a colonoscopy. Hand yourself over. Trust yourself to it. Do not resist, hold back, fearful of what will happen to you and what the outcome might be.
Step into it as though you were going on a magic carpet ride that might make you seasick but would return you in pretty much one piece and recognizable, but your only part would be to participate fully in the experience of the ride, doing what you were directed to do, and receiving everything well.
Go into it open to it and let happen what will happen. It’s going to anyway. You will be helping yourself immensely by not opposing the inevitable.
Let your opposition be appropriate to the occasion. If you are volunteering for the experience, it is ridiculous to fight it. Relax yourself into it. Assist the docs and techs and attendants in doing what they do best, and trust that all will be well.
- Waxhaw Footbridge 02 B&W — Waxhaw, NC, December 12, 2013 — No one can wake us up. We can’t even wake ourselves up. But. We can facilitate or inhibit our awakening.
We can help our awakening along by being curious, asking questions, asking questions of the answers to our questions, wondering, exploring, examining, turning things over, facing up to how things are and how things also are, squaring up to the discrepancy between how things are and how we want things to be, feeling what we feel, thinking what we think, seeing what we look at, hearing what we listen to, taking new roads, following white rabbits—not knowing it they are white rabbits or red herrings or wild geese—just to see where they go, being open, being aware, being conscious…
We can prevent our awakening by following the cows along the same path every day from the barn, to the pasture, back to the barn. Doing what we are told. Thinking the way we are supposed to think. Taking someone else’s word for everything. Always taking “No!” for an answer. Never pushing against the limits to see if they are real or imaginary. Never stepping over the lines. Never doing anything that hasn’t been done before. Always asking, “Are we supposed to be here? Are we supposed to be doing this?” Never rocking the boat. Never making waves. Never turning over any tables. Never wondering why we do what we do the way we do things. Never seeing what we look at or feeling what we feel or knowing what we know. Never asking, seeking, knocking…
The quality and depth and breadth of our life depends entirely on the degree to which we are awake to the experience of being alive in each moment of our living.
Be as awake as you can be in each situation as it arises, and see where it goes.
- The Oaks of Mepkin Abbey — Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — God is a lived experience, not a rational concept.
We don’t get to God by hearing about God, by being told about God, by talking about God. We get to God by living our life.
We live our way to God.
We don’t get to God by thinking about God but by thinking about our life.
What are we doing? Why are we trying to do it? What motivates our living? Why do we do what we do instead of doing something else? How do we decide what to do?
What works? What doesn’t work?
What are we doing when we feel as though we are in the flow of our life, in sync with our life, living at one with our life’s purpose and direction?
What keeps us going? Where are we stuck? What are our symptoms? What is trying to come to life in us, through us? What nourishes us? What restricts us? Limits us? What expands us? Deepens us?
What calls us forth? Holds us back?
What is important? How do we know?
What do we know of God because we have lived it, not because someone told us?
Where have we experienced God in our life? Where would we go to experience God in our life? What would we do?
- Stacy Creek Mooring 02 B&W—Stacy, NC, October 21, 2013 — It is your task, your calling, to bring you forth.
The angel appeared to Mary, and Mary is every woman, every man. The Virgin Mary is the virgin mother in us all called to give birth to—to bring forth—the Anointed One, the Christ—within. To birth ourselves—the unique, only one like us ever, individual we are—into the life we are living.
Mixing metaphors is what I do best. Here comes another one. When Jesus said, “If you would be my disciple, pick up your cross daily, and follow me (That is, do it like I have done it),” he’s saying, “Be you in the way that only you can do it!”
Our cross is bringing forth our gift, our genius, our art, our unique individuality, our self into the world.
Guess what isn’t welcome there. That would be you. And me. In our essential uniqueness—read: differentness. Ah, the world does hate those who don’t fit in, take their place, follow orders, do as they are told, look and act and think like they are supposed to.
Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make waves. Don’t turn over any apple carts. Don’t be who you are.
Guess what Christmas is about.
You birthing you into the world. Into your life, where you will not be welcome, and where you will have to be your own advocate, guardian, mediator and friend, against all odds, your whole life long.
It would be so much easier to get in line and do what you’re told.
What are you going to do?
- Old Hammock Creek 03 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013 — Our dreams show us exactly how it is with us and what we need to do about it every night.
Our dreams are about how we are living and how we need to live to be at one with the life that is begging us to live it, in sync with what needs us to do it, aligned with our soul’s true joy, doing the work that is ours with the gifts, art, genius that is ours in the here and now of our living, in every situation as it arises, all the way to the end and the Grail Castle in the Land of Promise.
It takes being open to it to get it.
I knew a person, well trained in the Jungian arts, who told me a dream in passing that clearly indicated a need to grow up and leave home, declaring: “Isn’t that the silliest thing! I left home over 50 years ago!”
James Hollis, and others, have been careful to note that divorce does not end marriages, and death does not end relationships, and moving out of the house doesn’t leave home behind.
We have to be open to what our dreams are saying to hear what they have to say. Otherwise, they are tales told by deranged troupers mixing up scenes from plays they have performed to no one’s entertainment or good.
The audience holds the key to the meaning of each night’s presentation.
- Banks Presbyterian Church 02 B&W — Marvin, NC, December 12, 2013 — Your dreams about someone else are about you. You have to treat the other person as though she/he is an alligator or a sea gull. What’s this alligator, this sea gull, doing in my dreams?
Associations, associations, associations. You are looking for associations with the dream object/subject that “clicks” with YOU.
What’s this other person doing in my dreams? Make the associations all the way to the “clicks.”
I new a guy who was wildly jealous of his wife and dreamed every night that she was having high times with other men. His dreams were about his jealousy, not her running around.
Our dreams are compensation and direction, offsetting our extremes, pulling us back to the center by showing us the opposite of who we are being. Dreams of flying? Making fun of our high flying opinions of ourselves.
Dreams of driving a car too fast with no brakes? We’re living too fast to listen or to pay attention to where we are going.
