One Minute Monologues 061

November 26, 2020  —  December 29, 2020

  1.   11/26/2020  —  Abbott Lake 09/27/2011 — Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, Virginia

    What does thinking about sex
    keep us from thinking about
    if we weren’t thinking about sex?

    What will Artificial Intelligence
    think about
    when it progresses to the point
    of being self-replicating,
    self-reproducing?

    It seems (to me)
    that thinking about sex
    is our genes’ way
    of producing more genes.

    What is the equivalent
    of “producing more genes”
    from an AI perspective?

    It could be that the problem
    for the Mystery at the heart
    of Live and Being
    is keeping the experiment going.
    So, every living thing
    thinks about sex in its own way.

    And Life and Being follows
    a routine course over time,
    except for the occasional blips
    of novelty that make it interesting.

    Being interested is another
    problem for the Mystery.
    What keeps it going?
    What is the mystery for the Mystery?
    What does it think about.

    You can’t get away from the fact
    that the theological creation we call God
    cannot get us off its mind.
    God is consumed with,
    obsessed by its compulsion
    for us to do right by it.
    We drive God to distraction.
    It cannot think of anything else.
    “What are they doing now?”
    “What are they doing now?”
    “What are they doing now?”
    And writing it all down
    in the Book of Life.
    What a life that would be.

    What keeps AI going?
    What would keep us going
    if it weren’t for thinking about sex?
    (And having sex isn’t as important to us,
    as interesting to us,
    as thinking about having sex).

    What is there, other than sex,
    to think about?
    To be interested in?
    Can we think about it,
    be interested in it,
    without thinking there is something
    wrong with us
    for not thinking about sex all the time?

    The culture would have us think about sex
    all the time.
    Sex sells.
    Sex is good for the economy.
    Sex and money are the foundations
    of every culture there ever has been–
    and where does that line lie?
    The one between sex and money?

    Sex is money.
    Money is sex.
    What is money good for
    if not sex?
    What is sex good for
    if not more sex?
    What are we good for,
    if not thinking about sex?
    It is what we do best,
    isn’t it?
    It is certainly what we do most,
    isn’t it?
    What would we be doing
    if we weren’t thinking about sex
    or having sex?

    What will AI be doing with its time?


  2.   11/26/2020  —  Fall Leaves 39 11/24/20 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Genghis Khan said:
    “A man’s greatest pleasure is crushing his enemies.
    The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies,
    to chase them  before you,
    to rob them of their wealth,
    to take their horses,
    to see those dear to them  bathed in tears,
    to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”  

    Take his enemies,
    their wealth and horses,
    their wives and daughters
    away from him.
    Put him on an island
    with water to eat
    and fruit and vegetables to eat,
    and watch what happens to him.
    What does he do with his time?
    Forever?
    What would keep him going?

    What is your greatest pleasure?
    Your greatest happiness?
    What would you do without it?
    Without the hope of it?
    Without the possibility of it?
    What would keep you going?

    Blaise Pascal said,

    “All of humanity’s problems stem
    from (our) inability
    to sit quietly in a room alone.”

    What keeps us going,
    sitting quietly in a room alone?

    What makes it worth our time
    and effort?


  3.   11/26/2020  —  Sumac 03 11/10/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    It is difficult to know
    where Zen begins and Taoism stops,
    but.
    The concept of “turning the light around”
    is right there.

    Turning the light around means
    “Stop looking out there for what is in here!”
    The Buddha is not out there!
    The Way is not out there!
    The Christ is not out there!
    God in whatever religion is not out there!
    The Enemy is not out there!

    It is all in here!

    When Jesus said, “Love your enemy,”
    and when Paul said,
    “Wretched man that I am–
    who will deliver me
    from this body of death?”
    They were both talking about
    the enemy within,
    the one who sabotages
    our best intents and purposes.

    We do not will ourselves to perfection
    and holiness,
    deserving of the rewards of heaven
    and life-everlasting.

    We do not beat ourselves into submission,
    or punish ourselves into sinless living.
    “Love your enemy”
    is loving ourselves,
    and all that is within us
    that opposes our idea
    of who we ought to be.

    Turning the light around
    means receiving ourselves well,
    with compassion and grace,
    the good and the bad,
    like the Prodigal’s father
    welcoming him home.

    It is not by striving to be pure
    and sinless
    that we become whole and complete,
    but through compassionate,
    non-judgmental awareness
    and acceptance
    of all that we are
    and are capable of being–
    and by extending this welcoming,
    gracious, generous and kind
    receptivity
    to all others,
    we participate in the making
    of a miracle
    that transforms
    all of our relationships,
    by turning the light around.


  4.   11/26/2020  —  Fall Canopy 01 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    Is it easier to deceive yourself alone,
    or in a group?

    When I look around at
    the white supremacists,
    the NRA,
    the MAGA’s,
    the Qanon’s,
    the Roman Catholic Church,
    the Evangelical Christian churches,
    the Protestant Christian churches…
    the list is really, really, long…

    I think there is no safety in numbers,
    and the more people you have,
    the less likely it is
    that everyone is doing a clarity/fact/check
    on every statement
    that is being made,
    and that is, at least, a possibility
    for individuals in the solitude
    of their own recliner.

    Deception, delusion, illusion, being fooled
    are all tricks humans pull
    on themselves and one another.

    Avoiding them,
    or just recognizing them,
    is a life-long task.
    And, it is one that we have to recognize
    as being ours to undertake,
    and to know we are responsible for,
    and begin the work on constructing
    what is generally thought of as a
    “Bullshit Detector.”

    What goes into an industrial strength BSD?
    There are books,
    newsletters,
    YouTube videos
    and soon-to-be-surely hotlines
    and smart phone apps.

    We would be wise to start our own collection
    of methods to keep ourselves savvy
    and up on the latest aids to knowing what’s what
    that are available to those who want to know.

    It is hard enough staying on the path
    when the mud has settled
    and the water is clear.
    When the propaganda merchants are filling
    the air with waves of nonsense and idiocy,
    we have to filter everything we hear and see
    through micro-strainers
    to have a chance at a trustworthy interpretation
    of what is going on.

    Do everything you can to see what you look at,
    and understand what is being said.
    Everything depends on knowing what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response.

    Everything.


  5.   11/27/2020  —  Ghost Trees 02 08/21/2015 — A blended photograph with the Ghost Tree from the Anna Zagora Collection and the Beach Sunrise from Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina

    There is more to it than meets the eye.

    This is the grounding hope
    at the bottom of it all.

    Karma and Grace and the Tao
    are all a part of the More.

    Synchronicity and the magic
    of Timing,
    and the wonder of Flow,
    and whatever goes into setting
    one Time and Place apart
    from all other times and places,
    always and forever…

    There is Mystery at the Heart
    of Life and Being.

    Mystery that is to be trusted
    and relied upon
    past all logic and reason.

    To be aligned with the Mystery
    is to be on track,
    on the beam,
    at one with the moment
    and in touch with the Unknown
    and Unknowable–
    without being able to use it
    for our personal gain
    or benefit in any way.

    The Apostle Paul said it this way:
    “Have the same mind among you
    that you find in Jesus of Nazareth,
    who did not count equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
    but emptied himself
    and became faithful unto death,
    even death on a cross.”

    To live in this way is
    to be the Christ
    in each situation as it arises,
    in each moment of our living,
    by getting ourselves and our interests
    out of the way,
    and doing what needs to be done
    for no other reason than
    that it needs to be done,
    and having nothing to gain or lose
    because we are serving a Secret Purpose
    beyond sight and sound,
    and are glad to be spent in that service,
    knowing it is better and more
    than anything we could ever imagine.

    If you are going to take anything on faith,
    let it be this,
    and live in every moment
    as though it is so.


  6.   11/27/2020  —  Scum Panorama 01 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    We are ice dancing here.

    Dancing with our life,
    at one with the music
    no one can hear,
    to the flow of time and place
    and the wonder of everyone,
    ourselves most of all–
    for the glory of it,
    like a moth dancing with the flame,
    for the hell of it,
    for the joy of it,
    for the rapture of it,
    and the beauty of
    being in sync with the moment,
    having the time of our life.

    And, if not,
    why not?

    What are we waiting for?

    Step onto the ice,
    and dance!

    While you can!


  7.   11/26/2020  —  Boardwalk Panorama 10 10/25/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    Everything is a portal into mystery
    and unknowing.

    The Hindus, and before them,
    the Dravidians of the Indus Valley
    (2500 BCE – 1500 BCE)
    held that the world as always been
    just as it is.

    And always means always to them.
    It means there has never been a time
    when the cosmos was not.

    No beginning, no ending–
    like the tides on the seas.
    The tide comes in
    and the tide goes out,
    and between coming and going,
    the tide turns around.
    So it is with the universe,
    coming and going always.

    It is a different way of looking at things.

    We think of the creating event
    as the Big Bang.
    Before then there was only tiny bits
    of matter coalescing over a long
    period of time.

    We do not ask,
    “How many Big Bangs have there been?”
    We think in terms on only one.
    Why only one?
    Before that one, what?

    Those of us in the Christian West,
    like to think there is only one God
    who has always been.
    We do not ask,
    “Before God, what?”
    or, “Where did God come from?”
    We grant eternal and everlasting existence
    to God.

    Hindus grant it to the Cosmos.

    And it all is shrouded in mystery.
    We do not know where it all came from,
    or how we got here,
    or by what means there is something
    and not nothing.

    Our Sunday school teachers
    told us a nice, pat, little story
    that answers nothing.
    That creates more questions
    than it resolves.
    And leaves us stuck
    with not-knowing half
    of all there is to know,
    or even half of one millionth
    of one percent
    of all there is to know.

    We live in mystery.
    We swim in mystery.
    We are awash in mystery.
    And we don’t give it a thought.

    We should be staggered by the wonder
    of it all.
    And we spend our time
    complaining about the weather,
    or wondering where we can find
    a really good pizza.

    When everything is a portal into mystery
    and unknowing,
    and it is wasted on us.

    Absolutely wasted.


  8.   11/26/2020  —  Crepe Myrtle 08 11/27/2020 Panorama Detail — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    What is meaningful about your life?
    How often do you do it?
    How often would you need to do it
    to say without hesitation
    that you are living a meaningful life?
    A life that has meaning for you
    is the only meaningful life there is
    for you.

    If what do has meaning for 10,000 people,
    but now for you,
    how meaningful is that?
    You could still drink yourself
    into oblivion every night
    and feel that you had wasted your life
    because it was not fulfilling for you.

    And it is not self-indulgent to live
    in the service of our highest/deepest
    enthusiasm, “it is vital,”
    as Diane Osbon has said.

    Do not merely think about
    what is meaningful to you–
    do it–as often as possible,
    for as long as possible!

    Make it your thing
    to do your thing,
    as often as possible,
    for as long as possible,
    throughout what remains
    of the time left for living!


  9.   11/28/2020  —  Lake Chicot 03 09/27/2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    Everything is moving
    all the time.

    The only still point in the entire cosmos
    is at the very center of ourselves.

    Finding the core of who we are–
    “the face that was ours
    before our parents were born”–
    the qualities,
    character,
    virtues/characteristics,
    proclivities/interests/enthusiasms
    gifts,
    genius,
    spirit/life/vitality
    that are as our fingerprints
    and the cones of our irises,
    unique among all humans
    who have ever lived,
    or will ever live,
    and living out of our individuality
    in ways that incarnate,
    express,
    exhibit,
    and make plain
    the person we are
    in the way we live our life
    is the Opus we are here to compose,
    orchestrate
    and bring forth
    in the time and place of our living.

    How are you coming along with that?

    What would help you with your work?


  10.   11/28/2020  —  The Light at the Edge of the Woods 11/04/2020 — 22-Acre W00ds, Indian Land, South Carolina, an iPhone Photo

    If our heart isn’t in what we are doing,
    it shows.
    We can’t fake heart.
    Better that we listen to heart–
    and do what heart says do,
    and not do what heart says don’t do.
    We make our biggest mistakes
    not listening to heart.
    Or confusing heart with Eros,
    and waking up in some version
    of the Wasteland,
    wondering how we got there.

    Well.

    It is too bad we aren’t born
    with experience.
    Because it takes listening with experience
    to know what we are hearing.

    But no one is keeping score,
    and it doesn’t matter how long it takes,
    and all it takes is waking up,
    and all waking up takes is experience,
    so, what’s the problem?

    There is no problem!

    Live on! Live on!


  11.   11/29/2020  —  Redwing Blackbird Panorama o5/21/2019 — Savanna National Wildlife Refuge, Hardeeville, South Carolina

    The moment we have something at stake
    in a situation,
    or a relationship,
    a disturbance is created in the flow,
    and we are living with our self-interest
    at heart
    and not the interest of the situation,
    or the relationship.

    Then we are in a “Get My Way At All Costs”
    mode of operating
    and the true good of ourselves,
    the other person,
    or the situation as a whole
    goes out the window.

    Getting our way is not always
    what the time and place of our living
    is calling for.
    And, even if it is what is called for,
    it still creates a disturbance in the flow
    by virtue of putting us in the position
    of calculating where to draw the line–
    where does what is good for us
    become what is bad for us,
    in terms of the price we are willing to pay
    to have our way.

    There is no price we will not pay
    when serving the good of the situation as a whole.

    Men/women sacrificing themselves
    on fields of battle,
    are examples of people paying the ultimate price
    for the good of others.

    Jesus died in service to his cause
    as a model to all his followers
    of what was to be/is to be
    expected of them in their service
    to the same cause–
    that is to say, “The truth of what
    matters most in any situation.”

    This is the “Love of Fate”
    put forth by Fredrich Nietzsche
    as the ideal way of embracing
    one’s circumstances with a bold, “Yea!”
    and letting nothing stop us from doing
    “what we are here for”
    in the places with the worst likely outcome.
    Or of “participating in the suffering
    of another to such a degree,
    that we forget ourselves
    and our own safety
    and spontaneously do what is necessary”
    (Joseph Campbell)–
    “in service to the truth
    of what matters most
    in any situation.”

    Our life is always moving toward our death.
    “The Secret Cause” (James Joyce)–
    that is, what we are living in the service of–
    directs our steps toward our final breath.
    And, through 10,000 psychological/emotional deaths
    at every transition point
    (where we are asked to “grow up some more again”
    all along the way),
    “dying to our idea of how things ought to be
    in the service of how things actually need to be.”

    The trick is to die the deaths that lead
    to new births
    and not dying the deaths that
    just lead to our being dead.

    That is living in the flow of our life
    all the way to our last breath.


  12. 11/29/2020  —  Country Cemetery 10/05/2015 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    What pulls you off course?
    What attachment is stronger than
    the call from your center
    for expression and service?

    If we are not going to live
    to incarnate
    what is deepest,
    truest
    and best about us,
    what are we getting that will
    offset that betrayal?

    The story of the Garden of Eden
    is the story of the betrayal
    of our center.
    The story of the Garden of Gethsemane
    is the story of faithful loyalty
    to our Center.
    Both stories are about our dying.
    Only one is about our being restored to life.

    Our center is the source of life.
    It is our vital core
    of life and being.
    When we live from the center,
    we are as alive as we can be.

    When we fail to guard the center,
    and live to serve some other promise
    of gain,
    delight
    and well-being,
    we choose a path that leads
    directly to the depths of the wasteland.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “The crucial thing to live for
    is the sense of life in what you are doing,
    and if that is not there,
    then you are living according to
    someone else’s notion
    of how life should be lived.”

    And, “I know that I am on track
    when everything is in a harmonious
    relationship with what I regard as the best
    I have in me.”

    When we sacrifice our best
    on the altar of our wants and desires,
    we sell ourselves for the equivalent
    of glass beads and silver mirrors.


  13. 11/30/2020  —  Katahdin Range Panorama 09/26/2010 — Sandy Stream Pond, Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine

    I dreamed last night–
    or was it a vision–
    that some place in the world
    had been cordoned off because
    a strain of COVID-19 had been discovered
    that is 25 times more deadly than
    the original version,
    and all known vaccines
    are useless against it.

