One Minute Monologues 016

01/01/2014 — 02/21/2014

  1. The line between the visible world and the invisible world is not distinct and sharply defined. One flows into and out of the other at the border. Physical particles become so small they disappear, but they do not cease to exist.

    I just made that up, but quantum physics may back it up. Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli had a conversational relationship, and Jung felt that there would be a point at which physics would go over into psychology, that the physical world and the physical world would merge at the border between worlds.

    Our ancestral people all understood the physical world to be grounded upon, and an outgrowth of, the invisible world.

    All of which leads into my contention that we are of two worlds, the visible and the invisible. We are physical and spiritual beings. There is more to us than meets the eye.

    That being the case, you would think we might be more sensitive to, aware of, conversant with, “the other side.”

    We have a full partner in the work of life, which is bringing ourselves forth—all of ourselves, who we know ourselves to be and who we do not know ourselves to be—into the world of normal, apparent, reality.

    That process hinges on our forming the partnership and entering into engaged and ongoing collaboration with the invisible/unknown side of ourselves.

    It all waits on us.
  2. Bayou Teche — St. Martinville, Louisiana, February 10, 2014 — Bayou Teche was the commercial highway of its day throughout its course through south Louisiana. Boat traffic carried crops, merchandise and people, connecting Cajun and Creole, creating a culture, forming an identity and ensuring survival in an area only mosquitoes and ‘gators would think of calling home. Without Bayou Teche, it would be a different world.

    Do. Not. Quit!

    By that, I mean don’t play the suicide card. Do not take your own life. Do not kill yourself.

    Here’s the deal: We come to the end of all sorts of trails, and paths, and roads, and ways of living—which, if you think about it, really weren’t/aren’t all that great but. They were/are carriers of our hope and dreams and possibilities, and without them, where would/will we be?

    They play out over time, and we are left thinking, “This is the end of us, we may as well make it official.”

    We get to the place of having no place to turn, nowhere to go, no reason to go on.

    Let’s stop right here, at the end of the line, and reconsider the conclusions we are have come to.

    Everything we think and feel here is based on our own, personal, perception, reasoning, logic, assumptions, presumptions, inferences, and ways of thinking and feeling. That is exactly what got us here, at the end of the line.

    That should tell us something about our capacity to reason ourselves out of situations. We reasoned ourselves to the end of the line. THIS is the best WE can do. It is going to take something beyond ourselves, something more than ourselves, to get us on track and in the flow of our life. If WE could have done it, we would have done it long before now. WE cannot trust ourselves to OUR own judgment. If we could, we wouldn’t be here, now.

    That’s the first thing.

    Here’s the second. At every transition point, something has to die in order for something else to live. We have to give up something in order to receive something else. We have to stop being one way in order to be another way.

    This is a metaphorical, symbolic dying that feels like, and is easily confused with, the real thing.

    How many times, at the end of some romance, have people said, “I feel like I’m dying!” Or, “I feel like dying!”? Transition points are like that.

    We don’t grow up without dying 10,000 times in this way. We are being asked to die, and will be asked to die again, but not biologically!

    At all of our transition points, we are being asked to give up our idea of life—not life itself. We have to give up our idea of life in order to live on a different level, in a different direction, in a different way.

    And we think, “Oh no! Oh no! Our IDEA of life IS life! If we can’t have life the way we want life to be, we don’t want to have life at all!”

    That’s stupid.

    We have to get out of our way, out of life’s way, in order to live the life that is waiting for us to live it. This is the recurring test of the hero’s journey.

    Life is always calling us beyond life. We are always and forever stepping over thresholds where “the old has passed away, behold the new has come.” These are transition points that are “like dying,” and are dying on a metaphorical level. We have to die to the old way of living so that we might live to a new way of living.

    All your dreams and fantasies of suicide, of checking out of this place, of being done with the agony of living do indicate the real need for you to die, only NOT REALLY! Not biologically! METAPHORICALLY!!!

    If you are ever going to get anything, get this! And trust me here, because, after point 1 above, you should know by now you can’t trust yourself, and something beyond you has to come to you to rescue and put you back on your feet and send you off into a new way of living. Think of me as the voice of that other thing—the thing that is the source and goal, the origin and end, the foundation and culmination of life and being—the thing that has an idea for your life that is more than any idea you could come up with on your own—and is waiting for you to trust it, to trust yourself to it, to show you what it has in mind.

    And “die” so that you might LIVE in the time left for living!
  3. Goodale State Park 03, B&W 2 — Camden, SC, November 2013 

    You have to do the work. You can’t admire the work, be a fan of the work, affirm the value of the work, talk about doing the work. You have to DO the work.

    You can’t be a photographer, or a poet, or a farrier without doing what photographers, or poets, or farriers do.

    I regularly run into people in some scene who don’t know how to use their cameras. And this includes camera phones.

    There are only two steps in knowing how to use a camera: Read the manual and practice.

    They want to be a photographer without doing the work photography requires. They want to take pretty pictures without bothering to learn how to use their camera.

    We don’t want to do the work! We don’t want to work! We just want it to be given to us. Why can’t it just be given to us? Why do we have to work?

    All the whining only puts it off.

    We are here to do the work that is ours to do with the gifts, and art, and genius, and proclivities, and aptitudes, that came with us from the womb.

  4. Closed Gate — Mission San Jose, San Antonio Mission National Historic Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 9, 2014

    You have to believe in your work—not the work you do to pay the bills, but the work you pay the bills to do—the work that is yours to do, that only you can do the way you can do it, the work that was yours before you were born.

    You have to be gripped by your work, seized by the work, owned by the work.

    The work is your Mamma, your Daddy.

    The work knows where you live, and will not give you a day off, a minute’s rest, a life of your own.

    You belong to your work.

    So. Belong to your work!

    “Get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome” (Joseph Campbell), or anything else.

    Your work is the still point around which the rest of your life revolves.

    And, you have to fit it into the rest of your life.

    That’s the kicker.

    You have to pay the bills. And be the Mamma, the Daddy, you are. And meet your obligations. And tend your responsibilities, mowing the lawn, buying groceries, chauffeuring the kids, getting the dog to the vet… AND do your work.

    This is called walking two paths at the same time.

    You have to live your LIFE within the life you are living.

    You have to. Everything depends on it.

    All of your problems stem from your not doing it. Or, to put it another way: When you begin to deal with the problems that arise from doing it, all of your other problems will disappear.

    Why would I lie?
  5. Through the Fog — Sioux Falls, SD, Spring 2012, An iPhone photo

    There are questions we cannot ask.

    Just draw the line. Refuse to ask them. Have absolutely nothing to do with them, ever, for the rest of your life on either side of the grave.

    Here they come. Do. Not. Ever. Ask. Them. Or, even think about it.

    So what? Who cares? Why try? What good will it do? What difference will it make? What’s the use?

    These questions are Soul Killers. Spirit Thieves. They will suck your life right out of your body. Leave you limp and listless, empty and hollow-eyed like someone in a Little Orphan Annie cartoon.

    And if someone asks them of you, here’s what you say to them:

    “So what?” “So what if I got no what to your so?”

    “Who cares?” “Who cares if nobody cares?”

    “Why try?” “Why try to stop me from trying?’

    “What good will it do?” “What good will it do for you to stand there in my way mocking me like a fool?”

    “What difference will it make?” “What difference will it make if it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever at all?”

    “What’s the use?” “What’s the use of you standing here, taking up my time, asking me these questions that aren’t slowing me down one bit?”
  6. Used in Short Talks On Good And Bad Religion — Through the Snow — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014

    Reasonable people can look at the evidence and draw different conclusions.

    Hence, hung juries—and the profusion of religion worldwide.

    Meaning is interpretation. What something—anything—means is what we say, or someone says, it means in a particular time and place of our, of their, life.

    What something means today may well not be what it meant twenty years ago, or fifty.

    We have no business killing each other over a difference in interpretation of the evidence.

    If we live long enough, all of us will change our mind about what is important.

    A number of times.

    We have to live as though what we say is important IS important, here and now, while recognizing that it may well be different then and there, and letting that realization soften our response to those who say something else is important here and now.

    Draw soft lines. The world is changing fast.
  7. January Sky — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, January 13, 2014

    We cannot live well and live any way at all.

    We can live in the service of wants, wishes and knee-jerk reactions, and that will take us down a certain path to a certain destination.

    We can live in the service of our internal guidance system, aligned with our deepest sense of value and our feel for the best we are capable of in response to the situation as it arises, and that will take us down a different path to a different destination.

    How do we decide what we do?

    The answer to that question tells the tale.
  8. Yazoo River — Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi, January 28, 2014

    The value of a belief is the degree to which it helps us live our life—both of them, the one we are living and the one that is ours to live, that no one but us can live, that needs us to live it, even yet, even still, even now.

    No belief is right for all people. All people have to find their own beliefs, the beliefs that are right for them, that are good for them, that bring out the best they are capable of, and give them a foundation from which they are able to face anything, and do what is theirs to do everywhere, out of the gifts, art, genius that are theirs at birth.

    No one can give us who we are. We are the only one who can bring that forth through the way we live our life.

    We need to believe whatever it takes to live in harmony with what is deepest, truest and best about us—in doing what cries out to be done in each situation as it arises, all our life long.

    If we believe anything other than what we know to be right for us, that aligns us with the deep center of our own being, and sends us into the life we are living as champions, and servants, of the life that is ours to live, we are going to have to keep a close eye on that belief to make sure it doesn’t do more harm than good.
  9. Medicine Lake Bed — Jasper National Park, Alberta, September 2007 — Medicine Lake’s bottom is porous like a sponge. Water slowly seeps through to some great groundwater sea. As long as the snow melt is flowing, and income is greater than outgo, there is a fine lake there for people to swim in and admire, but. Comes the fall, goes the lake. The native people thought it was a magical place. Of course, they were right.

    We find our voice by saying what is ours to say, doing what is ours to do, noticing what strikes a cord, what sounds right, feels right, and saying, doing, more of that until we say, do, mostly that, and a rhythm is created, and a flow forms, and an identity comes into being, and we find ourselves by being who we are, without any instruction or direction other than what we found within.

    We are the way to who, okay whom, we are.

    And we feel our way into, and along, the way, until there we are, to everyone’s surprise and amazement, even our own.

    And They (Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased) would have us believe we don’t know anything, can’t do anything. Which shows how much they know.
  10. Cypress Pond XIII — Robeson County near Lumberton, NC, November 2007

    In one sense, there are distractions and diversions leading us away from the path, clouding our mind, so that we wander lost in a wasteland of our own making.

    In another sense, there are no distractions or diversions, and everything is the path, and all roads lead to Rome—to the center, source, and ground of being and life—when walked with awareness and compassion.

