11/20/2013 — 01/01/2014
- All the talk is about God. More specifically, “My God.” It’s “My God this,” and “My God that.” What God would have us do and not do (and what God is going to do if we don’t do it, or will do for us if we do it… Which says to me that someone’s view is that God is into extortion and can be bought—some God that one is. All the talk is about God, God, God.
But. God never enters the room.
When we say “God,” we are talking about our understanding of God, no more, no less.
Different understandings of God whiz by each other, crash into each other, clash with each other every day, all the time. We are at war over whose understanding of God is the Right Understanding of God—is the Way God Actually Is.
All these understandings of God are called Religion, Doctrine, and Theology. They are killing us and making a mess of everything.
Religion, doctrine and theology are divisive. Intrusive. Outlandish and insane. We will never get the adherents of different religions, doctrines and theologies to come together over even the smallest points of their disagreements.
There is no negotiation and no concession where our understanding of God is concerned. Our understanding of God is holy, sacrosanct, immovable, unchangeable—just like we say God is.
But, here’s the thing. If you get all these people together who clash violently over who they say God is, and ask them not to talk about their God, but about their experience of their God, they all talk the same language. They all say the same things. They all understand and, get this, AGREE with one another.
Now, the sad thing here is that very few, statistically speaking, of these people have ever had an experience of the God they talk about so fiercely and fervently. Therein lies the problem.
But, we can’t solve that problem. They are the dead Jesus recommended leaving to bury the dead, and the fact that they killed him is just one of those things. Just how it is.
We have to concentrate on shifting the conversation from God (our understanding of God) to our experience of God.
We experience God as a numinous reality at work in and through the encounter with beauty in art, music, nature, good company, good food and drink, and good conversation, etc.
Experience that. Talk about that. Enable that. Transform the world.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., October Beeches — The woods at Guilford College, Greensboro, NC, October 2008 — Joseph Campbell talks about the importance of coming to terms with the violent nature of life, with the fact that the life of one requires the death of another. “Live eats life” is the fundamental fact of life.
We have to make our peace with that and participate in it with a “love of fate” because it constitutes the ground of our physical existence.
Working that out constitutes the spiritual accommodation to the world of physical reality. We are required to do what appalls us—and do it wholeheartedly—because here we are, and the foundation of our being here is working out the contradictions, polarities, opposites, dichotomies and contraries between the way things are and the way we wish they were.
We can’t make it to first base in the work to grow up and square ourselves up with the life we are living and the life we are called to live until we can consciously bear in our bodies the tension between the facts and our desires for the facts.
We have to adjust ourselves to the way of things. This is leaving Momma’s lap, Daddy’s support, and making our own way in the world. It is doing what is required of us in order to be who we are asked to be.
Campbell would say the function of Myth and Religion is to put us in accord with the inevitables of life. And, he would say that once we submit to the ordeal of so doing and see it through, we find on the other side a peace beyond imagining.
We have to do it to know what he is talking about, but there is a peace that comes with being in accord with giving our parents and our children and our lovers up to death because that is how it is with all who have come before us and will come after us—and it is understanding that and affirming the necessity of embracing it, allowing it, acquiescing to it, that ushers us into the peace of acceptance and accommodation.
There is a lot of talk about “the peace of God” in the scriptures of world religions, and I am imagining that the experience of the peace of God in our life is exactly this coming to terms with how things are, and letting them be so because they are so.
- Fall Fern — Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, October 2008 — We are up against it and we are afraid. Terrified. Immobilized.
AND we have the resources of the invisible world to assist us and the life that is ours to live waiting for us to live it.
We are going to run out of fossil fuels. The Yellowstone caldera is going to blow. Life as we know it is going to cease to exist.
AND we have the resources of the invisible world to assist us and the life that is ours to live can be lived anywhere, anytime, in all circumstances and conditions.
We don’t have to have it like we want it in order to do it.
We have no excuse. Destiny is waiting, its hopes pinned on us.
Fate is what happens to us. Destiny is what we do with what happens to us. The spin we give it.
If we don’t do what is ours to do no matter what, fate takes the cake, and we are left to live with that forever.
- Baxter Creek Bridge — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek campground, NC/TN, November 2003 — There are two things here: 1) Just because nothing seems to be happening, it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. 2) When nothing seems to be happening it’s because it isn’t time for anything to be happening.
Either way, sit tight.
Two things are always true in any moment. Someone’s time has not yet come, and someone’s time is fulfilled and the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
We always take this kingdom of heaven being at hand idea to mean that it’s all over and the Prince of Peace is coming with legions of angels to destroy the dragon (And, of course, we don’t see any discrepancy at work there), and send to hell those who have earned it and to heaven those who have earned that… No! No! No! Cut! Cut! Start over from the top.
The kingdom of heaven comes piecemeal, a little here, a little there, like yeast in the dough or seeds in the earth. It comes with the individual and personal realization of who we are and what we are about. It dawns on us like a good idea. There it is, out of nowhere, our life—the life that is waiting to be lived.
The time is fulfilled and we can now step into our life and live it, after all these years of waiting, when nothing seemed to be happening, everything was clicking into place—everything that had to happen for us to be here, now. If anything had been different, we would be somewhere else, and then where would we be?
So, we’re waiting, waiting. Or rejoicing, rejoicing. Despairing or dancing. Someone is always doing one or the other. Someone’s time has not yet come, and someone’s time is finally fulfilled.
If you think nothing is happening, it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. And even if nothing IS happening, it only means it isn’t time for anything to happening.
Either way, sit tight.
- Sunflower on White — Rockingham County, NC, July 2004 — Live organically, from the inside out and from the ground up—not from the outside in and from the top down.
Do not push your way onto the way that is yours.
Do not mess with the natural processes.
Your timetable is not a reliable standard for gauging progress, and your itinerary is not a dependable guide for determining where you need to be or knowing what is next.
Your idea of what is worth living for is not a helpful method for deciding where you are going.
Trust that there is more at work in your life than you think—and that your thinking is not the best means at your disposal for aligning yourself with the work that is yours to do.
Be a cork on the water of your life.
Let one thing lead to another without having to know where it’s headed, when it is going to get there, and what is going to happen along the way.
Allow your life to surprise you with the gifts it has to give you instead of pleasing you with the gifts you want to be given.
See what you can do with the time left for living by assisting what needs your assistance and staying mostly out of the way.
- Sunflower on White — Rockingham County, NC, July 2004 — Live organically, from the inside out and from the ground up—not from the outside in and from the top down.
Do not push your way onto the way that is yours.
Do not mess with the natural processes.
Your timetable is not a reliable standard for gauging progress, and your itinerary is not a dependable guide for determining where you need to be or knowing what is next.
Your idea of what is worth living for is not a helpful method for deciding where you are going.
Trust that there is more at work in your life than you think—and that your thinking is not the best means at your disposal for aligning yourself with the work that is yours to do.
Be a cork on the water of your life.
Let one thing lead to another without having to know where it’s headed, when it is going to get there, and what is going to happen along the way.
Allow your life to surprise you with the gifts it has to give you instead of pleasing you with the gifts you want to receive.
See what you can do with the time left for living by assisting what needs your assistance and staying mostly out of the way.
- Sunflower on Black — Rockingham County, NC, July 2004 — Everything turns on our judicious use of “No,” and “Yes.”
What we say “No,” to and “Yes” to tells the tale.
Can you say “No”? “No” is the most important word in our vocabulary. “No” is about drawing lines and establishing boundaries. If you are in relationships that cannot tolerate “No,” you have no relationships. You have a lot of Owner/Master/Servant situations, but no relationships.
Same thing goes if you cannot allow “No” to be said to you.
If you are going to practice anything, practice giving and taking, sending and receiving, “No.”
“Yes” is the second most important word in your vocabulary. “Yes” makes allowances, is accommodating, acquiesces, permits, welcomes, opens the way for new experiences and encounters, enlarges our hearts, and takes us where “No” would never think of going.
We never get anywhere saying only “No.” “Yes” is essential, crucial, for the development and expansion of ourselves.
Knowing when to say “Yes” and when to say “No” is all we need to know.
- Cypress Pond IV — Robeson County, NC, November 2003 — May you remember to see what you look at.
May you ask the questions that beg to be asked and say the things that cry out to be said.
May you experience, embrace, extol and express beauty in art, music, nature, good company, good conversation, good food and drink.
May you be clear and correct about what is happening and what needs to be done in response in each situation as it arises, and may you have the courage to do it out of the gifts, art, genius that is 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!
- Big Creek, 2004 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, NC/TN, November 2004 — My new friend Susan opened the door for me to see that photography isn’t about the quality of our photographs but the quality of our seeing. Our photographs show us how we see the world.
We take pictures of what stands out for us, of what compels us to see it, spend time with it—of what calls our name.
When we begin to see our seeing, it opens us up to ourselves, connects us with ourselves, and brings us forth into the world that caught our attention and showed us who we are.
It’s a fascinating self-feedback loop. Seeing enables, deepens, expands, enlarges, seeing.
As we begin to see what we see, we see what else there is to see, what all there is to see, and have to spend all our time looking. It’s a royal road to everywhere.
And the camera is the (Excuse me here) aperture (Told you) through which we see the world, our seeing, ourselves, all there is to see—both visible and invisible.
The camera leads those of us who are photographers along the way to who we are, and also are—to how things are, and also are.
And as we see better who we are and how things are, our photography improves, not because we took a course or read a book, or bought better equipment, but because we are showing ourselves how to see, and have to take better pictures to see better what we are seeing.
A camera opens us to our art and our art opens us to the world, to the worlds of visible and invisible reality.
The invisible world is just on the other side of the WOW that comes with seeing what is before our eyes.
- Chimney’s Stream I 2006 — The Chimney’s Picnic Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, GatlinburgTN, November 2006 — I don’t know how it works. No one knows how it works. We don’t need to know how it works. So much for theology and doctrine.
Sheldon Kopp said “Some things can be experienced but not understood. And some things can be understood but not explained.” There you are.
We all experience it from time to time. We come alive in certain situations, and are mostly dead in others. The difference between being mostly alive and being mostly dead is evidence of something. Who cares what?
But there’s a problem. We can be authentically alive and we can be synthetically alive. There are life substitutes on every hand. Everybody is hawking their plan for your life. You probably can’t tell the difference between being alive and being high.
There’s a difference, but you have to find that for yourself.
It’s enough to know there is life and there is not-life, and that not-life can go overboard pretending to be life.
Life is what we are looking for, and we know it when we see it, when we feel it.
We feel our way to being alive. We do not think our way there, or follow someone else’s directions. We have to dance to the music that we alone can hear. And we all can dance the dance of life if we get out of the way and listen for the music.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Cabot Trail 01 — Nova Scotia, September 2008 — Growing up is the solution to all of our problems today.
Not what we want to hear. We want to hear, “Come here, SugarBaby. Come to MommaDaddy. I’ll make it just like you want it to be right now—and when you change your mind, I’ll make it just like you want it to be then, there!”
Now we’re talking!
My friend Ogi Overman says, “All we ever wanted was smooth and easy.”
And until we find the real MommaDaddy of our dreams, we will compensate ourselves with one addiction after another for things not being as smooth and easy as we would like for them to be. The very idea! Mean old things!
Growing up is at the heart of good religion. Remaining infantile and dependent upon the consolation of MommaDaddy in the sky—IF we are good little boys and girls, and say our prayers, and mind our manners—is at the heart of bad religion.
How good your religion is, is reflected in how well it enables you to grow up, stand on your own feet, live your own life—the life that is your life to live, that only you can live—and work out whatever needs to be worked out in each situation as it arises all your life long.
How bad your religion is, is reflected in how well it encourages you to play the role of SugarBaby to its version of MommaDaddy.
What you do about your religion—and your life—is up to you.
- Cape Hatteras Morning, 2003 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 2003 — What do you enjoy about your life? How often do you engage in what you find to be enjoyable? What can you do to increase the number of enjoyable experiences in a week? Do it!
- unnel View 2006 B&W — The center, ground and focus of your life is, well, your life.
Not the life you are living. The life that is yours to live. The life that only you can live. The you that only you can be.
You are the Holy Grail, the Grail Castle, the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God, the treasure the dragon guards, Nirvana, Elysian Fields, etc.
You are what you spend all your time seeking in the beautiful strangers and magical others who come your way, asking them, as you do, over and over, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”, hoping to find The One in the time left for looking.
YOU are The One!
“Oh, no, not me! You must be kidding!” protests the stone the builders consider. “I could never be the chief cornerstone! Throw me into the rubble with the rest of the cast offs and rabble of humankind!”
And the you that you are and could be with the cooperation and collaboration of you, sighs and bemoans its fate of being locked into the same body with you.
Whose side are you on? You owe it to yourself to find out if you are as hopelessly without redeeming features as you consider yourself to be. Crucify your own low opinion of yourself, and see what yet may be resurrected from the grave, and how yet you may grace and bless the world in the time left for living
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Cypress Pond, VII — Robeson County, NC, November 2003 — Accommodating ourselves to the inevitabilities of our life isn’t an attitude of defeat and resignation. It’s important that you work this out for yourself. It may be the most important thing.
