January 4, 2018 — April 6, 2018

 

  1. 01/04/2018 — Smoky Mountain Fall 2017 10 — The Tipton Place 01, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park near Townsend, Tennessee, October 21, 2017

    Joseph Campbell said:

    “Heinrich Zimmer used to say,
    ‘The best things can’t be told,’
    because they transcend thought.
    ‘The second best are misunderstood,’
    because those are the thoughts
    that are supposed to refer to
    that which can’t be thought about,
    and one gets stuck in the thoughts.
    ‘The third best are what we talk about.””

    The best things are our experiences
    with the Numen,
    with the ineffable core
    of life and being.
    “Wow!” or silence
    is the response
    of the moved before the mover.
    The second best things are the things
    that we know
    upon reflection on the best things,
    but can only be expressed
    with symbols
    or with words that cannot be defined,
    and can only be understood
    by those who know what we are trying to say,
    and it is all garbage to everyone else.
    The third best things
    are the noise we make
    when we use words to talk about words.
    Some of this is a waste
    of everyone’s time,
    and some of it establishes
    boundaries,
    creates community,
    communicates caring,
    establishes our place
    in the lives of others
    and enables us
    to carry out our business
    in the world of space/time.
    The third best things
    lay the groundwork
    for our life together.

    If we seek the source
    of life and direction,
    we have to be quiet
    and pay attention
    to what-we-do-not-know.
    None of the Knowers
    can say what they know,
    and all of them remain seekers
    throughout their life.

01/04/2018 — We lose the way
when we try to exploit it
and make it
pave our way
to fortune and glory.
The way is just the way.
Our work is just our work.
Profiteering is antithetical to both–
which are actually one
(The way is our work,
our work is the way).
When we live with an eye
out for what is in it for us–
beyond doing the work that is ours to do,
which is its “own reward,”
and “pays off”
with satisfaction, contentment, and peace of mind–
we “leave the way”
and “turn aside from the path,”
and seek what we have no business having,
as though there is something more
than being at-one
with our gifts and our purpose.
But then,
Adam and Eve thought
they could improve paradise,
and here we are.

01/04/2018 — When I consider the disasters,
and extinctions,
and obliterations,
that have occurred
throughout history,
and continue to occur,
I am left with the conclusion
that life is the most willful
thing I can imagine.
Life does not quit.
Life finds a way.
Life is interminable,
unrelenting,
determined,
resolute,
unwavering…
And bent,
it seems,
on self-realization,
self-awareness,
self-expression,
self-knowledge
and self-understanding.
Protoplasm is not enough.
It has to be conscious.
And it cannot just be conscious–
it has to be self-conscious.
It has to dance and sing,
and be amazed.
At every single thing.
Knowing it is such a wonder
to behold.

01/04/2018 — My father did not understand
that how he responded to events
kept things from going from bad to worse.
So, I’ve spent my life atoning for his mistake,
telling everyone I know,
“How you respond to events
makes all the difference–
and your initial inclination
isn’t necessarily the right one.”

  1. 01/05/2018 — Smoky Mountain Fall 2017 20 — Oconaluftee River, Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina, October 19, 2017

    The trick is to live in ways
    appropriate to the occasion
    in each situation as it arises
    all our life long.
    The key is to see, hear and understand
    what is happening,
    what needs to happen,
    and what we can do about it
    with the gifts/resources
    at our disposal–
    and to have the courage to do it
    the way it needs to be done,
    when it needs to be done.
    We get to that point
    through reflection and realization,
    NOT by serving some doctrine,
    some idea,
    some model
    of The Right Thing To Do.
    We are not here to impose an ideology
    upon the circumstances of our life,
    but to respond to each moment
    in ways that open the moment
    and bring forth the good
    that is capable of coming to life there.
    We are midwives of possibility and hope,
    assisting in the birth of both
    in the time and place of our living.
    The world is waiting, watching
    for what we have to offer.
    We are the water of life
    in a parched and dying land.
    No one can be who we are,
    where we are,
    when we are,
    but us.
    Why hold anything back?

01/05/2018 — Cultivate silence
and trust yourself to it.
That’s my best advice.
It takes a “quiet place”
to reflect on
“all things considered.”
“The noise of the 10,000 things,”
“The dust of the world,”
jams the signals coming from
“the small bird” within.
We have to be quiet to hear the chirping.
“Existential Stillness” is the foundation
of life in the field of action.
It is life beyond thinking—
life lived looking, listening, seeing, hearing.
We cannot be anything
until we can be quiet.

01/05/2018 — The old prophet declared:
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls…”
Get the idea?
The cultural ideal of Profit At Any Price
fails to grasp
how getting nothing out of it,
of having nothing to show for it,
is of no consequence
to those who understand
that life depends
upon their ability
to be the moved before the mover.
Foster that connection,
and you will stand unmoved
before the worst
that life can do.

01/05/2018 — What we say about something–
how we interpret it,
evaluate it,
understand it,
see it,
what it signifies,
what it means–
is not what it IS.
Whatever the something is–
be it person, place or thing–
is not–
certainly not only–
what we say it is.
Yet, what we say about it
will likely have a greater impact
than it could ever have by itself alone.
Our reaction to it
determines,
or strongly influences,
everything that follows.
It would be well
if we paid as much attention
to how we see
as we do
to what we see.

01/05/2018 — I step outside around 7 o’clock each evening
and listen to the coyote serenade.
It is a wonderful connection with eons
of ancestors listening to coyotes or wolves,
and plotting their course
through their own tomorrows.
I am one with the species,
doing what has been done for time immemorial.
Reflecting on that,
I realize the similarity doesn’t stop there.
I carry their imprint in my DNA,
and sing with them in ways I think are all my own,
just like the coyotes singing with the coyotes of lore.

  1. 01/06/2018 — Page’s Mill Pond 2017 05 — Lake View, South Carolina, October 31, 2017

    Human beings are like horses and elk
    in that we do better in the company of others.
    It has to be the right kind of others, however.
    We have to know who belongs to our tribe,
    and who does not.
    Who belongs in our Inner Circle,
    and who belongs somewhere else.
    Being in the wrong tribe is worse than being alone.
    Having no Inner Circle is being alone.
    Too many of us have no one to call on in time of trouble.
    It’s all up to us.
    We are strictly on our own.
    When that is the case,
    we have to form an alliance with the Really Inner Circle,
    and find within connections and associations
    with the wealth of personalities and perspectives
    that help us in ways beyond counting.
    Who knows which book to read next?
    I certainly cannot say “I” am the one!
    There are inner guides for practically everything!
    What determines which restaurant you choose?
    Which menu item you order?
    What movies you watch–
    and never consider watching?
    All of our lives are built around motives we do not understand.
    Choices we do not know why we make.
    We are NOT alone, ever!
    And, when we are alone,
    it helps to know that we are NOT alone–
    and open ourselves to the possibility
    of fostering relationships with the Really Inner Circle within.
    And step into our life smiling,
    with the confidence of one who knows
    a plethora of those who know.

01/06/2018 — Knowing the rules of basketball,
for example,
and understanding the game
are a lifetime apart.
Replace “basketball” with any other thing:
piano playing,
knitting,
ranching,
running a corporation,
or a country,
and the same rule applies.
Knowing and understanding
are not equivalent.
It would make all the difference
if Those Who Know Best
knew they don’t understand a thing.

01/06/2018 — No shaman belongs
in a circle of shamans.
No Zen master belongs
in a circle of Zen masters.
Shamans and Zen masters
are individually crazy,
outside the bounds of
communal ways of thinking/acting/being.
They are purely themselves,
in every situation as it arises.
They are incapable of being bound
to a common agreement of any kind,
because they never know
what they will be doing next.
To be a Shaman or a Zen master
is to be you on your own,
which is the only possible way
to be you.
And it is crazy.
On our own,
we are all insane.

01/06/2018 — If we pursue and serve
what is meaningful to us,
and do not interfere with
others in the pursuit and service
of what is meaningful to them–
but actively assist them
in their endeavors,
as they actively assist us in ours,
it will be better for us all worldwide
than it is at the moment.
As it is,
we are all busy seeing our own good
at the expense of the good of others,
and we do not stop to ask
if our idea of our own good
is meaningful to us,
or if it is just the idea we seek
to serve and implement.
The idea of our own good
seems to be the ability
to do whatever we want on a whim,
even if it is meaningless.
The disciplined service of what is meaningful
asks too much of us,
and our life revolves around
meaningless and momentary pleasures,
that we talk about in ways
that suggest they are meaningful,
but they are not.

01/06/2018 — Things happen all the time.
Some things happen
that have no meaning for anyone,
or anything
(Snow flakes falling in the Arctic).
Other things happen occasionally
that have meaning for everyone
and everything
(An asteroid the size of the moon
striking the earth).
Still other things happen
that mean different things
to different people–
and different things
to the same person
at different times in their life.
The meanings are as important
as the things that happen.
Stripped of their meanings
the things that happen are insignificant.
How we ascribe meaning
is the most significant thing we do.
What things signify depend upon
a matrix of emotions, expectations, desires, fears, interests, etc
that shape and are shaped by
the personality, attitude and perspective
of those who are impacted by the things that happen.
Become aware of the impact of what happens in your life,
and of the meanings you ascribe to what happens,
and how the meanings modulate the impact.
As you change the meanings,
you change the impact.
You change the meanings
just by being aware of them.
Observe yourself in action.
Hold everything in your awareness.
Meditate on you
throughout the New Year.
See what impact
being aware of life’s impact
has on your life.

  1. 01/04/2018 — Pitt Street Sunset 2017 01 Panorama — Charleston Harbor from Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, December 5, 2017

    Reflection,
    realization,
    insight,
    understanding,
    awareness,
    coupled with the soft values,
    compassion,
    tenderness,
    kindness,
    altruism,
    benevolence,
    grace,
    good faith,
    good will,
    self-transparency,
    justice,
    equality,
    liberty,

    create an environment
    that is conducive to life.
    But.
    They don’t stand a chance with
    greed,
    ruthlessness,
    hypocrisy,
    dishonesty,
    deceit,
    deception,
    cruelty,
    brutality,
    viciousness,
    vindictiveness,
    vengeance,
    callousness,
    etc.
    The hard values trump
    the soft values,
    and the world reflects
    the result.
    Which best the questions:
    What is guiding our boat
    on its path through the sea?
    In light of what do we live?

01/07/2018 — Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world!
Let your light shine!”
The Buddha said,
“You are the path you seek!
Walk before others
so that they see what you are doing
and perhaps understand
that it is not about following you,
but about being in their life
as you are in yours.”
These are the words of the masters.
Why would we not do what they say?

01/07/2018 — I want to see the Administration
and Congress
investigate how we can provide
hot meals to every person
who cannot afford to feed themselves,
and implement a program for doing so.
Did we just give $1.4 Trillion to the wealthy
who have never been hungry in their life?
Feed. The. Poor!

01/07/2018 — We do not make up meaning.
We do not say “This or that will be meaningful to me.”
It is or it is not meaningful.
Meaning IS.
Meaning is before us.
Just like “true love” is before us.
We “fall in love” “out of the blue.”
We don’t make it up.
We cannot decide we are going to fall in love
with him or her,
with a camera or a dog.
Meaning seizes us as much as love does,
and commands our heart and our service.
If something is meaningful,
we can only recognize it
and submit to it,
or deny it
and forever regret walking away.

  1. 01/08/2018 — Dockside 2017 13 — Port Royal, South Carolina, November 14, 2017

    We cannot live a meaningful life
    without doing what is meaningful to us
    in our life,
    with our life.
    A meaningful life is not lived meaninglessly.
    If your life doesn’t mean anything to you,
    it isn’t going to mean anything to anyone else.
    If your life doesn’t mean anything to you,
    it is up to you to find what is meaningful
    and do it.
    If you aren’t willing to do that,
    why not?
    You have to look at the barriers,
    the obstacles,
    the bars and walls
    blocking your way–
    and at what it would take
    to bring them down.
    Working to remove them
    would be meaningful.

01/08/2018 — We do not get to declare
what is to be meaningful.
It is not ours to say,
but to see and to serve,
with brave hearts
and unflagging allegiance,
wheresoe’er the path may lead.

01/08/2018 — In each moment,
there is what-is-there-to-experience,
and there is what-we-actually-experience.
We interpret what we actually experience,
and react to our interpretation of that experience
out of the cumulative impact
of our past experiences/interpretations/reactions.
the “presence of the past”
is present with us in every moment
to shade, color, influence, spin, skew, distort, slant
what we see
and tilt or lean us toward a particular response.
We do not approach any moment
free from the effects of previous moments.
We “walk with a limp,”
and “carry our baggage” with us
wherever we go.
Being aware of where we have been
and what that has done to us
brings into every moment
a roomful of additional things to be aware of
in “seeing the moment”
and responding to it–
and is another reason to slow down our reaction time
in order to reflect on what is happening within us
and around us
before responding,
and setting in motion
forces producing
a new set of moments
calling forth similar responses.
This is known as “the spiral of life.”

  1. 01/09/2018 — Charleston Harbor Sunset 2017 12 Panorama — From Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, December 5, 2017. I copied the top half of the image, flipped it and blended it with itself to create the mirror effect.

    We work with our possibilities
    to create our results.
    We cannot force
    what cannot be forced,
    and can only make happen
    what can be made to happen.
    It is the difference between
    trusting our luck
    and pushing our luck,
    and knowing that our luck
    often hinges
    on our willingness to take a chance.
    At the end of our rope,
    what do we have to lose?
    Joseph Campbell said,
    “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure”
    (but it may not be what
    you had in mind).
    And,
    “The treasure you seek
    is at the back of the cave
    you most don’t want to enter.”
    Courage and heart
    are the servants of vision.
    Seeing what needs to be done
    calls forth the willingness to do it,
    or not.
    And the future rides
    on what we choose to do
    when we are out of easy options.

  2. 01/10/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 02 Panorama — Lancaster County, South Carolina, January 9, 2018

    Grace is the soft side of chaos.
    Chaos is the hard side of grace.
    The two are one.
    Not only are they equivalent,
    they are identical–
    interchangeable–
    presenting us with the foundational
    optical illusion
    at work in time/space,
    space/time.
    Now you see grace,
    now you see chaos,
    now you see grace…
    If we weren’t so into
    selecting what we want
    and disregarding what we do not want,
    we could see the oneness of both
    at the same time.
    Chaos from one point of view is grace.
    Grace from one point of view is chaos.
    Grace/chaos,
    chaos/grace,
    is the sine non qua of existence,
    which is the other side of nothingness
    (each, their own expression
    of grace/chaos,
    of chaos/grace).
    The young men on the winning side
    of football games
    are always giving God the glory,
    and thanking their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
    for giving them the victory
    (because if they don’t they might
    commit an unspeakable offense
    and create a karmic wave
    that would cause them to lose
    all future contests–
    God and their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
    being finicky and fickle that way)
    could just as easily curse
    their chaotic fortunes
    for disrupting their life
    with the win
    and setting them on the road
    to rack and ruin–
    which happens eventually to them all.
    One thing is always going over
    into the other.
    Whatever we make of it
    in one moment
    will be replaced by the other
    in the next.
    Grace is both grace and chaos.
    Chaos is both chaos and grace.
    We have to do what is asked of us
    either way,
    balancing ecstasy
    and wretchedness
    with acknowledgment
    of their gifts,
    and bringing the harmony
    of grace to bear
    upon the upheaval
    of eternal enmity
    throughout our life.

01/10/2018 — If it isn’t coming,
it’s going.
Look around.
Everything you see
is going.
Walk through Wal Mart,
and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Allow them to symbolize for you
every store in the world.
Everything there is going,
on its way to some landfill.
Even the landfills are going.
Making room for whatever is coming.
Permanence is our greatest fantasy,
and fills our need
for things to be
happy ever after.
Accepting the world
on its terms
and placing ourselves
in accord with it
does not fit into our plans.
Our plans are the most important thing.
And, they are all going.
Our place is to let coming what’s coming,
and to let go what’s going,
with a nod of welcome
and a kind farewell–
Shalom and
Namaste.
Hello and good-bye
in a single greeting.

01/10/2018 — Our “lot in life”
is the same thing
as our “fate,”
which is not
to be confused
with our “destiny.”
Our destiny
is what we do
with/in-spite-of/despite
our fate.
Our fate/lot-in-life
is the genetic makeup
of our parents,
the time and place
of our birth
and all of resources/obstacles
those things present to us
throughout our life.
It is incumbent upon us
that we accommodate ourselves
to our fate,
put ourselves in accord with it,
and open ourselves
to all of the gifts and tools
to be found there–
using them in the work
of uniting with ourselves
and fulfilling our destiny
through the life that is ours to live.
Where are you in that process?
What do you need to move it along
toward the realization/expression
of the wonder of you?

  1. 01/11/2018 — Old Sheldon Church Ruins 2017 05 — Yemassee, South Carolina, November 12, 2017

    Putting ourselves in accord with our fate
    means reconciling ourselves to our lot in life,
    accepting the givens–
    including our gifts and interests–
    and doing what can be done with them.
    Our options may be limited,
    but our possibilities are abundant,
    and we all face the same challenge:
    “Get in there
    and do your thing,
    and don’t bother about
    keeping score!”

  2. 01/12/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 18 Panorama — Lancaster County, South Carolina, January 11, 2018

    Joseph Campbell said,
    “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”
    The implication is immense.
    We are influenced by the company we keep.
    And by the people in positions to be influential.
    I wonder…
    How disoriented are you feeling these days?
    The influence of a discombobulated person discombobulates.
    Particularly when that person
    is President of the United States.
    Donald Trump does not recognize,
    and thus fails to honor,
    the common agreements
    that serve as the ground
    of the Republic,
    the culture,
    the civilization,
    to which we belong.
    These agreements
    are the values
    which anchor the Republic,
    the culture,
    the civilization,
    which orient and stabilize our lives.
    Donald Trump acknowledges
    no governing agreements
    shaping his behavior,
    directing his life.
    There is nothing beyond Trump’s
    mood-of-the-moment
    to guide him past his tendencies
    toward indulgence and excess.
    flippancy and bawdiness.
    The country’s foundations
    fail to hold
    and we are all afloat
    upon the heaving waves
    of the wine dark sea.

    When the communal values are despised and discarded,
    we are left with seeking out and serving
    the individual values that ground and shape our life.
    When “who we are” as a culture
    is up in the air,
    who are are as individual persons
    has to come to our aid.
    Who are you?
    What are you about?
    What is most important to you?
    Most meaningful to you?
    How is that evidenced in the way you live?
    When the basic assumptions orienting our life
    are shattered by realities
    unconcerned with how things ought to be,
    we are left with what has true value
    even now, even so, even yet–
    and aligning our life with it,
    so that we,
    each of us,
    individually,
    become the needed source of vitality
    vitalizing life
    by the way we live our own.

01/12/2018 — The hope of the world
is the individual person
living aligned with
the things that are meaningful
to them as ends to be served
and not a means to privilege
and glory.
What do you do
that you love for its sake alone–
and not for what you think
it will do for you?
What do you do
because you love it
and not because of anything
that may come of it?
Seek out the things you love,
the things that are meaningful,
and dance with them
throughout your life.
This is to be
the hope of the world.

  1. 01/12/2018 — Our nighttime dreams
    are personal parables
    revealing how things are
    in our life,
    and asking,
    “Here it is–
    what are you going to do about it?”
    Each night we relive
    the problem
    and are given the opportunity
    to reflect on an appropriate response.
    Dreams are autobiographical scenes
    helping us prepare for what is happening
    in our world,
    asking us to grow up
    in 10,000 ways.
  2. 01/13/2018 — Page’s Mill Pond 2017 07 HDR — Lake View, South Carolina, October 31, 2017

    It changes over time, but
    one of the first things
    we figure out
    is how to manage
    our anxiety.
    All of our addictions
    are stress-relievers.
    Nature has been
    my panacea
    from the beginning,
    and that’s not the end of it
    My entire life
    is structured
    to reduce/remove my anxiety.
    The things I do repeatedly
    have low anxiety for me.
    The things I do not do at all
    have high anxiety.
    I manage my anxiety
    by what I say yes to
    and what I say no to.
    Anxiety controls what I do
    and how I do it
    and for how long.
    I live best
    (that is to say,
    I enjoy my life most)
    when I am free of/from anxiety,
    and strive to arrange for
    that kind of freedom
    on a regular basis.
    Watching my anxiety level,
    holding it in my awareness,
    and seeing how I respond to it
    has helped me negotiate
    my way through my life,
    and allows me to relish
    the peace of quiet places.

01/13/2018 — There are three ways
of gauging what is important to us:
How we spend our money;
How we spend our time;
What we talk about.
You may think you know
what matters most to you, but:
How much money do you spend on it?
How much time do you spend with it?
How much do you talk about it?

01/13/2018 — We are born into a set of circumstances.
We live out our life
within changing sets of circumstances.
Our circumstances impact us,
we impact our circumstances,
embryos within a womb of life and being.
Take us out of the circumstances
that have been ours all our life long,
and put us into a different set of circumstances,
and the stress would be dramatic–
the greater the difference,
the greater the stress.
Military veterans
taken from civilian life,
thrown into a war,
placed back in civilian life,
have a difficult time making the transitions.
Most of us have experienced “home sickness.”
Think of it as “circumstance sickness.”
We long for life within the circumstances
that are for us the “womb of life and being.”
We do not move easily
from living this way,
to living that way,
to living that way over there.
Our circumstances provide us
with meaning,
orientation,
direction,
guidance,
mores,
values,
codes of behavior,
language,
clothing,
shelter,
the very stuff of life.
We can make incremental changes,
but the major transitions
are jolts to our system,
and recovery can be a long while in coming.

  1. 01/14/2018 — Beaufort Fall 2017 12 — Waterfront, Beaufort, South Carolina, November 13, 2017

    We grow up against our will,
    but some of us have a lower tolerance
    for the unacceptable
    than others of us.
    Some of us cannot “grow up” at all.
    It’s a problem.
    What is completely intolerable for one
    is merely an inconvenience for another.
    We are never going to be
    “on the same page,”
    or even “in the same book.”
    And, therein, lies the challenge
    of living together in ways
    we all find agreeable.
    We meet the challenge
    by agreeing to make the allowances
    we are able to make
    for the incompatible differences
    that exist among us,
    and extending grace and compassion
    to each other for the gaps
    that cannot be bridged,
    and letting the differences stand
    that cannot be resolved.
    If we are ever going to practice something,
    we could start
    with practicing that.