    Even our distractions lead to the core of truth. Our diversions are revelations awaiting realization.

    We have to do the work of looking until we see.

    We have to mine our experience. We have to sit with it and wait for it to reveal itself to us, to show us the gold.

    Our experience is to be mined, probed, explored, examined…We have to reflect on our experience, turning it over like the compost it is to find the gold.

    Part of our work is to mine the gold buried in our experience—to not dismiss it as worthless, or worse, but to find the treasure and bless the world.
  11. Dunes V, 2007 — Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA, March 2007

    There are people who think their way of seeing things, thinking about things, believing things—their ideology—is best for everyone, and live to impose it on everyone, and to make everyone suffer who refuses to buy what they are selling.

    Rumi’s observation, “If you are not here with us in good faith, you are doing terrible damage,” is wasted on Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased.

    They don’t care about “good faith.” They have their agenda and they live to force it upon all people everywhere. They want your soul, and will do whatever required to get it, and if that fails, they will kill you to keep you from having it.

    Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased Or Else are everywhere.

    In politics, you better not elect them to office—and you better work to have them not elected.

    In marriage, you better not say “I will” or “I do.”

    In family situations, you better leave home when you are able, move far away and visit seldom.

    In world affairs, you better make it clear to them that their best interest is served when they honor differences, respect boundaries and work in behalf of the best interest of all concerned.

    And, as a last resort, in all situations apply the Zen teaching: “When you see an elephant coming toward you down the path, get off the path!”
  12. Kisatchie Falls 05 — Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014

    When I’m thinking about what I’m supposed to do next, I’m not thinking about what I’m doing now.

    Creates problems.

    Hence, the Zen admonition, “Be here, now!”

    You could do worse than Zen. A lot worse.

    Zen is what happened when Buddhism met Taoism.

    It is simple, straight forward, practical and to the point.

    “Eat when hungry, rest when tired.”

    In other words, “See what is happening and what needs to be done about it, and do it.”

    If you an find a better approach to living your life, take it!
  13. Big Creek — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, NC/TN, April 2006 

    If the Buddha had constantly questioned his motives, asking himself why he was sitting under the Bo Tree, or why he sought enlightenment and release, he would have never experienced what happened to him there.

    Anything that distracts us from the experience of our immediate experience is in our way.

    So, we have to experience the distraction as a part of our immediate experience, without being distracted by it.

    We have to decide where our attention needs to be and give that our attention.

    When I’m driving to a dental appointment, I need to drive to the dental appointment. When I’m driving looking for scenes, it doesn’t matter which road I take, or how much time I spend driving, looking.

    Our situation determines our response to our situation. We live like this in one time and place, and like that in another time and place, or in the same place but a different time.

    Consistency is the root of all ills.

    Live open to the moment of your living, and allow the moment to call forth what is appropriate and fitting to the moment.

    Swear when swearing is called for. Do not try to be better than the situation asks you to be. Profanity fits some situations and is out of place in other situations. We have to know where we are, and be there. And be what is needed there.

    We cannot impose some standard idea of How We Ought To Be across the board, and exhibit that behavior regardless of our context.

    Enlightenment opens us to our experience, and enables us to live our life in response to our life, without worrying about what to do when, and why that and not something else instead.

    Live to be enlightenly inconsistent and exactly what the moment is asking you to be.
  14. Ingonish Beach — Cape Breton Island, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, September 2008

    No matter where I am taking photographs, there is an infinite number of places where I am not taking photographs.

    I cannot allow where I am not to prevent me from being where I am.

    Neither can you.

    Let’s don’t.

  15. Bright Angel Point Trail — Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, September 2005

    What keeps you going?

    If it’s drugs, sex and alcohol, you have your work to do.

    If it’s sitting and watching somebody else do something—watching TV, football, baseball, soccer, NASCAR, etc—you have your work to do.

    If it’s any form of entertainment, you have your work to do.

    If it doesn’t engage you, immerse you, involve you in some experience requiring you to be inconvenienced, and forcing you to put yourself aside in the service of whatever it is that keeps you going, you have your work to do.

    If it doesn’t demand that you do it when you don’t feel like it, when you don’t want to, when you’d rather do something else, when you would like some time off, when you would prefer to play tennis, or just lay around the house, or drink beer with your buddies and talk about your glory days, you have your work to do.

    If it is something you are doing so that you can assuage your guilt for not doing anything, and feel like you are doing something, you have your work to do.

    What keeps you going?
  16. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbrier District, near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014 — I think “Greenbrier River” is a local term, though I could be making up even that. I believe the stream is officially referred to as “The Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River.” Given a choice, which would you prefer? Me, too.

    When you lose your ability to assess your situation, and see what is happening, and what needs to happen in response, and do it, you are lost, and there is nothing anyone can do for you. If you live long enough, you may yet wake up, but the chances are slim and small.

    This is referred to in some circles as “hardening of the categories.”

    The way we see things becomes the way things are, and that’s that. Nothing can be one for us. We are adrift in a world as we imagine it to be.

    Being objective is the hardest thing to be.

    We are all invested in our perspective, in the way we see things, in the way we interpret the facts of our existence.

    We cannot live with everything up in the air, on the line, waiting for us to confirm the hypotheses and assumptions that have gotten to this point, at every point along the way.

    We have to act as if what we think is so, is so, whether it is or not. And, therein lies the problem.

    We soon forget that we are only pretending things are the way we say they are as a strategy for moving things along and gain the experience necessary to see things from an expanded perspective and make a better judgment about what is actually happening and what needs to be done about it.

    Once we say how things are, that’s it. That’s how things are. They become locked into place forever, and we can’t get outside our field of vision in order to see.
  17. Cades Cove HDR 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    When someone asks me if I think God is real, I say, “Not the way you think God is real.”

    When they respond with, “How do you know what I think about God?”, I say, “It doesn’t matter.”

    Because God isn’t real the way any of us think God is real.

    Thinking won’t tell you a thing about God.

    The way to knowing God is not the way of thinking about God.

    And it is not the way of believing what anyone tells you to think about God.

    What you know of God is what you sense of God, what you feel of God.

    Sensing/feeling is beyond thinking.

    We can’t think what we sense or feel. And we can’t put what we sense and feel into words so that thinking can happen.

    When you’ve had enough coffee you know it, you don’t think it. And if you don’t like coffee, so that you would never touch the stuff, and can’t stand to smell it, you don’t think it.

    We know things of God that cannot begin to be said, or we don’t know God at all.
  18. Little River Cascades 03 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    Don’t be escaping the agony of being alive, now, you hear? It’s the threshold to life in the fullest, deepest, richest sense of the word.

    You have to pay the price. You have to do the right thing in dealing with the agony.

    Think of the agony as the Cyclops standing in your way, keeping you from the fulfillment of your destiny. You cannot sidestep the monster. That isn’t doing right by him.

    You cannot run, hide, deny, avoid. You have to wade right into the agony and see what you can do with it.

    What form does your agony take? What is it asking of you? Demanding of you?

    What it is really asking, demanding, of you is that you grow up.

    It’s the only way to deal properly with our agony. We have to grow up.

    That’s what the agony, the Cyclops, does for us. THAT is the threshold to life, pressed down, spilling over, flowing freely, blessing all.

    The agony of life is no threat to those who are not afraid of growing up. They just do what needs to be done about it, and live on.

    Growing up is the solution to all of our problems today.
  19. Middle Prong of Little River 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, above Tremont, near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    People with power are forever trying to remake the world according to their comfort, convenience and ideology.

    People with compassion are forever looking at what is happening and wondering what needs to be done about it in light of the good of all sentient beings.

    It may be that people with power can also be compassionate, but the odds are against it. They have too many favors to return, too many debts to pay, too many other factors consider beyond the good of all concerned.
  20. Smoky Mountains 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, March 2, 2014

    There is no immunity.

    Each of us must grow up by facing and dealing with the trials and ordeals of our life over its full course, or not.
  21. Cades Cove HDR 06 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    We live on a continuum between immaturity and maturity.

    The distance from immaturity to maturity is called the Hero’s Journey.

    It is also called the Spiritual Journey.

    And the Path to Enlightenment.

    And the search for the Holy Grail, and the Holy Land, and the Land of Promise, and the Elysian Fields, and Nirvana, and Heaven, and Home…

    Immaturity is characterized by intense emotional reactions to the things that happen to us, and the things we want to happen to us, and the things we do not want to happen to us.

    “This! Not That! NOW! Not Then!”

    Immaturity is “YES!” to this, and “NO!” to that.

    The Terrible Twos is immaturity in the raw. We do not grow out of that state of being, we disguise it, mask it, appear to be sophisticated and civilized.

    We conceal our immaturity as we age, but we live in the service of Our Way Now! all our life long. Or, we live in grief and mourning for Our Way That Never Was, for Our Way That Has No Chance Of Being.

    Maturity is squaring up to the discrepancy between how we want things to be and how things are.

    Maturity is coming to terms with that discrepancy, accommodating ourselves to it, and adjusting ourselves to life within, and on, a way that is not our own—and making that way our way by embracing it as our own, because, on one level, it truly is—it is OUR way to maturation, compassion and grace.

    Maturity sees things as they are, and says, “This is the way things are, and this is what can be done about it, and that’s that.”

    And just because you can do it with a leaky roof, or your dog throwing up on the carpet, doesn’t mean you can do it with your sister-in-law, or loud music in a restaurant, or rampant disrespect, injustice and inconsideration in all forms.

    We are always living toward maturity in some situation, in some context. The Journey continues throughout our life, by whatever name we choose to call it.
  22. Greenbrier River 05 BW — AKA The Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014

    If we understand God in the same way the Taoists understood the Tao, the Way, we will be aligned with the Way of Life that has been the Way of Life from the beginning and will be to the End.

    The Way of Life is the Way of Life is the Way of Life.

    We can’t divide it up into religions and denominations and cults and clubs and classes.

    It is One Way. It is One.

    And the people who live aligned with it are one with all people who have lived, and are living, and will live, aligned with it—across all times and places, ages and epochs, conditions, contexts and circumstances.
  23. Spruce Flats Falls — Tremont District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    There is the factual impact of what is happening to us:  We lose our job, we win the lottery, the lab report comes back positive, or negative, it rains and knocks out our golf game, or we live in California and it never rains…

    And there is the emotional impact of what is happening to us: Anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, joy, ecstasy, delight, grief, sadness, mourning, depression, euphoria, relief, anxiety, anticipation, enthusiasm…

    We live too often, too much, at the mercy of the facts—the things that happen to us and those we love—and our emotional response to the facts.

    In emergency rooms all across the country and around the world, facts walk through, are carried through, or wheeled through the door every hour around the clock every day without end or letup.

