One Minute Monologues 053

December 23, 2019 — January 29, 2020

  1. 12/23/2019— 

    It is easy to feel as though
    nothing we do matters.
    This is called,
    being in the trough,
    which is the low point
    of a wave.

    When we are in the trough,
    we have to recognize it,
    and wait it out.
    The trough is the turn-a-round
    between crests.

    The tide comes in
    and the tide goes out,
    and, in between,
    the tide turns around;

    The wave goes up
    and the wave goes down.
    The point between up and down
    (Crest and Trough)
    is called “Sea Level.”

    Waves are in constant motion.
    There is no steady state
    to a wave.
    A trough is just a trough.
    A crest is just a crest.
    Sea level is just a point
    between the two.

    What a wave does
    at every point
    is the work of being a wave.

    The next time we find ourselves
    thinking that nothing we do matters,
    that it is all useless,
    pointless,
    hopeless,
    futile
    and there is not reason to go on,
    we have to say,
    “Aha! These are the signs
    of being in a trough!”
    And keep on doing the work
    of being who we are
    even in a trough.

    The work of being a wave
    is what a wave does,
    without thinking it is
    a wondrous wave at the crest,
    and ought to end it all
    in the trough.
    A wave doesn’t give
    stuff like that a second thought.
    It just goes on doing the work
    of being a wave.

    Take a lesson from the wave,
    and go on doing the work
    of being you,
    without giving how you feel
    about your work
    a second thought.

    Our work is why we are here.
    Our work is who we are.
    We do our work best
    when we aren’t stepping away
    from it to grade it,
    judge it,
    opine about it,
    grouse and whine,
    moan and complain.

    We have to believe in our work
    even in the trough,
    and do it through all the stages,
    in each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.
    As though it makes all the difference,
    even when the evidence
    seems to suggest otherwise.

    We are to do our work
    the way it ought to be done,
    no matter how we feel about it,
    because it is our work,
    and where would it be with out us?

    What would the ocean be
    without waves?

  2. 12/24/2019—  McAlpine Creek 12/23/2019 01 Panorama — McAlpine Creek Greenway, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 23, 2019, after 2.5 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. There is a foot bridge somewhere under there. Maybe. Still.

    We all operate under
    the illusion/delusion/conviction
    (And where *does* that line lie?)
    that we know what’s best for us,
    and that we would be better off
    somewhere else,
    with something else.

    The United States had its beginning
    with a small group of immigrants
    thinking they would be better off
    not being economic slaves
    to their British “owners.”

    Members of every caste system worldwide
    feel this way.

    Our ancestors went from
    being better off not being slaves
    to being better off having slaves
    in no time at all–
    not bothered a bit
    by the incongruous nature
    of that shift in logic.

    “There is nothing incongruous about it!”
    our ancestors–
    and many of their descendants–
    would say,
    “It isn’t slavery that is bad.
    It is *being* a slave that is bad.
    *Owning* slaves is great!”

    This “blind spot,”
    reflects a basic motivating principle
    operating within the species
    (Which all people sufficiently sensitive
    and aware
    are increasingly ashamed of–
    the species,
    I’m talking about–
    over the course of their life),
    namely:
    We don’t care if what is better for us
    is worse for someone else.
    We know what is better for us,
    and we are going to die in its service!

    And sex slavery
    (AKA “Human Trafficking”)
    and the drug business
    (Legal and illegal)
    are booming businesses
    these days.

    As a species,
    we never reach a place
    or a stage in life
    where we wouldn’t be better off
    somewhere else,
    with something we don’t have
    and without something we do have.

    The quest to have this
    and be rid of that
    keeps us going.
    And we are certain
    we know what we are doing.

    Say what you will,
    you will never talk us out of it.

    Striving to get
    and to get rid of
    is the fundamental thrust of life.
    And we think we are going to be,
    not only serenely happy,
    but also completely satisfied and content,
    in heaven
    for all eternity.

    There are two chances of that happening,
    as the old saying goes,
    “fat and slim.”

  3. 12/24/2019—  December Shoreline 12/14/2012 — Lake Brandt from the Lake Brandt Greenway, Bur-Mill Park access, Greensboro, NC — December 14, 2012

    We have gotten away from
    relishing our food,
    liking our clothes,
    being comfortable in our ways,
    and enjoying our work
    (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching).

    And the way back
    is lost in the dust of the world
    and the noise of the 10,000 things.

    Cultivate silence.
    Keep faith with yourself
    and with one another.
    Wait for right action to arise
    and follow where it leads,
    without trying to guide things
    to serve your ends,
    or to impose your agenda
    upon any situation.

12/25/2019—  Lake Haigler 11/24/2019 08 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, November 24, 2019

In each situation,
there is
how things are,
how we think things are,
how we pretend things are,
how we want things to be,
how things ought to be,
how things can be.

How we respond to it
tells the tale.

  • 12/25/2019—  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Lake Abbot, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Everybody should spend one day annually
    being totally dead,
    from Midnight to 6 PM.
    Then come back to life.

    Let go completely
    of all the things you tend to in a day,
    that keep you wrapped up in the drama of life,
    that demand your attention
    and your care.

    When you are actually dead,
    you will not tend those things,
    or anything else.

    All of your obligations,
    duties,
    responsibilities
    will disappear then,
    so disappear them now
    for 18 hours.
    Once a year.

    What you do about
    eating and drinking
    is up to you.

    Let your family and friends
    know what you are doing.
    Invite them to join you.

    Spend 18 hours in silence,
    paying attention to everything
    in each moment.
    Write down your thoughts,
    describe what you experience,
    record all of the questions that occur to you,
    note all of the things that arise in your imagination,
    that come to mind,
    that emerge,
    arise.

    Reflect on these things
    and note what occurs to you
    in your reflections.

    Take walks.
    Silent walking meditations.
    Notice everything.
    Notice your responses to everything.
    Attend what is happening
    and what you do in response.

    Come to life in your death.
    See what being dead
    has to teach you
    about being alive.

    Be dead for 18 hours
    once a year.

  • 12/26/2019—  Parkway Overlooks 10/28/2019 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    Insight is the child of conflict,
    contradiction,
    paradox,
    anomaly,
    pain,
    agony,
    anguish,
    opposition,
    limits,
    boundaries,
    dead ends,
    grief,
    loss,
    sorrow…

    We don’t just sit quietly
    in the comfort
    of soft reflection
    and gather insight.

    Insight is pounded into us
    by circumstances beyond
    our control,
    or our imagining.

    We wrestle with demonic powers,
    struggling for life against unseen forces
    and rise up
    with only realization
    to show for our effort.

    Nothing changes but our perspective,
    and that transforms everything.
    But not without extracting
    a terrible price.

    Every new way of seeing
    eats our old way of seeing alive.

12/27/2019—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 06 — Lake Haigler Falls (Spillway), Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

Helping people find what they need
to do what needs to be done
is keeping faith with ourselves
and with one another.

Using anyone to get what we want
at the expense of troth,
truthfulness,
transparency,
goodwill,
and common decency
is breaking faith with ourselves
and with one another.

Treating anyone in ways that demean,
disregard,
disrespect,
dishonor them
is a betrayal of trust
and a failure of our inherent duty
to do right by all people.

And our refusal to call each other out
in this matter
and demand the best we have to offer
to all others
in each situation as it arises
is why we are where we are
as a nation
and a planet.

Demand the best of yourself
and each other,
and don’t let anyone get by
with less than that,
under any circumstances,
ever.

  • 12/28/2019—  Boat House 12/26/2019 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    Jesus pissed people off.

    Not only that,
    but also, Jesus pissed the right people off.

    At one point,
    or another,
    in his life,
    Jesus pissed everybody off.

    The moral of this story
    is that if you call yourself a Christian,
    and are not living in a way
    that pisses people,
    especially the right people,
    and occasionally all the people,
    off,
    you have no business calling yourself a Christian.

    Of course, it follows here
    that being the church
    and paying the bills
    is more than a little bit iffy.

    Throughout my 40.5 years
    of ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
    I could never figure out
    how to be the church
    and pay the bills.

    Jesus paid very few bills.

    He did not pay his disciples,
    he had no administrative expenses,
    he never paved a parking lot,
    or repaired a roof,
    or painted a building,
    either inside or out,
    he never bought an organ,
    or a baby grand piano,
    or any piano…

    The list is long of expenses
    Jesus never incurred.

    Jesus could afford to piss people off.

    Pissing people off is the sine qua non
    of being in the business
    of being the church.

    The church is in the business of growing people up.
    Of squaring people up
    to the reality of what needs to be done,
    and of what they will have to give up
    to do it.

    No one ever–
    you could Googleit–
    grows up
    without growing up
    against their will.

    It is forced on all of us
    by our circumstances
    and our values.

    The people who choose to please
    their circumstances
    over their values
    never grow up.

    The people who choose to please
    their values
    over their circumstances
    grow up through the agony
    of their choices
    over the full course
    of their life.

    You can’t be the church
    as the church needs to be the church
    without growing up.
    And that means pissing people off.

    So if you are a member of some church,
    no matter how large,
    that is paying the bills,
    you aren’t doing it correctly.

    You cannot be the church–
    as Jesus was the church–
    and pay the bills.

    You are already splitting hairs aren’t you?
    “Jesus didn’t have a CHURCH!”
    A little accommodation here.
    Jesus didn’t do it the way it needed to be done
    and pay the bills.
    How’s that?

    If you are going to do it like Jesus did it,
    you are going to piss people off.
    If you aren’t pissing people off,
    you aren’t doing it like Jesus did it.

    How many people,
    particularly the right kind of people,
    have you pissed off today?
    Or even, recently?

    Try growing yourself up
    and see if you can’t improve your numbers.

  • 12/28/2019—  Boat House 12/26/2019 02 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    What can we legitimately expect from God–
    or from That Which Has Always Been Called “God”?

    The answer is not going to sit well with you:

    “Exactly what we need
    to do what needs us to do it
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.”

    No more.
    No less.

    What we get from God,
    or from TWHABCG,
    is the ability to rise to the occasion
    on every occasion,
    and offer there
    what needs to be offered
    for the good of the occasion.
    For the good of the Whole.

    PERIOD!

    Who is going to be content with that?
    Only those of us who recognize what’s what
    and make their peace with it,
    taking it on faith
    that they will be able to make out
    with no more than that
    all their life long.

    The rest of us are strictly on their own.

  • 12/29/2019—  McMullen Creek 12/28/2019 01 Panorama — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Flood Plain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    *Don’t build houses, offices, shops and deli’s in a flood plane! Build Greenways!*
    –0–

    The right to self-determination
    shall not be infringed!

    This is the foundational ground
    to all democracies.

    Our liberty is limited only
    by the Constitutional rights of others
    (Barack Obama).

    Until we all get behind this fundamental premise,
    we struggle with how to be free and bound
    at the same time.

    Freedom is binding.
    The right kind of bondage is freeing.

    We bind ourselves to one another
    by our pledge to serve the true good
    of the situation as a whole.

    It all rides on good faith–
    on our keeping faith with ourselves
    and with one another.

    The bondage of freedom
    is knowing where the lines lie,
    and living within the limits
    imposed on us
    by the rights of others.

    The single most important commandment
    in the Old Testament is:
    “Thou Shalt Not Remove Thy Neighbor’s Landmark!”
    In the New Testament it is:
    “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.”

    Stay on your side of the line!

    It is as simple as that.

  • 12/29/2019—  Cascades 04/22/2011 Panorama — The Cascades, E.B. Jeffress Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 272.5, Wilkes County, North Carolina, April 22, 2011

    There is how things are,
    and there is what we can do about it,
    and that is how things are.

    Coming to terms with how things are
    is called growing up.

    Growing up is all that is left to us
    more often than we want to admit.

    Carl Jung said
    “None of the important problems of life can be solved.
    They can only be out-grown”
    (Or words to that effect).

    Part of growing up
    is waiting for the shift to happen
    that allows us to do more
    about our circumstances
    than the present situation
    allows us to do.

    We bide our time,
    sit in the stillness,
    wait in the silence,
    watching/listening,
    for the Way to arise,
    emerge,
    occur to us
    and call us to action.

    What needs to happen
    to allow us to do what needs to happen
    about the circumstances
    we are facing?

    Too often, we have no idea,
    and have to wait to see even that,
    trusting ourselves to know
    the right idea when it comes,
    and act spontaneously in its service
    when the time for action arrives.

    Waiting,
    watching,
    listening,
    is doing what can be done
    in situations that allow nothing more.

    “When the flower opens,
    the bees appear.”
    “When the student is ready,
    the teacher appears.”
    “When the tide turns,
    the water rises or recedes.”

    Until then, we wait.
    Watching.
    Listening.

    When the door opens,
    we walk through.

  • 12/29/2019—  Earth Shadow 12/18/2012 01 — Lake Brandt, Bur-Mil Park, Greensboro, NC — December 18, 2012

    It is no accident
    that Donald Trump
    is the architect
    of hatred,
    ruthlessness,
    violence,
    brutality
    and inhumanity.
    He is perfect for the role.

    Insecure,
    impotent,
    ignorant,
    terrified,
    alone,
    unloved
    and unlovable,
    he must lash out
    at everyone
    he perceives to be threatening.

    Trump must demean and attack,
    or better,
    torment and kill,
    the media,
    his political opponents,
    the helpless,
    the marginalized,
    the disenfranchised,
    the destitute
    and depleted–
    in order to experience
    the thrill of potency and power–
    the power of vindictiveness and destruction.

    He is at the mercy of his own vulnerabilities,
    and cannot bear the truth
    of his inability to face the just-so-ness
    of who he is.

    And he speaks to,
    and attracts,
    and is attracted to,
    those like him.

    He was elected by those
    who feel what he feels,
    who fear what he fears,
    who hates what he hates,
    and want nothing more
    than to kill what he wants killed.

    Which leaves the rest of us
    to devise strategies
    and implement them
    in the service of defending
    and protecting
    the victims of his rage–
    by taking up their cause,
    speaking out in their behalf,
    denouncing and condemning
    his intolerance
    and his inflammatory tweets
    and orations.

    And working against his re-election
    and that of Republicans.
    in all levels of public office,
    to bring an end to the insanity–
    the inhumanity–
    and restore the institutions
    devoted to effecting and enhancing
    liberty and justice for all.

  • 12/30/2019—  McMullen Creek Slough 12/28/2019 07 Panorama — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Flood Plain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    Truth is always right there,
    waiting to be seen
    by those open to its presence
    and ready to do its bidding
    no matter what.

    That’s the catch.

    “Eyes to see,
    ears hear,
    hearts to understand”
    depend on
    not having to have things
    a certain way.

    Seeing how things are
    and knowing what’s what
    ask hard things of us,
    and require us to do what needs to be done.

    In each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.

    Everything that can be known
    is right there waiting to be known.

    There are no secrets.

    The information is quite available
    “to the mortal man,”
    and woman,
    and anyone else who cares to look.
    With their eyes open to what’s there,
    unafraid of what that might mean,
    or ask of them,
    in every situation that arises,
    every day of their life.

    We all access to the same data.
    All of the time.

    Step into a moment,
    look around.
    It is all right there.

    Where do you get your news?
    You are choosing to not-know
    what is going on
    by not getting your news
    from multiple sources.

    You are closing yourself off
    from what’s to be seen,
    heard,
    known,
    understood,
    comprehended,
    assimilated,
    used as grist for the mill.

    We are milling ourselves here.
    Bringing ourselves to life
    to meet the situation,
    and handle the circumstances,
    of our living
    all our life long.

    We need to know all there is to know,
    and know what to do with it,
    about it,
    and know what needs us to do it,
    and know how to go about doing it,
    in each moment
    of every day.

    But we want to glide along
    Smooth And Easy Street,
    following the cows
    from the barn
    to the pasture
    back to the barn.

    So, we are careful
    to not ask the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and to not say the things
    that cry out to be said,
    and to not know the truth
    that sets us free,
    and breaks our heart,
    and binds us to the service of truth
    in every moment
    of every day
    forever.

    What kind of freedom is that?
    We want to be free
    to not do a damn thing
    we don’t want to do.
    Ever.

    And that keeps us
    from seeing how things are,
    and knowing what’s what,
    and living in light of that,
    with all it implies
    every day
    for the rest of our life.

    What are we not seeing
    that is right there
    waiting to be seen?
    Right here.
    Right now.

  • 12/30/2019—  High Falls 04/12/2011 01 Panorama — DuPont State Forest, Transylvania County, near Brevard, NC — April 12, 2011

    Let’s start with this fundamental premise:

    I love you.

    I take that to mean
    I have no interest in you
    beyond connecting you with your life
    and getting out of your way.

    Anything more than that,
    other than that,
    is messing with your life.
    Is sabotaging your life.
    Is destroying your life.

    The most loving thing
    anyone can do for us
    is to enable us to live our own life.

    Everything we need is right there
    in our life–
    the life we are responsible for living.

    Whatever bumps us off that track
    interferes with our ability
    to follow our own hunches,
    rely on our own intuition,
    listen to our own guide,
    and live our own life.

    It is appalling how easily distracted we are,
    how easily un-tracked we are,
    how easily we drift off the path,
    lose the way,
    and wander through the wilderness
    wondering how we got there
    and what do we do now.

    We are responsible to ourselves,
    for ourselves,
    and have to listen intently
    for what we have to say,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    We cannot do that
    with someone else talking to us,
    directing us,
    telling us what to do and not do,
    or just offering us options
    that are not compatible
    with the interests
    and directions
    we need to be following.

    Here is the best advice
    you are ever going to receive:
    Listen to what resonates with you
    without thinking it is forever and always.
    Be alert to the way
    “One book opens another,”
    and dance with the music
    only you can hear.