01/14/2018 — Those who are seeking
are seeking the wrong things
and look past those who can help.
We have to help
those who would help us
by seeing them for who they are,
and seeing ourselves for who we are,
and knowing what we know,
and what we don’t know,
and what we need to know,
and what we need to understand.
Knowing what questions to ask
needs to be the first question.
Knowing how accommodate ourselves
to the answer
needs to be the second.
It’s like being given three wishes.
Make the first one
wishing how to make the best use
of the last two.
We all know what we think
we want,
but what does wanting know?
How did wanting get to be our guide?
We have to listen past
all we think we know
to what we have dismissed,
discarded,
discounted.
The stone the builders reject,
the pearl picked over by 10,000 pickers,
the path ignored those
who know where they are going,
wait for eyes that see,
ears that hear,
hearts that understand,
belonging to those
who know what they don’t know…

  1. 01/15/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 09 Panorama — Lancaster County, South Carolina, January 11, 2017

    How often do we evaluate our values?
    How often do we think about
    the things we think about?
    How often do we ask,
    “What makes me proud about
    this aspect of myself,
    and that one,
    and all those?”
    And,
    “What makes me think I’m right
    about what I think is right?”
    And,
    “Where am I being asked/invited
    to change the way I think
    about what is importand
    and what is not?”
    And,
    “When is the last time
    I changed my mind
    about what is important?”
    And,
    “In what ways have I
    grow up in the last year?”
    And,
    “In what ways do I need
    to grow up this year?”
    And,
    “Who else do I know
    that ever stops to consider
    these things?”

01/15/2018 — Seek what is meaningful to you and do it.
It will make all the difference–
in your life and in the lives of others.
“The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”–Joseph Campbell

01/15/2018 — Why does doing the right thing
meet with such resistance?
Feeding the hungry,
helping the poor and disenfranchised,
giving people hope,
baking gay couples a wedding cake…
Why. The. Hell.
Are some people so mean, little, spiteful,
hateful, rude, cruel, ruthless, impersonal
and without mercy?
Being helpful generally doesn’t
ask much of us.
Here’s the truth for you:
You and I have the power to ruin each other’s day
just by the way we treat each other
standing in line at Starbucks.
Why wouldn’t we be kind and compassionate?
Why wouldn’t we care–
or even pretend to care?
I ask the question to the world!

  1. 01/16/2018 — A Walk Through Fall Woods 2017 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, November 5, 2017

    Awareness is the solution
    to all of your problems today.
    When you have a problem,
    hold it in your awareness.
    Hold everything about it in your awareness:
    What is happening,
    how you feel about what is happening,
    what instigates and holds in place
    what is happening
    and how you feel about what is happening…
    Get everything that belongs
    “in the picture”
    into the picture.
    And sit with the picture.
    Seeing, knowing, feeling, hearing, understanding,
    inquiring, exploring, investigating, probing, experiencing…
    Sit with everything in your awareness
    and see what arises in response
    to your being aware.
    Hold that also in your awareness,
    and see what happens.
    Hold that in your awareness,
    and see what happens in response
    to that happening.
    And so on.
    For the rest of your life.

01/16/2018 — Why hold anything back?
There are no constraints on truth.
No blinders.
We don’t check with our parents,
or with some preacher,
or some boss,
to make sure we are staying
inside the lines.
We say, “The Emperor has no clothes!”
And if there be fallout,
we take what comes,
speaking truthfully
until our last breath.

01/18/2018 — Another term for “disenchantment”
is “The shock of realization.”
How things are
is not how we have been told things will be.
Many a happy fantasy
comes to grief upon
the immovable wall of reality.
Some of us don’t recover.
The gap between how we want things to be
and how things are
is too great.
Our expectations
do not square up
with our experience,
and we cannot make
the adjustment required.
“Delta Dawn,
What’s that flower you have on?
Could it be a faded rose
From days gone by?
And did I hear you say
He was coming here today,
To take you to his Mansion in the Sky?”
Our “Delta Dawn moments”
are asking us–
challenging us–
to come to terms with our life
and look within for the gifts
(one of which would be courage)
encoded in our DNA
which are there for this very moment.
All of our situations in life
have a corresponding DNA-based response
ready to step forth
and enable us to rise to the occasion.
We have been in many tight spots
on our journey from the land of our origin
(The plains and jungles of Africa)
through the ages to here and now.
We won’t find anything here
that we haven’t had to deal with
times past counting on the way from then to now.
We have what it takes,
but it takes understanding that,
and believing it,
to know it
by turning ourselves over to it
and seeing what it can do
with our present context and circumstances.
We owe it to ourselves
to find out all that we are capable of.
Listen within.
Hold everything in awareness.
See what calls you to act.
And step forth in service to your life.
Your ancestors will be proud.

01/16/2018 — on WordPress:

Grace and Karma, Karma and Grace

There is Grace and there is Karma. Karma is Grace kicking butt. When Jesus said, “Father, Forgive them, they know not what they do,” he was being Grace in action, compassionate and kind–on a cross: the inevitability of goodness crushed beneath the weight of power lusting for power, and, also, the power of unrelenting Grace at work in the way Grace works.

Jesus died, and nothing changed. Everything remained tightly in place with the mighty running roughshod over the helpless, and the people playing their games to gain the advantage over one another and get ahead. The milieu, the sitz im leben, the matrix, the umwelt, the gestalt of the social order was what it had been, and would be, across time and place.

And, within that environment, Karma was at work making weal and creating woe. The general welfare was depressed and desperate. Kings were being poisoned by their close advisors. Coups were overthrowing rulers. Deceit and deception were being broadcast throughout the land in every land. Nothing was what it appeared to be, and everything was exactly what you might expect, given the universal discarding, dismissal and denial of the good on all levels.

Yet, all the while, something was stirring in the darkness–as it always does. Grace was about. The idea of justice was coming to the surface of consciousness.

From close to the beginning of human existence, the soft values have been sown among the people–all people, every people–along with the hard values. Justice, mercy/compassion, peace, kindness, gentleness, beauty, goodness, love, generosity, etc. have always been mixed in with ruthlessness, cruelty, meanness, littleness, pettiness, greed, hatred, vengeance, vindictiveness, lying, duplicity, etc.–with the hard values having the upper hand by virtue of their propensity to destroy everything in sight. But, the soft values are the most determined and pliable of things, and cannot be eradicated, even though they suffer silently out of sight, always looking for an opening to break out and come forth as boon and blessing upon all of life. Grace is forever at work in everything that happens everywhere, whether it is apparent or not.

One of the manifestations of Grace is in the idea of a better life in a better world that will not be silenced or forgotten. It is the work of the soft values rising like yeast in the dough of hard values, to alter, transform, demolish and replace the old world with the new. The hope is old past remembering: “The old has passed away! Behold! The new has come!” Grace is Karma’s way–Karma is Grace’s way–of balancing things out and giving the heart at the center of life and being a chance to shape life after its own image.

Karma is the force of Grace in the service of life (And the Tao is the force of Karma/Grace, Grace/Karma seen as One, The Way of Tao is the Way of Grace/Karma, Karma/Grace in action). “You have to pay the piper.” “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” “What goes around, comes around.” “You reap what you sow.” “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” “Your chickens will come home to roost.” “There is always a day of reckoning.” “There are no free rides.” “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” These are all ways of talking about Grace using Karma to kick butt. They say nothing about the Grace of forgiveness, or any of the other soft values.

Karma is a natural force working within the framework of life so that things become just what they are. Forgiveness (and all the soft values) work also within the framework of life to create a space for possibilities that could not exist without the nurture and cultivation of “something more” than the hard values can conceive or produce.

The Grace of Karma and the Grace of forgiveness, etc., work to produce a world that is more than the world is capable of experiencing on its own. On its own, the world is rocks smashing into rocks, where “every action creates an equal and opposite reaction” world without end, amen. But there is more to Grace than that. Within that scheme, Grace brings the soft values into play, and introduces what we might think of as a spiritual level of complexity in the world of physical matter.

“Spiritual” is a felt reality that is invisible in a different way than physical matter can be invisible. The invisibility of physical matter is dependent upon us devising mechanisms to “see” what we cannot “see” with instruments that are currently available, depicting wavelengths that are beyond our present perception. We may well develop ways of “seeing” spiritual realities (like “heart,” “soul,” “mind,” “meaning,” and all of the values, principles and character traits), but my bet is with things remaining in the “felt sense” spectrum of human experience and not coming into the “hard-and-fast facts” spectrum.

The spiritual is the felt sense of the Way of Tao being Karma/Grace, Grace/Karma at work in our experience of our life and our world. It has to be “taken on faith,” “believed” in order to be seen, to the extent that it can be seen, heard, to the degree it can be heard, understood to the level that it can be understood. With the entrance of the spiritual into our life experience, we enter into The Mystery of more than we can know, of more than can be thought, grasped, comprehended, explained, expressed, communicated. It is an experience of wonder, of Grace, of what we cannot say.

And, in this way, the spiritual, The Mystery, is like dark matter. We posit it as being “there,” but we cannot prove it, or know more about it than “it is.” So we fold it into our ever-expanding theory of existence, and await further reflection, realization, insight and understanding. This is where theories based on “belief” and “taking things on faith,” depart from theories that are doctrines and theology, and form the ground of religion. A theory that is open to further experience, experimentation and reflection is quite different from a theory that closes itself off from those things and seals itself into a world where the future must be the past forever, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable through all eternity.

Long before Jesus was born, and in the centuries following his death, the idea of democracy was coming to life in the collective mind of human beings, being tested here and there, being refined and clarified, and burst forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States–continuing to be further refined and clarified to this day. Soft values imposing themselves in a world run by hard values. Grace coming forth through Karma.

Karma exhibits the value of the soft values. History is a reckoning of life preferring soft to hard. Look at the places where hard values have ruled and at the places where soft values held sway. Where has life languished and suffered? Where has life excelled and thrived? History favors the soft side. Karma does, as well.

 

01/17/2018 — The Bible stands solidly against Trump
and all those who stand with him.
From the standpoint of the Scriptures,
Trump is apostate
and those who support him are apostate.
The so-called “Christians”
who revere him
are in violation of the 4th Commandment,
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.”
Claiming to be Christians
while spitting on Christ,
defying Christ,
mocking Christ,
and living in ways that are un-Christ-like
is taking the Lord’s name in vain.
You could build a case for this
in countless ways throughout
the Old and New Testaments–
but need to go no further than,
“In as much you do it,
or fail to do it,
to the least of my brothers and sisters,
you do it,
or fail to do it,
unto me.”
DACA and CHIP and Puerto Rico
are all we need so say about that.

  1. 01/17/2018 — Peach Orchard 2018 05 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    Carl Jung said, “Our life is not made by ourselves.
    The main bulk of it
    is brought into existence
    by forces that are hidden to us.”
    We are “here, now,”
    by virtue of happenstance
    more than intention.
    Our circumstances bring us forth
    in our response to them.
    We do not think ourselves into being,
    in a “I think I will be like this,
    and a little like that” kind of way.
    We live our way into who we are
    by dealing the way we deal
    with what impacts our life.
    We are the culmination of a lifetime
    of responding to life.
    This is who we have become.
    Reflection and awareness
    can alter some of our drifts
    of perception,
    conviction,
    values
    and action.
    The future does not have to be the past.
    We can think about what is happening
    and what we are doing about it,
    but the same invisible forces
    that have come here with us,
    will accompany us the rest of the way.
    Our preferences and tendencies
    percolate upward from deep within.

01/17/2018 — When it comes to knowing what to
take on faith,
and what not to,
one guess is as good as another.
There are no authorities
in the field–
no experts,
no masters of the house.
We are all on our own here.
Ask anyone why
they take this on faith
and not that
they are left with saying
something mystical
and mysterious,
like “It feels right.”
They trust their feelings.
Their feelings are no more
trustworthy than your feelings.
And the divorce rate
suggests that at least half
of us can be wrong
about how we feel about getting married.
So.
If you let someone talk you into
taking on faith
what they take on faith,
you are saying their feelings
are more reliable than your own.
I doubt that you would let them
pick out your spouse for you.
Why let them choose your religion?

10/17/2018 — Resonance is the foundation
of choice,
direction,
guidance,
satisfaction,
happiness,
vitality,
enthusiasm,
hope,
and all that is good.
We know when something resonates with us.
And when it does not.
Go with what resonates with you.
And if it doesn’t work out,
go with what resonates with you then.
And keep it up all the way.
You could do worse,
and have done worse,
so you know what I’m talking about.

01/17/2018 — The grounding principle of democracy,
that government rules
with the consent of the governed,
has been replaced in our lifetime
with government ruling
with the permission of the wealthy
and large corporations.
It came about by way of a hostile takeover
without a shot being fired
when no one was looking.
No one who would have cared, anyway.

  1. 01/18/2018 — Pitt Street Sunset 2017 31 Panorama — Charleston Harbor from Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, December 5, 2017

    The polarity in this country about the place of people with dark skins is past being past.

    What exactly is the problem?

    White supremacy is a thinly veiled (that would be a white sheet) disguise for white inferiority and insecurity.

    White people are afraid of being displaced by people of color.

    Afraid of being treated by people of color the way they have long treated people of color.

    Afraid of losing the voting edge, the economic edge, the technological edge, the educational edge, the edge on all levels, in all ways.

    White people are afraid of people of color.

    The President and his mob cast people of color as terrorists, and says “If we don’t get rid of them and make it impossible for them to vote, they will destroy our ways and America will never be GREAT again!”

    White people are encouraged by other white people to see people of color as terrorists on a destructive, take-over, bent, and can’t sleep for thinking about the terrors and threats presented by their own representation of people of color.

    White people think/believe themselves into being terrified, and react to being terrified by terrorizing the people they are sure are going to terrorize them.

    Over-reacting to their own imagined fears keeps white people on the edge of being afraid of losing their edge.

    And white people keep feeding their fear by talking about how much they have to be afraid of.

    And that, in turn, is fed by politicians who fan the flames to garner support–financial and fanatical–to secure their base and enhance their power.

    Making for a circle that has no end, and, like a whirlpool, draws more and more white people into the vortex, creating more fear and hatred as time goes by.

    It is increased and encouraged by silence.

    Those of us who are white and not taken in by the absurdity of hating/fearing people because of their color or country or origin have to shout out–have to call out–the stupidity of racial hatred/fear, for as long as it takes to wake the hating/terrified white people up to the self-perpetuating vitriol of their own rhetoric.

01/18/2018— Joseph Campbell says that there is really only one problem with life. It comes down to “having the courage to live the life that is authentically ours to live.”

How often do we walk past all invitations to live that life? Passing by with, “Maybe one day.” “Maybe later.” “Maybe tomorrow.” “Maybe next time.”

How many “No, not now’s” do we get?

It isn’t as though we do not know what is authentically ours to do, to be.

It isn’t as though we do not know what resonates with us and what does not.

It is simply that we have yet to have the courage to be who we are and to what is ours to do.

Why hold anything back? Life is for living! If not now, when?

01/18/2018 — I step outside at dusk to say goodnight to the world.
Our house “corners into” the sixty-acre woods,
and my wife and I have “cultivated an L-shaped section
to the north and west,
planting ferns, wildflowers and native azaleas,
and keeping clear a natural waterway
for draining excessive rainfall.
Coyotes roam the woods,
along with deer,
raccoons and opossums,
and enough rabbits for the coyotes to stay around.
Several species of wild birds keep our feeders busy,
and black snakes
and king snakes
slither frequently into view in warm weather.
It is a zoo without walls or bars or fences,
and I stand on the edge of the natural world,
watching the silent coming of darkness–
a “Beam me up, Scotty” experience
transporting me though all the years there are,
chronicling the passage of day to night,
and grounding me in my role
as watcher and witness of the passage of time.

  1. 01/19/2018 — Hunting Island 2017 35/36 Panorama — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, South Carolina, November 5, 2017

    There are people who are good for you,
    and there are people who are bad for you–
    toxic people who rob you of your solitude
    and invade your life,
    taking you hostage
    and demanding that you do things their way
    because they know best
    and must be pleased.
    You are certainly free to hang
    with whomever you choose, but.
    I spend most of my time for other people
    with the people who are good for me,
    and very little time with the people
    who are bad for me.

01/19/2018 — Carl Jung said,
“As a pioneer,
you must be able
to put some trust
in your intuition
and follow your feeling
even at the risk
of going wrong.”

Too many of us
are afraid to trust ourselves.
We opt out
of being responsible
for our lives,
and allow someone else
to tell us what to do,
and when it goes wrong,
at least we have someone else
to blame.
Everything is better
with someone else to blame.

The trouble with this
is that no one else knows
what an authentic life for us
would be.
No one else can give us
the life that is truly
our life to live.
We are the only ones
who have a chance
of knowing what that is,
and what it isn’t.

If we do not take up the work
of finding our own authentic life
and living it,
our life lies unlived,
and we “live”
with no hope
of ever being alive.

  1. 01/20/2018 — Unity Presbyterian Church 2018 02 Panorama — Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    What do/did you do for a living?
    What do/did you live to do?
    What was the last book you read?
    What book(s) are you reading now?
    What book(s) are you likely to read next?
    How much time do you spend in silence?
    How much time do you spend in solitude?
    Who are the people you listen to?
    Who are the people you look forward to talking with?
    What do you talk about with them?
    In general, what do you spend most of your time talking about?
    What do you spend most of your time doing?
    What do you look forward to doing?
    What is the most meaningful thing you do in a week?
    How often do you do it?
    What are the most meaningful objects/items in your life?
    When is the last time you had a good time?
    How often do you watch TV?
    How often do you immerse yourself in the natural world?
    How do you enjoy spending money?
    What do you look forward to in each day?
    What person/place/thing best reflects you to you?
    When you are out-of-sorts, what grounds/centers/focuses you?
    What jams, interferes with, disrupts, disturbs, prevents your communion with you?
    Where do you go/what do you do to commune with yourself?
    What is the best advice you have ever heard?
    What advice do you most dependably offer to others?
    What is your “business” that you are “most you” when you do it?
    Do you spend most of your time thinking or feeling, doing or being?
    When you are “just being you,” what are you doing?
    What do you think about most often?
    What do you do about what you think?
    What feelings are most prevalent, consistent?
    What do you do about what you feel?
    What does your action/activity most frequently flow from–in response to what do you act most often–what directs your acting?
    Toward what do you live?
    What questions would add to this list?

01/20/2018 — Who are the people you are safe with?
Who are the people who are safe with you?
Reflect on the two lists
and see what realizations occur to you.

01/20/2018 — Too many people are looking
for something to
take their mind off themselves
and their life.
Diversion, distraction, denial…
Addiction and entertaining pastimes…
Are the primary business
of a large segment
of the culture
and the world.
Too few people are focusing on
being mindfully aware
of themselves and their life,
seeking their authentic business
and living in its service.
Whether we fall in
with the many or the few
is our call to make.

  1. 01/21/2018 — You are the only one
    who knows what is important
    to you.
    And fooling ourselves
    is what we do best.
    It can seem important
    to escape the responsibility and the burden
    of deciding what is important.
    All of our addictions
    appear to be very important, but.
    They simply shield us
    from the work of having to know
    what is important–
    and do it.
    What matters most to you?
    We are alone with the question.
    “To be the ring-bearer is to be alone.”
    The ring is what is important
    and what is to be done about it.
    We each carry one of those.
    It is a weight like no other,
    and waits for us to take up the task
    of knowing/doing what it asks of us.
  2. 01/22/2018 — Page’s Mill Pond 2017 09 HDR — Lake View, South Carolina, October 31, 2017

    When Robert Frost said,
    “I chose the one less traveled by,
    and that has made all the difference,”
    he left out
    “for better and for worse,”
    and he neglected to add,
    “If I had chosen the one more traveled by,
    that, too, would have made all the difference–
    for better and for worse.”
    All of our choices result in
    different choices than the ones
    we would have had
    if we had chosen differently
    when we had the chance.
    We have chosen the life
    we are currently living
    one choice at a time,
    from the first one to this one.
    If we had known better what the choices
    each choice we have made
    would have resulted in,
    we probably would have chosen differently,
    given our propensity to choose the good
    and avoid the bad, but.
    We are where we are
    as much in response to the bad
    as in response to the good.
    We are the result of what happened to us
    to this point in our life
    combined with what we did about it,
    how we responded to it.
    The bad stuff brought us forth
    in ways the good stuff never could have.
    Too much bad and we are snuffed out.
    Too much good and we are snuffed out.
    Too much bad and we become discouraged.
    Too much good and we become bored.
    We never have a chance either way.
    It has to be the right mixture of good and bad
    for us to thrive, excel, discover what we are made of,
    become who we are capable of being.
    Who do we need to be now?
    The roads are still forking before us in the woods.
    We are still making choices
    that result in more choices,
    for better and for worse.
    In light of what are we living?
    What are we are serving with our life?
    What are we doing with the time given to us?
    Who are we being asked to be–
    even now, even yet?

01/22/2018 — If you are doing something that pays the bills
AND doing what you live to do–
whether that is two things or one thing–
you are at the sweet spot of your life.
Stay there,
doing those things.
Do. Not. Think. It. Would. Be. Better.
Somehow. Somewhere. Else.

  1. 01/23/2018 — Peach Orchard 2018 07 Panorama B&W — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    People cannot be counted on
    to honor, much less, establish
    our boundaries.
    We have to draw our own lines.
    I do that with as much gentleness and grace
    as the situation allows:
    “I’m sure I would love to do that if I wanted to.”
    “I am no longer at the place
    of extending or accepting invitations.”
    “Oh, look at the time.”
    “I have to feed the horses.”
    “My practice of silence and solitude
    doesn’t permit me to be engaged.”
    “You would have to be me to understand.”
    “If I were a better person
    I’m sure I would be glad to.”
    “My life takes up all my time.”
    “People tell me I should, but.”
    “I love you, but.”

    Once you free yourself from the idea
    that it is your place to make other people
    happy with you,
    you are better able to guard yourself
    against unwarranted or unwanted intrusions.
    We establish and maintain
    our own boundaries.
    Everything else flows from there.

    Frasier Snowden said,
    “The only true philosophical question
    is ‘Where do you draw the line?'”
    And we are the only one who can answer it.
    Robert Frost said,
    “Good fences make good neighbors.”
    And good neighbors honor our fences.
    Why spend any time
    with bad neighbors?

  2. 01/24/2018 — Hunting Island 2017 21 Panorama — Hunting Island State Park, Hunting Island, South Carolina, November 14, 2017

    “Wising up” is seeing what we look at,
    hearing what we listen to,
    knowing what we know–
    and understanding what it means.
    We take too much “at face value.”
    We assume people are who they say they are,
    and that they will do what they say they will do.
    “Everybody gets a second chance!” with us.
    And a third,
    and a fourth…
    We don’t want to be cynical.

    Hard-hearted.
    So, we are easy marks.
    Enablers.
    Victims.
    When all we need is awareness.
    Taking everything into account–
    including our propensity to dismiss
    the things we are aware of
    which run counter to
    our fundamental belief
    that everybody wants to do the right thing,
    and no one is mean, cruel, heartless, ruthless,
    nasty, negative, or inhuman.
    Being aware is being aware of it all–
    and seeing what seeing
    and reflecting on what is seen
    enables us to realize
    about ourselves,
    our situation,
    and the other people in it with us.
    When we know what we know
    and understand what it means,
    what to do in response
    is as natural
    as going to the loo
    in the middle of the night.