Dreams of falling? We are hooked up to our convictions that we know what we are doing and nothing can stop us now, and need to examine the foundation of our life and the basis of our living and make radical alterations in the way we are doing things.
Dreams of hitting walls? We need to wake up to how we are living and redirect our life. We need a nice wall to stop us and turn us around.
Dreams of straightening out other people and telling them how to live their life? We need to stop thinking about them and start working on our own way of living.
How we live is what matters most. Get that down and we have it made. And we can do that anywhere, anytime. Live well, that is. Live our life like it is supposed to be lived. Right here, right now. What’s stopping us?
That’s what dreams are for. To show us what’s stopping us and to kick us in gear.
- Pilings 02 B&W — Silver Lake, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 20, 2013
James Hollis said the twin dragons guarding the treasure of our Self, and the life that is ours to live, are named Lethargy and Fear.
Another word for lethargy is laziness.
Carl Jung said, “Laziness is the greatest passion of mankind, even greater than power, or sex, or anything.”
In the deep south, they say someone is “Too lazy to flush.”
And that is what we are up against.
There is a part of us that is just that lazy.
We like the idea of being on track, on the beam, on the way to the Grail Castle in the Land of Promise, living the life that is our life to live, growing up, sharing the gift, art, genius that is ours to bring forth without a thought about what is in it for us, gracing the world with our presence, being a boon to humankind…
But. Translating all of that into action, into an actual lived life, is a bit much.
Maybe tomorrow. Maybe another time. Where’s that TV remote?
And so it is said, “We can’t change our mind about what is important, and live toward what IS important, until we reach the end of our rope.”
We talk about wanting to begin a spiritual practice, like sitting quietly 20 minutes a day, losing weight, quitting smoking and/or drinking, exercising and changing our self-destructive ways. But here we are, waiting to begin.
Waiting to get to the end of our rope so we can change our mind about what is important.
- CSX 7613 01 & 02 — Waxhaw, NC, December 15, 2013 — Self Talk: I said, “I hate making all the decisions, taking all the responsibility, exercising all the leadership!”
I said, “You just hate it when someone finds fault with you.”
I said, “Show me someone who likes it when someone finds fault with them! What would you have me do about it?”
I said, “Grow up.”
I said, “You mean you think I’m not grown up?”
I said, “Tell you what. Keep track of all your remarks and actions for one week and grade each one as to how grown up they are. Ask of each one, ‘How grown up was that?’”
I said, “That’s ridiculous. I’m not about to give myself a grade every time I do something.”
I said, “How grown up was that?”
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., A Stand of Pines 02, BW — Union County near Waxhaw, NC — December 12, 2013 — We don’t get somewhere and have it made, and revel in wealth, prosperity and celebrity status from that point on forever.
We don’t make it to the Big Time and coast on our reputation through all eternity. Success is not a finished point, a culminating and continual state of being.
Here is the plan for your life: One thing leads to another. And they carry you along, stretching you, challenging you, confronting you, requiring you to wrack your brain wrestling with contradictions and conflicts, polarities and mutually exclusive wants, wishes and desires—bringing you forth, creating you on the fly before your eyes.
Everything is grist for the mill, and we are milling maturity, wisdom, grace and compassion, kindness, gentleness, perceptivity and understanding—eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that grasp what is going on, what is called for, and how to respond with the gift, art, genius that we have and are.
Our life expands, deepens, enlarges us. The path makes us better human beings.
It is not about getting some thing, like recognition and reward. It is about becoming someone. Becoming a big-hearted person. Our life will make us a big-hearted person if we approach it in the right way.
If we have the proper attitude.
Those with the right attitude make it. Those with the wrong attitude don’t. It doesn’t matter how much money they make.
- Mothball Fleet 02 BW — Hyde County, Swan Quarter, NC, October 17, 2013 — I have my work to do. You have your work to do. I have my life to live. You have your life to live.
Our loyalty and allegiance are to our work, our life.
We are medieval knights and ladies sworn in secret to the love of our life, which, in our case, is our life, our work.
Nothing can break the bond to, or dissuade us from the service of, our work, our life.
We are here to help one another with the other’s work, the other’s life, but not to interfere. Not to get in the way. Not to keep the other from the life that is theirs to live, the work that is their’s to do. In doing so, we neglect our own work, fail to live our own life.
We have to know what our business is and stick to it. What our life is and live it. What our work is and do it.
We all want to abandon our life, our work, when it gets hard. When we lose the zip for it. When it’s no fun any more. That’s the Cyclops trying to throw us off the track. Press on! Press on!
Are you in love with your life, your work, or not? Are you bound to your life, your work, or not? If not, what have you found to be an adequate substitute? Make your case. What are you running from? Why are you quitting? It’s too hard? It’s no fun?
It’s the HERO’s Journey! Get in there and do your thing, no matter what! Your thing is your life, your work! There is nothing beyond that to want, or do, or love—though lots of things appear to be attractive and sing the Siren’s song to waylay adventurous seafarers on their track.
- White Heron 01 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 16, 2013 — I walk past countless multitudes of people who have no idea of what I am talking about and no interest in hearing what I have to say. And it doesn’t matter. I have to say what I have to say. What happens then is none of my business.
Every day I say everything I have to say up to that day. I repeat a lot of it because I need to hear myself say it again to try again to get it right, to get it said. And it is important to me to not leave anything unsaid that needs to be said.
I’m always stupefied and aghast when, in the movies, the characters don’t say the obvious thing that needs to be said. It’s the Unforgivable Sin in my book. How can you forgive yourself for not saying what needs to be said? Or for not asking what begs to be asked?
But that takes paying attention to the situation, to know what is called for. People do that with colors. They walk into a room and know what wall colors are called for by the sofa, or what sofa colors are called for by the walls. I do it with words.
What words go with a particular situation? What words are called for here, now? I can’t walk away leaving them not said. It’s a curse. It’s my work.
My work is always waiting on me every day. Every day I need to say what I have to say. What needs to be said by me. If people don’t need to hear it, that’s their business. They have their work to do, I have mine.
