January 05, 2021

02

Baxter Creek Bridge 04/15/2009 Oil Paint Rendering — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
Today is the first day of my 77th year.
It has taken me 76 years to get this far--
and everything I have experienced,
felt, done, believed, thought, etc.
was essential to my being here, now.

What I want you to know 
is that what is becoming of us
is the most important thing.
And we have to assist in the process
of our own development
by not saying "NO!" to any of it,
but saying, "Okay, now what?" to all of it!

What is happening is the matrix
of our own becoming--
and that is what we are about!

We are birthing ourselves
by the way we respond to what is happening,
and what we do with it,
and what we allow it to do with us.

There are no dead ends 
that we don't make so 
by the way we respond to
what appears to be a dead end!
We are never more than a slight
shift in perspective 
away from seeing doors
where before there were no doors--
from seeing exactly what we need
where before there was only
nothing at all that could be 
of any use to us.

What I'm saying is,
Stop! Look! Listen!
See what you look at!
Know what you know!
What are you assuming to be so
that isn't so?
What are you not seeing 
that is right there?

Sit still,
be quiet,
and wait--
"for the mud to settle
and the water to clear."
And pay attention to all 
that occurs to you in the silence,
looking for what is new,
for what is calling your name,
again,
still.
And give the right things a chance.

We have to be born anew
again and again,
and every birthing
is a dying.
Death and resurrection, Kid--
death and resurrection!
All the way down!

Don't quit too soon.
Don't quit at all.
See what's next.
See where it goes.
Believe in yourself.
Trust in what got you here, now.
Give yourself to the journey
with all your heart,
and soul,
and mind,
and spirit.

There is more to us,
and to all of it,
than meets the eye.
Any eye.

So what
if we are making it all up
as we go?
Keep going!
Keep going!

We owe it to ourselves
to find out if it is 
as hopeless as we are afraid it is!
 
Keep on having birthdays
and asking questions!
There are things
that haven't been thought yet!
Make it one of your goals
to think them!
The only way to do that
is to live your way there
with your eyes open
all the way.

To the Journey!
To the Way!
Come on!
Come on!
Let's go!

–0–

01

East-bound at Morant’s Curve 09/24/2009 Oil Paint Rendering — Banff National Park, Alberta
We are born into a cultural context
that is our second womb,
which serves for many of us
as a death shroud,
keeping us forever 
from the life that is ours to live
by insisting that we live the life
our context requires us to live.

No one tells us about our other life,
the one that came with us from the womb,
they only talk to us about 
the life that was waiting for us upon exit.

Except that everyone waiting for us,
in and just outside of,
the delivery room
is caught in the same web
that catches us,
fighting for life within
a cultural context that is death itself.
Not knowing what they are doing,
or what the problem is,
or why they can't just fit in
like everyone else seems to be doing,
when everyone else is having the same
fight for life,
and nobody knows what is going on.

And so, the symptoms.
The psychosis,
the neurosis,
the alcoholism,
the drug abuse,
the affairs,
the escapes/diversions/distractions/
denial
that forms the cultural sheath 
as much as it screams in protest
against it.

It is one crazy damn world
we are born into.
And no one is there to help us
with our second birth,
and everyone treats us as though
something is wrong with us,
while the same thing is wrong with them.

Joseph Campbell called the cultural mask
"The Primary Mask."
That is the Death Mask those who wear well
are dead wearing
because it has cut them off
from their inner identity/truth
that they were born to realize/incarnate/
exhibit/express/serve/be/become--
which Campbell called "The Antithetical Mask,"
because it is antithetical/contrary/opposite 
to all that is expected of us by the culture.

We are born the first time as Yin
cast into Yang.

We are wet, warm and wild,
and Yang is bright with light
and right ways of doing everything--
a desert world,
a wasteland,
that we enter as a child of darkness
and life.

What chance do we have?

The odds are not favorable from the start,
but, there is the secret knowledge within
that is our hope and our salvation.

We are all born knowing
"This ain't right!"

What we do about it tells the tale.

What are you doing about it?

The path of doing about it
what needs to be done about it
is the Hero's Journey.
It is the journey from our head
to our heart,
along the path of reflection,
observation,
experimentation,
awareness,
inquiry,
curiosity,
imagination,
determination
that leads to new realizations
and more searching/seeking/questing
all the way to the truth of who we are
and what we are about.

It is a path of metaphorical 
death and resurrection,
of growing up and growing beyond
and growing into and growing on
that is never completed, 
never done.

How are you coming?
Along your path from death to life--
dying and being born again,
to die and be born again,
all along the way?

However it is going,
I am glad to be a part of it with you,
offering what I have found to be helpful,
"as one beggar tells another 
where they have found food"--
and look forward to seeing
what is next for all of us,
and where that leads,
and where we going...

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and five granddaughters, and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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