    The physicians, nurses, attendants and staff personnel respond professionally, expertly and appropriately to each one of those facts every time it comes through the door.

    Think of your life as an emergency room. Think of yourself as an emergency room physician. Treat the next fact that throws itself at you as an emergency room physician responding to the next fact that comes through the door.

    This is what is happening. This is what needs to be done about it. And that’s that.

    Cut way back on the inappropriate emotional investment in having to have things a certain way. Examine your attachment to the highs and lows, and the degree to which you are dependent on feeling high and low just to feel something, anything, because your life as it is isn’t fulfilling, meaningful or even interesting.

    And see emptiness as your soul’s call to wake up and get with living the life that is your life to live in the time left for living—and pay the price required to find and live it.

    Which is learning the language of soul, doing what is hard, and trusting yourself to the prospect that you have a soul, and a life—and seeing where it goes.
  24. Live in ways that are appropriate, fitting and proper in the situation as it arises—not according to prevailing norms and standards, but according to your read of the situation, your sense of what is happening and what needs to be done about it, in light of your own gifts, art, genius, talents and essence of self and being (which has to do with keeping faith with yourself and others, with living in good faith with yourself and others), and your sense of what is called for in light of the whole, of the “such as it is-ness” of  your present place and time.

    And respond in the same way to the situation that flows forth out of the present one.

    And see where you wind up when it’s all said and done.

    Notice I didn’t say “At the end of the day.”

    I have made inquiries, and no one seems to know when “the end of the day” actually is.

    Is it at 5 PM, or whenever the workday is done?

    Is it civil twilight when daylight goes over into night?

    Is it midnight when the clock closes one day down and opens up another?

    People take about “at the end of the day” all the time, and have no idea when it happens.

    I think there should be an investigation.

    At the very least, there should be a poll. A show of hands.
  25. A Little Smoky’s Stream — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, March 3, 2014

    I’m sure you’ve noticed that I keep saying the same things. I’m a broken record. That is because there is only a limited range of what can be said. There are no advanced levels of truth. This isn’t a graduated series of lessons in the way of life.

    There are only a few basic concepts, like “Be here, now.” And “Eat when hungry, rest when tired.” And “Do your work and let nature take its course.”

    Truth isn’t to be listened to, memorized, debated, studied, proclaimed…

    Truth is to be lived, done, acted upon.

    What are you doing about all you know to be true?

    Stop looking for some new truth, and begin to live out the old truth.

    Do what you know to be true to yourself.

    Live in ways that keep faith with yourself and with others.

    That’s all the truth you need to know.
  26. Mission San Jose Courtyard Panorama 01 — San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2014

    I am completely unreliable in matters pertaining to getting the details right in the world of normal, apparent, reality, but I am a master of the art of recovery.

    I’m self-diagnosed as a carrier of ADD, and turn around a lot driving because, lost in my other world, I missed a turn in the real world of space and time.

    My fifth-grade teacher told my mother in one of those Parent/Teacher Conferences, “Jimmy looks out the window a lot.” Well, Jim still does. He spends more time in the other world than in this world.

    And he has to compensate for that by recovering well.

    He would prefer to be competent in all matters great and small as the Real World assesses competence, but he has to settle for competence in covering his incompetence.

    We have to make do, as they say in the deep south.

    We all live in two worlds and have to walk two paths at the same time.

    This is not easy.

    When you are walking a tightrope, you can’t be juggling kittens.

    We have to walk a tightrope while juggling kittens.
  27. Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church 01 HDR B&W — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    Be true to yourself, and don’t kid yourself about which self your true self is.

    Keep faith with yourself, and don’t kid yourself about which self deserves your highest allegiance.
  28. Goodale State Park 05 B&W (3) — Camden, NC, November 2013 

    We live contrived lives. There is no flow to them, no spontaneity. No life.

    Our lives are carefully planned to make us happy.

    And if we have any questions about how to pull it off, the self-help section of any bookstore will offer answers to anything we can think to ask.

    So, what’s wrong?

    200,000 How To Be Happy titles—all phrased differently, but meaning the same thing—and the world’s population is less happy by the minute. Go, as they say, figure.

    Or stop trying to be happy and work at being alive.

    Alive is living meaningfully in the service of that which needs us to do it in each situation as it arises, utilizing the gifts, art, genius that are ours to bring forth as blessing and grace, for the good of all living things.

    But, there’s a catch.

    We can’t do that when we feel like it. When it’s convenient. When there is nothing better to do. When we are in the mood for it for as long as the mood lasts.

    Life is like that. Gets in our way. Asks US to get out of the way. If you can imagine that.

    Maybe, if we keep trying to force our plan for happiness ever after into place, it will all come together at last.


  29. Kisatchie Falls 06 — Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014

    Be very clear about the qualities that are striving to come forth in your life, and work diligently to bring them forth.

    We do not become who we are accidentally, easily, naturally.

    It is a deliberate choice, conscientiously embraced and applied.

    To. Become. Who. We. Are.

    We do not know who we are until we see ourselves in someone else.

    Our heroes are mirrors reflecting us to us.

    The people we fall in love with exhibit one or more qualities we cannot live without—that are dying to be brought forth in us, and show us themselves in someone else, as if to say, “There! See??? THAT’S the way to do it!”

    We think it is about the other person. It is about us—about what needs to come to life in us—about who we need to become.

    We are here to bring forth in our life who we need to become.
  30. Norfolk Southern 9582 II BW (2) — Above the Steele Creek Trestle, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, January 13, 2014

    It is not about going places.

    It is not about being SOMEBODY.

    It is about being who you are, where you are.

    Get that down and you have it made.
  31. The Orchard 03 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014

    Nobody can tell us how to do it—how to live our life. We have to figure it out on our own.

    There is thinking-knowing and there is feeling-knowing.

    We can’t think our way to where we are going. We feel life. We don’t think it.

    Feeling-knowing is not emotional. It is sensing-intuiting-hunching-knowing.

    We dowse our life, divine our life, the way water dowsers divine water.

    We know where we are alive and where we are anything but.

    When we are in the flow of our life and when we are floundering in a dry and desolate land.

    We live looking for the life, the water of life, for the wellspring flowing with IT for us.

    When we find it, we have to live it. We lose it trying to exploit it.

    There is no advantage to being alive beyond being alive.

    Life is for living. Not for squeezing dry.

    When we try to trade life for fortune and glory, we have to Return To Start and begin again.

    Thinking-knowing remembers the process and reminds us of the value of life the next time the Grail appears.
  32. Cable Mill Panorama 01 B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    How can you be of help to the situation as it arises, unfolds, with the gift, art, genius that are you?

    How can you, by the presence you exude, the spirit you manifest, the attitude and demeanor you express, the way you are, bring peace, promote goodwill, integrate opposites, restore harmony, calm heaving seas, assist healing, enlarge awareness, relieve anxiety, release tension, relax hostility, enable cooperation, assist life…?

    You don’t do it by telling people how they ought to feel, what they ought to do, and/or who they ought to be.

    You don’t do it by lecturing, ordering, commanding, demanding, shaming, and otherwise adding to the level of noise and disorder by trying to impose and enforce order.

    You don’t do it by being reasonable and logical.

    You do it by seeing what is happening, listening to what is going on, understanding how things are and also are, and saying what you see, hear and understand.

    You make the situation visible to all concerned.

    If someone is suffering an injustice and someone is imposing an injustice, you make it plain without emotional involvement. You are simply stating what is happening, wondering how things would be if something else were happening instead.

    If you are the victim of someone else’s injustice and you cannot escape the circumstances—an abused wife with children and no where to go—you have to bear the agony of your own realizations without being able to express what you know to be so, and without being able to do anything to resolve the situation.

    You have to be fully conscious of how things are without being able to change anything about how things are. You have to know what you know.

    You have to bear the pain of that helpless, desperate, knowing. And wait. And watch. For a shift to happen in the situation—knowing what is happening and what you are waiting for without knowing what form it will take, or when it will come.

    Life is arranging a way in the dark night of the soul. Trust that to be so, and look intently for the signs of life in a parched and barren land—moving gently toward the stirrings of life that you find.
  33. Little River at the Sinks Panorama — Little River Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    Living can take the life right out of us.

    We are not nourished and nurtured, encouraged and validated nearly enough in a day, or a lifetime.

    We have to take that into account, and compensate for what is missing in our external life by being kind and gentle, understanding and compassionate with ourselves.

    It is no wonder that we are emotionally at low tide as much as we are. Put anyone you know in your life and see how well they do with what you have to deal with.

    Given the nature and circumstances of our life, we are in the center of the bell-shaped curve when it comes to normal emotional reactions.

    So take a slow, deep breath, and understand that how you feel is how any one would feel with the world you wake up to each day.

    And begin to tend your inner needs for kindness and grace.

    Treat yourself to some good thing on a regular basis. Enjoy your own company. Be a friend to you. Put a little life back into your living by nourishing and nurturing, encouraging and validating yourself.

    And, when you find the right kind of company, don’t push it away.
  34. Mingus Mill Flume B&W — Oconaluftee District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, March 3, 2014

    We are on our own with our life, both of them—the one we are living and the one that is ours to live.

    No one can tell us how to live either of them, and we don’t know. It helps to remember that we do not know what we are doing.

    Those plans you keep trying to force into place? You’re kidding yourself. There is nothing magical about any of them. So what if they don’t materialize? You might be better off with out them. Maybe a LOT better off.

    You. Do. Not. Know. So, stop acting as though you do. Stop trying to make this happen, and keep that from ever happening, and dying, like it is the cold, bitter, end, when anything doesn’t go your way.

    For all you know, not getting your way is the best thing that could ever happen.

    So ease up on the throttle. Back off the push, push, push. Put a little play back into the game. Play with your life, both of them.

    Try some things. Play around. See how it works. See what clicks with you. Do more of that. Don’t have a plan.

    One thing that clicks with you might pass you off to another thing that clicks with you. Check it out. Probably you never dreamed in your most outlandish fantasies that something like that would click with you. Don’t ignore the clicks.

    See where they lead. See where it goes.

    That’s all you need for a plan for your life, either of them.
  35. Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church 02 B&W — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    It all has to do with where we are, and with how awake we are there. Being awake, here and now, is what it is all about.

    I don’t care what you have done with your life, if you aren’t waking up to who you are and how that needs to come forth in the life you are living, you have wasted your time doing what you have done. But. Doing what you have done has you here, now, reading this about the importance of waking up. So. It’s all been preparation for what is to come. From this moment on, you will not be able to forget that you are here to wake up. And, if you choose to ignore it, you have been helped as much as you can be helped, and what you have done and are doing is all there is to you, and you will die ignorant of all lies waiting for you to do it with your eyes open.