    I love you, but.
    What your life needs of you,
    I do not know,
    and I have to get out of your way
    so that you will know–
    and trust yourself to the guidance
    tuned to the frequency of your particular life.

  • 12/30/2019—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    The tide comes in and goes out,
    and the world is just as it is

    And if we were who we say we are
    over the generations,
    instead of saying one thing
    and doing another,
    pretending,
    posing,
    posturing,
    playing games,
    and serving a hidden agenda,
    we could add a measure of stability
    and balance to the wild swings
    of extremes over time.

    Harmony and equilibrium
    are evidence of
    virtue and integrity.

    Has anyone seen either of those of late?

    We do what we can
    to restore lost peace
    by returning to the silence/stillness
    and putting ourselves in accord
    with the source of life and being,
    one person at a time.

    Peace is not imposed from without,
    from above,
    but arises from within.

    Who can be at peace in these times?
    Be that person!
    Each of us–
    be that person!

  • 12/31/2019—  McMullen Creek 12/282019 02 — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Flood Plain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    “Oz never did give nothing
    to the Tin Man
    that he didn’t,
    didn’t already have…”
    (America, lyrics)

    And we can’t be looking
    for somebody else
    to give us what is ours
    to do and to be.

    There is no one
    to deliver us.
    We have only ourselves
    to call upon
    to get us out of the messes
    we make
    and allow to be made
    by failing/refusing
    to be what the situation
    is calling us to be
    in the time and place
    of our living,
    in ways appropriate
    to the occasion.

    It takes practice,
    and believing in ourselves.

    Having faith in anything but ourselves
    is delusional
    and a failure of nerve.

    But that doesn’t mean
    I could sing at your wedding,
    or dance in even a poor
    rendition of the Nutcracker.

    The Renaissance Man/Woman
    is a fiction.
    There is what we can do,
    and what we have no business doing.
    Ours is to play the roles
    assigned to us
    wearing the face that was ours
    before we were born.

    Donald Trump is no President.
    And I couldn’t play
    centerfield for the Yankees
    or the Mudville 9.

    When we try to rise above
    our rightful place,
    and live beyond our means,
    we create a disturbance in the flow
    that takes years to abate.

    History is the story of the world
    trying to right itself
    from the impact of roles gone wrong,
    with singers trying to be golfers,
    and doctors wanting to be lawyers,
    and mechanics pretending to be CEO’s.

    It goes back to seeing and being who we are,
    and resisting the attraction
    to be who we are not.

    Living aligned with ourselves,
    in accord with the gifts
    and genius
    that are ours to serve,
    in harmony with the frequency
    that resonates with our soul,
    is a blessing and a grace
    upon our life and the world.

    Being out of tune
    is the discordant chaos
    of an orchestra in warm-up mode.

  • 12/31/2019—  Scrapping Fall 12/10/2019 04 — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Caroling, December 10, 2019

    If kindness,
    compassion
    and integrity
    are your guiding principles,
    you will be able to trust yourself
    to respond spontaneously
    to the situation as it arises
    in ways appropriate to the occasion,
    without having to delay your response
    in order to think carefully
    through your checklist
    of should/shouldn’t,
    ought/oughtn’t
    must/mustn’t
    and be able to defend your action
    based on what is normal,
    prudent
    and expected
    within the circumstances,
    while missing the door that opened
    and closed
    while you were being distracted
    by your work to be pleasing.

    Be improvisational!
    Take your chances
    with doing right by the moment
    even if what you do
    has never been done before,
    or may never be done again.

    Life is improv,
    dead is safe.

  • 12/31/2019—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 03 — Spillway Falls, Anne Spring Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    What needs you to do it?
    How long have you been avoiding it?
    What is at work here?

    There is nothing but your life to live
    as it needs to be lived–
    not as someone else thinks it needs to be lived,
    but as your life knows it needs to be lived.

    Our life is not ours to do with as we please.
    We belong to our life to do its bidding.

    When I write these words,
    or any words,
    or all words,
    I am only endeavoring to write
    what needs to be written.

    When I live my life,
    I am only striving to live what needs to be lived,
    what needs me to live it.
    I go where I am led,
    I do as I am directed–
    as I intuit,
    feel,
    perceive where I am being led,
    how I am being directed.

    It is like the “Hot/Cold Game”
    we played as children.
    “Now I’m getting warmer,
    now I’m getting colder…”

    I wait for an impulse,
    for something to catch my eye,
    for something to draw my interest,
    to announce my next mission–
    which could be nothing more
    than what to have for lunch.

    I wait for clarity,
    direction,
    inspiration,
    motivation–
    for the next thing to call my name.

    How do you do it?
    Pay attention to how you determine
    what is next.
    How do you know what you need to do?
    How do you know your life needs to be lived?

  • 01/01/2020—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 10 Panorama — Anne Spring Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    If we do not do what can be done
    about any situation that arises,
    we deserve exactly what we get
    from the fallout
    and aftermath.

    If we are failing to oppose Donald Trump,
    Stephen Miller,
    Mitch McConnell
    and the rest of the Republican/Fascist coalition
    that is in charge of Congress
    and the country,
    and refusing to vote Trump
    and all Republicans
    out of office in 2020–
    and to never vote for another Republican ever,
    we are sitting tight
    with our fingers crossed
    and our eyes closed
    hoping for the best
    while the very worst is happening
    all around us
    and is quickly becoming
    long past turning around–
    and we are likely telling ourselves
    the GOP mantra
    over and over,
    “No matter how bad it gets under Trump,
    it would be unimaginably worse
    under the Democrats.”

    That is Fascist propaganda jargon!
    You have been deafened and blinded
    to the reality that is destroying the world,
    and if you do not wake up
    and get to work
    opposing what must be opposed
    and voting it out of control of the country,
    you bear full responsibility
    for the destruction of the climate,
    the destruction of democracy,
    and the end of life as we know it
    in this country
    and around the world.

  • 01/01/2020—  Fort Buhlow 01/25/2017 13 Panorama B&W — Fort Buhlow Spanish Moss 2017 13 B&W — Alexandria, Louisiana, January 25, 2017

    We are seeking ourselves.
    What attracts us in others
    are aspects/reflections of ourselves.
    What repels us in others
    is what must be recognized,
    resisted,
    and integrated within ourselves.

    Our reaction to others
    is a doorway to meditation
    on who we are
    and what we are to be about.

    Other people
    are mirrors reflecting
    our own soul
    back to us.

    When we look at them
    we see ourselves.
    They show us who we are
    and what is ours to do.

    Without them,
    where would we be?
    Without understanding this,
    where would we be?
    Seeing this is seeing all we need to see.
    Knowing this is all we need to know.
    From this point on,
    everything is up to us.
    What we do about it/with it
    tells the tale
    we are composing
    with the life we are living.
    Where we go from here
    makes all the difference.

  • 01/01/2020—  Tree Tops 12/10/2019 03 B&W — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, December 23, 2019

    My work as a servant
    of hermeneutics
    (From Hermes,
    the Messenger of the Gods,
    the God of Meaning and Interpretation)
    is to get to the bottom of things,
    to see what’s what
    and what that means,
    and what it calls for for us
    in terms of an appropriate response,
    one proper and fitting the circumstances,
    in rising to the occasion,
    doing what needs to be done
    with the skills, talents, gifts, genius, etc.
    that we bring to the moment
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    I did not set this as a goal,
    or pick this out as what I wanted to do
    with my life,
    it has been my life from the beginning.
    It is who I am,
    what I do,
    in Gerad Manley Hopkins sense of,
    “What I do is me,
    for that I came.”

    Our work shines though.
    Our work is what we find our selves doing
    without intending to,
    without trying to,
    just automatically,
    spontaneously,
    responding to our circumstances.

    Our work is what we can be counted on to do,
    what people expect us to do,
    what people make fun of us for doing,
    what people see as characterizing us
    and our life,
    what they mean when they say,
    “That is so like you,” or,
    “That sounds just like you.”

    Thinking about these things,
    and looking back over your life,
    what stands out for you about you
    that could be classified as “Your work”?

  • 01/01/2020—  Woods Stream 12/26/2019 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 28, 2019

    My bedrock principle of interpretation,
    assessing/ascribing/understanding/declaring/stating
    meaning is this:
    “Do not ever think you have said anything–
    and never, ever, under any circumstances
    think you have said the last word about anything–
    and always, always, remember
    there is always more to say about anything
    that has been said,
    or can ever be said!

    Taking this as your own bedrock principle
    will put the Bible
    “as the absolute word of God,
    never to be questioned,
    certainly never to be expanded,
    or questioned in any way ever”
    in its place.

    And, it will put those who proclaim
    the absolute truth of the Bible,
    and claim that designation
    for all they say about the Bible,
    and anything else,
    in its place.

    And free you to make your own determination
    about the Bible,
    and those who talk about the Bible,
    and all other aspects of reality as it is,
    or may ever be,
    perceived to be.

    You are free to think your own thoughts,
    and think about your thinking,
    to see what you see,
    and think about your seeing,
    and decide for yourself
    what you think is right,
    and re-evaluate that in light of
    what else you think is right,
    or will, in time, think is right…

    Always, always, working to say
    what needs to be said
    about all aspects of experience.
    And to ask the questions that beg to be asked
    about all aspects of experience.
    And never, ever, thinking you have said anything,
    certainly not the last word,
    about anything.

    This is the most wonderful,
    and tantalizing,
    aspect of life,
    living,
    and being alive
    that I know of–
    and I relish it with all my heart,
    and mind,
    and body,
    and soul.

    This is the path that never ends!
    The stream that always flows!
    The song that goes on and on!

  • 01/02/2020—  Springer’s Woods 10/28/2011 02 — Springer’s Point, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Outer Banks, North Carolina

    Trial and error, Kid. Trial and error.

    Shirley, by now,
    you have had plenty of time
    to watch the Jon Kabat-Zinn
    YouTube videos
    (the shortest ones first)
    on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
    (MBSR),
    and are practicing being intentionally
    present in and aware of the current moment,
    here and now
    without being engaged with,
    or kidnapped/hijacked by,
    anything that is there,
    just noticing everything
    and holding it in your awareness,
    breathing slowly and deeply,
    and when your mind wanders
    into some area of memory or imagination,
    you simply become aware of that,
    and bring your focus back to the moment
    without judgment or opinion,
    and continue to be aware
    of what is here, now.

    And all the rest of you have surely
    joined Shirley in her watching the videos
    and practicing being present in this moment
    right now.

    And all of you know that patience
    and compassion are the keys
    to being present with the present
    and what is happening there
    without involvement or engagement,
    just watching,
    just listening,
    just seeing,
    just hearing,
    just knowing,
    just being,
    at the pivot point of perceiving
    what is happening
    and what needs to be done about it
    and being called spontaneously to action
    at the right time in the right way
    when your intervention is most necessary
    to the unfolding of events
    within the circumstances you are observing
    for the good of the situation as a whole.

    And that all of this is an eternally continuing
    matter of trial and error,
    learning as we go
    in the dance with the circumstances
    of our living
    in the time and place of our life.

    Shirley (etc.), I am right about that.
    Right?

  • 01/02/2020—  McMullen Creek Slough 12/28/2019 06 Panorama — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Flood Plain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    The old Taoist and Zen masters
    understood enlightenment to be
    realizing “the face that was ours
    before we were born,”
    and living in ways that aligned
    ourselves with it,
    exhibiting our “original nature”
    and being in accord with who
    we are built to be.

    Carl Jung saw “individuation”
    as the process of aligning
    ourselves with ourselves
    over the full course of our life,
    and said the goal
    was to live so that
    “who we are is who we always have been
    and who we will be.”

    Jung and the Taoist/Zen masters
    would agree that the Way
    to who we are/have been/will be
    consists of “stopping and seeing”
    throughout each day.

    Being aware of the moment
    to the fullest possible extent,
    transparent to ourselves
    and clear about what is happening,
    within and without,
    and what needs to happen,
    and offering what is ours to give
    to the work that needs to be done,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment–
    without concern for,
    or interest in,
    our advantage,
    our gain,
    our good,
    but solely for the good of the whole
    of which we are a part.

    Bringing ourselves forth,
    birthing ourselves,
    and being who we are
    is what’s in it for us.
    There is nothing beyond
    knowing and being ourselves
    to want,
    or have,
    or be.

    Enlightenment is knowing that,
    and doing it.

  • 01/03/2020—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 07 — Spillway Falls, Anne Spring Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    We are only safe with ourselves,
    and we are not safe at all with ourselves,
    and therein lies the problem.

    We want to be safe.

    In order to be safe,
    we have to change our mind about safety.
    And security.
    And learn to love living on the edge.
    Free-falling.
    Not knowing what is going to happen next
    or what we are going to do.

    We have to trust ourselves
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in rising to the occasion
    on every occasion
    and dancing with
    our circumstances
    no matter what they are.

    It’s like this.
    Look around.
    You cannot deny the fact
    that here you are–
    here we all are!

    We came from nowhere
    with nothing,
    not one thing,
    and through the years,
    over time,
    we have violins
    and grand pianos.
    Hiking boots
    and cellphones.
    How did that happen?
    We did it.
    Everything you see
    came right out of our own imagination.

    We have nothing to be afraid of.

    We are afraid
    because we do not trust ourselves.
    And because we are lazy.
    And want Mamma
    or some Mamma substitute
    to take care of us forever.

    We are on our own.
    It is up to us.
    Our life is our responsibility.

    The way we do it
    is the way
    of establishing Right Relationship
    with ourselves.

    We have all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done.
    It only takes believing it is so
    to know that it is so.
    It only takes faith in ourselves
    to know that we can deal successfully,
    appropriately,
    with whatever comes our way.

    My proposal is that
    we stop and look into
    the proposition
    that we have what we need
    and are what we seek.

    And all this time
    we have been riding the donkey
    looking for the donkey.
    Holding the keys,
    searching for the keys.
    Wearing our glasses
    wondering where our glasses are.

  • 01/03/2020—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 07 — Spillway Falls, Anne Spring Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    We are only safe with ourselves,
    and we are not safe at all with ourselves,
    and therein lies the problem.

    We want to be safe.

    In order to be safe,
    we have to change our mind about safety.
    And security.
    And learn to love living on the edge.
    Free-falling.
    Not knowing what is going to happen next
    or what we are going to do.

    We have to trust ourselves
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in rising to the occasion
    on every occasion
    and dancing with
    our circumstances
    no matter what they are.

    It’s like this.
    Look around.
    You cannot deny the fact
    that here you are–
    here we all are!

    We came from nowhere
    with nothing,
    not one thing,
    and through the years,
    over time,
    we have violins
    and grand pianos.
    Hiking boots
    and cellphones.
    How did that happen?
    We did it.
    Everything you see
    came right out of our own imagination.

    We have nothing to be afraid of.

    We are afraid
    because we do not trust ourselves.
    And because we are lazy.
    And want Mamma
    or some Mamma substitute
    to take care of us forever.

    We are on our own.
    It is up to us.
    Our life is our responsibility.

    The way we do it
    is the way
    of establishing Right Relationship
    with ourselves.

    We have all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done.
    It only takes believing it is so
    to know that it is so.
    It only takes faith in ourselves
    to know that we can deal successfully,
    appropriately,
    with whatever comes our way.

    My proposal is that
    we stop and look into
    the proposition
    that there is more to us
    than meets the eye,
    our eye,
    any eye,
    and we have what we need,
    and are what we seek.

    And all this time
    we have been riding the donkey
    looking for the donkey.
    Holding the keys,
    searching for the keys.
    Wearing our glasses
    wondering where our glasses are.

  • 01/04/2020—  Four-mile Creek Greenway 12/23/2019 01 Panorama — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 23, 2019

    Democrats are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Republicans are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Black people are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Gay people are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Mexicans are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Muslims are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Evangelicals are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Liberals are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Fascists are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    White Nationalists are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Rich people are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    Poor people are _______(fill in the blank)_______
    … And so on, like that,
    with everything.
    Every. Thing.

    Now, look deeply into everything on the list.
    Every. Thing.
    See all of the things you did not see
    about everything.

    See everything completely,
    just as it is.

    See all of the things about everything.
    Every. Thing.

    Look into everything
    until you can see all things
    about Every. Thing.

    Do not talk about anything
    until you can say all things
    about Every Thing.

    Look into
    everything,
    everybody,
    you look at.

    Do not say anything
    about anybody
    until you have looked into everything
    about everybody.

    If you are not going to see everything
    about anybody,
    why look at all?

    Look into why you look
    without seeing all there is to see
    about what you look at.

    Look into why you talk
    without being able to say
    what else there is to say
    about the things you talk about.

    If you aren’t seeing everything,
    you aren’t seeing what you look at.
    You are only seeing what you want to see.
    You are not even looking at
    what you don’t want to see.

    Your seeing is partial.
    Minute.
    You don’t see half of all there is to see
    about anything.
    Yet, you sound off like you are an authority
    about everything.

    Look into that.
    What do you see?

  • 01/04/2020—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 02 — Spillway Falls, Anne Spring Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    If you aren’t going to say everything
    about anything,
    why say anything at all?

    Why stop with what you have to say about it?
    Why say only what you have to say?
    Why say what you have to say?
    Why say that what you have to say
    is all you need to say about it?
    What makes what you have to say about it
    the only thing that needs to be said about it?

    What are you up to?
    What are you doing?
    What are your motives?
    What moves you to say what you have to say,
    and only what you have to say?

    What ends are you serving?
    Who are you trying to please?
    Who would be happy to hear what you have to say?
    Who would be happy with you for saying it?
    Whose favor are you courting?
    Who are you afraid of displeasing?

    What possesses you?
    Controls you?
    Limits you?
    Restricts you?
    Insists, demands, that you only say “this”
    and not “that”?

    Look into it.
    Explore it.
    Examine it.
    Make inquiries.
    Ask the questions that beg to be asked.
    Say the things that cry out to be said.
    About why you see what you see
    and only what you see
    about the things you look at
    and refuse to see anything else.