    Whether it is real or not
    is not the question.
    The potential exists
    no matter how unlikely.
    Our mindset worldwide
    leaves us vulnerable
    and reduces our chances,
    regardless of what
    those chances are.

    A mindset is something
    we can do something about.

    Let’s divide mindsets between
    Stupid and Savvy.

    Stupid wears a MAGA hat
    and refuses to wear a mask.
    Savvy does the reverse.

    But, Asymptomatic people
    belong to both groups,
    and skew the profiles

    Plus, all Stupid people will not get the virus
    and all Savvy people will not avoid it.

    After the mud settles
    and the water clears,
    there will probably be
    about the same percentage of Stupid
    and Savvy in the world
    as before.
    And the vulnerability of Savvy people
    will be about what it was before.

    But.

    Everyone can increase their chances
    at a long,
    centered,
    balanced
    and harmonious life
    (Probably forgetting for some time
    happy, joyous, carefree and giddy)
    by learning to be mindfully aware
    and self-transparent.

    Jon Kabat-Zinn’s YouTube videos
    (The shortest ones first)
    are a helpful path
    to both those outcomes,
    which is really one thing,
    Mindfully-Aware-Self-Transparency.

    If it takes a pandemic
    to ground us forever in
    Mindfully-Aware-Self-Transparency,
    it is our own stupid fault.


  14. 11/30/2020  —  Lake Chicot 05 10/27/2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    “All things work together for good
    for those (who are on the beam).”

    Being on the beam is the key factor
    in a life well-lived.

    Beyond that,
    there is no advantage whatsoever
    to being on the beam.
    Staying on the beam
    under those circumstances
    is the true test
    of our resiliency and willful determination
    to be faithful and loyal
    liege servants of our destiny.

    Our relationship with our destiny
    is the central point
    around which everything coalesces.
    Living aligned with our destiny
    means one thing for us,
    and living at odds with our destiny
    means another.

    Here is the interesting thing:
    Either way,
    it is all the same with our destiny.
    Our destiny is such
    that it can use whatever we bring it
    to realize itself through us.

    It goes better for us
    in terms of our peace of mind
    and our being true to ourselves,
    living from our center
    and grounded in what matters most,
    whose life is a blessing and a grace
    upon all who come our way,
    but we are only going to be able
    to count on having what we need
    to do what needs to be done.

    Extravagance and indulgence are not
    going to characterize our life,
    and there will be days
    when we have to talk ourselves into
    getting out of bed
    and doing the thing that calls our name.

    It comes down to sacrificing ourselves,
    again and again,
    in the service of our destiny,
    doing what is ours to do,
    the way it should be done,
    when it should be done,
    as best we can
    for as long as we are able–
    with compassion and sincerity,
    and without contrivance or exploitation.

    Once contrivance and exploitation,
    personal gain and advantage,
    enter the situation,
    the flow is destroyed
    and we are on our own.

    When we walk away from the beam
    to serve our own purposes,
    we die in a wasteland of our own making
    every time.


  15. 11/30/2020  —  Fall Leaves 02 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Our mythology consists of the things
    we tell ourselves
    to adjust ourselves to the world,
    to life as it is,
    to the way things are.

    What do you turn to
    when you have nowhere to turn?
    What do you say to yourself
    about your losses and your sorrows?
    How do you find your way forward?

    What are the stories?
    The pep talks?
    The the slogans and mottoes?
    The mantras and the sayings?

    There is a world of things
    we turn to
    when this world flattens us,
    overwhelms us,
    disappoints us…

    We talk ourselves back to life,
    back to functioning.
    What do we say?
    That is our mythology.

    Our mythology is a collection of metaphors
    that help us make sense of things
    and find meaning in what happens
    or fails to happen.

    Scraps of songs,
    pieces of poetry,
    movie lines,
    inspirational quotes,
    stories of the heroes of the past,
    baseball quips…
    all come together in the moment
    and what needs to be done about it,
    in response to it
    and help us find our bearings,
    get our feet under us,
    stand up and make our way.

    What is our grounding mythology?
    When we identify it,
    we can consciously amend it,
    elaborate it,
    add to it,
    improve it,
    perfect it,
    shape it,
    form it
    and formally make it out own–
    and be better prepared
    to meet what is coming,
    and find our way through
    whatever is waiting around
    the next curve in the road,
    and the one after that.


  16. 12/01/2020  —  Koi Pond 01 05/24/2018 –Pike Nursery, Charlotte, North Carolina, from my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    Everything serves our destiny.

    It helps to tell ourselves that,
    no matter what happens.

    The things we don’t think we need,
    the things we don’t want,
    the things we hate with all our heart,
    not to mention our mind,
    our soul,
    our strength,
    our essence
    and our convenience,
    are serving our destiny,
    as surely as the things that please us
    to no end,
    stoke our gladness
    delight our mothers
    and fill our fathers with pride
    are.

    The question is:
    How are we going to respond to them?
    What are we going to do with them?
    Are we going to see them–
    understand them,
    interpret them–
    in ways that shift us
    off the Me And What I Want Track,
    and put us squarely in the center
    of My Destiny And How I Need To
    Align Myself With It Track?

    If everything that happens
    is serving our destiny,
    but we aren’t,
    we have a problem.

    And our destiny has a problem.

    Our destiny’s only problem ever
    is getting our whole-hearted cooperation.

    If we aren’t living intentionally,
    deliberately,
    consciously
    in the moment-to-moment,
    situation-by-situation,
    day-by-day
    service of our destiny,
    we are striving uselessly
    to heave our own ideas for our life
    into place
    in order to live happily ever after.

    And creating hell for ourselves
    and everyone we know.

    We are swimming against the current,
    spitting into the wind,
    digging holes in solid granite,
    and free-falling into the void
    through one wasteland after another.

    Not so smart.

    Everything that happens to us
    serves our destiny
    by trying to wake us up.

    And it is going to keep
    trying to wake us up
    until we die.

    We can wake up or not.
    It is up to us.

    If we think maybe waking up
    might be a good idea,
    we start the work of waking up
    by asking ourselves,
    What is my life trying to tell me?
    And all of the questions
    that question stirs to life.

    Asking all of the questions
    that beg to be asked
    leads us to seeing things
    in ways we have never seen them before.

    And seeing things differently
    opens doors we never knew were there.
    And sooner than you may imagine,
    we find ourselves in the middle
    of the Promised Land,
    listening for what is being called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    without trying to impose our will
    for the situation on the situation,
    but looking for how we can be helpful
    in ways that need what we have to offer,
    situation-by-situation,
    moment-by-moment,
    throughout the time left for living.

    And our destiny takes care of itself.
    In a thoroughly magical,
    marvelous,
    mysterious,
    miraculous kind of way.

    Without us every doing anything more
    than what needs us to do it
    here and now
    kind of way.


  17. 12/01/2020  —  Eagle Cliff Falls Panorama 09/20/2015 — Montour Falls, New York

    What are your gifts?
    What do you do with them?

    That is all you need to know.
    What your gifts are,
    and what to do with them.

    Then it is just a matter of doing
    what needs to be done
    with the gifts that are yours to share.


  18. 12/01/2020  —  Mute Swans 02 08/16/2019 — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina

    It comes down to attitude.
    Outlook.
    Viewpoint.
    Perception.
    Perspective.

    How we look limits what we see,
    casts what we see
    in a favorable or unfavorable light,
    tilts the table for or against,
    pro or con,
    my way or the highway.

    We tend to see in ways
    that favor what we favor
    and disfavor what we disfavor.

    We are how we look
    at what we see.

    Tell me what you see and how you see it
    and I will tell you who you are.

    So, start with a mirror,
    looking at you.
    What memories come to mind
    that cant you in a particular direction
    with regard to yourself.

    You remember the things
    that justify your view of things.
    That justify your view of you.

    When I ask you to “look at all there is
    about you,”
    you won’t scratch the surface.
    You will look at all the things
    you always see about you.
    You cannot see any of the things
    that do not support your view of yourself.

    The same thing applies to your view
    of everything and everyone in your life.
    You cannot see them for all of the things
    you already see about them
    that get in your way of seeing
    all there is to see.

    You cannot see all there is to see
    about anything.

    You see only your viewpoint,
    your perspective,
    your perception,
    your attitude,
    about everything you look at.
    Which prejudices your outlook.

    Now listen to me:
    We have to get beyond how we see things!
    We have to get ourselves out of the way!
    We have to look at everything
    as though we are seeing it
    for the first time!

    Here’s the way to do that:
    Draw a mental frame around everything
    you look at.
    Set it apart from everything else.
    Memories, impressions, ideas, presumptions,
    assumptions, inferences, what you know
    and what you think you know…
    Filter all of it out,
    so that it is just you looking at
    what is in the frame
    as though you have never seen it,
    or anything like it,
    ever.

    Sit or stand before it in the silence
    of compassionate presence
    and allow it to show you who
    and what it is.

    Allow it to transition from “it”
    to “Thou.”
    And go where you are being led.


  19. 12/02/2020  —  Adams Mill Pond Mirror 01 11/10/2014 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Ours is the most neurotic generation in history.
    I say that based on the central place
    of money and addiction worldwide.

    Money and addiction are substitutes
    for a viable, vital, vibrant and alive center.
    We have no center,
    no core,
    no adamantine rock-solid foundation
    upon which to stand,
    immovable,
    confident,
    secure,
    stable,
    balanced and harmonious
    in the face of the clashing rocks
    and heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea
    that constitute our life.

    And so, the attraction of certitude
    of any kind.
    We will follow anyone who knows
    what they are talking about.
    And so, Qanon and Donald Trump.

    The theme song of our age
    is “The Paradox of Needy”:
    I’m so needy!
    I HATE being needy!
    And I need to be needed
    by someone who needs me
    to need them too!
    But I’ll hate them if they do!

    All neurosis is a box
    with no center
    and no door,
    and no floor.
    A square black hole.
    A womb with no due date.
    With money and addiction,
    lights and action
    to take our mind
    off free-falling
    through endless neediness
    and a life that has no meaning.

    What’s the solution?
    Waking up.
    Bearing the pain, laughing.
    Knowing there is no fixing any of it
    only dancing with all of it,
    for what?
    We do not know!

    Shoulder uncertainty!
    Tolerate anxiety!
    Trust the unknown and unknowable!
    Dance with the darkness!
    Play with terror and with fear!

    Native Americans would tell their children
    as they left home to find their way in the world,
    “When you get out of sight of this place,
    you will enter the land of darkness and doubt,
    and you will come to a chasm.
    When you do, JUMP!
    It is not as far as it seems.”

    Neurosis is refusing to jump.
    And takes everything more seriously
    that it deserves.


  20. 12/02/2020  —  Om Mani 05 — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection

    Joseph Campbell emphasizes the importance
    of creating a sacred space
    as a place to retreat
    from the world of normal, apparent, reality–
    in order to return to the center,
    amid the things that are central
    to “the harmonization of your own life.”

    A sacred space is a decompression zone,
    where we return to ourselves
    and know the joy and peace
    of being sealed off
    and at one with meaningful items
    that help us find our way.

    Campbell says, “You must have a sealing-off
    place for yourself whenever you need it–
    it is an absolute necessity
    if you are going to have an inner life.”

    We need a play room where what we do
    does not have to have any significance
    beyond doing it.
    Where we can play a drum,
    or read a book that goes nowhere,
    or listen to music that we love,
    or sit looking out a window.

    We need a place where our heart and soul
    can come alive,
    and we can come alive to them,
    and join together
    in the joy and wonder of being alive.


  21. 12/03/2020  —  Grayson Highlands Oil Paint Rendering — Grayson Highlands State Park, Mouth of Wilson. Virginia

    Each one of us
    is an embodiment
    of The Mystery
    at the heart
    of life and being.

    And it is our place–
    our role,
    our duty and responsibility–
    to consciously,
    mindfully,
    intentionally and willfully,
    incarnate The Mystery
    that is who we are.

    When Jesus said
    “The Father and I are one,”
    and when he prayed,
    “And may they all be one,
    even as we are one, Father,
    just as you are in me
    and I am in you,
    may they also be in us,”
    he is talking to The Mystery,
    calling it “Father,”
    as it is, indeed,
    the Source of life and being
    throughout the cosmos.

    We all carry within us The Mystery,
    the Father,
    and are called to exemplify
    the truth at the heart of who we are
    in everything we say and do.

    Jesus and the Buddha did that very well.
    So did Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller.
    As are Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift.

    Beautiful works of art, every one!

    And it is our place to join them
    as vehicles of, for and to The Mystery
    in the time left for living.

    How well we do that determines
    the extent to which
    we transform the world
    by living in each moment
    as conscious,
    mindful,
    intentional,
    willful
    extensions of The Mystery
    in the times and places of our living,
    moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation,
    by seeing what is called for
    and responding in ways fitting to the occasion
    with the gifts that are ours to share,
    sincerely and without contrivance,
    and nothing at stake in the outcome,
    all our life long.


  22. 12/03/2020  —  Angel Oak 11/14/2013 Black and White — Angel Oak Park, Johns Island, South Carolina

    This tree is doing all it can–
    doing its best–
    doing all it knows to do–
    with the resources at its disposal
    and the gifts that came with it
    from the acorn
    all those years ago,
    without wondering what’s in it for it,
    or thinking it isn’t good enough,
    or that it is something really special,
    or wishing it were a school bus,
    or a diesel locomotive,
    or…

    This tree is,
    as all trees are,
    just what it is:
    A tree thus come.

    Where it is,
    when it is,
    how it is,
    for as long as it is,
    as a blessing and a grace
    upon all who come its way,
    without striving to be more than it is,
    or something it is not.

    Trees know where to draw the line.

    They know the difference between
    trusting their luck,
    and pushing there luck,
    and live to see what they can do
    with what they have to work with
    in the time and place of their living.

    And they exhibit their original nature
    in everything they do.

    And are content to sincerely be who they are,
    with balance and harmony,
    through all the days of their life.


  23. 12/03/2020  —  Waiting for Breakfast 05/012019 — Bluff Lake, Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Oktibbeha County, Starkville, Mississippi

    The Dalai Lama, speaking about the Chinese occupation of Tibet, said:

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

    Some things have to play themselves out.

    A lynch mob, for instance,
    is not going to be talked out
    of doing what it came to do.

    Force is the only valid form of persuasion
    in situations like that.
    And “if this generation”
    lacks the wherewithal to force compliance
    with the rules of decency and order,
    “this process will continue.”

    And China remains,
    after all these years,
    in control of Tibet.

    We can wring our hands
    and wail,
    “Why doesn’t anyone DO SOMETHING?”
    but the “process will continue”
    until it plays itself out,
    or something shifts in the situation.

    The Republicans in Congress
    are the force
    that would put the country
    back on track.
    But, they demur.
    Look away.
    Feign shock and consternation.

    They disappear.
    And become Trump’s invisible means of support
    in the attack on democracy
    and the foundations of government.

    Without the force to compel compliance
    with customary norms and standards
    of behavior,
    the country is swept by the current
    of the times
    into the clashing rocks
    and heaving waves
    of the wine-dark sea.

    And as it is with Tibet,
    so it will be with the USA,
    without a miraculous intervention
    to disrupt “the process.”


  24. 12/04/2020  —  Maine Moon 09/21/2006 — Mt. Desert Island, Maine

    Compliance with this
    is non-compliance with that,
    and vice-versa.

    The only free choice we can make
    is the choice between masters.
    “Choose this day whom you will serve!”
    is all the freedom we are allowed.

    Not wearing a mask
    is not evidence of freedom,
    but of bondage.
    The people who do not wear a mask.
    cannot wear a mask.
    They lose standing in their
    most-cherished community if they do.
    What is the value of a community
    that binds us to stupidity
    and puts us in harm’s way?

    What is the value of anything
    that destroys our connection
    with our core
    and commands us to do
    what is contrary to our
    control center within?