    As for the rest of you, everything you have done and failed to do, and everything that has happened to you and not happened to you (I never played center field for the Yankees), has all worked together to get you here, now, reading this, waking up to who you are and what is yours yet to do.

    Here you are! It has all been preparation for what is to come! What is ahead of you is much more important than anything that is behind you! Life is future oriented—what now? What next? Now what?

    Waking up to the possibilities, to what is happening and what needs us to help it happen and what needs to be done about all of it, and how we might yet be of help to the unfolding of ourselves in the world, in our life, and to the unfolding of all of life, are all aspects of the Great Adventure that is yet to be lived.

    So, in Joseph Campbell’s words, “Get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome!”
  36. Big Creek II — Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN, November 2006

    It is all preparation. It is all practice.

    Stop it with the judgment, and the emotional investment, and the frustration, and the wondering when you are going to get it right, or how you can keep it just like it is.

    Failure, success, it’s all the same thing. Warmups.

    You are working on seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being.

    And, even when you become good at it, there is still more to do.

    Don’t let thinking you are good at it keep you from getting better at it.

    The eternal mantra is: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
  37. Cullasaga Falls — Cullasaga River Gorge near Highlands, NC, April 2007

    I take courage reading old (as in 2nd Century old) Chinese poets, hermits and monks, speaking of the same things we speak of today, reminding me that truth is the same across the ages:

    Show up. Be who you are. Do what is yours to do. Let nature take its course. Know when to get out of the way, and get out of the way. Truth can be learned, but it cannot be taught…

    Stuff we keep putting aside in the quest for fortune, glory and happiness everlasting.
  38. Greenbrier River 06 — AKA Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014

    Let’s say you have symptoms.

    Listless, restless, moody, depressed without reason, at loose ends, off track and out of sorts…

    Let’s cut to the chase.

    What are you resisting?

    What are you not doing?

    What are you finding 10,000 excuses to avoid?

    Stop delaying!

    Do not neglect the thing that needs you to do it—that you need to do.

    You know the thing I’m talking about.

    Don’t you?
  39. Carter Shields Cabin 04 HDR B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    Fortune cookie wisdom is “nothing but” fortune cookie wisdom.

    This is in the same dismissive genre as something labeled psychological. It’s “only” psychological, “only in our heads”—not real, not worth taking into account.

    Dismissing things that require us to change comfortable patterns of life is what we do best.

    We even dismiss what we know to be in our best interest:

    “This is only what I want…” “This is just the way I see it…” “This is nothing but what I think…”  

    Whenever we dismiss something, the status quo remains in place.

    No one ever did anything that didn’t rock the status quo.

    We complain about the way things are and don’t do anything to change things.

    And dismiss anyone who tries to.

    May you notice every time you dismiss something, and know that nothing changes until you stop.
  40. Mingus Mill HDR 01 B&W — Oconaluftee District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, March 2, 2014

    Fear and desire are emotions that block the way or divert us onto ways that are not the way. Eros and passion are fuel for the journey.

    We have to read our emotions and determine whether to override or affirm our predominant mood of the moment.

    This is a thinking/feeling process requiring a body/mind connection that is collaborative, not contentious.

    What we do in any situation is likely to be in tune with ourselves and the situation if we are conscious of what we are feeling both in terms of our emotional response and our sense of who we are and what we are about, individually and personally.

    We may be afraid, but the situation may be exactly what we are equipped to deal with and be precisely what we can expect to find along our chosen path—the path that is our passion, our life.

    We may desire what the situation offers, but it may be a departure from the way that has our name on it, an aside or sidetrack that is very attractive but diverts us from our passion, our life.

    Eros and passion guide our steps. Fear and desire lead us astray.

    Knowing the difference tells the tale.
  41. Cades Cove 10 HDR Panorama — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    There is something grounding about those who are grounded, centering about those who are centered, enlivening about those who are alive…

    Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”

    You can’t ask more than that of someone.

    Of yourself.

    Find your center. Live out of that.

    What matters to you? What matters most?

    Not as in, “Well, I like snow boarding.”

    As in, what your life revolves around, flows from, expresses, seeks, relishes, serves…

    As in, who ARE you? And, what are you doing when you are most like yourself, most being who you are?

    These aren’t questions to answer on the run.

    Native Americans would sit for days in sacred places on a vision quest for their life’s organizing, directing, principle—for an experience with who they were, who they were to be, what they would live their life serving, doing, being.

    If you look back over your life, and take your time with it, you will see threads and themes—drifts of soul—running through it.

    As a child in the fourth grade, I was always looking out the window. Still am. Always will.

    Carl Jung said, “We are who we always have been, and who we will be.”

    Find the thread of your life, the theme of your living, the drift of your soul—and consciously align yourself with it in the time left for living.

    See where it goes. The hero’s journey. The adventure of being alive.
  42. Relic of War, B&W  02 — Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi, January 27, 2014 

    The Buddha was as awake as he could be, but he wasn’t completely awake. He died, it is said, from eating bad pork. How awake is that?

    Jesus was as awake as he could be, but he wasn’t completely awake. He wondered at the end why God let him down. Expecting the wrong things from God is not being fully awake.

    No one sees everything. Everyone has blind spots. Things are always blindsiding even the seeingest seers.

    So we always have to be looking—at what we are seeing and at what we are not seeing—seeing what our seeing is keeping us from seeing.

    Catching ourselves in the act of taking things for granted—for assuming things will be as we think they will be.

    And laughing every time we don’t see it coming.
  43. Elijah Oliver Cabin 01 HDR B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    Start with what you care about. Is it worth caring about? Is it worth your time? Your money? Your life? How do you know?

    We are what we value. How valuable are our values? How do we evaluate the value of our values?

    How good is the good we call good? How right are we about what is right?

    Who is to say? God? How does God know? What are God’s values?

    Job suffers, and suffers because he suffers under the withering blast of God’s, “MIGHT makes right!” But, Abraham didn’t flinch or mince words before the Almighty: “Shall not the Judge of the Universe do right?”

    Jesus commended the Unjust Steward, forgave a guilty woman, cursed an innocent fig tree, and held up the Wealthy Landowner as being able to do as he wanted with what belonged to him.

    But applying Paul’s standard of “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise” to all of the above, including God, who comes out shinning and resplendent?

    Who is your model of doing it right, across the board, around the circle?

    We all have our moments when no one could do it better than we did it, and our other moments when anybody could do better than that.

    What is best, good, and right in one situation is not what is best, good, or right in another situation. Time and circumstance determine what needs to be done. We have to have the freedom to live here and now the way we think we need to do it, and apply the experience we gain in this situation to the next situation, and so on, all along the way.

    And, if anyone thinks they can do better than that, invite them to have at it.
  44. A Dusting of Snow B&W — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014

    It is best to not know what we are doing—to not know what is best—to not be numbered among Those Who Know Best (Truman Capote’s term. It’s a great term. I wish I had thought of it. I added “And Must Be Pleased,” because Those Who Know Best generally Must Be Pleased. We all seem to have family, or extended family, members who belong to this club, and are happy to flaunt it at every opportunity).

    Be kind and compassionate, extend goodwill to—and live in good faith with—all who come your way. And see where it goes.

    That will be much better than knowing what is best.

    It is best to not know what is best—and to know that you don’t know.

    Step into any situation looking for what is happening there and what needs to be done about it. Do it, or work in the service of getting it done if that is possible, and see where it goes.

    Dance with the possibilities. Play with the possibilities. Always doing what is best leaves no room for dancing or playing.
  45. Cades Cove 03 — Sparks Lane, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2013

    We hardly ever get the good out of a depression—or out of any of our symptoms.

    Medical science exists to mask or remove our symptoms, not to listen to them, honor them, respect them, and see them as our life’s way of communicating with us.

    Our life has to communicate us when we refuse to commune with it.

    We have to appreciate our symptoms, hold them in high esteem, and regard them as messengers from the gods.

    We cannot grow up without symptoms.

    Symptoms are evidence of conflict, within and/or without. Something is coming up against something else, and we don’t want to face it, think about it, deal with it, and so we develop symptoms, as our body’s way of saying, “There is something going on in your life that you need to pay attention to.”

    Growing up is depressing, so, of course, we will be depressed! And will be until we accommodate ourselves to the facts of life as we are living it, see what needs to be done and do it.

    The first thing to explore with depression is what we are being asked to do that we don’t want to do, or what we are being kept from doing that we want to do. Where is the conflict?

    We can’t hang on to things past their time and we cannot force things into being before their time. And, when we refuse to adjust ourselves to that basic fact of life, there be symptoms, maybe depression.

    We have PTSD because we have been steamrolled, devastated, overwhelmed, and we think we ought to bounce right back to normal. We wonder what’s wrong with us and why we have such a hard time doing what we used to do, or what everybody else does with no trouble.

    We have been steamrolled! That’s why. Our symptoms are saying, “Wait a minute! Take your time with this! Face up to the horror of what happened to you—to the fact that what happened had no business happening! A great wrong has been committed which you were a victim of, or a witness to, or a participant in, and you have to acknowledge that and make some appropriate, symbolic act of restitution, reparation or response!”

    What to do about what has happened is ours to work out, and the Dali Lama would say, “Let compassion lead the way.”

    Compassion is the healing balm, but we can’t just go through the motions. We can’t fake compassion. We cannot force it before its time, and we cannot refuse it when its time is upon us without extending our symptoms indefinitely.
  46. Little River at Fish Rock B&W — Little River Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    There is no Master Plan. It’s all one propitious accident after another. It’s nothing but grace and imagination everywhere you look.

    You can ride the waves or you can drown in them. Your call all the way.

    Look back over your life. You will find tragedies and acts of kindness, trauma beyond belief and times of recovery, gentleness and peace. Fortune and misfortune, pain and pleasure. And, out of that, you are here, now—for better or worse.

    You exercised very little control over the course of your life. The things that happened to you were beyond your capacity to create or avoid. You are lucky to be here, now. We all are.

    The fact that we are still here calls for certain attitudes that are crucial to our ability to swim with the currents of our life, and manage the rapids, and skirt the shoals.

    The two primary attitudes required for swimming with the denizens of “the wine dark sea” are humility and gratitude.

    We don’t take any credit, or place any blame—and are thankful, appreciative, and grateful for the magic at work in our life whereby misfortune becomes fortune by a simple shift of perspective and the unpredictable turns of time.

    We should know by now that judgment is best suspended and conclusion is best withheld because the story that is our life is still being written, and we have no idea of how our experience will impact our future—and will likely need everything in our repertoire to deal with what lies ahead.
  47. Smoky Mountains Panorama HDR 02 — New Found Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee NC, March 2, 2014 

    I regret deeply my failure to see the people and events of my life as being the preparation they were for, and the initiation they were into, life in its fullness and glory.