Embracing your life just as it is—embracing life just as it is—is the most important thing.
Saying YES to ALL of it—including the heartbreak and despair and agony of the ordeal—is the most important thing.
I trust you are counting the most important things here. We have three so far. And I’m not done. You have to say YES to more than one most important thing. It’s a wonderful contradiction. Embrace your contradictions! Dance with your contradictions! Live your contradictions! Don’t buy into not being able to have three or two dozen or a cool 10,000 most important things. Have as many as you like.
Say YES to all of them! To ALL of it!
Saying YES to the agony of the ordeal is saying YES to contradiction—saying YES to what we hate, detest, and would be rid of in a moment. It’s all a part of the experience of being alive.
Being alive requires us to wade right into the entire ocean of life, catching the waves and plunging to the depths—embracing the ocean in it’s allness—in its contradictory, paradoxical, polarities.
And all of these words are worthless if you don’t already know, or stand on the brink of knowing, this for yourself. You can’t understand what I’m saying if you don’t know what I mean.
So, if you don’t know what I mean, don’t dismiss it. Put it on a shelf to come back to when you turn a corner some day and get it, and you can say, “YES” to what I’m saying. It’ll be great.
- Dunes I, 2006 — Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA — We know where we belong, where we fit, what is life for us, and death. And we spend our life trying to adjust ourselves to places we have no business being—to feel better about being dead.
Do children display all of the signs of attention deficit disorder when they are engaged with what they love? What are we doing when we medicate them to fit in, and pay attention to, where they don’t belong?
What are we doing when we do that to ourselves?
What is excessive alcohol consumption, or over the counter, prescription, or illicit drug addiction, if it is not compensation for living our life in ways that are out of accord with who we are and contrary to what is ours to do?
Can you think of any quality or characteristic of life that is more essential to our wellbeing than the courage to do right by ourselves, to keep faith with ourselves—to live out of our own integrity by living in ways that are integral to that which is deepest, truest, and best about us?
You can have as much therapy as you can afford to pay for, but nothing is going to change for the better until you stand on your own two feet and start doing the work that you know needs to be done in order to guard your soul’s true interest, and keep faith with yourself.
- Hatteras Sunrise, 2003 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 2003 — There are so many distractions. There are so many substitutes for life, so many claimants to the title, so many opportunities, possibilities, alternatives.
The old saw has many applications, “You’ll never get them back to the farm once they’ve seen Gay Paree!”
The options are mind blowing. We can be anything. Do anything. Have anything.
And, money, of course, is the key. It doesn’t take us long to figure out that it is all about money—that if we have enough money, we can do anything we like. And off we go.
Off the track. Off the path. Off the beam. After whatever looks good at the moment.
It takes a while to know that something is not working. It takes longer if we don’t want to know. If we deny it. Pretend that it is. Working, that is.
It isn’t working. They have bright lights and plenty of action in Gay Paree, but they don’t have a clue there about what works. About what it takes. About what it’s about.
it’s about being who you are, where you are, when you are, how you are—and being about what you are here to be about.
It’s about being the same person no matter what company you are keeping. You are the same person with the janitor as with the Chairman of the Board.
It’s about doing your work—the work that is yours to do, that only you can do—regardless of the context or circumstances of your life.
Who we are and what we do isn’t contingent upon what is happening or not happening around us.
Who are you? What are you here to be about? Be you being about it. No matter what.
- Zabriskie Point, II — Death Valley National Park, CA, March 2006 — Waking up begins with our understanding the difference between being 98.6, upright and intact, breathing, mobile and able to take in nourishment, and being vibrantly, fully, wholly awake to our aliveness, enraptured by it, engaged in it and at one with it.
We know what is life for us, and what is death. We generally prefer death because it appears to reward us instantly and ask for very little up front from us. We opt for the slow, imperceptible, loss of soul over the course of our life to the immediate agony of bearing the ordeal of being alive to the moment of our living in every moment of our living—knowing what is happening and what is being asked of us in response, and having to bring forth what is ours to offer out of the gifts, art, genius that are ours to share with the world, with no apparent payoff, and nothing in it for us beyond being alive and having to know what to do about it all our life long.
What was Obi wan Kenobi doing while he waited for Luke Skywalker to come along? Or Yoda? What was life like for those guys? Why not opt out, sell out, step aside from the path, and seek the raptures and joys of Gay Paree?
We trade being alive for fun and excitement, good times rolling and money to burn. And wake up, if we wake up, burned out and wasting away, wondering what happened to our life and how to get it back.
Getting it back is easy. Live toward what has life for you and get out of the way. Where are you most alive? Go there often. Do that as much as possible. It will lead to something else that is life for you. Follow the path of life to life. It’s the only path there is.
When we get off of it, and come to our senses lost and alone, it is only a matter of being still and asking ourselves where the life is here and now. Where do we feel most alive, even though it isn’t much alive? Move toward life and life will move toward you, and lead you on to more life.
Life leads to life. You find your own way, feeling your way along, from life to life. Trust me in this.
- Yellowstone Falls, 2002 — Yellowstone National Park, WY — If you are going to live away from something, live away from laziness, arrogance and greed.
If you are going to live toward something, live toward courage, creativity, and compassion.
You don’t have to be somewhere else to start living the life that is your life to live. You don’t have to have more money, or less responsibility, or a complete personality overhaul. Simply do something straight out of the life that is your life to live.
Make a gesture. Pretend. Put on a mask. We know it isn’t really you. Don’t let that stop you. Be the you you would be if you could be just once a day for very brief period of time. Flash us you.
It’s called practice. Rehearsal. Flashing you before us all. Wondering if anyone notices.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Trout Lily, 2002 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN, April 2002 — William Blake said, “Without contrary is no progression.”
Joseph Campbell was of the opinion that we have to live long enough to accumulate enough life experience to form the basis of new realizations.
With enough life experience we are able to reflect on the contraries, contradictions, dichotomies, discordances and polarities evident there, and generate new ideas that take the opposites into account—in a thesis-antithesis-synthesis kind of way.
Our growth depends upon experiences that bring forth in us the struggle to reconcile, integrate, harmonize the incongruities and incompatibilities we find there—even, especially, those that are appalling and unacceptable to our sensibilities.
But, we want to make things all nice, and sweet, and amicable—with no disputes or disruption anywhere we go.
We have to grow up. We have to square up, face up, open up to the agony of the ordeal of dealing with disruption and chaos on all levels of our life—and make our peace with the lack of peace there.
We have to do the work of wrestling with the angel of contrary and contradiction, in coming to new realizations, new perceptions, new perspectives, throughout the time left for living.
Everything depends on it.
- The Watchman and the Virgin — Zion National Park, Utah, May 20, 2010 — We have to do the work.
There are no shortcuts, no substitutes, no excuses.
Each of us has a life to live—a life that we alone can live. No one can be us but us. No one has our unique set of qualities and interests and proclivities, gifts and abilities, our way of seeing, doing and being in the world. But.
We have to claim the treasure that is ours to share, make the journey to the cave where it is stored away, deal with the temptations and invitations to leave the path or quit the quest, slay the dragon, deal with the temptations and invitations to exploit the treasure to our own advantage, and return to our other life where we live out our real life as a blessing and a grace upon all sentient beings everywhere.
That’s the Hero’s Journey that each of us must undertake in our lifetime.
Each of us must do the work of becoming who we are and living the life that is our life to live for the good of all.
And there are the 10,000 diversions with the unified mission of distracting us from our work, shanghaiing our life and leading our boat in endless circles away from its path through the sea.
Our work is cut out for us, and is waiting. Well?
- False Kiva — Canyonlands National Park, Moab, UT, May 2010 — Don’t wait to be ready. The context will require things of you you could never think of, imagine, rehearse, prepare for.
Thinking you can think of all the necessary responses and have them at the ready, to be called up and applied to any situation that arises only keeps you in the stall, thinking about riding the bull.
Tell them to open the chute.
Trust yourself to find what is needed to respond to any condition of life the bull presents to you.
Ride the bull.
Home Shrine — Cane River Road, Natchitoches Parish, near Melrose, LA, 2002 — We need help identifying the life that is calling us to live it, and summoning the courage required to do what needs to be done about it.
This would be a legitimate function of the church as it ought to be but. It would require the church to refrain from needing those who need the church—and then how would the church afford the building, the parking lots, the organ and central heat and air?
The same problem appears when we look to our love interest to be our partner in finding our life and living it: “But what happens to me if you grow up and leave?”
How do we develop helping relationships without fostering co-dependency which prevents us from actually enabling the other to become who he or she needs to be?
We are all in favor of growth and development as long as it doesn’t impact our life.
So we talk growth and development and remain dependent upon, and enmeshed in, relationships which avow to be good for each other in all the right ways, but which stops short of fulfilling that vow in a number of ways.
How can we hope to find what we need if we are too needy to make us of it if we find it?
It’s a problem.
We have to grow up in order to grow up.
Growing up is required to grow up.
The problem is its own solution. It forces us to be the very thing it prevents us from being.
The church of our experience and our partner grow us up by being dependent and refusing to be the help we need in order to grow up.
In the ecology of spiritual development and maturation, nothing is wasted. Everything is used by, and is useful to, the process. Brooke Neal said, “I decided to leave the path once, and 7 years later found that it’s all path.”
Knowing that, you are prepared for anything the path throws at you. Bring it on! Be on your way!
- Cypress Pond XV — Robeson County near Lumberton, NC, November 2007 — Is it life or a substitute for life? An escape from life? A waste of life? Everything rides on our making the correct determination here. But.
There is no panic to know what can’t be known. Ride it out. It will become clear in time.
Time will tell. All it takes is time. It’s only a matter of time. Wait it out.
Jesus said, “Wisdom is known by her children.” Sometimes, it’s her grandchildren.
So, if you think it’s Real Life and it turns out to be slick piece of deception, don’t let it throw you. Remember the Joseph Campbell observation: “Where you stumble and fall, there is the treasure.”
Sift through the experience for the gold, and make another stab at life, or a substitute for life? Keep guessing until you nail it, and live life the way only you can live it in the time left for living.
- Cabot Trail 02 — Nova Scotia, September 2008 — It’s always hard. It’s like this: We can do what’s hard or we can do it the hard way.
Three things flow from this: All we have to do is what’s hard, and we’ve been doing that all our life. It never gets more difficult than doing what’s hard. The hardest part is adjusting ourselves to doing what’s hard.
What’s hard is the inconvenience of doing what needs us to do it when we had rather do something else.
Growing up is about doing what needs us to do do it, when it needs us to do it, the way it needs us to do it, as though it were the very thing that we were hoping we would be able to do.
AA has a slogan: Fake it until you make it.
Do the thing that needs you to do it in a way that no one can tell how much you don’t want to do the thing.
Doing what needs us to do it the way it needs to be done whether we feel like it or not, whether we want to or not, whether we are in the mood to do it or not, whether it is convenient and agreeable to us or not is the highest form of spiritual practice.
And we get to practice it every day.
- Goodale State Park 17, B&W — Adams Mill Pond, Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, SC, November 1, 2013 — How do you understand your uniqueness? What sets you apart? Makes you different? Would keep you from fitting in if you didn’t stifle it, keep it under wraps?
How do you value your uniqueness? Bring it forth? Let it out? Serve it? When? Where? How often? Do you allow yourself to be the unique, one-of-a-kind, human being you are?
- November Lane 01 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Dairy Barn Access, Fort Mill, SC, November 2013 — Sex is a wonderful enhancement to life, but it is not life. We don’t have a life if we live for sex.
Money is a wonderful enhancement to life, paying the bills that support our life, but it is not life. We don’t have a life if we live for money.
Life brings us forth. Life deepens us, enlarges us, expands us, challenges us, confronts us, wakes us up, focus us, directs us, engages us, fills us, nourishes us, completes us…
Look at the hollow-eyed, empty ones, lost and at loose ends for a sense of what life is not. Then look at yourself for a sense of how close you are to that kind of lifeless existence and decide if that will be your future or if you will take up the work of birthing yourself into the life that is waiting even yet for you to live it.
We are mid-wives of our own life. Virgin mothers-to-be of our own savior-self within. We live to serve life—our life, the life that only we can live.
And we are the ones who say which it will be. To live or not to live… Our call all the way.
- Marsh Grass, B&W — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, SC, November 17, 2013 — How free are we to imagine a life for ourselves beyond the life that was handed to us by family, society, culture at our birth—and live it?
How free are we to question the foundational ideas, assumptions and beliefs of our family-society-culture of origin?
How free are we to form our own foundational ideas, assumptions and beliefs—and live in light of them?
How free are we to determine the values and ends that we serve with our life—and to re-examine them and revise them in light of our lived experience, and reorient our lives to serve different values and ends as we live?
How free are we to figure out all of the important stuff for ourselves as we go?
How free are we to start over as many times as it takes to get it right according to our deep sense of what is right for us, of what is good for us, of what works in ways that we can be proud of?