    When Paul says,
    “It is no longer I who live,
    but the Christ who lives within me!”
    he is saying he is being directed
    by the Knower who knows better
    than he knows what is called for
    and what needs to be done about it.

    He is saying what Captain Jack Sparrow said,
    “It’s the pirate’s life for me, Gibbs.
    I have no say in the matter. Savvy?”

    We have no say in the matter of what matters to us.
    We have no say in the matter of what
    we would go to hell for.
    We have no say in the matter of what
    pulls us or chases us or haunts us or pleases us.

    We like what we like
    and don’t like what we don’t like,
    but we can’t choose what we like
    or don’t like
    any more than we can choose
    what we dream at night
    or what the next thing will be
    that catches our eye.

    Freedom is just another word
    for having nothing at all to say
    in all matters of grave importance,
    so we need to stop kidding ourselves
    about being free,
    and realize who we are bowing before
    and taking our orders from,
    and who is directing our boat
    on its path through the sea.


  25. 12/04/2020  —  Canyon Light 09/27/2005 — Grand Canyon, South Rim, Arizona

    Sit quietly,
    find the still point within
    between liking and not liking,
    thinking and not thinking,
    wanting and not wanting,
    fearing and not fearing,
    believing and not believing,
    needing and not needing,
    etc.

    And live from there
    in doing and not doing.


  26. 12/04/2020  —  Father Crawley Point – Star Wars Canyon – Rainbow Canyon — Death Valley National Park, Inyo, California

    It is not a matter of thinking,
    or believing.
    It is solely a matter of doing–
    of right doing–
    of aligning our life
    with what is being called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    and doing there what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    how it needs to be done,
    for as long as it needs to be done,
    and repeating that process
    in the next situation as it arises,
    and so on,
    throughout our life.

    You can think whatever you want.

    You can believe whatever you want.

    As long as it enables you
    to do what needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done,
    how it needs to be done,
    for as long as it needs to be done
    by doing what is called for
    in every situation
    that arises.

    Forget ethics.
    Forget morality.
    Forget duty.
    Forget what your mother told you.
    Forget what your father always said.
    Just focus on what is being called for,
    be right about it,
    and do what needs to be done,
    when and how,
    situation by situation.

    This is called
    “living in accord with the Tao.”

    It is also called
    “serving your destiny.”


  27. 12/04/2020  —  Lake Chicot 03/22/2015 10 — Cabin Rentals, Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    We owe our life
    liege loyalty,
    filial devotion
    and devoted service
    through all the times and places,
    contexts and circumstances
    of our days upon the earth.

    Adam and Eve failed to do this,
    and served their wants and desires,
    but Abraham, Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist,
    Ruth, Ester, and Mary the mother of Jesus,
    and Jesus, among many others,
    did it very well.

    Now, it is our turn.

    Our life is our destiny.
    To live our life
    with liege loyalty,
    filial devotion,
    and devoted service,
    is to embrace our destiny,
    and do what it calls us to do,
    regardless of the price,
    without any interest in
    what is in it for us,
    and no attempt to turn any moment
    to our advantage,
    gain,
    or benefit–immediate or eternal–
    but just doing what our life requires
    in the time and place of our living,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day
    our whole life long,
    for the joy of serving our life.

    To live this way
    is to live in accord with the Tao,
    and at one with our destiny.


  28. 12/05/2020  —  Wild Goose Island 09/24/2006 — St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

    People group together
    around their ideas
    of how things ought to be.
    Which is how they wish they were.
    Which has a somewhat tangential
    relationship with how things are.

    The more people in the group,
    the less agreement there is
    about pretty much everything.
    Unless the group doesn’t allow disagreement,
    or questions,
    or variations from the authority
    of those in control of the group.

    Insisting that everyone see things
    like the leaders see things
    is the grounding agreement
    for peace and harmony.
    The moment different opinions
    and points of view are permitted,
    it all goes to hell in a hurry.

    Democracy is doomed from the start.
    “Okay, we can all be free to live
    our own life with the same rights
    and privileges as everyone else,
    but we all have to agree
    that the majority rules.”

    And then we get Trump and the GOP
    suing to have an election overturned
    where the majority (by 7 million votes)
    voted him out of office.

    How are we going to make this work?

    “Good fences make good neighbors,”
    said Robert Frost.
    What I do on my side of the fence
    is my business,
    and what you do on your side of the fence
    is your business.
    I won’t mess with your life,
    and you don’t mess with mine.

    That would work except for the color
    of my skin,
    or my preference for a life partner,
    or my right to have an abortion,
    then somehow my business
    becomes your business.
    How does that happen?
    I’m on my side of the fence.
    What are you doing in my back yard?
    In my bedroom?
    How did my business become your business?

    How is it that I cannot trust you
    to abide by our common agreements?

    Freedom of religion
    means I am free from your religion.
    So, keep your religion to yourself
    on your side of the fence!

    We can live together
    only if you stay on your side of the fence!
    When people in democracy
    keep trying to impose their ideas
    of how other people ought to live their life
    on other people.
    there is no democracy.

    Democracy respects lines separating
    people and their business
    from other people and their business–
    and requires everyone to mind their own business.

    Sounds simple enough.


  29. 12/05/2020  —  Lake Chicot 04 03/22/2015 Panorama — Canoe/Kayak Launch, Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    Preferences without expectations or demands
    will go a long way toward peace, balance and harmony.

    But.

    This works only where there is
    mutual respect for,
    and commitment to,
    the common good.

    Where that is lacking,
    that is where the police
    and the military come in.

    Everything depends upon
    our ability to enforce compliance
    to the agreements that hold us together.

    Without the good faith participation of all
    in the creation and maintenance
    of an atmosphere/environment
    that respects/honors the rights
    of everyone to their rights to a life
    they find to be pleasing–
    without interfering with others’ rights
    to that kind of life for themselves–
    it all goes to hell in short order.

    We owe it to each other
    to care about the good of the other
    as much as we care about our own good.

    That is the basis of our life together.


  30. 12/06/2020  —  Magnolia 08 06/24/2009 — Greensboro, North Carolina

    Only dead people kill people.

    Every person who kills someone, anyone,
    should ask themselves:
    “In doing this,
    am I more like Jesus,
    or the people who killed Jesus?”

    Christians think Jesus is a Christian,
    and would be welcome in all their churches.
    All Christian churches think everyone is welcome.
    They say so on church signs.
    “All are welcome here!”
    “Everyone is welcome here!”
    Not so.
    What they don’t say is left unsaid but implied:
    “All are welcome here on our terms.”
    “Everyone is welcome here to be like we are.”

    The list of people who are not welcome
    in Christian Churches is long.

    Are gay people welcome
    to hold Gay Pride rallies
    and organize marches,
    and preach from the pulpit on Sunday morning
    in Christian Churches?

    Are members of Planned Parenthood welcome
    to hold Freedom of Choice rallies,
    to speak from the pulpit,
    and organize marches?

    Are Muslims welcome
    to preach from the pulpit on Sunday morning,
    hold prayer retreats
    and rallies,
    and organize marches,
    and talk about Palestinian rights?

    Transgender people…
    Black Lives Matter…
    Buddhists…
    The list is long of people
    not-welcome on church property.

    Yet, all Christian churches
    think Jesus would be welcome.

    They should devote a worship service
    once a month
    for silent contemplation
    of all the ways Jesus would not be welcome,
    and of all the things Jesus
    would not be welcome to say
    and do.

    And then consider, in light of that,
    are they more like Jesus,
    or the people who killed Jesus.


  31. 12/06/2020  —  Water Flower 09/02/2008 — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    A symbol’s value
    is its aliveness in the life
    of those embracing it.

    Symbols are alive for us
    when they connect us with transcendence,
    with the Numen,
    the Ineffable,
    the Indescribable,
    the Inexpressible…
    beyond themselves.

    We see through symbols
    when we look at symbols,
    and we never confuse the symbol
    with what it symbolizes,
    with what it stands as a reference to,
    with what it points to,
    suggests,
    reflects.

    A symbol–all symbols–is/are alive
    to the extent that it/they are metaphors
    for more than words can say.
    And everything is capable of being a symbol,
    a metaphor,
    for us when we see through it,
    past it,
    to what it “stands for” for us.

    A symbol is dead
    when it means just what it means
    and nothing more ever than what it means.

    God is a symbol.
    God is a metaphor.
    God is an idea that represents
    a transcendent reality
    that cannot be said,
    told,
    explained,
    described,
    clarified,
    expressed,
    defined
    or made plain.

    God is dead to the extent
    that God is limited
    to what can be said of God
    in the Bible,
    the creeds,
    the catechisms,
    the books of confession,
    and the books of doctrine
    that say who and what God is.
    And is not.

    God is more than we can ask,
    or say, or think, or believe.

    God is beyond all concepts,
    ideas, opinions, descriptions…

    The most truthful thing
    that can be said of God
    is “I do not know God.”

    As a symbol,
    God is “transparent to transcendence,”
    as all symbols are,
    in that we see through the symbol
    to what is beyond the symbol
    which cannot be said/told/defined/etc.

    We,
    you and I,
    are to live in ways
    that “express the inexpressible,”
    and “make known what which
    is more than words can say.”

    We,
    you and I,
    are to be symbols
    which are “transparent to transcendence,”
    so that we are “as close to The Mystery
    at the Heart of Life and Being,
    as some people get,”
    so that seeing The Mystery
    through us,
    they become present to The Mystery themselves,
    and live, as a symbol of The Mystery
    in the lives of others.

    And, thus, The Mystery
    comes alive in us all,
    and we all come alive in The Mystery,
    and know that at the very bottom of it all,
    we are One with The Mystery,
    “One with the Father,”
    One with each other
    and all people of all ages,
    and all sentient beings
    of all times and places,
    world without end, amen.


  32. 12/06/2020  —  Caroline Dormon Lodge 03/22/2015 — Chico Lake State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    The old Taoist saying,
    “Turn the light around,”
    says all we need to hear.

    It can be understood on different levels.
    Initially it was a directive
    to stop looking for illumination
    “out there,”
    in books,
    or lectures,
    or sutras,
    concepts,
    creeds,
    ideas,
    thinking,
    etc.
    and start looking for it
    “in here,”
    in realizations,
    recognition,
    intuition,
    insight,
    instinct,
    etc.

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “It is through reflection
    on our lived experience
    that we arrive at new realizations.”
    And on our dreams,
    and our conflicts and contradictions,
    etc.

    Any time we come up against a wall
    is a good time for reflection,
    and for listening.

    Nothing beats sitting quietly
    and listening
    for getting past the noise
    to the truth that is trying
    to break through to us.

    All we have to do is sit still
    and notice everything
    that arises unbidden within,
    until something comes up
    with a peculiar energy about it,
    different from all the other stuff,
    in a way that catches your attention
    and jolts you with
    a kind of “Here it is! Don’t miss this!”
    emphasis.

    Well, reflect on that.
    Turn it over.
    Walk around it.
    See what you can make of it.
    What is it asking of you?
    Take it for a spin.
    See where it goes.

    On the path to the Holy Grail,
    one thing leads to another.
    Start with the thing with energy,
    and it will lead you to something else
    with energy.
    Stay with the energy.
    With the life.
    With the interest and enthusiasm.
    With the joy and wonder.

    Trust those guides with your life,
    and be off
    on your next great adventure.


  33. 12/07/2020  —  Breakwater and Headlight B&W 10/02/2002 — Rockland, Maine

    There are two things to attend
    in every listening session
    with yourself,
    and with everyone else:
    What is being said,
    and
    What is talking.

    Both must be interpreted
    in light of the context and circumstances,
    and who is speaking,
    and who is listening.

    We cannot remove ourselves
    from any conversation
    or any relationship,
    and impact what is heard
    by the way we hear it.

    We have to take all of it
    into account,
    observing the situation
    and our place in it,
    moment-by-moment,
    situation-by-situation,
    day-by-day.

    Particularly what is talking.
    What is the emotional charge
    behind the words?
    Depression?
    Dismay?
    Hopelessness?
    Anxiety?
    Fear?
    Worry?
    Anger?
    Rage?
    Hatred?
    Defensiveness?
    Uncertainty?
    Unease?
    The push to prevail?
    The need to win?
    Etc.

    When you respond,
    speak to the emotion
    as much as to the words.

    Get to the bottom
    of the origin of the words.
    To the source
    of what is being said.

    Do not leave the source un-probed.

    Ask the questions that beg
    to be asked.
    Say the things that cry out
    to be said.

    Take your time between
    the statement
    and the reply.
    Allow yourself to process everything,
    including your emotional response
    to the statement,
    and speak from your own center,
    from the source of your own propulsion,
    from the still point
    between action and reaction–
    the still point between thoughts.
    Between feelings.

    And make it your highest priority
    to nurture your relationship
    with the still point
    through all the days
    of your life.


  34. 12/07/2020  —  Lake Chicot 10/27/2015 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    Sit down,
    be quiet,
    watch your thoughts,
    watch your response to your thoughts,
    distance yourself from your thoughts,
    observe by being aware
    of being aware,
    without judgment or opinion,
    with compassion and non-contrivance,
    not striving for anything
    but awareness of everything.

    If the things that arise
    become overwhelming,
    return your attention
    to your breathing.

    Breathe slowly, deeply,
    pausing between exhale and inhale
    for a count of five.
    After five breaths,
    resume your observation
    of thoughts arising in the silence.

    For twenty minutes,
    or for as close to that
    as your schedule allows.
    Do this three times a day,
    as your life permits.


  35. 12/07/2020  —  Beech Tree Panorama 11/27/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    The moment is where we come alive.
    What is blocking our life-in-the-moment?
    What is happening there
    that keeps us from being alive?
    What is our attitude
    about what is happening there
    that keeps us from being alive?

    There is caring too much
    and there is caring too little.

    There is wanting too much
    and there is wanting too little.

    There is thinking too much
    and there is thinking too little.

    You see where this is going.

    We have to be capable of doing
    what needs to be done
    in ways appropriate to the occasion
    in every moment of our life.

    We need to have access to every
    action we are capable of initiating
    as a fully functioning member
    of the species
    without being incapacitated
    by over-or-under reacting
    in any area.

    Living from the center,
    from the still point between
    all extremes,
    requires optimal distance
    from everything.

    There is too-close and too-far-away.
    Strive for the middle way
    in all things.
    Not caring too much,
    and not caring too little.
    About everything.


  36. 12/07/2020  —  Walnut Creek Trail 01 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    Doing what our life asks us to do,
    being who our life asks us to be,
    faithfully offering what is called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    providing what is needed in each moment,
    with compassion and kindness,
    sincerity and grace,
    without contriving some outcome,
    or seeking our advantage or gain,
    is to be in accord with the Tao,
    living aligned with the Way,
    and fulfilling our destiny,
    step by step,
    through each day.

    Jesus couldn’t do better than that.
    The Buddha couldn’t beat it.
    The Dali Lama aspires to it.
    The people who toss it aside
    in their search for more,
    continue the legacy of Adam and Eve
    in trading Eden for the Wasteland,
    and throwing away their life
    looking for life.


  37. 12/08/2020  —  Moonrise 10/23/2010 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Nags Head, North Carolina

    If you are living from your center,
    you can live through anything.
    You can live with anything.

    Your center is centered upon your Source,
    and your Source,
    and your center,
    are equipped to assist you
    in the work of fulfilling your destiny
    within all possible
    situations,
    contexts and
    circumstances.

    Look at where we have been!
    All of this started
    in the jungles
    and in the caves–
    on the plains
    and the barren steppes!

    We came from there to here
    in 30 million or so years!
    And we came through everything
    to be here, now!

    We come from good stock!
    Stock that made it through
    impossible-seeming conditions
    using nothing but its original gifts,
    its original nature,
    living aligned with its center,
    its Source.

    That is the strategy
    for living with–
    for dealing with–
    whatever comes up.

    Seek the silence,
    seek the center,
    seek the source,
    find the still point,
    and wait for the Way to arise
    and lead you through the Wasteland
    to the Promised Land–
    the Promised Land being within,
    not without!