    The people and events of our life are in our life to help us grow up.

    Growing up is the hero’s journey, the spiritual journey.

    We are all here to grow up, to become who we are, and to be alive in the fullest possible sense of the word.

    We are all here to help one another in the process of growing up.

    And I regret that I did not understand this to be the case earlier than I did.

    I regret that no one took me aside and explained it to me.

    I regret that no one else seemed to understand it either.

    I was contemptuous and arrogant—and saw it all as being in my way, obstructing the path to whatever I wanted at the time.

    I was oblivious to the larger question of my life beyond the moment of my living—and what I would need there to deal with the dragons and monsters waiting to eat me alive.

    I would like to do it over, with honor and appreciation and gratitude for every person and every experience that came my way.

    Every. Single. One.
  48. Carter Shields Cabin HDR 01 B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, May 1, 2014

    Fear, Desire, Laziness, Greed, Arrogance and Stupidity

    Are the monsters/dragons standing in our way to life,

    Drooling, devouring all who come their way in every age.

    To run from them is to be possessed by them!

    The only way to deal with them is to be aware of them

    And Grow Up!
  49. Trout Lily 2014 01 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lafayette County near Indian Land, SC, March 13, 2014

    Indian Land is a tract of 144,000 acres on both sides of the Catawba River awarded the Catawba Indians by the British in 1763 for the tribe’s support during the French and Indian war, 1754-1763.

    We have a life quite apart from the life we are living. The farther apart our lives are, the more significant our symptoms become.

    Symptoms are our other life’s way of calling to align ourselves with it, and bring it forth in the life we are living.

    Our life is alive and needs us to live it, to follow its drift—even when it seems like nothing is happening.

    Things are always shifting—or trying to. We are always trying to force things to change—or keep them frozen in place—according to our idea of how they should be.

    Things don’t move without our cooperation and collaboration. Our participation is necessary to the quality and flow of our life.

    If we want to move things along, we have to listen to what is going on—to what is trying to come forth, to be born through us, and in us.

    We have to pay attention to our life. It will tell us what we need to hear.

    Then all we have to do is align ourselves with it, and take the step that is waiting for us to take it.

    Our life unfolds before us, one step at a time.
  50. Bloodroot 2014 01 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 14, 2014

    There is no secret hidden somewhere, which, when discovered and unveiled, will cause everything to fall nicely into place.

    Live in good faith with one another. That’s all the instruction we’ll ever need.

    The essence of evil is the utter disregard—the total incapacity—for good faith relationships with anyone.

    There are people who are without heart and soul, or may as well be.

    Keep an eye on those people, and don’t let them into your inner circle.

    Keep the sacred places safe for those who can be trusted with the truth of one another.
  51. Dan Lawson Place HDR 01 B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    It is not a secret, what is asked of us. It is no great mystery, kept behind thick walls, at the end of a wearisome and tedious journey, across all the oceans, and over a large assortment of high mountain ranges, with booby traps to avoid, and armies of guards to defeat or deceive…

    We are not on some Indiana Jones mission to get to the heart of things and, at last, understand.

    If we were, when we got there, we would discover what we have known all along—what everybody who has ever known anything has known from the beginning of knowing—waiting for us, wondering why it took us so long to wake up and realize what has always been so obvious:

    Live toward “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, goodness, self-discipline,” grace, mercy, justice, tolerance, understanding and good-will.

    “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,” live toward these things.

    And when people do not live that way in relation to you, you live that way, anyway, in relation to them.

    And when it becomes obvious that they have no capacity for receiving what you are offering and responding in kind, take your leave and don’t give them another thought.

    Find those who can receive what you know to be good, and offer to you what you know to be good, so that what is good expands, deepens, grows and enlarges and encompasses the physical universe and all there is beyond.

    If there is something about this you do not understand, read it again. And offer the same grace and kindness to yourself that you offer to all others.

    Enough talk about what to know. Bring forth what you know already in the life you are living and in the life that is yours yet to live. Starting now.
  52. Hepatica 2014 01 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 15, 2014

    The things that happen to us

    provide us with the experience

    that fuels the reflection

    that produces new realization

    that grows us up

    that enables us to take the next thing that happens to us

    and deepen, expand, enlarge our experience, reflection, realization

    and grow up even more,

    and so on,

    for as long as we are alive,

    and perhaps longer,

    but we won’t know that until we get there.

    We screw with all of it

    if we refuse to reflect, realize and grow up.
  53. Mingus Mill 05 HDR B&W — Oconaluftee District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, March 2, 2014

    It’s a circle.

    The hero goes out,

    things happen to her,

    to him,

    she picks up experiences,

    or he does,

    she returns,

    he returns,

    with gifts of perspective,







    and compassion,

    and after a while she,

    or he,

    goes out again…

    The hero’s journey is cyclical, not linear.

    Irregular and unpredictable,

    not sequential,

    consistently routine

    and boringly the same.

    The path is a different path

    for everyone.

    For Jesus,

    it was like that.

    For you,

    it’s like this.

    Don’t try to take

    someone else’s journey,

    to walk

    someone else’s path.

    Be your own hero.
  54. Crown of Thorns 2014 02 — Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Gaston County near Belmont, NC, March 15, 2014

    Reflecting on the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama said:

    “If, in any situation, there is no solution, there is no point in being anxious. If the forces at work have their own momentum, and what is going on now is the product of what has gone on before, and this generation is not in control of all those forces, then this process will continue.”

    He’s saying if you meet an elephant coming toward you on the path, get off the path.
  55. Smoky Mountains 04 B&W — Morton’s Overlook, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinbug, TN, March 2, 2014

    What’s the problem?

    It’s generally not the problem that’s the problem, but the solution.

    When the solution is a greater problem than the problem, we have a problem.

    But, it helps to be clear about the problem.

    The solution is the problem.

    The problem merely awakens to what is really hard—not living with the problem, but solving the problem.

    That’s what’s hard.

    So we take to strong drink, or something better, to keep from thinking about what we would have—and hate—to do to solve the problem.

    We live with the problem to keep from solving it, because we don’t know how we would live with that.

    We can’t grow up without solving our problems.

    And solving the problems the solutions create.

    All we have to do is what’s hard.


    What’s the problem?
  56. Hepatica 2014 02 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 15, 2014

    That which always has been called God does not withdraw even when we push away, and stalk off, pursue our own way and make one mess after another.

    That which has always been called God is always right there with us, within us, in the messes we make, saying, “Wow! You really outdid yourself this time! Let’s see what we can do with it! Let’s see how we might yet turn it to the good! Redeeming outlandish messes is what I do best!”

    And we, even yet, have it within our domain, to take the offer, and give ourselves to the joint work of redemption in full collaboration with the powers of the invisible world.

    But, of course, there is a catch, as there always is with these things.

    Marie Louise von Franz said the we can discover the mystery and power of the unconscious as an undeniable reality only when we are sincere—that is, in a good faith relationship with the unconscious, and not when we want “to harness its power for the furtherance of some conscious design.”

    To approach that which has always been called God with the idea of exploitation and personal profit is to create yet another mess—REALLY outdoing ourselves this time!

    We have to be sincere about collaborating with the unconscious. We have to live in good faith with the unconscious. And we have to do what needs to be done to redeem and restore, heal and make well, and turn things to the good—in spite of the difficulty and inconvenience involved—in each situation as it arises throughout what remains of the life yet to be lived.

    But, that’s really all there is to it. If we can do that much, turning things around in our life is a snap—and a blessing to all lives that intersect our own.
  57. Daffodils 2014 01 — Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Gaston County near Belmont, NC, March 15, 2014

    If you don’t feel good about your life, start living it!

    Living your life—the life that is your life to live, your destiny to live out—within the life you are living is the sure cure for all that ails you.

    Of course, it is also an invitation to all the sleeping monsters along your way to rise and take their turns at you.

    But. Doing battle in the service of the right cause is ennobling and enlivening far beyond anything drugs and alcohol can do.

    Everything hangs on our finding our life and living it—within the life we are living.

    That means we will have to make room for another life in one already crowded to the seam-bursting point.

    But this will be an addition that generates life instead of draining it. Big difference. You’ll love it. You’ll see.

    Nothing can touch being alive in the time left for living.

    Go for it! Now!
  58. Cable Mill 01 B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Townsend, TN, March 1, 2014

    When we find ourselves acting unconsciously, that is, spontaneously, without directing the action, but being led by the action, our place at that point is to reflect on what we are doing and evaluate it in light of our feeling-response to it—and either override the act or allow ourselves to be led by it.

    At that point, we “own” the act or “disown” it—acquiesce or rebel.

    An unconscious, unthought, act can be spontaneous, or it can be programmed and automatic. How we feel about it tells the tale.

    My hunch is that we all have our own stories of emancipation—swing events that woke us up and set us free—that set us on the road to freedom, to what Jung calls “individuation,” the lifelong process whereby we become who we are, standing on “our own two feet,” and determining, for better or worse, for ourselves what our choices will be, and making them.

    What did you find yourself doing, which stopped you short and forced you to consider what you were doing, and why? That turned you around, and set you on your own Freedom Road? That led you to who you are?
  59. Greenbrier River 07 B&W — AKA Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014

    Jesus would say, “Look. It isn’t all that difficult. You have no trouble knowing when you are being mistreated. When you have been slighted. When you are being taken advantage of. When you are a victim of injustice, and abuse, and discrimination.

    “And, you know when you have been treated fairly. When you have been graced beyond measure. Shown courtesy. Blessed with understanding and compassion—kindness, mercy, goodness, tenderness and respect.

    “So treat all others the way you would like to be treated.

    “I said ALL others!

    “If you aren’t doing that, religion is wasted on you.”
  60. Trout Lily 03 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County near Indian Land, SC, March 14, 2014

    If there is fragmentation, disintegration, disconnection, there will be sickness, suffering and misery.

    If there is harmony, integration and congruity, there will be life.

    We cannot strive for life.

    We have to strive for awareness of, and alignment with, the heart of life and being.
  61. Cades Cove HDR 11 — Sparks Lane, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    Our life is like a Christmas present in our lap, waiting for us to unwrap it.

    That is always the case.

    No matter how old we are,

    Or how much we think we know about our life

    What’s left of it is like a Christmas present in our lap

    Waiting for us to unwrap it.

    What I’m saying is

    Do. Not. Give. Up. On. Your. Life.

    It’s trying to surprise you with unimagined wonders.

    Be alive to the life that is yet to be lived.

