One Minute Monologues 018

05/15/2014 – 06/21/2014

  1. 05/15/2014 — Taking a leafy branch to the babies for lunch, The Alligator Farm Rookery, St. Augustine, FL, May 13, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said Sanskrit is the great spiritual language of the world. Sanskrit has its own Holy Trinity, the three things are needed to wake up: Awareness, Being, Rapture—in no certain order of importance.

    We have to be aware of who we are (being) and what stirs our heart and soul to Eros, to passion (rapture). And live devoted to the service of that which stirs us to action, with the gifts that are ours to share—with who we are.

    Being serves passion, Eros, Rapture. We have to be aware of who we are and of what stirs our heart to action.

    When Being, Awareness and Rapture come together in a lived life, there we are. Three becomes One. We are born anew. Resurrected from the dead. Alive in the fullest sense of the word. And, Boom, like that, we are Awakened. Divine.

    When Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” he was speaking as one who is aware of who he is, and is living in the service of what moves him, of what stirs his heart to action.

    That’s all there is.

    What do you love? What are the gifts you have that you can bring to life in the service of what you love?

    Being aware of what you love, and of what your gifts are that you are to bring to life in the service of what you love, and doing it, is IT.

    That is as alive as you can be on either side of the grave.
  2. 05/15/2014, The Skeleton Trees of Graveyard Beach, May, 01 — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 10, 2014

    Growing up is hell. It is the Hero’s Journey.

    Joseph Campbell said, “A child is compelled to give up its childhood and become an adult—to die, you might say, to its infantile personality and psyche, and come back as a responsible adult.”

    “To evolve out of the position of psychological immaturity to the courage of self-responsibility, confidence and assurance requires a death and resurrection. That’s the basic motif of the universal hero’s journey—leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer, or mature condition.”

    The problem for all of us is that some of us, perhaps most of us, have no intention of moving from an immature position to one of maturity, compassion and grace.

    Rumi said, “If you are not here with us in good faith, you are doing terrible damage.”

    It is the work of each of us to grow up. To square up to how things are, and reconcile ourselves with the fact that how things are is not how we wish they were—not how we want them to be. And let it be the way it is because that’s the way it is.

    When we don’t do our own work—when we don’t bear our own pain in dealing with the discrepancy between how things are and  how we want them to be—we make things worse for everyone.

    But, no one can make us grow up. No one can make us live in good faith with everyone else. No one can make us be who we need to be.

    And that’s the kink in the hose.
  3. 05/16/2014, Polly’s Cove Cypress 03 — Lake Marion, Santee, SC, May 3, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “If you realize what the real problem is—losing yourself, giving yourself to some higher end—you realize that this itself is the ultimate trial.”

    “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves, our own good, our own wants and desires, our own best interest, our own self-preservation, we under go a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”

    “What all the myths have to deal with is transformations of consciousness of one kind or another. You have been thinking one way, you now have to think a different way.”

    “And our consciousness is transformed in one of two ways: Either by the trials themselves, or by illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it is all about.”

    “It is by reflecting on our experience that we form—create—new realizations.”

    (From The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers)

    Myths and religion are ways of sorting things out and providing a grounding perspective and orientation—in a “this means that” kind of way.

    But we have to grow beyond our myths and religion in finding our own way through the context and circumstances of our life—guided by values that call into question the old ways of thinking and doing, and lead us to new and better ways of getting it done.

    Pity the person who only has the way it has always been thought and done to shape his life, to guide her through each day.
  4. 05/16/2014, Hunting Island Lighthouse 02 — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 9, 2014

    How good is the good we call good?

    We can be wrong about the goodness of the good we serve.

    Hitler was wrong about the value of what he thought was valuable—and all who followed him.

    In our own day, we have been misled by politicians and religious leaders whose good was anything but good.

    Everything depends upon our serving with our life the good we believe to be truly good—and we can be wrong.

    “What a slippery slope this is!”

    Maybe we just better hide inside our houses, or inside the roles the culture tells us to play—take no chances, risk no ruin, just be safe and secure in a life that is handed to us and told how to live.

    Well. Is that the good you call good? Smells like something dead and decaying to me. I think you better take your chances with YOU!

    Here’s how it works. Throw yourself into the service of the best good you can imagine, AND SEE HOW IT GOES!

    Here’s the tricky part: Don’t quit too soon, and don’t persist too long!

    How do you know when to keep going and when to let it go? When to turn around and when to stay the course?

    Don’t worry about stepping over the line! Just know there is a line. Be aware that you can be wrong, and trust yourself to know if you are wrong. Don’t be so afraid to be wrong that you take no chances, or deny all evidence indicating you goofed.

    Live to be wrong, and live to live with having been wrong.

    It will free you up and allow you to be right more often than you would have ever been, sitting in your house with the shades down and the doors locked.
  5. 05/17/2014, Egret Chick 01 — The Alligator Farm Rookery, St. Augustine, FL, May 13, 2014

    When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” he meant free to serve truth beyond our conception of truth—free to serve values beyond what is valuable to us, personally.

    Truth is what you and I, Plato and Aristotle, Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, all the Neo-Cons, the Tea Party, the GOP, the Democrats, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and all people everywhere, in all times and places, could not, and cannot see.

    Truth is beyond us all. But. As we experience the freedom of seeing and serving truth beyond our own personal truth, a good beyond our own personal good, we approach the point of seeing all truth exactly as it is, in all its resplendent, contradictory, antithetical, glory.

    As we do that, we approach Buddha-hood, Christ-hood, Self-hood.

    Buddha-hood is beyond the Buddha.

    Christ-hood is beyond the Christ.

    Self-hood is beyond ourselves.

    Siddhartha and Jesus had their blind spots.

    Abraham asked Yahweh, “Shall not the Judge of the Universe do right?”

    There is a right beyond God that even God must adhere to, a truth beyond God, that even God must serve.

    The task before us all is seeing more than we see, knowing more than we know, acknowledging and aligning ourselves with a good beyond our own good, a truth that takes everything into account—and living a life indicative of our depth of awareness.

    May it be so with us all.
  6. 05/17/2014, Sandhills Carnivores 02 — Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, McBee, SC, May 17, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “The thing to do is learn to live in your period of history as a human being.”

    Human being-ness does not happen accidentally.

    We have to work at it—consciously, conscientiously.

    It is our practice, living in the time and place of our living as a human being.

    If you were going to do that, to take up that practice, and practice it every day for the rest of your life, what exactly would you do?
  7. 05/18/2014, A Gathering Place — Alligator Farm Rookery, St. Augustine, FL, May 12, 2014 

    Joseph Campbell said, “We must constantly die, in one way or another, to the selfhood already achieved.”

    We never get it down.

    We are never completed, finished.

    There is always the next threshold,

    The next transition.

    The Journey winds on.

    Yet, we are sold

    A model to embrace and emulate.

    “Do it the way Jesus did it,

    Or the Buddha.

    Do it the way you are supposed to do it.

    The way Aunt Bertha would want you to do it.”

    Somebody has it down.

    We have to do it like them.


    We have to do it like us!

    We have to do it like we would do it—

    But not like even we have done it.

    Each new situation,

    Each turn in the road,

    Requires us to do it the way it needs to be done

    Here and now.

    We make it all up all over.

    And are pulled forth in new ways,

    To greet what greets us.

    And grow up some more.

  8. Goshen Creek 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 18, 2014

    There are three symbols that seem to connect with us across time and place

    The Bread of Life

    The Cup of Salvation

    The Well Spring of Living Water

    The Bread of life is the Bread of Affliction

    The Cup of Salvation is the Cup of Suffering

    The Well Spring of Living Water is the Heaving Waves of the Wine-Dark Sea

    The path to life and light and peace winds through the heart of Gethsemane and across the face of Golgotha

    If you can understand that and say Yes! to it, you have it made

    As much as you can have it made
  9. Around Price Lake 02 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 19, 2014

    No one can save us from the work of being who we are.

    That’s the price we pay to be who we are.

    Doing the work—paying the price—required to be who we are brings us forth and enables us to be who we are.

    There are no shortcuts.

    We have to live our way to who we are.

    We have to live our way to values worthy of us.

    No one can give them to us.

    The can say the words,

    “Compassion,” “Justice,” “Kindness,” and all the others.

    Just words, until we live our way into the truth of their meaning.

    And no one can tell us when to be just and when to be kind,

    Or when to be any of the other values at the heart of being human.

    They all depend upon the moment to call them forth.

    What is called for here and now?

    We decide.

    No one can tell us.

    We make the call regarding what is called for.

    And live to be right more often than we are wrong.

    And who determines that?

    Jesus said, “Wisdom is known by her children.”

    And sometimes by her grandchildren.

    Or great grandchildren.

    Right and wrong are often just that way.

    So, “get in there and do what you think needs to be done,

    And let the outcome be the outcome—

    In each situation as it arises.

    All your life long.
  10. Roaring Fork Falls Detail, 01 — Pisgah National Forest near Mount Mitchell, NC, May 20, 2014

    Answers are worthless if we aren’t asking the questions.

    Answers don’t create questions.

    Questions question answers.

    Deepen answers.

    Expand answers.

    Create answers.

    Questions call forth answers.

    Destroy answers.

    Before the questions, there are no answers.

    Thomas Edison asked questions no answers existed to answer.

    So did the Buddha,

    And the Christ—

    Who call us to follow them.

    Into the questions.

    That have no end.

    How long has it been?

    Since you asked the questions

    that begged to be asked?

    Start the ball rolling.

    And question the answers.

    Like a chip off the old block.
  11. Viaduct Panorama 01 — Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, NC, May 20, 2014

    Moodiness can be an indicator of conflict. Conflict is the root of all of our difficulties.

    Conflict is denied, suppressed and buried because it is too painful to bear consciously—so it is borne unconsciously.

    Conflict borne unconsciously does terrible damage.

    But we think, “What good would it do to think about it? To bring it forth and reflect on it? I can’t do anything about it. I am trapped by circumstances I do not control and cannot change, so why face up to my conflicts? The hopelessness, drudgery and dreariness of my life is more than I can take.”

    And we give ourselves over to diversions, distractions, emptiness and illusion, as those who have neither conflict nor life.

    We cannot live without bearing consciously our conflicts.

    Bring them forth. Make them plain. Delve into them. Open them up. See them fully—as they are. And let them be.

    Eventually, a shift will happen. In your circumstances, perhaps, or in you, or in your circumstances because of the shift in your perspective and attitude.

    A door will open. Walk through.

    In the meantime, bear the pain consciously—and live around it.

    This is called walking two paths at the same time.

    Being conflicted, and being alive.
  12. Grandfather Mountain and Price Lake 01 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    The Inner World is a very present help in time of trouble.