  3. 01/25/2018 — Pitt Street Sunset 2017 22 Panorama — Charleston Harbor from Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, December 5, 2017

    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.
    “The harvest is plentiful,
    the laborers are few.”
    “The best is the enemy of the good.”
    The good is the enemy of the best.”
    Good precipitates bad.
    Bad provokes good.
    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.

    The nature of the work
    is creating an environment
    conducive to life.
    We walk two paths at the same time.
    We feed our bodies
    and we feed our souls.
    We need an umwelt
    That supports both.
    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.

    Persona and Self,
    Image and Authenticity,
    The Mask and The Face
    That Was Ours Before We Were Born,
    vie for playing time
    in the life we are always living.
    Who–Whose–are we now?
    Here?
    Who–Whose–will we be then?
    There?
    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.

    The real and the ideal
    clash in each moment.
    Each here and now
    is a new struggle for supremacy
    in the field of action.
    Back to good and bad:
    Whose good is served
    by the good we call good?
    Who is safe in our presence?
    Who stands no chance with us at all?
    An advocate for one
    is an adversary for another.
    Whose side are we on
    here and now?
    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.

    The right kind of help
    delivered at the right time
    in the right way
    is “the kind of help
    that help is all about.”
    Other kinds of “help”
    are “the king of help
    we all could do without”
    (Shel Silverstein).
    Which is it,
    here and now?
    The work is never done,
    there is always more to do.

  4. 01/26/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 08 — Lancaster County, South Carolina, January 11, 2018

    What matters most
    is a matter of truth
    and validity.
    Sugar matters most
    to a lot of people,
    but it’s validity
    is not so great.
    The same can be said
    of whiskey.
    Our life can revolve around
    any number of things,
    not all of which
    are worthy of our life.
    How do we evaluate
    our values?
    How truthful are the scales
    upon which we weigh out
    what matters most?
    Fooling ourselves
    is what we do best.
    No–telling ourselves
    what we want to hear
    is what we do best.
    No–shooting ourselves
    in the foot
    is what we do best…
    Whose side are we on?
    What is at stake
    in the way we
    answer the question?
    What are we trying to get?
    Avoid?
    In the way we live our life?
    It takes being quiet
    and inquisitive,
    and aware
    to know.
    Self-transparency
    is the fulcrum
    that levers our world
    into its orbit
    around what matters most–
    that levers our life
    into its service
    to what matters most.
    The less time we spend
    in silent reflection,
    holding everything in awareness,
    and seeing what we see,
    the more time
    we spend doing
    the things we do best,
    with no idea of what matters most
    and how valid that is,
    or valuable,
    in the deepest sense of the terms.

01/26/2018 — Published on my WordPress Blog: The Limits of Religion

Every institutional religious expression from Shaman rituals to high church–whether it is church or masque, temple or synagogue, or anything beyond or between–dirges and celebrations, everything said and done are aligned with what the people expect to hear and see. The limits of religion are the expectations of the people and the tolerance of the people for having those expectations stretched/expanded/exploded/denied.

The new religion of Christianity had to explain itself in terms of the expectations of both Jews and Gentiles. No religion can stray far from the expectations of the people and have any chance of being the religion of those people. The people will not pay to hear what they do not wish to be told.

The kind of politics that plays well in a local congregation is the only kind that will play well there–or, better perhaps, the only kind that will play at all there. Different congregations will be open to different political positions. Gun control and abortion are out of the question in certain churches, and Confederate flags and racism are out of the question in certain other churches, and no politics of any kind is welcome in still others.

Ministers in those churches play to the whims of the people. “The freedom of the pulpit” is only as free as the people in the congregation are willing to be disappointed/offended. There is a line beyond which a congregation will not go. The same thing applies to seminaries and denominations.

New ideas can only be “just so new.” You can’t take anybody where they do not want to go. Religion is always a compromise between what people need to hear and what they can be told. “Jim, why don’t you talk to us about things we can understand?” remains an apt summation of my career in the ministry. The person who asked that was asking, “Why don’t you tell us what we expect to hear–what we have always been told?” That’s what people look for. And that’s what keeps the church from being the church.

Every outward expression of the experience of “the inward spiritual grace” that is the encounter with the Numen, the ephemeral reality at the heart of religion, and which has always been called “God,” or “Shiva,” or “Tao,” or “Buddha,” or “Great Spirit,” etc. becomes locked into the words that are used to say what cannot be said. The church, when it is being the church, is connecting people with the experience of the Mystery that is more than words can say–and, it has to use words that leave the Mystery intact.

It does that by talking about the symbols at the center of the church’s heritage and life, and connecting them with the lives of the people–re-interpreting the symbols in ways that bring the experiences of the people to life for them, and bring them to life in their daily experience of being alive. Religion connects people to life, to vitality, to wonder and to mystery. When has the church of your experience done that?

The church that is being the church does it all the time. It does it by engaging the people with their experience. By teaching them the art of mindfulness–which is the practice of compassionate, non-judgmental, awareness of themselves and their present situation (what is happening within and without, and of what needs to happen in response, and what would be appropriate and proper to the situation) in each situation as it arises.

The church that is being the church teaches the people to seek out experiences with the Numen in art, music and nature–and to seek to know themselves and the validity, wonder, and authority that comes from self-reflection, self-examination, self-exploration, and self-expression, which form the center and ground of their own being, and is the bedrock which anchors them through the ebbs and flows of life in the world of space and time–and is itself an encounter with the Numen beyond space and time.

The church that is being the church calls people to spend time in silence and solitude, reflecting on their life-experience and forming new realizations. The silence before, during and after, “AUM” says all that can be said–or that needs to be said–about the religious experience at the heart of mystery and wonder. But we can’t build a religion around that. Religion requires sutras, doctrines, dogmas, creeds, rituals, prayers, orders of the day, holy books, and hierarchies without end–all held together with words about words which everyone expects to hear.

 

  1. 01/27/2018 — Peach Orchard 2018 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Lake Haigler Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    What are you after?
    What do you seek?
    In light of what do you live?
    In the service of what do you live?
    What will it take
    for you to “live well”?
    What propels your boat
    on its path through the sea?
    And what guides it?
    You have to get to the bottom
    of these things.
    It is called
    “Knowing yourself.”
    It is also called
    “Anchoring yourself to the bedrock.”
    And,
    “Standing on the foundation.”

    Self-reflection.
    Self-awareness.
    Self-examination.
    Self-exploration…
    are essential for realization,
    and serve as the ground
    of your own authority
    so that the life you live
    flows from YOU
    and belongs to YOU,
    and YOU are the one
    who is responsible for,
    and accountable for,
    how you live
    and what you do.
    No one can know
    what matters most to you
    but you.
    And no one can tell you
    how to live in the service
    of what matters most to you
    but you.
    You are the one
    holding you back from,
    or assisting you in the pursuit of,
    the life that is your life to live.
    Whose side are you on?

01/27/2018 — We will remember more
and live better
if we slow down,
do less,
and spend more time with
observation of,
and reflection on,
our life experience
and its impact upon
our body
and our life.

  1. 01/27/2018 — We need to be reminded regularly
    of the importance of mindfulness
    and the dangers of mindlessness.
    No one is likely to come to the conclusion
    that “Awareness is the solution to all of my problems today.”
    It sounds like just one more thing to have to do.
  2. 01/28/2018 — Unity Presbyterian Church 03 Panorama — Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    A coach of any sport
    has to repeat everything
    in as many ways
    as imagination allows
    until something “clicks,”
    and eyes light up,
    and players begin
    to understand the game.
    Knowledge of the game
    is never enough.
    Playing the game
    is not about
    being able to answer
    a list of true/false questions
    about the game.
    Knowing has to evolve
    into understanding
    in order for players
    to be able to dance the game
    as the music changes,
    or stops.
    To play the game,
    you have to be able
    to get out of your head
    and into the game.
    Once you are in the game,
    you flow with the game
    and no longer strive
    to impose your will
    upon the game.
    The difference between willing
    and dancing,
    flowing,
    makes all the difference.
    I’m talking about
    your life here.
    Where are you thinking,
    “If I do this,
    that will happen”?
    Or, saying,
    “I’m doing this–
    why is that always happening?”
    Thinking about dancing
    is the prelude to dancing.
    Thinking about dancing,
    and practicing dancing,
    prepare you to understand
    what you are doing,
    and enable you to dance.
    But, when you are dancing,
    you are not thinking about dancing.
    You are dancing.
    There is knowing what to do
    when where how and why,
    and there is understanding
    what is called for
    and complying without thinking about it.
    When you get to that point,
    you are dancing
    with your life–
    and your life cannot
    throw anything at you
    you cannot dance with.
    Though the tempo changes,
    your moves will continue to amaze you.

01/28/2018— Robert Bobroczkyi is a 7foot 7inch 17 year old trying to find a place to fit in.
His father, Zsiga, is 7’1″, and told his son, “Your height can be a blessing or a curse. You choose.”

You can read the Washington Post story at the link below.

The point I’m going to make here is that everything about us
is a blessing or a curse–we choose.
We make our blessings blessings
and our curses curses|
by the way we think about them
perceive them
and respond to them.
Every. Single. Thing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/01/26/feature/a-curse-or-a-blessing-a-7-foot-7-basketball-project-is-a-star-attraction-though-he-barely-plays/?utm_term=.09d4a6ad4893

  1. 01/29/2018 — South Carolina Mock-up 2018 01 — Created in Indian Land, South Carolina, January 28, 2018

    Here is an excerpt from my book “Meditations on Photography and Life,” Section Two, “The Work of Photography” located on my WordPress web site:

    The First Week,

    Saturday

    I know a woman whose life—
    at this point in her life—
    is feeding birds.
    Who am I to tell her
    that she is wasting her time?
    I am here to tell you
    that my life is walking through the world
    taking photographs.
    Who are you to tell me
    that I should be serving meals
    at the soup kitchen
    and befriending the poor?
    My idea of what your life should be
    is very likely to have little to do
    with what your life should be.
    What should your life be?
    Who is to say?
    You are!
    But, don’t just make something up!
    Don’t just say anything!
    Be right about it!
    THAT’s the search for the Holy Grail!
    Being right about the life that is our life to live,
    and living it!

01/29/2018 — The Wisdom of Doctor Who–
a message for our times
Season 1001, Episode 6, Extremis

“Only in darkness are we revealed.
Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage.
Good is good in the final hour.
In the deepest pit–
without hope,
without witness,
without reward.
Virtue is only virtue in extremis.”
— Nardole

Practice this until you get it down,
and can do it without thinking,
so that the left hand doesn’t know
what the right hand is doing.
Then all will be well with you and the world,
even when it isn’t–
and that is the most important time of all times
for it to be well.

  1. 01/30/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 21 — Lancaster County, South Carolina, January 21, 2018

    Contradiction is the heart of truth.
    The Dalai Lama is the embodiment of compassion
    and the voice of non-violence world-wide–
    and his body guards carry automatic weapons.
    This is called walking two paths at the same time.
    It is a trick that is mastered
    by being constantly,
    intentionally,
    aware of the other path
    while walking the path we are on.
    In that way,
    we do not deceive ourselves.
    We live truthfully
    only by living self-transparently,
    and not kidding ourselves
    about who we are and who we also are–
    THAT is who we ARE.
    As we make our peace
    with our own contradictions,
    we make our peace
    with the contradiction at the heart of truth,
    and are not put off,
    or slowed down by,
    the apparent absurdity
    of things such as:
    “It is all hopeless, pointless, useless, futile, absurd
    and coming to a very bad end–
    AND how we live in the meantime
    makes all the difference.”
    It is essential that we all live truthfully
    in the service of the best we can imagine
    without thought of gain, advantage, benefit or reward,
    and let the outcome be the outcome.
    Because why not?
    Because what the hell?
    Because what could be better than that?
    Because being hope is more important than having hope–
    and what is more hopeful
    than giving it your best
    anyway, so what, nevertheless?

01/30/2018 — It comes down to what we believe—
to the values at the bedrock of who we are.
Justice.
Equality.
Compassion.
Freedom.
Truth.
Mindful Awareness.
Self-Transparency.
Good Faith…
And living in the service of them
in each situation as it arises.
That’s the Social Contract.
Let’s Do It!

  1. 01/31/2018 — Page’s Mill Pond 2017 12 — Lake View, South Carolina, October 31, 2017

    There is the Me,
    and the Not-Me,
    and the Also-Me,
    and the Not-Yet-Me,
    and the No-Longer-Me.
    All of these come together
    to comprise the Actual Me,
    which is not to be confused
    with the Real Me.
    The Real Me can be
    any of the above variations
    at the time of their actualization
    in any moment of our life.
    The Not-Me, for example,
    might experience itself as the Real Me
    when circumstances require its expression,
    particularly over an extended period
    (and we sometimes hear ourselves saying,
    “I don’t know who I am anymore”).
    The Real Me is whatever aspect of me
    is meeting the requirements of life here and now.
    It is real because it is being acted out
    right here, right now,
    and there is no denying that.
    We are not the Me pretending to be the Not-Me (for instance)–
    we are being the Not-Me,
    because time and circumstance demand it.
    The ideal–from my present point of view–
    is to know we are the Me pretending to be
    whomever time and place require us to be–
    and pretend to be it with the full determination
    of our being.
    This is called “Self-Transparency.”
    Self-Transparency is as close
    as we can get to Authenticity.
    The Actual Me has at its command
    all the variations of Me
    and their sub-strata
    (The Wish-I-Still-Were-Me,
    the Want-To-Be-Me, etc.),
    and the more mindfully aware we are
    of which aspects of the Actual Me
    are coming out as the Real Me
    in the situation as it arises–
    the more Self-Transparent we are–
    the more consciously we can direct our expression
    in that situation,
    and the more Authentic we will be there.
    The goal is to live outwardly aligned
    with the values at the heart of the Self
    the Actual Me revolves around
    and exists to express within
    the space/time continuum–
    which we can begin to apprehend
    by becoming mindfully aware
    of all the possibilities encoded in our DNA.
    Mindfulness leads the way
    for those who are open to it.

01/31/2018 — If what you “take on faith” requires you to deny/denounce/dismiss/disregard facts capable of being verified by independent/disinterested observers, and to insist that your “faith’s depiction” of reality is more accurate and viable, we have no basis for conversation.

  1. 02/01/2018 — Goodale Fall 2017 06 Panorama — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, October 28, 2017

    The most important thing
    is making our peace
    with the way things are–
    which includes making our peace
    with what can be done about it.
    The next most important thing
    is doing it.
    Too much time is spent
    refusing to acknowledge
    how things are,
    much less accept it,
    and then,
    once we “acknowledge” it
    and “accept” it
    we live the rest of our life
    in protest,
    refusing to do what can be done about it.
    Our child dies,
    and as tragically terrible as that is,
    we double or triple the tragedy
    by living as though our remaining children
    are dead as well,
    because “If Charlie is dead,
    we may as well all be dead as well.”
    Charlie is dead,
    and we owe Charlie our grief and mourning, but.
    We would not want Charlie’s life to end
    if we had been the one who died.
    We would want Charlie to LIVE
    cherishing our memory,
    and letting our death
    spur him to live in the service
    of all things good
    while life lasts,
    because he knows
    the light does not last,
    and no one knows when it will go,
    so do not extinguish it
    before its time.

  2. 02/02/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 02 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2017

    We are the culmination of
    where we have been,
    what has happened to us,
    and how we have responded to it.
    We can begin to alter
    the impact of circumstances,
    events,
    and response
    by becoming mindfully aware
    of the interplay of
    their peculiar mix
    that is our life,
    and simply holding it
    in our awareness
    as we consider
    how we might respond
    to present circumstances and events.
    Awareness shifts response.
    The term for this process is “growing up.”
    We grow up some more again
    all our life long.
    Or not.

02/02/2018 — Everybody has access to the same information.
Everybody is confronted with the same facts.
Everybody’s life is their responsibility.
Denial has a multitude of disciples.

  1. 02/03/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 03 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2018

    We all have access to the same information.
    How we perceive it,
    interpret it,
    evaluate it,
    make sense of it,
    respond to it,
    deal with it,
    and what we do about it
    makes all the difference.
    The more mindfully aware
    we are of the entire process
    is the best indicator
    of how well we will do with it
    and of how satisfied we will be
    with the outcome of it.
    The more mindlessly reactive
    we are to the entire process
    is the best indicator
    of how poorly we will do with it
    and of how dissatisfied we will be
    with the outcome.
    We are the determining factor
    in how well we do
    with the options we have
    and the choices we make.
    You would think we might do
    everything possible
    to optimize the tools
    at our disposal
    to give ourselves
    the best chance
    at the best possible life
    under the circumstances.
    The questions are,
    Have we?
    Will we?
    We are responsible
    for what we do
    with the options that remain before us
    and the choices we will make.
    The most important choice
    is how mindfully
    we will go about the business
    of choosing our remaining choices.

02/03/2018 — The two tools in everybody’s tool kit–
the two weapons in everybody’s arsenal–
are Mindfulness and Values.
To be mindfully aware of our values
and mindfully aware of the context and circumstances
of our life–
including both our interior world
and our exterior world–
is to be able to see accurately,
evaluate/interpret correctly,
and respond approprately
in each situation as it arises
out of the authority of our own
knowledge and understanding
of what is important here and now.
Living in light of what is important here and now,
and doing what that requires
regardless of what it means for us personally
is our gift to each other
and to the world.
“Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage.
Good is good in the final hour,
in the darkest pit,
without hope,
without witness,
without reward.
Virtue is only virtue in extremis” (Nardole, in “Doctor Who,” Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”).

02/03/2018 — What do you love about your life?
How much time do you spend with it?

  1. 02/04/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2018

    Whatever you love, cherish, adore, revere, honor, prize, esteem, treasure, value, acclaim…you know, like that,
    about your life–
    about the experience of being alive–
    deserves your loyalty, fidelity, allegiance, devotion, dedication, worship.
    And it is the only thing that does–
    the only things that do.
    But, there is a catch.
    It has to be the right kind of thing.
    It has to truly warrant, justify, vindicate, call for
    the place of highest veneration in your life.
    You can’t get by with worshiping
    money, power, drugs, sex, alcohol, entertainment, escape, distraction, diversion, denial…
    The thing/things you love with all your heart
    has/have to serve life,
    offer life,
    be life,
    and not some substitute for life,
    not some proxy life,
    not some surrogate life,
    not some pseudo life
    not something to compensate you
    for failing to love anything
    with the abandon
    and courage
    and vulnerability
    required to love what you love
    that deserves to be loved.
    It has (they have) to be the Real Thing.
    Whatever you love has to connect you to life,
    attach you to life,
    bring you to life,
    so that you positively vibrate with the joy of living,
    with the wonder and delight of being alive.
    And, here’s the other catch,
    it has to
    enliven, vitalize, awaken, enthuse, reorient
    the world,
    or at least the representatives of the world
    whose lives contact/connect with your life
    and reverberate with the “music of the spheres,”
    which is the love of life,
    pouring over,
    spilling out,
    from you to them
    and transforming their life forever.
    What I’m saying here
    is that you have to re-think religion,
    and make its center and focus
    what you love,
    and not what someone tells you to love
    because if you don’t
    you are going to hell.
    The truth is
    if you don’t love what is right for you to love,
    you are already in hell,
    and if you do love what is right for you to love,
    you are already in heaven–
    and no one has to tell you that.
    It is as self-evident as anything ever has been
    or will be.

01/04/2018 — The Resistance is always in response to those
who ignore, dismiss, discount, discard, dishonor,
deny, abandon, reject, and otherwise refuse
to “preserve, protect and defend”
the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution sets the rules,
establishes the Rights
and exhibits the values at the heart of Democracy–
and cannot be ignored or set aside
at the pleasure of any political party.
The Resistance is not Democrats or Republicans,
but Americans–citizens and immigrants desiring citizenship–
who are intent on serving the Constitution
as the living descendants of those
who, “in order to establish a more perfect Union,
did ordain and establish” it
when the Republic was little more
than a dream in the hearts of the Founders.
The Resistance continues and serves the Patriot Dream!
And calls members of each Party to the task
of being true to their Oath of Office
and to the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Resistance does not quit, stop
or relax its vigilance,
but keeps its eyes open
and its attention focused
on the actions of every current Administration
and every Congressional delegation–
in order to identify
and resist all deviations from protocol
and the Rule of Law,
that everything may be done “decently and in order,”
and nothing may be imposed upon the People
without “the consent of the governed.”
The work is never done.
The responsibility will be ours forever!
Viva la résistance!

  1. 02/05/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2018

    Sin is being wrong about what is important.
    Being wrong about what is important
    and being aligned with it
    is hell.
    Salvation is being right about what is important.
    Being right about what is important
    and living aligned with it
    is heaven.
    To think there is something beyond
    knowing and doing what is important
    to want, desire, seek and have
    is not important.
    Living in right relationship with what is important
    in each situation as it arises
    is all there is.
    Good luck with that.

02/05/2018 — “Sin is being wrong about what is important.”
“What is important?”
“That’s your call to make.”
“How do I know what is important?”
“Listen to your body.
Listen to your heart.
Listen to your nighttime dreams.
Listen to your life experience.
And take your chances.”
“Is that the best you can do?”
“You’re just stalling, now.
Your role is to decide what is important
and do it.”
“What if I’m wrong?”
“That will become clear in time.
Then, you only have to
decide what is important and do it.
It never gets more difficult than that.”

  1. 02/06/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 05 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2018

    Our body is our faithful companion
    and our reliable guide,

    We have to attend our body
    and know how to read it’s signals–
    which can be masked by the addictive urgency
    of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, gambling, religion, etc.
    We have to learn to recognize
    the authentic voice within
    from the 10,000 Sirens
    singing our song.
    We could think of this
    as our only task
    on the path of life:
    Knowing what we know,
    and being able to distinguish that
    from all we think we know.
    We are back to having to be right
    about what we believe is important.
    There are 10,000,000 ways to be wrong.

02/06/2018 — Cain killed his brother Abel and turned aside God’s inquiry about where Abel might be with, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The question ranks at the top of my list of Unanswered Questions in the Bible along with Pilate’s query to Jesus, “What is truth?”

The beauty of unanswered questions is that they put the obligation for answering them squarely on us. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “What is truth?”

I have to answer those questions for me, you have to answer them for you. We each have to answer them for ourselves.

They are asking us to declare where we draw the line.

“To what extent am I my brother’s, sister’s, neighbor’s keeper?” is my question to answer for myself.

“What is truth and how will I serve it, honor it and be bound to it?” is my question to answer for myself.

They are your questions to answer for yourself–for each to answer for themselves.

And we have to be right about it.

We can’t just snap off some convenient answer that gives us complete leeway to live in any way that suits us at the moment.
Our answers require us to align ourselves with them, and live them out in our life, in ways that may often be inconvenient and troublesome.

What do we owe one another? What can we count on from the other?

We help each other help us by being faithful to the tasks our life requires of us. We have to do our part, doing what needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, when it needs to be done to the best of our ability in each situation as it arises.

And when we need help with that it needs to be offered: “Those who need help should be helped. Those who can help should offer help.” Knowing the entire time that (in the words of Shel Silverstein) “Some kind of help/is the kind of help/that help is all about,/and some kind of help/is the kind of help/we all could do without.”