    Open the gift.
  62. Greenbrier River 08 B&W — AKA Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014

    The shortcoming of all Twelve Step programs is their strength: Getting clean and staying that way.

    Eleven of the Twelve Steps are focused on getting clean and staying that way.

    Staying away from alcohol or one’s drug of choice, confessing one’s failures and defects of character, making amends, and passing the word are the ways of getting and staying clean.

    But then what?

    Once we are clean, what do we do with ourselves then?

    What do we do about the things that lead us to alcohol, or our drug of choice, to begin with?

    What do we do about living with the things we were trying to get away from by hiding in a bottle, or worse?

    How. Do. We. Live. Our. Life?

    What do we do with the time that is ours?

    Only Step 11 suggests there is more to it than staying clean:

    “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him (sic), praying only for the knowledge of his (sic) will for us and the power to carry that out.”

    We’re waiting for directions.

    In the meantime what?

    Life is coming at us from all sides.

    What do we do?

    How do we live our life in the time left for living?

    We need some more steps.
  63. Greenbrier River 08 — AKA Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, February 28, 2014

    We could do worse

    than following the Native American example

    of knowing from the start

    that we don’t know anything

    about the life that is ours to live—

    and seeking guidance from the invisible world

    via vision quests that recur throughout our lifetime.

    We have done worse.

    We are doing worse.

    It’s time we wake up

    and know that we are asleep

    at the controls of our life.
  64. Hepatica 2014 07 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 20, 2014

    We keep looking for the magic that we are ignoring, looking for the magic.

    We want to be rescued, saved, delivered—to ride off, sail away—and the door is open we refuse to walk through.

    We seek protection, immunity, safety, and the only safe place is rejected as ridiculous and absurd.

    I’m talking about the life that is ours to live.

    The way that appears to be anything but the way.

    Nothing good is found in Nazareth.

    The stone the builders (that would be you) turns out to be the chief cornerstone (that would be you, too).

    Surprise! Imagine that!

    Impossible! Ridiculous! Absurd!

    It would be as though someone were to rise from the dead!

    That would be you, too!

    Saying, Yes, finally, to the life that has been waiting for you all your life long.

    Grounded in our life—living the life we are built to live—immerses us in living water, and we swim like fish in the sea.

    But talking about it won’t do it.

    We have to do it.

    Don’t tell me you don’t know what it is that is yours to do, who it is that is yours to be.

    You’ve said No enough to see it coming from way down the road you refuse to walk.
  65. Peach Blossoms 2014 04 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014 

    John O’Donohue has written: Live “Like a river flows,/ Carried by the surprise/Of its own unfolding.”

    Do not force who you have been, what you have liked, how you have always done it, onto your future.

    Allow yourself to show you who you also are.

    Live to discover all you are capable of becoming before you die.
  66. Crucifix Orchid 2014 01 — Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Gaston County near Belmont, NC, March 15, 2014

    If you live disconnected from what is meaningful to you—from what, for you, is the source of life, enthusiasm, joy and wonder—you see where that leaves you.

    And you see what needs to be done about it.

    The only thing remaining to be seen is whether you have what it takes to do it.

    If you do, good for you—stay connected!

    If you don’t, well, there you are.
  67. Carter Shields Cabin HDR 02 B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, March 1, 2014

    Tell me about your unlived life.

    What kept you from living it?

    How did not living it influence, impact, the life you lived?

    How did not living it influence, impact, the lives of those who lived with you?

    How did your unlived life insert itself into the life you lived?

    What can you do even now to live the life you have not lived?

    What gestures can you make toward that life to acknowledge it, honor it, serve it even now, and bring it forth into the life you are living?

    Tell me about your mother’s unlived life, and your father’s.

    How did not living her, his, life impact your life?

    Can you see how important living your real, your true, life is, not only for yourself, but for all sentient beings on this planet—not only during your lifetime, but also for distant generations after your death?
  68. Peach Blossoms 2014 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014

    Our health—our body—is in our own hands.

    We cannot eat anything we like, and exercise only when it is convenient and we feel like it, without paying a price.

    Our life is not ours to do with as we please.

    We cooperate with what needs to happen, or we don’t.

    Karma in a nutshell.
  69. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Smoky Mountains HDR B&W Panorama 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, March 2, 2014

    Integrating the opposites within requires us to be aware of our contradictions, of our polarities, and live consciously in the tension between them—finding ways to express each side of us in our life in ways appropriate to the occasion.

    We can be gentle and firm, compassionate and unmoving, tender and callous, lenient and unbending, etc., each in its own place and time, as called for by the situation as it arises.

    We must not strive to be consistently the same—except as “the same” means “being capable of responding as needed in every circumstance and condition of life.”
  70. Hepatica 2014 08 — Blue Star Trail, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 22, 2014

    As we age, we have to develop an increasingly faithful relationship with our life. With the life that is our life to live. The life no one but us can live.

    The first half of our life is devoted to the work we get paid to do, family and society.

    The second half of our life is to be devoted to the work that was ours to do before we were born.

    Too many older people are still living back in their 30’s. Trying to maintain, or regain, what they had in their youth.

    Life is lived forward, toward the future, not backward, focused on the past.

    As we age, we cultivate our alignment with, and loyalty to, the life that needs us to live it—or, we remain stuck in a lifestyle that failed to take the shifting loyalties and obligations of age into account.

    As we age, we owe it to ourselves to find our calling and live it out in the time left for living.

    Forget pastimes and entertaining ways to kill an afternoon or an evening!

    We have grander matters to attend! We have to discover who we are and what we are to be about—and do our thing at last.

    We have to swear allegiance to ourselves and the life that is ours yet to live—and live it!
  71. Coming in Collage — Bog Garden, Greensboro, NC, December 2012

    We have to address, accept, and accommodate ourselves to our fundamental insecurity throughout our life.

    Why do you think we spend more on the military than any country in the history of countries, spy on members of congress and cannot own enough guns?

    We strive to protect what cannot be protected!

    We have to come to terms with our vulnerability, understand what it means to be safe, and take refuge in what grounds and sustains us in all situations and circumstances of life.

    That would be the reality of the invisible world and its “ever present help in time of trouble.”

    We cannot use the resources of the invisible world to serve our own ends—they are there to assist us in finding our way through all that threatens to undo us in serving ends that are worthy of the best we have to offer in every situation and circumstance of life.

    We are not our own. We belong to more than we know.

    We trust ourselves to the world we access with our feeling functions as we live in the world we negotiate with our thinking functions—and rely on what we don’t see to uphold us as we contend with what we do see.

    We strive to be as smart about our life as we can be while being as vulnerable and naive as we are.
  72. Not A Wood Anenome 2014 02 — Blue Star Trail, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 22, 2014

    It is an old saw of mental health that in a crazy-making environment (that is, one that disconnects us from our center-self and refuses to allow the development of our own integrity and individuality), we are not allowed to see what we see, think what we think, feel what we feel, hear we hear, smell what we smell, taste what we taste, love what we love, know what we know, or say what is so.

    The path back to reconnection,

    to developing our own integrity—our oneness of being,

    to becoming individuals of self-confidence,



    and self-determination

    is the path of

    seeing what we see,

    thinking what we think,

    feeling what we feel,

    hearing what we hear,

    smelling what we smell,

    tasting what we taste,

    loving what we love,

    knowing what we know

    and saying what is so.
  73. Great Blue Heron Landing — Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish, near Breaux Bridge, LA, February 8, 2014

    If you consistently feel bad about your life, your chances, your prospects, your past, present and future, my bet is that you are not getting enough strenuous physical exercise.

    Chop wood.

    Carry water.

    Rearrange the furniture in your house. All of it. In the same day. Regularly.

    Walk or run long distances.

    Exhaust yourself.


    If you are already engaged in regular, strenuous, physical exercise, and still feel bad about your life, my bet is that you are exerting yourself in behalf of someone else.

    You are working for The Man, or The Company.

    You’re a coal miner.

    A day laborer.

    A roofer and you don’t own the operation.

    Exertion in behalf of someone else doesn’t count. It adds to your load.

    You probably don’t go fishing enough, or whatever fishing’s equivalent might be in your life.

    We are looking here to break up what you are doing by doing something else.

    You aren’t likely to think your way out of feeling bad about your life. You have to act your way out of low moods. You have to do something physical and prolonged.

    You turn off your mind by turning on your body, and taking it for a spin.
  74. Reeds Reflection Panorama — Lake Francis, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 22, 2014

    Trusting ourselves to the time and place of our living, discerning what is happening and what needs to be done about it—to happen in response to it—and doing it is all there is to it.

    Personal ambition, aspiration, goals, aims, objectives, plans, desires, wishes, wants, aims, designs, dreams and schemes to exploit the circumstances to serve our idea of gain, benefit, profit, advantage and advancement all have to be set aside in favor of seeing what needs to be done—taking everything into account—and doing it.

    That’s the approach that will right the world and put our life in the center of the path with our name on it.

    If you think you can replace that with something better to live for, you need to go back to your thinking place and think some more.
  75. Kisatchie Creek Panorama — Near Kisatchie, Louisiana, January 31, 2014

    Right action arises unconsciously from below.

    It is not imposed from above.

    When we act in accord with the spirit of our nature in response to our circumstances, we keep faith with ourselves in a way that is fitting and appropriate to the moment of our living, though perhaps not in keeping with the norms of the day, or the spirit of the times.

    “The wisdom of the body” is more attuned to the currents of the soul than the logic of the mind.

    The Right that is fostered by reason may not be right for the time and place of our living.

    And so it is said, “The righteous shall live by faith alone,” that is, trusting themselves to know what is right and doing it, regardless of the codes and ethics governing what is to be done.

    The rule of thumb is do nothing—which also includes doing nothing to interfere with, or prevent, action arising spontaneously in response to the needs of the moment.

    Do not think your way into decision. Allow yourself to act decisively in the moment action is called for.

    And pay the price.

    This is called learning to read your body and the situation as it arises, and “letting the chips fall where they may.”

    You may want to wait until the kids are grown and on their own before you risk everything in being true to yourself and the time of your living.
  76. Lenten Rose 2014 01 — Campbell’s Corner, Blue Star Trail, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014

    Our deepest loyalty and abiding allegiance belongs to the center of self and being.

    We are adrift upon the tides of time and chance until we understand what matters most and give ourselves to its service in the time left for living (while also taking care of business, and incurring, and paying, the right bills in the world of normal, apparent, reality).

    We walk two paths at once, giving our attention to what is due our attention at the time—without dismissing, discounting, and disconnecting ourselves from what is also due our attention in its time.

    I fell in love with a camera when I was 19, maybe 20, and took pictures along the way, but could not afford film and diapers, and put the camera on a shelf until the kids graduated from college and were established in their own life.