    It is a consoling, guiding, compassionate presence in all times.

    The relationships we seek outwardly are present within—not to pamper and protect, but to nurture, nourish, and bring forth the qualities and values the world is desperate for.

    Inner heals, restores, transforms Outer.

    As we trust ourselves to the grounding resources of the Inner World, we become a grounding resource in, and for, the Outer World.

    We are blessed to become a blessing.

    As within, so without.
  13. 05/22/2014 — Roaring Fork Falls 02 — Pisgah National Forest near Mount Mitchell, NC, May 20, 2014

    Follow the meaning!

    Allow what is meaningful to guide you along the way.

    Only you know what has meaning for you.

    No one can give you meaning.

    “Why don’t you mow the grass?

    Or take up small engine repair?”

    People can talk you out of what is meaningful.

    “All you ever do is read!

    You go to the beach all the time!”

    We can allow our responsibilities and duties

    To consume our life,

    Fall into bed each night

    And rise exhausted every morning.

    That’s one way to live.

    It has nothing in the way of life about it.

    We have to fight for our life—

    And live in the service of what is meaningful for us

    No matter how inconvenient,

    Or unpopular that might be,

    Until we understand that meaning is life,

    And everything else is death in drag.
  14. Black Mountains 01 HDR — Blue Ridge Parkway near Mount Mitchell, May 20, 2014 

    Everything that has gone before us has prepared us to deal with the present moment of our experience.

    And this moment will join those moments in preparing us for the next moment.

    It’s all preparation and execution.

    The trick is to understand that

    And to stop looking to be well-kept and carefully treated.

    It’s the Hero’s Journey, not the pampered cat’s stroll.
  15. Around Price Lake 07 HDR — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    What’s right is a reflection of time and circumstance, and the size of the crowd declaring what is right. Crowds always dwindle over time.

    How to think is how to think here and now. Not how to always think, regardless of time and place. How to see, what to do…it’s all variable.

    There are no sacred cows, or holy notions, over time. All of our gods are restricted to the time and place of their homage.

    You have to do now what needs to be done now. You can’t put it off, thinking it will be important tomorrow, or down the road—Or not do what needs doing now, because it couldn’t have been done then, there.

    Doing what needs to be done now, the way it needs to be done now, will create its own momentum—if you don’t try to freeze it in place, and do it as you are doing it, forever.

    We are a cork on the water, allowing the momentum of our life to carry us where we need to be, doing what needs to be done in each here, now, all along the way.

    It may have been done like that, then and there. Here and now calls for a different way of doing it. Calls for a different “it” to be done.

    We have to dance, dance, dance with our life! Our life is showing us how to live it—we cannot restrict our life to the way we have done it.

    We cannot restrict our thinking to the way we have thought. We cannot restrict our being to the way we have been. We are always coming forth.

    We create ourselves anew countless times over the course of our life. How many New Worlds have there been over the generations? How many will you live in in your lifetime? Live to find out!
  16. 05/23/2014 — Side Street Scene 01 — Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “You have to have a feeling for where you are. For what works and what doesn’t work. For when it is time to hold on, and when it is time to let go. For what needs to happen in a situation. For what is being asked of you.

    “And you have to have the courage to trust yourself to what you know you need to do, and go do the thing, and spend the rest of your life, if you must, working out the implications of having done it.

    “Don’t let the rules, or even the sage advice of the best teacher, or guru, in the land, stand in your way. You know what you need to do. ‘Listen to yourself, Luke! Trust your feelings!’”

    Or words to that effect.
  17. 05/23/2014 — Around Price Lake 08, B&W — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    There are people who believe in magic, and think wearing the same shirt, or socks, throughout the season and playoffs will bring victory.

    Making the plays may bring victory. Wearing the same socks has nothing to do with it.

    Doing the work may result in the outcome you have in mind.

    And, it may not.

    There are no guarantees in this business.

    And no immunities.

    You get out of bed, and take your chances—just like the rest of us.

    None of us is a shoe-in.

    The old adage applies: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

    Do the work.

    See what happens.
  18. 05/23/2014 — Blue Ridge Tree — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “Is there anything in your life that did not occur as by chance?

    “This is a matter of being able to accept chance. The ultimate backdrop of life is chance—the chance that your parents met, for example! Chance, or what might seem to be chance, is the means through which life is realized—the instrument of your destiny!

    “The challenge is to not blame or explain, but to handle the life that arises—to live the life that arises, and allow that life to call us forth in putting us in accord with the way of things, and eliciting qualities and character we didn’t know we were capable of.

    “We become heroes simply by living the life that is ours to live.”

    Or words to that effect.
  19. 05/24/2014 — The Skeleton Trees of Graveyard Beach 03 — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 9, 2014

    Put everything you do on the table. Separate the items there into piles. What’s in the “I Do It Because It Is Meaningful To Me” pile?

    Where does the size of that pile rank among the piles on the table?

    How often in a day, say, or a week, do you do what is meaningful to you? How much time do you devote to doing it?

    How important is it to you to spend time doing things that are meaningful to you?

    What kind of connection would you make between the amount of time you spend doing what is meaning-ful to you and how you feel about your life?

    We can’t expect to feel great about our life if we don’t cultivate what has life about it. How long can you be happy sitting in a desert?

    The life that ‘just happens” can very well be the life that is our life to live IF we are consciously creating the “just-happens-ness” about it—alive and alert to the turns it takes and the adventures that are available to us in a day.

    If the life that “just happens” is the life of least resistance, and we are living it because it is “easier that way,” to take what circumstances hand us and do what we are supposed to do with it all the way to the grave, then we are already in the grave, just waiting for the undertaker to make it official.

    We have to create the life that is ours to live—by actively participating in the work to bring it forth in the life we are living through the joyful engagement with what is meaningful to us.

    We know what that is, and what that isn’t.

    It is up to us to align ourselves with, and live in allegiance to, what we find to be meaningful—and allow the path to take us where it will.
  20. 05/24/2014 — Bass Lake 03 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 19, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “Our life evokes our character. We find out more about ourselves as we go on.”

    We discover who we are and what we are capable of—

    what is important and what has meaning for us—

    by grappling with the trials and ordeals of everyday life.

    The quest is to find ourselves and be who we are.

    Wherever we are, we face exactly what we need

    to bring forth our character and birth ourselves into being.

    Our life evokes our spiritual values, potentialities, and courage.

    Imagination and courage are the only things required

    to bring ourselves into being.

    Lacking imagination and courage,

    we become who we are afraid to not be.
  21. 05/24/2014 — Lady Slippers 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC, May 20, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “Any path you choose in the service of what is meaningful to you, important to you, YOURS to do in the sense that you must do it because this thing is an expression and a reflection of your own identity–that path must be chosen consciously, with awareness of its value to you, and with the willful determination that nobody can frighten you away from this thing, or talk you out of it, that no matter what, this is the validation of your life and purpose. This is YOUR path you are on, and you aren’t going to be knocked off of it. The Cyclops standing in your way is in any of his manifestations is in trouble.”

    Or words to that effect.
  22. 05/24/2014 — Sooo Good to See You! — Alligator Farm Rookery, St. Augustine, FL, May 16, 2014

    The punishment I would hand out for every crime of any kind, in addition to protecting society from a repeat offense, would be that the offender must bear the weight of the full knowledge of what he, or she, has done.

    People get off way too light, walling themselves off from their guilt with arrogance, heartlessness, ruthlessness, cruelty, indifference, pitilessness and inhumanity.

    They have to BE as guilty as they are!

    I wish I could do that with them. I do it easily enough with me.

    Joseph Campbell said, “There is no coming to consciousness without guilt.”

    And, “The answer to guilt is compassion.”

    Legitimate guilt and appropriate compassion are the twin cures for all that ails us.

    We cannot force it on others, but.

    We can practice it on ourselves.
  23. 05/25/2014 — Bass Lake Panorama 02 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 19, 2014

    We have to live in each situation as it arises in light of the best we can imagine for that situation,

    Knowing it is not the the best that can be imagined,

    And giving way to a better best

    When it comes along.

    Those Who Know Best And Must Be Pleased

    Make a mess of things

    By insisting their way is the Right Way

    For all living things

  24. 05/25/2014 — Bass Lake 04 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    We are always limited by the time and place of our living,

    And must take that into account—

    Seeing that our seeing is strongly influenced, if not restricted,

    By the way things are seen,

    By the values that are held,

    In the society and culture and age

    That form the matrix of our life.

    We can only see as we see—

    Not as we do not see.

    May we all see at least that much!
  25. 05/25/2014 — Bud Ogle Cabin 06, B&W — Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, April 12, 2014

    The length of the Spiritual Quest, the Hero’s Journey, is the distance from your head to your heart.

    We must learn to feel what we know, not think it.

    And to trust what we know as a deeper, and more trustworthy, truth

    Than the truth we arrive at with reason and logic.

    The truth that can be said,

    Said Lao Tzu,

    Is not the truth.

    The truth that is the truth

    Can be known,

    But not said.

    What do you know

    That you don’t know

    How you know?

    Live to know more things like that.

    And trust yourself to them

    And what they mean for your life.

    Without having to defend, excuse, justify or explain

    Your loyalty and allegiance

    To what you know to be so.
  26. Hunting Island 02 HDR — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 1, 2014

    Joseph Campbell said, “There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: ‘When before the beauty of a sunset, or of a mountain, you pause and exclaim, “Ah!” you are participating in divinity.’”

    We participate in divinity via a movement from within us to beyond us. We are drawn forth into the realization of the wonder of being, of existence.

    Religious experiences are encounters with beauty in Art, Music, and Nature—and Good Company, Good Conversation and Good Food And Drink.

    Participating in divinity is participating in wonder. We engage—and are engaged by—divinity through wonder.

    How do you withhold yourself from wonder?

    How do you expose yourself to wonder?

    Theology, Doctrine and Belief block us from wonder by making God reasonable, logical and understandable.

    We do not know God if we think we can say anything intelligent and comprehensible about God.

    We cannot explain God, or a sunset, or a mountain, or a flower.

    We cannot explain the impact of beauty.

    Experience is beyond words.

    See how many different ways you can experience wonder this week.

    See how often you can render yourself speechless with an encounter with beauty.
  27. 05/26/2014 — Around Price Lake 05 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    I have a friend who spent much of his life at sea. He told me, “I became a sailor when I realized the sea was out to get me. Until then, I was just sailing around.”

    If you can put to sea, knowing the sea is not a friendly place, knowing that you are pitting yourself against the forces of nature, knowing that you have only your ability to read the signs and run before the storms—and find safe harbors—and know the difference between trusting your luck and pushing your luck standing between you and the, well, deep blue sea… Then you have what it takes to be a sailor.