- Pawley’s Island Moonrise 01 — Pawley’s Island, SC, December 16, 2013 — Sit with your life—with the idea of your life—with the chance that you actually have a life—and invite it to come to you, in its own time and in its own way.
And mean it.
Then wait, and watch. And when the door opens, walk through.
Let your life come to you. Don’t go banging on doors, asking, “Is my life hiding behind THIS door?” Don’t try running after some supposed life, some wished for life, as in, “I want to be a big time country singer!”
Maybe your life is just singing. No lights. No #1 Billboard Country Music ranking. Nobody knowing your name. But, you are singing for somebody whenever the opportunity arises.
Let your life come to you. Do what your life seems to be inviting you to do, seems to be asking of you, in the here and now of your living—and see where it goes. But let your life show you the way.
Don’t be forcing your way, thinking you know this is IT and you have to have it by the end of the week. You don’t know anything. Know that you don’t know anything and wait for your life to teach you what you need to know about living your life.
In the meantime, do whatever is next, and wait for your life to open the door. When it does, walk through.
- Huntington Beach Sunrise 01 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — The gifts are everywhere for those with eyes to see. Who see beyond the good/bad dichotomy. Who see more than “My way” and “Not my way.” Who see see beyond what they want and don’t want, like and don’t like, to possibilities, ways, means, and outcomes they have never considered.
We stand at the threshold in every moment. The path opens before us in each situation. To receive what is offered, we only have to see what is presenting itself—instead of trying to force our future to be what we have known and liked and wished for about our past.
“Behold,” said the angel. “I make all things new. If you are hanging on to some old idea of how things ought to be, you are going to be quite disappointed in me and what I have to offer. However, if you are up for the time of your life, come with me.”
- Black Crowned Night Heron 01 — A resident of the aviary at Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, NC, December 17, 2013 — Live ecologically. This doesn’t just mean recycle. It means live in right relationship with your life. Do not push your way through your life. Do not push your way onto the world. Do. Not. Push.
Listen! Look! See! Hear!
Right acting flows from seeing, hearing, understanding. From knowing how things are and how things also are and what is happening and what needs to happen in response.
Right seeing leads to right acting.
Look. See. Do. This is living ecologically.
Doing the thing that needs to be done when it needs to be done the way it needs to be done, and letting that be that. This is living ecologically.
A concert pianist does not have to think about the notes and which keys on the piano correspond to them. She, he, sees the notes and strikes the keys. A typist doesn’t think about where the notes are on the keyboard. He, she, has a word and types the letters.
When we are aligned with, at one with, our life, the action flows from us to the situation as it arises. We see what is happening and offer what is needed out of what we have give to the moment of our living. This is living ecologically.
- End of the Trail — Sculpture by James Fraser, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture Collection, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — Some trails end this way. It isn’t always “roses, rainbows and white picket fences.”
The trail is about living with, and exhibiting, integrity—living out who we are within the terms and conditions of our life—against all odds. The Hero’s Journey does not always end with a ticker tape parade for the hero and a pasture of lush green grass for her, for his, horse.
Jesus found a cross with his name on it. Don’t start out on the path thinking it’s going to lead to “fortune and glory.” You find yourself along the way, and you live in ways that bring you forth, and maybe you live out your days in peace and joy, and maybe you come to some other end.
It’s how we get there that matters. Paul said, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the agone (race, course—the agony that was set before him, that was his lot to bear). I have kept the faith.”
Keeping faith with ourselves and with that which has always been called God is the reward for all those who complete the journey, no matter how it turns out in the end.
- White Ibis 01 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 18, 2013 — We have to help ourselves. Encouragement is a wonderful thing, and discouragement is the pits but. We have to do what needs to be done with both. We are the ones. It. Is. Up. To. Us.
We learned to walk in our own time, in our own way. And ride a bicycle. And tie our own shoes. And roller skate. And drink coffee black.
We got tips and advice along the way, but. We were the ones who put it all together.
We can’t be sitting around waiting to be rescued, delivered. Deliverance is an inside job.
We have all the tools required to take what the invisible world has to offer and apply it appropriately in making our way through the visible world—in an “in the world but not of it” kind of way.
We can only be of help to the extent that we know what we are talking about, and know when to quit trying to be helpful and let the butterfly escape the chrysalis on its own.
Everybody wants to be helped and to be helpful—to be mothered and to mother. No one wants to help themselves. Except two-year-olds with their “No! My do it!” approach. But it soon wears thin, and we begin to hope someone else will do it for us—dependency seeking co-dependency, to the detriment of us all.
- White Heron 02, B&W — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 16, 2013 — Do the work—but don’t try to make it pay your way. Do your job to pay the bills. Do the work to serve your gift, your art, your genius.
Your work may be playing the drums, or working with wood or clay, or watching birds… Don’t treat your work as a pastime. Treat it as work. And do it faithfully. Regularly.
Keep faith with your work. Show up daily, if possible, or as often as you are able. Put in the time as a high priority. Keep your appointments with your work as you would keep them with your doctor or dentist.
Your work is your life. Live it. Live to do it.
Doing your work faithfully, regularly, dependably over time will make the biggest difference you can make in your life. Everybody will benefit from it. Especially you.
I have no reason to lie about this.
- Sunrise 02, Detail 01 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — We are afraid of being alone. It keeps us from being who we are. The threat of being alone—of being excluded, expelled, excommunicated, banned, banished, shunned, ignored—folds us into the fold, erases the distinctions that set us apart, makes us who everyone else pretends to be.
Yet. We are never more alone than when we are saying things that don’t matter.
An entire football stadium chanting “L. S. U.” A congregation repeating the Apostles’ Creed. The US Congress reciting the Pledge of Allegiance…
We are never more alone than when we talk together about things that are not important.
The dirt. The skinny. The latest. The very idea.
We are born alone. We die alone. In between we have the opportunity to wake up to the entire population of the invisible world we have access to within—and know we are never alone, but are called to join all others in connecting that world with this world of normal, apparent, reality, by living in ways that keep the faith with both worlds.