    The Promised Land being anywhere
    you are One with the Center and the Source
    of the Mystery of Life and Being!

    Live from there
    and we have it made
    no matter what!


  38. 12/08/2020  —  Caroline Dormon Lodge 01 — Lake Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, Louisiana

    We have been looking for the Power source
    for as long as we have been alive.
    As a species.

    All this time,
    we have been like
    a man sitting on his ox
    looking for his ox.
    Like a woman holding her car keys,
    looking for her car keys.

    We have been looking Out There,
    when all this time,
    it has been–and continues to be–
    In Here.

    We have looked everywhere Out There.
    In the Moon,
    in the Sun,
    in the Stars,
    in the Mountains,
    in this recipe,
    in this belief system,
    in that one,
    and that one…

    The gods and goddesses
    have been legion.
    We have tried them all,
    looking for a leg up,
    for the advantage,
    for the angle,
    for the leverage,
    for the formula
    for beating the odds
    and securing our future
    and having it made.

    Money seems to be the one
    that has made it to the top.
    If we only have enough money,
    we will surely have it made.
    And we live our life
    in the service of Mammon,
    seeking more,
    always more,
    and never having enough
    to be sure
    that we have it made.

    And through all of this
    we are never more
    than one slight perspective shift
    from having what we seek.

    All we have to do
    is change our mind
    about what it means
    to have it made.


  39. 12/08/2020  —  Crepe Myrtle 07 11/27/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Jim’s Favorite Rice Pudding

    Bring 2 Cups of water to a boil.
    Add 1 cup of uncooked rice of your choice.
    Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
    The water will evaporate/be absorbed by the rice
    as the rice cooks. This will take about 20 min.
    for white rice and about 35 minutes for brown rice.

    While the rice is cooking,
    in a separate pot, place
    3 cups of milk (Your choice of variety),
    1/3 cup of sugar, or 3TBS of Stevia
    1/3 cup or more to taste of raisins or dried cranberries
    1 TBS Unsalted Butter
    1-3 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Heat over medium heat while stirring occasionally.

    When the rice has cooked, add it to the milk mixture
    and stir it over medium heat until the mixture thickens
    and the rice absorbs most of the milk–10 to 15 minutes.
    Remove from heat, cover, and allow to “set up” for 10 minutes.

    Serve or store in the refrigerator until needed.

    All of the old monks ate their rice.
    It was the foundation of their foundation.


  40. 12/08/2020  —  Carolina Thread Trail 03 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    What helps you find your way?
    What restores your soul?
    Makes your little heart sing?
    Your little footsies dance?

    What harmonizes your life,
    puts you back on track,
    centers and grounds you,
    is a reliable source of balance
    and stability?

    Joseph Campbell would suggest
    that you create your own sacred space
    around those things.

    He said:
    “You don’t have a sacred space, a rescue land,
    until you find somewhere to be
    that is not a wasteland,
    some field of action
    where there is a spring of ambrosia–
    a joy that comes from inside,
    not something external that puts joy in you–
    a place that lets you experience
    your own will,
    and your own intention,
    and your own wish (and delight)
    so that, in a small way,
    the Kingdom is there.
    I think everybody,
    whether they know it or not,
    is in need of such a place.”

    He continues:

    “A sacred space is hermetically sealed off
    from the temporal world.
    When you are in such a space,
    there is no penetration into the enclosure.
    You are in an eternal zone
    that is protected from the impact and intrusion
    of the stimuli of the day and of the hour.
    That is what you do in meditation:
    you seal yourself off.
    The world is sealed off,
    and you become a self-contained entity.
    You must have such a sealing-off program/place
    for yourself whenever you require it:
    once a week,
    or once a day,
    or once an hour.
    It is an absolute necessity
    if you are going to have an inner life.
    What it provides is an interval
    in which the eternal within you
    is disengaged from the field of time
    in the hermetically sealed sacred space
    within yourself.
    The further you can get into that,
    the more at peace you will be
    with whatever happens.”


  41. 12/08/2020  —  Currituck Beach Lighthouse 10/24/20/10 — North Carolina Outer Banks

    Every time and place has its own mood,
    its own character,
    its own sense of being in,
    or out of,
    the flow–
    the Tao–
    of life and being

    Some places are so dead
    redemption and resurrection
    are out of the question.

    I have to get myself walked out of those places.
    I expect you do, too.

    There are people–
    lots of people–
    who have no hope of
    being awake in their lifetime.
    They walk like the dead they are
    through all of the aforementioned places.

    You can see it in their eyes
    and in their slack expression.
    It has been decades since they were last alive.

    These people and those places
    constitute a large portion of the world
    we live in.

    They dumbfound everyone who comes their way.
    Jesus left shaking his head,
    muttering to himself.
    As did the Buddha before him
    and Gandhi after him.

    How do you teach a stone to talk?
    If you take the time to cultivate
    a relationship with the stone,
    seeing through the stone
    to all that it is
    that does not meet the eye,
    it will speak to you of itself
    and of you
    in ways that startle and amaze.

    The dead people and places in our life
    have the same potential.
    But.
    It will be a potential realized in pathos
    and anguish
    in recognition of all that might have been
    and never had a chance of being
    because there were none to listen
    as we are listening,
    and none to see as we are seeing,
    and none to care as we are caring,
    and now they are long past redemption
    and resurrection,
    though we are listening,
    and seeing,
    and caring
    with a heart breaking for all that is,
    and was not.


  42. 12/09/2020  —  Sailboat Abstract 01 10/29/2010 — Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    We would all like to sail away
    from time to time.
    Or, as they say in the Old West,
    “Don’t fence me in!”

    Being fenced in is the worst imaginable situation
    for a lot of us.
    “Give us land, lots of land,
    with the starry skies above…
    and don’t fence us in.”

    The odd thing about all this
    is that nothing is more confining,
    limiting,
    prison-like
    than a damn sailboat!

    I’m sure the irony is not wasted on you.

    Carl Jung like to say,
    “We meet our destiny
    on the road we take to escape it.”

    We create the very future
    we try to avoid
    by trying to avoid it.

    And have less freedom than we can bear
    by trying to be free
    of all constants and restrictions.

    The trick–
    the work-a-round–
    is to be free
    right here,
    right now,
    just as we are.

    It’s the old soldiers’ Great Escape,
    being Absent Without Leave
    while standing at attention
    as the commanding officer
    passes in review.

    We are always a slight perspective shift
    from being outta here.

    It’s the old Taoists’ favorite retreat
    into seclusion and solitude.

    Just flip the switch!
    “Turn the light around!”
    Take your leave!
    Sail away!
    Without going anywhere!

    And if the situation is really obnoxious,
    drift back in from time to time
    and say, “I’m sorry,
    my mind must have wandered,
    can you repeat what you were just saying?”
    And drift immediately away again.

    That may not work on an arresting officer,
    but it’s good for insurance salesmen
    standing at the door.


  43. 12/09/2020  —  Cotton in the Field Panorama 03 11/03/2015 — Along the Blues Trail through the Mississippi Delta

    The life that is ours to live–
    the life we are built for,
    that comes with our destiny attached–
    is so far removed from the life we are living,
    that it is no wonder we suffer
    from oxygen deprivation,
    can’t get our breath,
    listlessly drift through each day.

    We do not fit the life we are living!
    We belong to another,
    vastly different life,
    and struggle to make room
    for that life
    in this life.

    Our heart isn’t in what we are doing.
    How long has it been?
    How long have we been going through
    the motions,
    thinking it is going to get better
    soon?

    We think Jesus was about heaven when we die.
    Jesus was about living the life that is ours to live
    now, while we are alive!

    Jesus lived the life that was his to live
    and calls us to follow his lead
    in living the life that is ours to live.

    The Buddha did the same thing.
    Waking up means waking up to the life
    that isn’t it,
    and to the life that is it.
    And living the right life.

    Even if we have to compromise,
    and walk two paths at the same time–
    making enough money to pay the bills
    with this life,
    and doing what we pay the bills to do
    with our real life–
    it is worth the work to do what
    we are here to do.

    We will find ourselves smiling for no reason,
    and laughing right out loud
    with delight
    over the good things
    we never noticed before.

    How long has it been since we did that?

    We are burning daylight here.
    Time’s a-wasting.


  44. 12/09/2020  —  Fall Canopy 04 11/08/2020 — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    Joseph Campbell asked, “What are you going to do well?”

    There is our art,
    our gift,
    and our life.

    What are we going to do well,
    when it doesn’t matter?
    When no one is going to notice,
    or know?

    When it amounts to nothing more than
    “divinely superfluous beauty”?

    There is our art,
    our gift,
    our life.

    Where in your experience
    do you have to get it right?

    If it is everywhere,
    you need to look at
    how you are dominated
    by your compulsion
    to be pleasing,
    and your inability to say no.

    Don’t do anything about it!
    Do not try to make yourself
    start saying no!
    Simply be aware of it,
    be curious about it,
    search for when it started,
    for its origin in your life.
    Wonder about it.
    Dig around in it.
    See what you can turn up.

    And if it is nowhere–
    if there is nothing
    you have to get right,
    you have to do well,
    you need to look at
    who took it away from you.
    Who made fun of you?
    Who ridiculed you?
    Who made you ashamed
    of caring about what you cared about?

    Simply become aware of your disconnect
    with what was once important to you,
    and curious about what happened
    to render you incapable of
    embracing aspects of your life
    as being worth your highest esteem.
    Dig around in it.
    See what you turn up.

    Joseph Campbell would say,
    “Reflection leads to new realizations.”
    And that transforms the whole shebang.


  45. 12/10/2020  —  Half Dome and Merced River 04/27/2006 — Yosemite National Park, California

    We cannot assume anything.
    We cannot take anything for granted.
    Everything is for the first time.
    Nothing has gone before.
    Nothing will come after.
    This is all there is or ever will be.
    This here.
    This now.
    Is it.

    We are the still point of the turning world,
    right here,
    right now.
    What we do here and now
    is all that matters.

    Experience makes little difference.
    Prognostication is a delusion.
    All we can know is right before us.
    What is happening?
    What is being called for?
    How best to respond?
    That is all we need to know.
    That is all there is to know.

    If the baby’s diaper needs changing,
    change the baby’s diaper.
    If the dog needs to go for a walk,
    take the dog for a walk.

    How we feel about it doesn’t matter.
    What we want doesn’t come into the picture.
    What needs to be done?
    Who needs to do it?
    When?
    How?

    This is the place,
    now is the time–
    for what?

    That is the only question.
    Ever.

    Live to get it right.
    Every time.


  46. 12/10/2020  —  The Barn Down the Road 03/21/2011 — Yanceyville, North Carolina

    It comes down to this:

    Pay attention,
    be aware.

    See what you look at,
    know what you know.

    Do what needs to be done,
    what is called for,
    in ways appropriate
    to the occasion.

    In each situation
    as it arises.

    It is never more difficult than that.

    Anybody can do it
    with a little practice.

    What’s the problem?


  47. 12/10/2020  —  Carolina Thread Trail 01 11/09/2020 — Lancaster County, South Carolina

    You cannot be a photographer
    and be somewhere else.

    You cannot be a photographer
    thinking about something else.

    To be a photographer,
    you have to be where you are,
    when you are,
    and your mind has to be on
    what you are doing,
    what you are seeing,
    here and now.

    A camera requires your presence.
    Your attentive presence.
    It forces you to be present
    even against your will.

    If you are not present,
    it shows.

    A camera is sitting zazen.
    It is better than sitting zazen.
    Sitting zazen takes you out of the moment.
    A camera thrusts you into the moment,
    and requires you to be alive
    to the time and place
    of your living.
    Sitting zazen is just another way
    of being dead.

    Between a zazen cushion
    and a camera,
    go with the camera.


  48. 12/10/2020  —  Cypress Swamp 09/03/2015 16 Panorama — Lake Martin, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

    Joseph Campbell said, “If you really want
    to help this world,
    what you will have to teach
    is how to live in it.
    And that,
    no one can do
    who has not learned
    how to live in it
    in the joyful sorrow
    and the sorrowful joy
    of life as it is.”

    We are always trying to improve
    everything about life:
    ourselves,
    other people,
    the world,
    life as it is…

    Life as it is
    is not the way we want it to be.
    And we have a plan for that.

    The Bible would have us believe
    that it all started out
    with Adam and Eve
    trying to improve Paradise.
    And we are still at it.

    Carl Jung said,
    “You can’t improve something
    without accepting it first.”
    Letting things be just what they are
    is the first step
    in changing our relationship with them,
    and that is the essential element
    in the transformation of everything.

    It all changes once our perspective changes.
    If you are going to change something,
    start with your perspective!


  49. 12/11/2020  —  Mud Cracks 03 06/30/2011 — Mud Volcano, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    Living from the center,
    aligned with the source,
    at one with our original nature,
    waiting for the mud to settle
    and the water to clear,
    listening/looking
    for what arises in the silence
    to speak for the Tao
    flowing through all situations
    and circumstances
    in the service of balance
    and harmony,
    spirit,
    vitality
    and life,
    enables our virtues–
    the gifts that are ours from birth–
    to come forth
    as blessing and grace
    to heal the world
    through the way
    we respond
    to what is called for
    in each moment,
    moment-by-moment,
    the fulcrum shifting the future
    into place,
    and making all things
    what they need to be
    over time.

    Do here and now right
    as best you can.

    That is the difference
    that makes a difference
    in the way things are
    always and forever.


  50. 12/11/2020  —  Cullasaja River Panorama 02 04/12/2011 — Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina

    Our destiny is among the strangest of things.
    It can use anything to bring itself about.
    Whether we cooperate or refuse,
    it is all the same to our destiny.
    From its standpoint,
    “Anything can happen,
    but nothing can go wrong.”
    Because nothing can happen
    that it cannot fold into its idea
    of how things need to be.

    The advantage of cooperating with our destiny
    is entirely our boon to embrace,
    if we choose,
    though it will seem to us at times
    to be more of a curse than a blessing.

    We have to trust ourselves to
    That Which Knows more than we know,
    and open ourselves to the times that are upon us–
    “And when,” in the Native American way of doing things,
    “we come to the chasm,
    and it is dark,
    and we are afraid for our life,
    we jump,
    trusting that it is not as wide as it seems.”

    The Hero’s Journey comes down to
    trusting ourselves to our destiny
    time after time.
    Not willing,
    not forcing,
    not pushing,
    not shoving,
    just listening,
    just looking,
    just waiting,
    for the door to open
    where we think there are no doors,
    for the blessing to be bestowed
    when we think there are no blessings
    in this mess for sure,
    ready to act when the time for acting
    comes upon us,
    and trusting (that word again)
    that we will know when it arrives.

    It is a different way of going at life,
    and it is the only way
    of being in accord with the Tao
    moment-to-moment,
    day-to-day.


  51. 12/11/2020  —  Fall Canopy 05 11/08/2020 – 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina

    What fills us?
    Where are we “filled to the brim”?
    Filled with life–
    with the experience of being fully alive?

    Where has that–where does that–happen to us?
    How do we respond?
    Tears?
    Laughter?
    Silence?


    Those moments are “transparent to transcendence.”
    They are “thin places” (Parker Palmer)
    where the world of The Mystery at the Heart
    of Life and Being
    breaks into the world of normal, apparent, reality,
    to transform everything,
    and we forget to breathe.

    Then it all snaps back into place,
    leaving us to wonder if that just happened,
    and long for a return engagement very soon.

    But the memory lasts always,
    and we know we are that close
    all the time,
    that it could happen anywhere,
    but it doesn’t happen everywhere,
    so we live between the times of its epiphany,
    hoping to be present again
    when it is present with us,
    knowing our life can’t be
    more meaningful than that.

    Putting ourselves in the position
    to be filled–
    opening ourselves to the wonder of being
    here, now,
    wherever we are,
    looking with fresh eyes
    to see past appearances,
    to see what else is there,
    draped in the garb of the everyday,
    concealing the truth of the Other World
    just beyond reach…

    We live in an optical illusion.
    Now we see it, now we don’t.
    We have to look knowing what we are looking at,
    knowing what we are looking for,
    looking for how to master the shift
    by not staring at it,
    but just past it,
    out of the corner of our eye,
    not quite focusing,
    seeking the wonder,
    the radiance,
    just out of sight.