    For seventeen years before retirement I became increasingly focused on photography and writing—which is my way of reflecting, realizing, bringing forth what photography is in my life, what it means to me to craft images.

    Which, in turn, brings me forth as an individual with a unique perspective, point of view, take on things—and I bring them forth in ways that might not have been available to me without the camera stirring things up and directing my steps along the path that unfolded before me.

    People, when they find out that I’m a photographer and a writer, immediately want to know what I’m “doing with” my photos and my writing, that is, how I am making money with it.

    At that point, we are AM talking to FM, and that’s another reason I stay away from cocktail parties.
  77. Sea Oats 02 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, NC, October 17, 2013— Reblogged and rewritten:

    Our life is our message—to ourselves and to the world.

    We express ourselves through the way we live.

    Consciously or unconsciously, we are on exhibit around the clock.

    We live out what is important to us in 10,000 ways.

    Might be a good idea to pay attention to what we are saying with our life.

    And decide for ourselves if we want to settle for what we think is worth our time.

    Or if we owe it to ourselves to find out if there is more to us, and all of it, than we can begin to imagine.

    Our life is an adventure waiting for us to trust ourselves to it—

    And fly.
  78. Tree Bones — Blue Star Trail, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 24, 2014

    The magic we seek is found in

    Seeing, Hearing, Understanding,

    Knowing, Doing, Being.

    We are what we seek.

    It only takes seeing to know it is so.

    Truth can be perceived

    But it cannot be shown.

    It can be received

    But it cannot be given.

    It can be learned

    But it cannot be taught.

    Jesus healed on the Sabbath

    And treated the Outcast and the Unclean

    As full-fledged Human Beings.

    And was crucified for his behavior.

    No type of help

    Is off limits or out of bounds.

    Each of us can be more helpful than we realize

    Simply by offering what we have to give,

    And stepping over arbitrary and artificial lines.

    Opening doors,

    Knocking down walls,

    Destroying norms, codes, and standards

    That deal death in the name of life.

    See if you can see that,

    And do it.
  79. Norfolk Southern 9444 — Steele Creek Trestle, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 24, 2014

    We know what is good for us, and bad.

    Fiber is good for us.

    Carbs are bad.

    Carb-free fiber is hard to find.

    We have to work it out.

    Find the still point.

    Live there.

    With everything that is good,

    And bad.

    And stay away from things

    That are just bad.

    You know who,

    And what,

    I mean.
  80. On Its Own — A peach tree does what peach trees do in the spring, on a long-gone home site in line for development in Indian Land, SC, March 25, 2013

    We grow up against our will.

    Rites of initiation meet us at each stage along the way,

    demanding their due,

    reminding us again that our plans and dreams

    are nothing to them

    and have to go if we are to go into the next phase

    of our life with their blessings and wishes for safe

    and happy travels,

    laughing—knowing they will another turn at us,

    and another after that.

    Our role is to resist and acquiesce.

    Yes is born of No!

    We cannot submit too easily to what life requires,

    or refuse.

    It must be taken from us—

    what we do not want to give.

    We fight with the angel of death for his blessing,

    and yield to the forces of each stage,

    offering what is required as a votive sacrifice

    to adolescence, adulthood, old age…

    yet keeping safe within the spirit of our own integrity,

    going forward to meet our destiny

    as willing participants in our own unfolding

    but not too willing

    lest it be a dress-up game

    and not death and rebirth all along the way.
  81. Peach Blossoms 2014 03 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014 

    Donald Rumsfeld still thinks he knows what should be done.

    That’s the way it is with Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased.

    Those who are certain they are awake cannot be awakened.

    Ignorance knows that it knows—

    and has no inkling of what it does not know.

    Ignorance and arrogance have an affinity for one another,

    and withstand all invitations to open their eyes and see.

    Together, they are the foundation of an evil far worse than the evil they recognize and oppose.

    Evidence is wasted on those who know what the truth is.

    As is time.

    And experience.

    They are elephants on the path, trampling everything in sight.
  82. Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church HDR B&W 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, March 1, 2014 

    We need the presence of the right kind of people in our life to reflect us to us, and help us keep ourselves in perspective, and help us find and maintain our focus, by continuing to show us who we are.

    The wrong kind of people fall into two categories: Those who tell us what we want to hear, and those who tell us what they want us to hear.

    We need the people who tell us what we need to hear.

    Who show us ourselves—who expose us to the parts of ourselves we are not conscious of.

    We either think too much of ourselves, or too little.

    Inflation and deflation take turns with us, and we need the stabilizing influence of those who can say what they see to expand, or counteract, what we see and how we feel about it.

    We don’t need sermons or advice. We need the corrective vision of those who see more of us than we see of ourselves, and let us in on how it also is with us.

    We need help keeping our feet on the ground, and on the path.

    We need the company of the right kind of people to offset the influence of the wrong kind.

    We find them by being aware of them when they come into our life, and making a point to spend time with them.

    They are rare, so honor their presence when they appear, and treat them well. They will not be easily replaced.
  83. Peach Blossoms 02 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014

    Photography is getting to a scene and doing right by the scene.

    Scenes are not everywhere, but they can be anywhere.

    It takes seeing what you look at to see a scene.

    Then the decisions.

    If we put as much work into doing right by our life—and by one another—as photographers put into doing right by their scenes, what a different world it would be.

    We keep living our life trying to get our scenes—the conditions and circumstances of our living—to be what we want them to be.

    We live to exert our will on our scenes.

    We want them to be what we want them to be NOW!

    Forget doing right by them as they are!

    Forget doing right by them at all!

    What about us? We want them to do right by us!

    Our photographs, and our lives, are artificial, forced, lifeless and grim.

    Photography is doing right by our scenes.

    Living is doing right by our lives.
  84. Wild Ginger 2014 1, 2, 3 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 23, 27, 2014

    Finding our life—the life that is ours to live, that no one but us can live—and living it

    grounds us,

    centers us,

    focuses us and brings us into focus,

    aligns us,

    synchronizes us,

    harmonizes us,

    puts us in tune with ourselves and our surroundings,

    rights us

    orients us,

    connects us,

    renews us,

    restores us,

    makes us whole,

    and fulfills our destiny.


    That’s your mission if you choose to accept it.
  85. Bloodroot 2014 05 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, March 27, 2014

    Your life is your worship.

    If you are living your life—the life that is yours to live, that only you can live—that is your worship.

    You cannot live your life (you know the one I mean) separate from, disconnected from, cutoff from, aloof from the source of life and being.

    At-one with the source of life and being is as worshipful as it gets.

    All the noise about worship, worship, worship these days is a sure indication that the connections have been lost—the connection to that which is deepest, truest and best about ourselves—the connection to who we are and what we are about—the connection to the source of life and being—and we don’t have a clue about how to find what is missing from our life (the one we are living).

    So we talk about worship, worship, worship, hoping some kind of magic will happen.

    All that happens is more talk, talk, talk.

    If you need biblical permission to think the way I’m thinking, the texts are everywhere, we are just in the habit of applying them to the wrong people—those people over there back then.

    WE like to think WE know what WE are doing,WE are doing it RIGHT—never-mind-ing the symptoms that run rampant in every congregation of worshipping Right Doers.

    Symptoms don’t lie. And they are there to point out to us that the life we are living is not our life to live.

    Our life is our worship, and we aren’t living it.

    That leaves us with finding our life and living it in the time left for living.

    That’s a mission worthy of the Mission Impossible team, an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones.

  86. Trout Lilies 2014 08 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County near Indian Land, SC, March 28, 2014 (“Near” Indian Land is not to ignore the fact that everywhere in the continental US IS Indian Land, it’s that Indian Land is a the name of a geographical tract of land in South Carolina, ceded to the Catawba Tribe by the British in 1763 in appreciate of the Tribe’s help during the French and Indian War)

    The popular view is to regard God as “the Man upstairs.”

    There is no Man.

    There are no stairs.

    We think of God as Out There, Up There, Over There, external to us and other than us.

    When Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” he wasn’t making the exclusive claim to Divine Sonship that he is credited with. He was stating what is true with every human being.

    Jesus called himself “Son of Man,” a term which, when translated into today’s way of thinking, comes out as “Human Being.”

    When we are being as human as it is possible to be, we are being as godlike, as divine, as God.

    God is within, not without.

    The path to God is inward, not outward.

    It is not to be found Out There in the world of normal, apparent, reality.

    It is found In Here by identifying, and aligning ourselves with, that which is deepest, truest and best about us—and living so as to bring it forth in our life.

    Incarnating God for all to see.

    If you think this is heretical and blasphemous, that’s what the religious authorities of Jesus day though of Jesus.

    And you have to explain your idea of heresy in light of Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one even as we are one,” and the Old Testament injunction to “be holy as God is holy,” and “to be perfect as God is perfect.”
  87. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Hayden Valley — Yellowstone National Park, WY, June 28, 2011

    Paradox is contradiction pretending it is a mystery.

    There is nothing mysterious about contradiction.

    It rolls us into a ball, punches us flat, kneads us into the right amount of resistance, and bakes us into a wonderful creation we would never have guessed we were capable of becoming.

    Paradox smiles knowingly and tells us not to worry, it will all be taken care of one day, in some, equally mysterious way.

    Paradox robs us of the opportunity for life, and keeps us forever infantile and dependent upon the knowing ones to reassure us that all is well, close your eyes, go back to sleep.

    The pain of contradiction is necessary to wake us up, square us up with how it is, stand us up and require us to do what needs us to do it right here, right now, no matter how much we want to run and hide, turn over and go back to sleep.

    Paradox is contradiction, and death is life.

    We grow up through facing what we don’t want to face and doing what can be done with it.

    Or, to put it another way.

    There are issues, problems and symptoms to wake us up.

    And there are awareness and acceptance of how things are, and compassion and courage for dealing with it and turning how things are into how things might become.

    And that’s that.
  88. Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church HDR B&W 02 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, March 1, 2014 

    If we approach each situation as it arises, interested in assisting the situation in becoming what it needs to be, with nothing personally at stake—nothing to gain or lose—in the situation, we will transform the world, one situation at a time.
  89. Steele Creek Cascades 01 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 29, 2014

    The vision comes in quest of you!

    Be receptive to it.

    Watch. Wait.

    Be intently aware of everything you dismiss, discount, reject as being unworthy of vision status.

    You’ve been doing the work that is yours to do all along.

    “We are who we always have been, and who we will be,” said Carl Jung.

    It’s a matter of waking up to the value, and the truth, of what is central to us—of where our essential identity is to be found.

    Carl Jung also said, “In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential (essence) that we embody. If we do not embody that, life is wasted.”