    Look into it.

  • 01/04/2020—  Tree Tops 12/10/2019 02 B&W — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, December 10, 2019

    Enlightenment is simply
    seeing what we see,
    hearing what we hear,
    knowing what we know
    and being transparent to ourselves.

    What are we looking at and not seeing?
    What are we blocking out and not hearing?
    What are we knowing but not knowing that we know?
    Where are we kidding ourselves?
    Where are we not paying attention
    to all that is going on?

    When we wake up,
    we wake up to all of that.

  • 01/04/2020—  Helping Hand 07/03/2009 — Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, near Little Switzerland, North Carolina, July 03, 2009

    Our favorite way of dealing with the truth
    is by distracting ourselves
    from having to deal with it.

    Reality is not where
    we want to spend our time.

    The 10,000 addictions exist
    to take our minds off reality.

    We think about the things we think about
    in order to keep from thinking about the things
    we don’t want to think about.

    We fill our time with attractive diversions
    to avoid the dreadful realities.

    Opioids “save” their users
    from lives they cannot bear to consider,
    only to wallop them with a “fix”
    that is worse than the horror
    they were trying to escape.

    The truth of reality
    is that we all have to pay up eventually.
    “We meet what we cannot face
    on the road we take to avoid it.”

    Bearing the pain
    and doing what must be done
    is the two-pronged strategy
    for dealing with the unwanted.

    Make reality your best friend.
    Run to meet it
    as it makes its rounds.
    Learn to look forward
    to its daily deliveries
    and what they can show you
    about yourself,
    and the skills you can develop
    in letting come what’s coming
    and letting go what’s going.

    We grow up against our will,
    in the work of coming to terms
    with the conflicts and contradictions,
    the adversity and opposition,
    the grief, loss and sorrow
    that shatter our world
    and break our hearts.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure.”

    Learn what he means
    by standing your ground,
    welcoming the moment
    and opening yourself
    to all it brings with it.

    Campbell also said,
    “It took the Cyclops
    to bring out the hero in Ulysses.”

    Invite the unwanted into your life–
    it is going to be a part of your life anyway,
    be glad to have it
    and receive it as a gracious host,
    looking forward to seeing
    what it brings forth in you,
    what it has to show you about yourself,
    and to discover what you are made of.

    And, if it overwhelms your coping ability,
    forget the lonesome hero approach,
    and see what help is available–
    ask for it!
    Be thankful for it!
    And see where it takes you.

    And take your time with recovery.
    Spend your time seeing everything,
    asking the questions that beg to be asked,
    and saying the things that cry out to be said.
    Notice what emerges from the silence,
    and take note of what occurs to you unbidden.

    We are often led by unseen hands
    to where we most need to be,
    and find help where we wouldn’t expect
    anything helpful to be.

    You are learning to trust yourself
    to find what you need
    to do what needs to be done.

    You are growing up,
    against your will,
    and joining the great body
    of those who have walked
    the path you are waking.
    And they have all
    walked with a limp.

  • 01/04/2020—  Fall on Little River 11/10/2006 01 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tremont, Tennessee, November 11, 2006

    Carl Jung said,
    “The reason for evil in the world
    is that people
    are not able
    to tell their stories.”

    The reason this results
    in evil being in the world
    is that in telling our stories,
    we hear them ourselves
    for the first time.

    In saying what is so,
    we hear what is so,
    we realize what is so,
    we recognize the truth
    of how it was with us,
    of how it is with us,
    we know what’s what
    and how things got to be
    the way they are.

    We wake up to the truth
    of the life we lived,
    the truth of what we have done
    and the truth of what was done to us,
    and come to terms
    with the nature
    of what we have had to work with.

    Telling our story is redemptive,
    and cathartic,
    and enlightening.
    We see how we have lived,
    how we might have lived,
    how we might yet live,
    and may,
    with the right kind of audience,
    find the courage
    to live toward the best we can imagine
    in the time left for living.

    Without being able to tell our stories,
    we are alone with the weight
    of unexamined experiences,
    with only moods and emotions
    we do not understand
    to direct our actions
    and shape our lives
    in the service of seeking release
    and acting out any way we can.

  • 01/05/2020—  McMullen Creek Slough 12/28/2019 05 — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Floodplain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    All we need is a sounding board.
    Someone to tell our story to.
    Someone to listen us to what’s what,
    what it takes
    and what to do about it.

    Once we are clear about what’s what,
    what it takes
    and what to do about it,
    we are free to live,
    or to not live,
    the life that is ours to live
    in the time left for living.

    Jim Hollis says there are two things
    keeping us from doing that:
    fear and lethargy.
    We are afraid of what might happen,
    and we are lazy–
    and our situation is not quite bad enough
    to motivate us past knowing what’s what
    into doing what needs to be done about it.

    Finding excuses is what we do best.
    No! Telling ourselves what we want to hear
    is what we do best!
    No! Kidding ourselves is what we do best!
    No! Shooting ourselves in the foot
    is what we do best!
    No! Letting ourselves off the hook
    is what we do best!
    No! Changing the subject
    is what we do best!
    No! Looking the other way
    is what we do best!
    No! Doing what it takes to feel better
    about not doing what it takes to get better
    is what we do best!
    No! . . .

    It is “a long and winding road,”
    a “slippery slope,”
    a “dangerous path,”
    “like a razor’s edge”
    from knowing to doing.

    Just because we see the way
    is no guarantee that we will
    actually take it.
    And pay the price
    of growing up
    some more
    again
    all the way along the way
    to being who we are
    where we are
    when we are
    how we are
    no matter what.

    It’s called the Hero’s Journey,
    after all.

  • 01/05/2020—  Yellowstone Falls 09/06/2001 — Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, Canyon Village, Wyoming, September 6, 2001

    Today is the first day of my 76th year.
    Since we can never be sure
    of how many of those
    we have left,
    we cannot afford to be flip
    and casual
    and careless
    about how we live any day ever.

    No matter how many may remain,
    there aren’t enough,
    and our place is to make the most of–
    by doing right by–
    each one that dawns
    and invites us to step into it
    and do what we do best throughout it.

    So, we begin each day
    listening for what needs to be said
    the way only we can say it,
    looking for what needs to be done,
    the way only we can do it,
    facing what needs to be faced,
    the way only we can face it,
    and being who we need to be,
    the way only we can be it–
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    throughout it.

    Creating karma,
    serving dharma,
    in accord with the Tao,
    at one with Kairos,
    wearing our original face,
    expressing our original nature,
    looking into everything along the way,
    awash with the wonder of it all
    every day.

    May it be so with us all
    all the way!

  • 01/05/2020—  Trail to Triple Falls 10/14/2011 01 — DuPont State Forest near Brevard, North Carolina, October 14, 2011

    There is more to everything
    than meets the eye,
    and so the need
    to look into
    whatever we look at
    in order to see what’s what,
    what’s there,
    and what else is there,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    every day
    for the rest of our life.

    And then,
    the matter of doing what needs to be done
    about it
    with the gifts,
    genius,
    daemon,
    spirit
    of our original face
    and our original nature
    no matter what.

    When we get that down,
    we have it made,
    not that that matters
    to those who know what’s what
    and are doing what needs to be done
    about it
    (Having it made
    just means we keep doing
    what we are doing–
    seeing and doing–
    forever,
    being brought forth
    by our circumstances,
    and growing up
    some more,
    again,
    all the time).

  • 01/05/2020—  The Swimming Hole 11/06/2006 — Midnight Hole, Big Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, North Carolina/Tennessee, November 06, 2006

    There is no time to lose!
    Not a second to waste!
    So.
    Do we hurry up
    in order to not miss anything,
    or,
    do we slow down
    in order to not miss anything?

    Sometimes one,
    sometimes the other.

    We make the call
    across all times and places.

    What we say, goes.

    Oh, we have to be right about it.

    Try threading that needle!
    Try walking that slippery slope,
    that dangerous path,
    that razor’s edge,
    all the way.

    That is where we are,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Damned if we do,
    and damned of we don’t,
    at all points along the way.

    What to do?
    Be damned and be done with it!
    Listen in the stillness
    and watch for what arises
    in the silence
    to point,
    however faintly,
    out the way,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    And, if it becomes apparent
    that you chose poorly,
    listen in the stillness
    and watch for what arises
    in the silence,
    to point,
    however faintly,
    out the way,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

  • 01/05/2020—  The Pond 10/28/2006 — Cypress trees, “down east” North Carolina, October 28, 2006

    We are not in charge
    of the way we see things,
    and cannot change how we see
    by an act of will,
    reason,
    logic
    or determination.

    Yet, the way we see
    is subject to change
    over time.

    We grow into seeing differently,
    or not.

    We can remain immature indefinitely,
    immune to the impact of time,
    stuck in a worldview impervious
    to circumstance
    or experience,
    believing,
    thinking
    and doing
    what has always been believed,
    thought
    and done
    by everyone we know
    forever.

    Growing up,
    some more,
    again
    means seeing things differently
    over time.

    If the way we see things
    isn’t changing,
    we may be 98.6 and breathing,
    but we are dead to the world,
    waiting on some undertaker
    to make it official.

  • 01/06/2020—  The Watchman 09/22/2006 — Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, September 22, 2006

    What’s wrong?
    What would it take
    for things to be right?

    What do you care about?
    Who cares about you?

    Where do you belong
    on the list
    of those who care about you?

    In what ways do you make clearly evident
    the fact that you care about you?

    What do you care about about you?

    What’s wrong with you?
    What would it take for things to be right
    with you?

    How is money a distraction
    helping you avoid
    coming to terms
    with your relationship
    with yourself?

    Helping you take your mind off
    what is wrong?
    Off what it would take for things to be right?
    With your life?
    And with you?

    What would it take
    for you to like yourself?
    For you to be able to like yourself?

    Look into these things over time.
    Keep an eye on them.
    Study them.
    Be aware of them
    as you go through your life.
    See what comes to mind.
    See what memories you stir up.
    How did things get to be the way they are?
    How does the way they are need to be changed?

    These aren’t questions to be answered
    and put aside,
    but questions to be wondered about,
    observed.
    Lived.
    Catch yourself in the act
    of answering them
    by the way you live,
    and look into that.

    No judging.
    No fault-finding.
    Just observing.
    Just noting.
    Just noticing.
    How “this” is related to “that.”

    It is all grist for the mill.
    We are milling ourselves,
    over the long course of our life.
    “We are the sculptor,
    and we are the stone”
    (Alexis Carrel).

  • 01/06/2020—  McMullen Creek Slough 12/28/2019 04 — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Floodplain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    Look at any photograph I take,
    have taken,
    will take,
    and you will see
    harmony,
    symmetry,
    balance,
    beauty.

    I live in the service of these things.

    I am always balancing,
    harmonizing,
    situations and circumstances.

    I soften things.
    Take the edge off things.
    Help things fit,
    blend,
    merge,
    belong.

    I work to smooth
    your relationship with yourself
    and other people
    by helping you be aware
    of your relationship with yourself
    and other people.

    I think awareness smooths things out,
    fills things in,
    reduces disparity,
    and discord,
    and chaos.

    I think if we see how things are,
    we will spontaneously
    shift our relationship with things
    toward reconciliation,
    peace
    and harmony.

    I think we are not naturally belligerent,
    hostile,
    mean
    and ornery.

    And, when we are those things,
    it is because we are more interested
    in having our way
    than in having harmonious relationships
    with ourselves and others.

    It is because we have lost sight
    of what is important.
    We are out of harmony,
    out of flow,
    out of sync,
    out of accord with the Tao.

    And that impacts all of life
    in ways that do not support
    the fundamental requirements of life.

    And that means,
    “The harvest is plentiful,
    but the laborers are few,”
    and I will always have work to do.

  • 01/06/2020—  Lake Haigler 12/26/2019 12 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, December 26, 2019

    We do not come into the world
    automatically knowing what to do
    with our life.

    And when we are born
    into a society and culture
    that doesn’t know any more than we do,
    we have a problem:
    What to do with our life?

    In an ideal environment
    we would have what we need
    to nurture and nourish us
    into the life that is ours to live.

    There would be Yodas
    and Obi-wan Kenobis everywhere,
    talking to us about the Force,
    about the Source,
    about the Flow,
    about being in accord with the Tao,
    with the Dharma,
    with Kairos
    and Grace.

    We don’t get any of that.
    We get, “What do you want to be
    when you grow up?”

    No one ever tells us
    that no one ever grows up,
    but that we are all
    always growing up–
    into the face that was ours
    before we were born,
    into our Original Face,
    into our Original Nature–
    the ones that were taken from us
    shortly after birth
    by a society/culture that thinks
    we come into the world
    as a blank slate
    and have to be taught right from wrong.

    We know what is right for us
    and what is wrong for us
    from the start.
    We need to be taught
    how to listen to ourselves,
    how to trust ourselves,
    and how to walk two paths at the same time,
    honoring ourselves
    and our own bedrock,
    our own North Star,
    while fitting into the structure
    of society and culture–
    how to stand out,
    and how to fit in–
    how to be an individual
    within the group.

    The right kind of group
    would make that possible,
    even joyful.
    We are born into
    the wrong kind of group.

    And do not receive the guidance
    we need to consciously
    connect with who we are
    and what is ours to do
    from the beginning,
    but have to find our way there–
    if we are lucky–
    through trial and error
    over long stretches of time.

    And here we are–
    growing ourselves up together,
    at last.

    Welcome to the Delivery Room!

  • 01/06/2020—  The Fire Pit 10/12/2019 01 — Union County, South Carolina, October 12, 2019

    Our Original Face
    and Original Nature
    come with us into the world
    as 100 proof potential,
    able to bring us forth
    within the context
    and circumstances
    of our life
    as authentic,
    genuine,
    real
    human beings,
    creating karma,
    serving dharma,
    in accord with the Tao,
    at one with Kairos,
    and agents of Grace.

    But.
    We are separated from all of that
    soon after birth,
    and pressed into the mold
    prepared for us by the culture
    which received us from the womb.

    The entire society is arrayed
    to tell us who we are
    and what life is ours to live.
    We get our marching orders
    from parents, priests, ministers,
    teachers, friends, commercials,
    movies and media.
    This is who we are supposed to be.
    This is what we are supposed to look like.
    This is what we are supposed to do…

    So much for our Original Nature
    and our Original Face.

    And yet.
    They never go away.
    They never give up.
    They wait in the silence
    for our eventual return.

    Just as a tree
    is just what it is.
    Just as a lion
    is just what it is.
    Just as a hummingbird
    is just what it is
    so each of us
    is just who we are.

    Nature’s advantage
    is that no one is telling an oak tree
    to be a pine,
    or a washing machine.

    Our advantage
    is that we have a brain
    and can think for ourselves.

    We all know what is right for us
    and what is wrong.
    We only have to know what we know,
    and what we don’t know–
    see our seeing,
    think about our thinking,
    and teach ourselves to be aware
    of the present moment
    and all that meets us there,
    paying attention,
    on purpose,
    to this moment right now,
    without opinion,
    or judgment,
    holding everything
    in compassionate awareness,
    and receiving what arises
    in the stillness
    as something to look into
    for its connection
    with the face that was ours
    before we were born,
    and the life that goes with it,
    even now,
    even yet,
    even still.

  • 01/07/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 07 Detail — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    Carl Jung said,
    “There lives in each of us another,
    whom we do not know.”

    It is up to us to make acquaintances.
    To open ourselves to the presence
    of The Other.
    To make ourselves available to The Other.
    To make room for The Other.
    To establish,
    nurture,
    nourish,
    and maintain
    a vital relationship with The Other.
    To consult
    and collaborate with The Other–
    as best friends would–
    throughout our time together
    in the life we are conjointly living.

    The Other comes to us in dreams,
    in jolts of recognition
    and realization,
    in nudges,
    urges,
    whims,
    chance occurrences,
    premonitions,
    experiences of harmony,
    balance,
    serenity
    and peace–
    and their polar opposites.

    One way of realizing the reality
    of The Other
    is through The Animal Projection Exercise,
    which I call “Your Totem Animal”
    in a blog post on my WordPress site
    (https://jimwdollar.com/2019/07/10/your-totem-animal/).

    We are not alone.
    Yoda lives within us all
    as The Other within.

    It only takes believing it
    to know it is so.

  • 01/07/2020—  McMullen Creek Slough 12/28/2019 03 Panorama — McMullen Creek Greenway, McMullen Creek Flood Plain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 28, 2019

    My idea of having it made
    is Tevya in *The Fiddler on the Roof.*
    Then, circumstances inserted themselves
    into his life situation
    and Tevya joined the rest of us
    in the work to have it made.

    That is how it is
    with having it made.
    We work to have it made
    for longer periods of time
    than we have it made.

    How did Tevya put things back together?
    My hunch is that
    he ran out of time.
    And if he didn’t run out of time,
    his circumstances would have flipped again,
    and he would be back
    working to put things together again.

    That is the rhythm of life.

    We no sooner get things in place
    than we have to
    get things in place again.

    And, sometimes,
    we never get things in place.
    And, have to make our peace with that.

    Having it made is completely out of the question
    with most of the world’s population.
    Most of us don’t have a chance.

    How many opioid addicts have a chance?
    How many children in the grip
    of poverty and hopelessness
    have a chance?
    How many people in nursing homes
    have a chance?

    A chance at what?
    A chance of life lived fully to the end.

    My idea of the end
    is as idealistic
    as my idea of having it made–
    dying with cookies in the oven
    and crumbs on the plate.
    What are the chances?

    And the catch here is
    that we cannot let our chances stop us.

    Tevya never considered his chances.
    He simply did what was his to do
    in the time and place of his living,
    and let his circumstances change
    with the times.
    That’s the way to do it.