In serving the invisible world within the visible world, we create/find enclaves of those who know what we know, and support one another in the work of calling forth what is needed in each situation as it arises, to bless and grace the world in which we live with the gifts, art, genius of the world that is the source and goal of life.
Alone is a threat the Cyclops uses to keep us in place. We have to work around it to be who we are, where we are, when we are, no matter what. Just another test along the way.
- Lake Jocassee HDR — Nantahala National Forest Overlook, NC, October 26, 2013 — The work is its own reward and provides its own direction. We do not have to know what we are doing, or why we are doing it, or what it means, or where it is going.
The work asks us not to defend, justify, explain, or excuse the work. “Just do it.”
As we do the work, the work leads us to additional work, perhaps quite different work. We’re thinking, “Okay, we have it now. This means that.” We are getting in the way, thinking we have it figured out.
Our place is not to figure anything out, write the script, play a part, but to do the work and see where it goes.
It will go in 10,000 unimaginable directions over the course of our life. And all we did was what needed to be done in each situation as it arose, in faithful service to the work.
- Black Walnuts B&W — Indian Land, SC, December 15, 2013 — We don’t know if the unconscious is conscious of itself, but we are pretty much clueless about the unconscious. It’s unconscious to us! And we develop on a spiritual level to the degree that we become conscious of the unconscious, and align our living with our unconscious drifts and leanings.
Our work is making the unconscious conscious, and living in light of what we know of the unconscious, invisible, world.
For instance, we know what is right for us and what is wrong, what is good for us and what is bad, what fits and what does not fit, where we belong and where we need to get ourselves walked out of fast.
Why is your true love the One, and not some other one? You can tell the difference, but, I swear, I cannot see it. Some other one looks, to me, to have much more going for her, or him, than the one you call The One.
All of our important knowing is based on things we don’t know. On things we are unconscious of. The unconscious is the foundation of all that is. We don’t have an idea worth having that didn’t spring on us out of the blue.
If you want to know some stuff, spend some time poking around in the unconscious. That’s where all the stuff worth knowing is to be found.
What are you doing watching reruns and walking worn paths through your day? Spend some time exploring the unconscious world. It will make a new person of you, and that’s just the beginning.
- White Heron 05 B&W—Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 16, 2013 — May you see what you look at.
May you relish, experience, explore, express and enjoy beauty on every level of life.
May you ask the questions that beg to be asked and say the things that cry out to be said.
May you be clear and correct about what is happening, and what needs to happen, and what needs to be done about it in each situation as it arises, and may you have the courage to do it out of the gifts, art, genius that are yours to bring forth in your life.
And may you live with the wind of the spirit that blows where it will forever in your hair.
Amen! May it be so!
- White Heron 03 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 18, 2013 — It’s about the work—the work that is ours to do. It’s about doing the work, being faithful to the work, amassing a body of work.
Our work is who we are.
“What I do is me/For that I came.” — Gerard Manley Hopkins.
For that we all came, but something happened, and we confused the work that is ours to do with the jobs that pay the bills, and we think if we only had enough money, we wouldn’t have to work another day ever. And we miss the point.
The point is the work. The work that is ours to do. The work that we came to do, that we are here to do.
We have no idea what that is. So, finding our work is our work until we find it, and then our work is doing it. But we’re burning daylight here, so we better get cracking.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Sunrise 02, Detail 02 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — The work evolves. The work becomes more than it has been. The work shifts, changes, takes on new forms, takes surprising turns, takes off in new directions.
The worst thing we can do is what we have always done.
The only God worth hanging out with—the only God worthy of the name—is the God who makes all things new, including our idea of God.
If your God isn’t remaking God in the name of God before your very eyes, saying, “That was then, this is now, who knows what’s next? Let’s find out!” you’re stuck in the same old same old and that is no way to catch up with the spirit that is like the wind, blowing where it will.
We have to always be waking up, and every awakening is a rude one. No one asks us, “Okay, Honey, do you feel like waking up a little bit more today?”
We turn a corner and there it is, like nothing we have ever seen before, and all the old constructs and schematics and blueprints and norms are blown to hell by that tornado of a wind whipping through our life. That’s waking up.
Every time we wake up, we have to put things together in a different configuration. We are always leaving our current home for some new Land of Promise.
Settling down with “the way it’s supposed to be” is for the dead and dying. If you’re living, you’re changing. Your mind. Again. About something you thought was solidly in place forever.
Waking up is growing up. We out grow our religion. We out grow our theology. We out grow our doctrine. We out grow our God.
Joseph Campbell said, “Experience is what we use to formulate new realizations.” What was important is a step on the way to what is important. We are moving through our life from where we have been to where we are going. Waking up. Growing up all along the way. Who knows what’s next? Let’s find out!
- Pawley’s Island Moon 03 — Pawley’s Island, SC, December 16, 2013 — There is more to us than meets the eye—our eye or anyone else’s. There is that of us which we do not know.
Marie-Louise von Franz said, “We would be very poor indeed, if we were only who we imagined ourselves to be.”
We have no business refusing to allow ourselves to show us who we are.
You know how you rigidly maintain control of your life because “That’s just the way I am”? Cut it out. Find out how many other ways you can be if you’ll ease up and give yourself a chance to shine.
- Parker’s Creek, 01 HDR — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 19, 2013 — Put me in a group gathered around a leader with a whistle, a watch and an itinerary with a day full of touristy activities planned out, written down and scheduled, and I will wilt and shrivel on the spot.
When I die and go to hell, that is what I’ll find waiting.
My idea is to let the day determine how I spend it.
The day has its own agenda, its own idea of how I need to spend my time.
I cannot think my way through a day—any day. I have to feel my way along. Maybe I start out to the grocery store and end up at the greenway. Something happens.
I need freedom of movement. I can’t be pinned down to schedules and appointments. I may need to be somewhere else—and I can’t predict where that will be.
So, I don’t want to tell you I’ll meet you for lunch next Thursday, or that we can have dinner the third Saturday in February.