    What I’m saying is, if you hope to be a liver, you have to realize life is out to get you.
  28. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., Horton House Ruins 03 — Jekyll Island, SC, May 13, 2014

    We have to bear consciously our contradictions and conflicts—to bear in our own body the pain of polarity, the tension of mutually exclusive interests.

    We work to reconcile what can be reconciled, to make peace, create harmony, facilitate understanding, and have compassion for our opposites, and all aspects of our life.

    How can we honor the concerns and interests of contrary points of view? How do we work it out?

    We cannot achieve peace and harmony in our family, close relationships, our work environment, the world in which we live until we can live in peace and harmony with the warring factions within ourselves. As within, so without.

    What’s the trick? Listening, looking, hearing, seeing.

    Make your conflicts conscious. Make inquiries of all sides. Listen to what all parties have to say. On the one hand this, on another hand, that, and on still other hands, that, that, and that…

    Listen to the heart of the problem from the stand point of all interests.

    Hold what you hear in your heart, and bear consciously the pain of the truth of all points of view.

    Do not force a solution. Just watch, listen, and bear consciously the agony of opposition within.

    And see where it goes.

    Something will shift. Toward reconciliation, peace and understanding. Without anyone being compelled to agree to the logic and rationality of an imposed solution.

    Solutions do not imply shifts.

    Solutions are artificial, from the top down and from the outside in.

    Shifts are organic, from the bottom up and from the inside out.

    Wait for the shift to happen, trusting that it will.
  29. 05/26/2014 — Around Price Lake 29 B&W — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 19, 2014

    We each have to find our own way—the way that works for us—the way that is in the service of what is meaningful to us—in the service of what has life for us—in the service of that which brings us to life, infuses us with life, and makes us alive in the deepest, fullest, sense of the word.

    And we find the way that is our way by living, and noticing how we respond to the experience of life—to what attracts us and repels us, completes us and fulfills us, brings us peace and satisfaction, and opens us to the wonder of being alive.

    We find the way by living it.

    We know when we are alive, and when we are dying, and mostly dead.

    We know when we are on the beam, and when we are off of it.

    When we are on track, and when we are wandering lost in a wasteland far from anything that resonates with our soul.

    We only have to keep living to find what we seek, following what we know of the good, of the meaningful, of value to the heart of the treasure hard to find (because it’s here with us all along, and we think it has to be a lot harder than doing what calls our name).
  30. 05/27/2014 — Yellow Pitcher Plants 01 — Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, McBee, SC, May 17, 2014

    There is nothing beyond being who you are in the moment of your living to desire, achieve, accomplish, have, do, be.

    There is only you being you, living here and now, in this situation, as only you can do it.

    There is nothing to prevent you from doing that other than your refusal to realize, accept, and settle for that.

    We have eyes for more than the moment holds.

    We are always looking past this moment to some other, bigger, finer, better, more attractive moment.

    We live for some great moment—some endless string of increasingly greater moments—and refuse to honor our present moments with our presence and attentive care.

    And here we are.
  31. 05/27/2014 — Spiral 01, B&W — Hunting Island Lighthouse, Hunting Island State Park, SC, May 2, 2014

    How do you settle into your life, into what it has become, into what it is, and embrace it as it is, enjoying it for what it is, open to what it offers in each moment, receiving each moment well, laughing and dancing with it, and loving the experience of being alive in each moment of your living?

    And why do some of us persist in rejecting everything about our life, saying, “No! Not This! Not This! Not This!” to every aspect of life?

    Get to the bottom of these questions, and you have all that’s worth having.
  32. 05/27/2014 — Wood Stork Channeling Vulture — Alligator Farm Rookery, St. Augustine, FL, May 13, 2014

    Growing up is walking two paths at the same time.

    We live in the world of normal, apparent reality, within the context and circumstances of our life, on the basis of the terms and conditions of the time and place of our living.

    AND we live out, in that world, the values at the heart of life and being, and bring forth into that world, the character, qualities, aptitudes, interests and gifts that define us, identify us, and set us apart from all others as the unique individual we are.

    Growing up means we take life as it comes to us in each situation as it arises, and we do what we can imagine doing with it—what we determine needs to be done in response to it—out of who we are and what we have to give—the qualities and gifts we have to bring to bear upon the circumstances and events of our life—and let that be that, because the next situation is on the way.

    The more distant we can be from the impact of the circumstances and events of our life, the fuller we can participate in those circumstances and events without interfering with them by wanting this and not wanting that, and the more completely we can embrace the experience of being alive, and the deeper and longer lasting the impact of our living on all of life will be.
  33. 05/28/2014 — Goshen Creek 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 18, 2014

    There is a timelessness to our living that is every bit as real, and true, and actual, and factual as the time between hours, days, weeks, years, decades and centuries.

    On one level it has been ten days since I took this photograph. On another level, it was only yesterday.

    It was only yesterday that I married, that each child was born, that the children were married, that the grandchildren were born, that I retired…

    Everything with me now is now. The distant past has a just-happened feel to it. There is a sense in which it DID just happen.

    You can’t argue me out of this with your logic, and reason, and your way of measuring time.

    There is more than one way of measuring time.

    Date books and calendars, and the digital clocks flipping off the digital mini-seconds of our life do not have a valid claim to the only way to do it.

    Our lives have a timeless life of their own. Our experience is not linear, it is holistic. It is one. And it is always now.

    “The Eternal Now” is always expanding, but never aging. We are experiencing eternity now.

    My grandparents live now for me, and their deaths are just another aspect of their being present with me forever, and real.

    Don’t try to make sense of this, or force it to fit into the rational universe of space and time.

    The Aborigines with their Dreamtime experiences know what I’m talking about, and so do you. We all live it daily.

    “Death doesn’t end a relationship anymore than divorce ends a marriage,” says James Hollis.

    And life is a curious blend of all that has ever been or will be, from everlasting to everlasting, world without end, amen.
  34. 05/28/2014 Oconaluftee River 07 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, April 13, 2014

    We are to live out of our center—out of the center of our identity—out of the center of the qualities, and character, and interests, and proclivities that make us who we are—toward the things that resonate with us, that call our name, in the rolling, heaving, waves of the time, place and circumstances of our living—and let the outcome be the outcome.

    To do that, we have to make a quiet place, or find one, from time to time, to remember who we are and what we are about.Oconaluftee River 07 Oconaluftee River 07 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, April 13, 2014

    We are to live out of our center—out of the center of our identity—out of the center of the qualities, and character, and interests, and proclivities that make us who we are—toward the things that resonate with us, that call our name, in the rolling, heaving, waves of the time, place and circumstances of our living—and let the outcome be the outcome.

    To do that, we have to make a quiet place, or find one, from time to time, to remember who we are and what we are about.Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, April 13, 2014

    We are to live out of our center—out of the center of our identity—out of the center of the qualities, and character, and interests, and proclivities that make us who we are—toward the things that resonate with us, that call our name, in the rolling, heaving, waves of the time, place and circumstances of our living—and let the outcome be the outcome.

    To do that, we have to make a quiet place, or find one, from time to time, to remember who we are and what we are about.
  35. 05/28/2014 — Calla Lily 02 — Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC, April 23, 2014

    Your work is to be you in the heaving sea of your life.

    You are the constant.

    Your values, your preferences, your gifts, your character, the things that resonate with you, that call your name, that express and exhibit who you are, in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sense of “What I do is me/For that I came,” remain remarkably consistent over time.

    Your life is anything but consistent.

    Your parents are killed, or your child dies, or your spouse does, or your spouse deserts you, or a war comes along, or an earthquake… The possibilities are enormous, and they plant a big juicy wet one right on your kisser, and ask you, “How did you like that one, Sweetie? It ain’t nothing compared to what’s coming!”

    And you think, “How can I be me and deal with THIS???”

    That’s exactly the problem.

    You have to work it out.

    As well as you can.

    With the resources available.

    In each situation as it arises.

    All your life long.

    It helps to remember who you are and what is yours to do, to bring forth while your life is throwing things at you.

    Who you are and what is yours to bring forth stays remarkably the same.

    How you bring it forth changes with the context of your living.

    But whether it’s a war or winning the lottery, your work is the same work, just done in a different setting.
  36. 05/28/2014 — Smoky Mountain View 06 B — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, April 13, 2014

    Caring is the hinge upon which the door to the future—yours, mine and the whole shebang’s—turns.

    Everything hangs on your, mine, and our, caring.

    Nothing begins to move toward us—for help, guidance, encouragement and consolation—until we begin to care.

    We want to pout the world into place.

    Make them sorry they have treated us so badly.

    Make them pay.

    It’s unfair and we aren’t going to move until they apologize and make it up to us.

    That’s the killer position.

    Everybody suffers when we take it.

    And nothing happens until we abandon, or avoid, it.

    We make the first move.

    That’s how it works.

    I’m not making this up.

    It’s the way it is.

    You can test it in your own experience.

    We have to make the first move.

    And the first move is to care.

    That’s our move to make.

    Everything hangs on it.
  37. 05/29/2014 — Mary Whaley — August 11, 1909, Born And Died The Same Day — Ownby Cemetery, Porters Creek Trail, Greenbrier District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, April 12, 2014

    Direction is important. A feel for what you are about—for what you like to do—is direction.

    A life plan with sequential steps and a timeline for accomplishments is a barrier to your development.

    Don’t know what you are doing.

    Know what you love.

    Know where you find meaning.

    Let that own you.

    Allow your life to take its own shape

    As you spend time in the service of what brings you to life.

    Find a way to pay the bills

    That enable you to live the life that is yours to live,

    And be surprised

    At your own unfolding and coming forth.

    And don’t think it is too late

    To start living the life

    That needs you to live it.

    Live toward as much of what you love

    As you can each day,

    Given the context and circumstances of your life.

    You are never too old to be surprised.
  38. 05/28/2014 — GSM Trout Lily 01 — Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, Chimneys Picnic Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, April 11, 2014

    We come packed with all we need to find our way to who we are but.

    The signals from within are jammed by the 10,000 Things from without so.

    That put the burden of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being squarely on us.

    I don’t care what the problems and possibilities are on the outside, we have to tend what’s on the inside.

    The inside rules the outside.

    That’s the natural flow of things: From inside to outside.

    Listen to the inner voices.

    Make conscious the conflicts and polarities.

    Live with compassion for all that is there.

    See how it fits together to serve the good of the whole.

    This is called recognizing and reconciling the opposites in ways that make for peace, harmony, good will and good faith.

    Live in ways which reflect that inner identity in the outer world of apparent reality.

    That is our work, our Opus.

    We all are composers.

    We are our composition.