  1. 02/07/2018 — Blue Moon 2018 06 — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 31, 2018

    How many perspectives are there?
    That’s how many meanings there are.
    What something means
    is what it means
    from a particular point of view.
    Meaning is perspective specific.
    As our perspective changes,
    what things mean to us changes with it.
    Put 10 old people in a room,
    or 10,000 in a larger room.
    Or everybody in a room the size of the world.
    And have them say, “I am old.”
    And ask them to think about what it means.
    It will mean something different to each one–
    and something different to the same one
    on different days,
    or at different times in the same day.
    Or next year.
    Some of the differences won’t be different enough
    to make a difference, but.
    They will be different.
    What’s the difference between
    something meaning something
    even a little different
    to everyone
    and something being meaningless
    to everyone?
    Too many meanings
    are roughly equivalent to no meaning.
    If we cannot all agree
    about what being old means,
    it is meaningless to everyone
    but the person it means what it means to.
    By now, you are wondering what’s the point.
    That’s exactly my point.
    What’s the point
    of going on about there being no point?
    About there being no meaning?
    About everything being meaningless,
    so why go on with it?
    The people who feel this way,
    who wail,
    or just sit looking blankly into space,
    say “It is meaningless,”
    in a very meaningful way.
    It means something–everything–to them
    that “Life is meaningless.”
    If something means something–everything–
    it is not all meaningless.
    If it means something–everything–
    to you that “It’s all meaningless,”
    sit with the meaningfulness of that
    all the way to the heart of the contradiction
    of saying things are meaningless
    in a meaningful way.
    If the statement is not true,
    then it is without meaning,
    so don’t be disturbed by it,
    and let it go.
    If it is true,
    then it is also without meaning,
    so don’t be disturbed by it,
    and let it go.
    Either way, you have changed your perspective
    on what meaninglessness means,
    and have found the key
    to transforming the way
    you feel about the world,
    which is the next best thing
    to transforming the world.
    In fact, you wouldn’t be able
    to tell the difference.
    It wouldn’t be a difference
    that makes a difference,
    so let it go
    and enjoy what is to be enjoyed
    about every moment
    of every day.

02/07/2018 — Whatever we say something “is,”
we are saying what it “is,”
from our point of view
at the time we are saying it.
We are saying more about ourselves
and our state of mind
than we are about the thing in question.
“Old age is a gradual narrowing down
to what is essential” (Carl Jung, or words to that effect).
Our world gets smaller as we age.
We don’t have time for non-essentials.
What matters are the things that matter most.
I’m not talking about “old age” here,
I’m talking about me.
And I’m saying that it is my work–
my responsibility–
to bear consciously the pain
of letting go what’s going
and letting come what’s coming–
knowing there is no one to share
the burden of aging with
because there are no words
for the awfulness of the experience.
We each go alone into that “good night,”
and how good it is
depends upon the perspective we adopt
as we go about the duty
that is assigned to us–
that no one avoids
who lives long enough.
We square ourselves up
with what is asked of us
at each stage of our life–
or not.
And if we aren’t going to do
what our life requires of us,
we are kidding ourselves
about being alive.
Then, our life is a lie,
and we are missing
the essential parts
by refusing to expose ourselves
to the reality of their impact.
To live,
we have to live each stage of life
open to the full experience
of what comes packed in each one.
We don’t get to pick and choose
our experiences–
and if we refuse to experience them,
we have to bear the burden
of trying to free ourselves of the burden.
We meet hell
on the road we take to avoid it.
Every addict or alcoholic knows what I mean.

02/07/2018 — The key to helping someone,
is knowing where no one
can help anyone.
There are things no one can help us with.
We have to grow up on our own.
Trying to be helpful
is too often
trying to keep people dependent
on us for their health and well-being.
We are addicted to their addiction to us.
We need them to need us.
We want to save them
so they will be eternally devoted to us,
singing our praises forever.
We never say,
“There is nothing I, or anyone,
can do for you about that.
You have to figure that out on your own.”
There is a sense in which
we all have to figure it all out on our own.
Figuring it out on our own
may well mean talking it through
with someone who can keep us talking
long enough for us to hear
what we have to say,
so in that sense we need the help of those
who can listen us to the truth of ourselves.
But, we do not need
someone telling us what to do/think/believe
at each point in our life.
Listen to your body!
Listen to your heart!
Listen to your nighttime dreams!
Listen to your experience!
Listen to what you are saying to yourself!
That’s all I can do for you.
Be wary of anyone who
tries to do more.
All of the hard stuff,
we have to do alone.

02/08/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 04 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

Steven Moffat, who writes some of the Doctor Who episodes, had The Doctor say this (Season 10, Ep. 12, “The Doctor Falls”):

“Maybe there is no point in any of this at all, but it’s the best I can do. So, I’m gonna do it, and I will stand here doing it, till it kills me.

“You’re going to die too, someday. Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.”

The Doctor was/is grounded on the bedrock of what mattered most to him. He knew what/where it was because he had spent 2,000 years reflecting on his experience and refining his reflections down to their precious essence.

He was/is the lapis philosophorum, the Philosopher’s Stone, taking his raw experience of life and transforming it into the purest gold.

In Season 10, Ep. 3, “Thin Ice,” he says, “Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It is measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege…That (person’s) life is your value. That is what defines an age. That’s what defines a species.”

He knew that because that was the truth he had filtered out of his experience with life. The truth that is grounding, transforming, guiding, directing is the truth that is true for you. What is it? What is your precious essence? What would you die for/in the service of? What is your bedrock? Upon what do you stand? What is “the still point of your turning world?”

If you don’t know that, you don’t know anything worth knowing, I don’t care if you have 10 PhD’s and can speak a dozen languages. What’s the value of any of that if you don’t know who you ARE–if you do not know that around which you coalesce, that core out of which you live.

You get there by reflecting on your life experience, and reflecting on your reflections, on your conclusions, testing, evaluating, observing, inspecting, exploring, looking, looking, looking in order to see.

How much time do you spend in that pursuit? Turning your base experience into its precious essence? Sitting in the solitude of your silence, pondering the things that conceal the things that matter?

  1. 02/08/2018– Here’s the trouble with money:
    People with money think
    they should not have to choose
    between equally attractive
    and mutually exclusive options–
    and they see the solution
    to be More Money.
    It is never Growing Up,
    making a choice
    and living with it.
    It is always More Money.
    The catch is there will always be
    equally attractive
    and mutually exclusive options,
    and always the need for More Money.
    The trouble with money
    is there is never enough money
    when Growing Up isn’t on the table,
    or even in the house.
  2. 02/09/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 07 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    We save the world as individuals
    living from our own sense
    of what is good,
    and right,
    and kind–
    and not from some corporate,
    or even communal,
    ideology,
    doctrine,

    If whatever you are doing,
    however you are thinking
    and believing
    enhances,
    develops,
    expands,
    deepens
    your autonomy,
    self-development,
    self-expression,
    self-transparency,
    self-confidence,
    self-direction,
    self-knowledge,
    self-reflection,
    mindfulness,
    courage,
    knowledge,
    understanding,
    and your capacity
    to act in the service of
    a good that is greater
    than your own personal good,
    keep doing it.
    If not, start doing the things
    that will lead you to doing it.
    And stop doing the things
    that keep you from doing it.

  3. 02/10/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 08 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    A philosophy of life
    is a perspective on life,
    a way of thinking about,
    a way of seeing, life.
    We get up and go
    on the basis of what?
    When your back is against the wall,
    when you are standing on the edge
    of the abyss,
    when you have lost every valuable thing,
    and you are alone
    in the most devastatingly complete sense of the word,
    where do you turn?
    What do you turn to?
    What do you tell yourself then?
    What keeps you going?
    Where do you find what it takes
    to go well some more again?
    How long do you feel like
    you will be able to keep it up,
    going well some more again?
    What we tell ourselves
    to keep ourselves going
    is our philosophy of life,
    our perspective on life.
    The way we see things
    keeps us dealing with things,
    or not.
    A worthy philosophy/perspective
    keeps us dealing/going,
    an unworthy one does not.
    A worthy philosophy/perspective
    grounds us in the truth of how things are,
    AND in the truth of how things also are.
    What we see/tell ourselves beyond current reality
    enables us to adjust our response
    to current reality
    in ways that keep us going.
    What we see/say about beyond the day
    empowers us to face the day everyday.
    It grounds us,
    centers us,
    establishes us
    upon the immovable bedrock
    of will, resolution and determination
    that propels us into the forces of life
    as those who live from a source
    those forces cannot touch.
    Part of my philosophy/perspective
    is that no one can give us our bedrock.
    No one can tell us what to believe
    that will see us through
    the useless inadequacy of believing anything.
    It’s what we know AND understand
    because we have lived it
    and found it to be so
    that keeps us living on
    in spite of the worst life can do.
    THAT is the bedrock
    that is the ground
    of every philosophy/perspective
    worth our time.
    It is also our mythology–
    the myth at the heart
    of our life and being.
    The myth beyond life
    that is life.
    What’s yours?

02/10/2018 — If we could teach/program a machine/robot to know what is good/necessary/called for in each situation as it arises specific to that situation, and how to serve it in ways that are good/necessary/called for there, in ways that feel the goodness and not merely think it–in ways that resonate with the soul/heart of the machine/robot, we will have created a human version of Dr. Spock. It’s the soul/heart part that is tricky. But. Our DNA has the logarithm. It’s only a matter of time.

02/10/2018 — There is the structure,
the context,
the circumstances,
the givens.
We are born into them.
And it changes when we go to school,
or when our parents divorce,
or one dies, or both do.
It changes again when we reach adolescence.
And again when we go to college
or begin work,
marry,
have children,
(or have children,
marry,
or just have children,
or just marry,
or neither)…
It changes so many times in so many ways,
the structure,
the context,
the circumstances,
the givens.
And we have to dance with it
each time.
Or not–
but it helps to dance with it.
To make the adjustments,
the adaptations.
To acquiesce,
concur,
comply.
To collaborate,
cooperate,
help make it work.
It helps to help it work.
Each time.
All the way.
How’s that going?

02/10/2018 — The paths off the path
are also the path.
The path is multi-dimensional.
It’s wonderful that way.
“The straight and narrow”
is that aspect of all paths
where we are navigating “the razor’s edge”
on a “slippery slope.”
All the paths have their slippery slopes,
where it could all could go to hell in an instant.
So we have to be savvy
and mindfully aware,
and tread softly
and take our chances.
The people who refuse
to take their chances think
“the straight and narrow”
is about keeping the rules
and never getting off the prescribed course,
which they call “the path.”
But that is the path that leads
to the wasteland.
We can all be glad of the chances
we have taken.
Where would we be without them?
Those who know, know the same thing:
Tread softly and take your chances!

  1. 02/11/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 09 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5 2018

    Morality has nothing to do with keeping the rules.
    Morality is the interplay
    among what can be done,
    what should be done
    and what needs to be done
    in each situation
    as it arises.
    The situation calls for
    it’s own unique response.
    No situations are exactly alike.
    If you think they are,
    you are missing something.
    Morality doesn’t miss anything.
    Doesn’t assume anything.
    Doesn’t take anything for granted.
    Morality sees into the heart
    of every single thing.
    And honors it,
    cherishes it,
    reveres it,
    worships it,
    adores it.
    Morality begins with the least of all
    and sets things right there,
    then works up the ladder of importance
    to the greatest of all,
    being considerate and kind
    to each in their own time.
    We can begin to assess
    our degree of morality
    by noting who we never notice
    in a day–
    who we ignore, dismiss, disregard,
    overlook, take for granted, fail to see…
    We are as moral
    as we are kind and compassionate
    to everyone in each day.
    If you are going to be anything,
    be kind–
    and do not kid yourself
    about how kind you are.

  2. 02/12/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 06 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    This is how it is:
    We have to acknowledge
    our vulnerability
    and our invincibility,
    and embrace them both.
    That is all there is to it.
    Our vulnerability
    and our invincibility
    counterbalance one another
    for the good of the whole.
    When we are insecure,
    uncertain,
    weepy
    and afraid,
    our vulnerability is distracting us
    from the needs of our life.
    When we are cocky,
    flamboyant,
    bully
    and unstoppable,”
    our invincibility is distracting us
    from the needs of our life.
    We have to consciously recognize
    which is up
    and call upon the other
    to calm it down.
    When our vulnerability is in command of the castle
    (A contradiction in terms if ever there were one),
    we call upon our invincibility
    to remind it of it’s place,
    and when our invincibility is shooting off our feet
    (Oh, look–there is another one),
    we remember our vulnerability to stop the bleeding:
    “That’s just me being invincible/vulnerable–
    it will pass in time.
    In fact, I believe it is going now!”
    And, for those of you who like to think
    you could not possible be invincible
    because you are so obviously at the mercy of everything,
    I will simply ask you to look around,
    and verify for the rest of us that you
    obviously are still here,
    having made it through one bout after another
    with everything.
    And, if you are of the opinion that you
    are utterly invincible in every way
    without a vulnerable bone in your body,
    I will simply ask you where you put the checkbook,
    or was it the car keys,
    and why you can’t keep promises
    made to your children or your spouse.

02/12/2018 — We all need to grow up
some more
again.
Our circumstances
are always out there
ahead of us
calling us to grow up
some more
again–
calling us forth,
requiring more of us
than we think we possess,
than we want to be.
We always grow up
against our will,
convinced,
as we are,
that we know what’s best.
The Devil is in the circumstances,
so is God.
They are the same
to eyes that see.
Where are those eyes that see?
It takes growing up to know
they have been right here
all along.
But, growing up
is like dying.
It IS dying,
again and again
over the full course of our life,
and dying is what we refuse to do
again and again
over the full course of our life.
It wouldn’t be dying
if we looked forward to it,
and it wouldn’t be growing up
if we enjoyed doing it.
Joseph Campbell said,
“The treasure we seek
is at the back of the cave
we most don’t want to enter.”
Carl Jung said,
“You meet your destiny
on the road you take to avoid it.”
We die the death that leads to death
by refusing to die the death that leads to life.
We find those eyes that see
by looking at what we are doing,
and what the implications are
on every level,
for all concerned–
and choosing what we do
in light of all things considered.

02/12/2018 — There are people who think
the universe is their friend
and that life is not out to get them.
Nothing is more impersonal
than the universe.
It doesn’t care about a thing.
And life eats life.
It is not on our side.
We all popped out
of some woman’s womb
and started taking our chances,
figuring out what works
and what doesn’t
through observation
and experimentation,
and we all are just lucky to be here, now.
To those who say luck has nothing to do with it
and that we are all here by the Providence of Almighty God,
I say aren’t we lucky that God is so providential?
Most of our arguments come down to perspective,
with what we see being determined
by how we look,
leaving us all exactly where we came in,
which is where we remain
until something happens
that cannot be denied,
and will not fit into our structure
for making sense of things.
We have to make sense of things
without thinking that our way
of making sense of things
is the only way,
or even the best way.
What is happening?
What needs to be done about it?
What do you need to be able to do it?
Will you do what you can do
about what needs to be done
about what is happening?
If you can answer those questions correctly
in each situation as it arises,
your way of making sense of things
is working well-enough for you.
You have all you need
to do what needs to be done–
and who has any business
asking for more than that?

  1. 02/13/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 10 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    Jesus said, “Faith is validated by its actions,”
    or words to that effect.
    Faith that is not exhibited
    through compassion and kindness
    and all the other old values
    (Love, joy, peace, patience, etc.,
    things that are excellent and worthy of praise)–
    not talked about
    and given lip service as to their importance,
    but actually brought forth
    in our day-to-day
    interactions with life–
    is not faith.
    “Don’t tell me what you believe,”
    said Jesus,
    “but let me, and all others,
    see who you are
    by the quality and degree
    of love and mercy
    that you express in your life.
    And don’t just be generous and thoughtful
    to your friends
    and those of your caste,
    but to the very least of the untouchables
    as well!”
    Or words to that effect.
    Faith that is not a good-faith expression
    of heart and soul in all of our relationships
    is faithless,
    and a denial of all that is said to be worthy.
    And the outcome of that lie
    is not hell when we die
    but the empty shell of a life
    that is lived.
    Those who are empty know it
    (as does everyone else),
    and are without hope in the world.
    Integrity cannot be counterfeit
    or supplanted–
    without it, we are dead
    before we die.

01/13/2018 — When Evil stands up,
Good must stand up as well.
There is no stepping aside,
no backing down.
Lines have to be drawn.
Consequences have to be applied.
Evil has to be called out
and told it’s time is up.
All Good people must vote
for the Good of ALL people
in November.
Do not let these times
pass without your full participation
in the service of the Good!
Vote as though every good thing
hangs in the balance.
It does.

01/13/2018 — If everyone were doing their own thing,
while assisting others in doing their own thing
(and by “own thing,”
I mean the things they live to do,
the things that bring them to life
utilizing their gifts, skills, interests and abilities
in the service of something greater than themselves,
and in so doing are brought forth
and made whole
in ways that nothing else could touch),
our experience of life in the world
would be a lot smoother and coordinated,
and much less antagonistic and chaotic.
At least, that’s my working hypothesis.
Want to join me in testing it out?
If so,
“get in there and do your thing–
and don’t worry about the outcome!”
(Joseph Campbell)

  1. 02/14/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 01 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    We work ceaselessly in the service
    of The Ought To Be.
    Even when some things are just fine,
    like this morning’s first cup of coffee
    and the flames dancing in the fire place,
    something else is not what it needs to be.
    We live to reduce the something elses.
    It is our task
    to make things more like they ought to be than they are.
    All things.
    We will never attain perfection but.
    Improvement is well within the arc of the possible.
    We all can be better in a lot of ways.
    More attentive, for instance.
    More mindful,
    more alert,
    more present..
    the list is long.
    All to be done
    without being depressed
    because we aren’t making enough progress
    in any of the areas that matter most to us.
    Perfection is out of the question.
    Improvement is our quest.
    Improvement of ourselves
    and our world–
    and all the worlds our life touches–
    all our life long.
    Making things better
    always gives us something to do.

  2. 02/15/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 02 — Rountree Plantation Greenhouse, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    We are learning to trust ourselves
    with ourselves
    in each situation as it arises.
    This is fundamental.
    This is basic faith.
    Faith in ourselves for good reason
    is faith at its best.
    Faith is not belief.
    Faith is trust.
    Not blind trust,
    but seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing trust.
    Trust for good reason.
    Faith in Jesus, for instance,
    is primarily trust in ourselves–
    trusting ourselves to know whom to trust, and why.
    I have faith in Jesus because of the sermon on the mount
    and the parables,
    and the way he lived both out in his life.
    That is all about Jesus I need to know.
    I have faith in Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell
    for similar reasons.
    The knew what they were talking about
    and they lived it out in their life.
    That is what we are looking for in each other,
    and in ourselves.
    Mostly, we are wading round in bullshit.
    Who in our life do we know to be trustworthy,
    including ourselves?
    Too many of us don’t trust anybody.
    That’s the heart of the opioid crisis,
    and of all addictions.
    We do not know anyone who is trustworthy.
    And we have no hope on that account.
    It’s well past time to turn that around–
    by learning to trust ourselves for good reason.
    The basic things are in place:
    We know when we are hungry,
    we know when we are tired.
    We know when we need to use the toilet,
    and when we are about to sneeze…
    We know a lot of useful things to know.
    We have to live consciously, mindfully,
    to expand the list.
    We have to learn how to recognize our instincts,
    our intuition,
    our sense of the truth of what is before us,
    of what is happening,
    of what needs to happen,
    of what is being asked of us,
    of what we are capable of and incapable of,
    of what our legitimate limits are,
    of what our gifts are, our genius is,
    of how to win and how to lose
    and when not to play the game…
    We are learning how to live by living.
    We learn that by living
    and by reflecting on life as we are living it.
    We learn it by paying attention.
    Have you watched the Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube Videos yet?
    It is a good place to start.
    What are you reading, watching, listening to?
    What are you doing/refusing to do?
    In what ways is your vocabulary growing/expanding?
    How many words do you look up in a day?
    You cannot become aware of what you are seeing
    without words to articulate what is being seen.
    To be trust worthy,
    we have to be waking up on all levels at all times,
    and learning to respond in new ways
    to the things that are happening in our life.

02/15/2018 — The most real thing about us
is our tears.
Tears are utter integrity in action.
Tears do not lie.
Who can handle the truth of your tears?
Who cannot?
Who are the safe places for your tears?
Are you a safe place for your own tears?
Do you hold tears back?
Shut them off?
Can you handle the truth of your own tears?

  1. 02/16/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 03 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    Trusting ourselves
    is having faith in ourselves,
    is believing in ourselves,
    to reflect on our experience
    and form new realizations–
    which will expose our presumptions/inferences/assumptions
    and shift our perspective,
    change our perceptions,
    alter our conclusions,
    deepen-enlarge-expand our values
    and enable us to see what is happening,
    and to see what needs to be done about it,
    in light of all things considered,
    in ways that are appropriate
    to the occasion
    in each situation as it arises,
    creating additional experience
    upon which to reflect
    and incorporate into the process
    of forming new realizations…

    This is how we grow up some more again
    in becoming who we are
    in relation to who we also are
    and dancing with our circumstances
    for the good of the whole,
    which is the good of the world,
    which is the good of each other,
    which is the good of ourselves,
    in service of the goodness and wonder
    of being alive.

02/16/2018 — Our DNA is packed with as much “stuff”
as there is in the external world.
You can believe that or not, but,
to borrow from Doctor Who,
“It’s bigger on the inside.”
What that means for us
is that we need to become
a student–
and a servant–
of what is on the inside.
We are here to serve the master,
and the master is encoded
in our DNA.
Consciousness is the key.
It took our DNA millions of years of experimentation
to come up with consciousness.
Consciousness is its way of communicating with us,
of guiding and directing us.
As we become conscious servants
of our instincts and intuition
(built into our DNA)
we become better able to align ourselves with
the “stuff” of our DNA–
we become who we are,
know what we know,
and by living in the awareness
that deepens and expands by being aware of itself,
we participate in the eternal process
of adding to the “stuff” packed in our DNA–
by doing the things that got “stuff” packed
in there from the start,
selecting mates,
having babies.
In several million years,
we will be impressed with the results,
if we don’t succumb to mindlessness
and self-destruction first.
It’s a chance our DNA was willing to take.
And, it is working a similar gamble
throughout the Universe.

  1. 02/17/2018 — Nursery Photos 2018 05 — Rountree Plantation Garden Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 5, 2018

    Our perspective is our super weapon
    enabling us to adjust, adapt, transcend, transform
    every situation, circumstance, context
    that comes our way.
    Perspective (how we see)
    alters perception (what we see).
    If what you see is traumatizing/terrorizing you,
    change how you see it,
    and doors will open for dealing with it
    that would have never existed
    without the perspective shift
    that made them possible.
    The people for whom nothing ever improves,
    never change the way they see anything,
    and spend their lives
    insisting that everything change
    to suit their preferences.
    Preference is also amenable to perspective.
    Everything is.