How free are we?
- Sunrise a Sunset Point 2005 — Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon, Utah, September 2005 — We have to stop thinking like a man and start thinking like a woman.
Thinking like a man has us where we are today. If anything is going to be substantially different about us, we have to start thinking like a woman.
A man thinks rationally, sequentially, logically, intellectually, with his head—looks at a matter objectively and comes up with what is obviously the right thing to do. He knows it is the right thing to do because he has thought about it and can defend, explain, justify and champion both his process and his outcome, so there can be no objection or opposition, get on board and get it done.
A woman feels her way into everything. She can listen to all the man has to say, and say, “Yes but,” to it all. “Yes, you are exactly right in the things that you have laid out here, and I understand your method and your conclusions, and it does appear to be obvious that your solution is without an imaginable alternative, but. It just doesn’t feel as though this is the thing to do right now.”
A woman “thinks” with her body and goes with what she feels is the proper response to the here and now of her living. A woman can’t explain anything, but trusts herself to know what to do about whatever comes along. Intuition and instinct, compassion and trust, carry a woman through her life.
We find our way to a livable, sustainable, future by getting out of the way and allowing our feminine side guide us through the darkness of not knowing what to do now or next.
The greatest loss of soul in the entire history of soul occurred when men stripped women of their womanhood, their heart, soul and perspective, and taught them to be child-bearing men.
Now we have to recover what has been lost, and become a People who feel what needs to be done and think how best to do it. That is the paradigm shift that will save the planet.
- Zion View, 2002 — Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, September 2002 — When we feel our way along, we follow our sense of what is genuine, authentic, real and at-one-with-itself. We trust ourselves to what resonates with us, to what rings true.
We can be fooled, of course. Is it a white rabbit, a red herring or a wild goose? Only time will tell. But. We save time by going with what rings true to us and seems to be true to itself.
The kicker is that an alcoholic who says, “I swear, honey, that was the last drink I’ll ever have,” come across as completely sincere—and is—because she, or he, believes it is true. She, he, is wrong about it, but 100% truthful.
So, what sounds true may be true and false at the same time.
With time, our feel for the situation becomes increasingly sophisticated and we get a more accurate read by taking the “wholeness,” the “allness,” of what we are dealing with into account.
If we feel our way into a bad place, the rule is to keep following our feelings and feel our way out of it.
It is all practice, and if we live long enough, we will get better at it—trusting ourselves to know what is happening and what to do about it, how to respond to it, in each situation as it arises.
- Yosemite Falls I — Yosemite National Park, Yosemite CA, March 2006 — We don’t lose our soul. It doesn’t go any where. We lose our connection to soul. We stop paying attention to it. We stop taking it seriously. We ignore it. Dismiss it. Who needs it?
We have our ideas for our life. We know what we want. We know what it takes to make us happy.
This is the Garden of Eden being played out with a new generation of Adams and Eves every generation.
We have no use for soul. We can’t exploit soul. Soul is always in the way, interfering with h0 ow we want life to be lived, never cooperating, so we write soul off, close the door, proclaim ourselves to be captains of our own ship, in command of our own destiny.
And you know how that goes.
Not as planned.
If we ever hit the Big Time, how long does it last? How long do the Good Times roll? Who are we kidding?
How different would it have been with soul at the helm?
Don’t get to your last breath wondering.
Open the door. Apologize. Tell soul you would like to renew acquaintances, and that you are open, finally, to receiving instruction and taking directions. Ask soul what it would like for you to do with the life left to be lived, and let soul lead the way.
- Sunflowers—Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, September, 2008 — It is easy enough to identify five psychic components of each of us: There is The I, the Not-I, the Also-I, the No-Longer-I and the Not-Yet-I.
We can break these down into their component parts and quickly see that we are infinity walking around in bodily form.
There is much more to us than meets the eye.
And we think we are about what The I determines to be important today.
Growing up is taking all of us—individually and collectively—into account. Bringing all of us—individually and collectively—to the table. And working out what needs to be done with the life we—individually and collectively—are living in serving the best interest of all concerned.
Growing up is also coming to terms with the limitations of physical existence. There is only one body to go around. When we find ourselves in the grip of a mood, or an impulse, or a vortex of emotion—none of which seem to be appropriate to the occasion (or to have anything to do with the occasion), we have to consider that it doesn’t, or they don’t, belong to us, to The I. Someone else is borrowing our body. We are experiencing possession.
We regain control—to the extent that we have control—of our physical experience by saying to all those within: “Hey in there! Who’s taking over here and now? Where does all of this come from? What is going on?”—and waiting for things to settle down.
Consciousness brings awareness to the hinter regions within, and as we all see ourselves, we settle into a way of behaving that exhibits at least a modicum of respect for all of us.
The I brings order to the chaos within by asking again and again, mantra fashion, “Okay. Who are we? What are we about?” And “What are we trying to do here? How well is it working? What can we think of to do that might work better?”
We are the United Nations within, living with people who are also a bundle of nations within. We have a lot to work out.
When two people marry, or otherwise choose to live together, how many people are there in the house? Just as a couple, we have a lot to work out.
The more conscious we can become of the complexity of deciding what’s for dinner, or what do you want to do this weekend, the more compassionate, kind, considerate, caring and patient we are apt to be—which is crucial to the process.
We need all the help we can get in smoothing things out and serving the best interest of all concerned—in each situation as it arises!
- The Ghost Trees of Boneyard Beach VI, B&W — Botany Bay, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — Be conscious of the static in your life. The static is what drowns out the life.
Static is all that competes with life for your attention. The wrong music. The right music playing too loudly. Traffic. Noise. Obligations. Responsibilities. Duties. Fear. Desire… You know the list. Become aware of it. Call it what it is: Static.
Now, there is an interesting thing about static. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. My wife talking on the phone when I’m trying to write can be static if the writing isn’t flowing along. If it is flowing along, there is no static because I’m in the flow, not trying to find it.
So don’t honor static by creating more static in response to static. Just be aware of static, and limit it as you are able.
And, be aware of what enhances your connection with life. Silence, perhaps. The right music at the right level. Nature. Walking. Dancing. Sitting… You know the list. Become aware of it. Work it into your life, so that life leads to life and centers you in it.
- Norfolk Southern 9582, B&W — Anne Springs Close Greenway, York County, SC, January 13, 2014 — Jesus couldn’t live our life. Neither could the Buddha. Or the Dali Lama.
None of them could drive, for one thing. And probably would choose not to for another.
What do we think, that we can be as Jesus, as the Buddha, as the Dali Lama and do it like we do it? Forget it.
It is enough if we do it like we do it—consciously, with awareness, seeing what we are doing, hearing what we are saying, knowing who we are and being who we are, knowing what we are about and being about it. Like we would do it.
Jesus did it like Jesus would do it. The Buddha did it the way the Buddha would do it. The Dali Lama is doing it the way the Dali Lama would do it. Now it’s our turn.
Step into your life and live it your way.
- Cypress Pond XII — Robeson County, near Lumberton, NC, November, 2007 — I don’t have a place in my life for theology and doctrine. Words, words, words.
Words about words.
“What is God?”
“God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in HIS (sic) being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” (Question 4, Answer 4, Westminster Shorter Catechism 1674, and still recognized as valid, true, actual and real).
Now, how much do you know of God, knowing that? Are you any closer to God for knowing it?
If you want to know God, you have to BE the god you call God—exhibiting godliness in all that you do. No talking. Living!
People should live to incarnate, express, reveal, exhibit the god they believe in by the way they treat all the people who come their way.
We have passed the point of knowing god-stuff with our heads, and being able to explain anything god-related.
We can sense the ineffable, and wander—laughing or crying, or both—through the numinous landscape, but we cannot say anything about those experiences that would not detract from them.
If we believed in apple pie, we would not argue the fine points of various recipes. We would gather to eat and enjoy apple pie.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Yellowstone Canyon, 2005 — Yellowstone National Park, WY, September 2005 — Live the contradictions!
We create problems for ourselves on multiple levels when we pretend away the contradictions. Denying them. Dismissing them. Discounting them. Ignoring them. Refusing to acknowledge them in any way.
Comes to pass the warning Jesus left with us about exorcizing demons, who only excuse themselves to go get their buddies and come back to take over in force.
We send our contradictions packing like we throw a boomerang away. Bam! “WE’re BAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!” Every time.
Do not attempt to live without contradictions! Embrace your contradictions! Dance with your contradictions! Be more than one way all of the time!
Truth is found between the hands. On the one hand this, and on the other hand that, and on some other hand, that over there.
Ambivalence is always with us. Make it welcome. Treat it well.
What to do? you say? Being torn between mutually exclusive desires, interests, options, choices, possibilities? How do we decide? How do we know what to do? Ever?
Feel your way along! Sometimes you’ll do it this way, sometimes you will do it that way, and sometimes you will do it that way over there.
What’s the problem?
- Dunes II, 2006 — Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA, March 2006 — What are the things that you know were yours to do, that you did not do, that you haven’t done?
You know what they are. They haunt you from time to time. You can’t get away from them.
No business is worse than unfinished business.
We cannot grow up and progress along the path of our maturation without taking all the steps along the way.
We cannot avoid any of the tasks in the developmental process.
Of course, situations change, opportunities are lost, our father or mother dies before we can say what we needed to say to them at the time we needed to say it… How can we recover the lost chances of our youth?
That’s always the problem. In the Grail legend, Parsifal fails to ask the question of the Fisher King that would have restored the Grail and returned the wasteland to bloom and boon, but would have ruined a good story—which was spun around his looking for the redemption of a second chance.
We are in the same predicament. We have to go back and do the things we left undone, though history has passed us by. How?
We have to work it out for ourselves, but three strategies occur to me. We can write our parents—or whomever—a letter in which we say what we needed to say, and still need to say, even though they are past reading it or understanding what we are talking about. We. Need. To. Say. It.
The second is a little trickier. We have to look for present day situations which are similar enough to the ones we walked through without saying or doing what needed to be said and done—and say it now, do it now.
If neither of these feel right to you, you can put yourself back in the situations where you were not who you needed to be, and play them out in your imagination—or actually write out the dialogue and the action as it needed to happen.
However you do it, finish the business with your own Fisher King. The Grail still hangs in the balance.
- Big Creek Fall II, 2006 — Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, November 2006 — Let your accomplishments lie ahead of you, not as something you plan and achieve, but as something you stumble upon and are surprised by.
The best thing about retirement is that I don’t have to do anything. Which is not the same thing as having nothing to do.
Doing takes on a different cast, a different cant. I can do what I do as I determine what that is and as I determine when and how it needs to be done.
My life has a natural flow about it that it could not have when I was punching someone else’s clock and showing up according to someone else’s idea of where I ought to be when, doing what someone else thought ought to be done the way they thought it ought to be done.
You have to build you into your life, unless you are retired, when you are free to become your life, to serve your life. Until then, you may have to make an appointment with you, and keep it, on a regular basis.
Call it meditation, or prayer, if you have to explain what you are doing those who have a claim on you, but be clear with yourself about what you are doing: You are showing up to be with yourself, to attend yourself, to listen to yourself, to spend time with yourself, checking in with yourself, asking yourself, “How is it with you?” and fully attending the answer.
- Overcast at Steamboat Landing—Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013 — There is confidence at the core. And courage. And compassion.
If you are terrified, anxiety ridden, afraid of all that might happen, you are trying to do too much alone.
Too much is all up to you.
You have to share your burdens. With your core.
Your life will change dramatically in subtle ways as you begin the practice of taking up time with your core.
Think of it as one more thing that is up to you.
But what is one more thing? You are already grappling with more than you can handle. You are so over your head, you won’t notice one more thing. Particularly one that is as manageable as sitting in quiet dialogue with your core.
Carl Jung said, “Inside each of us is an invisible other, whom we don’t know.” Get. To. Know. Yourself.
Who all is in there with you? They are all your buddies. They all have your best interest at heart. They are all waiting on you to cooperate with them in order to turn your life into an amazing experience with being alive.
They have what you need to live well upon the earth. You have what they need to bloom, come forth and be known—to be known by you and expressed in your life—in the time left for living. Everybody wins.
It all waits on you to open yourself up to your core and step into your life with the resources of the invisible world at your side.
- Empty Tracks 05 — Union County near Waxhaw, NC, January 13, 2014 — We need help with our lives. Both of them. The life we are living and the life that is ours to live. That’s the starting place of what I think of as communities of innocence.
They are innocent in the sense that they don’t have anything to gain from the participation of its members. Everybody is there to help and be helped. Nobody is there to tell anybody how to do it.
Four books I think would be helpful, but would not be required reading because no book is helpful if you aren’t ready for it, and only you know when that is, are:
“The Power of Focusing,” by Ann Weiser Cornell
“Inner Work,” by Robert Johnson
“A Hidden Wholeness,” by Parker Palmer
“The Way of the Dream,” by Fraser Boa and Marie Louise von Franz
The grounding realization of communities of innocence is that we aren’t trying to get something, like wealth, prosperity, status, enlightenment, but trying to do what is ours to do and be who we are—without worrying about the outcome.