    Our life’s work.
  39. 05/30/2014 — Smoky Mountain Cascade — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN, April 13, 2014

    Emma Jung said, “To be able to doubt oneself, to grope one’s lonely way, step by uncertain step, appears to represent a higher achievement of consciousness than naively to follow collective ideals.”

    The world is being led by people who know what to do, how to do it, and by when it needs to be done.

    You can’t belong to the NRA and have any reservations about the constitutional right to bear arms meaning everyone must own an arsenal. NRA members know how to think about guns.

    All Right-thinking Christians think the same way about all the issues, which is they way they have been told to think.

    If people know what to think, they aren’t thinking.

    Thinking people question what is being thought around them and ask, “What makes you think that what you think is what to think?”

    The people who know what to think can’t answer the question because they haven’t thought about it—they have just been told what to think.

    Which isn’t thinking.

    It’s obeying.
  40. 05/30/2014 — Catesby’s Trillium 02 — Lake Haigler Loop Trail, Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, SC, April 18, 2014

    A good sermon pulls you forth

    and calls you to face the facts of your life

    in squaring up with all that is contradictory and mutually exclusive,

    and doing what needs to be done in each situation as it arises—

    without referring to any “supposed to be,”

    or wondering what somebody else might do,

    in tossing tradition, doctrine and theology aside,

    and channeling the Christ within you

    by living out of your own, personal, authority,

    assuming full responsibility for your own life,

    and performing the current equivalent of healing on the Sabbath,

    associating with the unclean,

    and being the personal advocate

    of those at the lowest social position of contemporary culture,

    every day for the rest of your life.


    How many good sermons have you heard?
  41. 05/30/2014 — Lake Martin Reflections 13, B&W — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 8, 2014

    There is more to you than meets the eye. Any eye. Including your own.

    Start there, with the premise that you don’t know half of all there is to know about you.

    And set out to discover who you are, and also are.

    Stop with the “I can’t’s, and the “I don’t like’s,” and find out what is on the other side of all the limits you impose on yourself.

    Live to see, hear, know and understand as much as you can before you die.

    Don’t let anything stop you.

    Especially you.
  42. 05/30/2014 — Schizophrenic Dream

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

    We coalesce around an invisible core of qualities, character, values and spirit.

    We are intangibles seeking physical form and expression.

    We cannot do just anything, but we can do amazing things—

    Things we don’t know we can do until we find ourselves doing them.

    We are depth beyond measure,

    Boundless and eternal,

    Heart and soul—

    Looking for a place to call home for a while.

    Ask them what you can do for them,

    And hang on for the ride.
  43. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 05/31/2014 — Cormorant Contemplation B&W — Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 8, 2014

    AA has a couple of contradictory slogans.

    Everything turns on recognizing and reconciling the contradictions, so that one side of the polarity deepens and fulfills the other.

    “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

    “White-knuckling it doesn’t do it.”

    What’s the difference between “white-knuckling it” and “faking it ‘til you make it”?

    I was hoping somebody would ask that question!

    The difference is the quality of your participation in the act.

    Either way, you are pretending you don’t want a drink.

    The difference is the degree and depth of your pretension.

    Let the alcoholic’s drink of choice be a metaphor for all those things standing in your way, keeping you from being who need to become by being places you are stuck with “being who you are.”

    Anger. Jealousy. Paranoia. Depression. Guilt. Shame. Laziness. Lethargy. Fear. Desire. Greed…

    The list of possibilities is a long one.

    And you cannot be that way that you are AND be who you need to become.

    You have to Fake It Until You Make It.

    And it all depends on the depth and quality of your pretense.

    You have to act like who you need to be IS exactly who you are.

    And, you have to carry it off with the aplomb and grace and natural flow of the real thing.

    You have to fake yourself out.

    Your act has to be so on that you can’t tell yourself “if it’s real or if it’s Memorex.”

    That’s faking it until you make it.

    And it is the path from who you are to who you need to be.

    And if it feels hypocritical, two-faced, and artificial, don’t let that stop you from walking past the bar into your new life as a genuinely sober human being.
  44. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 05/31/2014 — Greenbrier Highway B&W — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cosby, TN, April 2008 

    Everything rides (I say that a lot, “Everything rides…” because everything rides on a lot of things) on our recognizing and reconciling the contradictions, the opposites, the conflicts, the contraries, the polarities at the heart of life and being—and bearing the pain of those that are irreconcilable, mutually exclusive, and equally true.

    Christianity is replete with contradictions that are ignored, denied, explained away, dismissed, discounted and disappeared.

    Too bad. They are the heart of what is missing from the movement, and hold the key to revitalization and vitality—the redemption of the wasteland—of the religion and of the world.

    For instance, Jesus is reported to have said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.”

    That line gets all the press.


    A few verses prior to that, and twice, Jesus is reported to have said, “No one comes to me unless the Father draws her (or him).”

    I work those opposites into this neat little formula: “The way to God is the way of God.”

    And you don’t think, or believe, your way there. You LIVE your way there, and your life experience is your built-in gyroscope, your self-correcting, self-guiding, mechanism, that directs you through the maze of attractive possibilities from what doesn’t work to what does work—from what is not of God to what is of God, and to God—and you become God as Jesus was God, “The Father and I are one.”

    When we do this kind of thing with the entire Bible, we come out at a place quite different from the dead-end that orthodoxy (either Catholic, Reformed or Evangelical) has come to, and revitalize religion from, or to, the very core.

    Yea for us. Take a bow (after doing the work).
  45. Lake Martin Sunset 08 — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, February 7, 2014

    Ho John Lee said, “Experience requires neither understanding nor belief.”

    And, I would add, it begs reflection.

    All the doctrine you need.

    Experience plus reflection leads to new realizations,

    and realization is the ground of awakening and awareness—

    The path to life in the fullest sense of the word.
  46. 05/31/2014 — Around Price Lake 06 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    Nobody can give you heart.

    You have to go get that sucker all by yourself.

    The treasure hard to attain

    Is the heart required to claim the treasure.

    With heart for the journey,

    It’s all yours.
  47. 06/01/2014 — Cades Cove Panorama 03 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    We spend our time trying to get what we want

    and avoid what we don’t want

    instead of trying to be who we are

    and refusing to be who we are not

    within the time and place of our living.

    The question is not

    “What do you want?”

    The question is

    “What do you need to be who you are?”


    “What do you need to do to be who you are?”

    We spend too much of our life

    In the service of the wrong questions.
  48. 06/01/2014 — How Many Snows? 02 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Dairy Barn Access, Fort Mill, SC, February 11, 2014

    When getting what we want interferes with being who we are,

    guess what goes.

    How did getting what we want

    become the motivating force in our life?

    What does wanting know?

    What do you have to do whether you want to or not?

    What do you have to do

    regardless of the implications it has for you?

    What do you sacrifice everything

    out of your loyalty to, and alignment with,

    your sense of what needs to happen

    in a situation—

    no matter what it means

    for what you want?

    How often does what you want

    run counter to who you are?

    How often do you let what you want go

    in order to be who you are,

    and do what is yours to do?
  49. 06/01/2014 — Mission San Jose Courtyard 06 — San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2014

    We don’t have to be doing something all the time.

    Farmland lies fallow all winter.

    Bread rises covered, warm and out of sight.

    Nature spends a long time doing nothing between short bursts of activity.

    We are bored with nothing to do.

    The economy needs us to be spending money around the clock.

    Guilt drips from us for taking too long in the bathroom.

    We have to hurry from one thing to the next.

    No slack time for us.

    If we are breathing normally, we aren’t working hard enough at something.

    Waiting is doing something.

    Waiting for the time to be right.

    Waiting for the next thing that needs us to do it to call our name.
  50. 06/01/2014 — Lake Martin Reflections 12, BW — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, LA, February 8, 2014

    Let me guess.

    You don’t want to have to think about your life.

    You just want to fall into it and live happily ever after.

    Put on the magical slipper and be whisked away into the life of your dreams.

    Nirvana. Elysian Fields. Peace and serenity, joy and delight, forever.

    Here’s the hard truth:

    It’s called The Hero’s Journey.

    Does that tell you something?

    Living the life that is your life to live—

    Aligned with, and in allegiance to, the invisible world’s need of you

    (Which you are connected with through your inner core,

    And your awareness of resonance, realization and recognition)—

    Is death to all of your fantasies of being swept up

    By some Prince Charming or some Fairy Princess

    And plopped down in Wonderland.

    But, it’s death with life on the other side.

    It’s worth every bit of the work, agony, and ordeal

    You will have to submit to to get there.

    And, you’ll have to do the work

    To know if I’m right.
  51. 06/02/2014 — Goshen Creek 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 18, 2014

    You have to die to your idea of life before you can be alive in the life that is your life to live.

    You can’t be alive in any other life.

    As you increasingly live the life that is your life to live—aligned with what is meaningful to you, and, thus, has life for you—you become increasingly alive.

    Otherwise, you are pretending to be alive.

    Surrounding yourself with all of the accoutrements of life, perhaps,

    Looking like you are supposed to look when you are Really Living,

    Or, just looking like you are supposed to look,

    But empty, without meaning, and devoid of life,

    With only your addictions to keep you going.

    That’s death trying to look alive.

    You have to die to that in order to live.

    And you have to begin living the life that is your life to live.

    You have to wake up to what you are doing,

    And to what you need to be doing instead.

    And begin to work your life into the life you are living.

    That’s all there is to it.
  52. 06/02/2014 — The Skeleton Trees of Graveyard Beach 15 B&W — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 1, 2013

    It’s like this.

    The pieces on a chess board have their place and their moves.

    That is who they are.

    A knight is a knight. A castle is a castle.

    A chess game would go all to hell if a bishop began moving like a queen.

    A foul would be called.

    Whistles would be blown.

    Flags would fly.

    Penalties would be imposed.

    Players would be outraged.

    No one would play chess again.

    Let me explain.

    We each have our place and our moves.

    That is who we are.

    We have to discover our identity

    And be who we are.

    The game needs desperately for it to be so.

    We all do.
  53. 06/03/2014 — Oconaluftee River 06 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, April 13, 2014

    We are here to be who we are

    and live the life that is our life to live—

    and to help each other be who we are

    and live the life that is our life to live.

    We are here to enjoy our own company

    and the company of one another.

    Our opinions and judgments get in the way.

    We have our ideas about the way things should be,

    with ourselves and each other.

    We can’t enjoy ourselves and the others

    until all of us are more like we wish we were

    than we are.

    We respect Jesus,

    and some of us call him “Lord,”

    but, when he said

    “Don’t let your opinion of yourself and others

    come between you and who you—and they—are,”

    we act like we didn’t hear a word.
  54. 06/03/2014 — Lake Martin Cypress 01 B&W — St. Martin Parish near Breaux Bridge, LA, February 8, 2014

    The difference between magic and mystery is the degree of our participation in the experience.

