One Minute Monologues 060

October 27, 2020  —  November 25, 2020

  1. 10/27/2020  —  Monument Valley Sunrise 09/25/2007 — Monument Valley Tribal Park, Utah/Arizona

    Reframe the things you are ashamed of–
    your liabilities are assets unknown.

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

    Is it a weakness,
    or is it a strength?
    Is it better to win
    or to lose?
    Is it more important to see,
    or to see that you don’t see?
    Etc.

    All our dichotomies are false dichotomies.
    What we take to be a dead-end
    is a threshold to a different kind of outcome.

    We are the incarnation of mystery beyond infinite.
    And miss the adventure we were born to live
    by refusing to trust ourselves to the mystery
    in digging for the gold
    buried in the rejects and discards.

    “Nothing good comes from Nazareth,” you know.
    “The stone the builders reject,” you know.
    The priceless pearl lost amid
    the costume jewelry, you know…

    “Reframing” is a synonym for “recognizing,”
    for “reclaiming,”
    for “redeeming,”
    for “realizing,”
    for “repenting,”
    for “being born again”


    Seeing what we are looking at
    means seeing beyond what we think we see,
    means seeing into the mystery,
    and throwing ourselves into it
    with all our heart,
    and soul,
    and mind
    and strength–
    in a “Okay! I’m all in!
    Show me what you got
    in the time left for living”
    kind of way.


  2. 10/27/2020  —  Gardenia 02 07/06/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    Donald Trump is completely responsible
    for himself,
    and he cannot help being who he is.

    Which is something that can be said
    about each of us.

    We are who we are
    because of our refusal to be anything else–
    or because of our striving to be something else,
    which we also could do nothing about.

    We all could be worse than we are,
    and better,
    but which it will be
    is out of our hands.

    We live at the mercy of forces
    quite beyond us,
    and are where we are by the grace
    of the journey,
    and the timely accidents
    that shifted everything into place–
    without our knowledge
    of anything that was going on.

    We think we are free to do as we please,
    but we are not free to choose what we please.
    We think freedom means doing what we want
    with our life,
    but we cannot not-want what we want,
    or want what we do not want.
    We are not free to pick what we will want today
    anymore than we can pick what we will dream tonight.
    How free is that?
    We are bound to our wants
    the way the sun is stuck in its orbit.

    It is all a mystery–
    where it comes from,
    where it is going,
    how it fits together.

    We are a mystery.
    Our life is a mystery.
    Everything is a mystery.
    And we walk past it all
    as though it is completely unexceptional,
    thoroughly routine,
    outrageously boring
    and nothing more
    than the same old same old.


  3. 10/27/2020  —  Persimmons 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    We cannot help how we see things,
    the way we feel about things,
    the way we think of things,
    and we have never had a motive
    that we fully understood.
    We do not know why we do what we do,
    or what we will do next
    (And if we do,
    we have symptoms we cannot manage,
    and our life is going quite to hell).

    We swagger around as though
    we are in total control–
    or, we are afraid of what
    the next minute will bring,
    and have no idea of what we will do
    about any of it.

    Either way, we do not have a clue.

    Joseph Campbell said, “The individual
    must realize that the grandeur of their being
    is that of representing something
    larger than themselves–
    that they stand for something
    that is bigger than they are.
    They have to know they are an agent
    of something,
    and live conscious of being
    a presence in the world
    as a representative of that thing,
    as an incarnation of it
    in their daily life–
    and they have to know what it is
    that they are living to exemplify”
    (Or words to that effect).

    And, of course, we have no idea
    of what he is talking about.
    What are we living to exemplify?
    What are we the bearers of?

    Allow me to make a suggestion:
    We are expressive and representative of
    The Mystery of Life and Being!

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

    We carry within us unconscious depths
    that we dismiss without a thought
    about what we are doing.
    We live to feed our appetites,
    to enjoy our entertainments,
    to serve our addictions,
    and never consider that we
    represent anything more than
    our desires and our fears.

    We don’t look within
    because we know there is nothing there,
    or are afraid there is nothing there,
    or are afraid there is something there
    and it is terrible and out to get us.

    It is out to get us, of course,
    but in a fulfilling,
    enlightening,
    amazing
    and wonderful kind of way.

    We are looking for something
    to relieve our terminal boredom with our life,
    and the adventure of a lifetime
    is a perspective shift away.

    We are the embodiment of The Mystery!
    And only have to trust ourselves to it
    to step into the power,
    the tremendum,
    the fascinans of the mysterium
    every day.


  4. 10/27/2020  —  Stumpy Pond 01 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    We believe in causality.
    Cause and effect.
    Everything is caused by something.
    There are no accidents.
    “There is a reason for everything.”

    “I think, therefore I think I am.”

    Things do not have to be the way they are.
    The world would be fine
    if World War II had never happened.
    Nothing has to happen
    in order for something else to happen.
    Whatever happens will be fine.

    Nothing is in charge.
    There is no design.
    Everything is free to be what it is,
    doing what it does,
    in conjunction with everything else
    being free to be what it is,
    doing what it does,
    and the limits and restrictions
    will work themselves out,
    and be what they are.

    In the beginning there were a lot
    of collisions while things were looking
    for smooth and easy.
    It is smoother and easier than it was
    (Remember how dark it got each night before
    we domesticated fire?),
    but it still is far from smooth and easy
    (And nothing is as boring as smooth and easy).

    It is all still working itself out.
    Everything is finding its way.
    A lot of things are in the way.
    Some things have to get out of the way,
    or pay the price.

    We can find patterns everywhere.
    That doesn’t mean anything was “meant to be.”
    It means we can find patterns everywhere.
    They are caused by our brain’s ability
    to perceive relationships
    and impose order
    in helping us find our way.

    Our brain is a meaning-maker!
    We see patterns among the stars
    and conclude that they had to be placed there
    for a reason,
    and that where they are when we are born
    has dramatic implications for our life.

    Jumping to conclusions is what we do best.
    No! Kidding ourselves is what we do best!
    NO! Telling ourselves what we want to hear
    is what we do best!
    NO! Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best!


    We are the victims of our own constructions of reality.
    We do not just observe the world,
    we also interpret our observations
    in ways that make them meaningful to us.
    And then we go to war over our conclusions.

    For instance, we take it on faith
    that we are all going to hell
    if we don’t believe Jesus saves us
    from going to hell
    if we believe in him–
    and we have to tell everyone
    to believe as we do
    because we believe Jesus will hold it against us
    if we don’t convert the world–
    and we are making all of this up!!!

    Why do we take that on faith
    and not something else instead?
    How do we find comfort in a God
    who will send anybody to hell?
    Who can ever relax around a God like that?

    We are making everything up–
    why not make up things that are life-enhancing
    and mutually beneficial
    across the table,
    around the world?

    We make up Us and Them!
    Why not make up WE?!
    And find ways together to live together
    in ways that improve everyone’s chances
    at a life worth living?

    Why not see everything, all things,
    as a Thou?
    Why not identify with all sentient beings?
    Adopt, “Inasmuch as you have done it,
    or not done it,
    to every living thing,
    you have done it, or not done it,
    to me!”?

    Why not do everything we do because
    it needs to be done
    and not because of what we stand to gain or lose
    by doing it?

    Why not live the mystery?
    And not make up conclusions about it
    that have no basis or grounds for being? 


  5. 10/27/2020  —  Trekker Loop 02 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    We hear “Follow your bliss,”
    and think the Hero’s Journey
    is a joy ride.

    The bliss is “joyful participation
    in the sorrows of the world.”

    If you can stand in the tension
    of that contradiction,
    you have met the only requirement
    for the journey.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure.”
    That doesn’t mean
    we roll over and there the gold is!
    It means we start digging!

    Being a writer
    does not mean writing best sellers
    with movie contracts attached.
    It means writing,
    day in and day out,
    whether anyone reads your work
    or not.

    If you write because that is your bliss,
    rain or shine,
    whether you feel like it or not,
    whether you are in the mood for it or not,
    whether you want to or not,
    whether you “feel it” or not,
    for no other reason than because
    you are a writer
    and writing is what you do
    no matter what,
    and nothing is going to
    knock you off of it,
    because you’re a writer.
    Write on!

    Campbell also said,
    “That which you seek
    lies far in the back
    of the darkest corner
    of the cave you most
    don’t want to enter.”

    Following our bliss
    means going into the cave
    all the way to the very back
    and feeling around in the darkest corner.

    It means doing the work!
    And it is Real Work!
    Sticking with it!
    Soldiering through!
    But, it is our work–
    and that makes all the difference!

    No one is forcing us to do it.
    We are called to do it
    by some mysterious energy/force
    calling us away from the pastimes
    and entertaining asides,
    into the expression/incarnation
    of our own depth,
    our own heart and soul.

    In this, we engage the mystery
    at the center of our life,
    of all of life,
    and know there is a Source beyond us
    that is living in us and through us,
    guiding our way,
    urging us on.

    I have been writing from high school on.
    This is the 6,305th post of its kind
    since 2011.
    I don’t know why.
    I don’t know where they come from,
    or to what end.
    and I don’t care.

    I sit down because I must,
    because of an inner compulsion,
    and I would be remiss if I did not,
    I would be betraying something
    that I consider to be worthy
    and deserving of my honor and respect,
    reverence and service,
    and I have liege loyalty
    to the Source of what I write.

    I start out with a few words,
    maybe a sentence,
    that just comes upon me
    out of the blue,
    and everything flows for there,
    with a life of its own.
    My job is to come up with the right word
    for the occasion.
    And I write to be amazed at what I’m writing.

    That is Mystery!
    Where does all this come from?
    From the darkness and the silence
    of my unconscious!
    That is our bliss station!
    And we are wrong to not open ourselves
    to what beckons to us from what we call
    our “unconscious mind”
    (Simply because we are not conscious of it!)!

    The journey to the heart of ourselves
    awaits us all,
    and it is never too late
    to begin the never-ending process
    of self-discovery
    along the Bliss Road
    that runs through the time left for living.


  6. 10/28/2020  —  Little River at the Sinks 11/04/2006 Oil Paint Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth
    are the grounding values of the Constitution
    and the Declaration of Independence.

    They are the heart of the Sermon on the Mount,
    the parables of the Prodigal’s Father
    and the Good Samaritan.

    They are the center of the 8 Fold Path
    and the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism.

    And, they are the Boon the Hero retrieves
    from their journey into the depths of the Psyche
    to find what we ultimately are all about
    and bring it to life in the life
    they are living in the world.

    We cannot do better than
    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth.

    They are the end to
    Racism, Sexism, Misogyny,
    Xenophobia and Homophobia.

    And, they are the essence
    of who we are as individuals
    and as a community of like-minded people.

    It doesn’t matter what we believe,
    who we are,
    how much money and power we have,
    or what we say is important to us–
    if we do not live in the service of
    Liberty, Justice, Equality and Truth,
    we have failed to embrace our calling
    and live out our destiny
    as human beings sharing a planet
    with one another.

    If we are white and privileged
    (And what white person is not privileged?),
    it is incumbent upon us to live
    beyond the appearance of impropriety
    in these four areas
    of Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth.

    We must live so that we never feel the need to say,
    “Oh, I am not racist, sexist, a misogynist, xenophobic
    or homophobic,”
    because those things are being said about us
    by all who know us.

    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth
    bond us together,
    call us forth,
    inform our living,
    comprise our life.

    We owe it to ourselves
    and to each other
    to live together in ways
    that serve, honor, revere and incarnate
    Liberty, Justice, Equality, Truth–
    and oppose with deliberate vigilance
    all threats to these core values
    of humanity
    in all times and places
    throughout our life.


  7. 10/27/2020  —  Lake Crandall 02 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    The Hero’s Journey is to the heart of who we are.

    There, we find the essence of our Original Nature.

    We discover the wonder of the Mystery of Life and Being.

    We relish and revere the Silence
    as the source of our own healing and wisdom.

    We embrace our calling and our destiny
    as servants of truth
    integrating polarities,
    bearing the tension of contradiction,
    taking up the tasks of balance and harmony,
    and doing what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises
    with the gifts/daemon/virtues/character/vitality/spirit
    that are ours to offer
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long–
    without thought of profit or gain,
    benefit or advantage,
    but with compassion,
    sincerity
    and spontaneity,
    dancing with what life brings us
    and being source of goodness and mercy,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day,
    “participating joyfully in the sorrows of the world”
    (James Joyce/Joseph Campbell),
    and being a blessing upon all
    who come our way.

    May it be so for us all!


  8. 10/27/2020  —  Eno River Reflections 01 11/09/2011 — Eno River State Park, Durham, North Carolina

    I trust you to know your own business,
    to know what moves you,
    to know what is yours to do and to not do,
    to know what calls your name,
    to know what you need and where to find it,
    to know what is striving to come forth
    through you into your life
    and into the world.

    And, if you think you do not know these things,
    I encourage you to sit quietly
    and receive what occurs to you
    with compassion and grace,
    and without judgment or opinion.



  9. 10/27/2020  —  Lake Crandall 15 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    The face that was ours before we were born
    is our Original Nature,
    which is who we are when there is no one to please,
    or impress,
    or oppress,
    or dominate,
    or constrain.

    When there is nothing to lose
    or to gain,
    and we have no stake in the situation
    and no reason to wear any other face
    than the one that was ours before we were born.

    That is the who we are to be
    everywhere,
    anywhere,
    all the time,
    for all time.

    What keeps that from happening?
    Why not be who we are?

    Sit quietly with the question,
    and receive what occurs to you
    with compassion and grace,
    and without judgment or opinion.

    Be the mirror
    reflecting you to you,
    and live self-transparently
    throughout the time left for living.


  10. 10/27/2020  —  Five Geese

    Jesus can’t do anything for us
    that we can’t do for ourselves.

    Jesus has only one thing to say to us:
    “Be who you are
    the way only you can be who you are,
    the way I am being who I am.
    Don’t allow anything to keep you from being you
    the way I am being me.
    Not fear.
    Not desire.
    Not duty.
    That is all I have to say.”


  11. 10/27/2020  —  Sumac 02 10/28/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land South Carolina

    In any Now,
    we do not know What’s Next.

    In attempting to soothe our anxiety,
    take control of the moment
    and arrange What’s Next,
    we remove ourselves from
    the flow of Tao–
    which is the flow of time (kairos)
    and place (dharma),
    upset the dispensation of Grace
    and Synchronicity,
    and operate as a rogue predator
    in the here and now of our living.

    Better to live aligned with ourselves,
    standing on the ground that grounds us,
    attuned to the moment,
    waiting for the time to act
    in the service of what needs us to do it,
    spontaneously moving in synch
    with what is called for,
    with no concern for what is in it for us,
    and nothing at stake in the outcome–
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.


  12. 10/29/2020  —  Moonrise 10/17/2013 02 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina

    What is the most meaningful thing in your life?
    Sit with it.
    Walk around it.
    Look at it.
    Poke it.
    Prod it.
    Turn it over.
    Get to the bottom of it.

    Ask all of the questions
    that beg to be asked
    of it,
    about it.

    Say all of the things
    that cry out to be said
    about it.
    To it.

    When did it first become meaningful?
    What brought it to your attention?
    Who is responsible for getting you
    together with it?
    What has it brought to life in your life?
    How do you honor it?
    How much time do you spend with it–
    in a day?
    A week?
    A month?
    A year?
    When is the last time you spent time with it?
    In what ways does it define you?
    Reflect you?
    Express you?
    Incarnate you?
    What does it show you about yourself?
    What does it say about who you are?
    What does it ask of you?
    Who have you become because of it?

    Write a letter to it,
    saying all of the things you have to say.

    Then, write a letter to you from it,
    as though you are taking dictation–
    do not think about what to write,
    just write what needs to be written,
    “automatic writing,” it is called,
    saying all of the things
    it has to say to you.

    What does this reflection open up for you?
    Where are you being led?
    Where will you go from here?
    Do not analyze it.
    Do not critique it.
    Do not examine it.
    Do not explain,
    defend,
    excuse,
    understand it.
    Go there!
    Do what is being asked of you!
    Say “YES!” to what is calling you!
    NOW!


  13. 10/29/2020  —  22-Acre Woods 10 10/28/2020 Panorama — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    We begin to die
    when we stop singing,
    dancing,
    telling,
    listening to,
    and being enchanted by,
    stories,
    spending time with,
    and being comforted by,
    “the sweet territory of silence”
    (Angeles Arrien).

    There is a difference
    that is more than a difference
    (Like a train wreck
    is different from a burp)
    between being driven by an agenda
    and being led
    by the soft whispers of our soul.

    We live these days from our head.
    It used to be,
    in the days long gone,
    that we lived from our heart.
    We have been cut off from our heart
    for generations,
    and it shows
    in the emptiness of our eyes
    and the shallowness of our desires
    and the impulsive jerkiness of our life.

    Maybe this!
    Maybe that!
    Maybe that over there!
    We are all over the place
    looking for it,
    whatever “it” is,
    we don’t know,
    but “this” isn’t it.
    We know that much.

    What would it take?
    We don’t know.
    We just know that something isn’t right
    somehow.

    We just want to be happy,
    as though happiness is something
    to be acquired
    as a by-product
    of the things we buy and do
    to make us happy,
    and if we are happy,
    things must be right
    about us and our life.
    Right?

    Wrong!

    Happiness is no indicator
    of a life well-lived.
    A life well-lived is not attuned
    to happy/not-happy.
    It has other things on its mind.
    Seeing and doing what is called for
    here and now,
    for instance.
    Listening for the gentle whispers
    of soul,
    for another.