We are looking for help with our lives in order to live them as they need to be lived in the time left for living—regardless of how that turns out for us.
- Cypress Pond XIV — Robeson County near Lumberton, NC, November 2007 — There are a lot of things that do not connect with us because they are not what we want to hear. When life is not the way we want it to be, we walk on by unseeing, not hearing, refusing to understand, living in a world of our own making, never minding that it isn’t working.
Here come a couple of those things: We are on our own, alone with each moment of our life, and have to figure out there what is happening and what needs to be done about it—and we have to do what needs to be done with the skills and abilities, art, gifts, genius, grace and compassion that come with us into that moment.
A lot of our moments are quite similar, and we like to think that what we did in some other moment will apply in this one.
A lot of our moments are quite similar to some moment that other people have experienced, and we think that what they did in their moment is the very thing that we should do in this moment.
Self-help book authors, life coaches, advice columnists, preachers, teachers, gurus and philosophers make a nice living telling people to do it like the authors, coaches, etc. have done it.
That isn’t how it works.
We cannot take someone else’s solution and apply it to our present problem. We cannot even take one of our own solutions and apply it to our present problem.
There are no global solutions. Every solution is unique to the moment of its application.
Few things would transform the world as quickly as comprehending the full implications of this concept.
For one thing, we would stop telling our children how to do it. And our parents would stop telling us how to do it. And each person would have to sit with it and work it out, seeing what needs to be done and doing it in the here and now of his or her living, and then do it all over again in the then and there of his or her living.
And we would enjoy life in the space between problems to be solved.
Not our idea of fun.
We are going to have to be excused while we walk right by this one.
- Through the Window — Rippington’s Restaurant, Waxhaw, NC, January 17, 2013 — The spiritual quest, the hero’s journey, the search for the promised land, the the holy grail and enlightenment, are all synonyms for growing up. Maturation is a spiritual enterprise.
The more mature we are, the more spiritual we are. The more spiritual we are, the more mature we are.
The more mature we are, the more spiritual we are. The more spiritual we are, the more mature we are. It’s the same thing. We can’t have one without the other. If you don’t see both, you are looking at neither.
I knew a meditation teacher who was also a prima donna and had to have everything exactly like she wanted it. Try though you might, you can’t square that wall.
We can stop worrying about how spiritual we are, and start observing the degree of maturity we exercise in dealing with the day. We cannot grow ourselves up by following some rule book, or stepping in the black footprints to complete maturation (That goal does not exist. The road goes on forever), but we can assist the process by paying attention to our natural development from, say, The Terrible Two’s to the Dali Lama, or whomever your ideal is of maturity and grace.
We practice being aware of our response to the situations of our life and rating its degree of appropriateness to the occasion—not to berate ourselves, but to observe our movement along the scale from immaturity toward maturity.
As we do this, we will note that we respond differently to similar situations (forgetting to buy milk) over time. Good for us. We are here to live differently over time.
Differently better. Not differently worse.
- Piney Woods Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Field Trials Access, Fort Mill, SC, December 30, 2013 — We have to play out who we are all the way, even though we grow weary of the role and would like to trade parts with someone else—anyone else—before we get there (There being the end of the line, however we choose to think about that).
An aside here would not be harmful. We must choose to how we think about all that we do not know. And we do not know even half of all there is to know. What we know is a fraction of a drop of sea water compared to the vast oceans—plural—of what we do not know. So, we have to choose what we think about a lot of stuff.
We may choose to think what is handed to us, what we are told to think, because someone else has chosen to think we should. But, we choose to think it. We choose to think whatever we think about all that is unknown to us, based on the information we have at hand—the facts as we see them according to the spirit of the times which provides us with the thinking environment of our living—and, get this, it’s the most important, how we feel about what we know and what we do not know.
We create how we think about what we don’t know based on how we feel about what we know and what we do not know.
End of the aside.
We have to play out who we are all the way. It is as though we are character actors—and they all are (You would never see John Wayne in an Andy Devine role)—acting out our part in every scene we are thrown into.
We have to figure out what is “us” and what is “not us,” embrace the “us,” and live out of the genuine, authentic, “rings true,” aspects of our essential nature. We cannot throw it off just to irritate our parents or to prove to our peers that we can play any part we choose to play.
We choose how we think about the unknown, but we have to cooperate with the facts.
When we see an elephant coming down the path toward us, we have to get off the path. “We” are the elephant, and “we” have to get out of the way of “us” in order to be who we are, even if we are weary of playing the part.
- Curtis Island Head Light, 2005 I — Camden, Maine, September 2005 — If you want to change your life immediately for the better, ground yourself in what is genuine and authentic about you, and live out of that.
It is too easy these days to live grounded in what we hope will pay off, pave our way, ease our way, and make life grand.
We want wealth, prosperity, glamor, fame, celebrity status, profit at any price—and what is genuine and authentic about us are the first things to go in our quest for a quick fortune.
The chase after money does not constitute a quest.
Seeking your soul is a quest. THE quest. Money is good only for buying the tools that serve the quest.
You and your life’s work are one and the same. Separated from your life’s work, you can only cast about and write poems about your lost loves, the curse of meaninglessness, and the burden of emptiness—and hope that every stranger you meet is going to be the one to save you from your misery.
YOU are the one. You are the only one who can ground you in what is genuine and authentic about you. Live out of that and see where it goes.
Here’s the bad news: It won’t go where you want to go.
Here’s the good news: It knows more about life, living and being alive than you could ever dream of on your best day of dreaming.
But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself.
- Cypress Pond XIV, 2007 — Robeson County near Lumberton, NC, November 2007 — Four things lock us in place, keeping us off of the path, away from the way, and making life what it is for each of us, across all ages, cultures, classes and conditions.
Fear. Greed. Arrogance. Laziness.
As high mountain peaks create their own weather patterns, and prevent others from developing, so these four human traits create their own karma, their own momentum, their own inertia, forcing us into particular ways of living, and prohibiting us from experiencing others.
If you are going to understand anything, understand how your own fear, greed, arrogance and laziness—and that of others—cut you off from being fully alive and keep things as they are in your life and in the time of your living.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Norfolk Southern 9525 01 B&W — Steele Creek Trestle, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, January 20, 2014 — You have to dance with the contradictions. It’s the path to maturity and grace. Not to mention compassion, kindness, generosity, love, joy, peace, patience… All of the values that have been recognized as being valuable by the vast generations of the species of every species capable of recognizing and serving values worthy of them from the beginning of space dust.
You can’t be anything until you can be the opposite thing at the same time.
When Jesus said “If you want to be my followers, you have to pick up your cross on a daily basis, and carry it like I carried mine,” he wasn’t talking about the physical, wooden, Roman cross that killed him. He was talking about the cross of contradictions. One way up and one way down, one way east and one way west, (and one way north and one way south).
We have to live in the tension of all the ways and decide in each situation as it arises, which way has precedent here, now—doing nothing consistently, predictably, routinely, thoughtlessly, mindlessly, heartlessly, easily. Ever.
That’ll grow you up, if you can grow up.
If you can’t, you will escape the tension of contrary pulls and equally good points, by embracing The Way, at the expense—and to the chagrin—of all the other ways. And you will launch war after war, and witch hunt after witch hunt, trying to eradicate all the competing ways, so you won’t have to worry about which way might be called for in each and every situation, but force Your Way upon every situation, regardless of how inappropriate and vulgar that might be.
When we refuse to bear the pain, we spread the pain around, and everybody suffers our failure to suffer.
That’s what the refusal to grow up does to the world.
If you don’t bear your cross, you pass it along to those around you, and generate hell in your wake for as long as your ship sails the seven seas.
It would be better for everyone concerned—and that includes you—if you would dance with the contradictions all the way to the grave.
- Hammock Island Wilderness — Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area, Edisto Island, SC, November 17, 2013
We each have a core identity—an essential self seeking expression and realization through the way we live our life.
Who knows if I am right about this, but. It is as good a theory about the shape of unknown things as you are likely to find—and it is miles more helpful to you than most of the things being hawked as the solution to all of your present problems and all of those to come.
I’m saying you are here to be you. So, get with the program no matter how that might turn out for you.
Live so as to be aligned with what I’m calling your essential self, and trust yourself to, well, your self and to the way of life that leads to, no matter what.
Here’s another one for you: Your nighttime dreams are at work to bring you back to the core, essential, self you are. Your dreams compensate for your drift away from the central focus of your life, and call you back to the work at hand.
We can think too much (inflation) of, or too little (deflation) of the work that is ours to do, the life that is ours to live, the self it is ours to be. Our dreams attempt to get us back on track, on the beam, on the path to expressing our identity and exhibiting who we are in living the life, doing the work, that is ours to live and to do.
Think this is too far out to be worth your time? Pay attention to what you dream tonight, and see where that takes you.
- Orchard Web 02 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, Hwy 21 Access, November 2013
It is a natural tendency to do to ourselves as our father, or mother, did to us.
It takes a certain amount of consciousness, of wakefulness, of mindfulness, to offset, or counteract, the influence, the impact, of father or mother.
Even if we hate our parents and move far away from them and never have any adult-to-adult contact with them, the way we think, move and have our being is still likely to be conditioned by the tilt of their table.
For example, we move away, or run away, from home and live determined to show our father he was wrong about our chances of being a success, and become the most accomplished person in our field—with the same attitude about perfection and sacrificing everything for the job that our father had.
Or we become exactly who our father told us we were by having no incentive whatsoever, and never doing anything someone else doesn’t tell us to do—or never doing even that.
And the parent could be mother as well as father—whomever we saw as the most influential and the most important one to please.
Well. We can move far away without ever leaving home. The internalized Parent Figure is a hard one to put in his, or her, place. But.
We have allies within, and it only takes being conscious of acting under the influence of dear old Mom or Dad (and deliberately refusing to please them is the same as faithfully toeing their lines and keeping them happy and proud).
How to make our own choices and live our own life is our life’s work. And. We never out-grow having had parents. But. We can do what we can to put them in their place. By opening ourselves to their influence and keeping a dialogue going.
“Mom wouldn’t like it if I did this,” or “It would be just like Mom if I did this,” and thinking through whether I’m not doing it, or doing it, for me or for Mom.
We’re drawing lines here. Determining where we start and Mom (or Dad) starts. We may have to do it for the rest of time, but that’s better than not doing it at all.
- November Lane 02 B&W — Anne Sprngs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, November 7, 2013
If you want things to change in your life, you have to stop what you are doing to keep them as they are.
We cannot wait for the magic to happen. We are the magic we wait on.
Observe your life. What happens that you don’t want to happen? When it happens, then what happens? The “then what happens” helps maintain the “what happens.”
Don’t worry about changing the “what happens.” Work to change the “then what happens.” Changing that will create a shift, a momentum and direction change that will impact the “what happens,” and force something to be different, though we can’t predict what. It will change, but how, we don’t know.
If it changes in a way that also needs to be changed, you know what to do. Change the “then what happens” in response to whatever is now happening. Keep doing it until you get a configuration you can live with.
- Smoky Woods 2006 I — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, November 2006
We are waiting for something to click into place for us.
We don’t know what. But. We know something—it’s like the name of a person, or the place we had that broccoli-cheese soup—is right there, waiting for us to grasp it, waiting for the light to switch on, waiting for us to wake up to it, see it and be transformed forever by the impact of its simple realization. “Of course,” we will say. “Why haven’t I seen it before? Why did it take so long?”
We are that close to having it all come together, make sense, open up to us, stretch out before us, take our hand, ask us laughingly where we have been and what took so long, and lead us along the way…
You know what I’m talking about. The miraculous rearrangement of everything we have been told, the readjustment of us with our place in our life, the inside-out, upside-down, turn-a-round that enables us to SEE what we have been looking at, and for, all our life long…
But they keep pointing us in the wrong direction, saying the wrong things, keeping us off the track, distracting us with that which is blatantly false yet almost true at the same time, making no sense whatsoever but being completely logical, rational, reasonable and incapable of being refuted…
You know what I’m talking about.
- Smoky Web 2006 — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, November 2006
All emotions are appropriate to some situation, and are inappropriate in other situations. There are no bad emotions. Each emotion is good in its own time and place. And each is a bad fit in other times and places.
The goal is to live appropriately in each situation that we encounter in a day, without carrying anything over from one situation to the next, but approaching each situation as it arises from the standpoint of what is happening there and what needs to be done about it.
What is proper and fitting to the occasion at hand?
When we get to the point of being able to let go of what we have just been through in order to receive well what is coming through the door, we will have arrived—and can celebrate our arrival by responding appropriately to it.
- Dunes VI—Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA, March 2006
We have to take our time with our life, and learn to do well the things we don’t like to do that need to be done and need us to do them.
I have no problem taking my time with things I love. I can wait forever for the owl to fly or the train to cross the trestle. Looking for the weight of my car on a sicker inside the front left door to fill out a form for the DMV so they can send me a corrected title which needs to be corrected because I hurried through the first form is like walking through hell backwards, blindfolded.