    Magic happens to us as a blessing or a curse.

    Magic is to our personal advantage or disadvantage—or to that of our family, tribe, or those who are like us.

    Mystery is beyond good and evil, advantage and disadvantage, blessing and curse.

    Birth and death, awe and wonder, synchronicity, beauty, love, kindness, grace…

    Mystery takes us into another dimension.

    We forget benefit and advantage.

    We walk into a grove of Giant Sequoias, and do not think of how to turn the experience to our personal gain—and do not think at all.

    Mystery takes us out of this world and ushers us into another, where time stops, and we forget where we are, and don’t know what we had for breakfast, or care when we will eat again.

    Magic is all about making this world our kind of place.

    Mystery carries us beyond interest in a genie’s wishes or a fairy godmother’s wand

    To the ineffable stillness at the heart of life and being.
  55. 06/03/2014 — Side Street Scene 03 — Blowing Rock, NC, May 22, 2014

    When you are being yourself in your life—

    In every circumstance and situation of your life—

    In tune with yourself,

    At one with who you are,

    Doing your thing,

    And exhibiting all the wonderful old values

    At the heart of life, like:

    Love, joy, grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, generosity,

    Justice, peace, grace, patience, goodness, tenderness,

    Compassion, civility, goodwill, good faith, just mention a few,

    You are the center of the universe,

    The “still point of the turning world,”

    And you are transforming the experience of the moment

    For everyone within the circumference of your presence.

    And beyond.
  56. 06/03/2014 — Great Blue Heron 01 — Santee State Park, Santee, SC, May 3, 2014

    If you want to know God, you have to BE God.

    That’s the way Jesus did it.

    “The Father and I are one.”

    “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

    It’s the only way.

    Live to be God, and you know God directly,

    not indirectly, by hearsay, word-of-mouth,

    thousands of people, or more, removed

    God as God is.

    So, live to be God.

    Do it like God would do it.

    You know the rules by now:

    Compassion to whom compassion is due,

    Justice to whom justice is due,

    Mercy to whom mercy is due,

    Kindness to whom kindness is due,

    Peace to whom peace is due,

    Like that,

    All the way down the line.
  57. Peforated Bellwort 01 — Chestnut Trail, McDowell Nature Center near Charlotte, NC, April 17, 2014

    You can’t BE God without growing up.

    That’s the kicker.

    When you’re being God, you have to work it all out for yourself.

    There is no one but you to tell you what to do.

    You can’t fall back on anything.

    Not even on how you did it last time.

    Everything is right now with God.

    This present situation is different from every other situation—

    Past or future.

    Being God now is different from being God yesterday,

    Or tomorrow.

    There ain’t no guidebook to tell you what to do.

    People are waiting.

    What’s it going to be?

    That’s where the people who have what it takes to be God

    Stand up and get to work

    And where the people who don’t have what it takes to be God

    Form study groups and committees,

    Read the minutes from the last meeting,

    And elect officers.
  58. 06/04/2014 — Cathedral of St. Augustine 01 — St. Augustine, FL, May 14, 2014 

    The Messiah is never who the Messiah is supposed to be.

    The Messiah is never who we expect the Messiah to be.

    The Messiah is never who the prophets, and apostles, and sacred writ say the Messiah will be.

    The Messiah is always a surprise.

    God is the girl next door.

    You know the one I mean.

    The boy picked last on all the teams.

    Just another face in the requisite graduation photograph.

    Nobody special.

    Like the stone the builders reject.

    Or, even better,

    Like you.

    Like any one of us.

    Like each one of us.

    We stand before a mirror and ask,

    Are you—are YOU—the one who is to come?

    Or shall we look for another?

    Here’s a tip for you:

    Don’t waste your time and energy looking.

    Put it all into being who you are.
  59. 06/04/2014 — Cades Cove HDR 14 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Townsend, TN, February 28, 2014

    I don’t know how I got this far in my life

    but I’m sure I didn’t have anything to do with it.

    I’m an accident, a chance occurrence in the Great Scheme of Things.

    So are you.

    We didn’t have to be here, now.

    We could have been somewhere else just as easily.

    Why here? Why not there?

    Our life is a dice roll in the dark.

    And here we are.

    And yet, and yet…

    Everything is a vehicle of our destiny.

    Nothing happens to us that doesn’t contribute to our becoming who we are.

    Everything is needed in the unfolding of ourselves—

    the flowing of ourselves—

    into each time and place of our living.

    And, into the question that is always the most important question

    for what remains in our work to become who we are:

    Now what?
  60. 06/05/2014 — Graveyard Beach Panorama 04 B&W — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, SC, May 1, 2013

    All we know is what we like and don’t like, want and don’t want.

    That is all we have to guide us through our life.

    We are pinballs flipping from Yes! to No! all over the table, all our life long, hoping to score big time on every level and gain peace at last.

    What does liking or not liking have to do with being who we are, doing what is ours to do?

    Like it or not, it’s who we are, it’s what we do.

    We have to get beyond desiring, not-desiring.

    We have bigger fish to fry.

    The Big Fish is the life that is trying to come to life in us, and through us.

    Chances are, we are not-liking the very things that are trying to bring us forth.

    Chances are, we are liking the very things that are holding us in place, keeping us from moving toward the life that is our life to live.

    Look at what we like!

    Soft and easy!

    Convenient and comfortable!

    Routine and familiar!

    We will trade lives, the one we are living for the one that is our life to live, IF it is to our perceived advantage around the table, across the board.

    Fine. Let me go get your blankie and passie, and your favorite dollie, and keep all the things that might ruin your little world and grow you up far away through all the years to come!
  61. Flyfishing — Oconaluftee River near Cherokee, NC, April 11, 2014

    If you attend a Broadway play in a foreign language, and are present in the moment as a full participant in the experience, you will be moved—perhaps to tears—by the passion the actors have for their craft, without understanding anything that is being said.

    They are acting a story written by someone else, but they believe deeply in what they are doing. They are giving you, the audience, themselves.

    And you will leave the theater wondering what you do anywhere in your life with as much personal investment in what you are doing as that troupe of actors had for what they just did.

    Where are we seized by a passionate MUST for living and being?

    Where does it have to be done with all our heart and soul?

    Where are we that alive?

    When we live anywhere in our life like that, we bring something to life in all who are within the circumference of our living that they will never forget—and will long to re-experience, even to the point of finding what is theirs to believe in and to do at that depth, and to that degree, of being gripped by life and filled with the dynamic fire of being alive.
  62. 06/05/2014 — Buffalo Grass Restoration Project — Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, McBee, SC, April 10, 2014 

    You wouldn’t want the Dalai Lama driving you to the airport,

    or piloting your plane to your destination of choice.

    The Dalai Lama has his work to do,

    and you have your work to do.

    Don’t make the mistake of devaluing your work because it doesn’t have the statue of the Dalai Lama’s work.

    The Dalai Lama can’t be you any easier than you can be the Dalai Lama.

    Are you spooning up what I’m ladling out here?

    You are irreplaceable.

    Your work is yours alone to do.

    None of us can stand in for you.

    The only person who can do your work better than you are currently doing it is you.

    If it needs to be improved, you are the one to say so, and to do it.

    But, stop dismissing it because it doesn’t measure up.

    If it is truly your work, embrace it, honor it, devote yourself to it, and do it as well as the Dalai Lama does his work.

    It is is not truly your work, let it go and devote yourself to the real thing.

    The world is dying for lack of devotion to the work that is ours alone to do.
  63. 06/06/2014 — Limbs and Spanish Moss — Magnolia Plantation near Charleston, SC, April 20, 2014

    As long as politicians care more about making someone happy than about doing what is right by the people whose interests they are supposed to be serving—and that would be ALL the people—we’re going to have the situation we have.

    Politicians are front people for special interest groups.

    The Religious Right and the NRA are two of the most insidious.

    The Religious Right would erase the first amendment, and the NRA would elevate the second above all the others.

    Congress has the duty of guarding the rights of all the people—particularly the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is under attack from every side by those waving their rights while they trample everyone else’s.


    Who is going to force Congress to do what is right by ALL the people?

    That’s the kink in the hose of Democracy.
  64. 06/06/2014 — Santee Sunrise Mirror 01 — Lake Marion, Santee State Park, Santee, SC, May 3, 2014 (Composed in Photoshop by taking the top half of the image, flipping it and attaching it to itself as the bottom half. Rescuing a reflection when wind and waves rule out an actual one)

    What are the most meaningful (to you) aspects of your life?

    What aspects of your life bring you the most joy?

    Where do your interests lie?

    These are all places for you to dig in, spend more time, explore, reflect on, see where they lead.

    You don’t control the things that are meaningful to you, that bring you joy, that stir your interest.

    You don’t decide that you are going to love playing the piano, or tuning them.

    You find yourself loving what you love.

    That’s a good place to start on the trail of the life that is your life to live.

    You don’t think your way into that life.

    You live your way there.

    Give yourself permission to live the life that is right for you.

    And think how to do it within the life you are living.
  65. 06/06/2014 — Around Price Lake 12 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, May 19, 2014 

    Joseph Campbell said, “In a wasteland, everybody is doing as other people do, doing as they are told, with no courage for their own life. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable ‘oughts,’ or divine laws.”

    In a wasteland, people live the way life is being lived around them.

    They go through the motions of living without being alive.

    Their laughter is too loud, and hollow.

    Their celebrations are rote, but any excuse will do.

    Let the good times roll.

    They talk about themselves, and what they think, and what they have done and are doing, and what they like and don’t like, and never say anything new, or different, or interesting.

    Yesterday is tomorrow in a wasteland, except that tomorrow will have new technology, and better toys, and be more exciting.
  66. Green Heron 2014 04 — Cypress Wetlands Rookery, Port Royal, SC, May 10, 2014

    You are responsible for your own well-being.

    Do not put yourself in harm’s way.

    Know the difference between trusting your luck and pushing your luck.

    Do not push your luck.

    Eat sensibly.





    You know the list.

    Work the things that are meaningful to you into your life.

    No one will take care of you for you.

    It’s called growing up.
  67. Colt Creek 01 — Person’s Falls Trail, Saluda, NC, April 2, 2014

    There isn’t a hermit or a hermitage, a monk or a monastery, a champion of holiness of any variety who doesn’t live ritualistically, that doesn’t follow a regimen.

    Make small rituals of your day. Allow your own business to separate you—to distance you—from the business of the day.

    Morning coffee, perhaps. Reading the paper. Catching up on Facebook… Let these things stand out for you. Look forward to them—not as something to rush through, another task to multi. But each an oasis for your soul, a mini-retreat from the press of the day’s requirements.