  52. 12/12/2020  —  Big Creek 08 04/14/2009 –Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina

    Whatever happens in our life
    is our destiny’s way
    of taking care of us,
    of waking us up,
    of getting us back,
    or keeping us,
    on the track.

    It is all about us and the track.

    There is being on track,
    and there is being off track,
    and that is all there is.

    Everything that happens to us
    is about keeping us on,
    or getting us back on,
    track.

    Track is the only thing to be.
    The essential thing to be.

    Track is humming along,
    with everything in place
    and working together
    to produce the music
    we came to make,
    with us being aligned with the Tao
    and in the center
    of our life’s will for us
    and all is good beyond compare.

    Do we know it?
    Is the question.

    Off Track is lost in a Wasteland
    of our own making
    by failing to cooperate with the Tao,
    and having nothing but contempt
    and derision
    for the idea
    that there is a better way to do it
    that the way we are doing it.
    “Our Way Is The Only Way,”
    carries us directly
    to the rock solid heart
    of where we do not want to be.
    And we wanted our way there
    all along the way.

    Do we know it?
    Is the question.

    We can do it our way,
    or we can do it the right way.
    And our destiny is here with us
    to urge us to do it the right way.

    Here’s a tip for you:
    We get and stay on track
    by sitting still
    and being quiet,
    and listening/looking
    until we see and hear,
    and know what’s what,
    and do what needs to be done about it.

    That is all there is to it.

    How quiet are you,
    for how often,
    and how long?


  53. 12/12/2020  —  Big Creek 08 04/14/2009 Oil Paint Rendering –Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina — When I take a photo that is improperly focused, the only way I know of redeeming it is to render it as an oil painting or as watercolor.
    All of our sins of omission or commission are the result of not knowing, or not caring, what we are doing.
    And we get back on track the best way we can
    .

    Knowing what is ours to do,
    and to not-do
    and to do-not,
    and knowing what we have to work with
    are matters of essential knowing.

    And nobody explains that to us.

    All of the important stuff
    we figure out on our own.

    And nobody explains that to us.

    Everybody acts as though there is some
    Almighty Authority directing their actions,
    and they are doing what they are supposed to do
    by aligning themselves with that invisible,
    undetectable, completely imagined and non-sensible
    Authority.

    And, they are right.
    Except, but, only
    they are imagining the wrong Authority.

    They are imagining an Absolute Authority “out there”
    and it is “in here.”

    The One Who Knows dwells within us
    and communes with us indirectly
    with sign language (symbol language),
    metaphors and energy bursts,
    dream images and compelling urges,
    drifts of “soul” (whatever that is),
    and stirrings of “heart” (whatever that is)…

    For all practical purposes,
    WE are the Super Authority we seek,
    and our only problem
    is working out Right Relationship
    with ourselves–
    knowing who is saying “Yes” and “No”
    to the things we do and do-not
    throughout our life?

    Who is guiding our boat
    on its path through the sea?

    The answer is to be found within.

    When we get to the bottom of that,
    and are right about it,
    we know what we need to know
    to find what we need,
    to do what needs to be done,
    about everything that comes along.

    And that is the best anybody can do.


  54. 12/12/2020  —  Two Ducks Flying 11/30/2011 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    We can care too much,
    and we can care too little.
    We can think too much,
    and we can think too little.

    We live on a continuum between
    too much and too little.

    Finding the Still Point,
    is as easy as riding a bicycle.
    Once you get it,
    you have it forever.

    Just think of your life as riding a bicycle.
    And take it for a spin.


  55. 12/13/2020  —  Hatteras Sunrise 02 10/31/2011 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    What do you care about?
    What do you care-not about?
    What is your highest allegiance?
    Your deepest loyalty?

    I hope you don’t know.

    I hope you are living to find out.

    I hope you are living
    to show yourself who you are.

    Otherwise, you are living
    in the service of some ideology.
    Of somebody’s idea
    of what you should care about,
    what you should give your highest allegiance,
    your deepest loyalty to.

    As if they know.

    You are letting someone else
    tell you what is important.
    As if anyone but you can know what that is.

    It is ours to discover it for ourselves.

    No one can tell us what it is.
    It is for us to know what it is
    because it is.

    Our life’s work is to know
    what grounds us–
    not because it ought to,
    but because it does.

    What is the immovable,
    unshakable,
    adamantine,
    foundation
    upon which we stake our life,
    and which is our life?

    What do we live to serve?

    We live to find out.

    Let it be a surprise.

    We find clues
    in how we have lived
    up to this point.

    What are the questions we can ask?
    What are the questions that are not allowed?
    Who says so?

    When we find the things we don’t dare question,
    we have to find who says so.
    Where did we get that idea?
    What keeps it in place?
    Where are we not free to go?
    Go there.
    See what happens.


  56. 12/13/2020  —  Lake Brandt Reflection 11/09/2011 — Greensboro, North Carolina

    Diane Osbon said, “There is a track for each of us.”
    A track.
    A path.
    A way.
    A beam.
    A course…

    An we know when we are on it,
    and when we are not on it.

    We know when we are resonating with our life,
    and when we are not.

    We know when we are in the flow,
    in the groove,
    and when we are out of it.

    When we in the center of our greatest joy,
    and when we are in the wasteland of discontent.

    I know a woman in extended care
    suffering from a room full of associated symptoms
    all connected with excessive alcohol consumption
    for twenty or so years.
    Her mind is here and not-here simultaneously,
    and her body only somewhat better off.
    But.
    There is enough of her there mentally
    for her to yell out at everyone who enters her room:
    “Bring me something cold to drink
    with Vodka in it,
    and I want some Weed!”


    That is a woman who has been off track
    for over twenty years,
    and knew it,
    and drank to forget.

    The Hero’s Journey is not for sissies,
    yet it waits for each of us
    to step onto the path
    and start walking.
    And the basic requirement of that Journey
    is that we have what it takes
    to live a meaningful life.

    Our life will tell us when it is meaningful
    and when it is not.

    And when it is not,
    if we reach for the Vodka and weed,
    or some rough equivalent.
    we have chosen poorly,
    and need to get ourselves backed out of there
    while we can.


  57. 12/14/2020  —  Live Oak Fantasy — Undisclosed Location

    There is our life to live–
    the life that is ours to live–
    the life that no one but us can live.

    And there is our idea
    of a substitute for that life–
    an acceptable (to us) facsimile
    of that life,
    which we generally prefer
    because it is apparently
    softer, smoother and easier
    than our Real Life,
    and requires (at least at the outset),
    less anxiety,
    and, hence, less courage
    than our Real Life.

    What we need in order to live our Real Life
    from the start
    is more awareness of what the deal is,
    and more encouragement
    and preparation for the task,
    from birth on.

    All of which is tragically lacking,
    and we are thrown into life,
    like all of our ancestors before us,
    with no guidance whatsoever,
    and only what comes with us from the womb
    to stabilize,
    balance and direct us
    through the maze of options,
    choices and pitfalls
    that await all along the way
    from birth to death.

    We need better odds–
    which is where I,
    and those like me,
    come into your life.

    We are here to compensate
    for all the miss-direction
    and bad advice that litter your life
    from the beginning until now.

    Diane Osbon, who was wise beyond her years,
    and very much on our side,
    had this to say about that:
    “An old Apache storyteller said,
    ‘The plants, rocks, fire, water
    are all alive.
    They watch us and see our needs.
    They see when we have nothing
    to protect us,
    and it is then that they reveal themselves,
    and speak to us.'”

    This is the Apache way of saying
    that we are surrounded by
    “the hills from which our help comes”
    (Psalm 121).

    Help is everywhere for those with eyes to see
    (Which come with us from the womb).
    We only have to wake up and start looking
    to know that it is so
    (Which come from having the right people
    in our life to tell us what to do).

    We are at once on our own,
    and we have everything we need
    to find what we need
    to do what needs us to do it,
    if only we will wake up
    and start looking–
    and trust ourselves to the process
    that is waiting to assist us
    all along the way.

    If you are going to take anything “on faith,”
    if you are going to believe in anything,
    believe this,
    and start walking–
    with your eyes open!


  58. 12/14/2020  —  Hemlock Woods 03 06/06/2012 — Roan Mountain, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee

    It is the experience of life,
    of being alive,
    that is at the heart of existence,
    not what we have,
    or attain,
    or acquire,
    or achieve/accomplish…

    Being present with what is present with us,
    without trying to escape the moment
    by dismissing,
    disregarding,
    discounting,
    denying it,
    but receiving the moment just as it it,
    “thus come,”
    and doing what is called for
    in response to it,
    moment-by-moment
    is the hallmark
    of the grace and acceptance,
    of the wonder of being alive.


  59. 12/14/2020  —  Far Away 05/06/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    It is easy to let someone else
    tell us what to do.
    To follow the herd.
    From the barn
    to the pasture,
    and back to the barn.
    Day after day.

    The work of being human
    is The Hero’s Journey–
    finding what is meaningful,
    not because it is supposed to be,
    but because it is!

    Not because someone else says so,
    but because we say so!
    Because we know so!

    The right kind of community
    is a community of innocence–
    innocent in the sense
    of having nothing to get,
    nothing to gain,
    from the individuals
    making up the community,
    but existing solely
    to assist each individual
    in the work of finding what is meaningful
    and letting their life
    fall into place around that.

    Once meaningful is at the center,
    we only need enough money
    to allow us to pay the bills
    required to do what is meaningful,
    and everything takes shape
    around the center.

    The Hero’s Journey is finding
    and serving what is meaningful
    with our life.

    The right kind of community
    helps us with that,
    and is composed of individuals
    supporting each other
    in the work of finding and doing
    what is meaningful to them individually.

    It does that primarily
    by listening one another
    to the truth of what they are saying,
    listening in a way
    that allows the speaker
    to hear what they are saying,
    and realize the truth of what they are about.

    The right kind of community
    serves as a sounding board,
    as a mirror,
    to everyone in the community,
    so that in looking,
    we see ourselves,
    in speaking,
    we hear ourselves,
    and know who we are
    and what is meaningful to us–
    not because someone else tells us so,
    but because we know so!
    Because we experience it to be so,
    and no one can knock us off of it.

    As you step onto the path
    of seeking and serving
    what is meaningful to you,
    be aware of the people
    who resonate with you,
    who understand the importance
    of the search for what is important,
    and can share things they have learned
    in their own search for what is important,
    and let the right kind of community
    coalesce around the quest
    to find and to know
    what is meaningful individually
    for each person in the community,
    and to make that the center
    and begin to live in ways that
    flow from the center,
    and serve the center,
    throughout what remains
    of the time left for living.


  60. 12/15/2020  —  Live Oak Fantasy 02 — Undisclosed Location

    The commitment–
    our commitment–
    is to the path,
    to our integrity
    and our potential
    as a human being.

    How human can we be?
    How true to ourselves–
    to what is deepest,
    truest,
    and best about us–
    can we be?

    We live to find out.

    We find out by committing ourselves
    to finding what is meaningful to us
    and serving it with our life.

    By committing ourselves
    to finding the center
    and living from there.

    By committing ourselves
    to finding the still point
    and allowing that
    to direct our action.

    And letting all other commitments
    fade away.

    Our liege loyalty,
    our filial devotion,
    our deepest allegiance,
    are to the grounding principle,
    the axis mundi,
    where heaven and earth meet
    in the heart of who we are.


  61. 12/15/2020  —  Mallard in Flight 01/08/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    We have interests
    and proclivities,
    inclinations,
    tendencies,
    preferences,
    penchants,
    passions,
    etc.
    that energize us,
    motivate us,
    stir us to action
    in ways that are unique to us.

    We care about things
    to a degree,
    and in a manner,
    that set us apart
    from other members of our family,
    and other members of the species.

    We have potentialities that are our own,
    the realization of which
    constitutes our destiny.

    We are destined to realize our potentialities.

    Our destiny is a composite of our interests, etc.
    When our life is lived in the service
    of these things–
    when we are true to ourselves
    in honoring what we cherish
    and doing what is meaningful to us–
    we fulfill our destiny,
    and satisfy our deepest
    urge-to-wholeness-and-completion.

    Our life is the expression,
    the realization,
    the integration,
    the incarnation
    of the energy that manifests itself
    in all these ways.

    This is destiny being manifest,
    or “manifest destiny,”
    being worked out in our life.

    his is what we are here for.

    If our destiny isn’t being made manifest,
    it is being frustrated,
    blocked,
    denied,
    rejected,
    spurned
    and refused.

    And our symptoms are evidence
    of a life unlived,
    calling us to wake up
    and get with the program
    that is built into our bones.


  62. 12/16/2020  —  Wetlands Geese Panorama 01/11/2013 — Guilford County, North Carolina

    We are not free to chose our choices.
    Or to chose our preferences.
    Or our disinclinations.
    Or our desires.
    Or our fears…
    The list is long.
    Forever long.

    Freedom is the greatest illusion ever.

    We have to see the way we see,
    until we no longer see the way we see,
    and we do not determine when that will be.

    We have to feel the way we feel…

    Think the way we think…

    Enjoy what we enjoy…

    Be the way we are…

    And we talk about freedom.
    We should expand it
    to be clear about what we mean.

    We mean freedom from oppression.
    Freedom from somebody else’s religion.
    Freedom from somebody else
    telling us what to do.
    Freedom from unwarranted intrusion
    into our lives.
    Freedom from invasion,
    from the demolition of our boundaries,
    from someone else’s idea
    of how our life should be lived.

    We want our bondage to be natural,
    and not artificially imposed.

    But freedom as a way of being in the world
    is not ours to possess.

    I recall the investment firm’s commercial
    of a mighty bull trotting along
    an endless beach at water’s edge,
    while the theme song played in the background,
    “To know no boundaries,
    to let ourselves roam free…”

    The bull was bound to run on the sand.
    Not swim in the ocean,
    or fly in the air.

    Our bondage is absolute and inescapable.
    Being clear about that
    relieves us of the burden
    of thinking we can will ourselves
    to happily ever after
    with just a bit more effort.

    And then, there is Snoopy,
    reminiscing about his days
    at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm,
    lamenting, “Once we got over the fence,
    we were still in the world.”

    It’s called the fallacy
    of the Garden of Eden.
    “One bite of the right fruit
    and we are free as the breeze,
    blowing where it will.”

    Another way to think of the breeze
    is to say it doesn’t know what to do next,
    looking as it is,
    for the way out of here.


  63. 12/15/2020  —  Circle 5-A — from my Symbols of Transformation Collection — Circles are among the most ancient symbols “transparent to transcendence,” and have been honored, recognized, understood through the ages as a metaphor of wholeness, completion, realization, awakening, enlightenment, awareness, presence, being here/now, being grounded, being immovable and untouchable…the list is long. What does a circle mean to you?

    We are not living to have our way.
    We are not living to do what we want.

    We are living to serve our destiny,
    to be who we are capable of being,
    to realize our potentiality,
    in doing what is calling us to do it–
    aligned with our original nature,
    in accord with the Tao
    (The Mystery),
    the mystical flow of time and place–
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    This puts us in the position of Luke Skywalker
    in relation to Obi-wan Kenobi
    and Yoda,
    as we take up the work
    of finding our life and living it,
    of discovering our original nature–
    our gifts,
    our virtues,
    our spirit,
    our vitality,
    our balance and harmony,
    our energy–
    and incarnating it,
    exhibiting it,
    expressing it,
    serving it,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day,
    throughout the time left for living.



  64. 12/17/2020  —  Christmas 12/31/2013

    Fear (Anger, Hatred, Jealousy, Ruthlessness, etc.) ,
    Desire (Greed, Lust, Passion, Obsession, Compulsion, etc.),
    Duty (Responsibility, Obligation, Subservience, Obeisance, etc.),
    are forever (since the Buddha’s and the Christ’s temptations)
    listed as our primary motivations,
    as the heart of human-being-hood,
    and the things we must escape
    by taking refuge in illumination (enlightenment, realization, etc.)
    and not-caring about the diversions and distractions
    of the world.