I’m funny that way. And while you might laugh, we all know that you are funny in your own way. There are things we hate to do, that need us to do them, that we have to do. And learning to do them well will stretch us into the form and shape we have to fit in order to be who we are, and also are.
Carl Jung talks about it as “strengthening our inferior functions.” We have to work to be who we don’t want to be but who we also are.
This is different from working to be who we are not. But, it’s hard to tell the difference at first glance. We are killing ourselves when we work to be who we are not, but we are developing ourselves when we work to be who we don’t want to be but who we also are.
It takes sitting with ourselves to know the difference. And we have to take our time with our life, in learning to do well the things we don’t like to do that need us to do them.
- Used in Short Talks On Good and Bad Religion — Chimney’s Stream III — The Chimney’s Picnic Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, November 2006
The problem with religion as we know it is its tendency to take its sacred writings and holy scriptures to be literal and factual accounts of actual events in the physical world of normal, apparent reality.
Metaphor, poetry and symbol for religion as we know it are the same things as fiction, which is the same thing as false. So, religion has to go one way and I have to go another.
Jacob Bronowski said, “You can’t find truth the way you find an umbrella.”
Joseph Campbell has wonderful things to say that religion cannot hear. For example: “What is intended by art and mystical religion is not knowledge of anything factual that can be defined or explained, but the evoking of a sense of the absolutely unknowable—leaving it to science to take care of what can be known (or words to that effect).”
Campbell continues: “The ineffable, the absolutely unknowable, can only be sensed—not more in the religious sanctuary today than elsewhere.”
And: “The ineffable is of the province of art, which is a quest for—and a formulation of—an experience which evokes energy awakening images yielding what Sir Herbert Read has aptly termed ‘a sensuous apprehension of being.’”
I couldn’t have said what I have to say any better than Campbell has said it. It’s great when someone else does your work for you.
- Tunnel View 2006 II B&W—Yosemite National Park, CA, April 2006
The work is to let go what’s going and to let come what’s coming. Not to get things just right and keep them there, static, frozen, locked tightly in place for the rest of time.
We like to tie things down, wall things up, rope things off, hold some things close and avoid other things altogether.
However it is time for some things, and time is up for other things, and it is not anywhere close to time for still other things, and it is way past time for other things.
What is it time for, here, now? We think one thing, but it generally is another. It seems to be always time for something we don’t want, either because it is time for something to go that we don’t want to go, or time for something to come that we don’t want to come.
With us, wanting is the whole show. But, what does wanting know?
If we had things like we wanted them, where would we be now? Trying to have things like we want them has us where we are now. Take a step away from the such-as-it-is-ness of your life and evaluate your Wanter. What does it know about what is needed? About what is required? About what it takes? In what ways has your life been the education of your Wanter? In what ways have the lessons been learned? In what ways have they been ignored? Is your Wanter still directing the show? Or trying to?
Our Wanter has its place at the table, but it doesn’t set the table. It doesn’t determine who, or what, is allowed to come to the table. It is simply something to take into account, like everything else on the table.
The table has a different configuration in each situation as it arises. We consider the the table anew each time the situation changes. What is on the table here and now? What is happening? What needs to be done about it? How can we assist with what needs to happen in response to what is happening? Do it and see what happens.
Letting come what’s coming and letting go what’s going.
- Carl Jung said, “There is no difficulty that does not ultimately spring from ourselves.” And Marie-Louise von Franz said, “We are our own difficulty. Our difficulties lie within ourselves.”
Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
The “out there” resides “in here.”
This is not to say that your father isn’t, or wasn’t, abusive and that you did not need (or don’t need) to be protected from him.
It is to say that we have to face all that we internalized about that abusive relationship and stop treating ourselves as our father treated us—and stop finding, or looking for, our father in every man we meet.
It is how we respond to our father’s abuse—and to all of the facts we encounter in our life—that tells the tale.
As we explore our response to our life, we stop thinking of the “out there” and begin to engage the “in here.”
Our response to our life is not automatic. Different people respond to the same fact of life in different ways. There are variations of response that reflect individual, personal, variations in perspective and perception, imagination and creativity, resiliency and courage, and all of the other qualities and values humans are capable of.
We are not stuck with having to be as we are.
Our perspective begins to shift as we begin to see ourselves seeing and become curious about alternative ways of representing the world, other people and their intentions and motives, to ourselves—and imagining ways of responding to them that take different ways of seeing them into account.
- Ruins of Rhyolite—Rhyolite, NV, near Death Valley National Park, CA, March 2006
Just as there is no standard, universal, solution to any of our problems, there is also no standard, universal good. The Good is particular and unique to each situation.
You might think that polio vaccine would be good across the board but, if it is delivered in a medium that also carries something egg-like in its make-up, it would not be good for those with egg allergies, and it certainly is not good for the poliovirus.
The Good cannot be announced and applied around the world. The missionaries had no business requiring African native women to wear bras. There is no Good that is good in all times, places, situations, conditions and circumstances.
What is good for one is not necessarily good for everyone. We will not agree with anyone about everything we consider to be good, but we may agree with everyone about some thing we consider to be good
Ann Coulter and I would not agree about a lot of things that we think of as good, but even Ann Coulter and I would agree about some things we think of as good.
The lack of agreement about what constitutes The Good leaves us with having to work it out, negotiate it, parley it in light of the mutual good of all concerned in each situation as it arises. This is a problem because Ann Coulter and I aren’t going to budge about some things. Genghis Kann, Edi Amen, Osama ben Laden, and George Bush, the NRA and the Tea Party, just to mention a few, aren’t knowing for their tendency to budge, either.
Which leaves war as the preferred technique for handling our disagreements regarding The Good—which is Not Good.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Pawley’s Island Moonrise 06 — Pawley’s Island, SC, December 21, 2013
Once we get beyond religion as something we think about and understand it as something we do, we can stop thinking about our believing and start thinking about our doing—and how it relates to that which is deepest, truest, and best about us.
Doing is about expressing, exhibiting, bringing forth—and the old concept of education was about bringing forth that which was hidden away within individual students, and not instilling, or pouring information into, empty minds, or writing on “blank slates.”
Doing is not about achieving, acquiring, accomplishing, attaining.
Doing is about reading the situation as it arises and offering what is needed there out of what we have to offer—and seeing where it goes.
The trick is that we don’t know what we have to offer until we present ourselves to the situation and meet what we find there, intent on keeping faith with ourselves and the situation, and allowing that approach to show us what we are capable of.
Learning to do, to live, out of our own integrity—living in ways that are integral with what is deepest, truest and best about us—and not out of an orientation of exploitation where we look to our situations to supply us with what we want and think we need, is the shift in perspective and attitude that tells the tale.
- Old Cedars, B&W—Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi, January 27, 2014
We have this life to live, and we don’t know what to do with it.
What to do with the time left for living is the burden we cannot escape, yet we pour time, money and energy into escaping the burden of what to do with our life instead of putting it into answering the question.
We live in the service of our escapes, distractions, and diversions. Ask anyone what they live for and their answer will be an escape, distraction, diversion. They live to hide from the question of what to live for.
The economy is fueled by the quest for entertainment and denial. Artists buy tools to serve their life. The rest of us buy things to take our minds off the emptiness of our life.
We have to face the emptiness, enter it, and find what is missing.
It is the last great adventure. It is much more entertaining than watching someone else’s idea of an action-adventure at the movies. This is the real thing that waits on us to open the door and greet what waits on the other side.
It is never too late to start living the rest of your life. But, why put it off one more minute? Hints about how to proceed are as close as tonight’s dreams.
- Crocus 2005 — Greensboro, NC, Greenway Park, February 2005
We are in orbit around our life. Our life is the central focus of our living. Our life is our mission, our calling, that which we are here to do.
Jesus’ life was waking the people of his day up to who they were and what they were doing—and to the realization of how far that was from who they were called to be and what they were called to be doing.
Moses’ life was getting the people from the House of Bondage to the Land of Promise.
Moses and Jesus had the same life, the same calling, to be lived out in different times and circumstances.
What is OUR life? What is not OUR life?
We have to work this out for ourselves. And we have to work out how to live the life that is OUR life to live AND pay the bills. We have our life to live and we have the job we do to pay for it.
Sometimes our life can pay for itself, but not often. We can retire from what we do to pay the bills, but we never retire from the life that is ours to live.
We are always who we are, even when we don’t know what that is.
And it is always our place to wake up to who we are being asked to be in each situation as it arises, and how we can be what the situation needs us to be with the gifts, art, genius, proclivities and knacks we have to work with.
We have to know what we revolve around, and revolve around it. And let that lead us into being who we need to be where we are, throughout the time left for living.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Along Cane River—Natchitoches Parish near Melrose Plantation and Isle Brevelle, January 30, 2014
Brian Andreas says, “If there is any secret to this life I live, this is it: The sound of what cannot be heard sings within everything that can. And there is nothing more to it than that.”
The Buddhists talk of everything being illusion. The Buddha could have chosen a better word. Illusion suggests lie, false, untrue, not real. That isn’t accurate.
It’s more like an optical illusion. Now you see it, now you don’t. And it takes a special kind of looking to see it and then to see it not, understanding what you are looking at, seeing.
The Zen masters talked about before enlightenment seeing a mountain and thinking it was a mountain. With enlightenment they could look at the same mountain and see that it was not a mountain. Then, with the wisdom and insight gleaned with enlightenment combined with reflection, they could look at the mountain and see that it was just a mountain.
Another Zen teaching says that although everything is illusion, when you meet an elephant coming down the path, get off the path.
The elephant is an elephant and a mountain is a mountain and a fact is a fact. Not illusion. But optical illusion in the sense that everything we see “sings with what cannot be seen or heard.”
The elephant is more than an elephant. A mountain is more than a mountain. A fact is more than a fact.
Everything is a threshold, a window, through which we see that which cannot be seen, by which we hear that which cannot be heard, ushering us from this world into the other world, from this physical plane to the invisible ground and source of being and life.
And then, it all snaps back into place in an “as you were” kind of way, and we are left wondering which is real. The this, or the that?
Both are real. This IS that. That IS this. Wholeness, oneness, is not a blend or a merger but an integration where contradiction is honored and maintained, and opposites are seen as perspectives from which to view and understand one another.
It all is real. Realness deepening, enlarging, expanding realness. What is true is always opening us to what is also true, or can if we don’t stop looking too soon.
- Kisatchie Falls 02 Panorama — Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014
Everywhere is the perfect place to wake up. And soundly sleep.
Nothing needs to change in our external environment in order for us to see things as they are and take up the path that is always underfoot to healing and wholeness, integration, integrity, incarnation and fullness of being.
And any place can be deadening and conducive to tuning out, nodding off and living asleep at the wheel.
Many people in Tibet don’t get it, and many people in Vagas do.
Any culture, any society, is exactly what the people of that culture, that society, need to wake up, see things as they are, and live the life that is theirs to live—seeing, hearing, understanding and transforming the culture, the society, by the quality of their participation in it.
The quality of our participation in the culture will be counter-cultural, antisocial, and, in our case, un-American, but, we will also be indistinguishable from everyone else in the culture or the society.
We do not have to denounce the world, shave our heads, wear sheets and walk barefooted everywhere we go. We do not have to say or do anything beyond saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done to keep faith with ourselves within the context and circumstances of our life.
And, in doing that, each of us will say, will do, something different. We will not be alike. We will not be known for our doctrine and/or our theology. Each of us will be known for the life we live.
The more awake we become, the more our life will incarnate, exhibit, express and bring forth the ineffable, numinous, source of life and being.
And the more different we will be from everyone around us and the more alike we will be with everyone who has had eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand across all ages and epochs of human existence.
Those who know, know the same thing—and live in recognizably similar ways
Those who know not, argue, harangue, debate, denounce, destroy in the name of proclaiming what they know.
Those who know live by the principle, Don’t Talk—Do! And Laugh! And Play! And Enjoy All That Is To Be Enjoyed In Every Day! Amen! May It Be So!
- United Pacific 1740 01 — Natchitoches, LA, January 31, 2014
Each one of us has her, has his, own path.
There are no standard procedures for finding our way, unless you consider the unique and unrepeatable to be standard.
We are on our own and it is all up to us.
Not quite. We have the entire resources of the invisible (unconscious, unknown) world available to us.
But, it is up to us to avail ourselves of the help at hand.
And, we don’t want to lift a hand.
It’s a problem.
A problem we don’t have to deal with. A problem we can ignore, deny, dismiss, discard and go about the life we are living. Forget the path. We have plans of our own. Big plans.
We’ll get back to the path when our plans go bust. Maybe. Maybe we have a fallback plan. Or can come up with one.
We will do anything do avoid doing the one thing we need to do to be balanced, grounded, whole and aligned with who we are and what we are about.
We’re funny that way.