    Our circumstances give us choices,
    and our primary choice
    is to not let our chances
    impact our choices.
    We make the best of each situation
    that comes up in a day,
    doing here and now
    what needs to be done here and now,
    and letting nature take its course.

    Aligning ourselves as best we can
    with our life as it needs us to live it,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    and letting our chances be our chances–
    in light of the over-riding fact of life
    for every living thing:
    Our circumstances
    are out of our control.
    And our chances depend on our circumstances.

    I’m living as well as I can imagine living,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    hoping for crumbs and cookies,
    and not allowing my chances
    to show me down.

  • 01/07/2020—  McAlpine Creek Greenway 01/05/2020 01 Panorama — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 5, 2020

    Having it made
    cannot be dependent
    on our circumstances.

    Let that sink in.

    Having it made transcends circumstances.
    Is immune to circumstances.
    Is beyond the reach of circumstances.

    Independent of circumstances,
    we are free to live our life
    moment-to-moment-to-moment
    on the basis of our relationship
    with our Original Face,
    our Original Nature,
    and what is available to us
    in each here-and-now
    of every day.

    We are capable of living beyond
    our circumstances,
    no matter what they are.
    If they are favorable,
    they are just favorable.
    If they are unfavorable,
    they are just unfavorable.

    We are capable of responding
    to all of our circumstances
    in ways that are appropriate
    to the occasion–
    in ways that serve virtue,
    harmony,
    balance,
    integrity,
    compassion
    and the true good of the whole.

    Nothing can happen to us
    that destroys our ability
    to respond by asking,
    “What are these times
    calling for?
    What is being asked of me,
    here and now?”

    Kairos,
    Tao,
    Dharma,
    and Grace
    are present in every moment
    (Carl Jung quoted the Delphic Oracle,
    saying, “Invoked or not invoked,
    the God is always present”)
    to call us into their service,
    and to guide us in the way.

    Our work is not to despair
    because things are happening
    that we do not want to happen,
    but to align ourselves
    with what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response
    that we can initiate
    our of the gifts,
    daemon,
    genius,
    spirit
    that are ours to bestow
    upon the time and place
    of our living.

    And we can do that much
    in any time and place.

    Being true to ourselves
    in response to our circumstances
    is having it made in that
    being who we are,
    where we are,
    when we are,
    how we are,
    in light of what
    is being asked of us–
    no matter what–
    is all that is ever asked of us,
    and no one could do better than that.

  • 01/07/2020—  McAlpine Creek Greenway 01/05/2020 03 — McAlpine Creek Floodplain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 5, 2020

    Each situation demands a response
    fitting to its needs.

    If we spill the milk,
    we clean up the milk.

    If the dog needs to go outside,
    we take the dog outside.

    The situation does not wait for a time
    convenient to us
    to impose its will.
    It doesn’t wait until we are in the mood.
    Until we feel like it.
    Until we want to.

    And we aren’t allowed to negotiate
    a different response,
    or the proper response
    at a different time.

    We get to say yes or no.

    We rise to the occasion
    or we walk away.
    We do what is asked of us,
    or we fail to be
    who we are asked to be.

    We grow up one situation at a time.
    If we grow up at all.

  • 01/08/2020—  McAlpine Creek Greenway 01/05/2020 02 Panorama — McAlpine Creek Floodplain, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 5, 2020

    Rachel weeps for her children
    with shrieks of loud lamentation,
    and will not be consoled or comforted
    for she has lost them
    and is beyond consolation.

    So are we all.

    The consolation of Israel
    is said to ride with the Messiah,
    because,
    where else could it come from?
    We certainly are incapable
    of generating it among ourselves!
    So we long for the one
    who will bear our griefs
    and carry our sorrows,
    and take on himself
    the chastisement
    that makes us whole.

    Look into that.

    What does that tell you
    about our inability,
    our refusal,
    to bear our own pain–
    to grow up?
    And our rejection
    of the very idea,
    of bearing our pain
    and growing up?

    There is no growing up
    without bearing the pain
    of being alive.

    You will look in vain
    among the pages of the Bible
    for anything remotely reminiscent
    of Odysseus’ declaration:
    “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!”

    In the Bible,
    we get waiting for Godot.
    For somebody to do it for us.
    For somebody who has to be appeased,
    and placated,
    bought off
    and mollified,
    soothed
    and won over.

    You can’t read the Bible
    without concluding,
    “These people have to grow up!”

    It is tough everywhere we look.
    Where do we get the idea
    that we should be consoled?

    We have to bear our own pain,
    and stop adding to the cumulative pain of life.
    The most brutal people I know
    are the people seeking some form
    of consolation,
    and taking it out on everyone else
    when they don’t find
    what they are looking for.

    Enough, already!
    We have everything we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs us to do it.

    Pick yourself up
    and step into the day,
    every day,
    and do there what needs
    to be done there.

    And when the heaving sea
    has shaken your raft to pieces,
    swim!

  • 01/08/2020—  Curves 10/28/2019 02 — Puckett Cabin, Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 189.9, Hillsville, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    We dream of being presidents and princes,
    but.
    What do presidents and princes dream of?
    Apparently, tripping to Jeffery Epstein’s private island
    and passing a good time or two.

    Everybody, it seems,
    would be happier somewhere else.

    What is with escaping this
    to get/have that–
    which soon becomes this,
    and really needs to be that?

    What does life have to offer?
    Where is fulfillment to be found?
    Who are we kidding?
    Why do we settle so often
    for drugs, sex and alcohol?
    And settle so rarely
    for settling down with this,
    just as it is,
    forever?

    What is it about us
    that keeps us casting about
    for something more?

    What are we seeking?
    And how is where we are
    different from being adrift
    on the high seas,
    or wandering through
    the trackless wasteland?

    What is at the bottom of our lostness?
    Why do so many suffer
    “from the general aimlessness of life”?

    Look into it.
    Probe about in your own dissatisfaction
    and disenchantment.
    Why is happiness always somewhere else?
    See what you come up with.

  • 01/08/2020—  Otter Lake 10/29/2019 05 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 60.9, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    The summation of nearly 5,000 years
    of Taoist and Zen instruction in the art
    of enlightened living
    can be summed up as so:

    See clearly.
    Respond appropriately.

    That is all there is to it.
    But.
    That begs the question:

    What prevents us from seeing clearly?
    What keeps us from responding appropriately?

    Enter the world of 10,000 things
    (10,000 is the Taoist/Zen equivalent of infinity).

    The work of enlightened living
    is the work
    of seeing past,
    over,
    under,
    around
    and through
    all of the things that interfere
    with seeing clearly,
    responding appropriately.

    One of the source books
    of Taoism/Zen
    (Zen is what happened
    when Buddhism met Taoism)
    is the I Ching.
    The translation I am most familiar with
    is by Thomas Cleary.
    There, we find these comments:

    “Receptivity to reality
    is achieved through emptying the mind
    of its conditioned subjectivity,
    stilling personal predispositions
    so that unbiased understanding and action
    may take place.”

    “Application of the I Ching is accomplished
    simply by openness and tranquility.
    When open, one takes in all;
    when tranquil, one perceives all.”

    Seeing clearly
    is knowing what’s what
    and what needs to be done
    about it.
    Appropriate action follows spontaneously.

    It takes a lifetime of looking
    to be able to see.

  • 01/09/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 17 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    I have a strong hunch
    that the autobiography
    of every human being
    who ever lived
    could be titled,
    “Betrayal, Deceit and Abandonment.”

    Who doesn’t have to fight
    their way through those experiences
    to a life worth living?

    Every living thing
    has to live
    in the service
    of what it thinks
    is worth having.

    The percentage is not high
    of those who have
    all the help they need
    in that work.

    Too many are thrown back
    on their own devices–
    and too many of those
    are not told or shown
    what their own devices are,
    or how to access them
    and help themselves.

    How have you experienced
    betrayal, deceit and abandonment
    in your own life?
    How have you dealt with it
    all along the way?
    In what ways have you been
    guilty of it along the way?
    What do we owe ourselves
    and one another
    from this point forward
    in dealing with what has been done to us
    and what we have done to others?
    What inner resources
    do we not know we have?
    How might we begin to find out?

    Here is my favorite way
    of finding the way forward
    in any here and now:

    1) Begin with looking into the situation.

    Here, that would mean
    looking into the matter
    of betrayal, deceit and abandonment
    as you have experienced it,
    perpetrated it.

    2) Ask all of the questions that beg to be asked
    about it–including the questions
    that beg to be asked by the questions
    that beg to be asked.

    3) Say all of the things that cry out to be said
    about it–including the things
    that cry out to be said in light
    of the things that cry out to be said.

    You might find it helpful
    to begin a journal
    and write all this down.

    You will be accessing inner resources
    you don’t know you have,
    and learning to find your way
    along the way
    by listening to the guides
    who reside within.

    We are not as alone as we think we are.
    We are not as helpless as it would seem.
    We would be wise
    to consult the guides
    all along the way.

  • 01/10/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 18 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019, an iPhone Photo

    We are born without knowing
    good from bad,
    right from wrong,
    yes from know.

    Morality has no meaning for us.
    We cannot tell one thing
    from another.
    We only know what we want
    and what we don’t want.

    You wouldn’t want us running the world
    in that state of being.
    Though, a lot of people *do* run the world
    in that state of being,
    or try to.

    What they want is good.
    What they don’t want is bad.
    What they want is right.
    What they don’t want is wrong.
    What they want is YES!
    What they don’t want is NO!

    Never mind what any other concerns
    or considerations
    may be impacted.
    From their point of view
    there are no other concerns
    or considerations
    to take into account.

    What they want is all that matters.

    We call that immaturity.

    With enough wealth and power,
    you can get away with it.
    Otherwise, you end up dead
    or in jail.

    Reality is set up to force us
    to take other people into account.
    Morality is civilization’s way
    of creating stability,
    security
    and predictability
    in a natural world run based
    on “The Law of the Fishes”
    (“The big fish eat the little fish,
    and the little fish hide”).

    The Rule of Law
    is humanity’s contribution
    to the process of life,
    and a welcome improvement
    to the natural order.
    But.
    Wealth and power
    are always at work
    to nullify,
    ignore,
    dispense with,
    transcend
    The Rule of Law.

    And that is one of the dialectics
    that shape our life:
    Who is governed
    by the Rule of Law,
    and who is not?

    Another dialectic is also at work here:
    Morality vs. Individuality.
    We are personally responsible
    to one another
    and to the culture which receives us
    from the womb and shapes our life.
    And we are bound to the inner drives
    and urges which direct us
    beyond what we want to have
    and to do,
    to what we MUST have
    and do.

    And Fraser Snowden chimes in
    at this point
    to remind us,
    “The only true philosophical question
    is ‘Where do you draw the line?’”

    It is the task of maturity
    to answer the question
    in each situation as it arises
    and draw the line,
    assuming full responsibility
    for the outcome
    (Which, of course, creates
    another situation in which
    we are responsible
    for drawing the line,
    and being right about
    where it is to be drawn.
    Etc. Forever).

    The task of maturity
    is to grow up
    against our will
    forever.

  • 01/10/2020—  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 13 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Holes Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    We walk two paths at the same time
    all of the time.

    We are the peacemakers,
    reconciling opposites,
    integrating polarities,
    dancing with contradictions,
    making peace,
    every step of the way.

    We honor the way of our soul
    with the way of Tao,
    Kairos,
    Dharma,
    and Grace,
    and balance that with the way of the world,
    the way of the culture,
    the way things are
    in the context
    and circumstances
    of our life,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    It is easier to say,
    “To hell with it,”
    and do what we feel like doing.

    The obesity rate
    and the popularity
    of alcohol,
    tobacco/vaping,
    opioids
    and pot
    indicate that we do
    what we feel like doing a lot.

    Bearing the weight of our conflicts
    in light of what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises,
    is a necessary aspect of growing up
    that we neglect
    at every opportunity.

    Not doing what needs to be done
    is what we do best.

    How we move from here to there–
    to doing what needs to be done?
    Awareness, awareness, awareness.

    The first thing to be aware of
    is how strongly opposed we are
    to being aware of anything.

  • 01/10/2020—  Otter Creek 10/29/2019 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    One of my core beliefs
    is that of the crucial importance
    of the developmental tasks
    in our work to grow up
    into being who we are,
    doing what is ours to do.

    We cannot skip a task.
    We cannot decide
    we have had it with growing up,
    and will not submit to another transition,
    will not run through another gauntlet,
    will not rise to meet another occasion,
    will not pay the price of doing
    what needs to be done one more time.

    Every stage of our life
    comes replete with tasks
    appropriate to that stage.
    And they are hell.
    They ask things of us
    we don’t know we have to give.
    They ask us to do things
    we cannot imagine doing.
    “I’m not ready!”
    “That isn’t ‘me’!”
    “I can’t do it!”

    We walk into each stage of life
    with excuses at the ready
    for not progressing into it
    or any of the remaining stages.

    Buck up
    and buckle down.
    Life is a mean horse
    and the ride lasts all the way
    to the end.

    Adjustment and adaptation, Kid.
    Adjustment and adaptation.

  • 01/11/2020—  Peaks of Otter 10/28/2019 14 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Abbot Lake, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    How good is the good you call good?

    Whose good is served
    by the good you call good?

    Whose good is not served
    by the good you call good?

    Who does your idea of the good
    allow you to dismiss as undeserving
    of the good?

    How good is the good you call good
    in light of the Sermon on the Mount,
    the Parable of the Prodigal Son,
    the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

    How good is the good you call good
    in light of the Eightfold Path?

    How good is the good you call good
    in light of the Dalai Lama’s teachings?

    Who stands in agreement with you
    about your idea of the good?

    Who disagrees with you
    about your idea of the good?

    How do you determine
    the goodness of the good
    you call good?

  • 01/11/2020—  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 25 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Abbot Lake, MP 86, near Bedford, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Although our original face,
    and our original nature
    can appear to be “lost and gone forever,”
    they are never far away.

    The Hero’s Journey is the quest
    for who we are,
    and it is exactly the distance
    from our head to our heart,
    or from the left side of our brain
    to the right side.

    From logic, thinking and reason
    to intuition, sensing and feeling.

    We are led along the way
    by our imagination,
    not by deduction and analysis.

    We catch a glimpse of the white rabbit
    and “the game’s afoot!”

    The catch is that we cannot think up
    the white rabbit.
    It appears of its own volition
    when the time is right.

    In the meantime,
    we practice
    being still and quiet,
    centering on our breathing,
    counting breaths,
    completing body scans,
    being aware of,
    and attentive to,
    the present moment,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment…

    Preparing ourselves to see what we look at,
    to hear what we are listening to,
    and to know what’s what
    here and now.

    And, when a door opens,
    we walk through
    into the wonder,
    marvel,
    and mystery
    of the rest of our life.

  • 01/12/2020—  Road Through Fall 10/28/2019 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    We want to be able to
    sit back
    and enjoy the ride
    through fall,
    and winter
    and spring
    and summer
    and all the way through life.

    We don’t want anything
    getting in our way.
    Smooth and easy
    is our idea of how things
    need to play out.

    Nothing out of its time.
    No surprises.
    Certainly no shocks.
    And definitely no calamities ever.

    Just one beautiful landscape after another.
    All our life long.

    Our life has other ideas.
    Our life has a mind of its own.
    Our life wants us to live it
    the way only we can live it.
    Our life wants us to be fully
    present and engaged
    in the present moment
    every step along the way.
    Alive to the moment.
    Engaged by the moment.
    Invested in the moment.
    None of this,
    “Not now!
    I don’t feel like it!
    I’m not in the mood for it!
    Maybe later,
    when I’m ready.
    Maybe tomorrow.
    We’ll see.”

    Our life knows us better
    than we know ourselves.
    Our life knows we will never be ready
    for what it has in store for us.
    So it is always throwing things at us
    to get us ready
    for all that is coming
    ready or not.

    Our life needs us to be ready for anything.
    At any time.
    Sharp.
    Alert.
    Attentive.
    Aware.

    Our life doesn’t want us missing anything,
    because everything matters.
    “Everything is grist for the mill,”
    and we are milling ourselves.
    We are growing ourselves up.
    We are learning to trust ourselves,
    to rely on ourselves,
    to discover ourselves,
    to find ourselves,
    to be ourselves
    by becoming who we are,
    and also are.

    And every single thing
    is a step on that journey.
    Particularly the things we hate.
    Especially the pain
    and agony.
    We grow up against our will,
    and that means doing
    what we do not want anything
    to do with.
    The right way.
    Time after time after time.
    Bearing the pain.
    The way it needs to be borne.

    Learning to separate who we are
    from what we want.
    Knowing that wanting doesn’t know a thing
    about what needs to be,
    about what needs to happen,
    about what needs us to do it
    like we can do it.

    Our life is bringing us into focus,
    sharpening our edges,
    our boundaries,
    separating us from not-us,
    revealing us to ourselves,
    showing us who we are
    and what we are capable of,
    one step at a time.

    We could never get that out of a book.
    No one could ever tell us that.
    We live our way to who we are,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.
    Situation-by-situation-by-situation.

    Growing us up
    against our will
    one day at a time.

  • 01/12/2020—  James River 10/29/2019 05 — Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    It doesn’t matter what we do.
    It matters that we find ourselves
    through doing it.

    Finding ourselves
    by being who we are,
    knowing ourselves
    by consciously,
    deliberately,
    intentionally
    being who we are
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation-by-situation,
    day-by-day-by-day
    is all there is to it.

    There is nothing more than that
    to ask, or seek, or imagine.

    We can start anywhere,
    do anything–
    as long as our eyes are open
    to seeing,
    to finding,
    where WE are in it.