    Well.
    That pisses me off.

    It places “I Want More Now!”
    (“And Will Do Anything
    To Get It,
    Have It,
    Keep It,
    Increase It!”)
    at the center of who we are.

    And misses entirely the grace
    and wonder–
    the salvific mystery–
    of laughter and tears,
    of joy and sorrow.

    I watched four episodes of Mandalorian
    before quitting at the prospect of
    more of the same forever.
    The man behind the mask
    never laughed or cried.
    He just killed whomever
    wasn’t doing it his way (The Way It Is).
    He was/is a weapon
    in the hands of Fear/Desire/Duty.
    A non-human being.
    A non-sentient being.
    No actual non-human being kills everything
    that doesn’t do it the Right Way.
    Only human non-humans do that.
    Or thinks it can only be happy
    when all threats to happiness are destroyed.

    Happy is not what we have,
    it is who we are.

    For. No. Reason.

    Happy. Here. Now.

    How about that?

    It is a different way of thinking
    about motivation,
    and life.

    We don’t have to kill anything,
    or possess anything,
    before we can be happy.

    We can just be happy now.
    Here.
    With things as they are.
    Why not?

    What is stopping you
    from being happy to be here, now,
    with things exactly as they are?
    Laughing and crying as is appropriate
    to the occasion?


  65. 12/17/2020  —  The Fire Place 04/03/2011

    The fire pit where the family gathers periodically to sacrifice marshmallows
    and offer thanksgiving for chocolate bars and graham crackers.

    Happy is a state of being,
    an aspect of mind.

    A perspective,
    an outlook,
    an orientation,
    an attitude,
    a point of view.

    It is the way we look
    at what we see.

    Joseph Campbell called for
    “The joyful participation
    in the sorrows of the world.”
    And invited us to
    walk right into life as it is
    and embrace without hesitation
    the full pathos of
    the Mystery at the heart of Life and Being.

    He said,
    “The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest  heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one  position to another. It is possible to speak from only one point at a  time, but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest.”
    (The Hero with a Thousand Faces p. 196)

    And advised that we “Say ‘Yes!’ to it all!”

    We live as full participants
    in the moment of our living
    no matter what that entails.

    We are here/now for the good
    we are able to bring forth
    in response to what is being called for
    by the situation we find ourselves in–
    one situation after another,
    all our life long–
    without being overwhelmed and undone
    by what we have to work with.

    We step up and do what needs doing
    as the Cosmic Dancer we are,
    bringing blessing and grace,
    compassion and justice
    to bear on where we are,
    no matter what.

    We live as vehicles of hope and mercy,
    anyway, nevertheless, even so–
    drawing our strength from,
    not the results and outcomes
    of our living,
    but the foundation,
    center,
    core
    of our life.

    Zen Master Yun-Men said it like this:
    “You should withdraw inwardly
    and search for the ground
    upon which you stand–
    thereby you will discover
    what truth is.”

    And live from there
    in the joyful embrace
    of all things.


  66. 12/18/2020  —  Axis Mundi — From my Symbols of Transformation Collection
    The Axis Mundi is the Axis of the World, the center of the world and of the universe, the pole, and more than that, the point–the still point–around which everything falls into place, and upon which all things are centered, grounded, united, and become One. The Central Mountain. The Sacred Tree. The heart of the cosmos and all that is. And it is everywhere. Within everyone. Living from that point, all things are One.

    We belong in on place,
    not in every place.
    We belong to one thing,
    not everything.

    Knowing where we belong,
    and what our “thing” is,
    is essential knowing.

    Honoring what we know,
    and living in accord with it,
    is essential wisdom.

    Allowing where we belong
    and what we do
    to evolve over time
    is essential grace.

    Living out of essential knowing,
    essential wisdom,
    and essential grace
    is to compose a well-lived life.

    No one can do better than that.
    And no one can tell us
    how to do that.

    No one knows what we know.
    No one.

    We are the teacher,
    and we are the student.
    We are the chisel
    and we are the stone.


  67. 12/18/2020  —  Cabot Trail 02 09/27/2007 — Nova Scotia

    Life at its best
    has an organic flow about it.

    There is a time to sleep,
    and a time to eat,
    and a time to work,
    and a time to refrain from working…

    A circadian rhythm governs
    the planets in their orbits,
    and the tides in their cycles,
    and the seasons in their traces…

    To live in accordance with the times
    is to be on track and in tune with the Tao.
    In the ancient Greek way of thinking,
    this is kairos, the opportune time,
    the right time,
    the time for acting.

    Our lives tend to be more orderly,
    more routine,
    more predictable,
    and are run by the clock
    and the calendar.

    We eat at noon
    whether we are hungry or not.
    We go to bed at 10:30
    whether we are sleepy or not.

    We live buy Chronos, clock time,
    calendar time.
    The time bills come due,
    and school starts and stops,
    and the day begins and ends.

    Working Kairos in with Chronos
    is a balancing act only humans
    have to master.
    The rest of the natural world
    turns when it is time for turning,
    dances when it is time to dance,
    and naps when a nap is called for.

    Eating when hungry,
    resting when tired
    is the ideal to strive for.
    Doing what is needed–
    what is necessary–
    in the time and place
    the call is issued,
    is the sine qua non
    of a True Human Being.

    How close can we come,
    and how often do we dare,
    are the questions
    which, when answered,
    tell the tale.


  68. 12/18/2020  —  Coming In 03/22/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    The symbols that are alive for us
    have to square us up
    with the life that is ours to live,
    and the world in which we live,
    so that we find ways to be who we are
    in the time and place of our living.

    Our symbols call us to life,
    and guide us in finding ways
    to incarnate the deep truth of our being
    within the circumstances of life-in-the-world–
    to break into the world
    as the Transforming Word,
    the Sacred Act,
    of Life coming to life
    and shattering the expectations
    and assumptions of life
    in so doing.

    Symbols are life and death in the making.

    What are the symbols that are alive for us?
    To what do they point?
    They are doorways opening to what?
    What are they calling us to do,
    to become?

    Two of my favorite “living symbols”
    are Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi.
    The two are one.
    They stand before me
    as projections of my own Inner Guides,
    my Mentors within,
    reminding me that I have all I need,
    if I will be still and listen,
    and look,
    and write!

    When I write it out,
    there it is–
    exactly what I am looking for!
    Calling me to incarnate it
    in the way I live
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day.


  69. 12/18/2020  —  Lake Martin Sunset 08 02/07/2014 — Beaux Bridge, Louisiana

    One of the first principles states:
    “Nothing can happen to us that is so bad
    that it cannot be made better–
    or worse–
    by the way we respond to it.

    And nothing can happen that is so good
    that it cannot be made better–
    or worse–
    by the way we respond it.”

    We hold the key to how well our life goes
    by the way we respond to how our life is going.

    Our response determines (or strongly influences)
    everything that follows.

    And so, we
    Stop. Look. Listen.
    And we
    Look Both Ways Twice.

    This means before we act/react/respond
    in every life setting.

    Because our response to what is happening
    is much more important
    than what is happening.

    We set-up what happens next
    by the way we respond to what just happened.

    If you are ever going to believe anything,
    believe this–
    and act accordingly.


  70. 12/19/2020  —  Mallard in Flight 16 01/29/2013 — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina

    Where do we go from here?
    Or, as it is sometimes phrased,
    Here we are, now what?

    Now, we wait for the mud to settle
    and the water to clear.

    It is that simple every time.

    Do not be impatient with the future!

    It comes in its own good time!

    In the meantime,
    wait, watch, listen.
    Seeing and hearing
    come in their own time,
    in their own way.

    When the door opens,
    walk through?

    What door?
    Which door?

    All this will be revealed to us
    in its own time.
    In the meantime,
    wait, watch, listen.

    If you haven’t watched
    Jon Kabat-Zinn’s YouTube videos
    on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction,
    now would be a good time
    to do that (The shortest ones first).

    Practice waiting, watching, listening
    in each moment.
    You will be amazed
    at all you have been missing!

    And, what’s your hurry?
    There is only seeing, hearing and understanding.
    And you will never get beyond
    those things,
    even if you lived forever.
    There will always be more to see than we see,
    more to hear than we hear,
    more to understand than we understand,
    more to know than we know,
    more to do than we do,
    more to become than we are.

    There is no arriving on the way
    that is The Way!
    Only the next thing to be aware of.

    And that’s where we came in.

    So be aware of now,
    and catch it as it evolves
    into what’s next!

    And do what is called for
    in response to both!


  71. 12/11/2020  —  Storm at Sea 09/26/2008 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

    The Holy Grail represents the full realization
    of the potentials
    that came with us from the womb.

    This is the culmination of The Hero’s Journey:
    Being Who We Are!
    Who we are capable of being!
    Fully Born,
    as one Thus Come,
    at last!

    The secret ingredient is compassion.
    Compassion for ourselves.
    Compassion for others.
    Compassion for the world as it is.

    This is not striving to be anything
    beyond compassionate,
    not trying to gain anything
    beyond being compassionate,
    not trying to do anything
    but be compassionate–
    not in order to attain anything,
    but to simply be compassionate.
    Knowing/feeling that is enough.

    That is Christ on the cross.
    The Buddha under the Bo Tree.
    The Dali Lama leaving Tibet
    without a disparaging word
    about the Chinese.
    And it is the heart of Motherhood
    around the world,
    bearing out the truth of Simeon’s word,
    “A sword will pierce your very soul!”
    even so.

    Can we say it?
    “Bring it on!
    Let it be!
    Anyway!
    Nevertheless!
    Even so!”

    It requires no attachment
    to fear,
    desire,
    or duty.

    And exemplifies the complete freedom
    and spontaneous readiness
    to do what is called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day,
    for nothing beyond the joy
    of doing what is ours to do
    with the gifts and potentialities
    that are ours to share and exhibit
    throughout the time left for living.


  72. 12/20/2020  —  Making for Home–The Mailboat’s Wake, Stonington Maine

    We live to know what owns us,
    and to choose to be owned by it
    or not.

    We choose our owner.
    It is the only choice we get to make.
    Beyond that,
    it is being owned.
    Like it or not.

    Truth is a harsh taskmaster.
    Reaping what it did not plant,
    harvesting what it did not sow.
    Asking us, “Did you think
    you were just along for the ride?”

    We have to work out for ourselves
    how much we can get by with,
    and where to draw the line.
    That is where we find out
    who owns us.

    We are who we show ourselves to be.
    Regardless of who we think we are,
    or who we say we are,
    or who we wish we were.
    Where we draw the line
    reveals the truth of who we are.

    What are the lines we live within?
    Who draws them?
    That is who owns us.
    For better and for worse.

    Better and worse.
    Good and evil.
    Those are coins
    that have no edge.
    Now it is up,
    now it is down.
    But, both are up and down
    at the same time.
    Each goes over into the other
    like that,
    and where does that line lie?

    Whomever/Whatever owns us,
    there are advantages and disadvantages.
    Advantage/disadvantage is already
    good/evil,
    better/worse,
    right/wrong.

    Beyond good and evil
    is out of the question.
    We take the good along with the bad
    and let it be
    because it is.

    Who owns us is who we are.
    For better and for worse.
    Forget advantage and disadvantage!
    Decide this day whom you will serve!
    Because that is who you are!

    We are to be who we are because we are,
    and let that be that,
    because it is.

    What can you live with,
    being and doing,
    with full awareness
    of who you are being,
    of what you are doing?

    Be that!
    Do that!
    And let the outcome be the outcome.
    For better and for worse.

    Only God can worship God.
    Everyone else
    is just trying to get something
    they don’t deserve.


  73. 12/20/2020  —  Islands in the Stream 01/11/2013 — Lake Jeanette, Greensboro, North Carolina

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “The crucial thing to live for
    is the sense of life
    in what you are doing,
    and if that is not there,
    then you are living according
    to other people’s notions
    of how you ought to live.”

    Whenever that describes our current situation,
    we have to stop.
    Look.
    And listen.

    We have drifted away from the path,
    and have to get back on track
    by re-orienting ourselves,
    turning the light around,
    re-establishing our relationship
    with our center,
    re-connecting with the guiding sense
    of what matters most,
    re-aligning ourselves with the force
    of our own life-energy,
    and seeking ways to express
    that which is deepest,
    truest
    and best about us–
    the virtues,
    character
    and manner
    which are the gifts
    that came with us at birth
    and seek expression,
    incarnation,
    embodiment
    in-and-through us
    and the life we are living.

    This is our life’s purpose,
    our destiny:
    to be who we are
    in the way we live.

    Getting back to that,
    and living from it,
    in service to it,
    and letting everything else
    fall into place around it,
    is to find the sense of life
    in what we are doing,
    to be one with the Tao,
    and to dance with the Mystery of Live and Being.

    We can’t beat that anywhere.


  74. 12/21/2020  —  Catawba Trestle 05-B 12/21/2015 — River Walk Park, Rock Hill, South Carolina

    The term “Truth Commission”
    seems to have limitations and restrictions
    that would interfere with its implied purpose
    of getting to the truth,
    so, let’s call it
    “The Katie Porter Grand Inquisition”
    (The very Katie Porter who is
    the Representative from California’s 45th District),
    and authorize her to determine
    the most efficient and expedient way
    of getting to the bottom of
    “Who authorized whom
    to do what to whom,
    where, when, why, and how–
    in regard to everything done
    under the Trump Administration
    from start to finish,
    including what laws were,
    or may have been, broken,
    and what penalties have been called for
    that need to be applied
    to see that justice is done
    and grievances addressed,
    in every instance,
    with no exceptions or exclusions.”

    And have her do it
    however she determines it needs to be done.

    Beginning on January 21, 2021.


  75. 12/21/2020  —  Jenne Farm 04 09/28/2015 — Reading, Vermont

    The next time you hear
    a politician denouncing/decrying socialism
    ask them who pays their salary.
    Ask them who pays for their health insurance.
    Ask them who pays for their housing.
    Their meals.
    Their eye glasses.
    And all things pertaining to living their life.

    Then ask them who pays public school teachers
    and employees,
    including equipment and facilities.

    And who pays law enforcement officers,
    including equipment and facilities.

    And who pays military service men and women,
    including equipment and facilities.

    And who pays all politicians,
    including their equipment and facilities
    on all levels of government,
    national, state and local.

    And then ask them why it is okay
    for taxpayers to pay all these people,
    and it isn’t okay for taxpayers
    to pay for their own health care
    out of the taxes they pay
    which pays for all these people.

    And why isn’t it okay to subsidize
    their own salaries when a pandemic
    forces them into joblessness,
    the way their taxes are used to subsidize
    farmers when crops fail,
    or businesses and corporations,
    including air lines,
    when their income is disrupted by a pandemic?

    Ask them why socialism is okay in all these areas,
    but it isn’t okay for the people
    who are paying the taxes
    that support people in all these areas.

    Ask them that.
    And don’t let them put you off
    with anything less than
    a completely satisfactory answer
    that explains clearly
    why you are less worthy
    than any of these other people
    of benefiting from the very taxes you pay.

    Don’t let them go
    until you know why you aren’t as important
    as all these other people are.

    Your taxes benefit them.
    Why do politicians oppose your taxes
    benefiting you?


  76. 12/21/2020  —  November Orchard 10 11/03/2013 — Springs Farm, Fort Mill South Carolina, Oil Paint Rendering

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “One should find,
    and learn to live out of,
    one’s own center,
    and be the source
    of one’s own
    for and against.”

    This cannot be done
    without killing the dragon
    with “Thou Shalt” engraved
    on every scale.

    We cannot submit to the expectations
    and mores of parents
    and society,
    and speak with our own voice
    and follow our own sense
    of what is called for
    in each situation as it arises.

    What is ours to bring forth
    is unique among the ages,
    and we cannot give birth to ourselves
    following the dictates
    of “Those Who Know Best” (Truman Capote).