- Bridging the River — Mississippi River at Vicksburg, January 28, 2014
I’ve said before here, and you are likely to hear it again, that it’s all useless, pointless, hopeless, senseless and futile, and coming to a very bad end—we are all going to die. But. How we live in the meantime makes all the difference.
It’s all hopeless. So what?
Do not let the hope of the good drive you through life.
Live in the service of the relentless, determined, passionate, vital, WILL to the good!
Let WILLING good be your endless motivation. Not wanting good. Not wishing for good. But WILLING, DOING good!
Keep faith with the good in every situation, in all circumstances, throughout your life no matter what!
Joseph Campbell says that to live courageously out of your own center, out of your own noble nature, not out of what you are told to do, or out of what you hope will payoff in fortune and glory everlasting, is to achieve the Grail Quest.
Now we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
- Clear Cut B&W—Near Leesville, LA, January 31, 2014
The only way to not be a rookie is to be a rookie. So play like a rookie.
Do not pretend to be more competent than you are in any situation or circumstance.
Do not know what you are doing.
Do not have an opinion about anything.
Be an open door. Receive well anything that comes your way.
Allow the situation to tell you what needs to be done in response to the situation.
Do not be rigid, anal, unbending and insistent on the implementation of your agenda.
Do not have an agenda.
Dance with the day.
See what needs to be done in light of what else needs to be done.
Embrace the contradictions.
Like a rookie.
- Civil War Cemetery Panorama—Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi, January 28, 2014
There are no standard operating procedures on the path of life.
We make it up as we go all the way—by looking, listening, asking until we see, hear and understand.
Seeing, hearing, understanding lead to knowing, doing, being.
We repeat that process in each situation as it arises, and find ourselves being led along the way by an ineffable wholeness that can only be sensed, not known, said, explained, defined.
Pablo Picasso said, “There is certainly such a thing as inspiration, but you can’t wait for it to arrive before you begin your work. It has to catch you working,” or words to that effect.
We are led along the way by actually starting out along the way, not even sure there is a way.
We have to keep faith with a way we don’t believe in, in order for the way to open before us with each step we take.
There are no maps, no blueprints, no black footprints. There isn’t a path. Each of us makes our own trail through a terrain where there are no trails to follow.
By looking, listening, asking until we see, hear, and understand, which leads to knowing, doing, being.
In each situation as it arises.
All along the way.
Which can only be perceived by looking backwards at where we have been and what we have come through to be where we are.
And trust the process that got us here to get us where we will be when we get there.
- Big Creek 2002 — Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, April, 2002
Trials and ordeals, Kid, Trials and ordeals.
Joseph Campbell said, “It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Odysseus.”
Our trials and ordeals make us who we are.
In coming forth to meet our life, we experience the truth of the miracle of death and resurrection.
Truth is a lived experience or it is hearsay.
Truth is not something we believe, but something we live—something we know in our bones and cannot deny, try though we may.
Woe be unto those who do not sacrifice their hopes, and dreams, and plans for their life upon the altar of the truth of their experience—a truth that calls them beyond themselves and the life they are living into the vast, uncharted, unknown.
- Kisatchie Falls Detail—Near Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014
The most objective reality has to be interpreted subjectively.
We decide what the facts mean.
Carl Jung says, “Upon one’s own philosophy, conscious or unconscious, depends one’s ultimate interpretation of the facts.”
What we believe determines how we see what we look at.
And some of us have the gall to declare, “This isn’t the way I SEE things! This is the way things ARE!”
Everything rides upon our interpretation of the facts.
That being the case, you might think we would take our time before issuing our judgments and proclamations. That we would put everything on the table and walk slowly around the table.
Slow walking would transform the world.
- Smoky Woods II — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, November 2006
Nothing is less factual or more true than the story of the Garden of Eden and the account of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. And they are the same story extended.
The Garden of Eden story ends with an angel with a flaming sword guarding the entrance to the Garden to prevent the return of the exiled race of humans. In other words, the only way back into the Garden and the Tree of Life growing there is by death.
And Jesus dies in the service of his own true work and is raised from the dead—life through death, a return to Eden. The circle is complete.
This is, ideally, the story of the life of each human being, from wandering lost in the company of their misguided wants, to recovering their true work, their true life, and living the journey from death to resurrection, living to be reunited with “the face that was theirs before they were born.”
Joseph Campbell said, “Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Values: Survival, Prestige, Personal Relationships and Self Development are exactly the values that go completely to pieces when one is seized with a mythological zeal (or seized by, or in the grip of, a compelling vision).” (Man and Myth)
And, Campbell follows that up with this: “If there is something you are really living for, you will forget security. You will forget even survival. You will forget your prestige. You will forget your friends, and, as for self-development, that’s gone. When Jesus said, ‘Whoever loses his life will find it,’ he was talking about this. And it is this jump from the things that animals live for to the things that only a human being can live for that is the jump of the mystical moment—the jump of the virgin birth of a spiritual being in what has formerly been an animal species.” (Man and Myth)
This is the path back to Eden, the Grail path, that opens before us, calling our name.
- APTS Chapel B&W 01 — Austin Seminary, Austin, TX, February 4, 2014
We have to dance with what comes through the door.
We cannot arrange the life we want for ourselves, lined up, decently and in order, waiting for its turn to bless us with immeasurable delight. We don’t know what the next minute may bring.
There are no final theories or universal solutions.
There is only imagination, compassion, courage and creativity.
We cannot impose some standardized procedure for doing anything upon a situation and do what needs to be done in that situation.
Solutions that meet the needs of situations are unique to the specific situation and are organic, bottom up, inside out, solutions.
Inorganic, engineered, orchestrated, cookie-cutter, top down, outside in, solutions tend to perpetuate and expand the problems they are designed to disappear.
When we open the door and welcome what meets us in each situation as it arises, we have to see, hear and understand what greets us, and dance with what comes through the door.
- Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Along Cane River 02 — Natchtoches Parish near Isle Brevelle and Melrose, LA, January 30, 2014
Our contradictions make us whole.
The single cause of our emotional distress and physical symptoms is our lack of awareness of our contradictions and our refusal to engage in the work of their conscious integration.
We dismiss our contradictions, discount their importance, and pretend them away, in the service of constancy, consistency and one-way-only-ness.
None of our heroes are consciously conflicted. John Wayne and James Bond have no conflicts except with the bad guys.
Christians—and all religious people everywhere—have no conflicts except with people of other religions, or people with no religion at all.
We live to be free of conflict. And we don’t live very well.
Recognize your conflicts! Experience your conflicts! Embrace your conflicts! Honor your conflicts! Become intensely conscious of your conflicts! Bring your contradictions to light, and to life.
And take up the work of reconciling what can be reconciled, of integrating what can be integrated, and of bearing consciously the tension of the polarities that remain.
There is no balance without opposition. Life is lived between the hands. On the one hand this, and on the other hand that. Bring forth your contradictions and step into your life. And live it with a passion for your contradictions like a true hero!
- Mission San Jose Altar Panorama 01 — San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2014
“What is the meaning of life?” is not the question.
“What is meaningful in my life?” is the question.
Each person has to find what is meaningful for herself, for himself—and serve it with her, with his, life.
No one can give another meaning. We have to discover what is meaningful for ourselves—and allow it to lead us along the way.
Our life has to revolve around what is meaningful for us.
What is meaningful is the ground, the center, the core, the source of life for us.
If we live in ways that are not meaningful to us, we are mostly dead.
We come alive when we live in ways that are meaningful to us.
You see where this is going. What are you waiting for?
- Mission San Jose Courtyard 02 — San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2014
We know when the way is open before us, and when it is closed.
And we don’t much care.
When it comes to the way for us or our way for us, it’s a safe bet for you to bet on our choosing our way for us—even though we know it is not the way for us.
Dismissing what we know to be true is what we do best. No! Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best! No! Telling ourselves what we want to hear is what we do best! No! Kidding ourselves, fooling ourselves, lying to ourselves, and pretending things are not the way they are with us is what we do best! No!… You get the idea…
We don’t want to know what we know. It gets in our way and make problems for us. As though ignoring the way and forcing our way past all the warning lights and stop signs isn’t going to make problems for us!
We are going to have problems no matter which way we choose. We may as well have problems that lead to and flow from LIFE. Why have problems that flow from and lead to death?
Check your record. Ask if your record reflects if you are good for yourself or bad for yourself. Ask if your record reflects whether you are with yourself or against yourself. In light of your record, whose side are you on?
What are you going to do about that in the time left for living? Continue the trend, or change your ways?
- Lake Martin Sunset 01 — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, LA, February 7, 2014
We have to honor the way with our time and attentive presence. We cannot run ahead of the way, thinking we have it, and “this” is going to mean “that,” so we can go ahead with our plans to buy, or sell, the house, and call the movers.
Not so fast.
The way has its ways, and takes its own sweet time.
We keep faith with the way by waiting for the way to open before us, one step at a time.
We cannot map out the way, or even know beforehand what we will be asked to do when.
We can let ambition and impatience lead us astray, but in our heart-of-hearts, we know when we are pushing, and when we are following, and when we are so far off course it will take a month of silence to reestablish connections.
- Lake Martin Sunset 04 — St. Martin Parish, near Breaux Bridge, LA, February 8, 2014
What are the most meaningful things in life for you?
Would anyone looking at your life know they were the most meaningful things in life for you?
What are you doing on a regular and recurring basis to ratify the importance of the things that are most meaningful to you? To celebrate them? To serve them with your life?
Why keep them secret?
Let the world know what means the most to you.
By the way you make that the central focus of your life.
Do not leave anyone guessing about what is life itself for you.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Draw Bridge at Bayou Teche 01 — Park, Louisiana, February 8, 2014
Col. Nathan R. Jessup (The Jack Nicholson character in “A Few Good Men”) nails us to the wall with his, “You can’t handle the truth!”
We cannot bear the pain. The pain of knowing how it is with us.
We cannot handle the truth of the discrepancy between how things are and how we want things to be.
We cannot live with that contradiction.
And so, the culture of entertainment, addiction, denial and escapism.
And so, life as we know it.
Karl Marx is almost exactly on the money with his observation:” Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
He would have been precisely correct if he had used the term “bad religion” instead of “religion.”
Bad religion is the escape of the people from the burden of contradictions they cannot bear.
Good religion enables, allows, them to dance with the contradictions, to handle the truth of the dichotomy between how things are and how they want them to be.
The cross Jesus is talking about when he says, “If you would be my disciple, pick up your cross daily and follow me,” is the cross of truth, the cross of contradiction. And we follow him into the dance of life, which is a dance with the truth of contradictions.
Good religion makes that possible by enabling us to see into the heart of things—to get to the bottom of things—and understand how things are, and understand how things need to be, and take up the work of living in the tension of those polarities as those who would reconcile what can be reconciled, integrate what can be integrated and bear consciously the polarities that must be recognized and borne.
We do what needs to be done about the way things are, and bear the pain of what cannot be done, and let that be that, because it is.
This is the way of death and life. The hero’s journey. The Grail quest. The path to the land of promise that unfolds endlessly before us, and is that which we seek.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Cypress Slough 02 — Big Thicket National Preserve, Kountze, Texas, February 7, 2014
Bad religion is a shortcut to the land of promise that ends up in the wasteland.
Never was truer the old saw: The long way around is the shortest way through.
Good religion carries us through the heart of Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha before reaching the empty tomb.
Bad religion would take us straight to Easter Morning without any of the agony and ordeal that good religion recognizes as part of the path to new life.
The way begins where we are, and asks us to face up to the truth of how things are and how things also are—which is how things are. That is the path of agony and ordeal that leads to life beyond death—the death of dying to how we wish things were and the life of living to make the best of the way things are (and also are).
We take what we are handed at birth and make it into all that it might become, using the gifts, art, and genius that are ours to bring forth in our life.
Good religion helps us find the tools to birth ourselves into the life that is ours to live within the life we are living. There is no waiting for heaven on the other side of our biological death.
There is entering now into the fullness of the life that is our life to live by aligning ourselves with that which is deepest, best and truest about us—our own true nature, our own best self—in the time left for living.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religions, Sanctuary 01 — San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2014
All religions are replete with contradictions.
Do not worry about what you should believe, or how to square the Commandments, or what is the Supreme Law, or how to know when to do what…
Simply live your life and do what needs to be done in each situation as it arises—without striving for anything beyond the awareness of what is happening and what needs to be done about it—without holding onto anything beyond being present with everything for the good of all things.
- Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Great Egret 01 — Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 9, 2014
Joseph Campbell said, “Experience is the matrix, the milieu, from which we form new realizations (or words to that effect).”
The Buddha and Jesus did not have the last word.
The Bible is not the last word.
The Sutras are not the last word.
There is no last word.
It is all unfolding, expanding, deepening. One idea leads to another and before you know it, we are participants in an idea explosion.
Talk about transformation!
Talk about revolution!
People who say, “The Bible says,” or “The Buddha says,” or “Jesus says,” or “Joseph Campbell says,” as though any of those sources said all there is to say, and all we have to do is say what they said until the end of time, are failing to access the authority of their own voice, of their own experience.