    We don’t have time to assess our
    current degree of happiness
    when we are living in the service
    of heart and soul.
    Then, we are busy taking care of business
    in the business of being alive.

    How to get from here to there:

    It’s my favorite Joseph Campbell quote:
    “That which you see lies far back
    in the darkest corner
    of the cave you most don’t want to enter.”

    The Hero’s Journey is simply the shift
    in perspective from where we are now
    to the center of our heart.
    But.
    That requires the complete transformation
    of our relationship with our life.

    Meister Eckhart said,
    “The greatest and last leave-taking
    is leaving God for God.”
    I say that the next leave-taking in line
    is leaving our life for our Life.

    And that is why things are as they are
    everywhere we look.


  14. 10/30/2020  —  Flying North — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    Angeles Arrien said that if we pronounce “intimacy”
    slowly, emphasizing each syllable,
    we get:
    In
    To
    Me
    See.

    How many people
    are we willing to
    present ourselves to
    on that basis?

    Including ourselves?

    We like the idea of intimacy
    without vulnerability.
    Which generally means having sex
    with nothing on the line.
    Because we don’t want anyone
    to know who we are,
    especially ourselves.

    Well.

    It all begins with seeing
    what we look at
    when we look in the mirror.

    We cannot let an act
    or an inclination
    go by without examination,
    exploration
    and awareness,
    awareness,
    awareness!

    We cannot be unknown unto ourselves!

    The first law of spiritual development is
    “Thou Shalt Be Transparent To Thy Self!”
    Self-transparency is the foundation,
    the impetus
    and the goal
    of the Hero’s Journey.

    Which comes as bad news to those
    whose first line of defense
    is to not-know what we are doing.

    We have to look until we see,
    listen until we hear,
    inquire until we know and understand
    what we are doing,
    and what that reveals/expresses
    about who we are.

    We can complete the Hero’s Journey
    without ever leaving home.


  15. 10/30/2020  —  Flying South — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    We are constantly creating momentum,
    forming Karma
    by what we care about
    and don’t care about
    in each moment as it unfolds before us.

    We have to live as though we care
    about what needs to be cared about
    whether we care about it or not.

    Living as though we care
    is the most important skill
    to develop and apply
    throughout our life.

    A.A.’s slogan captures the essence
    of what we are about:
    “Fake it until you make it!”
    If you get living as though you care down,
    no one can tell whether you care or not–
    and it won’t matter.

    Caring shapes your life
    around what matters most.
    Living as though you care
    shapes your life
    around what should matter most.
    Either way, we are all better off
    by the way you live your life.

    Everybody should know by now
    what a healthy lifestyle consists of:
    No alcohol.
    No tobacco.
    No drug abuse.
    A diet with enough nuts, fruit and vegetables,
    low sugar and low fat.
    Regular exercise.
    Silence.
    Creativity.
    Reading.
    Singing.
    Dancing.
    Play.

    Living as though we care about a healthy lifestyle
    transforms the way we live.
    Living as though we care about other people
    transforms the way life is lived around us.
    Before you know it,
    the world is a better place
    because we are relating to it
    as though we care!

    We don’t have to be sincere
    if we fake it well enough!

    No one will ever know,
    and everyone will benefit.

    So, get in there and do your thing
    as though doing so is the most important thing
    in your life!
    Whether it’s real or not
    won’t matter at all,
    and the impact will be both
    real and everlasting!

    Fake it like you mean it!
    And all will be as well as possible,
    which is a lot more than could
    otherwise be said!


  16. 10/30/2020  —  Lake Crandall 12 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    We cannot allow ourselves to live
    haphazard lives.
    We have to “run a tight ship”
    from start to finish–
    from beginning to take up
    the work of finding our life and living it,
    to our last breath along the way.

    A “tight ship”
    is a disciplined life.
    A life lived around,
    and based on,
    rituals and routines,
    a specific “order of the day,”
    and regular,
    recurring,
    practices and procedures.

    We don’t fall into doing
    what we feel like doing
    when we feel like doing it.
    We do what needs to be done
    when it needs to be done
    in light of the situations
    and circumstances
    that develop “of themselves”
    in a day.

    We live a structured life
    within a fluid,
    fluctuating,
    unstable,
    volatile
    and unpredictable environment.

    It is our way of maintaining
    our balance and harmony,
    our stability and security,
    our vitality, life and spirit
    in a world of clashing rocks
    and heaving waves on wine dark seas.

    And it is up to each of us
    to ground ourselves in regular routines
    that connect us with the Source of life and being
    in ways that nothing can dislodge or threaten
    throughout the time left for living.


  17. 10/30/2020  —  Adventure Road 06 10/28/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    The heroic task is living out
    of our own center
    within the context
    and circumstances
    of our life.

    Jesus did that.
    The Buddha did that.
    Gandhi did that.
    Eleanor Roosevelt did that.
    Dolly Parton is doing that.

    The list is long.
    But not long enough.
    It needs our names
    among the others.

    Angeles Arrien (Whose
    name is on the list),
    said that all the people who have ever lived
    have been/are distinguished,
    unique,
    and set apart from each other
    by their fingerprints,
    their voice frequencies,
    and the color patterns of their eyes.

    No two of us are alike.
    Not even “identical” twins and triplets.

    What is with the homogenization of the species?
    Why the push to be like everyone else?
    To spend our life following the other cows
    from the barn,
    to the pasture
    and back to the barn?
    To think like everyone else,
    believe like everyone else,
    see like everyone else
    and be a clone of the cultural ideal,
    cut off from our heart
    and stepping carefully
    in the black cutouts of shoe prints
    laid out for us by Those Who Know Best?

    Who knows better than you and I
    what is ours to do,
    and when and how we need to do it?
    Who can hear better than us
    the quiet nudges and soft whispers
    of our heart and soul?

    We betray our genetic makeup
    when we fall in line
    and march in step.

    We violate our sacred summons
    to come forth
    and exhibit the
    gifts/daemon/character/virtues/spirit/vitality
    that are unique to us
    when we “conceal our light
    under a basket”
    and refuse the challenge
    to “judge for ourselves what is right.”

    We have a role to play,
    a place to fill,
    that are unique to us,
    and it is incumbent upon us
    to find and live
    the life that is ours to live
    within the context and circumstances
    of our time upon the earth.


  18. 10/30/2020  —  Sanskrit Peace 03 — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    The Hero’s Journey is about
    seeking the source of who we are
    in the work of reclaiming our Original Nature
    and uncovering what is deepest,
    truest
    and best about us.

    It is a psychological journey of discovery,
    requiring us to work with our dreams,
    engage our fears and desires,
    and our obligations to our place in society,
    our duty to our country
    and to one another.

    In completing the journey,
    we will have to come to terms
    with our contradictions,
    dichotomies
    and polarities,
    square up with the realities that restrict
    and limit us,
    and deal with the difference between
    metaphorical truth and factual truth.

    Our task is to bring ourselves back to life–
    as in rebirth/resurrection/renewal–
    by embracing the Self
    at the center of ourselves,
    and returning to our place
    in the world of ordinary,
    apparent,
    reality,
    in full possession of the gifts/daemon/virtues/character/spirit/vitality/balance/harmony
    that are ours to incarnate
    and to share
    as a blessing and a grace
    and a grounding presence
    in the lives of others.

    We are the treasure we find,
    the boon we recover,
    and are glad to offer ourselves
    as healer,
    teacher,
    helper
    and guide
    to all who may benefit
    from our experience
    and our life.


  19. 10/31/2020  —  Goodale 18 11/04/2018 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    My idea of the Anima
    has nothing to do with sex
    and everything to do with life.

    I am to be the best woman
    I am capable of being,
    and must be in order to be fully alive.

    I cannot be the best man
    I am capable of being
    until I can be the best woman
    I am capable of being.

    I bring the two together–
    Animus and Anima–
    merging,
    blending,
    uniting,
    integrating
    the two into one,
    and giving birth
    to the miracle of life,
    “pouring over,
    spilling out,”
    in the process,
    as a by-product,
    a second-thought,
    an accident of,
    well,
    birth.

    The same goes for you,
    and you,
    and you…

    I do not know a woman
    who is being the best woman
    she is capable of being–
    much less a man.

    I do not know a man
    who is being the best man
    he is capable of being–
    much less a woman.

    And, consequently, I don’t know
    of a woman who is being the best man
    she is capable of being,
    or a man who is being the best woman
    he is capable of being.

    We all settling for being much less
    than we are capable of being–
    and that is the Original Sin.
    Which is also the Unforgivable Sin,
    the Unpardonable Sin,
    and creates a little bit of hell
    wherever we go.

    The way out is clearly
    the way of becoming who we are,
    androgynous human beings,
    male and female,
    united within,
    as the best male and best female
    we can be.

    It will take some work,
    but I am confident that we can pull it off.

    It will take shedding ourselves
    of the “hard values,”
    and bringing forth/immersing ourselves
    in the “soft values”
    (With values becoming virtues/characteristics
    in the process).

    The things we shed are things like
    domination,
    power,
    privilege,
    profit/gain/advantage/contrivance
    at any price…

    The things we bring forth are things like
    life,
    instinct,
    intuition,
    integrity,
    sincerity,
    compassion,
    good faith,
    awareness,
    kindness,
    gentleness,
    peace,
    and the kind of presence
    that makes all things good…

    Get the idea?
    Get to work!


  20. 10/31/2020  —  Lake Crandall 10 10/22/2020 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill South Carolina

    Is this the best we can do?
    If not, why not?
    If so, who are we kidding?

    What would it mean to do better?
    Be better?
    Get better?

    What would constitute improvement?
    What is keeping us from improving?

    What is our idea of who we need to be?
    What do we need?

    I think we have no idea of who we need to be.
    No idea of what we need.
    And, we get in our way
    of our getting better
    by having ideas of what better would be.

    If we only sit down and shut up,
    our life will do the rest,
    delivering us into the next thing we need
    at exactly the right time,
    shocking us with its precision
    and its idea of what we need to do
    to be who we need to be.

    We are on a journey
    that can be completed
    by realizing we don’t know where we are going
    and it is never going to end–
    which relieves us of all responsibility
    except that of looking and listening,
    and and being right
    about what is being called for,
    and doing it
    in each situation as it arises,
    without worrying about where it is going.

    Show up moment-by-moment-by-moment.
    Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
    Speak the truth with compassion,
    and without judgment.
    Do what needs to be done
    with no attachment to the outcome,
    and nothing at stake,
    nothing to gain and nothing to lose.
    And don’t take anything
    more seriously than it deserves.

    These are things anybody can do
    at any stage of life,
    regardless of conditions,
    context
    or circumstances,
    allowing their life
    to take it from there.


  21. 10/31/2020  —  22-Acre Woods 07 10/15/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    Trust yourself to your life!
    Do not strive to force it to be
    what it has no business being!

    All of our problems
    are brought on
    by willing what cannot be willed.
    By trying to have what doesn’t belong
    in our life.
    By trying to get rid of what does belong.
    By having no idea
    of the destiny that is ours to live,
    and no interest in fulfilling a destiny
    that isn’t what we wish it were.

    We cannot dial up “Happy.”
    We cannot arrange “Meaningful.”
    We cannot produce “Perfection.”

    The harder we work to arrange
    the life of our dreams,
    the further we drift
    from the life
    that is our life to live.

    We get back to the beam
    by stopping, looking, listening,
    seeing, hearing, knowing, understanding,
    realizing, perceiving, awakening,
    and changing our relationship
    with our life.

    We are not the director.
    The choreographer.
    The conductor.
    The One In Charge.
    We are a liege servant
    pledging filial loyalty
    and allegiance
    to The One Who Knows within.

    How do we know what The One Who Knows knows
    is the question that defines,
    forms
    and shapes our life
    from this time forth
    and forevermore.

    We start by trusting ourselves to our life,
    and allowing instinct and intuition
    to lead the way
    moment-by-moment,
    sensing what is called for
    and doing what needs to be done
    with sincerity
    and spontaneity–
    and without contrivance–
    and seeing where it goes.

    Like the wind that blows where it will,
    we do not know what we will be doing next.
    Ours is but to live with the wind in our hair,
    enjoying the ride!


  22. 10/31/2020  —  Trekker Loop 04 10/22/2020 –Anne Springs Close Greenway, Adventure Road Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    Our life is a compromise among competing,
    contrary,
    contradictory,
    opposing,
    forces/interests–
    and we have to work things out
    moment-by-moment.

    It is our place in our life.
    Our role to fill.
    Our part to act.

    We integrate the polarities
    and maintain the tension
    among those that cannot be integrated.

    We make it work
    as well as it can work,
    within the givens
    and the needs
    converging and clashing
    in each here and now,
    choosing from among our choices
    and determining
    where we go from here, now.

    How well we do that
    tells the tale.

    It helps if we have no interests
    of our own to serve,
    but only the true good of the whole,
    with all things taken into account
    from all sides
    on every dimension,
    and everything riding on the outcome.


  23. 10/31/2020  —  Hickory Tree 01 10/24/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    We can expect/demand too much of our life.
    Lowering our standards
    can improve things immensely.
    Giving life a break,
    cutting life some slack,
    giving life a fresh start,
    with fewer shoulds-oughts-musts
    to deal with
    would be a good move.

    Life has a hard job.
    Seeing that a world full of people
    are pleased with their context
    and circumstances
    would wear anyone down.

    “It’s not fair!”
    How many times does life hear that
    in a day?
    and “Why ME?”

    Life could use a holiday.
    A day with no moaning,
    complaining,
    whining,
    remonstrating,
    sighing,
    pouting,
    slamming doors
    or throwing the car keys…

    Maybe we could take life to lunch
    and talk about all the things
    we like about the way things are.
    A little compassion for life,
    isn’t asking too much,
    given the amount of heat life takes
    on an average day.


  24. 11/01/2020  —  Earthshadow 10/30/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    When Angeles Arrien says,
    “Everybody wants to have their way,”
    she is saying,
    “Everybody needs to grow up.”

    The Terrible Two’s is where this all begins.

    Everything would be fine
    if we only had our way–
    and we know how that sounds,
    so we tack on
    “once in a while”
    to take the edge off of
    our terminal self-centered-ness,
    which is the same thing as
    our terminal immaturity
    as individuals
    and as a species.

    People of every culture
    and of every religion in every culture
    have always projected their
    infantile fantasies onto
    their idea of heaven,
    where they will be guaranteed
    of having their way at last.

    The Hero’s Journey is the wake-up call
    to our whining and complaining.
    The Path that has to be our own path
    is nothing more than the way to
    maturity and grace.

    The Hero’s Journey is growing up
    and assuming responsibility for
    our own life
    and sacrificing our way
    for the true good of the whole–
    in the manner of those who
    “come not to be served but to serve,
    and to give their lives to the work
    of setting others free from themselves
    so that all might be here
    for the good of the whole.”

    Nothing is ever wrong with us
    that growing up some more, again,
    wouldn’t help.


  25. 11/01/2020  —  22-Acre Woods 08 10/25/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    In the gospels of Matthew and Mark,
    Jesus says contradictory
    and mutually exclusive things.

    In Matthew 12:30, it is like this:
    “Those who are not with us
    are against us.”

    And, in Mark 9:40, it is like this:
    “Whoever is not against us is with us.”

    Leaving us in the lurch,
    wondering, “Which way IS it?”

    This is the absurdity
    of a rule-based system
    governing relationships.

    There are no static,
    rigid ways of structuring communities
    or societies.

    The truth is that how we live together
    comes down to good faith among us,
    and how we individually read a situation
    and respond to it.

    “Sometimes, it is like this,
    and sometimes, it is like that.”

    When is it what,
    and how do we know?

    We decide.

    It may be this way in this moment
    and that way in the next.

    Equitable,
    fair
    and just
    have to even out over time–
    and that is achieved through
    awareness and good faith,
    around the circle,
    across the table,
    but it may not be our turn
    as often as we think
    it ought to be.

    The catch, of course,
    is with “good faith.”
    Good faith is beyond the bounds
    of rules and laws.

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

    Sincerity,
    authenticity
    and good faith
    are the things upon which
    relationship depends.
    And they cannot be forced
    or contrived.

    And that’s the plaque in the veins.


  26. 11/01/2020  —  Sumac 01 10/28/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    What is this moment in our day
    asking of us?
    What is this time and this place in our life
    asking of us?

    Sit quietly!
    Listen!
    Feel in your body
    what this moment in your day,
    what this time and place in your life,
    are asking of you,
    are calling for.

    Learn to read the moment
    and the times and places of your life–
    not to exploit them
    or to profit from them,
    but to know what is being called for,
    what they need from you.

    Sincerity and non-contrivance
    are the ways
    of those who do not come to be served
    but to serve–
    without an eye out for gain or reward.

    The thing is to be completely free
    to offer what is needed
    without strings attached
    or hope for some advantage.
    Walking freely and unmoved
    by hope of personal benefit
    into each moment,
    in to all times and places,
    puts us at the fulcrum,
    the pivot point,
    of those moments/times/places,
    and positions us to lever the present
    into a future that is exactly
    what is needed for that present place and time.

    This is to have an impact for the good
    for no reason.
    It is being good for nothing.
    That kind of boon is the hope of the world.


  27. 11/02/2020  —  Steele Creek 01 11/01/2020 Panorama, an iPhone Photo — I took this handheld with the Spectre Long Exposure App — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    There are no shortcuts to eternal life.