    We are different from everyone else,
    and must have compassion
    for our different-ness,
    and courage to befriend it
    by living in ways
    that allow it to shine through
    and be known
    all along the way!


  77. 12/21/2020  —  The Sun 06/03/2019 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    Today is the Winter Solstice,
    the shortest day in the year,
    and the day the sun turns back toward the earth.

    The day all those human beings were sacrificed
    through the ages
    to bring The God back–
    and it WORKED!!!

    All of our ideologies “work” the same way!

    “Let it be!” said the Beatles.

    You can’t beat that
    for a life-giving attitude.

    Let the sun go
    if it’s going!
    Let it come back
    if it comes back!

    We can’t do that with The God.
    We have to impose our will
    with our supplications
    and votive offerings
    and even human sacrifices.

    We are stupid in so many ways.
    Let’s see how many ways
    we can not be stupid any longer.


  78. 12/22/2020  —  In The Marsh Panorama 08/22/2015 — Beaufort, South Carolina

    We are on our own.
    No one can do it for us.
    Teachers, at best, can only offer
    their experience as a guide,
    and, at worst, can only tell us
    what someone told someone who told someone
    who told someone…
    who told them.

    Too many spiritual guides
    and religious leaders
    only know what they got
    from someone else.

    Ask around:
    “What do you know of God
    that you did not get from
    some other source,
    including the Bible?”
    Ask the people who claim to know
    more than you know,
    “What do you know of God
    that you discovered on your own,
    without help from anyone else?”

    The old Taoist Masters
    cut to the chase, saying:
    “Seek the Source
    in the Silence!
    Live with sincerity
    and spontaneity
    out of your own sense
    of what is called for
    in each situation as it arises,
    incarnating/expressing/exhibiting
    the face that was yours before your
    grandparents were born!”

    No theology there!
    No doctrine there!
    No creedal formula there!
    Only personal experience at the core!
    And your personal experience
    will be different from everyone else’s!

    Their slogans,
    for example,
    “Eat when hungry,
    rest when tired,”
    mean “Live out of your own sense
    of what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises!”

    True to our own sense
    of what needs to be done,
    we gradually learn to read
    our situations with a perceptive eye,
    and get responding to them appropriately
    down to a fine art–
    and no one can tell us how to do that!

    So, “Get in there and do your thing,
    and let the outcome be your teacher
    in knowing how to apply your thing
    to each situation as it arises!”

    That is all there is to it!


  79. 12/21/2020  —  In the Beginning 07/28/2016 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    We care too much
    about the wrong things,
    and we care too little
    about the right things.

    Consider what you care about,
    and what you don’t care about.

    All of the time.


  80. 12/23/2020  —  Charlotte Skyline 08/23/2017 Oil Paint Rendering– Charlotte, North Carolina

    Enlightenment,
    Illumination,
    Reflection/realization
    all result in
    awakening to what is important–
    that is,
    knowing what we know to be important–
    and being right about it,
    so that we live out of that knowing
    in each situation as it arises.

    This is all it takes to put ourselves
    right with ourselves
    in the life we are living,
    and with the world in which
    we are living.

    And that shifts the world on its course,
    and puts the world in alignment
    with itself.

    And that transforms everything.

    Be right.
    Do right.
    Make right.

    Get that down,
    and we all have it made!


  81. 12/23/2020  —  Adams’ Millpond 11/10/2015 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    “What should I do?
    What response should I make?
    What is being asked of me?
    What is being called for in this immediate situation,
    here and now?”

    We only have to know what is being called for
    in the situation that is most pertinent
    in any moment,
    to know what we should do.

    What is your most pressing situation
    right here, right now?
    Only you can decide that.

    What is being called for?
    Only you can decide that?

    If you are being paralyzed,
    or held hostage,
    or rendered hopeless,
    by the absence of acceptable outcomes–
    if everything you can think of doing
    is useless in terms of its impact
    on the situation as a whole,
    think smaller,
    think here and now.

    Share cups of cold water,
    or hot coffee,
    or room temperature wine,
    and talk of better days,
    or of what would help to get through
    these days,
    or simply share the warmth
    of each other’s company…

    You know,
    like that.


  82. 12/24/2020  —  Steele Creek Trestle Panorama 02/13/2014 Oil Paint Rendering — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    It is Christmas Eve.
    A wonderful time
    for re-evaluating your relationship
    with your life.

    We know all about what
    needs to be changed about the world.
    What needs to be changed about you?

    About your relationship with you?
    About your relationship with the world?

    It is a week until New Year’s Eve.
    The New Year is the traditional time
    to consider what needs to be new about us
    in honor of a new year,
    a new beginning,
    replete with resolutions and high hopes
    for “this year being different.”

    We have a week to focus on our relationship
    with our life and the world.
    Not to think,
    but to listen.

    We do not get anywhere we need to be
    by thinking,
    but by listening,
    by looking,
    by seeing,
    by hearing,
    by reflecting/connecting
    and forming new realizations.

    What do we need to realize?
    We have no idea.
    So thinking cannot get us there.

    Spend your time in the next week,
    sitting still,
    being quiet,
    listening,
    looking,
    open to what comes up in the silence,
    waiting for things to arise
    with a particular “charge” about them
    that “catches your eye,”
    and “calls your name,”
    and demands that you pay attention.

    Look closer at those things,
    just watching,
    just seeing,
    just hearing,
    holding everything in your awareness,
    writing down what needs to be written down,
    and continuing to sit still,
    be quiet,
    and listen,
    look…

    And see where you are in a week.
    Perhaps the mud will settle,
    and the water will clear,
    and you will know what
    you are being called to do.

    Then there is doing it.

    Throughout the New Year,
    and beyond!


  83. 12/25/2020  —  Watkins Glen 07 09/20/2015 Oil Paint Rendering — Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York

    The Christ I am
    wishes a Merry Christmas
    to the Christ you are.

    If the Christ is anything,
    the Christ is iconoclastic to the core.
    No theology!
    No doctrine!
    No ideology!
    No creeds!
    Just being right about what is important,
    and seeing what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises–
    doing it without considering
    our advantage,
    or what we stand to gain or lose,
    with no interest in the outcome,
    just giving the best we have to offer
    to the true good of the moment,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Of course,
    the outcome of this moment,
    will set up the next moment,
    where we will again offer what is needed,
    so that our work is never done,
    which always gives us something to do,
    so what’s the problem?

    Well, one problem is being right
    about what is important.
    We get better at that over time,
    bringing our experience into play
    with our imagination,
    and our intuition,
    and our instincts,
    and our sense of what’s what,
    but throughout time,
    consequences remain our only teacher,
    and we are always learning what is important,
    and getting better at reading situations,
    and having less at stake
    in what is happening,
    and becoming more aware of ourselves
    responding to what is going on,
    and what’s pushing our buttons,
    and yanking our chains,
    and engaging our complexes,
    as we work things out slowly
    over time,
    reflecting continually
    in the service of new realizations
    and an increasingly better alignment
    with the Tao,
    and a deepening accordance/resonance
    with the Mystery at the heart of Life and Being
    throughout our life.

    The Christ is always becoming The Christ–
    and we are always
    incarnating/embodying/expressing/exhibiting
    the Christ in all that we do.

    And my Christ wishes your Christ
    the merriest of Christmases
    with good faith
    and courage for the journey
    through all that is before us
    all along the Way!


  84. 12/25/2020  —  Beaufort Fall 13 11/13/2017 Oil Paint Rendering — Beaufort, South Carolina

    We are the final authority
    in all matters of faith and practice.
    We are the one who says so.
    We are responsible
    for all of our decisions and choices,
    and the burden of our outcomes
    remains ours alone to bear
    throughout all eternity.

    Our life is our responsibility.

    Life is constantly throwing things at us–
    and that is where we come in.
    We respond to each thing as it comes,
    and the way we do that
    is the teller that tells the tale.

    No matter what happens to us,
    we say what it means,
    and we say what we do about it.

    If we yield our position
    and allow someone else to tell us what to do,
    we choose to yield and to submit to the other.

    Our choices and our actions are inescapable.
    We carry the weight of having lived
    up to this point,
    and will carry it forward
    from this point on.

    We are the authority
    by which our life is lived.

    That being the case,
    you might think we would
    be more diligent about
    our approach to the moment at hand–
    more aware,
    more intentional,
    more alert,
    more awake,
    completely present
    and accounted for–
    and ready to deal with
    what is ours to manage
    as only we can.

    Instead,
    we allow ourselves to be swept along
    by our circumstances,
    with no idea
    of what is guiding
    our boat on its path
    through the sea.

    It is time
    we take up the work
    of getting to the bottom of it–
    and assert our authority
    over what we do about
    what is happening
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.

    Our life is what we do
    in response to our circumstances.
    What we do is our call to make.
    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.
    If we aren’t making the call,
    we are making it by default
    in a “Not to decide is to decide”
    kind of way.

    We are Luke Skywalker
    with the training helmet on,
    having to learn what it means
    to trust the Force,
    which is also the Source,
    which is also the Mystery
    at the Heart of Life and Being.

    Moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    How well we do it is dependent
    on how intentional and aware
    we are about what we are doing.

    It is all up to us.
    For better, for worse.
    All our life long.


  85. 12/25/2020  —  Maine Moon 09/27/2012 — Stonington, Deer Isle, Maine

    Jon Kabat-Zinn is the Father
    of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
    His YouTube videos are not to be missed
    (The shortest ones first)
    in the work of establishing
    ourselves in the practice of mindfulness.

    But.

    There is one thing he fails to stress
    to my satisfaction:

    Silence is the source of Good
    and Noise is the source of Evil.

    Blaise Pascal said,
    “All of humanity’s problems stem
    from (our) inability to sit quietly
    in a room alone.”

    Being quiet
    and paying attention
    to the silence,
    noticing what arises–
    without engaging any of it,
    but simply being aware of it,
    and watching as one thing
    is replaced by another,
    with no apparent connection
    and no inherent meaning,
    and how your emotions
    are aroused,
    and how your body reacts physically,
    to the thoughts that fly about
    erratically,
    haphazardly,
    inexplicably…

    And yet, the one thing they have in common
    is you.

    Watch for patterns to develop.
    For themes to emerge.
    For a story to take shape.

    We do not think “just anything.”
    Our “monkey mind” is not swinging
    wildly from tree to tree.
    The chaos is ordered precisely,
    and presents a clear picture
    of how things stand with us
    at this particular moment in our life.

    Our mind is shouting,
    “Listen! Look!
    This is how it is with you!
    Pay attention to the apparent madness!
    This is the mud
    you must allow to settle,
    so that the water can clear
    and you can see what is interfering
    with your ability
    to live your life as it needs to be lived,
    moment-to-moment,
    day-to-day!”

    Being aware of the noise
    in the silence
    allows us to distance ourselves
    from the turmoil
    and just see, just know, just be
    in the moment with it all
    in our awareness.

    Returning our attention to our breathing,
    allows us to hold it all in awareness,
    just watching,
    just seeing,
    just knowing,
    just breathing…

    And things shift.

    Without our doing anything
    beyond watching, seeing, knowing, breathing…

    Wu-wei, as the Zen Taoists might say.

    Make a regular routine
    of sitting with the Silence,
    and be amazed at how that simple act
    transforms the way you live your life
    over time.


  86. 12/25/2020  —  Peach Orchard Panorama 01/17/2015 — Springs Farm, Fort Mill, South Carolina

    Martha Graham premiered Lamentation
    on January 8, 1930.
    You can participate in her dance here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-lcFwPJUXQ

    Hers was/is the only appropriate response
    to her times
    and ours.

    Metaphors express what words cannot say.
    The most important things cannot be said.
    The deepest things cannot be said.
    The truest things cannot be said.

    Yet we have lost the medium of metaphor.
    We don’t know symbols.
    If it isn’t a fact,
    it isn’t real.

    What are the meaningful symbols
    in your life?
    In the life of the nation?

    We live in the absence of symbols
    like a fish lives out of water.
    Without metaphors to speak to us,
    and for us,
    we are dead people walking,
    not seeing,
    not hearing,
    not feeling,
    not knowing…

    Plodding through our life
    going nowhere.

    Oceans of tears exist
    just on the other side of silence,
    but we will not be that quiet.
    Noise is our salvation.
    Noise and addiction du jour.

    We have to talk, talk, talk,
    defend,
    explain,
    justify,
    excuse…

    Anything but be still and quiet,
    listening,
    looking,
    because we might see and hear,
    and never stop crying.

    Let Martha Graham say
    what we are experiencing,
    without saying a thing.


  87. 12/26/2020  —  Mesquite Dunes 04/06/2006 — Death Valley National Park, California

    They want impunity and immunity.
    They want a law that puts them forever
    beyond the law.
    A law that says they aren’t liable,
    which means they aren’t responsible,
    which means they can do whatever they like.

    The top 1% I’m talking about.
    Maybe the top 0.5%.
    And also those aspiring to be
    among the top 0.5%.

    They want the Prince MBS Rule,
    which says, “Anything Goes,”
    applied to them.
    Exclusively.

    And they will do anything
    for the privilege
    of being able to do anything.

    They all aspire
    to being who Donald Trump is.
    Who aspires to be who MBS is.

    Donald Trump will do anything
    to remain in power.
    Power is everything to Donald Trump
    and to all of the people
    who want to be just like him.

    And power means making everyone
    afraid to oppose you.
    That is Donald Trump,
    and MBS,
    and all their doting legions.

    Don’t forget Mitch McConnell.
    The Enabler in Chief.
    When he says, “No Democrat bill
    will ever pass!”
    he is exercising the power
    he envies and envisions for himself.

    Total power.
    Absolute power.
    The power of God.

    Republicans and their keeper/donors
    want the power of God.
    They want to be God.
    They want God to be their toady.

    And they will do anything
    to have what they want.

    If we are going to stop them
    it is going to be now.
    Every eligible voter in Georgia
    has to vote for the Democrats.
    If they don’t win,
    it’s over.

    Why is this so hard to see?


  88. 12/26/2020  —  Adams Millpond Mirror Panorama 11/10/2014 Oil Paint Rendering –Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Fraser Snowden said,
    “The only true philosophical question is
    ‘Where do you draw the line?'”

    Where do you draw it?

    Only you can draw the line
    where you draw it.
    Where do you think it goes?
    Only you know that.

    What keeps you from drawing the line
    where you think it goes?
    Get to the bottom of that question.

    Who draws your lines for you?

    When we stop drawing our own lines,
    it is all over for us.

    Joseph Campbell said it all comes down to
    drawing our own lines.
    To having the courage
    to draw our own lines.

    His exact words are:
    “The aim of individuation requires
    that one should find
    and then learn to live out of
    one’s own center,
    in control of one’s own
    for and against.”

    In control of where one
    draws the line.

    That is what makes us human.
    Drawing the line where we determine
    it needs to be drawn!

    Oh, and we have to be right about it!

    That’s the catch with being human.
    We have to say so,
    and not so,
    and be right about it.

    Being right about it
    is where philosophy comes in.
    Who is to say
    what is right and what is not?
    We are, of course.
    But.
    We have to be right about it.

    This being right
    is completely of the moment.
    It is ephemeral,
    mercurial,
    fleeting,
    and gone like that (snaps fingers).

    Jesus said “The Spirit
    is like the wind that blows where it will.”
    Which means not even the Spirit
    knows what it will do next.
    Which means nothing can be
    written down,
    set in stone,
    declared to be so for all ages to come.

    There are no laws.
    No laws of nature.
    This is what science has discovered.
    There are only hypotheses .
    Only best guesses.
    Of the moment.
    To be verified or refuted
    in the next moment,
    or one of the ones after that.

    There is right.
    And there is wrong.
    Which can be determined
    only later.
    In the meantime,
    we are left with drawing our lines
    for the time being,
    and redrawing them again,
    and again,
    in light of future revelations,
    when we are better able
    to know what we are doing,
    knowing that we will never know
    all we need to know
    to know what we are doing.