    What are WE doing here, now?
    How did WE get here, now?
    What does this have to show us
    about who WE are?
    Is this more ME,
    or more NOT-ME?
    Where am I in this?
    What am I going to do about this?
    What does this say about ME?
    What am I trying to show me
    about ME?

    We are all on the path to who we are.
    And we all can expect to meet ourselves
    along the way.
    The question is whether
    we will recognize who we are meeting
    and let everything else fall away
    in becoming who we are
    and living in full accord with ourselves–
    consciously,
    deliberately,
    intentionally–
    more and more
    the rest of the way.

01/12/2020—  Curves 10/29/2019 04 — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 88, Virginia, October 29, 2019

Oneness with our life,
being in accord with “the other” within,
expressing our original face
and our original nature
in all that we do,
living in sync with the Tao,
with Kairos,
with Dharma,
with Grace,
is a matter of not thinking about what we are doing,
and listening only
to what needs to be done,
to what needs us to do it,
moment-by-moment-by-moment,
situation-by-situation-by-situation,
day-by-day-by-day.

That kind of listening
is characterized by
being present in the time and place
of our living,
being wholly here, now,
being attuned to,
aware of,
fully attending
the context
and circumstances
of our life
as we are experiencing them
in the umwelt of “the eternal now.”

It takes practice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn’s YouTube Videos
and Ann Weiser Cornel’s
PDF downloads from her web site
offer excellent practice material.

If we just know what needs to be done
without applying ourselves
to the work of doing it,
we are only lying on our backs,
watching the clouds
as our life runs out of time
and we think “Maybe tomorrow
we will get started.”

  • 01/12/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 01 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    Things I desire include:

    Silence.

    Seeing what I look at.
    Seeing things as they are.

    Hearing what is being said,
    verbally and behaviorally,
    in all situations
    and circumstances.

    Knowing what’s what,
    and what needs to be done about it,
    and what can be done about it.

    Getting to the heart of the matter.
    All matters.

    Not being fooled by appearances.

    Not being led,
    or swayed,
    by my opinions,
    judgment,
    interpretation,
    evaluation,
    or what I stand
    to gain or lose
    in any situation
    or circumstance.

    It’s a great wish list.
    If the Grantor of Wishes
    ever drops by,
    I’m ready.

    How about you?

  • 01/13/2020—  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 07 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Holes Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    I think the old Taoists would say
    that it all comes down to
    timing,
    virtue (Which they understood to be
    alignment with our original nature/face)
    energy
    and spirit.

    And all of that is contingent
    on our engaging regularly
    in the right kind of silence
    with the right kind of appreciation
    for movement and rest.

    Everything is either moving or resting.
    The tide comes and goes and turns.
    The turning is when the tide is resting.

    Our life is always moving or resting.

    When we refuse to rest
    and are always going
    in pursuit of,
    or service to,
    whatever it is that we think
    we have to have NOW!,
    we deplete our energy and spirit,
    trade virtue for achievement
    and acquisition,
    and ignore the importance of timing
    in constant quest of *Victory Now!*

    We have to balance activity
    and consideration,
    replace striving/forcing
    with perceiving/sensing,
    and allow things to happen
    in their own time,
    at their own pace,
    in their own way.

    Which means replacing
    wanting/desiring/having-to-have
    with seeing/hearing/knowing
    in order to do what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    the way it needs to be done
    in light of all things considered.

    In each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    It means acting only when it is time to act,
    in the service of what needs to be done–
    and being right about when-and-what that is.

    If we are going to practice anything,
    we should practice that.

  • 01/13/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 01 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    We are all sailing solo on a pathless sea.
    All directions are equally possible
    and plausible.
    All are different,
    none are better or worse
    than others,
    each is capable of bringing us forth
    to meet the challenges and disappointments,
    triumphs and glories
    unique to each.

    Good and bad,
    better and worse,
    are preferences,
    opinions,
    judgments,
    evaluations
    in light of what we think we know–
    in light of what we think we want–
    in light or what we think is good and bad,
    better and worse

    In light of the end of the journey
    that we have in mind for ourselves.

    We invent/image the end,
    and judge the path from the standpoint
    of how soon we want to arrive
    and how easy we want the trip to be.

    The sea is not only pathless.
    It is also endless.
    There is only the adventure of the journey.
    The unfolding of who we are
    over the full course of our life.
    We are always becoming who we are.
    We are always growing up.
    Our view of what is good and bad,
    important and unimportant,
    is always in flux,
    is always being put to the test
    by new realizations
    brought forth by changing circumstances
    and different situations.

    What is good here
    is bad there.
    What is important now
    is unimportant then.
    What is right and what is wrong
    depends on what works
    when and where.
    A strategy that fits our youth
    is laughable in our old age,
    and vice-versa.
    We are becoming different
    all along the way.
    And “there is only the dance”
    (T.S. Eliot).

    There is only the sea.
    Sail on!
    Sail on!
  • 01/13/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 Panorama — Boone Fork, Boone Fork Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, November 03, 2019

    Only you know what you need to hear,
    see,
    know,
    realize,
    comprehend,
    embrace,
    integrate into your life
    and live in the service of
    all the days remaining
    in your time
    upon the earth.

    If you are not listening,
    why not?

    If what you hear
    has to be pushed on you
    in a hard-sell kind of way,
    it is not what you need to hear.

    What you need to hear
    resonates immediately,
    automatically,
    spontaneously,
    with you.

    If it doesn’t,
    you either don’t need to hear it,
    or it isn’t time for you to hear it.
    It will cycle back around
    when you have grown up some more (again).
    It is waiting
    for you to be ready
    for what you need to hear.

    You can hurry things up
    buy watching the Jon Kabat-Zinn
    YouTube videos (The shortest ones first),
    and familiarizing yourself
    with Ann Weiser Cornell’s writing
    and videos on her web site.

    If that doesn’t resonate with you,
    you will have to wait
    for it to cycle around again.
    Maybe for several cycles.
    But, its recommendation
    will never go out of date.

  • 01/14/2020—  Otter Creek 10/29/2019 07 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    We have to get out of our heads
    and into our lives.

    We think we have our life
    all mapped out in our heads.
    Our life is thinking,
    if we would stop thinking
    it could show us all we need to know
    about being alive.

    Being alive is living with Integrity,
    aligned with Kairos,
    in accord with Tao,
    in light of Dharma,
    under the care of Grace.

    We don’t know
    what any of those words
    with capital letters mean.

    That is because
    we have been thinking
    about what we want
    out of life
    instead of thinking
    about what our life
    wants out of us.

    Integrity is living with
    outside in sync with inside–
    living to serve inside with outside.
    Living to be who we are
    instead of living to do what we want.

    Wants trump everything.
    When what we want directs
    what we do,
    we jerk ourselves around
    from one apparently
    wonderful thing
    to another
    throughout our life–
    with no guiding sense of direction
    keeping us on the path
    in the service of our life’s
    true meaning
    through all contexts
    and circumstances
    no matter what.

    Speaking of “what,”
    what does wanting know?
    Wanting knows what is desirable
    here and now
    period.
    Wanting mostly knows
    it wants out of here, NOW!
    Wanting is no help what-
    so-ever.

    Living with integrity
    saves us from the
    “What do we want to do now?” trap.
    With our integrity at stake,
    our doing takes its guidance
    from what is right for us as a whole
    regardless of the price we have to pay
    to do it.

    What is right for us as a whole
    is not something we think
    our way into knowing.
    We feel our way there.
    Look our way there.
    Listen our way there.
    Trust our way there.

    If you are ever going to have faith
    in something,
    let it be faith in your ability
    to know what is right for you.
    And trust yourself to it
    with filial devotion
    and allegiance,
    following it everywhere you go.

    This is living with Integrity.

  • 01/14/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 04 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    Kairos was the Greek God of Luck and Opportunity,
    signifying the right time,
    the appropriate time,
    the appointed time,
    the time to act,
    the time for birth
    and the time for death,
    the time for things to happen
    the time for things to stop happening…

    Chronos was the Greek God of Time
    signifying clock time,
    calendar time,
    What day is it?
    What time is it?

    Aion was the Greek God of Time
    signifying eternity,
    eternal time,
    the God of the Ages,
    the Spirit of the Times…

    When we ask,
    “Do you know what time it is?”
    We are talking about Chronos.

    When we wonder,
    “Is it time for a nap
    or a walk around the block?”
    We are talking about Kairos.

    When we say,
    “Those were the days!”
    We are talking about Aion.

    Being alive in the moment of our living
    is living with Integrity,
    aligned with Kairos.

    The old Taoists knew the Way
    is the way of knowing
    what the time right now is ripe for,
    and acting in ways that are at one
    with the time that is ready
    for our action.

    We have to read the times (Aion)
    and know what is being called for now (Kairos)
    no matter what the day, or hour, is (Chronos).

    Knowing what Kairos is calling for,
    is ready for,
    and acting in ways that are felicitous,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    is to be centered in the path
    and offering what the occasion calls for
    with the gifts/genius/daemon
    we are here to serve.

    Perfection doesn’t get any better than this.

  • 01/15/2020—  Mabry Mill 10/30/2019 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 30, 2019

    Being alive in the moment of our living
    is living with Integrity,
    aligned with Kairos,
    in accord with Tao.

    Tao is you.
    Tao is what is right for you
    (Not to be confused
    with what you want for you.
    What we want is always
    keeping us from doing
    what is right for us,
    which is why it is said
    that we always grow up
    against our will.
    We are separated from
    ourselves at birth,
    and spend our lifetime
    trying to find our way back
    to who we are–
    fighting it all the way.
    Which means we want
    nothing to do with Tao.
    You see the problem).

    Tao is your true,
    authentic,
    genuine,
    natural self.
    “The face that was yours
    before you were born.”
    Your original nature.
    The essential truth of who you are.

    Carl Jung said,
    “We are who we have always been,
    and who we will be.”
    When we are in accord with Tao,
    we are in accord with that aspect
    of who we are.

    And Tao is more than that.
    Tao is how everything is
    in its essential nature.
    Tao is the entire universe
    working together in one harmonious whole.
    It is how things are
    when they are smoothly functioning
    as themselves
    in relation to all other things and beings.

    When we break troth with ourselves,
    with one another,
    with other things,
    we are out of accord with Tao
    and out of tune,
    out of harmony,
    with all of life.

    And all the money,
    drugs,
    alcohol,
    and sex
    in the world
    will not compensate us
    for what we have lost.

    The way out of the mess we are in
    is the way back to who we are,
    to what is right for us
    even though it is the last thing we want.

    We cannot get there
    without growing up.
    Some more.
    Again.
    Forever.

    It’s like dying.

    That’s the price of being alive.

  • 01/15/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 03 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville River Bridge, Linville Falls Picnic Area, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Jesus said,
    “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”

    I say,
    “What would you go to hell for?”

    We are asking the same question.

    Deciding for ourselves what is right
    is saying we will go to hell for it.
    For our decision about what is right.

    How right can it be
    if we aren’t willing to go to hell for it?

    How authentically can we live
    if we hedge our bets,
    tiptoe on egg shells,
    carefully refuse to make waves,
    or rock boats,
    or turn over apple carts,
    or the tables of money changers,
    for fear of going to hell if we do?

    How can hell threaten
    anyone who is hellbent on being who they are
    and doing what they know to be right–
    not because someone else said so,
    but because they say so–
    no matter what?

    No one can judge for us what is right.
    That is ours to determine for ourselves.
    We say what is right,
    and we live as though it is,
    in each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.

    What is right
    is what is right here and now.
    Who says so?

    We do.

    And if we are wrong about it?
    We will learn from it,
    and do better next time.

    And if we go to hell for it?
    If there is nothing worth going to hell for
    in our life,
    what kind of life is that?
    That kind of life is worse than hell
    because we never lived it.
    We were too afraid of going to hell.
    Which is the moral of the guy
    who buried his talent
    in a mayonnaise jar
    and took no chances with being wrong.

    Champ Wilson said,
    “Columbus took a chance.”

    Are you going to live your life or not?

  • 01/05/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 05 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    It takes being in the right place
    at the right time,
    being around the right people,
    knowing what is right for you
    and what is wrong for you,
    looking and listening
    for what the right thing is to do
    in each situation as it arises,
    without trying to be smart,
    and wily,
    and crafty,
    and sly,
    conniving and contriving
    ways to bring about
    the agenda you are serving,
    attempting to arrange
    the future you want for yourself,
    no matter what.

    Can you do that?
    Can you serve a good
    at a variance with what
    you consider to be your own good?

    Can you see and do what is right for you
    no matter how much it is contrary
    to what you want for you?

    Can you sacrifice yourself
    for the sake of what needs you to do it?

    This is Jesus on the cross.
    This is Jesus saying,
    “If you would walk with me,
    you have to deny yourself
    and take up your cross daily
    and come with me.”

    It takes growing up
    some more
    again
    every day.

    It takes seeing what you look at.
    It takes looking into what you look at.

    Everything you need to see
    is always right before you.
    Right there waiting
    for you to develop eyes that see.

    Everything we do is a mirror showing us
    who we are
    and who we need to be.

    Nobody can tell us that.
    We have to see it for ourselves.

    I’ve told you that every photograph I take
    is a picture of harmony,
    serenity,
    balance,
    peace,
    beauty,
    calm,
    symmetry,
    synthesis,
    oneness,
    congruity,
    etc.

    I am showing myself
    who I am to be,
    who I am to work toward becoming,
    and the degree to which
    discord,
    disharmony,
    chaos,
    fear,
    uncertainty,
    imbalance,
    confusion,
    insecurity,
    instability,
    insanity,
    meaninglessness
    and absurdity,
    etc.
    dog my heels
    and threaten my existence.

    I work within what is true with me
    to become what is true with me
    and all of that is plainly visible
    in the things I do
    that are most important to me.

    We know who we are
    and who we also are
    by looking at what we are doing
    and what that has to say/show us
    about who we are
    and who we also are.

    Mirrors are everywhere
    for those who know how to see
    what to look for.

  • 01/16/2020—  Thunder Ridge 10/29/2019 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 74.7, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Being alive is living with Integrity,
    aligned with Kairos,
    in accord with Tao,
    in light of Dharma.

    Dharma is “the eternal and inherent,”
    “uncontrived and inerrant,”
    “constant and unalterable”
    “nature of reality,”
    “cosmic law,”
    “universal truth”
    running through
    and binding
    all things,
    seen and unseen,
    in “the way things are together
    and apart.”

    It is the way things are in themselves
    past all appearances,
    wants,
    wishes,
    desires,
    illusions,
    delusions,
    representations,
    pretensions,
    etc.

    It is who we are at the source,
    at the heart,
    at the bedrock,
    at the foundation stone.

    It is who I am
    when you say,
    “Isn’t that just like Jim?”

    It is water seeking its own level.
    It is gravity producing,
    and produced by,
    mass.
    Mass producing and produced by
    gravity.

    It is who we are
    and what we do
    when we are being
    true to ourselves.

    The problem is that lions
    and great white whales,
    gophers and asteroids
    have to be true to themselves–
    and you and I do not.

    We can be whatever we think
    will get us what we want,
    will work out best for us,
    will produce the end we have in mind.

    We can create disruption in the flow.
    We introduce disharmony
    and discord
    into “the fabric of the universe.”

    We can ignore Kairos,
    distort the Tao,
    deform Dharma,
    lose connection with our original face
    and wander through the endless wasteland
    cutoff from the guiding pulsation
    of our original nature.

    We can spend our life
    seeking who we are,
    instead of being who we are.

    Finding the tools,
    the path,
    the way to The Way
    of Being Our Natural Self
    is the work of becoming
    what we seek.

    The keys are awareness,
    compassion,
    patience,
    persistence
    and practice, practice, practice.

  • 01/16/2020—  November 4 11/04/2019 01 — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina, November 4, 2019

    Playing the best game of our life
    may, or may not, result in victory,
    but.
    We played the best game of our life.

    If we consistently play at the level
    we are capable of playing,
    wins and losses will balance out,
    but.
    Wins and losses are minor details.

    Consistently playing/living at the level
    we are capable of playing/living
    in each situation as it arises
    is the source of satisfaction,
    bliss,
    peace,
    well-being,
    harmony,
    serenity,
    fulfillment,
    completion
    and the best
    we can imagine,
    hope for,
    expect,
    experience,
    have,
    enjoy–
    and cannot be bought,
    or contrived,
    or connived,
    or conned,
    or manipulated into being.

    What is keeping us
    from playing/living at the level
    we are capable of playing/living?

    What do we think is better,
    or more important,
    than that?

  • 01/17/2020—  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Being alive is living with Integrity,
    aligned with Kairos,
    in accord with Tao,
    in light of Dharma,
    under the care of Grace.

    Grace says it all.
    “By Grace we are saved.”
    Not “by God” from “Hell,”
    but “by Grace” from “Chaos,
    Apostasy,
    and the Desolating Sacrilege”
    (Or whatever words
    describe for you
    the wasted emptiness
    of the Void).

    By Grace we are saved
    from having to live a life
    we have no idea how to live.

    Grace saves us in the sense
    of restoring us to a life worth living–
    to the life that is our life to live,
    the life that only we can live,
    the life that makes us “us,”
    who we are,
    reunited with our original nature
    and the face that was ours
    before we were born.

    Grace is Irrational Benevolence.
    Irrational in that it is
    completely unexpected,
    undeserved,
    shocking to the point
    of stunning us into silence
    and disbelief,
    sitting us down,
    shutting us up
    and forcing upon us
    the work of making sense
    of wonder,
    amazement
    and awe
    beyond words–
    beyond imagining,
    beyond believing.

    Grace is serendipity,
    synchronicity,
    miracle.

    “I once was lost,
    but now am found,
    was blind,
    but now I see!”

    Enlightenment.
    Awakening.
    Nirvana.
    Deliverance.

    Kairos,
    Tao,
    Dharma,
    coming together,
    coinciding,
    revealing themselves as One,
    to create Integrity
    and introduce us to US!