And, they are failing to do the work of forming new realizations (Realizations never before realized by anyone), and new experiences, out of the wealth of their past experience.
They are failing to experience their experience.
They are failing to live their own life.
Do. Not. Be. One. Of. Those. People.
- Lake Martin Reflections 03 — Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 8, 2014
Sheldon Kopp said, “We have to solve our own problems every day for the rest of our life.”
And the problems that are unsolvable, we have to learn to live with.
Sheldon Kopp learned to live with persistent and unrelenting rounds with cancer until it killed him. Sometimes, we have to learn to live with what is killing us.
How alive can we be before we are dead, is the question.
Don’t die before you are dead, is the challenge.
Embrace your problems. Solve the ones that can be solved. Live with the ones that cannot be. Dance with all of them for the rest of your life.
Our problems wake us up. We would be lost forever without them.
Pain and suffering were the Buddha’s problem. His solution was Buddhism.
Stupidity and narrow-minded-ness were Jesus’ problem. His solution was missed by the majority of his followers—who chose to follow him by talking about him and believing in him instead of becoming him, being him, in their own way, in their own life, but, that’s the way it is with some solutions.
We can’t let that stop us. We have to let it become another problem we have to live with.
Our problems are the path we keep looking for a path to avoid, only to find more problems on that path.
It’s time we changed our mind about our problems and started living our life—in, around, and through our problems.
- How Many Snows? — Coltharp Cabin, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014
Being aligned with the wisdom of the body is not far removed from being aligned with soul’s idea for our life.
Aligned with the wisdom of the body, we “eat when hungry, rest when tired.”
We move to the beat of our own drummer.
We sing the song of our heart’s true joy.
We live the life that only we can live.
We are one with all things in the demonstration of our differentness,
The expression of our uniqueness,
The bringing forth of our own individuality.
At one with the wisdom of the body.
- A Dusting of Snow — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014
The work of oneness is very precise. Oneness is not accidental.
My nephew, Jon, is trained in the Japanese art of acupuncture, and works to align body with spirit by reading pulse and abdominal pressure points in response to the placement of needles. He makes recommendations regarding life-style changes in his patients, and over time they move toward oneness with the center of their being.
Carl Jung worked toward that same end by helping his patients read their dreams, and heed the workings of the unconscious in their life, thereby aligning their living with their being.
Oneness is art and science. We know enough right now to know what we know. And that is all we need to know.
Why aren’t more of us listening?
- Atchafalaya Highways — I-10 east and west bound through the Henderson Swamp of the Atchafalaya River Basin, near Henderson, Louisiana, and a boat that was used to traverse the waters of the swamp before there were highways, February 10, 2014
Working to achieve oneness of living with being is the revolutionary movement of the ages.
Nothing has a greater potential to transform the way the world works than living out of the center of ourselves.
When heart and soul and life are one thing, the foundations of all that is wrong with the world as we know it crumble.
This revolution doesn’t depend on everyone getting on board.
This is not a movement of the masses.
It is individually centered, focused and directed.
We do not have to convert the world.
We only have to live our life—not the one we are living, the one that is ours to live.
When we live aligned with our being, we are one with who we are—we are who we are.
We are the unique, individual, human being we are capable of being.
And we transform the world by not being who the world wants us to be.
Living our life as only we can live it.
Each one of us is the savior of the world.
- Scotland Avenue — Indian Land, SC, February 12, 2014
Do not look for results!
This is the hardest thing about being a revolutionary involved in the transformation of the culture, the world.
We believe in results. The culture is based on results. The world doesn’t do anything that doesn’t pay off—that doesn’t prove its value by the returns it produces.
All the talk about being “counter-cultural” over the years has just been talk. The people doing the talking have labored under the same standards governing effort and production that the people who exemplify the culture embrace and adore.
All the militant revolutions there ever have been gauge the quality of their strategy and tactics in light of the results they achieve.
Results determine action. It’s the only way to live. We do not believe in anything that does not produce results.
Results are the measure of success. Without results we don’t know how well we are doing. If we aren’t being successful, we may as well quit.
Joseph Campbell summarized the core teaching of the Bhagavad Gita as the command to “Get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome!”
Jesus talked about being a seed in the earth, yeast in the dough, and said unless the wheat stalk died it couldn’t reproduce itself a hundred times over.
Gandhi (or Winston Churchill, or both) said, “Nothing worth doing can be accomplished in a single lifetime.”
We have to believe in the value of our work without living to see the results of what we are doing. We have to believe in our work, and love it, and do it, for the sake of the work alone.
That is counter-cultural.
And who do you know who has a job like that? We aren’t talking about jobs here. We are talking about the work that is ours to do—the work that needs us to do it—the work that we alone can do.
The spiritual journey is not what we think or believe. It is how we live. It is doing the work that is ours to do. It is believing in our work, and doing it, without attachment to the results.
There is no spiritual journey apart from the work that is ours to do. The spiritual journey is inseparable from the expression of “our thing” in the life we are living.
The revolution is transforming the culture by doing our thing and living the life that is ours to live within the life we are living—without worrying about the outcome.
- The Orchard 02 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014
Fine is the balance, thin is the line
between having it made
and having nothing at all.
We do not appreciate how careful we have to be with our life, and throw it against some wall, or out some window, giving up too easily, quitting too soon.
We cannot be casual, or flip, or careless with the life we are living—certainly not with the life that is ours to live.
Everything hangs on our respecting our life, honoring our life, believing in our life—all evidence suggesting we are stupid to do so notwithstanding.
Do not be so arrogant as to believe things are bad, as hopeless, as you think they are. You owe it to yourself to find out if you are right about that, by living as though you are wrong.
Rumi said, “If you are not here with us in good faith, you are doing terrible damage.”
The unconscious, invisible world, is looking us in the eye, saying that very thing, demanding that we take it seriously, and take up our own cause, swear allegiance to ourselves and live in ways that bear out our loyalty to ourselves, no matter what, throughout the time left for living.
May it be so with each one of us.
Everything depends on it.
If you are going to believe anything, believe that everything depends on it.
And live as though it is so.
- Used in Short Talks on Contradiction, etc., Snowy Branches 01 — Indian Land, SC, February 13, 2014
We grow up by facing what we don’t want to face and doing what we don’t want to do—and consciously bearing the pain of the contradiction, discord, discrepancy, dichotomy in our own body, experiencing the agony of adjustment, of accommodation, and the ordeal of wrestling with ourselves and our life (Both of them: The one we are living and the one that is ours to live) over the long course of being alive.
This means throwing away the drugs—over the counter, prescription, and illicit. Throwing away the alcohol. Throwing away the escapes and addictions. Throwing away the depression. And bearing fully and consciously the pain of being alive, when the only way to do that is to deaden ourselves, numb ourselves, to the experience of being alive.
You’re loving this, aren’t you? I knew you would.
It’s a contradiction, a paradox, a conundrum, a koan.
Being alive is an ongoing experience with a Buddhist koan. And Jesus knew what the Buddha knew, with his “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” and “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
If you aren’t living in the agony and ordeal of opposition, you’re in denial. You’re dead to something, maybe everything.
The entire foundation of Jungian Psychology and Analysis is to square us up with our life (Both of them: The one we are living and the one that is ours to live) over the long course of being alive.
The full scope of the spiritual journey, the hero’s journey, the quest for the holy grail and the land of promise is the process of maturation, growing up, facing what must be faced and doing what must be done about it, seeing things as they are and as they also are, squaring ourselves up to how it is with us, and doing what is ours to do out of the gifts, art, genius that are ours to bring forth in our life—and doing it the way it needs to be done—in each situation as it arises, throughout the time left for living.
Get that down, and you are the Buddha, the Christ.
- Lake Martin Reflections 04 — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 10, 2014
Your parents are here to help you find the life that is right for you and live it.
So is everyone else you know.
Of course, they are also here to find the life that is right for them and live it.
And you are here to find the life that is right for you and live it, and help everyone else you know find the life that is right for her, for him, and live it.
Get the picture?
Now, if your parents do not help you find the life that is right for you and live it, that’s too bad. They could have—should have—been better parents.
You start out with a handicap, but. As it is with handicaps, you have to turn it to your advantage, and see in it the exact path to the life that is right for you.
Even bad parents can be exactly what we need to be who we are when seen in the right light, in the right way.
It’s all about perspective and looking until we see.
We can look at our parents, and everyone else, and ourselves, and everything there is and see them, us, it, or not see them, us, it.
If you can’t see what your parents are doing for you by doing nothing for you, keep looking until you do.
Then, take what you can use, and leave the rest behind.
- Nation Ford Road — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014 — First, a foot path, then a trail, then a trading route, then a wagon road through the Catawba Nation to a ford in the Catawba River—a way to and from all that lay beyond.
Everything is grist for the mill—and we are milling consciousness here. We are milling awareness, realization. We are waking up. Growing up.
Experience is the compost pile for new realizations. Everything goes into the pile. We turn it over, mix it in, mine it for its gold, forever creating new combinations for reflection, new possibilities for consideration, new avenues for exploration. Everything means something else in light of additional experience and continued examination.
We are the Philosopher’s Stone, turning dross metal into priceless treasure through the way we see what we look at.
- Kisatchie Falls 07 — Near Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014
There is the work we have to do to pay the bills, and there is the work we have to do to care whether we pay the bills or not, or even have any bills to pay.
The empty, hopeless, listless, lifeless, lost and forlorn have no sense of the second type of work.
The right kind of work saves us. Nothing else can.
And, more than that, we cannot save the world by trying to. We save the world by doing the work that saves us.
The right work heals everyone, restores, revives, renews, resurrects everyone.
We come alive when we are united with the work that is the right work for us, the work that is truly ours to do, the work that only we can do.
The problem is that we have eyes for bigger things.
The problem is that we do love a show. We love showing off. Parading around. Sashaying here and there. The envy of all. Somebody. Mr Big. Ms IT.
We invented celebrity status, fame and fortune because it becomes us so. We came up with kings and queens, chairmen of the boards and chief executive officers.
Look at the world as it is. It’s all our idea. Formulated as a replacement for the Original Idea, which was men and women working together in the service of the work—of the life—that was right for them.
It isn’t working like we thought it would. But, if something isn’t working, our solution is to try harder.
Working harder at what isn’t working is crazy.
We can only wake the world up one person at a time.
We start with ourselves.
- 1093 St. John Bridge Road — St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, February 10, 2014
When we are stuck in our life, it is always between mutually exclusive—and equally unacceptable—options.
We can’t get a divorce and we can’t remain married.
We can’t leave home and we can’t tolerate staying.
We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
The flip solution is to be damned and be done with it.
The cop-outs are drugs, alcohol or suicide.
I recommend staying stuck—intensely aware of our stuckness—bearing the agony consciously, knowing and accepting fully the fact of our stuckness and the impossibility of remaining there indefinitely.
And waiting, watching, for the shift to happen, for the door to open.
And walking through it when it does.
Lao-Tzu (Whose name is also spelled Lao-Tse, which I think an absolutely wonderful irony for one who would point the way. He doesn’t even know what his own name is—what right does he have presuming to tell anyone anything?), anyway, Lao-Tse recommended doing nothing in the right way, at the right time, as the cure for a multitude of ills.
He practiced the art of not-doing until he perfected it, and disappeared into it.
The door, I’m sure, just opened, and he was ready to step through, without doing anything.
So, do nothing in the right kind of way, and wait, thoroughly conscious of what you are doing by not doing anything. You are waiting, watching.
Good for you.
- Tree Swallow B&W—Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 8, 2014
We have to pay the price of doing what needs to be done.
That keeps a lot of us from doing it.
Which keeps things as they are.
Until they explode or collapse.
And everybody pays the price at the end that a few people refused to pay at the beginning.
”You can pay me now, or you can pay me later,” were the fateful words of the Fram Filter Man, which apply to far more than he had in mind.
But. This doesn’t mean that we rush to pay the price of doing what needs to be done, rashly, impetuously, just to get it done and out of our way.
The key is always, always, to act when the time is right—to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, for as long as it needs to be done.
There is a lot to do.
The pain stretches out. We pay the price in pennies and dimes.
And we don’t want to pay any price at all.
So, we have to work with ourselves before we can be trusted to work with the situation.
We have to get ourselves ready to do what needs to be done.
This is part of paying the price of doing what needs to be done.
Inner Work before Outer Work.
Which could just be a ploy—a way of delaying indefinitely doing the outer work that needs to be done—an excuse for not doing anything, ever.
We cannot kid ourselves. We have to be transparent to ourselves. We have to see ourselves all the way to the bottom. Know ourselves to the core. Be honest with ourselves about how it is with us and what we are doing about it. Holding nothing back. We have to keep faith with ourselves.
We have to grow up on all levels, and live it out in our life.
That’s what needs to be done.
Do that and everything else will fall into place.
- Graham Cabin — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014 — The Graham Cabin is the home of Billy Graham’s paternal grandfather.
If we look until we see, we will see two things.
We will see things as they are, and we will see things as they also are.