    “Sin boldly!”
    Said Martin Luther.
    “And believe more boldly
    in the marvelous grace of God!”

    We have to live boldly,
    from our own center,
    from our own for and against,
    from our own yes and no–
    and be right about it.
    Which means knowing when we
    are wrong,
    or have been wrong,
    and making adjustments,
    and re-drawing our lines
    in light of the best information
    currently available.

    Believing in–
    counting on–
    grace all the way
    to the end of the line,
    knowing there is no end of the line,
    as far as we can tell,
    given the information
    currently available to us.


  89. 12/26/2020  —  The Bench 09/05/2017 B&W — Charlotte, North Carolina

    Consequences are the only teacher.
    Experience is the experience of consequences.
    Reflection on experience
    leads to new realizations.
    Realization takes the past
    and constructs the future.
    Yesterday’s wrong
    is tomorrow’s right.
    It takes getting it wrong
    to get it right.
    Doing it wrong
    to do it right.

    We learn to make really good
    chicken noodle soup
    by making a lot of very bad
    chicken noodle soup
    with our eyes open,
    seeing what we look at,
    reflecting on our errors
    to the point of new realizations
    and informed hypotheses
    and additional experimentation
    all the way to perfection.

    We live boldly,
    courageously,
    toward doing it better,
    toward getting it right.
    Right Soup,
    according to our taste,
    exists “out there.”
    We only have to find our way to it,
    and trust ourselves
    to know it when we get there.

    It is the same
    with every aspect of our life.

    We are making soup constantly.
    The idea is to make really good soup,
    to live a really good life,
    one mistake at a time.

    We get it right
    by getting it wrong
    with our eyes open,
    seeing what we look at,
    reflecting on what our experience
    is telling us,
    to the point of new realizations
    leading to different ways of doing things,
    all the way to perfection.

    Throw away all of the rule books,
    all of the doctrines,
    creeds,
    theology,
    and live with your eyes open
    to what is happening
    and what the consequences
    have to tell you
    about what you need to do differently
    in light of what needs to be done
    to make things as good as they can be
    as assessed by the majority of people
    evaluating your life over time.


  90. 12/26/2020  —  Colt Creek Cascades 02 04/14/2014 Oil Paint Rendering — Pierson’s Glen, Saluda, North Carolina

    Our life is uniquely equipped
    to lead us to the heart
    of what matters most.

    The problem is
    that we have our own ideas
    about what that is.

    And our life has to get us
    to abandon our idea
    of what matters most
    and to embrace our life’s idea
    of what matters most,
    and live in the service of that
    with all our heart.

    This is the story of Adam and Eve
    in the Garden of Eden,
    and the story of Jesus of Nazareth
    in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    This is the story of humankind.
    We live to know what is important
    and live in light of it,
    serving it with our life.

    And we interfere with that process,
    with the process of life,
    by forcing our idea of what is important
    on our life.

    Ideally, we live to comprehend–
    and pledge our liege loyalty to–
    the meaning of:
    “Thy will, not mine, be done!”
    with “Thy” understood as
    “The flow of life and being,”
    or “The Mystery of Life and Being,”
    or “What needs us to do
    what needs to be done
    here and now.”

    It would help to have this
    explained to us at the start,
    and to be reminded of it often.

    Our life is not ours
    to do with as we will!
    We belong to our life
    to do what it needs us to do!

    This is the call of Destiny
    to acquiesce to its demands.

    Everything rides on our response.


  91. 12/27/2020  —  Cypress Mandala/Adams Millpond Mirror-Mirror Oil Pant Rendered — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina

    Our depth is without end.
    We will never get to the bottom
    of who we are.
    There will always be
    more to us than meets the eye.
    Why do we stop exploring ourselves
    so soon?

    That is the line separating
    ignorance from intelligence.

    Intelligence has nothing to do
    with how smart we are,
    or how educated we are,
    and has everything to do
    with how inquisitive we are,
    and how playful we are.

    Most scientists are intelligent people
    because they love questions
    and delight in playing with possibilities,
    and imagining new worlds,
    and seeing what makes things work,
    and keeps things from working.

    Ignorant people know what they like,
    and what they don’t like,
    and that’s that.
    They think the way
    they are supposed to think,
    and do things the way
    they ought to be done.
    And that’s that.

    Ignorant people and intelligent people
    have a hard time getting along,
    and rarely spend much time together.
    When they are thrown together
    by a natural disaster
    or a war,
    they can cooperate in getting the job done,
    but then it’s back to their way
    of being who they are
    with people who are like them.

    It is great to have people who are like us.
    That makes it easier
    and a lot more fun
    being who we are.

    But.

    We have to learn to do that
    without making people who are not like us
    into enemies
    whom we disparage,
    berate,
    ridicule
    and monsterize.

    We have to learn to listen to one another
    around the table,
    across the oceans.

    We have to pretend we are all
    in foxholes together,
    saving the environment,
    defeating the pandemic-of-the-day,
    sharing resources,
    and improving the quality of life
    for everyone everywhere.

    The world is not a friendly place.
    And that’s where we all come in.
    We can befriend one another
    without everybody being the same.

    Why not?


  92. 12/27/2020  —  Live Oak Lane 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Undisclosed Location

    Our work is integrating opposites,
    creating harmony,
    realizing balance,
    honoring symmetry,
    maintaining the tension
    of mutually exclusive contradictions,
    dancing/living with the rhythm
    of yin and yang coursing through
    our veins
    and meeting us a every turn
    in the course of every day.

    India’s Hinduism and Buddhism
    deplore duality.
    China’s Taoism and Zen delight in duality,
    and see it as the heart of the cosmos,
    the rhythm of life and being.

    From the Tao te Ching (Chapter 42),
    we read:
    “The Tao gives birth to the One (The Origin),
    the One gives birth to the Two (Yin and Yang),
    the Two give birth to the Three (Heaven, Earth, Humanity),
    the Three give birth to every living thing.

    All things are held in Yin and carry Yang,
    and they are held together in the Ch’i
    of teeming energy.”

    Duality is One with Life and Being.

    When we are most whole, we are playing
    with what Joseph Campbell called,
    “the potentials of this infinitely and incessantly
    changing universal duad (Yin and Yang).”

    Living authentically, genuinely, honestly
    is being true to the contradictions within,
    bearing the tension of being two things at once
    (I want to be the best father/husband/etc. who ever lived,
    and I don’t want to be a father/husband/etc. at all!).

    “This is the way things are,
    and this is the way things also are,
    and that is the way things ARE!

    “This is the way things are,
    and this is what can be done about it,
    and that’s the way things are!”

    We honor the rhythms of life
    in the way we live with life,
    within life.

    “The tide comes in,
    and the tide turns around,
    and the tide goes out,
    and the tide turns around,
    and the tide comes in…”

    Ebb and flow,
    up and down,
    right and left,
    forward and backward,
    Yin and Yang…

    We dance with our circumstances,
    moving with the rhythm of our life,
    in sync with the Tao,
    doing what is called for
    by the time and place of our living,
    through all the times and places of our living,
    without imposing our idea of how things
    ought to be,
    but honoring how things are,
    and what needs to be done in light of it,
    here and now,
    all our life long.


  93. 12/27/2020  —  Blue Moon 06 01/31/2018 — Indian Land, South Carolina

    The Tao is recognized and honored
    by all religions everywhere.

    Everybody acknowledges the appropriate time,
    the appointed time,
    the fullness of time,
    the right time,
    the time to act
    and the time to refrain from acting.

    And everybody understands
    that there is a right way
    and a wrong way
    to do anything–
    and knows there is a right thing to do
    and a wrong thing to do
    on every occasion under heaven.

    That is all the Tao is about:
    the right way to do
    the right thing to do
    at the right time to do it.

    We all recognize the importance
    of the Tao,
    but.
    We don’t do much about
    putting ourselves in accord
    with the Tao
    in the times and places of our living.

    And that’s the kink in the hose.

    We have to learn to lay aside
    our will for the moment,
    our wants, wishes and desires
    for our life,
    stand apart from our agendas
    and our contriving
    to have our way,
    and live sincerely
    in the service of the good of the moment,
    spontaneously offering what we have to give
    without seeking to exploit
    any occasion in any way
    for our benefit,
    advantage,
    pleasure.

    That is all it will take.
    Heaven won’t be any better than that.


  94. 12/27/2020  —  Bog River Falls 09/29/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Adirondack Park, Tupper Lake, New York

    Here we are. Now what?

    The relationship between/among the individual
    and the collective
    required to produce and maintain,
    oversee and steward,
    meaningful change for the good of the whole–
    the whole earth–
    is governed by what?

    Who does what to whom, when, where, how?

    The Tao is doing the right thing
    in the right way
    at the right time,
    moment-by-moment-by-moment.

    Which is made possible by being quiet
    and living out of our own center i
    n ways that incarnate our original nature
    in doing what is called for
    in the right way
    at the right time
    in each situation as it arises.

    And who is learning to do that?
    Who is living to do that?

    How many of us with it take to do that
    in order to “turn the light around,”
    and transform the way
    life is lived upon the earth?

    And how do we get there from here?

    Someone?

    Anyone?


  95. 12/28/2020  —  Fall Woods Oil Paint Rendering 11/12/2006 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Martin Palmer says all of our lives
    are grounded on faith,
    but not all of us have any idea
    of what the ground of our faith is.

    It helps to know what grounds us,
    and to know what we think about that
    in terms of its helpfulness to us
    and to the life we need to be living.

    Martin and I give away something
    of our faith
    when we imply that
    there is a life we need to be living.

    That is a statement of faith
    if ever there were one.

    Speaking of statements of faith,
    here are two collections:

    “It’s fine.
    It’s all fine.
    Everything is fine.”

    “It doesn’t matter.
    Nothing matters.
    Nothing has ever mattered.”

    These are statements of faith
    representative of attitudes,
    frames of mind,
    perspectives
    that ground someone’s life
    and direct their living.

    We all believe things
    incapable of verification
    that reflect our general orientation
    and the effort we make
    to shape our life
    and impact the world around us.

    What do you believe?
    What is worth believing?
    Everything about you/us hangs
    on how we answer these questions.

    The things we tell ourselves
    and the seriousness with which we take them
    make all the difference
    in terms of the quality of the life we live,
    and the enthusiasm with which we live it.

    If you are going to take anything on faith
    (And we all are going to take a lot of things on faith!)
    let the importance of the things we tell ourselves
    be one of the things on that list!

    Martin and I would say
    that our story–
    the story we are telling about us
    by the way we are living our life–
    our life story,
    is important beyond all we are capable
    of imagining,
    and, more than that,
    it is a part of another, larger, story
    that encompasses all of our stories
    throughout time.

    Our story is connected with all of our stories,
    and all of our differences
    create our commonalities
    and produce the song
    we all are singing
    that we don’t know anything about.

    And everything we do has an impact
    beyond anything we recognize as being impactful.

    Our influence is actual,
    and it is amazing.

    It matters how we live.

    If you are going to believe anything
    (And you are going to believe a lot of things!)
    believe that!
    And live as though it is so!

    Moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day,
    your whole life long!


  96. 12/28/2020  —  Pawley’s Island Moon 03 12/16/2013 — Pawley’s Island, South Carolina

    What do you care about?
    Why do you care?
    How would other people
    know you care about it
    by the way you live your life?

    Get to the bottom of all three questions.

    Write down your answers
    in a poem,
    or an essay,
    that speaks the truth
    about you
    and what you care about.

    Take your time with this exercise,
    but do not put it off.

    It will take you to the core
    of who you are,
    and what you are doing about it–
    and call you to life.


  97. 12/28/2020  —  Confluence 07 10/29/2014 Oil Paint Rendering — Ramsey Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbriar District

    We all possess a super weapon
    that is well within our reach,
    yet far exceeds our grasp.

    It is simply-and-simultaneously-impossibly
    being mindfully aware
    of what is happening
    and what needs to happen in response
    in each situation as it arises,
    and how we might help meet that need
    with the gifts/virtues/characteristics/
    genius/original nature
    that come with us from the womb
    for just such an occasion–
    to be used with innocence, sincerity and spontaneity,
    with no investment in what we stand to gain or lose,
    or any idea of exploiting the situation
    for our benefit in any way.

    That’s it.

    We are equipped to see and do,
    to rise to every occasion,
    and live out our lives
    in the service of compassion and grace.

    If that doesn’t impress you
    as being much of a super weapon,
    that is because you are thinking
    about weapons in the wrong way.

    They are not for serving our needs
    and interests,
    but for doing what is right
    at the right time,
    in the right way.

    Why do anything other than that?


  98. 12/29/2020  —  The Maple Tree Oil Paint Rendered — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    What do we talk about
    when we have nothing to say?

    What do we talk about
    to keep from saying
    what we have to say?

    What do we talk about all the time?

    What do we never talk about?

    How do we know/decide
    what to say?

    How much does our talking conceal?
    How much does our talking reveal?

    Who is listening when we speak?

    What do we have to say
    that no one will/can hear?

    What do we have to say
    that we refuse to hear?

    What are we not saying
    that is dying to be heard?

    What are we saying by the way
    we live our life?

    What are we afraid of?
    Ashamed of?

    What are we hiding?
    What are we hiding from?
    Why are we hiding?
    Who are we kidding?
    Why are we kidding anyone?


  99. 12/29/2020  —  Baxter Creek Bridge Panorama Oil Paint Rendered 11/11/2008 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Campground, Waterville, North Carolina

    Living in ways that befriend life
    balances the opposites,
    integrates the polarities,
    harmonizes Yin and Yang,
    negotiates and compromises–
    and resorts to forcing, pushing, shoving
    only when all other approaches have failed
    and crashing through windows
    and smashing down doors
    are our last remaining choice
    for escaping a burning building.

    Thinking of battling,
    fighting,
    going to war,
    as our first,
    best,
    most efficient,
    most effective
    way of getting what we want
    and having our way
    is already to have lost
    anything worth having.

    “Prayer Warriors”
    miss the point of prayer–
    and do not grasp the significance
    of “What shall I say?
    ‘Father, save me from this hour!’
    No! For this purpose
    I have come to this hour!
    ‘Father, Glorify your name!'”

    How we face “the hour,”
    how we understand “the hour,”
    who we show ourselves to be in “the hour,”
    is why we come to “the hour,”
    in every hour,
    moment-by-moment,
    day-by-day
    our entire life long.

    “The hour” is the time and place
    of our revelation,
    of our realization,
    of our incarnation,
    of who we are and what is ours to do–
    requiring that we stand consciously,
    mindfully,
    between the contradictory forces
    at work in “the hour”
    and make peace,
    bearing in our body
    “the marks of the cross.”

    Hour after hour.

    In so doing,
    we become Jesus in Gethsemane,
    the Buddha under the Bo Tree,
    and every parent worthy of the title,
    and every human being
    carrying the weight of being human.

    It is who we are.
    It is what we do.

    “What I do is me,
    for that I came”
    (Gerard Manley Hopkins).


  100. 12/29/2020  —  Ramsey Creek Bridge 04/17/2008 Oil Paint Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbriar District

    We stand between how things are
    and how things ought to be,
    and bear the pain of the dichotomy,
    of the contradiction,
    and do what we can
    in the service of the ought-to-be,
    within the constraints
    of the possibilities before us.

    We do not get to choose our choices.

    We get to choose from among the choices
    available to us
    in each situation as it arises.

    How long have we been struggling
    beneath the burden of racism?
    Sexism?
    Misogyny?
    Homophobia?
    Islamophobia?
    Xenophobia?
    Etc.?

    Ours is the Sisyphean Task
    of doing what must be done
    within the limitations imposed upon us
    by the time and place of our living.

    “As good as it can be”
    is often far from
    “Good enough,”
    and nowhere near
    “The Good!”

    But our work is always
    in the service of The Good!

    The Good is the rock we roll up the hill,
    and follow to the bottom,
    and roll it up the hill,
    and follow to the bottom…
    throughout our life.

    And quitting is not an option!

    Think of it as job security,
    and get back to work!







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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