    It is all Grace.
    All the way down.

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about,
    keep walking around in the dark,
    looking for a light switch.
    When the light comes on,
    that’s Grace
    at work in your life,
    and you will look back at the darkness
    and realize that, too,
    was Grace at work in your life.

    Realized,
    or not realized,
    Grace is all there is.

  • 01/17/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 14 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls Picnic Area, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Throw away your doctrine,
    your theology,
    your faith in what
    somebody has told you is so,
    and step into your own life
    with your eyes wide open,
    looking at everything,
    looking into everything,
    afraid of nothing
    curious about it all,
    asking all of the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    saying all of the things
    that cry out to be said,
    holding nothing back,
    holding yourself back from nothing,
    bearing the pain,
    seeing clearly,
    responding appropriately
    in each situation that arises,
    all your life long.

    That is all there is to it.

  • 01/17/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 06 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    Sarah Kendzior said
    “All we need to do is care about one another”
    (Or words to that effect).

    We have allowed the internet
    and social media
    to take caring away from us.

    Hostility and anger
    quickly become rage,
    and here we are.

    Don’t act out of anger.
    That’s the first rule of caring.
    And if it isn’t the first,
    it’s high on the list.

  • 01/18/2020—  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 07 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    The profit motive is the essence of sin.
    Sin is being off the path,
    away from The Way,
    lost without hope,
    guidance
    or direction.

    Sin is as far from enlightened living
    as we can be.
    Sin is being wrong about what is important.

    Enlightenment,
    deliverance,
    realization,
    salvation is being restored
    to ends worthy of us,
    and being right about what is important.

    “What’s in it for me?”
    is irrelevant
    in the grip of what we must do
    no matter what.

    How many of us live out of a sense
    of what we must do,
    out of an ever-deepening relationship
    with what calls our name,
    with the face that was ours before we were born,
    with our original nature,
    with who we are
    and what we are here to do,
    serve,
    become,
    be?

    Real Life is about these things.
    Physical Life is about
    being 98.6 and breathing.

    When we are 98.6 and breathing,
    our biggest concern
    is how to fill up the time
    without being bored out of our mind.
    Physical Life is driven by a fear of boredom
    and a desire for profit,
    adoration,
    fame
    and followers.
    “Fortune and glory, Kid!
    Fortune and glory!”

    Real Life is about living in the service
    of that which grounds us,
    centers us,
    focuses us
    in that which we came to do
    and for which we live
    and move
    and have our being–
    for that which is life
    and imbues us with life
    through our association with it,
    our relationship with it–
    guiding,
    directing,
    comforting,
    calling us
    through all situations
    and circumstances
    in the work that is ours to do
    and the life that is ours to live.

    Physical Life looks for what is important,
    for what matters most.
    Real Life flows from what is important
    and brings us to life
    in the service of what matters most.

  • 01/18/2020—  Mabry Mill 10/28/2019 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    Democracy is not automatic.

    The Constitution is an ideal for self-government
    that offers the best imaginable atmosphere
    for personal liberty, freedom and rights
    for all citizens,
    across the board,
    with no exceptions or exemptions
    that has ever been instituted
    in the history of the world.

    Some people don’t like that
    because it interferes with their ability
    to make the highest possible profit
    at the expense of their fellow citizens’
    liberty, freedom and rights.

    The wealthy are always wealthy
    at somebody’s expense.
    And the wealthy can never be wealthy enough.

    The Founders of Democracy
    could not envision the kind of wealth
    the wealthy have created for themselves
    by buying politicians
    to create loopholes,
    granting them exceptions and exemptions,
    and allowing them special consideration
    in making laws that undercut the foundation
    of “government of the people,
    by the people,
    for the people,”
    and making corporations “people”
    at the expense of actual people.

    They get by with their subterfuge and deceit
    by managing the perceptions of actual people,
    and making actual people think
    that they, the wealthy, have their, the actual people,
    best interest at heart,
    and are protecting them, the actual people,
    from the terrible threat to democracy
    the true defenders of democracy are
    to the interests of the wealthy
    but not the interests of the actual people.

    It is a scam and a con all the way.
    Actual people are surrendering
    their liberty, freedom and rights
    in the service of the wealthy,
    and becoming the toadies and servant/slaves
    of the wealthy
    because the power of money
    is the power of perception,
    and those who control perception
    control the world.

    And destroy democracy.

  • 01/18/2020—  November 4 11/04/2019 03 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Goshen Creek, near Boone, North Carolina, November 4, 2019

    We drink ourselves to oblivion.

    Or smoke pot,
    chew peyote,
    sniff coke,
    shoot heroin…

    “Bread and circuses” do it for some.
    Distraction,
    diversion,
    denial…

    Escape comes in many forms.

    Addiction to something
    (Religion, perhaps),
    is our favorite alternative
    to being here, now.

    Suicide is a close second.

    What?

    Physical Life has nothing to commend it!
    Life is not automatic.
    Physical Life is just like being dead,
    except for being 98.6 and breathing.

    Physical Life is just a step on the way
    to Real Life,
    but.
    We have to keep walking.

    Seeking.
    Searching.
    Looking.
    Listening.
    Seeing.
    Hearing.
    And always,
    always,
    bearing the pain of being alive
    in the service of coming to life,
    waking up to life,
    birthing ourselves
    into Real Life
    by living our way
    into the realization
    of what’s what,
    and knowing the power
    of the shift in perspective
    that transforms everything
    without changing anything,
    which changes everything.

    The shift from Physical Life
    to Real Life
    is the shift from looking for a reason
    to go on with it,
    to being gripped by a power so compelling
    that we cannot get enough
    of life just as it is here, now.

    This is the power of Real Life.
    The power to will and to do,
    to know and to be,
    to see and to hear,
    to realize and to imagine,
    to create and to enjoy,
    to wonder and to perceive
    and to live in the service
    of the life that is ours to live
    in each situation as it arises,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    all our life long.

    Real Life pouring over,
    spilling out,
    flowing through us
    and around us
    is there for the living
    for each of us.

    We get there by looking into
    what we are doing.

    Stop!
    Look!
    Listen!

    Into what you are doing!

    Ask all of the questions that beg to be asked!
    Say all of the things that cry out to be said!
    Bear the pain of knowing what’s what
    into knowing more than you know you know
    simply by knowing fully what you know,
    and what questions that begs to be asked
    until you go over into “I don’t know,”
    and continuing to ask about what you don’t know,
    and allowing the quest to know
    more than you know you know
    carry you from Physical Life
    into the infinite possibilities of Real Life.

    We get from here to there
    by living our way there
    one moment at a time.

    Bearing the pain of the journey
    is the key to making the trip.

  • 01/19/2020—  Eastern Bluebird 01/12/2020 03 — Scenes From My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 12, 2020

    If I were your physician
    and you came to me once a year
    for a physical/wellness exam
    I would ask you,
    “What keeps you going?”
    And,
    “What do you love to do
    that doesn’t involve the participation
    of anyone else?”
    And,
    “How often do you do it?”

    My best advice would be,
    year after year,
    “See what you look at.”
    “Ask the questions that beg to be asked.”
    “Say the things that cry out to be said.”
    “Know what’s what.”
    “Do what needs you to do it
    with the gifts you bring to the table
    in each situation as it arises
    all your life long.”

    No physician I’ve ever had
    has said any of this to me.
    And, I expect not to you.

    Which has as much to do
    with where we are
    here and now
    as anything else
    that we have done,
    or that has been done,
    or not done,
    to us.

  • 01/19/2020—  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 15 Panorama — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Holes Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    We enter the river of life at birth,
    with what comes with us from the womb
    and what meets us upon arrival
    to work with.
    And here we are.

    This has been going on for at least 200,000 years.
    Nothing has changed about the process
    in that length of time.
    We can’t say it doesn’t work.
    It could work better
    if the umwelt that receives us
    were more conscious,
    more compassionately aware,
    of what it was doing with us.

    As it is,
    we plop out of the womb
    and are thrown into life
    with practically nothing
    in the way of an instruction manual,
    or any up-to-date
    and trustworthy
    guidance
    regarding what’s what
    and what to do about it,
    how to deal with it,
    manage it and/or our response to it,
    handle it
    and be better off for it.

    The advice we get
    is partisan to the core,
    and not well-considered
    or adequately evaluated
    by those doing the advising.

    Who can we trust with our life?
    Who wouldn’t be better off
    with better parenting?

    It is an absolute miracle
    that we are doing as well as we are!
    There is no validity at all
    to much/most of the stuff we are told.
    We spend as much of our life unlearning what isn’t so
    as we spend learning what is so.
    We do not get the kind of help we need.
    And it is all up to us to figure that out
    and find what is helpful
    and ignore what is not.
    With nothing more to go on
    than our own personal experience.

    This is wild.

    Who can we trust?
    Upon what can we rely?
    It begins with ourselves.
    What can we trust about ourselves?
    What can we rely on about ourselves?
    The more consciously–
    the more mindfully,
    compassionately,
    aware–
    we are of creating/building/maintaining
    a relationship with ourselves,
    the better of we will be
    in finding what we need
    to do what we need to do
    with what is ours to work with
    throughout our life.

    And nobody tells us this.
    We have to figure it out on our own.
    Knowing that much
    puts it squarely up to us.
    We start with ourselves,
    and look for people who are looking for us,
    and band together,
    drawing comfort and consolation
    from each other,
    pooling our knowledge,
    sharing our insight,
    offering encouragement,
    support
    and caring presence
    all the way along the way.

    The right kind of company
    makes all the difference.
    And, in order to find
    the right kind of company,
    it helps to be the right kind of company.
    That is the work
    that is incumbent upon us all.

    And no one tells us this at the start.
    And very few tell us this at all.
    Be sure to pass the word.

  • 01/19/2020—  Parkway Overlooks 10/28/2019 02 Panorama– Blue Ridge Parkway, The Saddle Overlook, Floyd, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    Neither whiskey,
    beer
    nor cheap red wine
    nor drugs,
    legal
    or illicit,
    nor religion
    as it is presently constituted,
    can restore
    our stability
    and harmony,
    our peace
    and balance,
    our serenity,
    our foundation,
    our ground
    and center.

    Putting ourselves
    in right relationship
    with ourselves
    and our life
    is the work
    of integrity–
    of integrating ourselves
    with ourselves
    and with Kairos,
    Tao,
    Dharma
    and Grace.

    It is the work
    of seeing what we look at
    and looking into it
    so that we see
    all there is to see
    about it.

    It is the work
    of asking the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and that beg to be asked
    about the questions.

    It is the work of trusting questions
    more than answers,
    and asking all of the questions
    our answers generate.

    It is the work of saying the things
    that cry out to be said,
    and asking all of the questions
    raised by saying them.

    And looking into everything.
    And seeing what’s what,
    and doing what needs to be done about it
    with the gifts that came with us
    into the world.

    Doing this the way it needs to be done
    restores harmony,
    puts things back on track,
    realigns the mechanisms of life,
    reestablishes order,
    allows things to naturally
    find their place,
    brings spontaneity to life,
    along with good faith,
    kindness,
    tenderness
    and mercy,
    and everything hums along
    in tune with the music of the spheres.

  • 01/20/2020—  Brown Creeper 01/16/2020 01 — Scenes From My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 16, 2020

    I wish things were as they should be,
    as we expect them to be,
    as we say they are.

    I wish equality were real,
    actual,
    tangible,
    true
    and experienced it as such
    everywhere,
    all the time.

    I wish corporations weren’t people.
    I wish people knew
    when they had enough money,
    and stopped trying to make
    more than they need.
    And that people who didn’t
    have enough money
    had legitimate means
    of making what they need.

    I wish people who hated people
    would change their perception
    and their attitude
    and give everybody a break.

    I wish people cared for all people
    they way they care for themselves,
    and I wish all people cared for themselves
    the way they need to
    to be who they are.

    I wish we all respected
    and honored one another.

    I wish we all were straight up
    and flat out
    who we are,
    and content to be exactly that
    without airs and aspirations
    for more than we need to be.

    I wish everybody had what they needed
    to be who they are.
    And that that was enough.

    I do so wish
    there were lines we all
    could agree were lines
    and could honor
    and respect
    and draw
    with full confidence
    that they would be honored
    and respected by all people.
    And that no one lived
    to destroy valid lines.

  • 01/20/2020—  Curves 10/29/2019 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    “Looking into it” means
    “Getting to the bottom of it.”

    It means looking until you see all of it.

    Do not stop with the surface!
    Do not stop with the assumptions!
    Do not stop with the presumptions!
    Do not stop with the inferences!
    Do not stop with the conjectures,
    the surmises,
    the suppositions,
    the uncritical embrace
    of “What we all know to be so.”

    Do not stop with what
    is too shallow to splash!

    Look into it!

    Ask the questions that are not allowed.
    Inquire past good manners
    and polite examination,
    and social affirmation
    of common opinions
    long held to be sacrosanct
    and beyond through inspection.

    Go for the heart of the matter!

    Dig for the full reality
    of “What everyone knows is true.”

    “What is the evidence
    that everyone knows
    what they are talking about?”

    Separate hearsay from the facts.

    The world is awash in uninformed opinions.

    “What makes you believe
    that what you believe
    is so?”

    “Where do you get your information?”

    “What are the assumptions
    that form the basis
    of your ideas, beliefs, opinions?”

    “What makes you think
    that what you say is so is so?

    “Who says so?
    What is their basis for saying so?
    How do we know they know
    what they are talking about?
    What do they have at stake
    in seeing as they do?”

    “What do we have at stake
    in seeing as we do?”

    Ask the questions until there are no more questions!
    About everything that matters!

  • 01/20/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 10 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    There is nothing to have,
    or acquire,
    or attain,
    or grasp.

    There is only to will,
    and to do,
    and to be
    In each situation as it arises,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    There is no steady state of being:
    saved or lost,
    deserving or undeserving,
    blessed or cursed,
    safe or in peril…

    There is only one thing after another,
    through circumstances that change,
    and times that are always moving,
    like a river through the days.

    We move with the currents
    and dance with the time,
    sometimes like this,
    and sometimes like that,
    but always, always,
    in ways appropriate to the occasion.

    Here we are–
    now what?
    What is happening?
    What is called for?
    What is being asked of us?
    Be still!
    Listen!
    Look!
    Be like the echo
    in response to the shout!

    Live with everything on the line
    in every moment.
    Why hold anything back?
    Why hedge your bets?

    There are a lot of opinions
    about what happens when we die.
    There is no doubt about this
    being our one shot at life.
    Why waste a minute
    with something that
    does not resonate
    with something deep within?

    We are not here to kill time.
    We are here to seek ourselves
    and live out who we are
    in the time left for living.

    “The game is a-foot!”
    Be awake!
    Be aware!
    Something is calling your name!

  • 01/21/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 15 — Linville Falls Picnic Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    We all have a Vital Core
    that we must live
    to honor,
    serve,
    explore,
    express,
    steward,
    protect,
    and defend.

    It is our place
    to develop our relationship
    with our Vital Core
    and to live with it
    in ways that bring us and it
    to life in our life.

    The degree to which we
    are able to do this
    is reflected
    in our vitality,
    spirit,
    energy
    and life.

    People who have failed,
    and are failing,
    in their stewardship
    of their Vital Core
    are evident on all sides–
    as are those who are excelling
    in the task.

    Our relationship with our Vital Core
    is apparent in our eyes,
    in our demeanor,
    in our behavior,
    in our step,
    in our tone of voice
    and in our relationships
    with other people.

    We begin the work of tending
    our Vital Core
    by recognizing its existence
    and looking into the reality,
    of its presence
    and its place in our life.

    This is meditative awareness
    and introspection
    at its best–
    and is a process
    we can carry out anywhere,
    everywhere,
    throughout our life.
    I call it “Checking In
    With The Heart Of Life And Being.”

    “Hello!
    What’s up?
    Are you there?”

    Ask it for a sign of its authenticity.
    Perhaps a dream verifying its existence,
    or an urge pointing direction
    or calling for action.

    You have to learn how to sense
    the stirring of your Vital Core to life.
    How to read its signals,
    know what its needs are
    and what actions on your part
    will bring it more fully to life in your life.

    Moods might be a place to look
    for a connection with your Vital Core.
    Explore your moods
    for what they might be saying
    about the needs of your Vital Core.
    Our moods often reflect our response
    to what is happening in our life,
    but they can as easily reflect
    our Vital Core’s response
    to how we are responding
    to what is happening in our life.
    What might it be asking us to do
    in responding to what is going on
    within our present situation
    or circumstances?
    What guidance might it be offering?

    As we learn how to led our Vital Core
    take the lead in guiding our response
    to the affairs of our life,
    we find a partner in the work
    to manage our life
    moment-to-moment-to-moment–
    and are no longer “up against it alone,”
    but have a Consultant Within
    with whom to confer
    in finding the best response to make
    to the here-and-now’s of the day-to-day.

    And that is like having all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in each situation that arises.
    What a source of vitality
    and life
    that would be!

  • 01/21/2020—  Carolina Wren 01/18/2020 06 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 18, 2020

    It isn’t about thinking or believing.
    It isn’t about having or acquiring.
    It isn’t about achieving or accomplishing.
    It isn’t about wanting or willing.
    It isn’t about forcing or striving.
    It isn’t about contriving and arranging.

    It is solely about being and doing.
    Right being and Right doing.
    In each situation as it arises.
    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.
    All our life long.

    Whether we are in the mood for it or not.
    Whether we feel like it or not.
    Whether we want to or not.
    Whether we need some time off or not.
    Through all circumstances,
    regardless of the weather conditions.
    24/7/12/Forever.

    Being who we need to be,
    doing what needs to be done,
    the way it needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    for as long as it needs to be done.