    “The shortest way through
    is the long way around!”

    The “circumambulation of the self”
    is what Carl Jung called
    the Hero’s Journey.

    We are all on the path
    to the Truth at the heart of who we are.
    to the “face that was ours
    before our parents were born.”

    As we approach the point
    of full realization,
    and quite some time before we arrive,
    we will understand that
    the Truth at the heart of who we are
    is also the Mystery at the heart
    of who we are.

    Truth is Mystery.
    Mystery is Truth.
    And that’s the Truth.

    And we cannot hurry things along.
    Things plod along as though
    they have all the time in the world.
    They do.

    Everyone who knows
    knows the same thing
    in every generation.

    Lao Tzu said a thousand years
    before Jesus was born,
    “The Tao that can be said/told/explained
    is not the eternal Tao.”
    He was saying “Truth is Mystery,
    Mystery is Truth.”

    500 years later, the Buddha said the same thing.

    500 years later, Jesus said the same thing.

    The Christ is born in every generation
    and says the same thing–
    and this has been going on from the first generation,
    and will go on to the last generation.

    Things plod along as though they have
    all the time in the world.
    They do.
    They must.
    Because they are taking us
    where we do not want to go,
    and we resist and oppose,
    snarl and snort,
    buck and bite
    all along the way.

    The only way to speed up the process
    would be to see from the start,
    but that’s the reason for the process.
    We refuse to see from the start,
    saying, “What’s to see that I don’t already see?”

    Trump (and his ken) thinks he sees.
    But he doesn’t see what I see.
    I think I see, but I don’t see what the Buddha saw.
    The Buddha thought he saw…
    The Christ thought he saw…
    There is always more to be seen
    than is seen,
    that is why it is called
    “The Mystery at the Heart of Life and Being.”

    The Mystery is unending and everlasting,
    and we will never get to the end of the journey.
    There is always more to see
    than has been seen.
    More to know than has been known.
    And always something calling us to do it
    in each situation as it arises.

    And all we have to work with is
    right here, right now.

    “So get in there and do your thing,
    without looking for profit, recognition,
    or reward!”

    After all, what’s beyond seeing to want?
    There is only more seeing
    for as far as we can see.

    See?


  28. 11/02/2020  —  Pink Camellia 01 11/01/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    I do not know if life was invented
    to facilitate/enable/assist/speed up seeing,
    but,
    I am quite confident
    that if we live long enough
    we all will see all there is to see at last.

    Everything becomes clear in time.
    We all see what is to be seen eventually.
    If we live long enough.

    This is a safe hypothesis
    because no one can live long enough
    to test its validity.
    We all die–no matter how long we live–
    before we see even half
    (Okay one half of one percent)
    of all there is to see.

    Yet, we all parade around,
    thinking we see what we look at,
    thinking we know what we are doing.
    We don’t even see ourselves seeing!
    We don’t even see what we are doing!

    A lot of us will not live long enough
    to see that we don’t see!
    Much less, to see what there is to see!
    Much less, to see all there is to see!

    So, if life was invented to facilitate seeing,
    you gotta believe that that before life
    things were dark indeed.
    Gives me pause to consider
    what that means for after life.

    If life is the place of seeing,
    we better be sitting quietly more often
    for longer periods of time,
    looking within,
    because that is were seeing begins.


  29. 11/02/2020  —  Nation Ford Road 11/01/2020 — The Nation Ford was a ford across the Catawba River and this is a portion of the road that led to it. First a Native American footpath, it became the highway for all west-bound traffic during the early American expansion years. — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    Take what you get
    and do what you can with it–
    in light of all things considered,
    particularly what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises.

    Don’t let your chances stop you
    or even slow you down!

    “Get in there and do your thing”
    no matter what–
    in light of what “your thing”
    has to offer the present moment.

    Our only interest/concern is to be
    true to ourselves
    within the time and place,
    conditions and circumstances,
    of our living.

    Do not think of achievement,
    accomplishment,
    advancement,
    advantage,
    success,
    profit,
    gain,
    or winning.

    Live to be who you are,
    doing what you do best
    with what you have to work with,
    right here, right now.

    No one can do more than that ever!
    And we can always do it.
    Don’t let anything stop you
    from doing it!
    Ever!


  30. 11/02/2020  —  Peaks of Otter 02 10/29/2019 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virginia

    Sincerity and non-contrivance are one thing,
    and combine with compassion
    to produce an environment conducive to
    life,
    living
    and being alive.

    There are not enough sources
    of sincerity/non-contrivance and compassion
    in my life or yours,
    or in the entire world.

    It is more like
    snatch and grab
    and to hell with you
    wherever we look.

    Plop sincerity/non-contrivance and compassion down
    in the middle of that
    and you get the Buddha,
    and Jesus,
    Gandhi and the Dali Lama,
    and all of the people
    who have kept hope alive
    in the darkest nights
    we have lived through
    in all the years of our living.

    You get people who are remembered
    and revered
    for making all the difference
    in our lives.
    It is our calling
    to be one of those people.

    All it takes
    is dedication to the task,
    and practice,
    practice,
    practice.


  31. 11/03/2020  —  Black Australian Swans 02 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    Jesus came reinterpreting everything
    that had gone before.
    “You have heard it said,”
    he said,
    “but I say unto you…”

    “The old has passed away!
    Behold! The new has come!”

    How we did it then does not
    take precedent over
    what is called for now!

    With Jesus, what once was the case
    is no longer the case,
    what we once could assume was so,
    can no longer be assumed to be so.

    “It’s a new world, Golda!”

    We look.
    We see.
    We listen.
    We hear.
    We decide what is being called for.
    And we respond with the gifts
    that are ours to share.

    We say what is so,
    and act out of our own perspective.
    We take the appropriate action
    in each situation as it arises,
    and are the person responsible
    for knowing and doing–
    in living our life as it needs to be lived
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Jesus said,
    “You shall know the truth,
    and the truth shall set you free.”

    The truth is the truth of how things are,
    the truth of what’s happening now,
    the truth of what needs to be done about it.
    Seeing the truth
    is being set free
    to do what needs to be done about it
    with what is ours to offer
    in each situation as it arises
    as a spontaneous response to the moment
    with no thought for what is in it for us,
    or for what we stand to gain,
    or how we might profit,
    or what the advantage to us might be
    with this response or that one.

    We simply do what needs to be done.
    We simply say what needs to be said.
    We simply are who we need to be–
    who the situation needs us to be–
    one situation after another,
    day by day,
    all our life long.

    No one can do better that that.
    And it needs to be done all the time.


  32. 11/03/2020  —  The Path 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    I don’t care what happens to us–
    how we respond to it
    is what matters.

    We are built for reversals,
    betrayals,
    disappointments,
    devastations…

    If it isn’t the clashing rocks,
    it is the heaving waves!
    If it isn’t a catastrophe,
    it is a calamity.
    If it isn’t a disaster,
    it is a debacle.

    Look at what we have been through
    as a species
    to be here, now!
    What keeps us going???

    Whatever it is,
    it can be counted on!
    It and gravity are the most reliable
    things this world has to offer!

    And it comes tucked away
    in each of us,
    to be used as needed
    throughout our life
    in dealing with circumstances
    beyond control,
    and events that are completely
    out of hand.

    There is an adamantine core
    running through the human spirit
    that is “a very present help
    in time of trouble.”

    Our original nature
    includes resilience and durability.

    Grounded upon the rock of our character
    and the flexibility of our spirit,
    we are more than a match
    for the daily deliveries.
    It only takes standing on our own two feet
    and living out of our center
    to know that it is so.

    The stream finds its way to the sea.
    We have what it takes
    to find what it takes
    to do what needs to be done
    about all that comes our way.

    The confidence that this is so
    is waiting in the silence
    to console and sustain
    and call us forth to meet the day.


  33. 11/03/2020  —  Tree Pans 02 –10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    Heart and meaning are our guides through the wilderness.
    Does it have heart?
    Is your heart in this?
    Does it have meaning for you?
    If things start out full of heart and meaning,
    notice if that changes–
    not just because things become difficult.
    No just because hard things are being asked of us.
    Every track asks us to see something through.
    A war comes along.
    Or someone close to us dies.
    Or we have a health crisis.
    We have to work through 10,000 opportunities
    to quit.
    What is it you can’t quit?
    I am a writer,
    so I write without an audience.
    I write to hear myself think.
    I write to know what I have to say.
    To quit writing would be an immense
    betrayal of self.
    I take photographs in the same way.
    I have to take photographs.
    My heart demands it.
    Meaning and purpose hang on it.
    What do you do “the way a dog wags its tail?”
    (Alan Stacell)
    Do more of that.


  34. 11/04/2020  —  Jordan Pond 01 09/23/2012 — Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

    We cannot help how we see things–
    anymore than we can help
    the color of our eyes,
    the tonal range of our voice
    or the pattern of our fingerprints.

    How we interpret what we look at,
    how we make meaning of what we perceive,
    in light of what we live–
    and why we live in light of that
    and not something else instead–
    what we revere as important
    and disdain as worthless,
    what we believe
    and what we believe in,
    and how all of this reflects who we are,
    are things we are no more in charge of than
    the dreams we had last night
    or the time we spend
    reflecting on anything..

    We are not our own.

    The most we can do is realize that,
    and devote ourselves to the lifelong task
    of being aware of what moves us to action,
    and the type of action we are moved to take–
    seeing how we see
    and the meaning we make of things,
    and wondering what that is about
    and where it comes from.

    Introspection,
    examination,
    exploration,
    inquiry,
    curiosity,
    inspection,
    seeking to discover who we are
    and what we are about,
    and how good the good is we call good,
    transforms the relationship
    we have with ourselves
    and all other selves,
    opens us to the truth
    of what we call “true,”
    and carries us to the brink
    of the mystery at the heart
    of life and being.


  35. 11/04/2020  —  Camellia 03 11/01/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    The people who think about killing themselves
    are right about something needing to die,
    and wrong about what.

    It is not their actual, physical, body
    that needs to die.
    It is their attitude,
    perspective,
    point of view,
    way of seeing what they look at
    and feeling the way they feel
    in light of what they believe to be the case
    that needs to go.

    They do not need to kill themselves!
    They need to change their mind about themselves
    and their situation in life!


    They need to grow up, some more, again!

    And that is like dying!

    And that is the death to choose to die
    whenever you are faced with wanting to die!
    Just die to your way of seeing/interpreting/evaluating
    your situation!

    Change your mind the way your mind needs to be changed,
    and live on!
    Live on!
    Live on!


  36. 11/04/2020  —  Sourwood 01 11/04/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    It is simple enough to find the still point–
    the fulcrum,
    “The still point of the turning world,”
    (T.S. Eliot),
    the center of our own ground of being,
    the Axis Mundi,
    the center of the world,
    of the universe,
    of eternity,
    of infinity…

    Stand still.
    Sit quietly.
    There you are.

    You are the still point.
    We all are.
    When we are being still and quiet.
    In quest of the Source
    from which we come
    and to which we return.

    The Source is the unknown depth
    within each of us,
    connecting all of us,
    known as the Ātman in Hinduism,
    and as the Psyche in psychology,
    the Source is the Mystery at the Heart
    of Life and Being
    in all living things.

    We can connect with the Source at any time
    simply by standing or sitting quietly,
    and opening ourselves to the presence
    that is with us always.

    Then what?
    Then we listen!
    And remain alert to whatever arises within.
    And respond to it in ways that are appropriate
    to the occasion.

    The old Taoists held that
    the Tao gave rise to the Source (The One),
    and the Source gave rise to Yin/Yang (The Two)
    And Yin/Yang gave rise to Heaven and Earth
    and Humanity (The Three)
    and from The Three come everything.
    I say that is an interesting theory,
    but what can be known
    is the presence that is always with us
    to comfort and console,
    uplift, encourage and enable,
    guide and direct.

    It only takes sitting or standing quietly listening
    to know what I’m talking about.


  37. 11/05/2020  —  Sourwood 02 11-04-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Alcohol and pot cloud our judgment,
    screw with our perception
    and mess with our ability
    to know what we are doing.

    Nothing like being high
    for being out of touch,
    groundlessly floating in free fall,
    laughing at all the colors
    and crying over everything.

    Critical assessment
    and careful evaluation
    take a leave of absence,
    and we are enthralled by
    the curled beauty
    of a discarded popped top.

    Or shift quickly into being suicidal at
    the empty prospects of our life.

    Reality becomes a quick change artist
    and we become a yo-yo
    and have to make ourselves unconscious
    just to keep breathing.
    Or stop breathing entirely–
    there are times it doesn’t matter which.

    So the first step
    for letting the mud settle
    and allowing the water to clear
    is De-tox Now!

    That’s the hardest one.
    Not really.
    They are all the hardest one.
    That’s the second step.
    We Have To Do What’s Hard.
    No one can do it for us.

    What’s hard is waking up.
    Then getting up.
    Then facing the day,
    and it’s hard all the way.

    And we have only taken two steps!
    Check that.
    We are only taking two steps.
    We take all the steps–
    and there are many more than 12–
    simultaneously all the way
    every day.

    I don’t think we can do it alone.
    That’s the real blessing of A.A.
    We know we are not alone.
    Standing Up,
    Squaring Up,
    Facing Up,
    To A New Day
    And Doing It Sober Again.
    That’s still the second step.

    If we didn’t extend steps,
    we would run out of numbers,
    lose count
    and have to start over,
    and it’s hard enough as it is.

    What keeps us going?
    The spiritual side of reality.
    Being a drunk is a great way
    to find that door!
    Everybody talks about God, God, God,
    but nobody knows God
    as the most intimate aspect
    of who we are
    who hasn’t made that discovery
    crawling out of some equivalent of a bottle.

    So, I don’t use the word “God.”
    It is too crusted over with rusted layers
    of theology, doctrine, dogma, creeds, catechisms
    and other nonsense
    to be of any help to anyone ever.

    I use the word “Source,”
    as in “The Source,”
    to mean what I mean when I say “God.”
    The Source is with us always,
    right there,
    right here,
    right now.

    Is always glad to see us.
    Is always ready to get to work,
    seeing, hearing, knowing, understanding
    what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response,
    doing what needs to be done
    with the gifts/daemon/genius/spirit/
    virtues/character/vitality
    that came with us from the womb
    in the form of our Original Nature,
    which we access from the position of
    balance and harmony
    that comes from living in accord
    with the Tao–
    the right way of doing what needs to be done
    in each situation as it rises–
    and being at one with who we are,
    and with how things are,
    for the true good of the whole
    all our life long.

    That’s the Source.
    The Source is the source of Yin/Yang,
    which are the vital opposites/dualities/contradictions
    at the heart of life and being.
    They are also called “The Mystery
    at the heart of life and being.”
    Nothing is more mysterious than the unity–
    the oneness–
    of the contradictions/dichotomies/polarities/etc.
    that comprise our life,
    where good is bad and wrong is right,
    and the dualities all dance together
    like a perfect dance team,
    a couple who are two and one at the same time
    on a dance floor that could be called Life Itself.

    That is the Mystery at the heart of life and being.
    Which is the Source.
    That keeps us going.
    With all of our contradictions dangling
    from every pore
    daring us to find the courage
    to step into another day.

    It is possible
    to integrate our opposites
    after the manner of Rumi’s “The Guest House”
    (Googleit),
    and take up the challenge
    of finding the good in this
    terrible, awful, no good, very bad mess
    we call our life,
    one day at a time.


  38. 11/05/2020  —  Swan Lake 01 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina  

    When we live to integrate our opposites
    and express/incarnate/bring forth our original nature–
    “the face that was ours before we were born–
    our identity,
    who we are,
    our true self,
    and not to get something,
    attain something,
    have something,
    possess something,
    dominate something,
    win something,
    have something to show for having lived…

    When we live to serve our life
    and live the life that is truly ours to live,
    we live sincerely,
    authentically,
    without striving or contriving
    to exert our will upon the earth.

    And the trees welcome us,
    the meadows and the mountains recognize us
    as one who belongs there,
    the birds and the wild things
    are glad to see us coming,
    and we are one with all the world.


  39. 11/06/2020  —  Bog River Falls 01 09/29/2014 — Adirondack Park, Tupper Lake, New York, Oil Paint Rendering

    It’s been a while since I recommended
    Jon Kabat-Zinn’s YouTube Videos,
    so here it comes!

    Jon Kabat-Zinn is the father of Mindfulness
    Based Stress Reduction.
    He invented “be here now.”
    Not really, but, he has helped
    bring “being here now” into the lives
    of millions of people worldwide,
    and you would be remiss
    if you did not avail yourself
    of what he has to offer.

    So, watch all of his videos–
    the shortest ones first.
    And bring the regular practice
    of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
    into your life.

    It will make all the difference
    in the way you think about your life
    and go about living it.

    And in these times,
    we can use all the help we can find!


  40. 11/06/2020  —  The Bridge at the Bottom of the Hill 02 11-05-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Where do you turn
    when you have nowhere to turn?

    It’s a serious question.

    What holds you up?
    What keeps you going?
    What do you live for?
    What is life for you?
    What is your foundation?
    Your ground?
    Your center?
    What is the rock solid,
    adamantine core of your life
    which nothing can knock you off of?
    Your core certainty/conviction?
    The one thing of which you are totally sure?
    The one thing around which
    your essential identity is eternally bonded?

    What object or image reflects or expresses
    the essence of your core?