My body directs the action. I feel when to do what. My head is along for the ride.
- Sunrise, 02 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — The most we can think of to do with our life is make money. How to make money is the question that directs our living. What did they do before money came along?
The way you can distinguish an advanced culture from a primitive culture is the degree to which money is the central force at work in the culture. Primitive cultures don’t have money. Don’t know what to do with money. Are not attached to, controlled by, addicted to money.
If it weren’t for money, we wouldn’t know what to do with our lives.
Take a look at wealthy retired people. What do they have to look forward to? What pulls them out of bed each morning? Another round of golf and obsession with the quality of their health. Why do they want to be healthy? So they can play more golf?
Take money away and what is there but entertaining pastimes until we die?
That. Is. No. Way. To. Live.
It’s what we are left with, however, when we turn our back on our life to live, saying “Who needs it?” and putting our shoulder to the work of making money.
The worst thing that can happen in the work to make money, is that we make a lot of it and realize there is nothing to buy. Or, we buy a half dozen really large plasma TV’s and place them around our starter castle and realize there is nothing on TV. We make money and have nothing. Now what?
- White Heron 12 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 18, 2013 — We have trouble establishing connection with the invisible world and creating an inner life because we have been taught to believe that facts are the basis of reality—facts being something we can see, weigh, count, fence in or fence out. If it isn’t factual, it isn’t real.
What we feel is “something we are just imagining,” “something we are just making up,” “just all in our head.” Not real.
We make decisions on the basis of reason, logic, statistical probabilities, and tangible, actual, quantifiable outcomes. We do things we can explain, justify, defend, excuse. We would be ashamed to approach our life in any other way. We couldn’t imagine another way.
Listen. To. Your. Body.
Learn to read its signals. To understand its nighttime dreams and its daytime fantasies. To interpret its language and read its signs.
We kid ourselves all the time, but we cannot kid our body. It knows what is killing us long before we do, and what we are starving for, thirsting for, dying for long before we are dead.
And listen to your life.
Our life tells us all we need to know about living, if we only take the time to look, listen, see what we look at, hear what we listen to.
We have all the information we need to establish connection with the invisible world and create an inner life. We have all we need to become “transparent to transcendence” (Joseph Campbell) and know what we cannot know how we know, and live in light of things we cannot see. And live beautifully, wonderfully well in the time left for living.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Dichotomy, Polarity, Contradiction — Garden City, SC, December 18, 2013 — This photograph of the moon setting over Home Depot is wrong. And it is exactly right. It shouldn’t be that way. And that’s the way it is.
Moonset photographs are supposed to highlight nature and the natural world. The moon sets over oceans, and waterfalls, and mountain ranges. Home Depot is a world apart. Not really.
Home Depot, and the profit at any price that Home Depot, as a representative of Corporate, American, Capitalism, represents is as fracking, polluting, “take paradise and put up a parking lot” anti-Nature as is possible for me to imagine.
How do you get more hatefully unnatural and uncaring than to deny that global warming exists—and deny it because it is making you rich to excess and absurdity to destroy the climate, the atmosphere, the oceans and the earth???
Home Depot and the moonset are contraries we have to work out consciously, deliberately, intentionally and carefully, or else.
All the contraries are that way.
Men and Women have to become partners in the fullest sense of the word—not rivals, not one up and one down always forever throughout time, not locked in a power struggle for supremacy, but respectfully equally and oppositely paired—we have to work it out consciously, deliberately, intentionally and carefully, or else.
Contradiction goes to the core. God is as conflicted as it gets—check out all the denominations within Christianity and then go to all of the religions worldwide, exemplifying the conflicts at the very heart of being itself. We have to work them out, consciously, deliberately, intentionally and carefully, or else.
Consciousness is good for one thing: Working. It. Out. Thinking is good for one thing: Thinking. It. Through.
As conscious, thinking, rational, logical beings, our task is to see things as they are, and as they also are, and Make. It. Work.
We cannot do that pretending the opposites away, denying that they exist, playing games with language, and refusing to square up to how things are and what is happening and what needs to be done about it in our lifetime, or else.
- Catawba Heron B&W — York County, SC, December 6, 2013 — Jesus was a Jesus living toward being THE Jesus. Jesus was a Christ living toward being THE Christ.
I am a Jim Dollar living toward being THE Jim Dollar. I am a Christ living toward being THE Christ.
You are a Christ living toward being THE Christ.
We achieve Christhood when we are “transparent to transcendence’ (Joseph Campbell quoting Karlfried of Graf Durckheim) so that people see through us to the numinous reality that is the heart and center of us all.
In order to do that, all we have to do is the work we are here to do, and step aside—as opposed to claiming credit, taking bows, reaping the benefits and exploiting our advantage.
We start out as one of the crowd, a member of the species, and over the course of our life, we live toward being who we are, expressing “the face that was ours before we were born,” exhibiting our unique individuality in the gifts, art, genius that is ours to share, and thereby becoming THE (our name here) we are, which, by then, is synonymous with THE Christ we are.
But we have to live it out to know what I’m saying.
- White Heron 05 B&W — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 16, 2013 — Where are you when you don’t want to be somewhere else? Is that your life or an escape from life?
It’s important to know whether you are living or running from life, hiding from life, trying to get away from life.
Our life asks hard things of us. We reject our life in favor of smooth and easy, time after time. We talk of having dreams of our life, but they are actually happy fantasies that keep us from doing anything about the way things are—about the way things need to be.
Our happy fantasies lock us into a life that is no life, dreaming of deliverance, of rescue, of having it made.
We are the deliverer we are waiting for. We hold the key to our own cell door. The only thing stopping us is us. The Christ we are is waiting to be born in us. We keep holding the angel off.
“Could you come back later? It isn’t convenient right now. Maybe next time. I need to get some things in place. I’ll call you.”
Mary said okay to her life. We wait for a better deal. One with no manger, and no flight to Egypt, and no cross at the end of the trail.