  2. 02/18/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 24 — Indian Land, South Carolina, February 9, 2018

    Despair is the twin of desperation.
    It’s hard to be desperate
    when you are riding the crest of the wave,
    sitting on top of the world,
    swinging on a rainbow,
    having the time of your life,
    smiling like a Cheshire cat,
    living happily ever after.
    We can be in despair
    without realizing how desperate we are,
    but,
    desperate,
    we are.
    Our despair and desperation
    call us to examine ourselves,
    our life.
    They call us to seek out
    what needs to be changed.
    Don’t settle for “More Money!”
    Money equals distraction, addiction.
    What would be your life without any money at all?
    Or with all the money you think you need?
    Here’s a hint for you:
    It better be the same life.
    The life that is yours to live
    can be lived with no money at all,
    or with all the money in all the banks
    ever and forever.
    Money is no more than a tool
    used to buy tools
    in every life worth living.
    We think despair and desperation mean
    no money.
    They mean having nothing to do
    that serves our soul.
    The foundation of despair and desperation
    is lost connection to our soul.
    We have no purpose beyond
    finding something to take our mind
    off having no purpose.
    We serve nothing with more depth
    and more value
    than wants and desires.
    What is worth living for?
    It is the same thing that is worth dying for.
    What is that,
    for you?
    For me?
    Our soul is desperate for us to know.
    In despair because we don’t care.

01/18/2018 — We–each one of us–everyone of us–
is perfectly suited
for finding our own life
and living it.
No one but us can do it.
No one can give us our life,
or tell us what it is.
We alone are capable
of seeking out our life
and living it.
We–each one of us–everyone of us–
sit about
wistfully waiting
for some handsome/beautiful young stranger
to walk into our life
and transform it
into something worth living.
Falling in love is just another escape
from the burden
of doing the work
of finding our life
and living it.
The quest is ours to serve
or not.
What to look for?
How to go about looking?
Are our questions to ask
and answer
for ourselves.
People who are bored
with their life
(and people who have to
always be entertained/distracted
are bored with their life)
aren’t asking/answering the questions.

  1. 02/19/2018 — The Trestle 2018 01 Panorama — Lake Buhlow Recreational Area, Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    A lot of people believe in God
    because someone told them to.
    They have never had an encounter with God,
    much less anything resembling
    an on-going, regular, constant, continuing
    experience of God.
    They may talk about their “relationship” with God,
    but if they had that kind of relationship
    with their spouse or children,
    they may as well not be a spouse to their spouse,
    or a parent to their children.
    When they talk about God,
    it’s with words and phrases
    they have picked up from someone else.
    It’s all theology and doctrine.
    They quote the Bible a lot,
    and, maybe, the Apostles’ Creed,
    but they don’t say anything
    that hasn’t already been said,
    and if you ask them to say something new about God,
    they say that would be heretical and blasphemous.
    They say they believe in God,
    but they believe in an idea of God
    that has been handed down through the ages.
    God has nothing to do with what they believe.
    It’s been my experience
    that we don’t get to God by thinking about God,
    or even by “believing in” God.
    Carl Jung said,
    when asked if he believed in God,
    “I don’t believe–I know.”
    That’s the proper order.
    Following reflection upon what we know of God,
    we might foster some beliefs about God, but.
    Our beliefs will be individual, not collective.
    We would never stand together and say,
    “We believe in God The Father Almighty…”
    We would never come up with systematic theology
    and the doctrinal creeds of Christendom
    our of our experience of God.
    The Apostles’ Creed says nothing about “God is love.”
    And while we might say that from our experience,
    what we would mean by “love” would be unique
    to each of us.
    We live our way to what has always been called God.

    We have to be living our own life
    for that to happen.
    If we are living someone else’s idea of our life,
    we may as well believe someone else’s idea of God,
    for all the good that life or that God
    will be to us.

  2. 02/20/2018 — The Dairy Barn 2018 07 Panorama — Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    The pain is the way,
    the truth,
    and the life.
    No one grows up,
    becomes enlightened,
    sees what’s what
    and what to do in response,
    but by the path of pain.
    Pain is psychological,
    emotional,
    and physical.
    No one ever woke up
    escaping the pain
    on any level.
    Keeping pain manageable
    and avoiding unnecessary pain
    are essential
    in being able
    to maintain a working distance
    in relation to pain.
    We have to be close enough
    to realize its importance
    in keeping us attuned
    to its place
    in keeping us grounded in
    and focused upon
    who we are
    and what we are about
    throughout our life–
    and we have to be far enough away
    to be able to think and care about
    who we are
    and what is ours to do
    in each situation as it arises.
    Chronic pain will disrupt our life
    and keep us from living it
    as much as chronic pain avoidance will.
    We have to have enough pain
    in our life
    to be awake to our life,
    but not so much
    that we are numb to all aspects of living.
    Honoring our pain
    and its place in our life,
    enables us to find
    “the still point of the turning world,”
    negotiate “the slippery slope,”
    and walk “the razor’s edge”
    between who we are,
    doing what is ours to do,
    and who we are not,
    going where we have no business being.

02/20/2018 — If pain doesn’t wake you up, you can’t be awakened!

02/20/2018 — Carl Jung said, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.”
This means we create our problems
by refusing to face our problems.
The more we escape, deny, hide from
the things that are too painful to face,
the more we produce
things that are too painful to face.
It doesn’t take looking long at this
to see where it is going.

02/20/2018 — The right way to see/think/perceive
what is happening
and what needs to happen in response
is very much time/age dependent.
“The Spirit of the Times”
is as real as rocks and trees.
“For every thing there is a season,
a time and place for everything under heaven.”
Nothing can happen before its time,
and when its time has come,
nothing can keep it from happening.
This applies to thoughts and perceptions
as much as “a time to live and a time to die.”
People think of God as eternal and unchanging,
and that to be like God is to be firm and unyielding
in ones values and convictions.
Jesus said, “New wine destroys old wineskins.
The old has passed away–
behold, the new has come.”
People didn’t want to hear it then
and don’t want to hear it now.
“Jesus was the last new thing!” they say.
“From now on, it’s nothing but old forever!”
The squint their eyes tightly shut, saying,
“I can’t SEE you!”
They jam their fingers in their ears, shouting,
“I can’t HEAR you!”
But, “the times, they are a-changing” again.
The old is passing away again.
The new is struggling to be born, again.
The right way to see/think/perceive
is transitioning into being
before our eyes.
Those who refuse to change with the times
are the ones Jesus was talking about
when he said,
“Leave the dead to bury the dead,
but as for you, embrace the new world
that is knocking at your door!”

  1. 02/21/2018 — Blue Heron 2018 01 Panorama — Lake Buhlow Recreation Area, Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    We have to know what we know.
    Our body knows more than we know it knows.
    We have to listen to our body,
    which often means waiting to see what our body does.
    Our body leans toward one thing
    and away from other things.
    You go to the apple bin
    in your favorite grocery store.
    How do you know which apples to choose?
    Listen to your body.
    Let your body do the picking.
    It is a way of practicing
    listening to your body.
    You are taking a route home from work
    and you come to a fork,
    both options would get you home.
    How do you decide which way to go?
    Listen to your body.
    Wait to see which way you turn–
    without consciously deciding to make the turn.
    It’s a way of practicing
    listening to your body.
    Let your body choose.
    Allow your body to tell you what to do.
    Complete the connection with your internal guides
    by learning to listen to your heart
    and doing what it loves to do,
    and listening to your nighttime dreams
    and deciphering what they are saying
    about how things currently are in your life.
    Knowing what we know
    keeps us from imposing our agenda
    upon our life,
    thinking we know what we are doing.
    What is your agenda for your life?
    How do you know it is right for you?
    Listen to your body.
    Listen to your heart.
    Listen to your nighttime dreams.

  2. 02/22/2018 — Spring Beauty 2018 01 Panorama — Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    Our life takes shape around
    what we find to be meaningful.
    What we find to be meaningful
    is an aspect of our gift/genius/calling.
    It could be baseball
    or horses
    or wrenching
    (A term an auto mechanic used
    in telling me what he loved
    about his life:
    “Anything to do with a wrench!”).
    If we are even a little bit alive
    we know what it is,
    and what it isn’t.
    If we are mostly dead
    we have spent our life
    in the service of the wrong things–
    some addiction
    that has become a substitute
    for meaning, purpose, love, devotion and joy.
    If your life revolves around some addiction,
    you have nothing to live for,
    and you know it,
    and that feeds the addiction
    which is a distraction
    that keeps you from thinking
    about anything but more
    of whatever your addiction is.
    Your addiction saves you
    from the pain and fear
    of not knowing what your life is.
    You are afraid there is nothing to your life,
    that there is nothing meaningful in your life,
    that you have no gift/genius/calling,
    nothing to serve,
    nothing to do.
    You have to get your confidence back,
    but you have no confidence,
    so you have to have confidence
    in having confidence
    which you don’t have
    in order to take the chance
    that there is more to you
    than meets the eye
    and give your life a chance
    to show you what that is.
    Either way,
    whether you have meaning in your life
    or addiction,
    your work is the same work:
    honoring yourself as the source
    of what is meaningful
    and serving that source with your life.
    It takes faith/trust in yourself
    to pull it off.
    It takes listening to and loving yourself
    to do it
    day in and day out
    for the rest of your days.
    And I’m here to tell you
    there is nothing better to do,
    so do it!

02/22/2018 — “They have gone astray,
lost the way,
wandered off the path.”
And said,
“Go away!
Leave me alone!
I know what I am doing!”
That is the theme
of humanity
from the beginning
to the present moment.
It is our place
as individual human beings
to be aware of the theme
and the ease with which
it can be played out
in each life–
and devote ourselves daily
to the practice
of being true
to “the way, the truth and the life”
that lives as an inner guide
within all of us.
Calling us to the service and expression
of who we are–
not who we wish we were,
not what we want, desire, crave, and covet–
in honoring the gift/genius/calling
that is ours to exhibit and express
in the life that is ours to live.
We are stewards of the gift.
What that gift is
and how we are to do that
is our quest and our craft.
To wander off that path,
is to lose the way,
and go astray.
To wake up and realize what we have done
and get back on track
is the hope of humanity.
To proclaim,
“Go away!
Leave me alone!
I know what I am doing!”
is the end of hope
in the outer darkness
of the wasteland
where wanderers seek
what they refuse to see
and reject again forever.

  1. 02/23/2018 — The Dairy Barn 2018 04 Panorama — Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    If we cannot be vulnerable,
    we will never be safe.
    We think safety is
    a matter of invincibility,
    of immunity,
    of being indestructible,
    untouchable,
    beyond all harm.
    Safety is not a state of being–
    it is a perspective,
    a quality of confidence
    and assurance,
    in ourselves
    and our ability to rise above
    whatever happens
    in dealing with it,
    transforming it by the power
    of willful imagination/determination
    and the creative desire
    to transcend and overcome.
    That is what got us
    from the trees and caves
    to the high rises.
    We are built to find the way,
    not to be afraid to look.
    So, we take our chances,
    reflect on our experience,
    learn from our mistakes
    and the mistakes of others,
    and step into each day
    to see what it asks of us
    and what we do with it.

  2. 02/24/2018 — Cemetery 2018 03 Panorama — The Roberts Family Plot, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Pineville, Louisiana, February 23, 2018

    “Except for the point, the still point,
    There would be no dance, and there is only the dance”
    (T.S. Eliot in “Burnt Norton”)
    If we aren’t dancing,
    we aren’t living.
    We dance with our life,
    with what our life brings us,
    by being conscious of it
    and the umwelt,
    the matrix,
    from which it came,
    which we are a part of–
    consciousness is always self-consciousness,
    self-awareness,
    mindfulness,
    which is also compassion
    and the grace of acceptance,
    of self-transparency,
    seeing ourselves seeing
    the life we have made
    and are making
    by the way we look at it
    and the way we think about it,
    coming and going,
    doing and leaving undone,
    creating the world
    in which we live
    by how we live in it.
    This is the dance we dance,
    or not.
    It is NOT,
    without the still point
    of reflection without opinion,
    without preference,
    without judgment,
    only seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being,
    in response to the allness,
    the just-so-ness,
    the such-as-it-is-ness
    of all things considered.
    Seeing, etc., how things are,
    is seeing, etc., what can be done about it,
    is seeing, etc., what we can do about it,
    and dancing, dancing
    to the music of the spheres.
    “There is only the dance.”
    Even not dancing
    is the slow dance of dying–
    so slow
    that we might as well be dead,
    except for the hope of seeing, etc.,
    at last,
    finally,
    even yet,
    even now.

  3. 02/25/2018 — The Trestle 2018 02 — Red River, Lake Buhlow Recreation Area, Pineville, Louisiana, February 20, 2018

    In every situation
    there is
    what is happening and what is not happening,
    what needs to happen and what does not need to happen,
    what we want and what we don’t want,
    what matters to us and what doesn’t matter to us,
    what we think and what we do not think,
    what we feel and what we do not feel,
    what we see and what we do not see,
    what we hear and what we do not hear,
    what we know and what we think we know and what we do not know,
    what we do and what we do not do…
    Every situation could be improved
    with awareness of these aspects of the situation,
    and conscious choices among them.
    Our life could be improved
    with our walking slowly through
    the situations as they arise
    in our day,
    and taking the time
    to live in ways
    that are appropriate to the occasion
    in each one.
    Living meditatively,
    responsibly,
    would be as transformative
    as anything we might do with super powers.

  4. 02/26/2018 — Dairy Barn 2018 01 Panorama — Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    It’s been said,
    “A sailor who doesn’t know where she, or he, is going
    cannot distinguish favorable winds and seas
    from unfavorable ones.”
    We learn to sail our lives
    without having any idea of where we are going.
    We learn to make a living
    without knowing how to spend the money we make.
    We don’t know what we are doing,
    why we are doing it,
    where it is to be done.
    Ask anybody to tell you about their life
    and they will likely tell you
    there isn’t much to it.
    We are blown about by winds and tides
    without safe harbors to drop anchor
    and ride out the storms,
    and no ports of call in which
    to “recover from the past
    and store up for the future.”
    We have the boat and the sea
    with no destination in mind.
    We think life is something that happens to us,
    but trusting our luck to the winds and tides
    is betraying the one chance we know we have
    to honor and serve
    the life only we can live.
    Tell me about your life!
    And, if you cannot tell me, who will?
    It is YOUR life!
    Where are you going?
    What are you doing with the time you have left?
    What is the work that is yours to do?
    How will you discern favorable winds and seas
    from unfavorable ones?

02/26/2018 — The meaning of life is not a problem.
The meaning of OUR life–
your life and my life–
is the problem.
What does your life mean to you?
What does it mean that you are alive?
What are you doing to make your life meaningful to you?
If our life doesn’t mean anything to us,
it won’t mean anything to anyone else.
What are you doing that is meaningful to you?
What is the most meaningful thing you do in a week?
In a month?
In a year?
Live in ways that bring meaning to life in your life.
You will be doing yourself (and everyone else) a big favor!

  1. 02/26/2018 — People have too many opinions!
    That’s my opinion.
    If we all had fewer opinions,
    we would all have better lives.
    That’s my other opinion.
    I’m down to two these days.
    See if you can top that!
  2. 02/27/2018 — Winter’s Brown 25 2018 Panorama — Indian Land, South Carolina, February 19, 2018

    We will do anything to keep from growing up.
    The NRA needs to grow up about assault weapons.
    Georgia needs to grow up about same-sex marriage adoptions.
    White supremacists need to grow up about all the people
    on their long list of people to hate.
    Donald Trump needs to grow up about immigration
    and 10,000 other things.
    Bigness of heart
    Compassion
    Kindness
    Gentleness
    Generosity
    Good Faith
    Self-transparency
    Integrity (As in aligning who we pretend to be with who we are–words with actions)
    Justice
    Equality
    Mindfulness
    Congruence
    Genuineness
    Grace
    Wisdom
    And service to the best interest of all concerned
    Are all qualities of maturity,
    and all are absent from
    the way business is being conducted.
    Everything hangs in the balance,
    waiting for us to stand up,
    face squarely the truth of how things are
    and how we are being asked to accommodate ourselves to them–
    then sit holding it all in awareness
    until the shift happens
    and we become who we are needed to be
    by the circumstances
    calling us beyond ourselves into ourselves
    for the true good of the whole.

  3. 02/28/2018 — Forsythia 2018 02 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, February 26, 2018

    The bedrock is the truth
    of who we are
    and what is ours to do
    with the gifts, genius, interests and aptitudes
    we possess.
    Being true to the truth of ourselves
    in ways that honor and respect
    the truth of other selves
    creates a space
    that is welcoming and inviting,
    safe, encouraging and empowering
    for ourselves and all who come our way.
    If you can find something better
    to do with your time,
    have at it!

02/28/2018 — Elements required to be grounded
upon the bedrock of who you are
and what is yours to do:
Silence.
Mindful awareness of your
inner and outer,
asleep and waking,
experience.
Reflection on your experience on all levels,
Including inspection,
exploration,
examination,
experimentation
of your conclusions
hypotheses,
assumptions,
presumptions,
inferences,
opinions,
theories,
deductions,
beliefs,
convictions
and interpretations of your experience.
Curiosity about the validity
of your understanding of your experience,
and a willingness to test
the validity of your understanding
by making inquiries
and seeking evidence
to both support and challenge
your understanding of your experience.
A vocabulary large enough
to articulate your experience
and your efforts to grapple with it.
A method of giving your understanding
of your experience
concrete physical form
by writing it,
singing it,
dancing it ,
putting it to music,
drawing/painting it,
sculpting it,
building it,
expressing it in a way
that forms it,
shapes it
and brings it forth
as you in the world,
declaring: This is me!
For this I am come!
Your experience is you.
Your experience of you
is the bedrock upon which you stand,
and from which you live in the world.
The validity of your experience of your experience
is your authority for living the life you live
in each situation as it arises,
all your life long.

  1. 03/01/2018 — Bloodroot 2018 01 Panorama — UNCC Botanical Gardens, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 28, 2018

    Too many people are doing what is theirs to do
    without any awareness of what they are doing.
    It’s the awareness that transforms
    loving something into our own personal religion.
    Our own personal religion is necessary
    in order to serve what we love
    with the devotion, fidelity, fealty, loyalty, dedication, troth, commitment, deliberation, intention, willfulness, determination, allegiance, homage, steadfastness and faithfulness
    required to do it in the face of all opposition, objection, obstruction, disapproval, ridicule, lack of success, difficulty, resistance, hostility, enmity, antagonism, antipathy, objection, humiliation, failure and defeat
    that inherently rises up to test the faith of those who would be faithful
    and requires them to stand knowingly upon the bedrock
    of their own heart and soul
    in a “Here I stand, I can do none other!” kind of way.
    This is the faith that is the ground of all good religion.
    It has nothing to do with belief.
    It has everything to do with the knowledge and understanding
    of what is most important–
    so important that we must do it no matter what–
    with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength–
    why, we do not know,
    and cannot possibly understand,
    or explain, defend, justify or excuse.
    Our place is to know what is ours to do with all our heart,
    and to do it–
    in full awareness of what we are doing,
    and let the outcome be the outcome,
    without allowing the outcome
    to determine our performance
    or inhibit our living in the service
    of that which calls our name.
    That is religion in the truest, best, sense of the word.

  2. 03/02/2018— Peach Blossoms 2018 03 — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    “Hitting Rock Bottom,”
    AKA “Hitting the Wall,”
    and “Waking up in the Gutter,”
    it a turning point for a lot of people.
    At Rock Bottom they are stripped of every false goal
    and are alone with what matters most.
    At Rock Bottom they are standing
    on the Bedrock,
    which comes down to themselves
    and their will to live–
    which is, though they may not be able
    to articulate it,
    a will working within them to be alive
    in the fullest, deepest, sense of the word.
    Now they only have to work out
    “Alive in the service of what?”
    It is the one thing we all have to work out.
    At ever stage of our life,
    we have to answer the questions,
    “Alive in the service of what?”
    “How shall I Live to express
    what needs to be expressed
    through the life I am living?”
    We cannot take someone else’s answers
    to be valid for ourselves.
    We have to find our own path,
    live our own life,
    in fealty and liege to what we know
    deserves our allegiance and loyalty–
    not because someone tells us,
    but because we KNOW it is so.
    What that is is ours to discover
    by reflecting on our experience
    and discovering the truth
    that has always been true
    at the heart of who we are.

  3. 03/03/2018— Peach Orchard 2018 29 Panorama — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    Lao Tzu talks about the Tao as enabling a person
    to be expansive without ever leaving home.
    “They hear dogs barking
    from the next county
    without ever having to go visit”
    (Or words to that effect).
    The value of the Tao te Ching for me
    is found in reading it backwards.
    That is, I have to live it first
    and then read about what I know to be so
    because I have lived it
    and experienced it firsthand.
    Then the words make sense.
    Just reading the Tao
    and expecting to be enlightened
    is to be very disappointed.
    It is ridiculously absurd
    when read that way.
    It is a window to,
    a mirror of,
    the life we are living.
    First we have to be aware
    of the life we are living,
    then we can see it
    reflected in the words of the Tao.
    The more I have restricted myself
    the more wide-ranging I have become.
    When my wife and I
    moved to Indian Land, SC in 2013,
    I used it as an opportunity
    to withdraw into semi-hermit-hood:
    No TV.
    No radio.
    No socializing.
    No being out after dark.
    I talk with my family,
    and converse only enough with other people
    to carry out what business I have with them.
    I connect with others via the internet,
    and then it is only within the narrow confines
    of email or twitter postings or these writings.
    Yet, I’m now subscribing to the Washington Post
    and the Atlantic,
    following people on Twitter from all over the world,
    and reading widely all things I find to be interesting.
    Arthritic knees have restricted my travel,
    yet my photography has deepened,
    expanded and enlarged
    in ways I could never have imagined.
    I have become more by being less,
    but it wasn’t intended.
    I only intended silence and solitude–
    and discovered that was a threshold into the world!

  4. 03/04/2018— Trout Lilly 2018 02 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 27, 2018

    The frustrating thing for Jesus
    (“How long am I to put up with you?
    How long am I to bear you?”)
    was the impossibility of telling people
    what they were not ready/able to hear.
    Put Jesus, or me, or you
    in a room with Donald Trump,
    white nationalists, fascists, Nazis, NRA hardliners, racists, homophobes, misogynists, the list is long,
    and ask us to talk them into waking up.
    How long do you think it would take?
    I spent my career talking mostly
    to people who could not hear
    what I was saying
    (“Jim, why don’t you talk to us
    about things we can understand?”).
    It interfered with my listening to those
    who were saying what I needed to hear–
    from doing the things I needed to be doing.
    Jesus said, “Leave the dead to bury the dead,”
    told a parable about not wasting our time
    sowing seed on rocky ground or sandy soil,
    and spent his life looking for
    “those who have ears to hear.”
    The internet would have saved him
    a lot of walking around.
    The old prophets called the process
    “casting your bread upon the waters.”
    Modern prophets say
    “Take what you can use
    and leave the rest behind.”
    No argument, no debate, no harangues.
    Everything we need to know
    has always been visible
    to those with eyes to see.
    See what you look at.
    Look at everything.
    Listen to your body.
    Listen to your heart.
    Listen to your nighttime dreams.
    Listen to your experience.
    Take all things into consideration.
    Hold it all in your awareness
    and see where it leads.
    Figure out for yourself
    what the questions are,
    and spend your life answering them.
    If you can find better advice,
    take it.