    Make or find a surrogate of the object or image
    and carry it with you,
    or create a sacred place for it to reside
    at your home,
    to be a constant reminder of what is so,
    as a grounding/directing symbol
    offering balance and harmony,
    guidance and direction
    amid the clashing rocks
    and heaving waves
    of your life.


  41. 11/07/2020  —  Sourwood 03 11-04-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    The people you run with
    are your enablers
    and your guards,
    guaranteeing that you don’t grow
    beyond where you are.

    They are the status quo keepers,
    holding you in place,
    ruling out any possibility
    of your seeing things other than you do,
    or being different than you are.

    They limit your choices
    and your chances,
    and maintaining your present umwelt
    exactly as it is forever.

    If you want things to change about your life,
    your “friends” are the first things
    that have to go.

    What we all need is a Community of Innocence
    whose place in our life is that of a
    sounding board,
    enabling us to say what needs to be said
    and to hear what we are saying
    to the point of understanding
    what the implications are
    and what we need to do about it
    in making the changes necessary
    to grow into who we are.

    A Community of Innocence is innocent
    in the sense that it has no ulterior motives,
    no hidden agendas,
    nothing it wants from us,
    or needs of us,
    or each other,
    beyond sincerity,
    authenticity,
    and non-contrivance,
    so that everyone in the Community
    is Thus Come,
    is just who they are
    and who they are becoming,
    and all are supporting one another
    in the quest to grow in all phases
    of human development,
    so that all are maximize
    their individual potential
    on all levels of life–
    becoming who they are
    throughout the time left for living.

    And they may do this unknowingly.
    They may exist as a community
    only in your recognition of their place
    in your life.
    They may never know one another,
    but they are Your People in the best sense
    of the term.

    The process for helping us come forth
    is that of simply reflecting us to us
    so that we see/know who we are
    and who we need to be,
    and live to narrow the gap,
    even as it expands in all directions
    and calls us ever beyond where we are
    to all that we are capable of being.

    In that there is always
    “more to us than meets the eye,”
    we are always at the point
    of becoming who we are
    by being who we are.

    In seeing/saying/incarnating/
    expressing/exhibiting who we are,
    we move beyond who we are
    into who we are yet to be.

    There is no static way of being.
    There is no rigid,
    firm and final form of US.
    Our identity is being shaped
    by our potential all our life long.
    We never stop growing,
    and that means we never stop growing up.

    That can only happen within a Community of Innocence
    that has nothing at stake in who we are,
    and is only interested in reflecting us to us,
    and thereby helping us to become
    who we are becoming.

    I don’t know you,
    but I know you do not have 3 to 5 people
    in your life who are assisting
    you in the process of your own birthing
    in this way.

    It is up to you to find them
    and let them be for you
    your Community of Innocence,
    even though they may never meet one another,
    or come together for group gatherings,
    they are what you need to be who you are
    becoming who you are,
    and are your sources of life,
    and light,
    and being.


  42. 11/07/2020  —  Camellia 04 11/06/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    Our Community of Innocence
    is comprised of the people
    around whom it is safe
    to be who we are.

    They are the people who receive us well,
    who regard us kindly–
    with compassion and without judgment.
    Who listen to us to the point
    of enabling us to hear
    what we are saying.

    They love us as we are
    and as we are becoming–
    and have nothing at stake,
    nothing to gain
    and nothing to lose,
    in our being who we are
    beyond wanting us to be
    as aware of ourselves
    and of our situation in life–
    in our umwelt
    (“The world as we perceive it to be”)–
    as we can possibly be
    at every point in our life.

    They believe that seeing is being is doing,
    and live to enable everyone to see
    what they look at,
    and see beyond what they look at
    into what needs to be done
    in response to it,
    which is basically,
    enabling the situation
    to take itself into account
    and adjust what needs to be adjusted
    to be what it needs to be.

    They are mirrors reflecting us to ourselves,
    so that we might see ourselves
    as though for the first time
    and do what needs to be done about it
    to better incarnate/exhibit/express
    who we are and who we need to become.

    It is our place to seek out the people
    who allow us to be who we are
    and enable us to become
    who we are capable of being.
    Too many people want us to be
    who they want us to be,
    and will not permit us to be
    different from their idea
    of who we ought to be.

    “That isn’t YOU!”
    “Get back in line!”
    “Be who you are supposed to be!”

    They want us to wear the costume
    and play the role
    assigned to us by our place in their life,
    toeing the line
    and exemplifying their ideal
    of who we need to be.

    “No variation allowed!
    Recite the creed!
    Embrace the dogma!
    Project the image!
    Be who we expect you to be!”

    Communities of Innocence
    simply want us to be
    who we are capable of being
    in each moment of our living,
    moment-by-moment,
    responding to what is called for
    here and now
    with what we have offer
    from the gifts/daemon/virtues/
    character/spirit/vitality/life
    that comes with us from the womb
    as our original nature–
    sincerely and spontaneously,
    without contriving
    to arrange a particular outcome,
    just doing what needs us to do it
    as best we can
    in the right way,
    at the right time.
    All our life long.

    In this way,
    Communities of Innocence
    enable us to live in accord with the Tao
    and exhibit the face that was ours
    before we were born,
    out of the balance and harmony
    that envelop those
    who are at one with the way
    day-by-day.


  43. 11/07/2020  —  12-Mile Creek 02 11/07/2020 — Union County, North Carolina

    What’s so bad about your life?
    What don’t you like about your life?
    What is good about your life?
    What do you like about your life?
    What is it in your life that brings you alive?
    How often do you go there, do that?
    What is deadening about your life–
    what drains the life out of you?
    How often do you go there, do that?
    How much of your heart is
    in the life you are living?
    What has to change to get more heart
    in your life?
    What control do you have over your life?
    How much of that control do you exercise?
    How might you better manage
    the control you have
    over your perspective?
    Over your reactivity?
    Over your attitude?
    Over your relationship with yourself?
    If you were to improve
    your relationship with yourself,
    what would you do?
    What is keeping you from doing it?


  44. 11/08/2020  —  Jordon Pond 01 09/23/2012 BW — Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

    A photograph that works
    is a prefect example of the Tao
    being exhibited in our daily life.

    Tao is doing the right thing,
    in the right way,
    at the right time.
    Like framing a photograph,
    and pressing the shutter button.

    When things click into place,
    and you know that’s “it,”
    that’s Tao.

    Living in accord with Tao
    is doing the right thing,
    in the right way,
    at the right time,
    moment-to-moment,
    situation-by-situation
    day-by-day
    throughout our life.

    Try doing that without
    paying attention.

    Try doing that without
    being here, now.

    Try doing that with
    your mind on something else.

    Living in accord with Tao
    is living centered,
    focused,
    grounded in,
    and aware of,
    the present moment,
    moment-to-moment,
    day-by-day.

    Distraction,
    diversion,
    disturbance,
    preoccupation,
    grief,
    mourning,
    stress,
    anxiety…
    the list is long
    of things that take us
    out of the present moment
    and transport us somewhere else.

    “The noise of the world.”
    “The dust of the world.”
    “The 10,000 things.”
    Are terms the old Taoists used
    in talking about all
    that interferes,
    and/or disrupts,
    our connection
    with the flow of Tao.

    Out of the flow,
    we are a fish swimming
    on the beach.
    A bird flying in a cage.
    A dog running
    with its paws tied together.

    Being in the flow
    is waking up to being
    out of the flow,
    stopping,
    looking,
    listening,
    breathing slowly and deeply,
    pausing for a count of five
    between exhale and inhale,
    and bringing ourselves back
    into the moment of our living.

    Being here, now,
    is being aware of being here, now.
    Being aware of breathing here, now.
    Being aware of what is happening
    here, now–
    and what needs to happen in response,
    and how we can best respond to the situation
    with the gifts/character/perspective/etc.
    that we bring to the occasion,
    without contrivance,
    without judgment,
    with compassion
    and complete sincerity,
    knowing where to place the camera
    how to set focus/shutter speed,
    aperture and iso
    for a proper exposure,
    and when to press the shutter button.
    Or whatever the equivalent would be
    for the present situation,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment
    all our life long.

    That. Is. All. There. Is. To. It.


  45. 11/08/2020  —  Rocks and Clouds Oil Paint Rendering — Yosemite National Park, California

    How we see things
    is a function of 10,000 things,
    a significant one being
    the way people close to us,
    and around us, see things.

    How they influence/impact
    the way we see things
    depends upon the quality
    of our relationship with them.

    Growing up means growing apart
    from the way things are seen around us
    and growing into the way we see things
    for ourselves.

    We have to separate from others
    in order to develop our own sense
    of ourselves
    and of how things are,
    and how things ought to be.

    Where there is no separation,
    there is no seeing.

    Seeing is seeing how we are influenced
    by those around us–
    and taking that into account
    as we evaluate the accuracy of our perceptions
    in light of the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and the things that cry out to be said,
    about them.

    Who would be proud of you
    for the way you see things?
    Who would take issue with you?
    Who encourages you to see things
    the way you do?
    Who discourages you?

    What is a play
    in your wanting to please the people
    who are pleased with you
    and being fine with displeasing
    the people who are displeased with you?

    What makes you think
    that the way you see things
    is the right way to see things?
    Who says so?
    Who are the authorities you recognize
    to be a knowledgeable and proper authority
    in the matter of the way you see things?
    What makes you think they know
    what they are talking about?

    What evidence would it take
    to change the way you see things?
    What do you think needs to change
    about the way you see things?

    Where are you most open to the idea
    of changing the way you see things?

    Where are you already beginning
    to change the way you see things?

    When have you been surprised
    to see that the way you see things
    has changed?

    Seeing the way we see things
    and the things that influence
    us to see the way we see,
    is opening the door
    to seeing things as they are,
    apart from how we think things are,
    and that is a step on the way
    to seeing our seeing
    and knowing what’s what
    and what isn’t–
    and that is what seeing is all about.


  46. 11/07/2020  —  Fall Leaves 07 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Every photograph that works
    is synchronistic arrangement
    bringing the photographer together
    at the right time
    in the right place
    in the right light
    to compose the image
    that makes the photograph.

    Every photograph that works
    is a miracle in that way.
    Is the Tao creating wonder
    and amazement
    that we pass of with
    “Pretty picture,”
    on our way to something worth our time.

    We are that way with miracles
    of timing and grace
    every moment
    of every day.

    Wherever we are,
    in every moment
    it is a miracle
    that we are there, then
    with all that is there, then
    with us.
    And we miss it.

    We think, “Here I am.
    So what?
    Everybody is somewhere.
    What is the big deal?”

    It is a big deal for anybody to be anywhere!
    At the precise moment
    that everything else is with us
    right here, right now.

    It happens all the time
    and we don’t notice it.

    Take your cell phone
    out of your ear
    and start photographing
    something amazing
    that occupies the moment with you.

    Teach yourself to be shocked
    that This should be Here, Now
    at the same exact time that you are!

    It will transform the way
    you take your life for granted.

    We walk through miracles of pace and timing
    every day
    without noticing any of it,
    with our cell phone stuck in our ear.


  47. 11/09/2020  —  Fall Leaves 04 11-08-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Cruelty and compassion
    are the marks of bad religion and good religion.
    All religion falls out between those two poles.
    Theology has nothing to do with it.
    How we live/treat one another
    is all that matters.
    It doesn’t matter why.
    It matters what.

    Consistently–
    or even occasionally–
    doing the right thing
    for the wrong reasons
    is infinitely better than,
    and always to be preferred over,
    doing the wrong thing
    for the worst of reasons.

    Do not stop to get your theology right!
    Do not even pause to wonder about it!
    Theology is as much an excuse
    for not doing what needs to be done
    as it is a reason
    for doing what needs to be done.

    Getting your theology all ordered,
    lined-up,
    systematic,
    proof-texted,
    iron-clad,
    and irrefutably so
    is just a way of feeling smug
    about your oversights
    and omissions.

    Live with sincerity,
    straight from the heart,
    spontaneously responding
    to what is called for
    moment-by-moment,
    without contrivance
    or agenda,
    judgment or opinion,
    with nothing to gain or lose–
    like the prodigal’s father
    and the good Samaritan,
    the Buddha and the Christ
    in every age–
    and leave the thinking
    to those who see everything
    but what they look at.


  48. 11/09/2020  —  Fall Leaves 06 11-08-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    The 22-Acre Woods are,
    for all practical purposes,
    my private preserve–
    for which I pay no taxes
    or have any liability.

    My wife and I own a quarter-acre lot
    nestled into the northwest corner
    of our subdivision,
    which is also the southwest corner
    of the 22-Acre Woods
    (And I am the only one
    who refers to the small tract of trees
    in this way).

    There are roughly 800 people
    in our development,
    and we may see a dozen of them–
    generally the same dozen,
    mostly teenagers–
    walking (or biking) through the woods
    in a given week.

    I am the only one I have ever seen
    with a camera in the woods.

    They are owned by a family
    of six or so elderly children
    who can’t find a buyer for the property
    because it is landlocked
    with one access point in and out,
    and it is a drainage area
    for rainwater on its way to the sea.
    There are more attractive parcels
    close-by for developers to choose,
    and I relish each day
    without a bulldozer in it.

    I can walk out our back door,
    or our front door,
    and be in the woods
    as quickly as I can check the mail.

    They are a wonderful mixture
    of hardwoods and pine.
    The deer have moved out
    due to encroaching construction,
    but small animals and snakes
    and a pair of red-shouldered hawks
    are holding out for as long
    as luck allows.

    I am two weeks away
    from stepping into my 77th year,
    and osteoarthritis in both knees–
    and COVID-19–
    keep me from traveling
    to photo-worthy sites
    more than two hours away,
    and make the 22-Acre Woods
    my primary source for scenes.

    Access is always the first rule
    of photography.
    Without access,
    a camera is worthless
    regardless of what it costs,
    and the 22-Acre Woods
    are always accessible–
    until the bulldozers arrive
    and begin doing their thing.

    So, I welcome another fall,
    and the daily opportunity
    to go for a walk in the woods.

    With a camera in hand.


  49. 11/09/2020  —  Black Australian Swans 03 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    What is your enthusiasm quotient?
    Are you a proponent of enthusiasm?
    An advocate?
    An avid proponent?
    An enthusiast?

    On a low-to-high scale
    of 1 to 10,
    where do you rank yourself
    on your daily degree of enthusiasm?

    How many things are you enthusiastic about?
    How often are they a part of your life?
    If you were to raise your level
    of enthusiasm,
    what would you do?

    Is your life more of a burden
    or a pleasure?
    What accounts for that?
    Contributes to that?

    What would need to change
    for you to be able to find
    more pleasure,
    more joy,
    in just being alive?

    To what degree is your residual
    amount of joy/pleasure
    circumstances dependent?
    To what degree is it a natural
    expression of who you are?

    Does your thinking flow from
    joy and pleasure?
    Create joy and pleasure?
    Create their opposites?

    What governs your thinking?
    Why do you think the way you think?
    What makes it easy for you
    to think the way you think?

    How often do you think about your thinking?
    Think about your feeling?
    Are aware of your thinking/feeling?
    Can you separate thinking from feeling?
    Are they two things for you
    or one thing?

    Upon what does your enthusiasm depend?
    What part do reflection and realization
    play in your emotional response to your life?


  50. 11/10/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail 02 11/09/2020 — Union County, North Carolina

    Thin is the line,
    fine is the balance,
    between having it made,
    and having nothing at all.

    Everything about democracy
    depends on the willful cooperation
    of all those involved in the work
    of democracy.

    Depends upon the good faith
    of those promising
    to “preserve, protect and defend
    the Constitution against all enemies,
    foreign and domestic.”

    If those so promising
    are themselves Domestic Enemies
    of the Constitution
    and Participatory Democracy,
    well Who Is Going To Stop Them
    from initiating a hostile takeover
    of the government from within
    the government?

    The GOP has succeeded in placing
    itself in the position
    of destroying democracy
    without a shot being fired.
    Vladimir Putin has bought himself
    a country
    for less than one air craft carrier
    would cost.
    Talk about a coup!

    All Trump has to do between now
    and January 20, 2021
    is fire all of the government workers
    –the head of the Department of Defense
    was the first to go–
    who might be disloyal
    and replace them with “acting” loyalists,
    and have them all refuse to obey
    the norms and procedures
    for transferring power to Joe Biden.

    The government then would obey Trump.
    Democracy would be kaput.
    And the take-over would be complete.
    Then it would just be a matter
    of cleaning things up,
    with the ouster and martyrdom
    of all of his political enemies,
    at home and abroad.

    Sweet.
    Smooth.
    Easy.
    Simple.
    What could go wrong?

    That’s the question that turns the future.

    And however the future turns out to be,
    it is sickening
    that the fortunes of democracy
    depend upon the willing and willful compliance
    of all the people doing what is truly right
    in upholding the principles of democracy
    throughout the long generations of people
    taking their oaths of office
    and serving the country to the best of their ability
    so help them God.


  51. 11/10/2020  —  Carolina Thread Trail 06 11/09/2020 — Swinging Bridge, 12-Mile Creek, Lancaster County, South Carolina, Union County, North Carolina

    Living in accord with the Tao
    is laying aside all ambition,
    all aspiration,
    all agendas,
    all aims,
    all purposes,
    all goals,
    all objectives,
    all desires…
    other than and contrary to
    living in accord with the Tao.