- Christmas Lights 01 — Indian Land, SC, December 24, 2013 — There are no shortcuts and no substitutes. You have to do the work. The work of living your life. Both of them.
The life you are living with all the complications, and pains, and aggravations, and anxieties, and weariness, and boredom compliments—even as it contradicts and opposes—the life that you are here to live, that you are called to live, that is yours to live.
It’s a mystery and a wonder how opposites can be allies, but it’s fundamental.
Do not think you have to end, or escape, or be rid of this life before you can live that one. You only have to do the work of working it out, and doing what is yours to do in the midst of what is also yours to do.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be overcome by the beauty of it from time to time. It is one of the best things you will ever experience, and one of the things you will deeply relish about the time left for living.
But. No one can tell you how to do it. You have to work it out for yourself. And it’s an agony to the core. And a pure delight. You’ll see.
- CSX 843 02 — Indian Land, SC, December 9, 2013 — Transitions are forever. Getting through them, that is. They come upon us out of nowhere, spin us around, laughing, and speed on, as though we can keep up, catch up, calling back over their shoulder, “How’d you like that one? Wait ‘til you see what’s coming!”
It takes us awhile to process change—even anticipated change, hoped for change, desired change.
We are not passed smoothly along from one thing to the next throughout out life.
We don’t ever quite get over having lived from where we have been to where we are.
I’m still dealing with my father, who has been dead nearly thirty years, and with my mother, who keeps living, wondering why she’s still here, and with the church from which I retired 2 years ago… It’s all there.
My entire life is being relived before my eyes, passing in review, saying in a sense, “This is what happened to you! No wonder you are who you are! Now, what are you going to do about it?”
So, I keep filtering through all of it, sifting it out, panning for awareness, realization, understanding, meaning, purpose, direction, help…
I put it all together. I make it fit. I draw from it what can be useful in dealing with the day’s demands today.
Our past experience provides the tools with which to meet current circumstances and conditions. We have what we need, but we need to make use of it. It has (along with our response to it) made us who we are. Now, with our active participation, it can help us be who we need to be.
We are still growing up, still changing, still being transformed by the transitions that keep storming the castle, hauling us off, laughing, with their, “How’d you like that? Wait ‘til you see what’s coming!”
We have to do the work of accommodation and assimilation in order to get the good out of where we’ve been and get ready for where we’re going.
- Walking the Dog — Carolina Lakes, Lake Crandall, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials Access, Fort Mill, SC, December 21, 2013 — We never run out of situations. This is in direct contradiction of the cultural fantasy that if we can make enough money our troubles are over, our problems are solved, and situations will never impose themselves upon us ever again.
Money is not Big Momma, come to protect us from harm and drive all of our worries away.
I don’t care who you are. You will always have some situation to deal with. Generally one money can’t fix.
The test is whether we can be who we are and have what it takes to meet each situation as it arises with eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands, and the gifts, art, genius we have been given—and respond appropriately to what is happening and what needs to happen in ways that bring out the best in us and those we find there. And do it again in the next situation.
Our situations are where we find what we are made of and display it for all to see. If it weren’t for our situations, we would be fish in a tank, with nothing to call us forth or stretch us beyond being who we have always been, waiting to be fed and calling that being alive.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Banks Presbyterian Church 06 B&W — Marvin, NC, December 25, 2013 — Square up to your life. Face it just as it is. Step into it without being afraid of it, or ashamed of it, or bored, or fed up with it, but curious to see what you can do with it after all these years.
Your life, just as it is, is the threshold to the life that is your life to live—the doorway to the life you are called to live, still, after all these years.
They can be polar opposites, absolute contradictions, with nothing but you in common AND be as complimentary and collaborative as brass and woodwind.
Your life as it is, is exactly what you need for a springboard into the life that is your life to live.
You can’t get to the latter without working your way to it through the former.
You have to live your life to live the life that is your life to live.
Your life is the training ground, the laboratory, the boot camp for the life that is your life to live. You learn the basics, the essentials, for living the life that is your life to live by living the life you are living—as it needs to be lived, doing what is required with the dog and the dishes, the partner/spouse, the kids and the parents, and all that meets you in a day.
The life that is your life to live needs you to know how to do the things common to both lives—the undesirable things, the challenging things, the routine, boring, things.
It’s not all spring flowers and balmy skies where you’re going. Attitude is everything there and here. Don’t think attitude is automatic, that it flows naturally and easily from your circumstances. You manufacture the attitude required for each moment, for each situation as it arises.
You practice getting that down here for application there. It will serve you well. It is the most valuable skill you will ever develop in either life. It is crucial to both of them.
Square up. Face up. Step in. Live your life. Both of them.
- White Heron 09 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, December 17, 2013 — How would you bring forth the arts in a person? Either the fine arts—beauty for the wonder of beauty alone in painting, drawing, literature and poetry, music, dance, photography, sculpture, pottery, etc.—or the applied, practical arts, serving the utilitarian purpose of the product of the artist—plumbing, carpentry, graphic design, auto mechanics, etc.
How would you connect a person with her, with his, art?
How would you connect yourself with your own art?
This is our spiritual practice: Connecting ourselves and each other with our art and bringing it forth in our life.
Find what that is and do it. Bringing your art forth is bringing yourself to life.
- Biggin Church Ruins — Moncks Corner, SC, November 18, 2013 — Developing our skill as a photographer isn’t about taking photographs that rival those of the masters. We are not in competition with the masters—or with our peers.
There is no competition in art. There is only being the best artist we are capable of being at our particular art in a particular moment.
What can we do with this scene right here, right now? That is the question we live to answer.
Not, “How can we be the envy of our peers and of all those who have ever lived or will live?”
- Hornet’s Nest — Lake Crandall, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, December 21, 2013 — People in the deep south
And here, I’ll take an aside to say people in the deep south have much in common with people in the east, and the northeast, and the midwest, and the west and the northwest, and Hong Kong… Don’t think I’m being narrow and spiteful when I talk about my people. I’m talking about your people as well.