    Allow your personal regimen to become the things you do for you within the things you are doing for someone else—to be conscious, dependable, and regular sources of joy and pleasure within a day that might not be much fun.

    Connect consciously, and regularly, with things that are life for you, if only in a small way. Scatter what you love in, around, and throughout the day’s responsibilities, obligations and duties.

    On my walk each day (I’m retired, you know), I see people who are not retired walking as though it is just one more damn thing they have to do before going to bed to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

    Where’s the joy to be found, if not in separating the things of potential enjoyment from the things that sap you of life? If everything is sapping you, that leaves you exhausted and burned out.

    Make a regimen of the things you love about your day, and consciously carve out time in the day to do them, building the day around the things that grace you with life—every day.
  68. 06/07/2014 — Goshen Creek 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC, May 18, 2014

    What are you going to do with what remains of your life?

    How will you use your time in the time left for living?

    This is our problem, over and above all of our other problems.

    Our other problems keep us from considering our problem.

    We have a hard enough time paying the bills and deciding what’s for lunch.

    Not to mention our concerns with our health and what is going to become of us if this, or that, or that over there happens.

    Fear, worry, anxiety and depression are all we can manage.

    We can’t think about the kind of life we might live—it’s enough to think about how to stay alive with a roof over our heads.

    We just want a little relief! A reprieve! Deliverance! Peace of mind!

    Our life will take care of itself if we can manage to pay the bills and find some room to breathe!

    It’s a hard sell, talking to people about their life and how to live it, when they are trying to make ends meet and get to the beach at least once this summer. (Used in # 7 of An Old Preacher’s Manifesto)
  69. Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 06/08/2014 — Around Price Lake 18 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    We have to work it out with our life—both of them, the one we are living and the one that is ours to live (within the one we are living).

    In working it out with our life—what to do and when, and how, to do it—we have to work out the relationships among all of our opposites, contraries, contradictions, conflicts and polarities.

    We reconcile what can be reconciled, and bear the pain, the agony, of mutually exclusive yet equally true and valid contradictions that cannot be reconciled—that exist as polar opposites of each other.

    (Here’s a trick that will help with that: The deeper you get into one of the opposites, the more like the other it becomes. At the rock solid core, they are easily mistaken for the other, if not identical with the other. That’s interesting, don’t you think? How similar the enemies sworn to fight to the death of the other.)

    We work it out by being conscious of the opposition that confronts us on all sides, inner and outer, in the fullest possible detail, and letting awareness do its work—without doing anything to assist it.

    We trust ourselves to how things are—and how things also are—and wait. We work out our life—both of them—by not messing with our life. We see it as it is and let it be.

    And that transforms everything.

    Things change when we accept them as they are and do not attempt to force them to be different.

    They may not change in the direction we have in mind, but it is best to have nothing in mind. We trust ourselves to things as they are, and we trust ourselves to things as they evolve.

    Trust and awareness, kid. Trust and awareness.
  70. 06/08/2014 — Woods Fern — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Loop Trail, Fort Mill, SC, April 29, 2014

    We all could have benefited from better guides.

    You will have to speak for yourself, but I didn’t have a guide that spoke from her, or his, personal experience.

    They all said what they were supposed to say.

    Not one of the people in charge of my development had the strength of their own convictions, or lived their life out of their own personal authority.

    They took their cues from those in position of authority—but who also had no personal authority, and never had an idea of their own.

    How can you be a guide if you never had an idea of your own?

    What’s a guide but somebody who knows something nobody else knows?

    When everybody knows the same things, there isn’t a guide in the crowd. There are only cows in a pen, telling each other where the hay is.

    We could have used a guide.

    As it is, we have to unlearn everything we were taught, square up to the truth that things aren’t the way we have been told that they are, and live experimentally, developing our own sense of direction around our experience of what works and what doesn’t, what’s important, and what isn’t worth a second thought.

    And coming up with ideas of our own.
  71. 06/08/2014 — Dugger’s Creek Falls 01— Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC, May 22, 2014

    It isn’t what happens to us. It’s what we become because of it—in spite of it.

    It’s who is brought forth in us through our encounter with what happens to us.

    It’s how we are shaped into who we have become, are becoming.

    And we play the most important part in our own shaping.

    We form ourselves through our response to what happens to us.

    It helps to know what we are doing, and do it consciously:

    Living out of our own center,

    Out of our depths,

    Out of our connection with our indelible character,

    Out of our sense of who we are,

    We take what comes our way,

    And find just what we need

    To emerge

    With the gifts we have to give

    To those who can receive what we have to offer.

    And all are blessed by the way we dance with the music of life.
  72. 06/09/2014 — Pine Cone, B&W — Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, NC, June 8, 2014

    I’ve known a lot of old people, and very few who aged well.

    Aging well is not a cultural value.

    Not aging at all is the cultural ideal.

    Leaves us with cosmetic surgery and wrinkle cream.

    Seeking out young babes and hunks

    To fan the flames of our fantasy of “still having it.”

    The body is going and inviting us along for the ride.

    How do we finish the journey?

    Always the task is to accommodate ourselves to what is asked of us

    At each phase, and age, of life—

    Trusting ourselves to how things are in each here and now of existence—

    While being present with the experience of our present,

    Interested in what is happening,

    And how we can imagine responding to it

    With the heart and soul of who we are.
  73. 06/09/2014 — Queen Anne’s Lace 03 — Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, NC, June 8, 2014

    It’s called walking two paths at once.

    On one path, we trust ourselves to the way things are, and see everything that happens as containing exactly what we need to rise to the occasion and bring forth who we are capable of being in order to do what needs to be done in each situation as it arises.

    And, on the other path, we work to make things more than they are by doing what needs to be done in each situation as it arises. There, we work without ceasing in the service of equal rights to every human being, affordable health care, a livable minimum wage, quality child care, quality education for all children including preschool and those with special needs, a renewed emphasis upon the separation of church and state, assistance for the poor and homeless, and a commitment to the arts as an avenue for the enhancement and expression of the creative imagination of all people.

    As we live to bring ourselves forth, we bring ourselves forth as a friend to all people and a servant of the common welfare with all living things.

    We live to strengthen our common bonds, and to serve the larger community of which we all are a part.
  74. 06/09/2014 — Horton House Ruins 02 — Jekyll Island State Park, Jekyll Island, GA, May 1, 2014

    Here is what we keep missing, overlooking, discounting, dismissing, ignoring, forgetting that keeps things in the mess they are in—in our personal life, and on national and international levels (And, probably, intergalacticly as well):

    Things cry out to be put right!

    This is the ground of the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement (AKA Redemption), the Hindu/Buddhist understanding of Karma, and Lao Tzu’s understanding of living at-one with, or aligned with, the Tao.

    It’s the difference of being in the flow of our life and out of it.

    When we are out of the flow of our life, things cry out to be put right.

    And we have confession, repentance, recompense, reparation, restitution, amends, forgiveness and absolution as steps to take to move from being out of the flow of our life, out of accord with the Tao, to being back in good graces with the movement of life and how things should be.

    The doctrinal process easily makes a “head thing” of a “heart thing.”

    When we are “out of touch with our heart,” when our life is going off in one direction and our heart would have us go in another, it is up to us to get our life back together with our heart.

    Things cry out to be put right!

    My hunch is that we all know what to do to put things right—to get back in our heart’s good graces.

    Three Hail Mary’s and an Our Father probably won’t do it.

    But, we know what will.

    Don’t we?
  75. 06/09/2014 — Roaring Fork Falls Detail 04 — Pisgah National Forest near Mt. Mitchell, NC, May 20, 2014

    All that is required of you is that you be interested in your life—in some aspect of your life—and that you invest yourself in, involve yourself with, the interest you have in your life.

    And get out of the way.

    Do what interests you period. PERIOD! P-E-R-I-O-D!

    Do not try to turn it to your advantage. Do not try to make it pay off in terms of making money from it.

    If you make money from it, fine, but don’t make making money from it the principle reason you do it. Continue to do it if the money dries up.

    Do not try to justify it, excuse it, explain or defend it.

    Do not wonder about why you are doing this old thing anyway.

    Do not let them talk you out of it, calling you selfish, and self-centered, and stupid…

    Do not think of how to make it Important in the eyes of your friends and family, or even to yourself.

    Do not get in the way.

    Do what interests you and stay out of the way.

    As, Lao Tzu would say, “Let nature take its course.”

    As I would say, “See where it goes.”

    There is nothing more to living YOUR life and being alive than this.
  76. 06/10/2014 — The Skeleton Trees of Graveyard Beach 04 — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, NC, May 9, 2014 — This is the future of every beach with trees near the high tide line, as global warming (AKA That Which Is Not Happening) and beach erosion take their toll. Those beaches with buildings near the high tide line will have a somewhat different appearance.

    Lao Tzu advises, “Do your work and step back. Let nature take its course.”

    We are here to do the work—the work that is our work to do—the work that interests us, that calls our name, is who we are, expressing us and bringing us forth at the same time. That work.

    We are to do the work the way a poet poets, the way a dancer dances, the way a musician musics.

    So when two people are talking about us and one says, “What’s Jim Dollar up to these days?” And the other says, “Oh, you know Jim,” they both know what I’m up to.

    I’m up to me. You are up to you. We are working our sides of the street. We are working the work that is our work to do.

    Not exploit.

    We are not here to exploit our work.

    Let’s say your work for this time in your life is to play basketball.

    Let’s say you have a particular talent for the game.

    Your work is to serve your talent, and to learn your position, and to learn the game, and to learn how you can best serve the team.

    Your work is not to exploit your talent, and bring the fans to their feet with your amazing blocks and dunks, and showboat your way into the NBA, and make a splash.

    Your work is not about making splashes.

    Your work is not about looking around for who is looking at you.

    Your work is about doing what is yours to do, the way only you can to it, to the best of your ability, in each situation as it arises, for as long as you are able to do it. And to see where it goes—without thinking about where it’s going.

  77. 06/10/2014 — Santee Sunrise Mirror 03 — Lake Marion, Santee State Park, Santee, SC, May 3, 2014 — Another Photoshop produced image, taking the top half of the image, copying it flipping it and attaching it to itself to produce an apparent reflection. If you see “mirror” in one of my titles, that’s the deal.

    We are awash in circumstances. They constitute “the heaving waves of the wine dark sea.”

    Now, you wouldn’t take a wave personally. Not even a big one. Not even when they came at you one after another.

    Think of your circumstances as waves.

    You wake up to a flat tire. It’s a wave. Another one is on the way.

    Maybe your neighbor offers to drive you to work and to fix your flat. It’s a wave.

    They are all waves, some favorable, some not so favorable.

    Be a sailor.