    It is trusting the Tao,
    trusting ourselves to the Tao,
    beyond all logic and reason,
    with liege loyalty
    and filial devotion,
    doing what is called for
    with complete sincerity,
    spontaneity
    and non-contrivance,
    in each situation as it arises
    moment-by-moment
    all our life long–
    with the Tao understood to be
    doing the right thing
    in the right way
    at the right time
    and being right about
    what is right–
    living so in tune with the here and now,
    the time and place of our living,
    that we are at one with what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response,
    that we do what is called for
    without hesitation
    and without thinking,
    time after time after time.

    Like a stream flowing downhill,
    adjusting its flow
    to take boulders,
    fallen trees,
    cattle in the water,
    and dams being constructed
    into account on the fly
    on its way to the sea–
    and being right about
    what needs to be done
    in every moment of the journey.


  52. 11/10/2020  —  Crepe Myrtle 01 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    When this all started,
    there were no natural laws.
    No law of gravity.
    No law of inertia.
    Laws and rules hadn’t been invented.

    Then there was this really big BANG,
    and everything started flying in all directions
    at once,
    and it took several years
    for it to get sorted out
    and into stars and planets,
    constellations and galaxies.

    The universe figured it out
    by letting things bang around
    until order appeared,
    and now we have clocks and calendars,
    physics and chemistry,
    scientists and mathematicians.

    It’s amazing what can happen
    just by letting things happen.
    That is pretty much what happened
    with each of us.

    None of us knew what we were doing,
    most of us still don’t,
    and not one of us planned to be where we are,
    or got here by making all the right moves.

    We are here by virtue of the same process
    that got the universe here.
    We knocked around,
    got knocked around,
    and here we are.
    Still getting knocked around,
    and are on our way to somewhere else.

    We don’t comprehend any of it.
    It is all such a mystery.
    Yet, we pretend everything is well in hand
    and completely under our control.

    We are masters of our destiny, you know.
    Captains of our ship.
    And all that.

    We are the biggest mystery of it all.
    And we think getting what we want
    is all it takes.
    What we want is our way,
    at all times,
    in all places.

    That is such a laughter.
    Give us our way–
    we don’t know what to do with it!
    We find our way to where we need to be
    by taking one wrong turn after another.
    And, poof, like that,
    we wind up in exactly the right place.
    Or not.
    Either way, it’s a mystery how it works out.

    It is as though something
    knows more than we do.

    But, how could that be?
    It’s a mystery.
    There is no one here but us,
    but there is more to each of us
    than meets the eye.
    Even our own eye.

    WE are the mystery!
    You might think
    we would be more interested
    in getting to the bottom of us
    than we are.
    But we are more interested
    in watching re-runs of sitcoms.

    And that’s another mystery.
    Mystery is everywhere!
    And we are the biggest one anywhere!


  53. 11/11/2020  —  Sourwood 15 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    No one can tell us
    what our Original Nature is.
    That is ours to ferret out for ourselves.

    Each of us is unique
    in a special kind of way.
    Our Original Nature
    is like an emotional/psychological fingerprint.

    We also differ by the sonic patterns
    of our voice,
    the coloration of our eyes,
    the cones of our irises.

    Not to mention our idea
    of a good pizza.

    We are as different as different can be.
    We all are alike in that way.

    We are different and we are the same.

    The tide comes in,
    the tide goes out,
    the tide turns around…
    Which way is it?
    The tide is all those ways at once.
    If it is not coming or going
    it is turning around.
    That’s the tide for you.

    Our place is to say “Yes!”
    to everything.
    But everything includes “No!”
    We say “Yes!” to “No!”
    and say “No!” to things that are out of place,
    or out of time,
    or out of place and time.

    “Everything in its own place
    and in its own time!”
    “Nothing in the wrong place,
    or in the wrong time!”

    “Yes!” can become “No!”
    “No!” can become “Yes!”
    depending on the time and place,
    the here and now,
    the situation that is at hand.

    The Dalai Lama’s bodyguards
    carry automatic weapons.
    That is “Yes!” being prepared
    to say “No!”

    Shiva is the Lord of the Dance,
    among other things.
    He dances with time and place,
    with here and now,
    and is always exactly what he needs to be
    in each time and place of his being.

    Which means, of course,
    that Shiva contradicts Shiva,
    as all God’s worthy of the title do.

    Yahweh is a God who hides
    in thick darkness
    sometimes,
    and is said to be The Light of Life
    in whom there is no darkness at all
    sometimes.
    Which way is it?

    The tide comes in
    and the tide goes out
    and the tide turns around.

    The only God worth having around
    is the God who sacrifices God,
    who kills God,
    who bears the cross of contradiction
    all the way to death,
    to be resurrected/reborn as God.

    Birth and death,
    coming and going and turning around,
    forever.
    This is the dynamic of life,
    of eternity,
    of the way things are.

    There is no static state of being.
    Rigid,
    static,
    unbending,
    unmoving,
    unchanging…
    is death, not life.

    Life is becoming
    by dying
    and being raised from the dead
    to new life,
    which is becoming…

    When something becomes,
    something else dies.
    Dying is the prerequisite of becoming.
    We are born to die again and again
    in the process of becoming who we are,
    of maturation,
    of developing wisdom and grace.

    This life.
    Life is the way of dancing
    with the time and place of our living,
    being what is called for here and now,
    and being something else then and there.

    Always moving,
    coming, going and turning around.
    Dying again and again,
    coming to life again and again,
    metaphorically and actually
    (Where does that line lie?),
    on and on.

    Never stopping.
    Never quitting.
    Never arriving.
    Always moving on.
    Dancing with time and place,
    being what is needed here and now,
    doing what is called for forever.

    World without end. Amen.


  54. 11/11/2020  —  Sumac 03 11-10-2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Mindful living is being aware
    of the present moment
    with compassion for,
    and acceptance of,
    the “is-ness” of what is,
    without judgment or even opinion,
    on every level
    for as long as the moment lasts–
    and then being present
    in the same way
    in the next moment,
    and so on,
    throughout what remains
    of the time left for living.

    Jon Kabat-Zinn has some valuable
    YouTube videos that will help
    with the process.

    Watch the shortest ones first,
    and change your life
    one moment at a time.


  55. 11/11/2020  —  Fall Leaves 12 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    Grounded in,
    and living out of,
    our original nature
    and that which is ours to do,
    we are invincible,
    untouchable,
    beyond reach,
    and cannot be knocked off
    dead center
    no matter what comes along.

    Send up the Cyclops!
    And Medusa!
    Genghis Khan and the Mongol Hordes!
    It doesn’t raise a sweat.

    We are invulnerable when we are
    being who we are,
    doing our heart’s sure things.

    The way is clear before us:
    Align our conscious identity
    with our unconscious original nature,
    and cast off all motives,
    desires,
    ambitions,
    incentives,
    aspiration–
    and live connected with our heart
    and its sense of what it needs to do.

    Letting our heart
    and our original nature
    lead the way,
    is to be on the way
    across the slippery slopes,
    the dangerous paths
    and the razor’s edge–
    with nothing to fear
    the next adventure
    to look forward to.


  56. 11/12/2020  —  Fall Leaves 28 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    It takes more than the will to live.
    It takes willing to live
    beyond being 98.6 and breathing.
    It takes willing to live
    as self-directed,
    self-aware,
    self-sacrificing
    human beings,
    in the service
    of That Which Is Greater
    Than They Are,
    and Knows More Than They Know,
    in doing what is called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    with no interest in,
    or regard for,
    their own personal advantage,
    gain,
    benefit,
    good,
    interest,
    or boon,
    but with the sincere
    devotion to the good of the whole
    and loyalty to That Which is Greater
    Than They Are,
    and Knows More Than They Know,
    leading the way,
    supplying their motivation,
    and driving their effort
    day-by-day.

    A bit more on That Which Is Greater
    Than They Are
    and Knows More Than They Know…

    In The Hero With A Thousand Faces,
    Joseph Campbell says, talking about the Hero–
    which is to be understood as
    every person through time
    “There is everywhere a benign power
    supporting him in his superhuman passage.”

    And later:
    “This is the power known to science as energy,
    to the Melanesians as mana, to the Sioux Indians
    as wakonda, the Hindus as shakti, the Christians
    as the power of God… Its manifestation in the
    psyche is termed, by the psychoanalysts as
    libdio. And its manifestation in the cosmos as
    the structure and flux of the universe itself.”

    This is the power that is known to the Taoists
    as the Tao.

    This is the power that is at the heart of all
    religion everywhere.

    We all, at various points in our life,
    have experienced something beyond
    ordinary, apparent, reality
    at work in our life and in the world.
    That “something”
    is The Mystery At The Heart Of Life And Being
    about which we can say no more than
    “It Is!”

    But, if we cooperate with it,
    if we collaborate with it,
    if we “throw in with it,”
    place ourselves “in accord with it,”
    live “aligned with it,”
    there comes to pass in our lived experience,
    a sense of peace and well-being
    unsurpassed by anything money can buy.


  57. 11/12/2020  —  Tree Tops Panorama 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    We need all the help we can get.
    We are here, in part, to help one another.
    The government is the extension
    of ourselves into an organized body
    of helpfulness,
    providing all people access
    to what they need
    to live fulfilling,
    productive,
    creative,
    satisfying lives.

    The government is our collective way
    of assisting one another
    in the task of finding our life
    and living it.

    But, the government has been shanghaied
    by corporate money and power
    to serve corporate greed
    at the expense of the people’s need.
    “Profit At Any Price”
    is the motto of rampant capitalism
    gone rogue.

    The government has been taken over
    by capitalists
    who are out for their own idea
    of the good
    and use the people as means
    to their ends.

    The capitalists turn the people
    against themselves
    by demonizing labor unions,
    and collective bargaining efforts,
    and social programs,
    and civil rights endeavors,
    and environmental movements,
    and anything that the capitalists
    perceive to be a potential threat
    to their ability to increase their wealth.

    The capitalists own the government
    and the media
    and the social/cultural institutions
    that keep the people living
    well below their potential
    or their optimum level of functioning–
    and incite jealousy, hatred and fear
    of each other among the people
    to keep their own interest in
    and allegiance to,
    Profit At Any Price
    serving them well in their pursuit
    of increasing their wealth
    for the sake of increasing their wealth
    throughout the rest of time.

    Capitalists need to wake up,
    grow up,
    and get a life
    that is centered on their
    self-development as persons,
    as human beings,
    without thinking that is in any way
    connected with their net worth.

    Money is just an easy way out
    of doing the work required
    to become a full/complete/actualized
    human being.

    Money is a diversion/distraction
    from the work of being who we are
    in the service of the true good of the whole.

    We only need enough money
    to buy the tools we need
    and provide the wherewithal
    to do what needs to be done
    with the gifts/daemon/character/
    virtues/vitality/interests/
    enthusiasm/heart and soul
    that are reflected in our
    original nature
    and come with us from the womb
    and are at our disposal
    in the work to find our life
    and live it
    in being who we are,
    doing what is ours to do,
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    How to do that
    is more of a problem
    than it needs to be
    because people are out for themselves
    at the expense of everyone else.

    Greed is driving the world.
    Compassion is a much better choice.
    See what you can do about
    putting things right
    in the time left for living.


  58. 11/12/2020  —  Fall Leaves 31 11/12/2020 — Sassafras Leaves, 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    We have to grant our imagination
    access to us.
    We do that by allowing our mind
    to range freely over our
    external and internal landscape,
    playing with the possibilities,
    turning things upside down,
    inside out,
    seeing things as they are
    and as they should be
    and as they never will be,
    wondering why
    how
    what
    when
    where
    about it all.

    Taking things apart.
    Putting them back together differently.
    Getting to the bottom of everything.
    Or half-way to the bottom of something.

    Let your imagination wander around
    with everything you have ever been told was so,
    with everything you have always held to be so,
    and see what you imagination has to say
    about what is so,
    and isn’t so,
    and may be so,
    or not so.

    Let your imagination play with your life!
    And join in the game!
    Playing along!


  59. 11/13/2020  —  Fall Leaves 03 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Fear, guilt and regret
    lock us into an ever-deepening
    and increasingly repetitive
    cycle of fear, guilt and regret.

    The more fearful, guilty and regretful
    we are,
    the more fearful, guilty and regretful
    we will be.

    It is up to us to turn the haunting Cronies
    away!
    “ENOUGH!
    I SAY ENOUGH!!!
    Turning to stare them into silence
    and send them away,
    we step toward our own center
    and become the redeemer/savior
    of our own future
    and the life we have yet to live.

    We have to claim that future
    and that life,
    and secure them against the encroaching
    erosion of fear, guilt and regret.
    “BEGONE!
    I SAY BEGONE!!!
    Has to be repeated with force
    for as long as it takes to be free,
    and settled into who we are,
    what we have done and failed to do,
    and what may happen to take everything away.

    Our work is to be
    “a wheel rolling/turning
    out of its own center”
    (Friedrich Nietzsche),
    grounded in our original nature,
    focused on seeing/doing
    what is called for
    in each situation as it arises
    with the gifts/daemon/virtues/
    character/spirit/vitality/life
    that are ours to offer
    throughout the time left for living.

    This is the salvific orientation
    that stabilizes us
    and anchors us to the core
    of sincerity,
    balance and harmony,
    and enables us to live spontaneously,
    without contrivance,
    in responding to the needs of the moment,
    moment-by-moment
    forever.


  60. 11/13/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail 08 11/09/2020 — Walnut Creek, Union County, North Carolina

    There is within each of us
    a self who knows
    and a self who thinks it knows.
    And it is our place to know
    which is which,
    and throw in with the self who knows.

    This is a problem
    because the self who thinks it knows,
    is sure it knows.
    Is convinced it knows.
    Knows it knows.
    But.
    It does not know.
    And does not know that it does not know.

    It is our place to know
    that one self does not know
    as much as it thinks it knows.
    And to make inquiries.

    We are to ask the questions
    that beg to be asked,
    and say the things
    that cry out to be said
    to both selves,
    and see which self
    does the best job
    answering and retorting.

    Put the selves to the test!
    “What makes you think
    that what you think is so
    is so?”
    “What do you base your beliefs on?”
    “By what authority do you say
    what you just said?”
    “How does what you just said
    jive with what you said five minutes ago?”
    With what you said yesterday?”
    “What do you have at stake–
    what do you have to gain or lose–
    in things being the way you say they are?”
    “Who would be most proud of you–
    the most happy with you–
    for saying what you just said?
    For thinking what you think is so?”
    “Who are you trying to please?”
    … And on like that,
    getting to what is behind
    what each self “knows,”
    or knows, is so.

    Do not take what either self says
    as truth
    without exploring it exhaustively
    for its validity.
    Make them say what is so
    about what they think is so.

    Talk it out.
    Make them come clean.
    The truth will shine through
    if you take the time
    to clear the window of perception
    by getting to the source
    of the perspective.

    Your place is to investigate
    what comes up from within
    in knowing what each knower knows–
    and does not know.
    And deciding what to do about it.


  61. 11/13/2020  —  Carolina Thread Trail 04 11/09/2020 — 12-mile Creek Bridge, Lancaster County, SC/Union County, NC,

    We can make anything better or worse
    by the way we respond to it.

    That being the case,
    you would think we would study up on our
    response ability and how to perfect it,
    becoming experts in responding appropriately
    to every occasion.

    You couldn’t be more wrong.
    Why is that?
    Why don’t we make a concerted effort
    to live the best possible life
    under the circumstances?

    Why don’t we all swear to the One Who Knows
    within each of us,
    an oath of fealty, loyalty,
    allegiance and devotion,
    that we will, with their help,
    make our best effort
    to respond to the events of our life
    in ways that have the best chance
    of turning things to the good
    of ourselves,
    our circumstances,
    and all those concerned,
    by simply doing what is called for
    moment-by-moment
    all our life long?

    Why don’t we do that?
    I’m serious.
    Why don’t we?


  62. 11/13/2020  —  Peaks of Otter 10/29/2019 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virgina

    Each of us has a destiny to fulfill,
    a life to live,
    a work to perform,
    a calling to serve,
    a self to express, exhibit, incarnate,
    a divine spark to nourish
    into a flame of glory and wonder
    so that no one can tell where we stop
    and God starts.

    Sounds a bit much, I know.
    But, there is Jesus saying,
    “Come, follow me.”
    And, “Greater things than I have done,
    you will do.”

    He’s saying, “Get out of your own way
    and be who you are!
    And allow the Mystery of Being
    to come to life in you
    in ways that are uniquely yours
    to bring forth!”

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

    Our destiny is to be who we are
    at the core of ourselves,
    who we are capable of being,
    who we are here to be,
    to become.

    Jung also said,
    “There is in each of us
    another, whom we do not know.”
    This Other is “the essential
    that we embody.”
    Whom we live to know
    and to serve with our life.

    We do that consciously
    by paying attention to
    the unconscious clues
    that are always winking at us,
    trying to catch our eye.

    Our life is like that of a fairy tale,
    or of Luke Skywalker,
    and the clues are lying all about us.
    Help is on every side,
    and the audience is groaning
    because we won’t see what is right there.


    So, we have to learn to stop, look and listen.
    What are we missing?
    What did we dream last night?
    What makes our little heart sing?
    What brings us to life in a way
    that makes us forget what day it is,
    and not know how long we have been doing
    the thing we love to do?

    What keeps coming back around?
    What won’t go away?
    What do we keep pushing aside,
    only to have it pop up again in a month
    or a year?
    What do we find ourselves thinking about?
    What do we wish we could do?
    What do we keep finding excuses
    for not doing?

    There is a secret cause dying for us
    to find it,
    claim it,
    live it as our own dream
    dreaming we would adopt it
    as our own life.