Where was I? Oh, yes… People in the deep south don’t want anybody thinking they are Some Body. They will come right out with it: “Who do you think you are, acting like that?” “You’re getting right uppity, riding that High Horse, thinking you live in the Big House, putting on airs, strutting about…”
They will call you out and shame you into getting back in line, for daring to be who you are, saying what you think, pointing out the truth of how things are, or, worse, practicing your art.
No one in the deep south has an art. Having an art is not allowed. It sets you apart. Gives you ideas. About not being who you are supposed to be.
No one in the deep south has an art because no one was ever allowed to practice it, bring it forth, claim it as their own.
They all had to drink sweet tea and bad beer like everyone else.
But, we all have to learn to locate ourselves in time and space. Where are we? What is happening? What is the spirit of this place? What is needed? What is permitted? What can you do about it? Leave or stay. You make the call.
I left. My siblings stayed. It’s worked out well for all of us, but we all made it work.
It starts with knowing where we are and what we can do about it—with what is being asked of us and how we are going to respond to it.
Be here, now. If you can be. If you can’t, be somewhere else. Find a place that lets you be who you are. That helps you become who you are built to be.
My siblings who stayed, left, too, in their own way. Whatever way we choose needs to be our own, because that’s the whole point. If we aren’t going to do it our way, the way that resonates with us, rings true to us, we may as well get in line and do as we are told.
- Linville Falls Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls, NC — There are no wasted experiences. All experience is valuable when mined the right way.
We have to sit with some experiences, processing them, probing them, sifting through them over time.
We wake up slowly over time. Everything is an alarm clock for those with ears to hear. We have to look carefully at all of it to see what is hidden away in the least likely of places.
We have to sort through every experience to separate what is valuable from what is not. And then we have to sort through what we have thrown away.
Nothing good comes from Nazareth, you know. The stone the builders reject is the chief cornerstone in disguise.
Do not throw anything lightly away! Be aware of everything you dismiss, discount, discard, ignore. See what you are not seeing. Wake up!
There is more to us—to our life—than meets the eye—our own, or anyone else’s. We cannot assume that what we see is all there is to see. We have to trust ourselves to what we do not know, and look for all that remains to be seen.
Our life’s idea for us is not always compatible with our idea for our life.
Our life’s work is waking us up to the importance of doing our life’s work.
Our work is to align ourselves with our life’s idea of our life’s work.
The aspects of our experience that we would throw away may be the very things we need to do the work that is ours to do. Remain open to the possibility, and see where it goes.
- Gravestones — Faith Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Indian Land, SC, December 15, 2013 — Don’t wait for all the pieces to fall into place, and for all the details to be worked out, and for all the answers to be at the ready to explain, defend, justify and excuse your work to be who you are.
Start where you are and see where it goes.
The path always lies under your feet. Start walking.
You can begin anywhere, any time, with what you have on. Nothing has to happen first.
Start in the direction of what you think will be your best choice for self-discovery, self-expression, self-development.
It will lead you to what you think will be your best choice for self-discovery, self-expression, self-development.
And so on.
Eventually, you will learn your way to some pretty good choices—if you don’t settle for choosing to stop making choices. Because it’s too hard and you just want to be normal.
- Angel Oak 02 HDR B&W — Angel Oak Park, Charleston, SC, November 14, 2013 — Artists don’t try to make art. That’s ridiculous. Artists don’t wonder if what they do is art. Artists are art in action, art in motion.
An artist is connected at the level of the heart with his, with her, art. An artist IS his, IS her, art.
An artist doesn’t start out trying to be an artist. An artist simply wakes up to who she is, to who he is, and does what she, what he, does.
Our problem is how to connect with our art—how to believe in it, be possessed by it.
In order to connect with our art, we have to stop wondering if we REALLY want to do that, and get out of the way.
We can’t connect with our art if we want it to pay off, if we want to exploit it, if we want to gain something from it.
We connect with our art when all we have to do is do it, when all we want from it is doing it.
I want to take satisfactory photos every day. Period. I don’t care if I sell them. Alan Stacell said he painted the way a dog wags its tail.
What do you do the way a dog wags its tail? There is your art.
But, we have to do it—regularly, consistently, religiously—and we have to do it well, as well as we are able, pushing ourselves to do it better, to do it differently, as we become students of our art and allow it to teach us to do it the way WE do it.
If we are ahead of our times, that is, if we are answering questions that aren’t being asked—or asking questions that are blasphemous and heretical—the culture/world will not receive well our offerings. But we are harbingers of a new future, a new spirit of a new age, and are making a way in the wilderness.
If we are ignored, or crucified, well. That’s art for you.
- Little Blue Heron — Mepkin Abbey, Moncks Corner, SC, November 15, 2013 — When we are at cross purposes with ourselves–wanting to lose weight and eating everything wrong for us–it’s a window to our soul, an invitation to listen to what is going on, to see what we are doing, to know how it is and how we are being asked to respond.
Live organically. From the inside out. From the ground up.
Shred all the shoulds and oughts and musts and cannots… All the rules, all the reasons why and why not, all the anxiety about pleasing everyone including yourself… All the burdens, and commands, and obligations… The struggle to be your idea of you, or someone’s idea of you… All the baggage you carry.
Put yourself alone on a south sea island. What would that be like? How do you feel about the idea? How does your body respond to no expectations, no duties, no responsibilities? What does the complete freedom to live your life as your life would like to be lived look like, feel like?
Begin the journey back from that island paradise to your actual, here and now life. Slowly come back, picking up responsibilities, duties, obligations, burdens as you meet them, as they rush to meet you. What’s the first one in line, waiting for you, tapping it’s foot, scowling, wondering where you have been?
Stop when it becomes difficult to breathe. Go back to the island. Probe what you have done, encountered, discovered.
You are exploring your life. What do you feel, thinking about going back to your life? What about your life is more death than life? What do you feel, seeing that, admitting that?
Let’s say it is being a mother or a father or a son or a daughter… Let’s make it something important, that you cannot realistically abandon. Sit with it. Probing, exploring. What makes it so burdensome? So much like death?