    Adopt Odysseus’ attitude:

    “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship / and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”

    Now, we’re talking! That’s the way to do it!
  78. 06/11/2014 — Thistle Memories — Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, NC, June 8, 2014

    How would you live if there were no one to impress?




    Show—As in “I’ll show YOU!”?

    What do you need to be who you are?

    Why does being who you are sound like you are settling for nothing?

    “Anybody can be who they are! That’s nothing!”

    I can see my work is cut out for me with you.

    You are too much the child of culture and economy,

    To be at ease with who you are.

    You have to be SOMEBODY.


    You have to be more than you are

    To matter.

    To count.

    To have a chance

    At achieving lasting greatness in the eyes of the world.

    I’ll never talk you out of it,

    And it would be wrong of me to try.

    You have to find out for yourself if you are right about what matters.

    About it mattering to matter in the eyes of whomever matters

    To you.

    By being someone other than who you are.


    Why exactly do they matter to you that much?
  79. 06/11/2014 — Around Price Lake 17 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    We are all going to die.

    It’s what we do in the meantime that matters.

    We are all going to live until we die.

    It’s how we do that that matters.

    How are you going to live the life yet to be lived?

    What are you going to do with the time left for living?
  80. Rainy Day in the Woods — Indian Land, SC, June 7, 2014

    Helplessness and vulnerability are part of the package.

    We are in harm’s way.

    Move as we will, we are still in harm’s way.

    We take our chances, and live with what comes in a day.

    Let it come, and don’t let it stop you from doing what is yours to do.

    This should have been the Gospel

    With Jesus on the cross

    And the Apostles proclaiming:

    We become the Christ when we follow Jesus

    And refuse to let even a cross

    Stop us from doing what is ours to do!

    That’s a sermon the world is still dying to hear.
  81. 6/12/2014 — Queen Anne’s Lace 02 — Mecklenburg County near Charlotte, NC, June 8, 2014

    Notice every time you dismiss, discount, ignore, reject, disparage and discard something.



    And wonder about its potential for being “the stone the builders reject.”

    The treasure is often to be found in our garbage dump.
  82. 06/12/2014 — Black Mountains HDR 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Mitchell, NC, May 20, 2014

    We turn a corner, and things are never what they were before we turned the corner.

    We are shocked by that, and undone.

    And resentful, and unforgiving.

    What gives?

    The ice caps are melting, and glaciers will soon be no more, not to mention Greenland, Iceland and Miami.

    Corners are turned all the time.

    Big ones.

    Cosmic ones.

    You know the Moon?

    Didn’t used to be there.

    You know the Sun?

    One day it won’t be there.

    So we turn a corner.

    We’ll turn another one.

    And one after that.

    We have no claim on life as we like it.

    Our place is to use whatever we find around the corner

    To bring ourselves more fully forth

    And be more who we are than we were before the turn.

    It’s called redeeming the experience.

    It’s also called rising from the dead.

    To die again and again in the service of the life

    That is ours to live.

    Turn each corner well,

    And live on!
  83. 06/12/2014 — The Peacock 02 — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 20, 2014

    If you see an elephant coming toward you down the path, get off the path!

    If pain and suffering can be avoided, avoid them!

    Illegitimate suffering is that which we submit to for no reason–

    That which we take upon ourselves because it doesn’t occur to us to get off the path!

    Make sure that all of your suffering is legitimate suffering.

    That would be suffering brought on by your dedication and loyalty

    To a life worth living–

    To the life that is your life to live.

    Or, suffering that is a natural by-product of being alive–

    The loss of loving attachments, physical ability, and the loss of everything through death.

    Let your suffering be in the right cause,

    And bear it well.

    You owe it to yourself and those you love to suffer what must be suffered,

    Without letting it stop you from doing what needs yet to be done.
  84. 06/13/2014 — Spore Stalks 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, NC, May 21, 2014

    It is important to know—and remember—that we serve purposes beyond or purposes—that we have motives that are not our motives.

    There is more to us than meets the eye.

    We are the conscious, visible, indicator of an unconscious, invisible universe.

    The tip of an iceberg.

    Thinking it’s the whole show.

    We are a contributing part of more than we can imagine.

    Our place is to assist, collaborate with, explore, experience, express that which needs to come to life in us and through us, for the good of the whole.

    It is not about whether there is milk for our coffee,

    Or entertaining pastimes to get us through our day.

    It’s about serving a good beyond our good,

    And being open to paths that call our name.

    Without understanding the ins and outs,

    Seeing the benefits and advantages,

    Or knowing what we are doing.

    We are just along for the ride.

    We don’t even know how to drive.

    Like you can drive an iceberg!

    Or park one.
  85. 06/13/2014 — Spore Stalks 02 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, NC, May 21, 2014

    It’s hard work, working life into your life.

    Your life wants nothing to do with being alive.

    All your life wants is compliance.



    To the requirements of life.

    Life doesn’t care anything about being alive.

    Being alive is a threat to life.

    To the structures, and traditions, and forms, and customs, and routines of life.

    Life resists being alive the way a baby comes kicking and screaming from the womb.

    The very idea.

    That life should live!

    It’s up to us to be alive whether we want to be or not.

    Never mind that it would be easier or not to remain dead,

    Stuck forever in patterns of life that have nothing to do with being alive.

    So, we have to take up the practice of being alive,

    And be the bearers of life, bringing life to birth in our life.

    It is the most essential thing—

    Working life into life—

    And sends a message,

    And sets the tone,

    And builds momentum,

    And creates karma.

    If you are going to do anything,

    Work life into life,

    Knead life into being.

    Birth yourself into being.
  86. 06/14/2014 — Atamasco Lily — Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC, April 22, 2014

    We live to learn the difference between egotistic willfulness and loyal devotion to the Inner Other.

    Here’s a clue:

    To what extent are we doubtful of our own sense of what needs to be done?

    How strong is our tendency to second-guess ourselves?

    To proceed with hesitancy and trepidation?

    How strong is the inclination to not do the thing we think needs us to do it?

    If we are 100% convicted, sure and certain that the thing we are doing is absolutely the right thing to do beyond question and doubt—with nothing in our experience to substantiate our position and uphold us in our stance—we should take that as a sign that we are telling ourselves what we want to hear, and would be wise to stop listening.

    Our collaboration with the Inner Other depends on our proceeding with caution, and listening intently to make sure we hear what we think we are hearing.

    Act with reservation, open to being mistaken, and willing to examine all evidence suggesting that we are.

    If you have no doubts, don’t do it.
  87. 06/14/2014 — Red Clover — Cuddo Unit, Santee National Wildlife Refuge, near Summerton, SC, May 2, 2014

    We have to work out for ourselves where religion, with its theology and doctrine, fits into our life—or whether it fits at all.

    It doesn’t take the Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus or Christians very long to come to a conclusion about that.

    But, the Christians are offended, put off, and undone if we put them in a pile with the others and make up our minds about them all.

    They think their God is the Real God because the Bible says so, and don’t stop to think about what makes them think that the Bible is right about that.

    “We take it on faith!”, they say.

    But, why take that on faith and not something else instead?

    Because the Bible says you’re going to hell if you don’t!

    You see the circle forming, don’t you?

    You just have to walk away.

    Because they have to convince you that you are going to hell if you don’t believe what they say about you going to hell.

    We will never get their permission to put all of it—all religions—religion as a whole—on the table and work out for ourselves where, if anywhere, it fits into our life.

    Jesus and the Dalai Lama see eye-to-eye about a lot of things.

    They both would say, “Live from your heart, with compassion for all people, and don’t worry about doctrine and theology.”

    Or, with a more direct quote, “In as much as you have done it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me—no matter how well you think you have your doctrine and theology figured out.”
  88. 06/15/2014 — Stillness — Santee State Park, Santee, SC, May 2, 2014

    We can’t believe waking up and being alive is all there is to it.

    We keep giving ourselves reasons to be alive.

    Our “reasons” are all excuses.

    We excuse life for bothering us with its ridiculous limitations and inconveniences—

    Sickness, suffering and death, for instance—

    By inventing new and thrilling entertainments

    To take our mind off being alive.

    But, it’s all about waking up and being alive.

    We lull ourselves to sleep

    With flashing lights and loud music

    Because anything less than fast and furious is booorrrriiinnnggg,

    And miss the things life has to teach us

    About waking up and being alive.

    We throw away the time left for living,

    And can’t wait until it’s over.

    We die complaining about life

    Without ever having lived.

    We miss the point

    By refusing to have anything to do with it.

    Arrogance trumps life every time.
  89. 06/15/2014 — On Roan Mountain 04 — Orange Flame Azaleas, Roan Mountain, TN, June 15, 2014

    The problem with religion is that it has to make a case for itself.

    Enter doctrine and theology riding their circular track, going nowhere.

    Spirituality is self-validating.

    Experience doesn’t have to be explained, understood, justified or believed.

    You know when something is beautiful.

    Religion spends its time talking to itself about things it has never experienced.

    People are dying for experiences with the heart of life and being.

    Where would you go for that?

    I recommend an encounter with beauty in art, music and nature.

    No one has to say anything.

    Know anything.

    Think anything.

    Truth is felt, not said.

    So it is with the holy and the sacred.

    You find your holy places by walking around until you feel the holiness of a place.

    What are the holiest places you know?

    I have my list, and I trust you to be working on yours.
  90. 06/16/2014 — Rhododendron Gardens 01 — Pisgah National Forest, Roan Mountain, NC, June 16, 2014

    Carl Jung said, “The shoes that fit one person may be a tight fit on another,” or words to that effect.

    Every thing depends upon what we make it out to be.

    Each of us is responsible for interpreting—for finding the meaning in—our experience with what comes our way.

    We have to make sense of things in ways that work for us.

    One person’s way of understanding, and responding to, her (or his) life experience may not work for the person next door, or down the street.

    I think it helps to continually reflect upon our experience in light of the rest of our experience, form new realizations and revise the way we live our life, based on our new ways of thinking about our life.

    There are traditional ways of living in cultures around the world that haven’t changed in generations. People living today experience their life the way their parents and grandparents experienced their life.

    Their life works well for them, but their shoes would pinch my feet—and my shoes would not suit them.

    We have to work our side of the street, and allow everyone else to work their sides of the street, without trying to agree about how the work is to be done.

    Each of us has to live our life as well as we can imagine doing that, and take what is helpful from all that comes our way—and leave the rest for someone else to take, or leave.
  91. 02/17/2014 — On Roan Mountain 01 — Cherokee National Forest, Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    Someone is always ahead,

    And someone is always behind.

    If you think you are ahead,

    You are behind someone who is ahead of you.

    If you think you are behind,

    you are ahead of someone who is behind you.