    It is our destiny.
    We have to work it into our life!
    We have to find ways of being who we are!
    We have to honor the dream that dreams of us!

    We would be most remiss if we did not.


  63. 11/14/2020  —  The Cascades Panorama 04/19/2011 — EB Jeffres Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Wilkes County, North Carolina

    When we live aligned
    with the Secret Cause–
    the Secret Cause of us,
    of our life,
    of the life that is to be our life–
    we are at one with our destiny,
    and centered in
    and grounded upon
    the why, what,when and how
    of our existence.

    In that place, we are “immortal,
    invincible,
    God-only wise,”
    and “though we die, yet shall we live.”
    And nothing can knock us off
    “the still point,”
    “the axis mundi”
    “the center of the universe”
    and “of the turning world.”

    We are anchored to the adamantine foundation
    of our life–
    of all of life–
    of the entire cosmos
    and whatever might lie beyond it.


    We are one with everything,
    and live with a confidence
    that borders on recklessness,
    and have to call upon the guardians
    of humility and self-transparency
    to rein ourselves in
    and live within the situations
    and circumstances of our life
    as they unfold about us–
    as those who have work to do
    that is vital to the whole
    and to the Cause.

    Serving the Secret Cause
    in the time and place of our living,
    in the here and now of our existence,
    opens us to the agony of Jesus
    with his, “I have come
    to set the world on fire,
    and how I wish it were already kindled!”
    But, like him,
    we have to submit to the times,
    and trust ourselves to the secret workings
    of the Secret Cause–
    to the unfolding of the Tao
    in its own time
    and in its own way,
    and remaining true to our role
    of exhibiting in the moment
    our gifts/daemon/virtues/character
    in doing what is called for
    situation-by-situation,
    day-by-day
    for as long as life shall last–
    at one with the Mystery
    at the Heart of Life and Being.


  64. 11/14/2020  —  Sourwood 19 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    “They cast their nets in Galilee
    Just off the hills of brown
    Such happy simple fisherfolk
    Before the Lord came down.
    Contented peaceful fishermen
    Before they ever knew
    The peace of God That filled their hearts
    Brimful and broke them too.
    Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
    Homeless, in Patmos died.
    Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
    Head-down was crucified.
    The peace of God, it is no peace,
    But strife closed in the sod,
    Yet, children, pray for but one thing–
    The marvelous peace of God.”

                –William Alexander Percy

    “The peace of God” is another term for
    “The Secret Cause.”
    They are interchangeable
    and equivalent.

    There is no “peace of God”
    apart from our alignment with,
    and liege loyalty to,
    the Secret Cause.

    Just as there is no life without death.
    Just as every birth is death in the making,
    and every death is a threshold to new life,
    Just so, our embrace of the Secret Cause
    is a union with “the peace of God”
    that is “strife closed in the sod,”
    and a crucifixion waiting to happen.

    “Yet, children, pray for but one thing!”
    It is “for this we have come.”

    Both in terms of “What shall I say,
    ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
    No! For this I have come!”

    And: “What I do is me, for this I came!”
    (Gerad Manley Hopkins)

    We find what we seek
    in our identification with the Secret Cause,
    though it be like the moth’s
    identification with the flame.

    The Secret Cause of our life
    is death and life and death and life…
    The two are one.
    It is oneness all the way down.
    And up.

    All of our dichotomies are false dichotomies.
    Good/Bad,
    Right/Wrong,
    Left/Right,
    Up/Down,
    Black/White,
    Simple/Complex…

    Duality comes to an end
    in the realization of oneness.
    Both/And,
    Either/Or–
    which is it?
    It is both/and
    it is either/or.

    Death is life,
    life is death.

    We die at every transition point
    throughout our life,
    and are born again
    on the other side
    of every successful transition.
    Only to die again
    at the next transition point.
    And our life never runs out of
    transition points!

    And the Secret Cause
    is the cause of most of them!

    In the service of the Secret Cause–
    the Secret Cause of our life,
    of the life that is our life to live,
    of the purposes and meanings
    that are life itself for us–
    we confront the contradictions,
    dichotomies,
    and polarities
    that bring us forth
    by demanding our death
    again and again.

    The Hero’s Journey is one long series
    of deaths and resurrections.

    “Yet, children, pray for but one thing:
    the marvelous peace of God!”

    It is Yin/Yang all the way down–
    with Yin/Yang understood to be a metaphor
    for the integration of opposites,
    which remain oppositional
    throughout their oneness,
    as we bear the pain of that tension
    our entire life,
    by bringing them together in our life.


  65. 11/15/2020  —  Adams Mill Pond Reflection 02 11/09/2014 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “Bliss is that deep sense
    of being present, here and now,
    and doing what you absolutely
    must do to be yourself
    in the time and place of your living,”
    (Or words to that effect).

    And if that is also the way
    it should be done,
    the way the situation is calling
    for it to be done,
    you are transparent to transcendence,
    which is as close to God
    as we are going to be in this life.

    Here’s the problem:
    There are multiple layers
    to every situation.
    What is allowed on some levels
    are anathema on other levels.
    What can you get by with
    is the question.

    Can you get by with being true
    to yourself here and now?
    This is your role in the process.
    Only you can determine
    what you can get by with,
    and what has to give,
    what has to go,
    for you to be true to yourself
    in each situation as it arises.

    Your problem is finding places
    where it is safe to be you,
    and finding people around whom
    it is safe to be you–
    and, even then, you will be
    risking everything,
    every now and then,
    in being who you are
    and doing what is called for
    in the situation.

    This is called dancing
    across the slippery slope,
    traversing the dangerous path,
    along the razor’s edge.
    It is not for the faint of heart.
    And it will require dying
    again and again,
    and being born again
    again and again.
    All the way to the end of the dance.


  66. 11/15/2020  —  Fall Leaves 34 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    You can be trusted to know
    what is good for you and what is not,
    where you belong and where you do not,
    what is “you” and what is not,
    what is reliable and what is not…
    and to learn how to know what you know,
    and trust yourself to know it
    as you go along.

    You are born with what it takes
    to know what you need to know
    to find what you need
    to be who you are
    and do what is yours to do
    in doing what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises
    situation-by-situation.

    That is all there is to it.

    But.

    You cannot do it
    without sitting still
    and being quiet
    on a regular basis
    all along the way.


  67. 11/15/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail 07 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    Everything hinges upon,
    flows from,
    falls into place around
    living meaningfully.

    Living meaningfully
    is living with your heart in
    what you are doing.

    What keeps that from happening?

    There are no substitutes for it.
    No stand-ins.
    No reasonable facsimiles.

    All of the distractions,
    like money,
    sex,
    alcohol and pot,
    can’t erase the emptiness
    or disappear the truth
    that your heart isn’t in
    what you are doing.

    The only fix
    is for you to sit down
    with your heart,
    and listen.

    Then find ways of putting
    yourself in accord with your heart.

    Living meaningfully
    is the solution
    to all of our problems today.
    And tomorrow.
    Forever.


  68. 11/16/2020  —  Along NY Highwat 30 06 09/28/2014 — Adirondack Park, Tupper Lake, Tupper Lake, New York

    I am the jewel in the lotus–
    om mani padme hum–
    so is the Buddha,
    so are you.

    And, so are we all
    the jewel in Indra’s net,
    each reflecting the other
    by the light of realization/awareness/
    illumination/enlightenment/awakening.

    One is many,
    many are one.

    We are the same in our differentness,
    with each of us being unique,
    set apart,
    individually identified
    by our outlook,
    our fingerprints,
    the sonogram of our voice,
    the coloration of our eyes,
    the cones of our irises
    our idea of a meaningful life,
    and 10,000 other things–
    and each of us being exactly alike
    by being different in so many ways.

    One is many.
    Many are one.

    And we get to each other
    through ourselves.
    We cannot be intimate
    if we will not be vulnerable.
    We can be only as vulnerable
    as we are conscious
    of who,
    and how,
    and what we are.
    The less self-transparent we are,
    the more hidden we have to be,
    all wars are fought by those
    who refuse to know themselves.

    If you want to know me,
    know you.
    There I am.
    If you do not want to know you,
    you will never know anyone.

    You are the jewel in the lotus
    only when you know it to be so–
    and being humbled by it,
    not impressed,
    because you know it to be so
    of everyone.

    Everyone is the Buddha.
    Everyone is the Christ.
    And the Hero’s Journey
    is living a meaningful life.

    If you understand this
    and apply it,
    you have it made.

    Om mani padme hum.


  69. 11/16/2020  —  Crepe Myrtle 01 11/10/2020 Oil Paint Rendering — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Carl Jung referred to the feminine aspects of a man
    as his Anima,
    and to the masculine aspects of a woman
    as her Animus.

    When men are being the best woman they can be,
    and women are being the best man they can be,
    the word is balanced and in harmony,
    and everything happens
    exactly as it needs to happen
    on all levels,
    every day.

    Things are as they are because
    men think they are to be men,
    and women think they are to be women.

    And that isn’t the only problem.

    No one has any idea of what a Real Man is,
    and no one has any idea of what a Real Woman is.

    We all need to go back to the womb
    and start over
    with parents who understand,
    in a world of parents who understand,
    and see how things would be
    if we had a proper upbringing.

    Who is the best man you have ever known?
    Who is the best woman you have ever known?
    Live toward being the best
    of both those people
    in the way you live your life.

    If you are a man or a woman,
    live to bring forth the best man
    and the best woman,
    you have ever known.

    That will shift things toward the good.
    Then we can work to improve our ideas
    of “man” and “woman.”

    And that will get us within reach
    of the ideal human being.

    And that will be a world
    worth living in!


  70. 11/16/2020  —  Lake Chicot 06 10-27-2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    Why do we care about what we care about?
    We will never explain our way to the bottom of it.
    The question can be answered
    only with another question.
    “Why do you care about what you care about?

    We do not have access to the Carer within.
    We like what we like.
    We don’t like what we don’t like.
    We love what we love.
    We don’t love what we don’t love.
    We care about what we care about.
    We don’t care about what we don’t care about.

    There is an entire cosmos within
    which we do not control,
    understand,
    comprehend,
    or even know about.

    Why do we see the way we see?
    Feel the way we feel?
    Think the way we think?

    Our viewpoints are not our own.
    We do not reason our way there,
    and cannot reason our way out of there.

    We are led about,
    directed and guided through our life
    by what, we do not know.

    Who/What is piloting our boat
    on its path through the sea?
    And, if we have a destination in mind,
    Who/What put it there?

    No matter how we try to evade,
    escape,
    deny
    the conclusion,
    we cannot avoid
    the inescapable reality
    that our life
    has a life of its own.

    The only reasonable,
    logical
    (since we like logic and reason so),
    alternative here
    is to open ourselves to
    the truth of another boarder,
    and devote ourselves
    to the task
    of sensing/feeling
    the influence
    of instinct and intuition,
    and trusting ourselves
    to the realm of hunches,
    nudges
    and things that occur to us
    “out of the blue”
    (or in the wee hours of the night),
    in determining what is being called for
    within the circumstances at hand,
    responding with liege loyalty
    and filial devotion,
    in doing what we are led to do,
    and allow our outcomes to be our outcomes–
    without judgment or opinion,
    but with grace and compassion
    pouring over, spilling out–
    and see where it goes.


  71. 11/17/2020  —  Tupper Lake Sunset 01 09/22/2015 — Adirondack Park, Tupper Lake, New York

    Is it better to win or to lose?
    To be tall or to be short?
    To live with a plan or to live without a plan?
    And ten thousand other questions like these.

    Who is smart enough to know
    what is better in a general,
    vague,
    absolute kind of way?

    Better depends upon the situation at hand.
    Better is clear in the here and now.
    In the far from now,
    there is no telling.

    What is to our advantage
    changes with time and place.
    Every asset is simultaneously a liability,
    and every liability is an asset,
    depending upon a combination of factors
    that are time and place dependent.

    We are built to rise to meet
    every occasion.
    We are ideally suited
    for the life that is ours to live.
    The life that is ours to live
    is a perfect fit
    for what we bring to the table.

    When we start messing with things
    with an eye on perfection,
    we mess things up royally
    for ever one.

    This is the moral of the Garden of Eden.
    The moral of the Garden of Gethsemane
    is “Thy will, not mine, be done,”
    with the “Thy” being the Tao of time and place
    situation and circumstance,
    and consisting of what is being called for
    here and now.

    If you like something,
    it is likely to change in time.
    And, if you don’t like something,
    that, too, stands a good chance of changing.

    Forget what you want and don’t want,
    like and don’t like.
    Step into your life without opinion
    or expectation,
    judgment or demands.

    Trust yourself to the developing situation,
    and be whom the situation can trust
    to do what is right
    at the right time
    in the right place
    in the right way.

    Things have a way of turning out
    as blessing and grace
    just by doing what is right
    one situation at a time,
    as though something
    knew what it was doing.



  72. 11/17/2020  —  The Seated Buddha — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    The Hero’s Journey is a meaningful life.

    A meaningful life is the first thing to go.
    Our eye is on the prize,
    and the old Zen maxim always applies:
    “The ability of the archer to hit the bullseye
    varies in inverse proportion
    to the size of the prize for doing so.”

    A meaningful life is the bullseye.

    But, we go for the money every time.


  73. 11/17/2020  —  Fall Leaves 24 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    All religion is based
    on the premature interpretation
    of experience.

    The discovery of recurring cycles
    in the relationships
    between the stars and planets–
    with mathematical regularity–
    did not,
    does not,
    mean anything beyond what it is.

    However, the stargazers who put
    everything together
    made it mean what they
    said it meant
    by interpreting it the way they did.

    We should leave things we don’t know
    anything about uninterpreted
    until we know better what is going on.

    This is the difference between
    science and religion.
    Science calls its interpretations
    “hypotheses.”
    Religion calls its interpretations
    “facts”
    (Everything religion “takes on faith”
    becomes a fact the instant
    it is so taken).

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “The whole point of science
    is that there are no facts,
    only theories.”

    No religion,
    or spokesperson for religion,
    would say that about religion.


  74. 11/18/2020  —  The Grove 07 01/29/2015 –Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Hollywood, South Carolina, The Big House now serves as office space for the Refuge

    We all die by our own hand.
    We all are the secret cause of our own death.
    We all have rhythms and themes
    and ways of being, and being-not,
    that carry us through our life
    to the very end.

    We step toward our own dying
    step-by-step,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.

    In each of us,
    our fate and our destiny
    meet up
    and work themselves out,
    to our oblivious,
    unknowing,
    out-of-touchness,
    and our clueless turning
    from one thing to another,
    completely unaware
    of the rhythms and themes
    that are dancing us,
    directing us,
    all our life long.

    Noticing and knowing
    what we are doing
    will enable us to smile
    as death comes upon us,
    and step toward it
    as though we are meeting our lover,
    greeting it with a warm embrace,
    saying with passion
    and meaning every word,
    “It is so good to meet you at last,
    and on such a good day to die!”


  75. 11/18/2020  —  Around Bass Lake 07 10/13/2014 — Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    The rhythms and themes,
    tastes and interests,
    proclivities and ways of making coffee,
    or whatever we drink instead,
    which direct and define our living,
    are unique among people
    who have ever lived,
    or will ever live.

    We are one of a kind,
    individual
    and distinctive,
    set apart.

    And then we get married.

    It takes fifty years or so
    to knock off the sharp corners
    and smooth out the rough edges
    and make each of us fit company
    for the other of us.

    Marriage is equivalent to the smashups
    that went on for eons
    after the Big Bang
    that eventually created
    the laws of physics and biology
    by destroying everything
    that didn’t belong as it was
    where it was.

    We all take our place over time.
    Become domesticated
    and can be trusted to know
    our limits
    and where we belong,
    and where we have no business being.

    And, it would help to know something
    of the rhythms and themes, etc.
    of the person we are marrying
    before we marry.

    Insuring compatibility
    will not guarantee no collision
    of galaxies, but,
    it will reduce the likelihood,
    and that alone would make it
    worth the effort.


  76. 11/18/2020  —  Atlantic Moonrise 01 08/08/2007 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    Being right about who we are,
    and living to place ourselves
    in accord with who we are
    is the essence of true-human-being-hood,
    and the most meaningful thing we can do
    in the time left for living–
    for ourselves and all of humankind.

    “What I do is me/for that I came,”
    said Gerad Manley Hopkins.
    “By the grace of God, I am what I am,”
    said Paul the Apostle.
    “I yam what I yam!”
    said Popeye the Sailor Man.

    There is no greater honor
    or pleasure
    than being who we are
    in the way we live our life.

    And it is the Secret Cause
    (Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce)
    that directs us to our death.
    And what a beautiful, wonderful
    way to die that is.

    We are going to die some way,
    some how.
    Why not die being who we are?
    As a direct consequence of being who we are?
    Deliberately,
    willfully,
    being who we are every step of the way?

    What is a better way to go?

    Mean to die by the way you live!
    Let that be your gift to the world!
    As surely as Jesus’ death was
    his gift to the world!

    To live and to die being who we are
    is the greatest meaning
    we can give to our existence!
    Why throw it away drinking beer
    looking at the ocean?

    Drinking beer, looking at the ocean,
    is only a pilgrimage to restore our soul
    and deepen our commitment
    to being who we are in a world
    that doesn’t notice or care who we are–
    a “pause that refreshes”
    and enables us to stand up,
    and step back into our work
    of being who we are,
    doing what needs us to do it,
    the way only we can,
    all our life long.