Seeing things as they are is seeing things separately, individually, uniquely: This horse is not that horse.
Seeing things as they also are is seeing things in their interconnected unity: This horse and that horse are one in their horse-ness—and they are one with all other things in their being-ness.
Seeing things as they also are is seeing things as they are not when we merely see things as they are.
Seeing things as they also are IS seeing things as they are.
Things are as they are and as they are not—that is how they also are.
All of our categories and divisions and boundaries are arbitrary, and we have to soften the lines we draw, keeping us separate and apart from all that we are not.
Soft lines are compassionate lines.
Draw all of your lines with compassion.
Kindness and generosity would also be a nice touch.
- Lake Martin Sunset 05 — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 11, 2014
Jimmy Carter, Gil Gillenwater, Bono/Sting, Bill and Melinda Gates, Liz Seymour, George Clooney… These people and 10,000 others like them around the world are leading the quiet revolution.
They are individually, personally, without waiting for a crowd to gather around them, with chants and slogans and signs—or worse, guns and explosive devices—to make it official, doing what needs to be done, where it needs to be done, with what they have to work with right now.
They aren’t asking permission. They aren’t standing in some line waiting to be granted authority. They aren’t filling out request forms for recognition and support. They are, in the words of Joseph Campbell, “getting in there and doing their thing,” no matter what.
Suffering people world-wide are benefiting from their compassion, their determination, their commitment and their courage.
If you want to know more about them and what they are doing in the cause of helping those who need to be helped live the life that is theirs to live, a Google search of their name should get you started.
The more important matter is YOU getting YOU started!
Where are YOU bringing forth what YOU have to offer in the service of somebody’s good, not your own?
What are YOU doing with YOUR gifts, art, genius, light?
Not hiding it under a basket, surely. Not dismissing it like a stone the builders would reject, surely. Not looking away from the question in a “Who? Me? You must be kidding! Nothing good comes from Nazareth!” kind of way, surely.
The work brings us forth, grows us up, gives us life. The work we don’t think we can do because we don’t have what it takes, wakes us up to what we have and reveals to us that it is exactly what it takes, and what is needed, in the service of life, in the service of the revolution.
Find what you need to do that you think you can’t do and start doing it. See where it goes.
That’s all there is to it. The revolution. The transformation of the world. YOU!
- Cypress Pond, VI — Robeson County near Lumberton, NC, November 2007
It’s intimacy we’re after, but we think it’s sex, and stop there.
Instead of being the threshold to—the fulfillment of—intimacy, sex sidetracks us into sex. Sex for sex’s sake is a gerbil wheel with interchangeable partners.
Sex becomes a substitute for intimacy. We are obsessed with, preoccupied by, sex, and are dying—starving—for intimacy.
Intimacy is the key—the path to—the ground of—life.
Intimacy opens us to aspects of ourselves and our partner that we access in no other way. Intimacy is knowing ourselves and our partner.
We know ourselves by being intimately present with another human being.
Therapy can sometimes do this. Honest conversation straight from the heart about things that truly matter can do it.
But intimacy that carries us to the heart of who we are and how it is with us cannot be said. Words cannot take us there.
We are after the sense of more than can be said—about ourselves and our partner—and, flowing from there, about ourselves and all human beings, all sentient beings, all things, visible and invisible.
This is the kind of knowing that changes the world—both of them, visible and invisible.
Intimacy is knowing without words—beyond words. Knowing more than we can say. More than can be said. We sense things that are ineffable, numinous, holy, invisible, divine… That is the kind of knowing that knows something worth knowing.
But. We pay a price to get there. To get to the kind of knowing that transforms life, we have to pass through our wounded-ness.
And so it is said that the path to the empty tomb winds through the heart of Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha.
Intimacy reveals, exposes, our wounded-ness. Intimacy is healing which probes the depth and nature of our wounds. It is the kind of knowing that knows what has to be known for us to be healed and whole, restored, and well.
And, you thought sex was about a quickie at the office or a nice little romp in the sack.
Sex is a threshold to all that is waiting on the other side of death.
That’s more than we bargained for, and it can be too much. More than we can handle. So, we don’t go there.
We escape from intimacy back into sex, afraid to know what we know, to be who we are, with all that implies. You know, life. Being alive. Being real. Being known, by ourselves and our partner.
Changed. Transformed. Made new. By the experience of knowing more than words can say.
We cannot be intimate if we will not be vulnerable. Vulnerability is honesty, transparency, visibility. Who wants that? Who can bear it? Seeing and being seen? We have sex to avoid that!
Sex without vulnerability is sex without intimacy is sex with interchangeable partners. A gerbil wheel.
- Beaver Pond 01 HDR — Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole, WY, June 26, 2011
People are running, running, talking, talking, busy, busy, doing things.
Nobody has time to be still, to sit quietly. They might miss something.
I know a woman who has a telephone in every room of her house, including bathrooms, in case someone calls.
She doesn’t have any plans to unplug her phones and sit quietly.
Silence reconnects us with our soul.
Noise disconnects us.
Guess which side of that continuum we live on.
Guess what kind of chance soul has with us.
Jacob Bronowski said, “If you want to know the truth, you have to live in certain ways.” He meant we have to live truthfully.
We have to live truthful lives. We have to be transparent to ourselves. We can’t kid ourselves.
We have to live in good faith with ourselves.
That’s the first and greatest commandment.
If we don’t keep that one, we can bullshit ourselves about loving the lord our god with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. And, don’t we do that though!
So. Are we going to work silence into our life, or not?
- Used in Short Talks On Contradictions, etc., Lake Haigler Winter, B&W — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 18, 2014
Each moment is unique and unrepeatable.
And sameness suffocates us.
Every photograph is a monument to the passing of time, to the passing of ourselves through time.
And poverty is everlasting, timeless, eternal and unending like some tramp god of the dumps and dumpsters.
Hopelessness is blindness to the eyes, death to the spirit, a blight on the soul of countless millions in every age.
Beauty and wonder abound.
So what if it’s beautiful?
Wonder is worthless if you are starving, desperate, despairing…
Live the contradictions! Bear the anguish of outlandish incompatibilities! Do not look away from either end of the spectrum! Know how it is and how it also is!
Beauty restores our soul—restores us to our soul.
Hope is the refusal to succumb to what is true in light of what is also true.
Hope rejects the temptation to destroy the polarity and live as though there is nothing to live for.
Hope knows there is more to us than living would lead us to believe—that there is more to us, to it, than meets the eye, any eye.
Beauty calls hope forth.
Photographs—art—poetry—music—harmonize chaos, orchestrate turmoil, choreograph mayhem, and call forth the dance that aligns the planets, establishes concord, makes peace.
If you are going to believe in anything, believe in beauty, and live to bring it forth as a blessing and a grace to your time and place—a gift of greatest treasure to all with eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to understand.
- 1093 St. John Bridge Road 03 — St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, February 10, 2014
If you are going to grow into who you are and live aligned with yourself, bringing forth the life that is your life to live, and doing the work that is yours to do—within the life you are living and along side the work to pay the bills you are already doing—you are going to have to live out of your own authority and you are going to have to keep faith with yourself.
Living out of your own authority means living in ways which serve and express what is meaningful to you—doing what is right for you—honoring what is important to you—being loyal to what has value to you…
It means living in light of what you say is meaningful, right, important and valuable to you, and not in light of what someone else tells you what should be meaningful, right, important and valuable.
It means you assume your responsibility for determining for yourself in light of what, and toward what, you are going to live and living in light of, and toward, those things—no matter who says what about it, or opposes it, or tells you not to do it.
You are the one—the only one—who can live your life.
And you have to claim the authority to do it, and do it.
And you have to keep faith with yourself throughout the entire process, through all of the time left for living.
You cannot live in light of what is meaningful, right, important and valuable to you only when it is convenient, when you feel like it, are in the mood for it, and only so long as it doesn’t get in the way or keep you from doing something that might be more fun, or attractive, or come with a bigger payoff attached.
You are swearing allegiance to yourself, here, to your life—like the troubadours and knights of the middle ages. And you are to keep troth with yourself and your life no matter what, for as long as life lasts.
And that could well be like, forever.
- Mountain Ash Berries 01 — Pisgah National Forest at Pisgah Inn, Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, NC, October 25, 2013
“How is this going to help me with my life?” Ask this of everything you want, of every offer you receive, of every invitation that comes your way.
And ask it regarding the life that is your life to live—not the life you have in mind for yourself, your dream life—and not the life you are living to pay the bills.
The life only you can live. The life with your name on it. The life that is waiting for you to step into it and live it out—alongside the life you are living.
This is called “Walking two paths at the same time.”
Ask of things on the above list, in regard to your one and only Real Life, “How is this going to help me with my life?”
For this strategy to have any beneficial impact, you have to have an idea of what your life is. Of what your life is—and is not.
Sit with that question. What is life for you? Where are you most alive? Most alert? Most “with it”? Most attuned to the moment and what is happening there? Most unaware of the passage of time? Most lost in, and absorbed by, the moment of your living?
What is not life for you? Where are you mostly dead? Most going through the motions? Most not here? Most disconnected? Most out of place?
Back to where you are most alive.
Is that life, or an escape from life? Is that involving you personally in a way that requires your intense presence and participation as an essential part of the action—or are you a spectator watching the action?
You have to know the difference from an escape from life and an investment in, and an involvement in, an engagement with, life.
Escapes aren’t life, in spite of the best efforts of the entertainment industry to narrow the gap, and make the escapes they offer feel like the real thing.
You have to know what your life is in order to know how this thing, or that experience, is going to help you live your life.
Don’t waste your time on stuff that doesn’t help you live your life, or that isn’t your life.
Know what your life is—and live it within the life you are living. And find the things/experiences that help you live it.
There is your Life Plan in two short sentences.
- Lake Haigler Falls 01 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 19, 2014
We cannot force anything (Enlightenment, insight, understanding and all that follows from seeing, hearing, knowing) to happen before its time, but. We can prevent it from happening long past its time.
Our role is to be open to “what is happening now,” and alert to—aware of, conscious of—our perceptions, perspective, reaction and response, in order to assist with, and participate in, “the times that are a-changing,” as they are changing.
This is the path to maturation, realization, nirvana, moksha and all that we have sought through the ages.
We can never be more mature than the times in which we live, but. Individuals in all times lead the way to the next transition by being, and living, ahead of their times, calling into question the sacred assumptions of the day, and being the portal, the threshold, to “a brand new world.”
These are the prophets of their day, living in the service of their vision of how things need to be, and transforming everything that always has been.
They don’t make it up. You can’t make up a prophetic vision. You can only be gripped by it, and hurled into your life as its servant, its messenger, its agent, perhaps even, against your will (In a “Thy will, not mine, be done,” kind of way).
It begins with our openness to new ways of assessing old norms and standards—with our questioning the obvious wrongness of the ways of our day—with our seeing how things are and how things need to be—and not turning away, not pretending that things are just fine as they are because that’s the way it is, and nothing can be done about it.
The change begins with our listening to the reactions and responses of our own heart and soul to the experiences of life and the world around us.
As a child, I was quite aware of the wrongness of the way people of color were being treated, and women, and homosexuals. You can’t be anywhere close to being alive, and fail to notice injustice, inequity, disparity, sin. But, I was a child, and had no voice of my own, no foundation, no place, no authority, no ground or basis for valuing my own perceptions, and so, I devalued them, and did not follow up on, or live in the service of, what I knew to be true.
But others did. And became prophetic thresholds to changing times.
The times are always at the point of needing to be changed, in ways great and small, and wait for individuals to give themselves to the tasks that need to be done to make things more like they ought to be than they ever have been.
May we all be what the times need us to be in every moment of our life. Amen! May it be so!
- Lake Martin Cypress — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 9, 2014
Our circumstances can hand us things we are not equipped to receive.
We can find ourselves in situations we don’t have the resources to manage, or the skills to cope with.
There are tsunamis of soul and spirit.
We can be overwhelmed, carried away, engulfed, devastated, overcome.
When that happens, it helps to know what is happening—to make conscious our vulnerability, our helplessness, our complete inability to make any kind of response, particularly one that would be helpful to us in that time and place.
Things can happen to which no response can be made. It helps to know, “This is one of those things.”
And wait for the shift to happen.
Regrouping takes a while. It takes longer if we try to force it to happen, or if we feel guilty, shameful or responsible for it not happening. Recovery is a long time coming, and we will always walk with a limp. Things will never be as they were.
Let it be so. Because it is.
But. Something begins to stir within. Something begins to lift. Something shifts. We begin to regain interest in something, to live toward something, to live.
We don’t do it so much as allow it to happen, to notice it is happening, to be carried along by forces quite beyond us to reconnection and something that could almost qualify for being alive.
It’s a long way back to life. We have to take our time, all the time it takes, and the old rule applies: “It will take a lot longer than you want it to, but not as long as you are afraid it will.”
Coming back is an inside job. We have to trust ourselves to the resiliency, reality and grace of the invisible world to do the work of reconstruction, and assist it as we are able, all along the way.
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