    That essential essence is the same in each of us, and is expressed differently by every one of us.

    The expression is our individuality—our unique combination of traits, qualities, characteristics, perception and perspective, etc. that make us US.

    Which we bring forth in a way that sets us apart and makes us one with all those who are consciously living the life that is their life to live, within the life they are living.

    Who we are is always there, here, waiting for us to recognize our essence, and embody it in the time left for living.
  90. Fiddleheads 2014 01 — McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, March 30, 2014

    Silence is a prime necessity.

    You can’t hope to hear anything until you are quiet.

    But, you have to understand quiet.

    I have a friend who said, “Jim, I can’t get quiet unless I’m playing my drums.”

    Where can you be quiet?

    Go there often.


    10,000 thoughts will fly through your mind.

    Listen for those that catch your eye, piques your curiosity, snares your interest.

    Look closer at anything that catches your eye.

    Play with it.

    Stay with it.

    Take it with you when leave.

    See where it leads, what it stirs up, brings to mind.

    Ride the train of associations to worlds you have not imagined.

    To a future you could not invent on your own.
  91. Peach Blossoms 05 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 21, 2014

    We know all we need to know to become who we need to be.

    There are no secrets.

    It’s been all laid out for ages.


    Love one another.

    Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Love yourself—which includes living aligned with your Best Self’s way of being.

    Love your enemies.

    Do unto others—all others—as you would have them do unto you.

    That’s it. All there is to it.

    Except, but, only…

    It fails to take into account the Six Grim Realities:






    Which commandeer our best intentions, and thwart every fine resolution, and run us into stone walls, and off high cliffs, and ruin our life, time after time, again and again, across generations, and ages, and epochs, and aeons, from the beginning to the final bell.


    We cannot think that knowing what to do will get it done.

    And, must take up the practice of doing what needs to be done, the way only we can do it, with awareness, courage, determination and good faith, every day, for the rest of our life.
  92. Smoky Mountain Views 03 B&W — Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, March 2, 2014

    The spirit of the times has its way with us, yet it is always opposed and resisted—and shown to be what it is—by the artists and poets, and free thinking people—of every age.

    What is “everybody” thinking, feeling, saying, believing, doing?

    What are you thought odd for not thinking, feeling, saying, believing, doing?

    What would you be a fool if you didn’t think, feel, say, believe, do?

    Or, if you did?

    Spirit of the times at your service.

    “The Age of Enlightenment”

    “The Age of Reason”

    “The Industrial Age”

    ‘The Dark Ages”

    All ages are dark in their own way, blinded by their own light, unable to see any truth that runs counter to the popular view of truth.

    Question everything.

    Especially the answers to your questions.

    Swim against the current of the times.

    Live in the service of your own individuality—your own perspective—your own values—and let the times have their pound of flesh.

    But don’t give them your heart and soul.
  93. Lake Haigler Falls 05 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, March 29, 2014

    We grow up to the extent that we are capable of growing up, and that’s that.

    We wake up to the extent that we are capable of waking up, and that’s that.

    Waking up and growing up are the same thing.

    We cannot wake up without growing up.

    Without standing up and doing what needs us to do it.

    Once we wake up—grow up—to the point of realizing that is the point, we facilitate further waking up, growing up, by consciously assisting the process by welcoming the life events and experiences which point out to us all the places and ways we are still asleep and immature.

    Once we board the Karma Train, things begin to roll, and we actually leave the station.
  94. John Oliver Cabin B&W — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, March 1, 2014

    Pour yourself into the life soul needs you to live, and let it go.

    This is called “casting your bread upon the waters.”

    Give it the best you have to offer for as long as life is possible—with nothing at stake in the outcome.

    This is called “giving way to The Way.”

    There is nothing to have, or own, or gain, or get, or possess, or attain.

    There is only the life your soul needs you to live.

    You cannot beat doing it with anything.

    You cannot make up for not doing it with anything.

    You have the time left for living to do it.

    The opportunities remaining in the future that is left to you are more important than those missed in the past you have lived.

    Pour yourself into the life soul still needs you to live, and let it go.
  95. Rue Anenome 2014 03 — Cove Trail, McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, April 1, 2014

    We have to support, sustain, encourage one another.

    We cannot do it alone.

    Wake up, grow up, be who we are, doing what needs to be done—what needs us to do it—with the gifts, art, genius that are ours to bring forth as grace and blessing unto all.

    We need people who are on our side.

    They need us to be on their side.

    This is not a competition.

    It is not a race with some reward and world-wide recognition at the end.

    We aren’t here for our own gain at the expense of anyone else’s.

    We are here to bring ourselves forth to meet our circumstances throughout our life.

    It’s more than any of us can handle alone.

    We need the presence of the right kind of community—

    the company of the right kind of people—

    to pull it off.

    We increase our chances of finding that kind of community, that kind of people, by being the right kind of person ourselves.

    You know what you need most from others to help you with your tasks of life.

    Offer that to others.

    Build your community by being the kind of place where others find what they need to do what is theirs to do.

    Stop thinking you have more important things to do.
  96. Chickweed — Pine Hollow Trail, McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, April 1, 2014

    You could say, “Being alive is the lesson, life is the teacher.”

    And, you could say, “Living is the lesson, life is the teacher.”

    And, “Life is the lesson, living is the teacher.”

    There are a lot of combinations to the same realization.

    We are here to be alive to/in the time of our living.

    Seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being.

    Missing in all of this is the kind of willful pursuit of personal and/or cultural goals, gains and advantages that motivates the masses of every age.

    Being alive is living on a different basis than life is being lived around us.

    Life as it is being lived around us is life detached from its ground, its center, its flow, purpose, direction and soul.

    People are looking for some entertaining pastime to occupy them over the time left for living.

    They have no sense of what their life needs of them, of what is theirs to do, of who they are asked to be—to become—over the course of their life.

    They are asleep in the wheelhouse, and their boat steers itself in lazy circles on the vast sea of time.

    Wake up! Take the wheel! Find and follow your path on the sea! Be alive to the experience of living while life is possible!

    Beginning now! Within the conditions and circumstances of your life just as it is!

    You don’t have to have anything be different than it is—you only have to see what is happening and what needs to happen in response, and do it with the gifts-art-genius that are yours to bring forth in each situation as it arises.

    And life begins to stir, and possibilities occur to you that you had not envisioned before, and your boat finds its own course with you at the wheel.

    Be prepared to be amazed. It is a wonder, being alive!
  97. Pearson’s Falls 2014 01 — Saluda, NC, April 2, 2014

    Beer—or some other addiction of choice— is being transformed into furniture in some household, as I write this or you read it. And furniture is being transformed into beer in some other household.

    What is the process by which beer is transformed into furniture, or furniture into beer?

    I call that process being in accord with how things are and what can be done about it, and being out of accord with how things are and what can be done about it.

    In each of our lives, there is how things are and what can be done about it.

    How well we acknowledge that, accommodate ourselves to it, and do what needs to be done with what can be done about the way things are—or how poorly we do those things—sets us on a course for furniture or beer.

    Would you prefer a life of furniture, or its equivalent, or a life of beer, or its equivalent?

     Furniture, etc., requires us to grow up, see how things are and do what can be done about it, in each situation as it arises.

    Beer, etc., doesn’t require much of anything.
  98. Woods Periwinkle — Creekside Trail, McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, April 1, 2014 — Likely a remnant of an early home site that has long sense disappeared.

    The natural world is beyond good and evil. It just is as it is. Food chains and pecking orders do not lend themselves to discussions of justice and fairness.

    The terms ruthless, savage, brutal and cruel do not apply.

    The natural world is that way.

    The unconscious realm is that way.

    Lao Tzu said, “The Tao does does not take sides—it gives birth to both good and evil.”

    Consciousness creates opposites—Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Just and Unjust—imposes order, makes rules, laws, codes, decrees, ordinances, edicts…

    Consciousness sets the unconscious realm straight.

    The unconscious realm deepens, expands, enlarges consciousness with it’s unending play of contradictions and incessant demand that the rules regarding justice and fairness take more and more into account.

    With the Code of Hammurabi or the Ten Commandments, no one had thought of women’s rights, or minority rights, or gay rights, or children’s rights…

    The unconscious realm went to work.

    “What about this? What about that? You say this, but you leave out that! And you don’t even take that over there into account!”

    And consciousness has to get to work,

    making more and more conscious,

    becoming increasingly complex and aware,

    refining what is right and what is wrong,

    what is good and what is bad—

    growing up, being kind and compassionate, gracious,

    gentle and loving to all sentient beings—

    and insisting that these things be recognized

    by all human beings as the way of being human—

    across the table, around the board.
  99. Hwy 74 Spring 04 (Panorama) — Near the Pea Ridge Road exit, NC, April 3, 2014

    If you live too far from where your life is, it goes all to hell.

    The Dalai Lama tried to retire from being the Dalai Lama because his responsibilities were interfering with his life.

    That’s beautiful. That’s the way to do it.

    His people removed some of his responsibilities, and he remained in his position.

    Being the Dalai Lama requires you to do it the way it needs to be done. That is your primary responsibility.

    The way it needs to be done is to live aligned with the life of your “essential essence,” however you understand that to be.

    Aligned with your core, with the center of what matters most, with the heart of who you are.

    It has nothing to do with keeping schedules, and appointments, and audiences with heads of state.

    It has nothing to do with staying up late, and being knocked out of your routine of serving your center by doing what needs to be done to honor your center when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, for as long as it needs to be done—none of which can be predicted in advance and timed by the clock.

    You unfold in your day the way a rose bud unfolds, or a tomato ripens.

    You live by Karios not Chronos.

    Karios is the right time, the fullness of time, the opportune moment for acting, the time our soul lives by.

    Chronos is clock time, calendar time, the time the word runs on.

    The more scheduled your life is, the more regulated you are by the watch and calendar, the less you are aligned with what needs you to do it when the time is right for doing it.

    You have to get your life back.

    You may have to retire to do it.
    The above was used on 06/12/2015 as a part of A Handbook for the Spiritual Journey revision—jd
  100. Cranefly Orchid 2014 01 — Pine Hollow Trail, McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, April 1, 2014 — This plant will bloom in midsummer. By then, the leaves will have disappeared. You would never guess the connection. It’s like a caterpillar and a butterfly. It’s like you.

    You have to believe that there is more to your life than you think.

    And get out of the way.

    And let you life show you what you can do in the time left for living.

    This is the “leap of faith,” you keep hearing about—believing without seeing,

    without any reason to believe that what you believe is so.

    You have to believe like your life depends on it.

    It does.

    But don’t forget the getting out of the way part.

    If you start thinking that you know what your life should be, you ruin your chances.

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Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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