  77. 11/18/2020  —  Lake Chicot 09 10/27/2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    It is our body of work that does it.
    It is the cumulative impact
    of our life on other lives
    over the full course of our life
    that makes our living worthwhile,
    and stands as our contribution
    to the whole–
    that constitutes “doing our bit”
    in support of the idea of humanity
    in the cosmos.

    It’s like this:
    We affect every moment for better or worse,
    for good or ill,
    by the way we respond to the moment.
    We influence every situation
    through the response we make
    to the situation.

    We are, then and there, for the sole purpose
    of being who we are, then and there,
    for the good of then and there.

    You can blow that off if you want to.
    That is your way of responding
    to here and now.

    You can do that with every here and now
    that proceeds from this here, this now.
    Blow it off.
    Maybe that is just who you are,
    and you can’t help it,
    even by paying attention to it,
    and wondering if there is a more helpful
    way of being present
    in the situations that constitute your life.

    I’m saying that you owe it to yourself
    and to the rest of us
    to be consciously present
    in each situation as it arises,
    and to offer those situations
    what is being called for there
    to the best of your ability,
    one situation at a time
    all your life long.

    Blow it off if you want to.
    Never mind if you like.
    I did what I could do for you,
    you wanted nothing to do with it,
    and that’s that.

    But, before you go, look at it this way:
    An orchestra,
    a choir,
    a quartet,
    a duo,
    you standing alone at the microphone,
    works best when everyone
    is on key, in tune,
    and harmoniously in accord with the music.

    Stay with me here.

    Every situation is a performance
    before an audience,
    with music
    and a microphone,
    with a rhythm and a flow,
    calling us to dance in sync
    with the movement of that time
    and that place.

    And when we do it,
    it is beautiful.
    And when we do not do it,
    it is not.

    Your place and mine
    is to grace each situation
    with the full wonder of our presence,
    day in and day out forever.

    Blow it off if you must.
    But, know what you are doing
    when you do.

    How we live matters!
    It is the only thing that matters!
    And we get to practice our part,
    to play our role,
    to be who we are,
    offering what we have to give,
    in each situation as it arises.

    We have no excuse for failing
    to be good at being us over time.
    And everything depends on our
    being good at being us,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.

    Don’t believe it if you want to,
    but why wouldn’t you believe it?
    Why would you believe something
    that lets you get by with being
    a fly in the soup,
    a gnat in the eye,
    a scourge on the earth,
    a blight, a curse, on the legacy
    of humanity eternally,
    the bane of human existence
    through all the ages?

    Answer me that,
    before you go.


  78. 11/18/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail 09 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    My short list of the most important things:

    See what you look at.
    Look at everything.

    Hear what you listen to.
    Listen to everything.

    Know what you know,
    and what you don’t know.

    Sit quietly as often as possible
    for as long as possible.

    Contemplate your original nature
    and your natural rhythms.

    Realize that you cannot change your life
    without changing the way you live your life.

    Without changing the way you think about your life.
    Without changing the people you run with.
    Without becoming transparent to yourself.

    When you become transparent to yourself,
    you become transparent to transcendence.

    When you become transparent to transcendence,
    you become as God,
    with you and “the Father” being one.

    How different are you willing for your life to be?


  79. 11/19/2020  —  Moss Glen Falls 03 09/25/2015 — Stowe, Vermont

    How confident are you
    of living out of your own center?
    How courageous are you
    in living out of your own center?

    When your center comes under attack,
    how do you defend it?
    When you come under attack,
    how conscious are you
    of retreating to your center?

    Your center is your adamantine core.
    Your immovable,
    unassailable rock.
    Your unshakable foundation.

    Do you have any idea
    of what I am talking about?

    Are you blown about,
    unsure of yourself,
    easily talked into and out of
    anything?
    With no north star to guide you,
    and no gyroscope
    to hold you on course?
    Second-guessing and self-doubting
    leading the way?

    If so, it is time to find your center.

    Your center is an extension of the Source,
    with your own particular blend
    of tastes/interests/peculiarities/
    proclivities/idiosyncrasies/gifts/
    ways/characteristics/etc.
    forming the “I am” that grounds you
    and sets you apart from everyone else.

    You are alike everyone else
    in that we all stem from the Source,
    and we are different from everyone else
    in that we are a unique combination
    of traits unlike anyone who has ever been
    or will be.

    And the idea that we should abandon who we are
    and be identical to everyone else is anathema.

    Our place is to BE who we are
    in relationship with everyone else,
    in the old, “Define yourself
    while staying in touch” kind of way.
    Tricky.
    And it all hangs on our knowing
    and living out of our center.

    Our center is the home
    of our Original Nature
    and our Natural Rhythms.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “We know when we are on the beam
    and when we are off of it.”
    “The beam” here is a metaphor
    for our center.

    We know when we are centered,
    balanced and in harmony with ourselves,
    and when we are not.

    We have to know what we know.
    Pay attention.
    Be aware.
    And consciously allow our action
    to flow from our center
    by observing ourselves in action,
    and checking to see if the origin
    of what we are doing–
    how we are living–
    is flowing unimpeded from our center,
    or if it is being directed
    by some other source
    (Like the desire to be pleasing,
    or the fear of being abandoned),
    and doing the work
    of coming to terms
    with our vulnerabilities
    by being aware of them,
    and of living out of our center
    by being aware of it.

    Awareness is the solution
    of all of our problems today
    and every day.

    Perhaps this would be a good time
    for me to mention
    the Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube videos
    (The shortest ones first)
    on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

    It is difficult to live out of our center
    without being aware of what we are doing.
    Jon Kabat-Zinn is the awareness guru.
    Start with him.


  80. 11/19/2020  —  Sunset at Water Rock Knob 08/05/2007 — Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

    What feeds your soul?
    What makes your little heart sing?
    What brings you to life?
    What nurtures you,
    nourishes you,
    restores you,
    centers you,
    grounds you,
    balances you,
    harmonizes you,
    reconnects you to you?

    Make it your practice
    to incorporate the things
    that do these things
    into your life
    on a regular basis.

    You are responsible for
    your own self-care.

    We neglect ourselves
    to our own demise.
    It is like dying a slow death
    by our own hand.

    Whose side are you on?
    Would anyone ever guess
    that you are on your own side
    by the way you treat you?

    You are your only hope.
    You are the guardian
    of your own Inner Guide.
    Follow the guidance
    of the One Who Knows Within!

    And start doing the things
    that bring you to life!

    Regularly!
    Dependably!
    Relentlessly!


  81. 11/19/2020  —  Fall Canopy 02 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    We see things the way we see things.
    And.
    Everything hinges/turns/flows from/falls out around
    how we see things.
    Nothing is more important
    than being right about the way we see things.
    That being the case–
    and who could see it any other way–
    you would think we would take the pains required
    to see things as they are.

    In other words,
    to see the things we look at
    as scientists would see them
    and not as religious fanatics would see them.

    That would mean
    stepping back from the way we see things
    to see ourselves seeing things.
    And make inquiries.

    Why do we see things the way we see them
    and not some other way instead?

    Where does the way we see things come from?

    How many other ways of seeing things
    can we imagine?

    How do we know the way we see things
    is the right way to see things?

    Who would be proud of us
    for the way we see things?
    Who would be disappointed in us
    for the way we see things?
    Who are we trying to please/displease
    by the way we see things?

    Where do we get our ideas
    about the way we ought to see things?

    Who are the authorities we respect
    when it comes to how to see things?

    Other than taking their word for it,
    how could we determine whether the way
    we see things
    is the right way to see them?

    What standards/principles govern
    the way we see things?

    What experiments can we devise
    to test the validity of the way we see things?

    How can we determine if we know
    what we are doing,
    seeing things the way we see things?

    What are we afraid of
    when it comes to examining
    the way we see things?

    What are the questions we are afraid to ask
    about the way we see things?
    What are the questions we refuse to ask?

    How do we know that we know
    what we are talking about?

    Who says that the way we see things
    is the right way to see things?
    Who says that the way we see things
    is the wrong way to see things?
    How do we know who is right?

    What are we taking for granted
    when it comes to the way we see things?

    What are we assuming to be so?

    What justifies us in seeing the way we do?
    What calls us into question?

    What does how we see things
    say about what is most important to us?
    How do we know that ought to be important?
    Who says so?
    Who says not-so?
    What makes us think they know,
    or don’t know,
    what they are talking about?

    Etc. and so forth all the way
    to the bottom of the matter.


  82. 11/20/2020  —  Looking East 05 09/01/2014 — Water Rock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

    We start where we are,
    with seeing all there is to see
    here and now–
    right here, right now.

    Asking all of the questions
    that beg to be asked.

    Saying all of the things
    that cry out to be said.

    Without judgment, evaluation
    or even opinion–
    and with compassion and acceptance–
    in a “This, too! This, too!”
    kind of way.

    All of it is grist for the mill.
    We are milling ourselves.
    Who we are
    and who we have within us to be.

    We are seeking ourselves,
    and looking for the life
    that is ours to live.

    We find both
    waiting for us
    at the center.
    It all comes together
    at the center.

    All paths lead to the center,
    flow from the center,
    circle around the center.

    The paths are not straight.
    There is nothing linear
    or sequential about us.
    “The shortest way through
    is the long way around”
    (Conventional wisdom saying).

    Carl Jung talked about “individuation”
    (What we are about,
    becoming who we are,
    doing what is ours to do)
    as “The circumambulation of the self.”
    It is a long,
    downward spiral to the center
    of life and being.

    At the center
    is also The Source,
    which is also The Mystery,
    of Life and Being.

    We are one with The Source
    and The Mystery
    of Life and Being.

    And, here is the secret
    of the center,
    at the center,
    we are connected
    with everyone else
    at their center.

    The many are one at the center.
    and say, “AUM…”,
    which is a lot like saying, “WOW…”,
    together,
    through the ages.


  83. 11/20/2020  —  Carolina Thread Trail 05 11/09/2020 — Twelve-Mile Creek Swinging Bridge, Lancaster County, SC/Union County, NC

    We find the center by seeking
    and exploring,
    and exhibiting,
    our Original Nature
    and our Natural Rhythms.

    “Is this Me or Not-Me
    here and now?”

    Is the question that
    carries us into the roles
    our lives require us to play,
    and the masks we wear day-to-day.

    Joseph Campbell talked about
    the Primary Mask being who
    our parents, our culture, our society
    ask/expect us to wear,
    and the Antithetical Mask being who
    we are in our inmost self.

    For 40.5 years in the ministry,
    I was an introvert
    pretending to be an extrovert.
    I did it by being conscious of it.
    By not pretending to myself.
    I stepped into the role
    my life was asking me to play,
    like I would if I were an actor
    playing my part for the Big Screen.

    Life is like a Big Screen.
    We show up,
    deliver our lines as they should be delivered,
    act our part as it should be acted,
    take our bows,
    and return to our life off-screen,
    where we can settle into “just being ourselves”
    for a while.

    The masks are essential.
    We have to walk two paths at the same time.
    Who we are
    is who-we-ought-to-be
    and
    who-we-can’t-help-being.
    Where the two paths clash considerably,
    we have to work it out.

    I could not have been a minister
    in a right-wing evangelical church.
    I knew where to draw my lines.
    There are some parts we cannot play
    and be true to ourselves.
    Actors do not accept every part
    they are asked to play.

    Fraser Snowden said,
    “The only true philosophical question
    is ‘Where do we draw the line?'”
    The answer to that question
    is a door opening to the mystical
    center of ourselves,
    revealing who we are
    in ways we might never have guessed
    without being pushed to the point
    of drawing a line.

    All of our lines are mirrors
    reflecting us to us.
    In drawing our lines,
    we know who we are,
    what is important,
    and where we stand.

    Where have you drawn lines
    in the past?
    Where are you drawing lines
    in the present?
    Where are you likely to draw lines
    in the future?

    There you are.

    Other places/doors/mirrors revealing
    us to us
    are the things/people that/who attract us
    and the things/people that/who repel us.
    Anything, any person,
    that/who evokes a visceral reaction in us
    is telling us about us.

    The things we intend to do
    and keep forgetting to do.

    The things we intend not to do
    and find ourselves doing.

    The tunes we hum/sing without meaning to.

    The themes which keep playing themselves out,
    or coming to the surface again and again,
    when our mind is “just wandering.”

    The dreams–particularly the Big Dreams,
    and the recurring dreams–we have at night.

    The day dreams–dreads and happy fantasies–
    we have during the day.

    The ways we spend our money.
    The ways we spend our time.

    Our viewpoint.
    Our preferences.
    Our fears.
    Our desires.

    All are clues to who we are,
    to who we are afraid of being,
    to who we do not want to be at all,
    that need to be examined,
    investigated,
    explored,
    contemplated,
    mined
    for the gold.

    The paths to the center
    are paths to meaning and purpose,
    hope and fulfillment,
    identity and confidence,
    balance and harmony,
    and wait for our cooperation
    to lead us to ourselves.


  84. 11/20/2020  —  Tree Panoramas 04 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    Our life is designed
    to bring out the best in us,
    or not.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “It took the Cyclops
    to bring out the hero in Ulysses.”
    But, not in all those
    the Cyclops met before Ulysses.

    We do not have to stand up
    and step forward to meet our life
    with our best in hand.
    We can run.
    Carl Jung said, however,
    “We meet our destiny on the road
    we take to avoid it.”
    Yet, ever there,
    we do not have to meet it
    with our best in hand.

    We can turn to denial,
    despair,
    dejection,
    addiction…
    and die long before
    some coroner makes it official.

    Our life doesn’t always
    bring out the best in us.
    How we respond to the demands
    of the moment
    is our call to make,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Having what it takes,
    and doing what needs to be done,
    is as much a matter of perspective
    and perception,
    courage and willful determination,
    as it is skill and ability.

    Just making the effort
    attracts help from
    the most unexpected places.
    Just opening ourselves
    to the gifts of our imagination,
    creates shifts and openings
    in our circumstances
    we could never expect.

    We craft miracles by
    stepping forward,
    wondering how we are going to
    do this thing that is called for.

    Again and again.

    Ours is the Sisyphean task
    of putting our shoulder  
    to our life and rolling it up the hill
    each day
    and following it down the hill
    each night,
    to roll it up the hill again
    the next day,
    day after day after day.

    How did Sisyphus do it?
    I would have to make a game of it.
    I would make a friend of the rock.
    I would love the rock
    and my relationship with the rock.

    Each day, I would roll it to almost
    the top of the hill,
    seeking the still point
    between up and down.
    It would have to be there somewhere.
    The place of balance and harmony.
    The place of rest.
    Aha!

    And I would take a break,
    and count the seconds each day,
    before the tipping point gave way,
    and down she goes.
    I would live to discover my personal best,
    and strive to beat it each day.

    And I would walk slowly down hill,
    to start over again tomorrow.

    I would give it my best each day,
    with no end in sight,
    and no way out.
    It is called making meaning,
    what humans do best.
    Just me and my rock called Micky
    (For Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stone).


  85. 11/21/2020  —  Huntington Beach Sunrise 10 08/25/2015 — Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

    Denial, self-deception, illusion, delusion,
    diversion, distraction, deflection,
    and all their spin-offs
    and relatives,
    have gotten us this far.
    I’ll bet they keep us going.

    You can say what you want to
    about the high values,
    liberty, justice, compassion, peace…
    all the things we say we are living for.
    But we are living out of fear, desire, duty,
    and their extensions,
    guilt, anger, rage, hatred, greed, terror, dread…

    If you want to motivate someone,
    go for stirring things up
    in the areas of guilt, anger, rage, etc. area.
    Forget appealing to their “higher selves.”

    Donald Trump is a case in point.
    He got 70 million people to vote for him
    on that basis.
    And the 73, or so, million who voted against him?
    Most of them acted out of the same motivation,
    only directed against him.
    Everybody voted their fear and rage.

    So don’t give me
    the humanity is all justice and love
    at the heart ga ga.
    Humanity is out for itself at the heart,
    even though it has no idea of what that means.
    It thinks what it means
    is having what it wants
    and not having what it doesn’t want,
    and that is how it lives–
    toward having its way
    and avoiding all things not its way.

    And it doesn’t like the way that sounds,
    so it tricks itself with words
    that conceal its intentions and desires.
    Telling ourselves what we want to hear
    is what we do best.
    Or is it shooting ourselves in the foot?
    Perhaps, they are the same.

    If you don’t want to be that way,
    you will be working against the grain,
    swimming against the current,
    like up Niagara Falls,
    but, you could begin by looking in the mirror
    until you see who is looking back.

    Self-transparency is the foundation
    of a super-human life,
    the life of a Real Human Being.
    Just looking until we see.
    Just listening until we hear.
    Just inquiring until we know.
    And letting nature take its course.

    Nature does what needs to be done
    without looking back
    in each situation as it arises,
    not kidding itself.

    Nature doesn’t operate
    out of fear, desire, duty.
    Nature is fearless,
    desire-less,
    duty free.

    Think lemmings and the sea.

    Nature does what is called for
    without knowing why,
    or caring about what the gain is.
    And it doesn’t take more than it needs.
    Or ask for more than it has a right to.
    And trusts it all to be just fine
    some how.

    The difference between us and nature
    is that we have a bigger brain
    and can foresee the future,
    and think we can avoid aspects of it
    and guarantee other aspects of it,
    and are future-bound.

    And we can remember the past
    want to avoid certain aspects of it
    and guarantee other aspects of it,
    and are past-bound.