  5. 03/05/2018— The Dairy Barn 2018 11 — Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    We bear the pain of our grief–
    which is to say we bear our grief,
    in that grief is not separable or distinguishable
    from its pain–
    consciously, mindfully,
    in full awareness of the raw agony
    of our loss, sadness and sorrow,
    feeling it to the depths of our anguish,
    and allowing it to inform and direct our action
    in the service of that which is good and worthy
    even yet, even so, even now.
    We walk with a limp
    and with an understanding
    of the pain and burden of others,
    knowing that grief us a universal emotion,
    making us one with all those who have gone before
    and those who will come after.
    We live as sisters and brothers of the world
    in mourning,
    and in wondering how life can go on,

    Going on is essential for grief,
    and is, itself, an expression of grief,
    for we go on in spite of the blow
    to heart, soul, mind, spirit and body.
    We go on in honor of our loss,
    striving to become because of it
    more aware,
    more sensitive,
    more kind,
    more compassionate,
    more gracious,
    more determined
    to bring forth the good
    in the service of the good
    as a testimony to our refusal
    to let defeat and loss be the last word.
    We rise up to meet the new day,
    doing there what needs to be done,
    and needs us to do it–
    walking two paths at the same time,
    mourning and remembering,
    and living to redeem our loss
    by allowing it to inform our living,
    knowing the fine line separating joy and sorrow,
    and realizing the importance of being bearers
    of the light through the darkness
    of hopelessness and despair.
    We do what is good and necessary
    in the presence of the chorus of voices chanting,
    “So what?
    Who cares?
    Why try?
    What’s the use?
    What difference will it make?
    What does it matter?”
    In the strength of the rejoinder:
    “So what if nothing matters?
    The good is good anyway,
    never-the-less,
    even so!”
    And we are here to do what is good
    even in–especially in–
    the absence of good
    as servants of good
    for as long as life shall last!
    If you are going to take anything
    “on faith,”
    take this on faith–
    and live as though it is so!

03/05/2018— Think of Spirit–
your Spirit, my spirit, our spirit, The Spirit–
as a measure of evaluation and enthusiasm.
The more we evaluate our experience of life
in a negative way,
the less enthusiasm for life we have,
and vice-versa.
The more we evaluate our experience of life
in a positive way,
the more enthusiasm for life we have.
We evaluate positively
and have enthusiasm for
things we find pleasing.
We evaluate negatively
and have no enthusiasm for
things we find displeasing.
Spirit is high when we are pleased
and low when we are displeased.
Our spirit lives to be pleased with,
and enthusiastic about,
the life we are living.
A “Spirit-filled life”
is a life that is pleasing to ourselves
and to others,
a live that is brimming with enthusiasm,
spilling over, pouring out.
How pleased are you with your life?
How enthusiastic are you about your life?
If you need to raise your spirit level
you need to be living differently.
Your Spirit doesn’t have anything to do with
your faith/beliefs.
It has everything to do with your life.

03/05/2018c— When your life isn’t working–
as Trump’s life is not working–
normal people take stock,
perhaps with the help of a psychotherapist,
evaluate their goals and values,
and their methods of serving both–
and experiment with making changes
to see how a different way of living
effects their outcomes
and alters their impact.
Trump merely doubles down
and does more of what isn’t working,
blaming all others
for his failure as a human being.

  1. 03/06/2018— Peach Blossoms 2018 06 — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    I am the voice of one crying:
    “In the wilderness,
    prepare the way of the Lord and Master–
    the Mother of All That Is–
    who is coming even now
    into the world of space and time
    through each of those
    who prepare the way
    by standing aside
    from our plans and agendas,
    goals and schemes,
    ideas and preferences
    regarding how things should be,
    and allow the Coming One
    to have full say in all matters
    great and small!”

    The old texts all agree:
    “Each of us has been given
    a manifestation of the Spirit
    for the common good.”
    And:
    “The Spirit is like the wind
    that blows where it will.”

    When we try to contain the Spirit
    in creeds and doctrines and theologies,
    we create a wasteland
    where ideas of truth
    clash with opposing ideas of truth,
    and people kill one another
    to impose their idea of truth
    upon all–
    while the Spirit waits
    to come into the world
    through the gifts, genius, aptitudes, interests and abilities
    of those who are intent upon
    listening to,
    and being led by,
    the urgent urge to be and do and say
    what is fitting and proper and necessary
    in each situation as it arises
    in light of the true good of all
    no matter what,
    without any plan or blueprint or map or design
    for how it is all going to fit together,
    any more than the musician knows
    where the music is going,
    or the dancer knows
    where the dance is leading,
    or the artist knows
    what the art is doing,
    determined only
    to let the wind of the Spirit
    that goes where it will
    blow forever in our hair.

03/06/2018 — Doctor Who said (in “Twice Upon A Time,” a Christmas Special written by Steven Moffat), “The universe generally
fails to be a fairy tale.
But that’s where we come in.”
Kindness is one of the best things we do.
We need to do more of it.
We offset,
counteract,
balance out
the evil in the world.
We cannot fix people like Donald Trump
and all those he inspires
with his mean, malicious, ways,
but.
We can be as un-Trump-like as possible.
Joseph Campbell said,
“It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses.”
Trump can bring out the kind,
considerate,
sensitive,
caring,
helpful,
compassionate,
benevolent,
generous
sides of ourselves if allow it.
You might think of it in this way:
Trump is where we come in.

  1. 03/06/2018— From William Butler Yeats’, “The Second Coming”:

    “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity…”

    What we are experiencing has been experienced,
    and will be experienced again.
    The timelessness of the cycle,
    the eternal nature of things flying apart,
    is no help at all for those at ground zero
    of the present manifestation of “mere anarchy,”
    which is more than enough
    for those impacted by it.
    And they need something they can count on
    to see them through.

    When the center fails to hold,
    sit in the silence of your fear and mourning,
    and remember what has always been true about you.
    In the fifth grade at one of those parent/teacher conferences,
    my mother told me that Mrs. Unglesby said,
    “Jimmy looks out the window a lot.”
    “Jimmy” still does.
    Another time, the same teacher, conducted
    a go around the circle saying something nice about everyone exercise.
    When it came my turn,
    there was a period of uncomfortable-for-me silence
    which she broke by saying, “I think Jimmy is honest,”
    and we moved on to the next person.
    I did not think much of being honest at the time,
    but I do work at being honest,
    and can be honest about not being all that honest
    when that is the way it is.
    I have always looked out the window
    with all that implies,
    and I have always been honest–
    at least with myself.
    I can count on those things being so.
    And I can move beyond them to related qualities.
    Looking out of the window is about wonder
    and inquiry,
    exploration, inspection, observation, seeing, hearing, understanding…
    And before I know what I’ve done,
    I’m standing before the essence, the core, the absolute ME.
    And I can go with him through any exposition of “mere anarchy”
    and come out just fine–
    because I have not lost connection with the bedrock
    of my own identity.

    As the foundations shake,
    sit with yourself
    and find what is truest and best about you–
    and let that be your refuge and strength,
    and a very present help in time of trouble.

  2. 03/07/2018— Forsythia 2018 01 Panorama — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, February 27, 2018

    The Four Rules of Life:
    1) Show Up.
    Live naked and unafraid apart from addictions,
    away from denial,
    fully exposed to the truth of how things are,
    and confident of your ability
    to find the way to respond to–
    and deal with–
    whatever the day brings.
    2) Pay Attention.
    Mindfulness leads the way,
    when coupled with compassion
    and non-judgmental acceptance
    of the facts of your context and circumstances.
    Seeing what is there is the first step
    in knowing what to do about it.
    Make inquires.
    Become an astute observer.
    See what you look at,
    and look at everything.
    Know what is happening within your body/mind
    and in the world around you.
    Pretend you are exploring a new and foreign planet everyday,
    and don’t miss anything.
    3) Be True To Yourself.
    Integrity is knowing what you value
    and living in ways that declare how valuable it is.
    You can’t say something is important
    when you fail to serve it with your life.
    Look at what you serve with your life
    as an aspect of looking at everything.
    Decide how much value you place on it.
    Adjust your living–
    expand your awareness–

    Do less of what you don’t like
    and more of what you do like–
    within the context and circumstances,
    terms and conditions
    of your life.
    Honor what matters most to you
    with your time and attention.
    4) Do Not Take Anything Personally.
    Every living thing has preferences.
    Trees, plants and flowers turn to the sun–
    but they do not take it personally
    when it rains on their birthday.
    If you are into “woe is me,
    poor me, poor me,
    the world is out to get me
    I never get a break,
    O sorrow, O woe,”
    get out of it.
    The Universe is not your friend.
    It isn’t anyone’s friend.
    And Mama isn’t going to save you
    from the unpleasant realities of your life.
    Maybe you do everything right
    and still don’t get what you want.
    Sometimes things happen that way.
    Even in Australia.
    So stand up and do what needs to be done
    in each situation as it arises
    for the rest of your life–
    without opinion or drama.
    If you have a flat, get it fixed.
    If you spill the milk, clean it up.
    If you don’t know what to do,
    hold everything in your awareness
    and wait for something to shift,
    pointing the way.
    And don’t fail to Show Up.

  3. 03/08/2018— Oconee Bells 2018 02 Panorama — UNCC Botanical Gardens, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 28, 2018

    There is only
    being kind and loving.
    “Love one another,”
    “Love your enemies,”
    “Love your neighbor,”
    “Love yourself”
    means only
    “Be kind and loving.”
    Loving one another, your enemies, your neighbor, yourself
    doesn’t have anything to do
    with how we feel about any of them.
    It has solely to do with
    how we treat all of them.
    We are to treat them all lovingly–
    so that they can’t tell if we feel
    anything like attraction and affection or not.
    Real, abiding, love is not what we feel,
    it is what we do
    and how we do it.
    Be kind and loving no matter how you feel.
    That is all that is ever asked of you
    in every situation
    for the rest of time.
    There is only
    being kind and loving.
    Practice that on everybody you meet,
    until you get it down,
    and then do it from the heart
    so that it is not an act,
    and not even you can tell
    how you feel about any of them.
    Oh, and don’t worry about being real.
    Being really kind and really loving
    is as real as you ever need to be,
    no matter how you “really” feel,
    because feelings change,
    just like perceptions change,
    even “real” ones.
    Stick with being
    really kind and really loving
    through it all,
    and you will come out okay,
    and everybody else will be better for it.
    It is the simple secret
    to a better world.

  4. 03/09/2018— Stone Walling 2018 01 — Charlotte, North Carolina, March 8, 2018

    How often do you find yourself smiling
    about something you’ve done?
    A meal you cooked,
    or a cake you baked…
    A flowerbed you put in,
    or a wall you painted…
    A trip you took,
    or a relationship you ended..
    We do things all the time.
    How often do we take pleasure
    in the things we do?
    We evaluate our outcomes negatively forever.
    How often do we do it positively?
    When have you made yourself
    laugh out loud?
    How frequently are you delighted in you?
    How much do you enjoy your own company?
    How is that evidenced in the things you do?
    In the way you do them?
    In the kinds of things you look forward to?
    In how your life is going?
    Maybe it’s time you took yourself out to lunch.
    Or for a walk in the woods.
    What would yourself be most pleased
    to have your company doing?
    Treat yourself to you!
    How long has it been?

The Meaning of Life

If anyone ever asks you,

“What is the meaning of life?”

Ask them, “What is the meaning of your question?”

If they say, “What do you mean?”

Answer: “Are you asking ‘What is the meaning of life?’

like you might ask, ‘What is the meaning of a rock?’

If they say, “Yes!”

Ask them, “Are we talking about the meaning of a particular rock,

or a rock in general?”

If they say, “Rocks in general,”

say, “Things don’t mean anything in general.

They only have specific, concrete, here and now, in this very moment meaning.”

If they say, “I don’t understand.”

Reply, “A large number of vastly different items fall into the general category of Rocks.

A gold nugget could be thought of as a rock by someone who didn’t know what gold is,

and the same thing could be said about a diamond.

Gold and diamonds mean something quite different from granite, gravel and field stones.

And even if we limited our discussions to wave-tossed pebbles of granite,

worn smooth and sized almost identically by being ground down

through water action over time,

still one of those rocks would mean one thing to a boy with a slingshot,

and another thing to the bird, or the bull, he had his eye on

when he picked up the rock.

What something means is always what it means to someone—

and what it means to them is specific to the time and place,

moment and mood of the person in question.

For example, the question, ‘What is this thing called “Love”?’

means one thing to a college sophomore the second week in April,

having just been smitten by the encounter with his roommate’s sister

on the parade ground beneath balmy skies on their way to lunch.

He folds his hands over his chest, lifts his eyes to the heavens,

and proclaims in a wonder-struck way, ‘What is this thing called love?’

A thrice jilted lover, just told by another, ‘There is someone else,’

might look aghast, and wonder from his depths, ‘What IS this thing called love?’

A philosophical cynic, having been wounded at too many times,

asks of every expression of love, ‘WHAT? Is THIS THING called Love?’

And a new bride fresh home from the honeymoon,

asks of her husband’s first effort at grilling steaks, ‘And what is this thing called, Love?’

Putting this all together, we can say ‘The meaning of life’

is that life is a matrix

in which each living thing works out for itself the meaning of its own existence—

what it means for it to be alive—

by living in light of,

living toward,

living to express and serve—

by living in ways that have meaning—

are meaningful—for each living thing.

The meaning of your life is what your life means to you—

is what is meaningful in your life for you.

What is meaningful is your ground,

your bedrock,

your center.

It is YOU.

Find that center point,

and live to express it,

exhibit it,

and serve it in what you do,

in how you live.

Do what it takes to pay the bills,

but know that you are paying the bills

in order to do what is meaningful to you in the life you are living.

That’s the meaning of your life.”

 

  1. 03/10/2018— Peach Orchard 2018 27 Panorama — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    We have to find the calm places in our life–
    “the still point of the turning world”–
    where we can contemplate the whole thing
    in its wholeness,
    in its all-ness,
    in its just-so-ness
    its just-as-it-is-ness
    its such-as-it-is-ness.

    We have to find a vantage point
    where we can stand apart from
    the hustle and the hassle
    in order to observe it,
    see it,
    as it is
    and as it also is.

    We have to remove ourselves from the noise of living
    in order to hear it
    and know it for the first time
    every time we remove ourselves
    and listen.

    We have to know how it is with us
    on every level
    in order to understand how it is with us,
    how it is impacting us
    how well, and how poorly, we are dealing with it
    and what approaches we might try
    to bring more balance and sanity,
    humor and grace,
    compassion and peace
    mindfulness and awareness
    into our life
    just as it is
    when we step back into it.

    In this out-and-in,
    doing and reflecting on what/how we are doing,
    we discover a lot of things–
    the difference between knowing something
    and understanding it,
    between hearing something
    and comprehending it,
    between thinking and contemplation,
    and how our doing reflects our being,
    and how our doing things differently
    can transform our being–
    how what we do and how we do it
    can transform who we are–
    and how who we are
    and what we are capable of
    are the most powerful tools
    in the tool box
    for the revolution
    that changes everything
    by shifting how things are
    into how they need to be
    for the true good of all concerned.

    All because we began to see what we looked at,
    and looked at everything
    in the silence that enabled us to hear with understanding
    and know what is going on
    and what is called for in response,
    and had the courage to take a chance–
    and became in that moment
    the hope of the world.

  2. 03/11/2018— Round-Lobed Hepatica 2018 01 Panorama — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 10, 2018

    Attitude is the fulcrum,
    levering all of life
    from good to bad,
    from bad to good.
    It’s all in how we look at things,
    in the stance we take toward things,
    in the response we make to things,
    that sets the future in place,
    and lays the path
    from here to there.
    If you want to change things,
    start with your attitude.
    If you want to make a difference,
    begin with your mindset.

03/11/2018 — What is the source, ground,
heart and center
of your vitality?
Is it valid?
These two questions
are ours to answer.
Being right about it
will make all the difference.

  1. 03/12/2018— The Dairy Barn 2018 02 Panorama — Central Louisiana Hospital grounds, Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    We live in the service of passionate intensity.
    Our level of passionate intensity
    in the service of some activity
    over time
    is the surest measure
    of the quality and depth of our life.
    If we are not passionately invested
    in something more important to us
    than our convenience and comfort
    in each moment,
    we have to square up to
    our failure of nerve
    and our refusal to grow up–
    and get on with it.
    It takes courage to throw ourselves
    into the service of our heart’s true love.
    Excuses abound.
    Reasons for not doing what must be done–
    for ignoring the compelling urgency
    to do what is calling us to do it–
    are many
    and extremely logical.
    Reasons for doing it are few
    and mostly emotional/intuitive/instinctive
    and, hence, irrational and “crazy.”

    Are we going to live
    in the grip of a mythic vision
    (That would be a vision of mythic proportions),
    or not?
    Are we going to trust ourselves to our life,
    or not?
    We have to take some things “on faith.”
    The life that is ours to live
    is one of those things.
    If we aren’t going to trust our life
    and our sense of what it is saying to us,
    we will regret it
    for as long as our surrogate life lasts.
    If we find ourselves in the
    regretting it stage,
    there is a second chance option
    that is always available.
    We can begin making gestures
    in the service of the vision.
    We can do the things that can still be done
    as liege servants to the interest and the love.
    We can live the life that can still be lived–
    even now,
    even yet,
    even so!
    It will take as much courage now as then,
    and will require as much faith–
    as much trust–
    in ourselves now as then.
    And it will call us to life
    as much now as then.
    It just won’t last as long.
    But why live one more day not being alive?

03/12/2018 — We have to kid ourselves
to get buy.
If we stop kidding ourselves
it goes off the tracks
just like that.
We must kid ourselves
to carry on,
but.
We can’t kid ourselves about kidding ourselves.
We have to know we are kidding ourselves,
and that the circumstances require it,
and we are going to submit to the necessity
of our situation
and see where it goes.
Here’s how it works.
We do not know the answers
to any of the important questions.
Carl Jung said as much,
and he was only recognizing
what everyone who went before him
and comes after him knows
intuitively, instinctively, if not intellectually.
We act as though there are answers
and we aren’t smart enough to realize
what they are.
Jung said there are no answers
and that growing up means coming to terms with that,
and letting it be because it is.
No answers to the important questions
requires us to take everything on faith–
to live trusting in our ability to come up
with what is needed in each situation as it arises
in order to deal with that situation.
This throws us back on ourselves,
on our gifts, talents, proclivities, instincts and abilities.
We all have a spark within.
The fire burns brighter in some of us than others,
but we all have the possibility
of kindling something to meet the darkness of the moment.
And we have to take it on faith that this is so,
trust it to be so,
believing it is and living as though it is
brings it forth as a grace and a blessing
upon ourselves and each other.
Surely, you have experienced this bursting forth
at some point in your life,
doing what you had no idea
you were capable of doing,
and then dismissed it as an anomaly,
never to be repeated.
It wasn’t an accident.
It is your essence–our essence.
It is that which is most true about us,
and we have to get out of the way,
step aside, so to speak,
and learn to live as servants of the gift.
But, there is a catch.
We cannot use it for more than
meeting the needs of the situation.
We cannot turn it into a profitable enterprise,
as though there is something more valuable than the gift
which the gift will help us get.
The gift is who we are.
There is nothing beyond who we are to be
or have, or own, or possess.
We cannot exploit the gift for some imagined benefit
greater than the gift.
Living in the service of,
in the strength of,
the gift is as good as it gets.
And we are at the point of
needing to understand this,
embrace it,
and incorporate it into our life.
We have to take it on faith that it is so,
swear an oath of loyalty
as liege servants of the inner flame
and see where it takes us
throughout the rest of our life.

  1. 03/13/2018 — Peach Blossoms 2018 04 — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    If you are going to talk about
    what has always been called God,
    do so without theology or doctrine.
    Without reference to the Bible
    or any other book.
    And do not use any words
    someone else has ever used.
    Speak of that which has always been called God
    out of your own experience.
    What do you know of God
    from your experience of God?
    Where do you go to experience God?
    What are the holy places in your life–
    the portals–
    the contact points–
    where your life has intersected God?
    Our life is lived moving along a continuum
    from Probable to Improbable.
    Reflecting on your experience of God
    over the full range of your life,
    how probable is it that what has always been called God
    is a part of your DNA–
    activated by certain experiences
    generated by the context and circumstances
    of your life?
    That you are the source/origin of God?

03/14/2018 — Health care, Dreamers/immigration,
Civil Rights for every person, Commonsense Gun Control…
This is not difficult.
Republicans throw it all aside
in the service of a narrow-minded, bigoted, elitist, dogmatic ideology,
and are paying the price.
“Government is of the people,
by the people,
for the people.”
“The authority of the government
rests on the consent of the governed.”
This is basic democracy.
Get back to the basics, Republicans.
Or pay the price!

  1. 03/14/2018— Peach Orchard 2018 17 Panorama — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    There is a difference between
    living to be entertained,
    distracted,
    amused
    and delighted,
    and living to serve ends
    worthy of our
    loyalty and allegiance,
    dedication and devotion.
    What are we living for?
    Who has a strong sense
    of what they must do?
    What are we doing
    to find and do
    what needs us to do it?
    At some level we all sense
    whether things are
    right with our soul,
    and our hearts know
    when they are doing
    the work that is theirs to do.
    It is our place to listen
    to heart and soul
    and dowse the way
    with a life
    that understands what is true for it
    and what is false.

03/14/2018 — The Republican plan/platform/ideology
calling for
“Austerity for you,
Prosperity for me,”
is transparent to everyone.
Their idea of making things
opaque by stoking fear and hatred
among the voting hoards
is not working as well
as they thought it would.
Instead of changing their fundamental strategy,
they are exploring better ways
to inflame their constituency.
“Yell louder!
Talk about Pelosi and Hillary!”
The people aren’t buying
the old worn lines.
The people want a better future
for everyone,
“with liberty and justice for all.”
Republicans aren’t built for that.
It’s against their religion.

