What is your enthusiasm quotient? Are you a proponent of enthusiasm? An advocate? An avid proponent? An enthusiast? On a low-to-high scale of 1 to 10, where do you rank yourself on your daily degree of enthusiasm? How many things are you enthusiastic about? How often are they a part of your life? If you were to raise your level of enthusiasm, what would you do? Is your life more of a burden or a pleasure? What accounts for that? Contributes to that? What would need to change for you to be able to find more pleasure, more joy, in just being alive? To what degree is your residual amount of joy/pleasure circumstances dependent? To what degree is it a natural expression of who you are? Does your thinking flow from joy and pleasure? Create joy and pleasure? Create their opposites? What governs your thinking? Why do you think the way you think? What makes it easy for you to think the way you think? How often do you think about your thinking? Think about your feeling? Are aware of your thinking/feeling? Can you separate thinking from feeling? Are they two things for you or one thing? Upon what does your enthusiasm depend? What part do reflection and realization play in your emotional response to your life?
The 22-Acre Woods are, for all practical purposes, my private preserve-- for which I pay no taxes or have any liability. My wife and I own a quarter-acre lot nestled into the northwest corner of our subdivision, which is also the southwest corner of the 22-Acre Woods (And I am the only one who refers to the small tract of trees in this way). There are roughly 800 people in our development, and we may see a dozen of them-- generally the same dozen, mostly teenagers-- walking (or biking) through the woods in a given week. I am the only one I have ever seen with a camera in the woods. They are owned by a family of six or so elderly children who can't find a buyer for the property because it is landlocked with one access point in and out, and it is a drainage area for rainwater on its way to the sea. There are more attractive parcels close-by for developers to choose, and I relish each day without a bulldozer in it. I can walk out our back door, or our front door, and be in the woods as quickly as I can check the mail. They are a wonderful mixture of hardwoods and pine. The deer have moved out due to encroaching construction, but small animals and snakes and a pair of red-shouldered hawks are holding out for as long as luck allows. I am two weeks away from stepping into my 77th year, and osteoarthritis in both knees-- and COVID-19-- keep me from traveling to photo-worthy sites more than two hours away, and make the 22-Acre Woods my primary source for scenes. Access is always the first rule of photography. Without access, a camera is worthless regardless of what it costs, and the 22-Acre Woods are always accessible-- until the bulldozers arrive and begin doing their thing. So, I welcome another fall, and the daily opportunity to go for a walk in the woods. With a camera in hand.
Cruelty and compassion are the marks of bad religion and good religion. All religion falls out between those two poles. Theology has nothing to do with it. How we live/treat one another is all that matters. It doesn’t matter why. It matters what. Consistently-- or even occasionally-- doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is infinitely better than, and always to be preferred over, doing the wrong thing for the best of reasons. Do not stop to get your theology right! Do not even pause to wonder about it! Theology is as much an excuse for not doing what needs to be done as it is a reason for doing what needs to be done. Getting your theology all ordered, lined-up, systematic, proof-texted, iron-clad, and irrefutably so is just a way of feeling smug about your oversights and omissions. Live with sincerity, straight from the heart, spontaneously responding to what is called for moment-by-moment, without contrivance or agenda, judgment or opinion, with nothing to gain or lose-- like the prodigal's father and the good Samaritan, the Buddha and the Christ in every age-- and leave the thinking to those who see everything but what they look at.