    All the talk about faith
    and theology,
    doctrine and dogma,
    comes down to this:
    Do we have what it takes
    to be who we need to be
    and do what needs us to do it,
    every moment
    of every day
    no matter what
    forever?

  • 01/21/2020—  Otter Creek 10/29/2019 06 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    The Buddha died from eating bad pork.
    How enlightened was that?
    What did the Buddha get
    out of being the Buddha?

    The Christ died charged
    with being a messianic pretender.
    What did the Christ get
    out of being the Christ?

    What do you hope to get
    out of being you?

    What are you in this for?

    If you are looking for a payoff,
    what is it?
    If you are not looking for a payoff,
    what motivates your life?

    What are you living for?
    What was the Buddha living for?
    What was the Christ living for?
    What is a good-enough reason
    for dealing with the day–
    day-after-day-after-day?

    What’s in it for you?
    What do you expect to receive
    for your trouble?

    Look into it.

    What grounds you?
    Shapes you?
    Directs you?

    What are you centered on?
    Focused on?
    Enchanted by?

    What is your purpose?
    Your goal?
    Your intention?

    What makes your little heart sing?
    What are you doing here?
    What are you doing with your days?

    Look into it.

  • 01/22/2020—  November 4 11/04/2019 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina, November 4, 2019

    Here is the solution
    to making life as good as it can be
    for all of us:

    Want less.
    Love More.
    Share the wealth.
    Starting with a livable minimum wage.

    That’s it.
    That is where the rest of this is going.
    Save yourself the pain of the trip
    by stopping now.

    Taoism and Buddhism and Zen,
    and Hinduism and Islam and Christianity,
    and all religion ever
    are elaborate systems of denial.

    Alcoholics Anonymous is as truthful as it gets.
    But even A.A. stumbles with what to be
    beyond sober.
    Sober alcoholics don’t have a better life
    than anybody else.
    They are still stuck in some elaborate system of denial.

    Because the curse of Col. Nathan R. Jessup rules the world:
    “You Can’t Handle The Truth!”

    Truer words have never been spoken,
    nor will be.

    Our need to hide from the truth
    is the source of all of our problems today,
    and tomorrow and every day forever.

    Let’s take mindfulness for an example.
    Mindfulness is grounded upon
    looking truth in its ugly red eye.
    Two things flow from this.
    Here is the first.
    Mindfulness in one dispensation
    is equivalent to and inseparable from
    happiness, love, joy, peace, gratitude and bright smiling faces.
    You cannot be mindful and depressed,
    or sad, angry, guilty, hate-filled, gloomy, moody or real.
    Mindfulness is mindless about its own failure
    to be reality based.
    Mindfulness is in denial,
    and is yet another system of denial.

    Mindfulness in another dispensation
    attempts to get around this dead-end
    by telling us to put all of our negative feelings
    “in awareness” without being sidetracked
    by them and go on attending the present moment.
    But we never get back to dealing with
    all that we tuck away “in awareness.”
    What do we do with all of the negative
    realizations and emotions arising
    from the realizations?
    Our situation is hopeless!
    What do we do with that?
    And what is with the refusal to face
    the hopelessness of our situation?
    Why must we all deny hopelessness?
    And pretend it is not so?

    The truth is that all of us are going nowhere fast.
    That is easier for some of us to deny
    than others of us,
    but it applies to all of us.

    Let’s take a person working a minimum wage job,
    making, say, $20,000 a year
    (but it may be more like $16,000).
    Nobody can live on $20,000 a year.
    Minimum wage jobs are built for teenagers
    working after school with a mom and dad
    to take care of food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses.

    Military veterans come home from our endless wars
    with PTSD, substance abuse addiction
    and no marketable skills,
    and are killing themselves at a rate
    of about 6,000 per year.

    Telling them to deposit their feelings in their awareness
    is not changing their lived experience.
    Feeling better can be a step on the way to getting better
    IF the resources are available
    for a self-sustaining life with appropriate goals
    and the means of achieving them.
    For an increasing number of people world-wide
    that is not a possibility.

    After we put things in awareness, what?
    After alcoholics and substance abusers become sober, what?
    How do we change the systems that create hopelessness
    for more people every year?

    No matter where you go with this question,
    you will be circling around the inescapable conclusion
    that it all hinges on the excessively and super wealthy
    sharing the wealth.

    And the best way of doing that is an equitable tax system.
    Farmers are subsidized.
    Corporations are subsidized.
    The unemployed and underemployed have to be subsidized.
    And we all have to come to terms with the undeniable fact
    that we all have to have appropriate life goals
    and the means of achieving them.
    We cannot “have it all,” or even half of it all.
    We cannot sustain an ever-increasing standard of living.
    Nobody’s wealth can grow exponentially forever.
    Every one of us has to live within limits
    in order for all of us to live at all.

    Want less.
    Love more.
    Share the wealth.
    Starting with a livable minimum wage.

  • 01/22/2020—  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 22 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke, Virginia, October 29, 2029

    The deeper we go into any religion,
    or philosophy,
    or spiritual discipline/persuasion/point-of-view,
    the more ridiculous,
    absurd,
    conflicted,
    paradoxical,
    outlandish,
    insane
    it becomes.

    I love Zen because it doesn’t
    take itself seriously,
    it doesn’t try to make disciples,
    and it doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it.
    The heart of Zen is preposterous,
    nonsense,
    non sequiturs,
    non-answers,
    farcical,
    idiotic
    and laughable.

    As are all other religions (etc.),
    but they have been known
    to kill people
    who said that about them.

    Zen just says,
    “You are right!”
    and joins in on the fun.

    That’s the best way to be religious (etc.).
    That, and inviting everyone
    to be a part of the joke,
    with no entry fees required
    or obligations imposed.

  • 01/22/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 08 — Spillway, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019, an iPhone photo taken with the Spectre slow shutter app

    We live best out of a state of equilibrium,
    homeostasis,
    balance,
    harmony,
    calm,
    peace,
    serenity,
    stability,
    composure,
    tranquility,
    equanimity,
    etc.

    All commercials/advertisements/scams/cons/etc.
    are geared to unbalance us in some way.
    The easiest way is to play with our
    wanting/wanting-not mechanism.

    The people who are out to get us
    know we cannot be gotten
    if we are solidly grounded in the moment,
    at one with who we are.
    They have to destabilize us somehow
    to have a chance at “making the sale.”

    Everything that preys on us
    has to destabilize us
    in order to get to us.
    They do that by getting our attention
    and then distracting us
    into their agenda for us.
    “Distraction and Pounce”
    is the process of “Owning the Mark.”

    Owning your Center keeps the parasites at bay.

    Make equilibrium your living quarters.
    Learn to recognize when you are “home”
    and when you are “away from home,”
    and note just how far “away from home” you are
    at various points throughout your day.

    Home represents invulnerability.
    Away From Home represents vulnerability.
    The more off balance, out of balance, unbalanced,
    we are,
    the more vulnerable we are.

    When you find yourself Away From Home,
    stop and see
    how you got there
    and what you need to do
    to find your way back Home.
    And do it.

    You will make better decisions
    and have a better life
    when you live
    and work
    from Home.

  • 01/22/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 16 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    There are a lot of things
    we cannot do anything about.
    Important things.
    Essential things.

    When we come upon those things,
    we have to re-think our options.
    Having our way is not one of them.
    We have to readjust our goals,
    revise our priorities,
    and make-do with what we have.
    This requires maturity on our part.

    The immature among us will develop symptoms,
    flail about,
    scream, moan, whine and shout,
    take refuge in substance abuse
    or suicide,
    and their story will end with a flame-out.

    Carl Jung observed that the Big Problems in life
    have no solution,
    but can only be out-lived.
    Perspective changes over time.
    We have to wait it out.
    Sometimes, we run out of time.
    Well, we all do eventually.

    Enjoying what remains of our time
    begins right now,
    in the midst of terrible circumstances
    and little hope of better days ahead.

    Enjoyment is a perspective shift.
    When we cannot do anything else,
    we can shift our perspective.
    That is an option available to all of us
    in all circumstances.

    Detachment.
    Perception.
    Perspective.
    The special powers of mind.

    Play around with how you see things,
    with the words you use to describe
    your situation.
    Pay attention to how what you say
    impacts how you see
    and what you feel–
    and change the narrative,
    the internal dialogue,
    you use to say what’s what
    and your reaction to it.

    The special powers of mind
    govern our reaction to what is going on
    in our life.
    Changing our reaction even a little,
    changes our response,
    and opens doors to coping and adjustment
    that would remain shut without it.

    We have to use everything at our disposal
    in making our way through a world
    like our world.

    There may be dark times ahead for us all.
    How we perceive them will enable us
    to help one another along the path we share.

  • 01/23/2020—  Carolina Wren 01/18/2020 02 — Scenes from my Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 18, 2020

    Anything that stops us,
    requires us to take stock
    of our situation,
    forces reflection and consideration
    upon us,
    shocks us out of automatic living mode,
    makes us orient ourselves
    in space and time,
    leaves us wondering,
    “Now what?”,
    invites us to sit down
    while we catch our breath,
    leaves us pondering
    our next move,
    and where we go from here,
    is the kind of thing
    we need to practice
    from time to time
    in order to be ready for it
    when it does happen.

    We need to practice
    getting our feet under us,
    squaring up to the moment,
    reorienting ourselves
    in time and space,
    reacquainting ourselves
    with the Bedrock,
    regaining our equilibrium,
    our homeostasis,
    our balance,
    and realigning ourselves
    with the Source,
    the Goal,
    and the Vitality of Life.

    We live too insulated
    from the heart of life.
    We are too automatic
    and unthinking
    in our responses to life.
    We are fundamentally mindless
    of our way with life.
    And rarely pay attention
    to what we are doing
    or why we are doing it,
    and how we might do it better,
    or whether we need to be doing it at all,
    and what we might be doing instead.

    We might pretend,
    from time to time,
    that we just had a heart attack.

    And see how that changes
    what we do next.

  • 01/23/2020—  Beidler Forest 11/22/2019 05 — Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Four Holes Swamp, Harleyville, South Carolina, November 22, 2019

    Our problem is living in ways appropriate to the occasion
    in each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.

    Anything that helps us with that is to be received
    with gratitude and appreciation.

    Anything else is a distraction at best
    and toxic or deadly at worst.

    We have to determine
    whether we are being helped
    or hurt,
    and take action appropriate
    to the occasion.

    In each situation as it arises,
    all our life long.

  • 01/24/2020—  Carolina Wren 01/18/2020 04 — Scenes From My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 18, 2020

    Oblivion and distraction are the twin demons
    disrupting the flow,
    upsetting the balance
    and destroying the harmony
    of our lives–
    according to the old Taoist and Zen masters.

    Substance abuse
    and the 10,000 addictions
    of the modern world
    bring the validity
    of the old observation
    to life in our lived experience.

    We have lost the ground,
    the foundation,
    the bedrock
    of life,
    and live searching
    for a reason to be alive,
    settling for ways
    to escape the pain of not-knowing
    and the fear that there is nothing
    at the bottom of it all,
    only free-falling
    all the way down.

    It is time we stop
    and see what’s what.

    And know three things:

    1) “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure”
    (Joseph Campbell).
    2) “What you seek
    lies far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most
    don’t want to enter”
    (Joseph Campbell).
    3) “What you seek
    is found within”
    (Multiple sources).

    Within is the last place
    we want to look.
    We attend lectures and seminars,
    read books and articles,
    watch videos and take courses.
    We will do anything
    but the one thing required
    to find the path
    and take up the journey.

    The path is under our feet.
    We only have to look and listen,
    see and hear,
    to know that it is so.

    We have to trust ourselves
    and our own sense
    of what is right for us
    and what is wrong.

    And, when we prove to be untrustworthy,
    we have to keep trusting ourselves
    to make the necessary adjustments
    to refine our sense
    of what is right for us
    and what is wrong.

    When trusting ourselves leads us into trouble,
    we keep trusting ourselves
    to find our way out of trouble,
    and trouble becomes our teacher.

    Living the lesson
    and life is the teacher.

    And “We are the sculptor
    and we are the stone”
    (Alexis Carrel).

  • 01/24/2020—  James River 10/29/2019 07 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “What happens now
    can influence what happens next.”

    He also said, “No one else can wake us up.”
    That responsibility is ours alone to bear.

    How many now’s will we pass through
    without influencing what happens next
    in the direction of waking up?

    Now is when/where we take the step toward waking up.
    By simply being aware
    of what is happening here, now.

    Now has an internal aspect
    and an external aspect
    which are interrelated
    and capable of modifying
    each other in significant ways.

    And things are happening
    on both levels simultaneously.
    Some things are happening unconsciously,
    beyond our range of conscious awareness.
    And, some things are happening
    within our range of awareness,
    but outside of our zone of attention.
    We do not see things we look at.
    We do not hear things that are within hearing distance,
    but out of mind.

    Now is mostly happening without us.
    We live without being alive to the time and place of our living
    too much of the time.
    Engaging the present moment
    influences the next moment.
    Not engaging the present moment
    also influences the next moment.

    How we live now influences how we will live then.
    What kind of influence do you want to have?
    Conscious/mindful?
    Unconscious/mindless?

    If we are not mindfully engaged with our life,
    we are not so much living our life
    as we are being lived by it.
    We are “just along for the ride.”

    Socrates is said to have said,
    “The examined life is not worth living,”
    leading Sheldon Kopp to quip,
    “The unlived life is not worth examining.”
    The place of mindful awareness
    is front and center
    in both the living and the examining.

    If we are not aware of what we are doing,
    we are being swept along by the winds,
    tides and currents of time and chance.
    Which is one way to do it,
    but we are pushing our luck
    more than trusting it.

    We become an active participant
    in choosing the tone and direction
    of our life–in the living of our life–
    by being present in
    and aware of
    what is happening here/now,
    and thereby influencing
    what happens next.

    Take a ten minute break.
    Sit quietly, eyes open or closed,
    focus on the moment
    and be aware of all that is in the moment with you,
    internally and externally,
    for ten minutes.

    Your attention will drift–
    that becomes one more thing to be aware of.
    Simply bring it back to here, now
    and continue to be aware of the moment.

    Take a break for the present
    once or twice a day
    for the rest of your life.

    That’s all there is to it.

  • 01/25/2020—  Last Days of Fall 11/03/2019 30 — Bass Lake, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, November 3, 2019

    Grounding ourselves in our original nature
    and living out of our vital core,
    positions us to look into who we are
    at our center–
    and that means stopping and seeing,
    listening,
    reflecting
    on who we have shown ourselves to be
    time and again
    through all of the situations and circumstances
    of our life.

    What shines through
    all that we have done
    and all that has been done to us?
    What is the kernel that keeps coming to light?

    What have we been able to count on
    from ourselves?
    What got us to this point?
    We could have quit a thousand times,
    yet, here we are.
    We could have done better, of course,
    and we all wish we had,
    but, we also could have done worse,
    easily.
    Yet, here we are.
    We owe being here, now, to ourselves.
    What got us through all of that
    to here, now?
    That is a core strength.
    Explore all aspects of the qualities
    and characteristics
    that got us here, now.
    Honor them with the recognition
    that they are reflections
    of your original nature,
    of what you can count on,
    rely on,
    depend on,
    believe in
    about you.

    Live to be aware of all of that
    working in your present
    to buoy you up,
    keep you going,
    bounce you back,
    call you to life–
    and work to develop
    your relationship with those aspects
    of you
    with conscious appreciation of them
    and reliance on them.

    Sink into them
    and live out of them
    amid “the heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea.”
    And spend time with people
    who bring out the best in you
    by reflecting you to yourself,
    and showing you who you are
    by reflecting your core qualities to you
    and by recognizing them in you.

    We have made it this far unconsciously,
    almost accidentally,
    without our intentional participation
    and cooperation.
    Let’s live to see what we can do
    as a full partner with our ground
    and center
    in the time left for living!

  • 01/25/2020—  Mabry Mill 10/28/2019 02 Panorama — Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 176.2, near Meadows of Dan, in Floyd County, Virginia, October 28, 2019

    There is a lot of talk about gratitude these days,
    as though it is a panacea for all that besets us,
    a sure cure for all of our troubles and woes.
    If we don’t like something,
    we are encouraged
    to just tuck it into gratitude
    and let it take all our anxiety away.

    Nowhere in the gratitude sales pitch
    is any attention given
    to the fine line between gratitude and denial.
    Between spontaneous,
    heart-felt appreciation,
    and tricking ourselves into feeling better
    by refusing to see what there is to feel bad about.

    To see how things might be viewed
    at the expense of how things are
    and also are
    is two-side-ism that dismisses one side.
    The glass can be seen as half-empty,
    and half-full.
    And, it can be seen as containing 4 oz of liquid
    in an 8 oz glass.
    And how we feel about that
    depends on how thirsty we are,
    and a host of other factors,
    all of which are ignored
    in the service of gratitude at all times,
    above all other considerations.

    Denial comes in 10,000 forms
    to comfort and console and keep us going.

    To see clearly
    and access responsibly
    and respond appropriately
    to what we are being asked to deal with
    is essential to managing our life situation
    in light of the true good of all concerned.
    What we don’t see
    because we refuse to look at it
    or assess it accurately
    can skew our response
    and create a make-believe world
    with no connection to the actual situation
    in which we live.

    Being grateful things aren’t worse yet
    isn’t helping them get better–
    and keeps us from seeing what we look at
    and responding to it in ways appropriate
    to the occasion.
    And there is entirely too much of that
    going on in the world
    for us to mindlessly assist it in any way.

  • 01/25/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 20 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    Jon Kabat-Zinn said,
    “Mindfulness has to do
    with waking up
    and living in harmony
    with oneself
    and with the world”
    (Wherever You Go, There You Are).

    Living in harmony with oneself
    and with the world
    is the hardest of all things.