  1. 03/15/2018— Trout Lilly 2018 03 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 10, 2018

    Live to serve your DNA!
    We come packed with
    the experience of the species–
    and I’m not talking about White Anglo-Saxon Male Protestants.
    I’m talking about the entire human race!
    We are all one,
    and we are one with all who have gone before us,
    and all who will come after us.
    And it’s all there in our DNA.
    Here’s an interesting thing:
    Our DNA is elastic.
    It adjusts itself to our context/environment/umwelt.
    It is intelligent.
    It is the source of our intelligence.
    Intelligence does not reside solely in our brain.
    Our body is also intelligent.
    We are intelligent to the core–
    of our DNA.
    We come equipped
    with a built-into-our-DNA capacity
    to respond appropriately
    to changes in our circumstances
    via species-learned behaviors
    over millions of years of evolutionary development,
    during which time we were dealing with
    similar circumstances.
    Times change, to be sure, but
    everyone is still having to adjust
    to the same stages of life,
    from birth to death,
    that we have always had to adjust to.
    We have DNA responses lying latent,
    waiting on some circumstantial/context trigger
    to call them forth to meet what is being asked of us.
    Instinct and intuition
    are the equals of reason and logic
    when it comes to recognizing what is happening
    and what needs to be done about it.
    We think it is all about thinking.
    Think Tanks rule the day.
    We have to find our way back to
    silence and solitude,
    experience and reflection,
    in order to live at one with our DNA,
    recognize what is trying to come to life within,
    and assist it–serve it–
    in the ways we live in response to our environment
    and the stages of our development.

  2. 03/16/2018— Cherry Trees 2018 02 Panorama — York County, North Carolina, February 28, 2018

    Reality is patient and persistent,
    and has a knack of imposing itself
    upon those who deny and dismiss reality
    in favor of their preferred way
    of perceiving the world.
    This is sometimes referred to as “karma.”
    It is simply the build up of truth over time.
    We can pretend things are not what they are
    for only so long.
    Things are what they are,
    and will assert themselves
    to the chagrin and consternation of those
    who refused to acknowledge it
    and adjust themselves to it
    when the situation required it.
    Arrogance and greed make things worse.
    Compassion and grace make things better.
    We can deny this fundamental law of human existence,
    or we can recognize its validity,
    and place ourselves in accord with it
    in each situation as it arises.

    We cannot avoid the inevitable realization
    that the road we take to avoid the truth of reality
    leads us to it.

  3. 03/17/2018— Cemetery Gate 2018 02 — Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Pineville, Louisiana, February 23, 2018

    The formula is a simple portal to the way of life everlasting.
    Following it through all of its nuances and implications
    is our life’s work:
    Listen To Rectitude,
    Keep Silence.
    That is all we need to know and do.
    But knowing is understanding,
    and doing never takes a holiday.
    Listening to Rectitude
    is honoring rectitude and all that flows from it,
    is connected to it.
    Integrity, goodness, uprightness, virtue, trustworthiness…
    It is a quality of soul
    that cannot be learned from a book
    or taught with words,
    but is only found naturally in the heart of those
    who have what it takes.
    As the old text declares:
    “Many are called,
    but few are chosen,”
    meaning few are the Chosen Ones,
    the Anointed Ones,
    the Christs
    who have what it takes.
    But in every generation,
    “Many are called.”
    Many have the potential,
    but fall away
    with the glitter and sheen of Gay Paree
    shining in their eyes.
    Distraction, diversion, dismay, desire,
    infatuation with the idea of our own importance,
    and the tendency toward
    exploitation for personal/private gain
    interferes with the calling
    and leads to the wasteland of eternal discontent.
    “It is a slippery slope,
    a dangerous path,
    like the Razor’s Edge.
    And those who find it–
    and traverse it–
    are few.”
    Keeping Silence
    is keeping troth,
    being true, loyal, devoted, faithful…
    and reflecting on–
    being mindful of–
    our experience
    and the doors it opens
    to meanings, understanding, knowledge, realization,
    comprehension, enlightenment…
    so that we are forever dancing
    with contexts and circumstances
    as they unfold before us
    in embracing and serving
    that which is good and necessary
    in each situation as it arises
    no matter what
    all our life long.
    If you have what it takes,
    have at it–
    and don’t look back
    in a way that leads you to lose your focus
    and betray who you are and what you are about–
    but live on in the service
    of that which calls your name,
    from the DNA of our species
    toward the best we can will, imagine and do,
    and let that be that
    with joy and gladness for the wonder and glory of it all.

  4. 03/18/2018 — The Dairy Barn 2018 15 — Central Louisiana Hospital Grounds, Pineville, Louisiana, February 18, 2018

    Superficiality is the bane of the species.
    There is nothing to us
    because we settle for so little.
    We do not ask questions we cannot answer–
    and we accept “answers”
    that appear to be acceptable
    because the alternative
    is so unthinkably unacceptable.
    For example:
    We cannot tolerate the idea
    that we are alone
    and are going to die.
    Anything but that!

    Hiding from our apparent aloneness,
    and the seemingly meaninglessness
    of a life barrelling to death,
    we fail to discover
    the high quality of our own company,
    and the wonder of a life lived
    in the shadow of its own disappearance.
    Perspective transforms everything,
    and saves us from the mindless sameness
    of life without inquiry, examination, exploration, inspection, reflection, curiosity, imagination…
    because we are afraid of what we might find
    if we looked.
    Everything changes
    when we have the courage
    to see what we look at–
    and look at everything!
    What we call “luck” turns entirely on perspective.
    “Good” and “bad” are functions
    of how we look at things–
    of how we evaluate what we look at.
    Look again from a different angle
    and things appear differently.
    Changing our point of view
    changes everything.
    Religion–bad religion–teaches us
    that we are wretched, sinful, weak, miserable creatures
    without a mother/father god to rescue us
    and give us paradise where all our desires are fulfilled.
    We are told to take it on faith because it is so.
    Why not take it on faith that it is not so–
    and that we are just fine without it being so?
    Why not take it on faith that we are just fine–
    and have the innate capacity to find our own way
    to varying levels of “fineness”
    simply by allowing everything to be exactly what it is,
    and exploring everything to discover exactly what that is
    and what can be done about it/with it–
    and what that might mean for us
    and the life we are capable of living?
    Joseph Campbell said,
    “Where you stumble and fall,
    there lies the treasure.”
    So start digging!
    What would happen if we started digging about in everything?
    Pushing everything to show us what it is hiding?
    Not being satisfied with any “answer”
    until it has led us to better questions?
    Sitting with apparent dead-ends
    until doors open to new realizations
    and new pathways of reflection?
    Each one of us is a portal to infinity,
    and we settle for sit-coms
    and soap operas
    because we lack the courage
    to dive into our fear
    in order to see if there is anything there
    to be afraid of.
    Why die not knowing?

  5. 03/19/2018 — Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies 2015 05 Panorama — Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park, Chester County, South Carolina, May 29, 2015

    The profit motive is the only sin.
    The sin of Adam and Eve
    was trying to have more than they had,
    more than they needed
    to do what was theirs to do:
    “If we only had Paradise,
    Eden would be really something!”
    If we only had something else,
    something better,
    something more,
    something we don’t have now,
    everything would be wonderful at last!”
    Salvation is understanding
    that everything is just fine exactly as it is–
    that we already have all that we need
    here and now
    to be who we are
    and to do what is ours to do.
    “Look at the flowers in the field,”
    said Jesus.
    “They have everything they need
    to be what they are
    and to do what they do.
    Any aspirations and ambitions beyond that
    would interfere with it,
    be an absurdity
    and an obscenity,
    and distract them from their task
    which is their life”
    (Or words to that effect).
    Our tendency to exploit
    all that can be exploited
    in the service of our insatiable desires
    keeps us from being content
    with ourselves
    and the gift/genius/art/work
    that is ours to pursue/express
    in the life that is ours to live.
    Wanting more
    is to enjoy less,
    and to miss the chance
    we all have
    to be at one with the wonder
    of life and being.
    Twood be a pity
    to come all this way
    only to miss the point
    of our being here.
    The lions and the lilies
    will be laughin’ at us
    through all eternity.

  6. 03/19/2018— Dandelion 2018 01 — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 18, 2018

    Peter Capaldi, as Doctor Who, In “Extremis,” written by Steven Moffat,
    said, “Without witness, without hope, without reward!”
    Meaning that Good comes forth “in extremis.”
    The best kind of Good
    is good for nothing.
    Kindness and good faith
    are not capable of exploitation,
    and they cannot be brought into being
    with a bribe of mega proportions.
    You cannot buy either,
    putting your money on the counter,
    and ordering them up
    like you might with a cheap pizza.
    They are there,
    or they are not.
    That’s what I like most about them.
    They are honest, real, and incapable
    of being counterfeit,
    or imitated.
    And they are the bedrock values that matter most.
    What can you imagine that is better
    than kindness and good faith?
    Whatever it is,
    you can keep it,
    and give me kindness and good faith!
    And I will give it back to you,
    and everyone else.
    It’s the best I can do.
    And I’ll die doing it.
    “Where I stand
    is where I fall.”
    Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who, Steven Moffat
    said that, too.

  7. 03/20/2018— Round-lobed Hepatica 2018 02 — Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 10, 2018

    There is trusting our luck,
    and there is pushing our luck.
    It helps to be able
    to distinguish one from the other.
    There is forcing our way,
    and there is following our way
    regardless of obstacles,
    adversaries
    and opposition–
    no matter what–
    and the two are not the same.
    The slippery slope
    and the razor’s edge
    are wide open doors
    to the Yonder Shore–
    which is never more
    than the distance
    from our head to our heart.
    The difficulties of the journey
    do not contradict the truth
    that a child can do it
    and a baby has nothing to learn
    and much to teach.
    What are you doing
    listening to me
    when you ought to be
    listening to you?
    Listen to me!
    When I say,
    do not listen to me!
    Listen to you!
    Knowing what to heed,
    and what to ignore.
    The only thing standing between
    you and you
    is you.

03/20/2018 — It is a human tendency to shift away
from doing the work
to believing we don’t have to do the work
because The Magic will do it for us.
Sports teams work hard enough to win a few games
and think it is Magic that wins through them,
for them,
and begin to play with their minds
on tomorrow’s headlines
and the festivities at the end of the season,
and begin to lose.
Different headlines.
No festivities.
The Magic depends upon the Work.
If we do the work,
Magic will happen–
IF we do the work,
not counting on Magic to do it for us.
We like to separate the Magic from the Work.
We are lazy
and don’t want to do the Work,
don’t want to remember the steps
the Work requires.
We have to honor the steps
and do the Work.
What is your work?
What are the steps it takes to do the work?
When you are in the groove,
in the flow,
humming right along,
at one with the work–
how did you get there?
What is the work that puts you “in” the work?
So that the dance is dancing the dancer?
So that the song is singing the singer?
So that the book is writing the writer?
What are they?
The steps from not doing the work,
to doing the work?
To being engaged with the work?
To being the work?
How do you put yourself into the experience of the work?
You have to tend the process,
take the steps,
become the work
as you do it.
Then the Magic will happen.
But, the Magic isn’t for you.
It is because of you.
You are the Magician,
transforming the work
into more than it could ever be
without you–
without you taking the steps required
to do the work.
Your place is to take the steps
and do the work.
“Without witness,
without hope,
without reward.”
No headlines.
No festivities.
No big salary.
Just the wonder of being one with the work–
your work–
in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sense of
“What I do is me,
for that I came.”

03/20/2018 — We are lazy
and we are greedy.
We want the work to do itself
and we want to exploit the work–
as though there is something beyond the work
to want,
or have,
or do.
There is only the work.
There is only the dance.
I was out with my camera
looking for photos
when a walker came by
and asked me who I was working for.
I asked him what he meant
and he said, “Who are you photographing for?”
I laughed, and asked him,
“Who are you walking for?”
He joined in the laughter,
and went on his way.
I don’t take photos I think will sell.
I take photos that need to be taken–
that need me to take them.
And I do it again tomorrow.
And I write the same way.
Trying to write something that would sell
would kill it.
And me.
I can only write what needs to be written.
That’s my sacred trust.
Our work is that way.
Find it do it–
“Without witness,
without hope,
without reward”–
beyond the reward of the work
and the wonder of doing it.

  1. 03/21/2018— Peach Blossoms 2018 01 — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    Listen to your body,
    listen to your heart,
    listen to your nighttime dreams,
    listen to your experience…
    Listen, listen, listen.
    Look, look, look.

    Explore.
    Investigate.
    Examine.
    Be curious.
    Be interested.
    Be mindfully aware.
    Trust your own sense
    of what is good for you
    and what is not.
    You are teaching yourself
    to respond to the situation
    as it unfolds
    without being influenced
    or triggered into action
    by previous situations.
    Karma is momentum
    built up by responding
    in the same way
    to similar contexts and circumstances
    over the course of our life,
    without reflection,
    examination,
    awareness or
    maturation.
    Our life will grow us up
    if we allow it,
    deepening our perspective
    enlarging our perception
    expanding our range of response
    and bringing out the hero
    we are all capable of being
    in meeting our life
    with kindness and good faith
    and doing what needs us to do it
    one situation at a time.

  2. 03/22/2018— Peach Orchard 2018 08/09 Panorama — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    We are here to be of help to one another,
    and yet, it has to be the right kind of help.
    Which means that each of us
    has to be mindfully aware
    of where we stop and someone else starts,
    of what our business is
    and what it isn’t,
    of where we step forward
    and where we step back,
    of where we stand up
    and where we stand down,
    of where we would draw the line
    and of where the line needs to be drawn,
    of when to draw the line,
    and when to override drawing a line,
    of where the boundaries lie,
    and of when to not let boundaries get in the way.
    In other words,
    helping is a judgment call.
    No rules apply
    except the rule that states there are no rules,
    and we have to wing it every time,
    take our chances,
    and be right about what to do when,
    in being “the kind of help
    that help is all about” (Shel Silverstein).
    It is all on us,
    and we have to realize that
    and be up for it
    in each situation as it arises.
    Where does what we are thinking about doing
    fall out along the Helpfulness Scale?
    And that includes when we are
    not thinking about doing anything.

  3. 03/23/2018 — Winter’s Brown 2018 26 BW — Lancaster County, South Carolina, February 9, 2018

    We are NOT “the Captain of our ship,
    the Master of our destiny”!
    The best we can do as Captains and Masters
    is live enslaved to our wants and desires–
    in the service of prosperity, privilege and pleasure.
    A better metaphor:
    We are a ship drifting on the currents
    of chance and time
    in search of a captain,
    seeking the destiny
    we are built to serve
    with our life.
    We do not know what we are doing,
    or what we are supposed to be doing.
    And are easy marks
    for those who sound like they know,
    or for addictions and appetites
    to take our minds off
    the anguish of not-knowing.
    Here’s the formula
    for finding what we need:
    Bear The Pain!
    The Still Small Voice
    can be gleaned only
    in the agony of the silence
    of knowing that we don’t know
    what we need to find the way
    and see the light.
    Rumi said,
    “Darkness is the cradle of light.”
    Let there be dark,
    that there might be light.
    Sit in the silence
    questing for the bedrock
    of your existence.
    What about you do you know to be true
    and of great value
    because it has gotten you here, now?
    What has seen you through?
    Kept you going?
    Each of us has to answer
    for herself, for himself.
    For me, it is the grace of kindness and good faith.
    Kindness and good faith to and from myself,
    and from and to others.
    For me, all of the other positive values flow from these.
    Find your highest value/values–
    the ones that are most valuable to you–
    and declare your devotion to them,
    living to bring them forth
    in each situation as it arises
    for the good of the situation,
    and let that be the ground beneath you
    and the path ahead.
    And see where it goes.

03/23/2018 — Compassion is not a strategy or a solution–
it is a response–
a way of life responding to life.
Compassion has no fix for ruthlessness and greed.
Stand on the shore armed with compassion
when the Vikings sail into the harbor–
or, offer Genghis Khan compassion
in the place of the rape and pillage he has in mind–
and see how it turns out.
The Dali Lama lives under the protection
of Pakistan’s army and nuclear arsenal–
and his body guards carry automatic weapons–
because compassion cannot stand alone.
We walk two paths at the same time
throughout our life,
living between contradictions,
bearing in our bodies
the tension of irreconcilable polarities,
and making our peace with
the way things are
and the way things also are
in a world where good and evil
“are separated by the edge of the coin,”
and perspective–how we look–
determines perception–what we see.

  1. 03/24/2018 — Forsythia 2018 03 — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 19, 2018

    All of the ancient cultures
    had developmental rituals,
    rites of passage,
    initiation ceremonies,
    marking the transition
    from childhood to adulthood.
    These were tribal-sanctioned events
    officially ending childhood
    and beginning adulthood.
    From that point on,
    the boys or girls
    took their place
    with the men and women of the tribe,
    and the tribe-as-a-whole
    was able to meet the requirements
    its context and circumstances
    were imposing on it.
    We all grow up against our will.
    There comes a time at which
    we all have to set aside
    our wants, wishes, preferences and desires
    in order to do the things
    our place in life’s unfolding
    requires of us–
    and there can be no waffling,
    holding back,
    refusing to step forward
    and meet the thing calling us
    to grow up some more again.
    These developmental tasks
    are strewn throughout our life,
    in every generation even now,
    except that now,
    we do not recognize them as such–
    and avoid them,
    deny them,
    reject them,
    ignore them
    at every turn.
    Our culture has become
    a childcare center,
    catering to the Terrible Two
    in all of us
    who only wants her–
    who only wants his–
    way all of the time
    at the expense of all other ways,
    regardless of the implications
    that has for society as a whole,
    and for ourselves as terminally immature individuals
    looking for Mama or Daddy
    to take care of us throughout our life.
    There is no longer a system in place
    to require us to grow up (some more, again).
    It is all up to us now,
    to recognize what is demanded of us,
    and submit willingly to the surrender of our will
    in service to our own deep needs
    and the need of life around us,
    to become who we have yet to be,
    learn what we have yet to understand,
    recognizing and doing
    the things our station in life
    asks of us–
    for the good of ourselves
    and the good of the whole,
    whether we want to or not.

  2. 03/25/2018 — Dandelion 2018 01 B&W — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 19, 2018

    Some of us have what it takes,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us know what is good
    when we see it,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us call goo,d good,
    and evil, evil,
    and some of us call good evil
    and evil good.
    We all have access to the same information.
    Some of us know what to do with it,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us honor/serve values that are valuable,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us look and see what we look at,
    and some of us look and do not see what we look at.
    Some of us live in light of ends worthy of us,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us know where to draw the lines,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us know how to make the most
    of a bad situation,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us experience our experience,
    and some of don’t.
    Some of us do what is required
    to take care of ourselves
    and to help those who can be helped,
    and some of us don’t.
    Some of us can be helped,
    and some of us cannot be helped.
    Some of us help others help us,
    and some of us do not.
    Some of us wait for doors to open,
    and some of us try to force doors to open
    that cannot be opened.
    Some of us know when to take no for an answer,
    and some of us don’t.
    All that is to be known
    is there to be known.
    Some of us know,
    and some of us do not know.
    And, if you explained it to us
    so that we knew the same thing,
    we would interpret it differently.
    It would mean one thing to some of us,
    and different things to others of us.
    Reasonable people can look at the same facts
    and draw different conclusions.
    Some of them will be right
    and some of them will be wrong.
    That is how we got where we are,
    and that is how we will get to
    where we are going.
    And all of us will never be in the same place.
    On any issue,
    or matter,
    or question,
    or subject,
    or concern.
    The best we can hope for
    is broad, common, agreement
    on general rights for everyone
    to their own views and ways of being–
    without demanding that anyone
    see and think and do and be as we are,
    while protecting everyone’s right
    to see and think and do and be as they are–
    without interfering with or limiting anyone else’s right
    to see and think and do and be as they are.
    Where rights clash,
    everybody has to stand down
    and back off
    and respect each other’s right
    to see and think and do and be differently
    without interfering with each other’s right
    to see and think and do and be different.
    Good faith non-interference
    is the ground of our life together.
    And as the world gets smaller,
    and as there get to be more of us,
    that ground shifts from ideal, to important,
    to absolutely essential–
    and everyone has to live to make it so.
    And if they don’t,
    everybody else has to remind them
    that they do not get that option.
    Refusing to honor one another’s right
    to see and think and do and be different
    is not optional
    in a world where “just getting along”
    is crucial to everybody’s future.

03/25/2018 — Whatever it is,
how we deal with it,
what we do about it,
is strictly up to us.
We say what it is,
and what it is not.
We say how we will deal with it,
what we will do about it,
and we do it.
All of it,
the seeing,
the saying,
the doing,
is up to us.
It comes down to who we are,
and how we see,
and what we say,
and what we do.
We are responsible for all of it.
How we live our life is up to us.
What we do with the time left to us
is ours to decide.
What will you do with today?

03/25/2018 — Compassion is the heart of mindfulness.
Mindfulness sees what it looks at
by looking at it from all sides.
Looking at it from all sides means
nothing is despised and rejected.
Seeing all means seeing all
without evaluation,
without judgment,
without preference or opinion.
Seeing is just seeing.
Awareness is just awareness.
Once we are aware,
implications become obvious.
“This” is likely to mean “that.”
Now preferences enter the picture,
and have to be taken into account.
Something else to be aware of.
Preferences without bias are just preferences.
What to do about it all
flows from reflection
which leads to realization,
which shapes action–
the way an itch
leads to scratching
unless reflection intervenes
with the realization of the possibility of infection,
whereupon we might choose to apply an ointment
to ease the itching.
Mindfulness is seeing with compassion,
reflection and realization
leading to action
resulting in a new situation
requiring mindfulness.

  1. 03/26/2018 — Fly-by — Indian Land, South Carolina, January 28, 2018

    The right kind of silence
    provides the right kind of reflection
    which promotes the right kind of realization
    which enables the right kind of action
    which transforms situations and lives.
    Seek the right kind of silence
    through the practice of mindful awareness
    (@jonkabatzinn) and shake things up.

 

  1. 03/27/2018 — Some of us crave safety and security
    to the point of sacrificing our life
    to live forever in the sameness
    of noting ever happening.
    I come from a land in which
    everything was in its place
    and everything had to stay there.
    No questions were permitted
    which could not be answered
    from the Bible,
    and the validity of the Bible
    could never be questioned.
    Life ended at birth.
    From that point,
    it was a simple matter
    of programing babies
    to be who they were supposed to be
    for the rest of the time they were alive.
    But, they were never alive
    beyond the 98.6 and ambulatory
    sense of the term.
    Static unbending rigidity is not life.
    Transition and adjustment
    are always being asked of us.
    Nothing about real life
    remains stable and steady for long.
    We have to develop our ability
    to dance with courage and mindfulness,
    challenges and obstacles–
    with the music forever changing.
    If we can submit to that,
    and handle it with grace and aplomb,
    we have it made
    as much as we can have it made.
    May that be the case
    with all of us!

03/26/2018 —We create our own emotional environment.
Recognizing that and being responsible for it–
for maintaining and managing it–
is a key ingredient in our overall health,
and in the quality of life in our umwelt,
the lived environment of our daily life.
Monitoring and moderating our emotional response
to what is happening within and around us
is an aspect of mindful awareness
that we create, deepen, expand, enlarge
by taking up the practice
and engaging in in a regular, recurring, way.
@jonkabatzinn

03/26/2018 — My work is to find the photograph
and take it
within the terms and conditions,
nature and circumstances,
limits and restrictions
of the time and place
of my living.
It’s a task of mythic proportions,
and I take to it like Odysseus to his ship.
I am always thinking,
“What does this day permit?”
“Where might I find the photograph
within the elements I have to work with
here and now?”
This is my place:
to find the place the conditions favor.
Some days, there are none to be found.
But, every day demands and evaluation,
an accounting.
No day may be ignored, dismissed, discarded,
denied its chance at glory.
“What does this day offer?”
“What might be done with the possibilities
inherent in this time and place?”
We all have some similar work
to tend–
some like charge entrusted to us alone.
What might be yours, I wonder.
What grand adventure calls you forth
into each day.