    And that plays hell with the present.

    But here we are.

    Now what?

    I’m just going to see what the next moment
    calls for and strive to do it,
    with all things considered,
    insofar as that is possible,
    and see where it goes,
    and let that inform what I do
    in the next moment,
    for all the moments that remain
    in my life.

    And hope for the best.
    Whatever that may be.


  86. 11/21/2020  —  Lake Chicot 06 10/27/2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    We are riding a black horse
    bareback on a dark night
    in the pouring rain
    down a steep trail.

    Our place is to stay on the horse,
    and not try to tell her what to do.

    I recommend leaning forward,
    with your cheek on her neck
    and your hands extended down
    toward her shoulders
    and your knees pressing into
    her sides,
    and letting her find the way.

    Keep that image/metaphor
    in mind
    as you step into each day.

    And bring it up into consciousness
    when you encounter
    turns of events you don’t expect,
    and news you can’t handle.

    We are riding a black horse
    on a dark night
    in the pouring rain
    down a steep trail.


  87. 11/21/2020  —  Adams Mill Pond B&W 53 11/10/2014 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    We have to be right about what’s important.
    Everything rides on it.
    But how can we be right about what’s important?
    By being wrong, wrong, wrong
    with our eyes open.

    Getting it right the first time
    is an accident.
    Getting it right twice in a row
    just starting out
    is stupid lucky.
    Getting it right every time
    is unheard of.

    We have to get it right every time.
    We get there the hard way.
    By being aware of what we are doing.
    Nobody can tell us how to be right.
    We figure it out for ourselves.

    Books are no help.
    Recipes are useless.
    Experience is the only teacher,
    and we have to be the willing student.

    The way to make really good soup,
    let’s say, chicken noodle,
    is by making a lot of really bad
    chicken noodle soup.
    And learning as we go.

    We learn what’s important the same way.
    How do we know what’s important?
    By trying out all of the likely candidates
    and seeing how it works.

    We experiment our way through the options.
    “That’s not it!”
    “That’s not it!”
    “That’s not it!”
    “Nope.”
    “Nope.”
    “Nope.”
    All the way down the line.
    Learning how to see what we look at,
    how to evaluate what we see,
    how to know what’s what.
    Until, bingo, there it is!

    And when we know “There it is!”,
    we know it.
    And when we know it,
    nothing can talk us out of it.
    It is important because
    we know it is important.
    Because we say so.

    And we will go to hell for it,
    if need be.
    Because it matters most.

    What will you go to hell for?
    When you can answer that question,
    you know you have something
    to hang on to.

    Hang on to it,
    and serve it with your life!


  88. 11/22/2020  —  Sun Beams 02 09/02/2014 — Water Rock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley, North Carolina

    If everyone would sit still
    and be quiet
    until The Shift happened
    the world would be instantly transformed.

    Shift happens.
    It happens regularly throughout our life.
    But we cannot schedule it.
    It doesn’t happen when it is convenient.
    It doesn’t happen at the same time
    for anyone,
    much less for everyone.
    It can be assumed,
    and even expected,
    and looked forward to,
    but it cannot be predicted,
    and if it is controlled,
    it is artificial,
    and cannot be relied upon
    to be as dependable
    and trustworthy
    as the real thing.

    When The Shift happens,
    our life “clicks” into place,
    and things take shape around that.

    We know what is important,
    see what needs to happen,
    hear what is being called for
    in each situation as it happens,
    and live in the service
    of our destiny
    in responding spontaneously
    to the need of the moment
    in each situation as it arises,
    with sincerity and non-contrivance,
    compassion and acceptance,
    balance and harmony,
    day-in and day-out,
    all our life long.

    This is the attitude,
    and the approach to life,
    that changes the world.

    And it arises on it own
    out of the stillness
    of the silence.


  89. 11/22/2020  —  Wood Duck 02 05/15/2014 — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    We are here to serve our destiny–
    to be who we are,
    naturally,
    spontaneously,
    doing what is ours to do,
    without contriving to have our way,
    or to get what we want,
    or to turn things to our
    benefit,
    profit,
    gain
    or advantage–
    just to be who we are
    and do what is ours to do
    for no other reason than because
    that is who we are
    and that is what is ours to do.
    Period.

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

    Our destiny is the rough equivalent
    of a caste system,
    the only difference being
    that no one can tell us what
    our destiny is
    by virtue of the circumstances
    of our birth.

    No one can tell us what our destiny is.
    That is ours only to know
    for ourselves.

    Only I know what is “me.”
    And “not-me.”
    Only you know what is “you.”
    And “not-you.”

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “We know when we are on the beam,
    and when we are off of it.”

    We know what is ours to do
    when we see it.
    We know it is talking to us
    when it calls our name.

    Of course, most of us have other ideas.
    We have our preferences
    and our dreams for our life.
    The trouble is that our life
    probably has other ideas for us.

    This gets us to the heart of,
    “Not my will, but thine, be done!”
    Our life’s will for us
    can be like a crucifixion,
    a self-sacrifice,
    acquiescence,
    surrender,
    submission,
    death,
    dying
    to our wants/wishes for ourselves
    in swearing filial allegiance
    and liege loyalty to our destiny
    and our life’s will for us.

    This is the story of the Garden of Eden
    and the Garden of Gethsemane.
    Who is the final authority
    determining how our life is to be lived?
    Is it us?
    Or our life, our destiny?

    Our answer to that question
    determines everything that follows.


  90. 11/22/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail to Carolina Thread Trail Connector Trail 01 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    What are the things keeping us
    from being the person we are capable
    of being,
    doing the things we are capable
    of getting done?

    Really–what is holding us back?
    Standing in our way?
    If it weren’t for what,
    we would be doing what?

    Sit quietly with those things
    in your lap.

    Meditate on those things.
    Contemplate those things.
    See what stirs to life in so doing.
    See what comes to light.
    See where you are being led,
    and don’t fail to go
    where you are being directed.

    Your life needs you to live it
    the way it needs to be lived.
    To serve your destiny.
    To be who you were born to be.
    In each situation as it arises
    all your life long.

    Beginning right here right now.


  91. 11/23/2020  —  Reeds at Sunset 05/27/2012 — Abbot Lake, Peaks of Otter Lodge, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virginia

    “I believe, help, thou, my unbelief!”
    Means, “I know who I need to be,
    help me be who I am!”
    Means, “I have the mental part down!
    Help me incarnate that in my life!”
    Means, “I know what needs to be done!
    Help me do it!”

    “In each situation as it arises!
    All my life long!”

    We live to put it into action.
    We live to live the truth of who we are
    in the midst of the 10,000 things.
    In the whirling Dust of the World.
    Amid the heaving waves of the wine-dark sea.

    If you think that is easy,
    back it out of the drive way
    and take it round the block
    a time or two.

    It takes focus,
    clarity,
    concentration,
    dedication,
    stillness
    and silence,
    and practice, practice, practice
    to live without contrivance,
    with sincerity,
    spontaneity,
    compassion,
    awareness,
    balance,
    harmony,
    acceptance of–
    and compliance with–
    how things are
    and what needs to be done about it
    in each situation as it arises,
    throughout our life.

    But.
    Once we get that down,
    it is clear sailing
    all the way.


  92. 11/23/2020  —  Crepe Myrtle 02 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    It takes returning regularly
    to stillness and silence
    in maintaining our connection
    with the center
    and the Source–
    with the Mystery at the heart
    of life and being.

    When we lose that connection,
    we are on our own,
    without guardrails or guidance,
    lost in the wasteland
    of fear/desire/duty,
    with nothing to stabilize
    or orient us
    beyond the next thing to want,
    and all the things to hate,
    despise,
    loathe
    and detest
    to keep us going.

    Groundless living
    is drifting–
    free-falling–
    through our life,
    hoping to find something
    to make it worthwhile,
    and settling for one addiction
    after another
    as an acceptable substitute
    for being alive.

    All the time ignoring
    the life that is “right there,”
    “right here,”
    waiting to be recognized,
    acknowledged,
    embraced
    and engaged.

    Like the man holding the butter,
    looking for the butter.
    Like the woman with her glasses
    on her head asking,
    “Has anybody seen my glasses?”
    We walk past our life,
    through our life,
    seeking our life,
    when all it takes is stopping,
    seeing what we are looking at,
    hearing what we are listening to,
    knowing what we know
    and doing what needs to be done
    about it.


  93. 11/23/2020  —  Sourwood 05 11/04/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    We are to live out of the center of who we are–
    “Like a wheel turning out of its own center,”
    (Friedrich Nietzsche).

    In order to do that,
    we have to spend time
    nurturing
    and nourishing
    our relationship
    with our center.

    Our center is the contact point with
    our original nature,
    our natural rhythms,
    and the Source–
    the Mystery at the Heart
    of Life and Being.

    It is no light thing
    to return to the center!

    And it is an absolute essential thing
    to live from there!

    At the center,
    there is stillness and silence
    and a perceptible, though faint,
    sense of “AUM” in the air.
    And we know we have what we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in each moment,
    moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation,
    day-by-day,
    throughout our life
    and beyond.

    Return regularly to the center,
    and everything will fall into place
    around that.

    We have to understand, however,
    that “falling into place”
    doesn’t mean “having our way.”

    We will have to adjust
    our expectations,
    aspirations
    and ambitions
    to align them with the center’s aims,
    and our destiny’s interests,
    which is necessary to turn things around
    and create the framework
    for a life lived from the center,
    transforming all things.


  94. 11/24/2020  —  Ghost Trees of Graveyard Beach 01 08/21/2015 — From my Skeleton Trees Collection–This is a blended image with the Ghost Tree from Botany Bay Heritage Wildlife Preserve and the beach scene from Huntington Beach State Park, both in South Carolina

    A Community of Innocence
    is a group of 3 to 5 people
    who come together
    with no agenda,
    and nothing at stake in each other,
    beyond serving as a
    sounding board
    for one another
    in helping everyone in the group
    find their life,
    and live it
    with allegiance to
    their individual destiny,
    through establishing
    their contact with,
    and living from,
    their own center
    by way of self-transparency
    and awareness,
    mindfully exhibiting
    sincerity,
    non-contrivance,
    balance,
    harmony,
    and spontaneity
    in response
    to what is happening,
    and what needs to be done in response,
    in each situation as it arises.

    We do not live
    to answer the question,
    “What do I want to get from my life?”
    Or,
    “What am I getting from my life?”
    But,
    “What do I have to offer my life
    and the situations that comprise my life,
    out of the gifts I have to share,
    for the good of the situations as a whole?”
    And,
    “How can I best live from my center
    in serving my destiny
    and my essence,
    by being true to my original nature
    and my natural rhythms,
    situation-by-situation?”

    Our Communities of Innocence
    (And we can have as many
    as we can fit into our life)
    listen us into hearing what we have to say,
    and offer a regular reminder
    of the importance of finding
    a place for stillness
    and silence
    in each day
    for self-reflection,
    examination,
    exploration
    and realization
    in order to know what we know
    and what is being called for
    in the here and now
    of our living.

    That is all we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs to be done
    in the times and places
    of our living.

    And no one can do
    more than that.

  95. 11/24/2020  —  12-Mile Creek 01 11/07/2020 — Union County, North Carolina, an iPhone Photo using the Spectre long exposure app

    Our way of living
    creates waves upon the surface of life,
    making it impossible
    for us to see into the depths
    in order to perceive
    the truth of our essence,
    and live out of our original nature
    and our natural rhythms,
    in meeting the requirements
    of the here and now
    as we move through each day.

    In order to live out of the truth
    of our center
    within the time and place
    of our living,
    we have to make the concerted effort
    to stop at regular intervals
    throughout the day
    to remember our breathing
    and shift into self-realization,
    by sitting still and being quiet
    to calm the waves,
    allow the mud to settle,
    and clear the water
    to connect with the deep core
    of our being
    and the Source,
    the Mystery,
    at the heart of life.

    Being thus centered and grounded,
    we can step back into the moment
    as those capable of seeing
    what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response–
    what is being called for
    and how we can rise to the occasion
    with the gifts we have to offer,
    with sincerity and non-contrivance,
    in each situation as it arises.

    Transforming the world
    one situation at a time.


  96. 11/24/2020  —  Flooded Path 11/04/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, the path becomes a drainage system for the woods, carrying runoff down the hill to the sea every time we get 2.5-3 inches of rain within 3 hours. It has worked this way from the beginning.

    What is your predominant mood?

    What is your overriding feeling?

    What is the nature of your outlook?

    Of your viewpoint?

    Of your disposition?

    How does your body carry anxiety, anger, hopelessness, depression, grief, mourning, fear, worry, concern…?

    What is not working about your life?

    Where are your needs and expectations being disappointed?

    What is the nature of your betrayal?

    Where do you turn when you have nowhere to turn?

    When you know you are “on the beam,”
    what is the nature of the beam?
    What are you doing?

    What happens to knock you off “the beam”?

    What is the nature of your dissatisfaction?

    How would you go about changing
    what you tell yourself
    about what has happened/is happening
    in your life?

    How does your “narrative” need to be changed?

    Are you your own best friend?

    If you were your own best friend,
    what do you think you most need to hear?

    On a low to high scale of 1 to 10,
    how would you rate your response-ability
    to disappointment?
    to beauty?
    to good news?
    to bad news?
    to wonder?
    to excitement?
    to opportunity?
    to invitations?

    Questions for self-reflection.


  97. 11/25/2020  —  Goodale Mirror Panorama 01 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Freedom is not having anyone
    telling us what to do,
    what to like and not like,
    what to see
    and how to see it…

    We want to be free to choose,
    or not,
    all of that for ourselves.

    As if.

    We are not–not one of us is–
    free to choose what we like
    and don’t like,
    what we want
    and don’t want,
    how we see
    and how we don’t see,
    what is important
    and what does not matter at all…

    Anymore than we are free
    to choose our destiny,
    or how we will respond to it,
    or our taste in pizza,
    or when we will be in the mood for it,
    or any of our preferences
    and proclivities,
    or our interests
    and our lack of interests…

    We have no say in who we are,
    or how we are.

    “Free will”
    is such a hoax.
    We are not free to will anything
    other than what we will.

    “Freedom of choice”
    is another one.

    We are not free to choose our choices.

    We are not free to choose what we want.
    Or what we don’t want.

    We are not free to live
    anyway we please
    because we are not free
    to choose what pleases us
    and what does not.

    We are as bound to who we are
    and how we exhibit that in our life
    as a leopard is to its spots
    and a spider is to the web it spins.

    Enough of the free will myth!

    Stop trying to have your way
    and put your effort into
    having it not!

    Real freedom is walking away
    from your idea of you,
    and embracing the you
    that is calling you into its service!

    We get to choose our masters!
    It is the only choice we have!

    Who is guiding your boat
    on its path through the sea?

    What is the source of the good
    you call good?

    What is the essence of you
    that you are asked to exhibit,
    to incarnate,
    to serve with your life?

    Our quest is to know these things,
    to grow up against our will,
    and to be, at last,
    who we are–
    and have been
    since before we were born!


  98. 11/25/2020  —  Sweetgum Fall 11/24/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    My best advice has not changed over time:

    Sit still,
    be quiet,
    wait for the mud to settle
    and the water to clear.

    See what arises from the silence.
    What calls you to action.
    What compels you to act.

    What you do about it
    tells the tale
    that is waiting to be told.

    At this point,
    at every point,
    your future is entirely
    up to you.


  99. 11/25/2020  —  Fall Fern 11/24/2020 — Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    There is only knowing what your “thing” is,
    and doing it.
    Knowing what makes your little heart sing,
    and doing it.
    Knowing what is meaningful for you,
    and doing it.
    Knowing what you love,
    and doing it.

    How long as it been?
    How long will it be
    before you work it into your life?

    That is your life!

    The rest of your life
    consists of what all doing that leads to
    and what it takes to support
    your doing it.

    If your life is renting a horse
    and jumping obstacles,
    rent a horse and jump obstacles,
    and let everything else
    fall into place around that.

    Everything. Else.


  100. 11/25/2020  —  Trees Panorama 03 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    Boredom is not a call for
    “Action, any kind of action!”,
    but an invitation
    to sit still and be quiet.

    We are forever passing up silence
    for action–
    and therein lies the problem.

    “Action, any kind of action,”
    is distraction,
    diversion,
    addiction–
    addiction to noise,
    to distraction
    and diversion.

    We live for entertaining pastimes,
    and have no intention
    of meeting what meets us
    in the silence,
    and dealing with what must be dealt with,
    and doing what needs to be done.

    We live for the “action, any kind of action,”
    that keeps us going
    and saves us from the silence
    that requires us to face
    the truth of who we are
    and how it is with us.

    We don’t much like ourselves
    and do not enjoy our own company–
    and seek relief from
    all that is so unsatisfactory
    about us
    in “action, any kind of action!”

    Living is like dying,
    any way we look at it.
    Doing what it takes to be alive
    is like dying.
    And refusing to do what it takes
    to be alive
    is like dying.

    One way of dying comes with resurrection
    attached.
    The other way of dying is to be dead
    until we die.

    I say if we are going to die either way,
    we may as well get something out of it,
    and go with meeting ourselves in the Silence,
    and doing what is required to be alive.

    Even though it is like dying,
    it is the doorway to life.

    Being fully alive,
    with life pouring over
    spilling out,
    is “right there,”
    waiting for us to show up
    and say,
    “We’re looking for action,
    Can you help us with that?”














Published by jimwdollar

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

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