    Living in harmony with oneself
    means being in accord
    with our original nature,
    and that means finding our way
    back to our original nature,
    which was taken from us
    shortly after birth
    and replaced with the culture’s idea
    (or our parents’ idea)
    of who we ought to be.

    Left-handed children
    have been forced to be right-handed.
    Introverts have been required to be extroverts.
    Gay people have been denied a place in the world
    unless they pretend to be straight
    (And is “straight” ever a misnomer!).
    The list is long of qualities and characteristics
    that are unacceptable
    and not allowed in the world
    which receives us at birth.

    Living in harmony with ourselves
    means finding and reclaiming
    those aspects of ourselves
    that have been rejected,
    neglected
    and denied their rightful place in our life.

    If you think that is easy,
    give it a spin.

    And there is the “living in harmony
    with the world” part!
    Living in harmony with the context
    and circumstances of our life!
    Are You Kidding Me???
    *This* world?
    *This* context?
    *These* circumstances?

    *This* is the place that killed Jesus
    for being different!
    It would kill Jesus today!
    What chance do *we* have?
    How can *we* fit into *this* world?
    Why would we want to?

    It is going to be some trip
    harmonizing ourselves with ourselves
    *and* with the world!
    We are going to need a lot of help
    with that!
    And all we get is
    Awareness!
    Awareness!
    Awareness!
    With compassion
    and non-judgmental acceptance
    of the difficulty of the task before us.

    So.
    Take a deep breath,
    and let’s get to work!

    Start with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s
    books, “Wherever You Go, There You Are”
    and “Mindfulness Is Not What You Think,”
    and his YouTube videos (The shortest ones first).
    With patience and a good faith commitment
    to what is before us.

    It is the most necessary journey of our life,
    and the most difficult task we could ever undertake.
    It is called “The Hero’s Journey” for good reason!

  • 01/26/2020—  Mill Houses 01/25/2020 01 Panorama — Gibson Mill, Concord, North Carolina, January 25, 2020

    Wendell Berry’s
    “The Peace of Wild Things”
    is a poem for these times,
    and is to be applied frequently,
    perhaps several times daily,
    in order to connect
    with a truth that sustains us
    across all times and places,
    grounding us in the realization
    of life beyond life–
    of life beyond the impact of life–
    sealing us in the hope of wild things
    and the hope of the natural world
    from which we come
    and to which we all shall return
    in due time.

    Taking strength from that association,
    that realization,
    to go on
    through the trials of the present time
    grounded in the peace
    of our original nature
    and in the resiliency it affords.

    Googleit.

  • 01/26/2020—  Swan Lake 09/13/2019 01-B Panorama — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, September 13, 2019

    We have to preserve our sanity
    any way we can.

    By “sanity,” I mean our ability to function in the world–
    responding appropriately to each situation
    as it arises,
    rising to meet every occasion,
    standing grounded upon the bedrock
    of our original nature,
    our original essence,
    our vital core,
    our essential identity,
    amid all circumstances
    that come our way,
    especially including
    “the heaving waves of the wine-dark sea,”
    and doing right by ourselves
    and our umwelt
    at every point.

    What knocks you off your center?
    What flattens you like Wile E. Coyote
    in the Roadrunner cartoons?
    How much does it take
    to send you off
    into the Land of Shattered Dreams
    and Lost Hope?

    How do you recover?
    Pull yourself together?
    Pick yourself up?
    Shake it off
    and step back into the ring?

    We are absolutely surrounded by people
    who are not emotionally/psychologically
    stable enough to see/hear/understand/know
    what is going on.

    All they know is what somebody told them–
    somebody who didn’t know
    what they were talking about, I mean.

    And too many of both sets of people–
    the blind and those following the blind–
    are running the world.

    What chance do the rest of us have?
    When have “the rest of us” ever had a chance?
    What does “having a chance”
    have to do with how well we live our life?

    We are here to be who we are no matter what!
    To live out of our core identity,
    out of our bedrock foundation,
    out of our vision/understanding/knowledge
    of who we are and what we are about–
    serving values and ends
    we know to be worthy of us
    amid all circumstances
    that come our way,
    especially “the heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea,”
    and doing right by ourselves
    and our umwelt
    at every point!

    What do we need in order to do that?
    How do we preserve our sanity?
    Knowing these things is our primary work
    at this point in our life
    and in the life of our world.

    Find what anchors you–
    what re-establishes you
    in relationship with what needs to be done–
    and maintain your connection with your anchor
    through all that comes your way!

    The work to preserve our sanity,
    and our spirit,
    and our courage,
    and our determination
    to be who we are,
    anyway,
    nevertheless,
    even so
    is our responsibility.

    No one can do it for us.

    Find where your encouragement lies,
    where your peace resides,
    where your heart is restored,
    and go there often!

  • 01/27/2020—  Tree Panorama 01/08/2020 02 — The Promenade on Providence, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 8, 2020,

    The distance between well off
    and well-enough off
    is worth considering early-on.
    But.
    It takes a long time
    to come to this realization.

    We can’t know where we are
    well-enough off
    until we are old enough
    to understand/realize
    what we have to do–
    with “have” being
    what is ours to do
    and that we *must* do
    what is ours to do.

    We generally think we are here
    to make enough money
    to pass a good time.
    For some that means
    a case of beer on some beach,
    and for others it means
    being the wealthiest person in the world.

    That all changes when we think
    of making enough money
    to be who we came to be,
    doing what is ours to do.

    How much money will it take
    to pay the bills required to survive
    at a level far enough beyond subsistence
    to allow us to buy the tools
    to do the work,
    that is ours to do?

    What is the work that is ours to do?
    Once we know that,
    it is a matter of doing the work
    that pays us enough
    to do the work that is ours to do.

    I have a friend who is an auto mechanic
    who describes his work as “Wrenching it.”
    He means using a wrench,
    any wrench,
    all wrenches.
    He is perfectly matched
    with the work that is his to do
    and the work that pays him enough
    to pay his bills that are unrelated
    to his work.
    It helped knowing that “Wrenching it”
    was *It* for him.

    Too many of us have no idea
    of what we *must* do.
    Or, or too lazy/lethargic/fearful
    to care about knowing.
    Too many of us just want
    to be taken care of
    and given what we want.

    Living to have what we want
    is consolation
    for refusing/failing to do
    what wants us to do it.
    Those of us in this position
    have no conception of something
    beyond us forcing its way
    into our life
    and compelling us into its service.
    “Wrenching it,” or its equivalent,
    has no meaning for us,
    and we bounce from one want
    to another all our life long.

    The rest of us have to consciously,
    willingly, willfully,
    enlist ourselves in the service
    of The Wrench (or its equivalent)–
    for me it is The Camera and The Typewriter/Keyboard–
    and find ways to support ourselves
    and our work throughout our life.

    We only need to be well-enough off
    to pay the bills
    that allow us to do the work
    we are here to do.

  • 01/27/2020—  Carolina Wren 01/18/2020 05 — Scenes from My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 18, 2020

    Two stories highlight my understanding
    of serving the vision,
    doing the work.

    I was walking along a greenway in Charlotte
    with my camera and tripod
    looking for something to catch my eye.
    A guy walking with his wife
    stopped and asked,
    “Who are you working for?”
    I laughed and asked him,
    “Who are you walking for?”
    They joined in the laughter,
    and continued walking.

    I was sitting at a table in a coffee shop
    writing on a little portable keypad,
    when a friend who worked for the local newspaper
    asked me what I was doing.
    “Writing,” I said.
    “What are you going to do with it?” he asked.
    “Add to it,” I said.

    The idea that we can’t just “do something,”
    but have to do something that makes money,
    or serves some higher purpose than the doing,
    is pervasive in the culture.
    We have to be accomplishing something,
    achieving something.
    We can’t just be walking around with a camera,
    or sitting at a keyboard.
    Why would anybody do that?

    I’m proud of the photos I’ve taken
    that are stored on some hard drive.
    I’m pleased with the things I’ve written
    that are keeping the photos company.
    I haven’t made enough money
    from either, or both,
    to pay the mortgage
    or make the car payments.

    And I will be walking around with a camera,
    and sitting at a keyboard,
    for as long as I am able to walk and sit.

    If you have something similar in your life,
    we both are blessed beyond measure,
    and unable to explain why, or how,
    and don’t have time to try to figure it out.
    There is work yet to be done,
    and we have to be doing it!
    Why is irrelevant to the work.

  • 01/27/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 25 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019, an iPhone Photo

    Sin is being wrong about what is important.

    Our primary sin is betrayal of ourselves
    in the service of our idea of what we want.

    This is the Original Sin.
    Adam and Eve trading paradise
    for what they thought was better than paradise.
    Us trading our original nature/essence/self
    for what we think is better than any of that.

    Us launching/lurching off on our own
    chasing our dreams/wants/wishes/desires,
    sure that we know what we are doing,
    and for sure no one else
    is going to tell us what to do
    or how to do it.

    And then waking up at the bottom of some wall,
    empty and lost
    with no prospects
    and very little chance,
    casting about,
    trying anything that looks like
    it might help us forget the fear and pain
    for a while,
    still ignoring the door
    that follows us everywhere we go
    waiting for us to open it
    and get to work
    serving our true heart/soul/self
    and their/its idea of who we are
    and what is ours to do.

    It is a tough path back to where we started.
    “What we seek lies far back in the darkest corner
    of the cave we most don’t want to enter”
    (Joseph Campbell).
    And when we get there,

and peer into that corner,
what we find is a dustless mirror
reflecting us to us,
and we meet ourselves at last,
and know us for the first time.

What happens then
is up to, well, us.

  • 01/27/2020—  Hermit Thrush -0/19/2020 01 — Scenes from My Camp Stool, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, January 19, 2020

    Satisfaction is peace,
    is balance,
    is harmony,
    is symmetry,
    is congruence,
    is accord…

    It is at-one-ness
    with ourselves
    and our place in life.

    Resting in the just-right-ness
    of the moment.

    What disrupts our satisfaction?
    Disturbs our peace?
    Destroys our harmony?
    Introduces tension?
    Anxiety?
    Fear?
    Worry?

    Grounded in our original nature,
    in our essential self,
    in the unalterable “is-ness”
    of our “I,”
    we are unshakeable,
    immovable,
    anchored in that which does not change
    about us–
    in that which has been reliably “us”
    through all of the ups and downs,
    trauma and drama,
    of our life.

    There is a core identity
    at the heart of each one of us
    that is immune to the ebbs and flows,
    and the “heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea.”

    Find the bedrock grounding our “I.”
    Live to express the eternal qualities
    and character of our own essence.
    Be the Woman,
    be the Man,
    you are,
    and always have been,
    and always will be.

    Be the calm you seek.
    The peace you long for.
    The eternal source
    of the “just-right-ness” of you
    in the world.

  • 01/28/2020—  Mill Houses 01/25/2020 04 Panorama — Gibson Mill, Concord, North Carolina, January 25, 2020

    If you take up the practice
    of thinking of yourself
    as a “we” and not as an “I,”
    you will begin discovering
    what it means to say
    “There is more to us than meets the eye.”

    We–individually, I mean (“we” mean)
    are composed of inherited strengths
    (and weaknesses) packed into our DNA
    from the entire species.

    All of these elements combined
    (There is actually no end to the possible combinations)
    are lumped into the terms
    “psyche,” “unconscious,” “soul,” “heart,” “self,” “mind”…
    Our “conscious self” takes care
    of the business of life in physical reality,
    but, there are other levels of reality,
    additional planes of existence–
    there is more to us all than meets the eye.

    Consciously enlarging our conscious reality
    to take into account the portion of “the more”
    that we are capable of accessing,
    positions us to tap natural resources of awareness
    that free us to respond to our circumstances
    out of the inherited wisdom of the species,
    and gives us a very helpful sense
    of not being on our own alone,
    up against the terrors of the times
    (On “the heaving waves of the wine-dark sea”).

    We have help with the task
    of finding our way,
    if we open ourselves to what is available
    in a “Here we are, now what?” kind of way.

    Things “pop into mind,”
    “occur to us”
    that we would never think up on our own.
    We discover that we are being
    (and have always been)
    led all along the way.
    And as we take up the role of seeking
    to know what we know,
    we assist that invisible process
    in allowing our feet to follow paths
    we cannot see
    to destinations (way points, actually)
    we would not choose on our own.

    This is to say, of course,
    that we do not “use the powers”
    to achieve goals we think are desirable–
    we confess that we do not know what to do
    and allow ourselves to be guided
    along the way on the adventure of being alive.

    We think our way to how,
    we feel our way to what.
    And we wait to see what’s next,
    and what we do about it,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment,
    in each situation as it arises,
    all our life long–
    by remembering to listen,
    and know we don’t know as much
    as we think we know,
    and remain open to more than meets the eye.

  • 01/29/2020—  Tunnel View 04/28/2006 B&W 01 — Yosemite National Park, California, April 28, 2006

    Musicians are the people I love the most,
    respect the most,
    admire the most…

    I am not a musician,
    but.
    That doesn’t prevent me
    from appreciating them,
    being grateful for them
    and holding them
    in my highest esteem.

    Why? Because they know what is important
    and are right about it.

    Most of them are right about it.
    Some of them think money is the most important thing
    and music is their way of accessing
    and accumulating money.
    That works well for some of those
    who think this way,
    but, for all their money,
    they miss the point of music.

    The point of music is music.
    Most musicians understand this,
    and live to serve music with their life.
    They are playing or singing somewhere all the time.
    Maybe only in their basement.

    Musicians love music.
    And I love musicians because they love music.
    Everybody ought to have something they love
    the way musicians love music.

    Everything I have to say,
    comes down to this:
    Find something in your life
    you can love
    the way musicians love music.
    And love it with your life.
    Your whole life long.

  • 01/29/2020—  Goodale 10/25/2019 24 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 25, 2019

    The old Buddhists and Taoists
    had a notion about “original nature,”
    and held that living in accord with it
    is Real Life
    and living at odds with it is a lie.
    Or as they might put it “illusion.”

    Our original nature
    is our core identity,
    our core vitality.
    It knows what brings it to life,
    and it knows what it takes
    to express/exhibit/incarnate it
    in the way we live.

    We can live more or less aligned
    with our original nature,
    or more or less out of touch with it–
    and the proximity of our lived life
    with the life our original nature
    is built to live
    is the degree of balance,
    sanity,
    wholeness,
    wellness,
    integrity,
    authenticity,
    genuineness
    and truth
    that we have about us
    as we go take care of our business
    in the world
    day-by-day
    and moment-to-moment.

    Our place is to own our original nature
    and to be owned by it.

    To know and love who we are
    at the deepest/highest levels.
    And to live in ways which reflect
    our true identity
    as we go about our life.

    Now, the problem is doing that
    and paying the bills.
    Our life may not easily support
    the life that is ours to live,
    the life that we are here to live.

    We have to work it out.

    This is called “Walking Two (Or More)
    Paths At The Same Time.”
    We do that by being mindfully aware
    of “the other path”
    as we are walking the one we are on.
    We don’t kid ourselves about the difficulty
    of being true to ourselves
    and paying the bills.

    We bear the pain,
    and do the best we can,
    without kidding ourselves about
    it being truly the best we can do.
    That’s the best we can do.
    Jesus couldn’t do it better.
    God couldn’t do it better.

    We take who we are
    when we are being true to ourselves
    in one hand,
    and we take what it takes
    to pay the bills
    in the other hand,
    and we work to get the two hands together
    all our life long.

    That is the essence/nature of the Hero’s Journey.
    And the essence/nature of growing up.
    It is what our life is all about.
    We live between the hands,
    on the one hand this,
    on the other hand that,
    and work to get them together
    our whole life long.
    And that is how things are.

  • 01/29/2020—  Parkway Overlooks 10/29/2019 08 –Blue Ridge Parkway near Big Island, Virginia, October 29, 2019

    This marks 5,800 photos and monologues that I’ve posted here. It would be great if there were that many more to go!

    We think of our life
    in terms of attainment and acquisition,
    accomplishment, achievement and success.
    Of getting, having, doing, becoming…

    All the while,
    our life needs us to serve its ends.

    We don’t think of our life
    as having a will of its own,
    but.
    Our life has a will of its own.

    We are built for a certain life,
    and not for others.
    We have the temperament,
    and the body,
    and the drift of soul
    for a certain life,
    and not for others.

    We are not free to will any life for ourselves.
    We come with a blueprint attached,
    and live to discover how to read it
    in order to know who,
    and how,
    to be.

    But.
    There are none to teach us.
    All those who should know,
    ask us!
    “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
    “What do you want to do with your life?”

    What does wanting know?
    We want sugar,
    and alcohol
    and tobacco.
    And pot,
    and opioids.
    We don’t know what to want,
    or how to know!
    And, we aren’t free to want what we ought to want,
    even if we could be sure of what that is!

    The situation is bonkers from the start.

    Why does nobody we know
    tell us this at the beginning?

    Resonance!
    Why does nobody tell us about Resonance?
    Or listening to our nighttime dreams?
    Or knowing how to read our body’s signals?
    Our trusting our feelings–
    particularly the “Uh-oh feeling”?
    Or the “me/not-me feeling”?

    The Way of Life for us is not hiding!
    It’s just that no one knows how to spot it!
    It is a White Rabbit!
    Watch for what catches your eye!
    For what takes your breath away!
    For what stops you in your tracks!
    And. Do. Not. Dismiss. It.
    And go right on with your life
    as though nothing happened.

    When something like this happens,
    note it!
    Notice it!
    Pay attention to it!
    And look closer!
    See what is there!

    And, it will come around again and again.
    So, if you remember missing it a time or two already,
    it will be back.
    Be looking for it.
    And listen to your life
    when it calls your name.

  • 01/24/2020— 

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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, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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