  1. 03/27/2018 — Peach Orchard 2018 18 — York County, South Carolina, March 1, 2018

    We have to get beyond the noise of our life–
    past the interference jamming the signals from within–
    to be present with the truth
    of what is being called for
    by the confluence of factors
    in our present situation,
    and know what response is the best fit
    for the circumstances at hand
    with the gifts/genius/art/interests/abilities/talent
    that is ours to offer
    in the time and place of our living.
    We have to be quiet,
    and listen,
    in order to hear–
    and look,
    in order to see–
    what needs to be heard/seen,
    and respond to it
    in ways
    that are appropriate
    to the occasion.
    The world is such a mess
    because there is no one
    to hear our stories–
    THE story
    about who we are,
    and where we have been,
    and what has happened to us,
    and what we have done about it,
    and what that means for our life,
    and where we might go from here,
    and what we might yet do,
    and what we think might be next
    on our way to wherever it is
    that we are going.

    Transform the world.
    Beginning now,
    by looking and listening,
    seeing and hearing,
    and being what you need,
    by becoming what they all need,
    in the land of lonely,
    desperate,
    people.

03/27/2018 — The hardest thing about photography
for me
is waiting.
Photography is waiting.
I wait for the photograph
to appear in the scene.
I wait for the scene to be ready
for the photograph to develop within.
The time has to be right,
and I have to know when that is.
You cannot take a photograph before its time.
And if you wait too long
after its time,
you can’t take one then, either.
Where is the right place to set the tripod?
When is the right time to press the shutter button?
if you cannot be patient
with not-knowing until you know,
don’t worry about it,
and just take pictures.

03/28/2018 — We think agreement is more important
than understanding.
That arguing and debating,
belittling and demeaning,
ridiculing and denouncing,
are more important than listening.
People have positions these days.
They do not have stories.
And that is the kink in the hose.

  1. 03/28/2018 — Lenten Rose Panorama 2018 01 — UNCC Botanical Garden, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 28, 2018

    The quality of our life
    comes down to the quality of our evaluations
    about our life
    and what happens to us
    and around us
    throughout our life.
    The First Rule is this:
    Mindfulness Leads The Way.
    It applies to everything,
    especially to our evaluations.
    Our evaluations tend to be knee-jerk reactions
    to what is going on.
    Once made,
    they are rarely re-evaluated.
    We don’t evaluate our evaluations
    with any more frequency
    than we evaluate our values–
    we are sure we know what we are doing
    in both areas,
    which, of course, impacts all other areas.
    Stepping back,
    sitting down,
    being quiet,
    seeing what’s what
    and hearing what is trying to get our attention
    is the first order of business
    in the work to avoid the karmic momentum
    that sweeps us away from
    knowing what we know
    and what we don’t know,
    and puts us on the course
    of a lifetime of living mindlessly.
    Watch the Jon Kabat-Zinn Youtube videos
    (the shorter ones first),
    and take up the practice of Mindful Awareness.
    Evaluate your evaluations and your values
    in light of all things considered.
    And by “all things,”
    I mean All Things.
    It will make a difference in your life on every level.

03/28/2018 — If you are worried about any
of the 10,000 things–
like what you are going to do
with the rest of your life–
you will only make matters worse
by thinking your way to a solution.
The way thinking works
is in conjunction with your creative imagination
to make things fit.
Thinking is a terrible way to
come up with a direction,
a vision,
a purpose,
a meaningful life,
and things like these.
Thinking helps you with figuring out
how to make your direction,
vision,
purpose,
and what makes life meaningful
for you
mesh with the time and place,
conditions and circumstances,
context and requirements
of your lived experience.
You get help with
direction, vision, purpose and meaning
by consulting your psychic unconscious.
It’s all there,
built in from the beginning,
guiding you along
with intuition, instinct, insight, realization, dreams, resonance, gut feelings and things with a “woo-hoo” nature.
That’s where you turn
with questions about what to do
next or forever.
If you are going to make your way
in this world,
you are going to have to learn
the language of the psyche,
and put yourself in its service
with “an oath of fealty and liege homage.”
Your psyche has been communing with you
all these years.
It’s time to start paying attention.

  1. 03/29/2018 — Partial Skyline 2018 01 — Charlotte, North Carolina, March 24, 2018

    We have to listen to what we are saying,
    and talk until we hear what we have to say.
    This is an aspect of mindful awareness–
    attending ourselves in words and action.
    What we say and what we do
    reveal who we are.
    Everything flows from who we are.
    When we block the flow
    by not knowing
    and failing to live in the service of who we are,
    we lose the way,
    wander far from the path,
    and go in circles
    forever seeking ourselves–
    when we are always right there,
    being ignored in plain sight.
    We have to get back to who we are,
    and align ourselves with ourselves
    so that we are at one
    in word and deed,
    in tune and in sync with
    that which is deepest, best, and truest about us,
    letting that be enough
    because it is all that there is.
    A Jungian therapist is good
    for hearing us to the truth of ourselves,
    teaching us the language of our psyche,
    and helping us find our way
    back to who we are.
    And Jon Kabat-Zinn is good for
    mindful awareness.
    You can find different guides,
    but it is difficult to find better ones.
    And why would you go guideless
    through the dark woods?
    Proving what to whom?

  2. 03/29/2018 — We are here through no fault of our own.
    By that, I mean we are not here
    as the result of carefully plotting each step,
    each choice, each decision,
    in a sequential order of steps,
    choices and decisions,
    that led us directly and inevitably
    to here, now.
    We are here, now,
    because of forces operating
    outside of our control,
    beginning with our parents
    and the place and time of our birth.
    We are the result of mystery and happenstance,
    grace and luck.
    The circle of life is a roulette wheel
    of fortune and loss
    and how we are able to dance
    with the day’s deliveries
    to produce this life
    from the matrix of all possible lives.
    And the dance goes on
    as the music changes,
    and the tempo ebbs and flows.

03/29/2018 — How good is a good that does no good?
A cup of cold water does what, exactly?
How good does good have to be to qualify for “good”?
Is being “good for nothing” “good enough”?
What standards,
requirements,
stipulations
must “good” meet in order to be good?
Who is to say what is good and what is not?
Who must be pleased
with our effort in the service of the good
in order for that effort to be deemed “good”?
Do outcomes cancel out effort?
Is good work determined
by the quality of the outcome
over time?
How long a period of time?
“Lasting good” means what?
How much better is “lasting good”
than “ephemeral good”?
How long does good have to last
to be good?
How much good does good have to do
to be good?
Who says so?
Whose opinion counts here?

03/29/2018 — Mindfulness means experiencing
ourselves experiencing our experience,
holding it all in awareness–
including its impact upon us
and our reaction to it–
and seeing what needs to be done about it when.
Delaying our response
until we have settled into
what is happening,
and have a sense of what would be fitting,
and what time would be most appropriate,
is likely to make all the difference.
Mindfulness slows things down
and opens things up,
allowing us to act
with all things considered.
If you are going to take your chances
on anything,
take your chances on mindfulness.

  1. 03/30/2018 — Cherry Blossoms 2018 01 Panorama — York County, South Carolina, March 29, 2018

    The more frayed,
    taxed
    and overtaxed
    our attention is,
    the less we notice,
    the less we know,
    the less we care.
    And the easier it is to lose our way
    and be led along
    by those who assure us
    that they have our best interest at heart,
    and that our life will soon be
    wonderful again,
    as they tell us not to worry,
    leave the room,
    and lock the door.
    Noise is static,
    is a diversion,
    is a smokescreen,
    is a fog bank,
    concealing the work
    to undermine
    and demolish
    the integrity of visible things.
    When nothing appears to be
    what it is
    the foundations collapse,
    the center erodes,
    trust and confidence evaporate,
    and we are left
    at the mercy of those
    who have none,
    operating as they will
    beyond the boundaries
    of the common good,
    serving the god of Profit At Any Price,
    creating Brave New Worlds
    that cannot support life,
    and serve only
    as burial grounds
    of soft values and noble hearts.
    The remedy is to see through the charade from the start,
    and call it out,
    naming the lies,
    refusing to be deceived by the deception,
    or misled by distracting sideshows,
    standing fast
    on the bedrock of awareness,
    reflection and realization,
    and serving the vision
    of liberty and justice for all
    with a will and dedication
    that money cannot buy.

03/30/2018 — Instability craves stability,
insecurity craves security,
lack of self-confidence craves confidence,
NOW!
and will do anything to find it,
except the one thing required:
Nothing.
Instability,
insecurity,
lack of self-confidence
cannot do nothing
long enough
for reflection to lead to realization
and for realization to lead to transformation.
Transformation is too far away.
Instability,
insecurity,
lack of self-confidence
settle for quick fixes
which deepen the causes
they would cure.
They cannot bear the pain
of their condition
that is required
to heal their condition.
They are always searching
for something–
for someone–
to do for them
what they can only do for themselves.
Drugs, sex and alcohol
are no solution
to the agony of being human.
The solution
is to be mindfully aware of being human–
to embrace the pain we would escape,
and let things be
because they are.

  1. 03/31/2018 — Rock Garden 2018 02 — Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 27, 2018

    We have to know who we are
    and what we are about
    in each situation as it arises
    with the gifts, art, genius, interests, proclivities, abilities, strengths and weaknesses
    that are ours to exhibit and express
    in doing the work that is ours to do.
    This is the bedrock.
    “The still point of the turning world” (T.S. Eliot).
    It is essential–
    the essence of each of us individually,
    which we express for the good of the whole,
    the good of the community,
    the collective.

    We cannot be/serve “the We,”
    until we are an “I.”
    “The We” is an expression of the “I’s”
    making it up.
    No “I” can be merely an extension of “the We”
    of which it is a part.
    When the collective presumes to be
    the bedrock of the individual
    it all goes to pieces
    and cannot hold.
    Ideology is the refuge
    of those who do not have the courage
    to find their own way to,
    and live out of,
    the truth at the heart of themselves.
    The path to that truth
    is terrible indeed.
    It is “the slippery slope,”
    “the narrow beam,”
    “the razor’s edge”–
    the bedrock is discovered
    “in extremis.”
    “Only in darkness are we revealed” (Steven Moffat),
    and in silence,
    through the art of reflection and realization,
    and those who find it are few.
    The future and the well-being
    of the whole
    reside with the few.

03/31/2018 — The writer of Ecclesiastes
is good for saying how things are,
and that is just the way it is:
“Time and chance happen to us all.”
It is difficult to deny that
and hard to square it
with the idea of the Providence of God,
wherein/by which “everything happens for a reason”
and “every feather of every bird is numbered,” etc.
And, “There is a time for everything under heaven.”
This is “The fullness of time,”
the right time.
The time is always ripe for something,
and not ready for something else.
Things that happen “out of their time”
are wrong,
and cannot be made right,
but,
people living before their time
can prepare the way for the time that is coming,
and in a way,
the time is right for those people,
even though they are ahead of time.
Living well is about knowing what time it is
in the sense of what it is time for,
and what it is not time for,
and living aligned with “the times”
in each situation as it arises–
understanding all the time
that “time and chance happen to us all,”
and maybe it works out,
and maybe it doesn’t,
and that’s just the way it is.

  1. 04/01/2018 — Lenten Rose 2018 04 — Indian Land, South Carolina, March 31, 2018

    We cannot be intimate
    if we will not be vulnerable.
    We cannot be honest,
    transparent (even to ourselves)
    whole,
    authentic,
    real,
    true,
    genuine,
    awake,
    aware,
    alive
    if we will not be vulnerable.
    We cannot live with integrity and compassion
    if we will not be vulnerable.
    Vulnerability separates the species.
    And the politicians.
    The Tough Guys are the most fragile,
    the ones most easily frightened,
    the ones most often threatened
    by the appearance of opposition,
    the ones obsessed with loyalty
    and allegiance,
    the ones most likely to start wars
    and institute emergency measures
    to keep everyone safe.
    If our leaders cannot be vulnerable,
    they cannot lead.
    They can only bully
    and boss around.
    Vulnerability is the path to humanity,
    grace and freedom.
    Embrace it
    and dance with it
    along the way.

04/01/2018 — We shape the future
by the way we respond to the present–
by the way we bear the pain of the present.
We are to live mindfully aware of the here and now,
celebrating wins,
mourning losses,
consciously and intentionally
feeling what is to be felt,
and holding everything in our awareness,
waiting for something to shift–
for recognition,
realization,
insight,
a knock on the door,
a voice on the wind,
a sign,
a light,
a notion to occur to us
that strikes a cord,
a surprise turn of events.
Let this be a bit of encouragement:
Sit imagining you are standing before and open door,
walk through it.
Are you inside or outside?
It doesn’t matter.
Keep walking until something happens
that you don’t think up.
Something that surprises you,
that startles you,
that causes you to think,
“Where did that come from?”
Now, back to your holding everything in awareness
and waiting.
You are waiting for something to happen
that you do not expect to happen.
That causes you to think,
“Where did that come from?”
Be ready for it.
Respond appropriately to it.
Everything will shift accordingly after that.

  1. 04/02/2018 — Field Road 2018 01 Panorama — Lancaster County, South Carolina, March 31, 2018

    Carl Jung said:
    “We appeal only to the patient’s brain
    if we try to inculcate a truth;
    but if we help him to grow up to this truth
    in the course of his own development,
    we have reached his heart,
    and this appeal goes deeper and acts with greater force.”

    Confidence is not coachable,
    and over-confidence is not un-coachable.
    We live our way into confidence
    and out of over-confidence
    by experiencing the difference
    between the two
    and the difference between their impact
    upon our life.
    We learn all of the important things
    by living our way into the knowledge of them.
    Telling us won’t do a bit of help,
    but,
    listening to us tell you of our experience
    and its impact on our life–
    listening us to the truth of who we are,
    so that we hear ourselves saying
    what we know is so
    and need to hear–
    is the gift that transforms lives
    and changes the world.

    We fly around the globe
    searching for a truth
    that can only be discovered
    by living each day
    mndfully aware of each situation as it arises,
    and reflecting on our experience
    in order to form new realizations.
    No one can tell us what we need to hear,
    he said,
    to those who need to hear it.

    If you cannot love irony and paradox,
    you’re wasting your time with me.

  2. 04/03/2018 — Partial Skyline 2018 02 — Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2018

    Exploitation is the heart of bad faith
    and the rule of the day.
    Getting what we want
    at the expense
    of any and all in our way
    is the modus operandi of the planet.
    What. Does. Wanting. Know???
    Nothing. At. All.
    It just wants.
    It doesn’t know anything,
    like, “What for?”
    and, “Then what?”
    and, “How does that fit into
    the long-range good of the whole?”
    and, “How good is the good we call good?”
    Winning is having our way
    and getting what we want–
    and winning is supposed to matter most.
    If we aren’t winning we are losing,
    and losing is for losers,
    so we have to win at all costs,
    and every interchange is a contest.
    We have to one-up everybody
    or go to the loser’s bracket.
    And what matters most
    for most of us
    most of the time
    doesn’t matter at all.
    And we don’t know what does.
    And that’s the only thing worth knowing.
    What matters most?
    What is the most important thing?
    What is unimportant?
    We have to know.
    And we have to be right about it.
    It makes all the difference.
    It is the only thing that does.

  3. 04/04/2018 — Rock Garden 2018 07 — Big Rock Nature Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina, April 3, 2018

    I walk through people,
    past people,
    mingle with people,
    eat alongside people,
    talk to people
    everyday
    who think they have no problem
    that more money wouldn’t fix,
    and getting ahead of their bills
    is the solution they search for.
    Money is a symbol of all they want–
    the doorway to all things good.
    They have not reached that mythical point
    beyond which more money
    makes no difference in the degree
    of contentment and peace of mind
    among those who have it.
    More money is always the answer
    to every experience of dissatisfaction and ennui,
    and they look at me with blank eyes
    before turning away
    when I talk to them
    of silence and reflection
    as the path to what they seek.
    They know what they need,
    they just need figure out
    how to get enough of it.

    They have no idea of how much that is.
    When I ask,
    they tell me they will let me know
    when they get there.

  4. 04/05/2018 — Rock Garden 2018 22 — Uwharrie National Forest, near Asheboro, North Carolina, April 2, 2018

    Our attraction to rocks and rock formations
    is psyche’s way of calling us back to ourselves,
    to “the face that was ours before we were born,”
    to the bedrock of values,
    qualities,
    gifts,
    art,
    genius,
    perspectives and perceptions,
    inclinations and predisposition,
    proclivities and preferences
    that make us who we are,
    and set us apart
    from every other living thing.
    We have to connect with our own aloneness
    in the universe
    in order to be able to connect with
    the “I” of everyone else
    and form a “we” that is a good place
    for everyone to be.
    We grow up alone.
    We face the darkness alone.
    We come to terms with the givens of our life alone.
    We know what is meaningful,
    what matters most,
    what the things are
    that are worth our life and our death,

    No one can do any of these things for us–
    and each of us has to do them,
    alone.
    Rocks,
    even in a mountain range
    or a boulder field,
    are on their own,
    alone,
    and call us to recognize
    the grounding foundation
    of our own identity
    and align ourselves with it
    in realizing the “I” we are capable of forming,
    and entering into the “we’s” we are capable of becoming.

04/05/2018 — Democracy depends upon
the willful participation
of the people
in the democratic processes
that produce and maintain Democracy–
not just a few of the people,
not just the people with axes to grind,
or those with a personal stake in the outcome:
ALL of the people!
ALL of the time!
And those who don’t care
don’t have that option.
Democracy doesn’t allow anyone to not care
about serving Democracy!
“We, the people of the United States,
in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice,
insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish
(and swear to uphold and to serve–
to ‘preserve, protect and defend’)
this Constitution of the United States of America.”
No one gets to opt out of this contract.
It is the birthright
and the birthburden
of everyone in this country.

04/05/2018 — We believe in some fantasyland
where everyone feels like doing
what needs to be done,
and everybody does it,
and it’s all just swell.
You get the idea
in Evangelical Christian churches
where everybody is happily being
who they are supposed to be,
with their understanding of the Bible
being their guide and foundation
in all matters of faith and practice.
“You do it our way,”
they say (And the Mormons,
and the Hindus,
and the Muslims
along with them),
“And your marriage (between a man and a woman of course)
will hum right along,
and your children will never do drugs,
and your dog will never pee or poop in the house,
and God (as we understand him–of course “him”–
will be your partner and your friend,
paving your way and plotting your course,
from one happy high to the next
all your life long,
and then, when you die,
it really gets good forever.”
Well…
The truth is different.
Every one of us
has to wake up each day
and do what needs us to do it
whether we feel like it or not,
whether we want to or not,
whether we are in the mood for it or not,
even if it hasn’t been “our turn”
for days past remembering,
for no other reason than because
it needs us to do it,
and no one can do it
the way we can do it
but us,
and here we are,
and there it is,
so are we going to do it
or not?
All day long?
In each situation as it arises?
And do it again, tomorrow?
Everything depends on our answer.
Every day.

04/05/2018 — My name, “Dollar,”
has nothing to do with currency.
It is a corruption
of the Scottish word “dolor,”
which, as luck would have it,
is pronounced remarkably like “dollar,”
and you can imagine the grief
my immigrant ancestors might have borne,
saying “dollar” in this country,
and spelling it “dolor,”
so that, eventually, it became just too much,
and they said something on the order
of “What the hell?”
And started spelling their name correctly,
bending to social pressure,
and wanting to fit in and belong,
because it is bad enough
being an immigrant
without being a jerk about it.
So, my name is Dollar.
But, my Real Name is Dolor,
and the root meaning of dolor is
“melancholy,”
“sadness,”
“sorrow,”
“depression,”
“suicidal tendencies,”
and the like.
“A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…”
And don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The name depends upon the perspective
of the person carrying it.
Sadness, etc. can be a good thing.
Steven Moffat said as much
in an old Doctor Who episode
(“Blink,” Season 3 [or 301], Ep. 11):
“What’s good about sad?”
“It is being happy for deep people.”

04/05/2018 — We have to trust ourselves
to recognize our possibilities,
and to perceive the choices
that are ours among those possibilities,
and to choose the best choices
under the circumstances
with all things considered,
and to align ourselves
with the outcomes–
forming new circumstances
and a different umwelt,
creating another situation
in which we have to trust ourselves
to recognize our possibilities,
etc.,
all our life long.

04/05/2018 — Pay attention to the moment of your breathing.
This moment right now.
This here, this now.
Give it your complete attention.
Be aware of your internal world
and of your external world.
Watch both worlds at the same time.
See how long you can watch both worlds
without evaluation.
See what is there
with no opinion about what is there.
And if you catch yourself having an opinion,
making an evaluation,
have no opinion about having an opinion,
make no evaluation regarding having an evaluation.
Just see,
just hear,
just pay attention–
to everything in both worlds
in the moment of your breathing.
Do that several times throughout your day.
Everyday.

  1. 04/06/2018— Dairy Barn 2018 01 Panorama — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Dairy Barn Access, Fort Mill, South Carolina, January 17, 2018

    The choices we make exclude other choices
    and gradually restrict us
    to a tight circle of
    the most important things,
    or to a nebulous haze of
    nothing at all–
    depending on how well
    we were able to bear the pain
    of The Unlived Life
    and live the one we lived
    with the passionate fire
    of all that was in us.
    The key is understanding
    that it is never too late
    to begin choosing wisely,
    consciously paying the price–
    and relishing the wonder–
    of our choices.

04/06/2018 — Life is a wheel of fortune,
turning, turning over time.
Things are good,
and then they are bad,
and then they are good,
and then they are even better,
and then they are worse,
and then they are much worse,
and then they are not so bad,
and then they are better
and then they are good,
and then they are bad…
Turning, turning over time.
My point is
when you think it can’t get worse,
it can get worse,
and when you think it will always be terrible,
it can get better.
So much goes into bad and worse,
good and better,
awful and wonderful
that does not have anything to do
with the facts governing our situation,
but has everything to do with
our evaluation of the facts,
our interpretation of the facts,
our opinion of the facts.
Start looking at the facts
with no opinion about the facts.
It’s raining,
you have a headache,
and the dog just threw up on the carpet
for the third time in three hours.
You are apt to have one hell of an opinion
about it all.
Look at all of it with no opinion about any of it.
You just made it better
by not making anything of it.
Most of your life is like that.
We can make anything worse
and we can make anything better
by the way we think about it.
And not thinking at all about some things
makes them better.
You could improve your life
just by not thinking about it.
But even when it gets better,
it will still get worse.
And then better.
And then worse.
Turning, turning over time.

  1. 04/07/2018—
  2. 04/08/2018 —