What in you has to die for you to fulfill that responsibility? What in you needs to grow up? What in you needs to be left on the island because it is interfering with your ability to live your life as it needs to be lived?
There is a saying that at some point in every marriage, you have to divorce your spouse or divorce your idea of marriage.
The same thing applies to all of the burdensome responsibilities of your life. In order to live, you have to separate yourself from something: Your old way of life or your old idea of how your life should be.
Sift through all of your obligations. Decide what goes and what stays, the obligation or your idea of how your life should be. Maybe you need to stop living the way you are being forced to live. Maybe you need to grow up and do what needs you to do it with the right spirit, the right attitude, the right willingness to do what needs to be done.
You do the evaluating. You make the call. What is life? What is death? What needs to live? What needs to “die”? In order to live your life, what do you need to “die” to, in order for life to move on?
- Whitewater Falls — Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers, NC, November, 2013 — We can’t grow up without dying to some crucial aspect of ourselves.
The butterfly kills the caterpillar.
There is no steady state of being. We don’t get everything smoothed out and in place, sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors. It is birth and death, death and birth all the way.
Death and resurrection, kid. Death and resurrection.
We are always dying to something so that something else can be born, so that something else might come to life within us.
Life kills life. The life that is coming to be kills the life that is. And, if it doesn’t everything dies. Everything depends on something dying so that something can come to life. That’s the way life is. And if we stop the process—if we say no to it, refuse to participate in it—everything stops, dies, decays. And “there is nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town.” And the dead are left to bury the dead.
When we leave the dead to bury the dead, we don’t leave the dying and the burying. There is always that which is needing to die about us, and that which needs to come to life.
We are morticians and mid-wives, always at work with ourselves. Bringing this to life, burying that.
It’s hell, growing up, deciding what is to live and what is to die, again and again, all our life long.
It’s really hell when we don’t.
- Steele Creek Trestle 01 B&W — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Blue Star Trail, Field Trial Access, Fort Mill, SC, December 29, 2013
We want to know we matter, that we are important to someone—sometimes, anyone.
We want to know that we are loved.
We do the damnedest things to “earn our keep”—to be kept in the good graces of someone else, as though we cannot live without somebody to love us.
That last phrase could be a line in a country song.
Country songs are great about reiterating the theme that “we are nobody until somebody loves us,” and somebody has to love us all the time.
Country music sells big because we are sure it’s true. It’s our song they are singing. We are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” In the eyes of someone else, sometimes, anyone else.
We seek from others what we are withholding from ourselves.
Stop it. Look in the mirror. What is it about you, you can’t love? What is it about you, you are ashamed of, want to be rid of, cannot stand, cannot acknowledge, cannot get far enough away from?
What keeps you from loving you the way you need to be loved?
Who made you, makes you, feel unloved and unlovable? Who do you keep trying (with no success) to prove wrong? Who did you think was only feeling sorry for you when they said they loved you (and that everyone who has said it since is playing the same game with you) because nobody could love you if they really knew you?
What would they know if they really knew you? What would turn them away?
What if you are the one who doesn’t really know you? What turns you away from you?
Love precedes knowing. You cannot know what you do not love.
Those country songs need to be rewritten. We start rewriting them by understanding that every one of them is to be sung from ourselves to ourselves about ourselves.
We are what we need, but we withhold the magic from ourselves and keep looking for it in some magical other.
We are the magician. We are the genie we keep in the bottle, looking for a genie in some other bottle.
- Nets — Shem Creek Pier, Mt. Pleasant, SC, November 18, 2013 — Waking up means being awake to how things are with us and around us. It means being aware of what we are thinking, what we are feeling, what we are doing—how we are reacting on every level to what is happening. And being aware of how fitting our response is, how proper for the occasion, how appropriate for the circumstances.
That’s asking a lot of those in a culture trained to follow where the advertising industry leads.
- Wetlands Geese — Guilford County near Summerfield, NC, 2012 — Life isn’t what happens to us but what we do with what happens to us, what we make happen with what happens to us. And we have a world full of invisible allies guiding us along the way.
Joseph Campbell asked, “What do people do who have no invisible means of support?”
The invisible world is our ally, even when it appears to be our gravest enemy.
With its most furious and insane opposition, it is attempting to wake us up, stand us up—on our own two feet—and call us forth. It always has its idea of our best interest firmly at heart.
It’s just that we have different ideas of what is in our best interest. Growing up, waking up, standing up, facing up to how things are and what needs to be done about it—to what is happening and what needs to happen in response—stepping up to our responsibility for our own life, and living up to the potential that is ours by bringing up what we have to offer each situation as it arises, no matter what, is what the invisible world takes to be in our best interest.
We, on the other hand, have a propensity for smooth and easy. “All we ever wanted,” said Ogi Overman, “is smooth and easy.”
Smooth and easy vs. giving what we have to offer out of the gifts, art, genius that is ours to give, in the service of what is needed in each situation as it arises is no contest from our standpoint. It’s smooth and easy every time.
The invisible world does not come to our aid, but steps aside and lets nature take its course. Under those circumstances, you don’t want nature taking its course. But, it’s the invisible world’s last chance at waking us up. You don’t want the invisible world playing its last card.
The Wake Up Or Else Card is a short trip to the End Of Our Rope. That is where we hand ourselves over to the invisible world’s idea of really living or “abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
It goes a lot better with us if we wake up and say to the invisible world, “Okay. You win. Let’s do it your way. I’m in,” and see what we can make happen with what has happened to us. Of all those who know us, we will be the most amazed.
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach, VIII — Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — Do right by your art. Keep faith with the invisible world. Do what needs you to do it with the gifts you have to offer in each situation as it arises, throughout the New Year and all the years that remain to be lived. Amen! May it be so!
- Mallard — The new business card series. Image 8/20 —
One Minute Monologues 024In “One Minute Monologues”
One Minute Monologues 028In “One Minute Monologues”
One Minute Monologues 025In “One Minute Monologues”