    Ahead is behind.

    Behind is ahead.

    So, is it better to be ahead or behind?

    It’s all the same.

    What matters is being where you are,

    With an open heart and mind—

    Exhibiting the old values

    And living the life that is your life to live

    In each here and now of your living.

    Grace and mercy,

    Compassion and peace

    Are always appropriate responses

    To our circumstances

    Whether we are ahead or behind.
  92. On Roan Mountain 10 — Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands, TN, June 15, 2014

    I don’t know the difference–or if there is a difference–between forgiveness and making our peace with something.

    I think I can make my peace with my situation in life, say, without forgiving those who made my situation what it is.

    I can make my peace with my situation and still think those who made it what it is should be held accountable, and forgiveness seems to carry the idea that accountability should be thrown out the window, and we will all kiss and make up and be friends everlasting forever.

    George W. Bush gave us the mess in Iraq. He should carry the accountability for that horrendous act–and the Big Lie of weapons of mass destruction that laid the groundwork for it–through all eternity.

    But, I can make my peace with the situation, and wonder what we can do with it to ameliorate its impact and reduce the repercussions across generations yet to come.

    This process needs to be lived out on a personal level, as well as on national and international levels.

    We can make our peace with our life, and do what can be done to deal with what has been dealt us–while still keeping the requirement for accountability in place, and without relaxing the need for making right what can be made right on the part of those who had a hand in dealing the cards we are now trying to play.

    We can’t let our remorse, or our anger, or our pain and suffering keep us from doing what needs to be done to rise to the occasion, and live as well as life can be lived–anyway, nevertheless, even so.
  93. 06/18/2014 — On Roan Mountain 03 B&W — Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain Highlands at Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    When we “find the center,” it is the center of ourselves that we find.

    It is what is central to us that we discover.

    It is what is deepest, truest, and best about us.

    It is who we are and what we are about.

    Living aligned with what is central to us is the source of our integrity, our authenticity.

    It is the ground of what is important—of what matters most.

    It is the well spring of life.

    The source of vitality and meaning.

    Living from your center, you have it made.
  94. 06/18/2014 — On Roan Mountain 05 — Jane Bald, Appalachian Trail, Roan Mountain Highlands, Cherokee National Forest, Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    The Adams Family (You have to be old to know who I mean) were all nice people in their own way, but they were different.

    How different can we allow people to be?

    How harmonized—how pasteurized and homogenized—do we have to be in order to be “a community”?

    How different can we be and still be One—and still be a community?

    Differences become different-ness in no time.

    Different-ness leads to suspicion, hostility, seclusion, exclusion, evasion, avoidance, shunning, ostracizing, bullying, tormenting, derision, humiliation, castigation, witch-hunts, lynch mobs, police forces, standing armies, warfare, and Armageddon.

    It’s a slippery slope when we start thinking about Us and Them.

    We better start re-thinking the whole thing.

    We could start with ourselves.

    And the concept of Light and Dark.

    Darkness has always been something to avoid. Light has always been something to embrace.

    Light is Good. Dark is Evil.

    Since Zoroaster, ca. 2,000 BCE, we’ve thought of Light and Dark, Good and Evil, as being locked in a winner-take-all, fight to the finish.


    All the Light and all the Dark that ever has been or will be is floating around in each one of us.

    WE contain the forces of Good and Evil, and it’s high time we started making peace and living together with the opposites within for the true good of all—within and without.

    All it takes is a vision and a commitment to serve the vision with heart, soul, mind and body all our life long.

    It’s the next great adventure. Are you in? Keep reading. And practice what I’m preaching here!
  95. 06/19/2014 — Roan Mountain Barn 01 — Roan Mountain, TN, June 16, 2014

    We turn a corner and run into something we didn’t expect, hope for, want, or have a use for, but there it is, and we have to adjust our life to take it into account.

    War is like that, or health issues, or family crises…

    What we had planned, or had going, is now off the table, and “Now what?” is the only thing remaining.

    Takes a while to sort things out, pick ourselves up, and begin to find our way.

    If we try to get “back to normal” too quickly, we miss the opportunity to filter through the old normal for the things of true value.

    What were the things that mattered most about our old life? What of those things remain valid possibilities for our new life?

    This is called regaining the center. We are reestablishing what is central to our life that can be maintained in all times and places, all conditions and circumstances, in every context.

    What remains intact, true, and valuable to us through all events and situations?

    Make those things your focus. Live for those things—in the service of those things—keeping those things in mind.

    In the midst of personal upheaval, when he was in danger of losing all bearings, Carl Jung found himself looking for the ground and center of his life. He asked himself what was central. The only thing he could come up with, looking back over his entire life, was the importance of working with stones when he was a boy.

    So, he started working with stones, and built a stone house—a retreat that not only brought him back into focus as a human being, but served as a grounding place where he wrote, thought and lived throughout the remainder of his life.

    A life without a foundation is like quicksand. We can go through the motions of living without being alive. What is it that can hold us up?
  96. 06/19/2014 — Rhododendron Gardens 07 B&W — Pisgah National Forest, Roan Mountain, NC, June 16, 2014

    It doesn’t matter how big the universe is.

    Or how many stars and planets there are.

    Or whether there is, or was, life on any or all of the inhabitable planets in each of the solar systems in existence or no longer existing.

    Or how many religions there are.

    Or how many ideas about God.

    Or which ones are right and which ones are wrong.

    Or what is True Religion, True Doctrine, True Belief.

    It comes down to you and your understanding of God.

    To you and your life—the one you are living and the one that is yours to live.

    To you and your attitude, your perspective, your values, your spirit, your heart, your courage, your curiosity, your compassion, your incentive, your questions, your attachment to what is meaningful to you, your willingness to risk everything in the service of what needs to be done in each situation as it arises all your life long…

    All that other stuff just distracts you from what your business is and tending it.
  97. 06/19/2014 — On Roan Mountain 07 — Jane Bald, Roan Mountain Highlands, Cherokee National Park at Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    Jesus’ passion—his love—for the life that was his life to live led to his passion—his suffering—on the cross.

    Jesus died for the sake of his life.

    And calls us to follow him.

    This is the Gospel.

    It has nothing to do with forgiveness, repentance, atonement, sin and eternal life that doesn’t begin until we die.

    Eternal life is the life we life in the timelessness of the moment of our living.

    You know how, when you are on the beam and at one with your life, you lose track of time? Time has no meaning, no place, when we are living like that.

    We experience eternity—timelessness—in the here and now when we are here, now, and at one with the life that is our life to life.

    The word passion means both love and suffering.

    It’s the perfect word for what we are about.

    We live willing to suffer for the love of our life.

    When have we loved our life to that extent?

    We try to escape our life! To be done with the thing! We hate it! It is in our way! It won’t do right!

    We suffer for not having a life worth living.

    This is the sickness unto death.

    It is going through the motions of life as dead people.

    Jesus calls us out of this good as dead life—resurrects us, if you will—and directs us to follow him into the life that is our life to live, the life that is unique to us, that only we can live, and live it with passion from the heart for what is ours to do.

    But there is a catch.

    Passion has two meanings.
  98. 06/20/2014 — On Roan Mountain 21 — Cherokee National Forest at Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    We are here, in part, for the benefit and enjoyment of each other’s company without interfering with the other’s life, or transgressing the other’s boundaries in any way.

    There is an Old Testament commandment that did not make the top ten, but should have been at the top of the list, because there should be no distinction between how we treat God and how we treat one another.

    We should treat one another as God. The difference between “the temple of the Holy Spirit” and “the Holy Spirit” isn’t worth talking about. The two are one.

    My favorite Old Testament commandment is this: Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark!

    Literally, it meant, don’t move your neighbor’s boundary marker, reducing his land and increasing yours.

    Metaphorically, it means, honor your neighbor and respect her, and his, right to her, and his, own life, own business, own mistakes, etc.

    This Old Testament commandment is implied in one of Jesus’ commandments: Love your neighbor as yourself.

    If we incorporated these commandments into our life, it would solve a lot of problems. Maybe all of them.

    One of our task’s is to learn to benefit from and enjoy each other’s company without messin’ in each other’s life.

    You have your business and I have mine.

    You work your side of the street and I work mine.

    And—AND—we can live together for the good of the other without removing the other’s landmark or making the other’s business our business.

    We have our own business.

    Being good neighbors means knowing where we stop and the other starts. And staying on our respective side of that line.

    Marriages would be better if they worked this way, too.
  99. On Roan Mountain 12 — Cherokee National Forest at Carver’s Gap, TN, June 15, 2014

    We all come from the same source.

    We all know something about where we’ve been.

    We all have the sense of what its like—

    The feel for its drift and flow.

    We know when we are in its presence

    And when we are far from the heart that beats in synch with our heart.

    We all long for more than we know.

    And we all have perspectives, and instincts, and intuition, and things to say

    That would benefit the rest of us—

    If we would stop trying to convert, condemn, excommunicate and execute each other,

    And listen to what is trying to be heard

    Through the chorus of many voices

    Singing of home.
  100. Around Price Lake 13 — Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC, May 20, 2014

    We are going to die. Our death is not an option. It is unavoidable. Are we going to live before we die is the question.

    Life is up to us. How alive will we be in the time left for living?

    At this stage in my own life—retired and on the cusp of 70—it seems to me that the path of life consists of the following experiences, which are repeated with frequent regularity along the way from birth to death:

    Confrontation, Recognition, Realization, Reconciliation, Integration, Transcendence, and Transformation.

    This process can be thwarted by denial, anger, fear, suppression, resistance and a host of avoidance behaviors.

    It is facilitated by warm, caring companionship.

    It is made possible by compassion, acceptance, vulnerability and an affinity for the soft values—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, tenderness, grace, mercy, goodwill, etc.—and by our capacity to bear the pain of acquiescence to the inevitables that are a part of the fabric of physical existence.

    And, for our trouble, we get to be alive in the time left for living.

    Before you spit on that and walk away in disgust at the paucity of the deal, consider how rare the opportunity for life is over the broad sweep of geological time, and the fact that the entirety of creation has been waiting for you to come to life, and grace it with the gifts and perspective that are unique to you for the everlasting (Believe it or not—your call, but you would be stupid not to) benefit of all there is, and ask yourself:

    Do you really want to throw away your one chance at opening your arms to your life just as it is, and living it for all it’s worth for as long as life is possible—especially considering the possibility that there may be more riding on your decision than your idea of what would be worth your time and effort—that something might have a stake in your bringing yourself forth, and daring to live the life that is yet yours to live within the life you are living, beyond your concerns for your convenience, comfort and ease of life?

    Besides, why would you leave us to make our way without you making the full effort to join us in the work of doing what needs to be done, whether it makes any sense or not?

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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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