January 09, 2021


On Roan Mountain 11/15/2014 12 Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee
What are we doing with our life?
What are we doing with our time?
How do we know it is the right thing to do?

Who says it is right, or wrong?
How would we know whom to believe
in case of a disagreement?

How do we know what to do with our life?
With our time?

"The answer, my friend
is lying deep within,
the answer is lying deep within!"

And we are back to my favorite
Joseph Campbell quote:
"That which we seek
lies far back in the darkest corner
of the cave we most don't want to enter."

That cave is deep within ourselves.

We seek what is seeking us,
and we don't want to have anything
to do with it.

It takes getting to the end of our rope
before we can change our mind
about what is important.

Waiting for the mud to settle
and the water to clear
is the worst kind of waiting
there is.

What are we going to do
with our life and with our time?
What is going to inform our living?
What is going to guide us along the way?

"The answer, my friend
is lying deep within,
the answer is lying deep within!"

Get your spelunking clothes on
and sit quietly
in the silence,
listening to, watching for,
all that arises from within.

You are listening, watching, for
what resonates with you,
for what picks you up
and propels you into your life
with an urgency that cannot be denied
or delayed.

You could call this a vision quest.
We never outlive the need for one of those.
We are waiting to be snared by a mythic vision
and hurled into our life
on a mission of meaning and purpose.

And all that is required of us
is that we sit still and be quiet,
watching and listening.

As often as we can,
as long as it takes.



Along Cane River 01/30/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Our imagination is the source
of everything we need
to find what we need
to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

We have all we need
to live our life as it needs to be lived
every moment of every day.
All we have to do is access it.
And be aware of it
when it attempts to access us.

When we have an imaginary conversation
with God, say,
or anyone, living or dead or fictional,
Yoda or Obi-wan Kenobi,
we are having a conversation
with our imagination,
with ourselves!

We are all we have,
and even when we talk to other human beings,
we are talking to our projection of them,
we project ourselves onto them,
and hear ourselves saying
what we need to hear.

We cannot hear what we do not need to hear.
We have to hear what we need to hear,
so that our need to hear it may grow beyond it,
and, knowing what's what with us,
grow to need to hear something more,
something different,
so that realization "dawns" on us suddenly
over a gradual period of time.

To put this another way,
we have to keep listening to what 
we do not need to hear,
and can make no sense of,
until we need to hear it,
and then it is like, "Of course!
Why didn't I see this before?"

Everything we need to hear
is already "there" within each of us,
waiting for the opportune time,
for the time we become capable of hearing it,
in order to welcome what we have to say.

In order to do our part
in growing ourselves to readiness,
we have to begin paying attention to--
being aware of--
all the ways "we" are trying to commune
with ourselves.

Our Unconscious, our Psyche, our Mind,
is always talking to us
with dreams,
pulls and pushes, etc.

It is our place to tune into
what is going on
and stop, look, and listen
to what is being said,
and know what is going on.

Our imagination is our guide!
We have to open ourselves to it,
trust ourselves to it,
and allow ourselves to be led
along the way,
finding our life and living it,
with the help of our Invisible Friend.



Pearson’s Falls 04/14/2014 03 Oil Paint Rendered — Pearson’s Glen, Saluda, North Carolina
Living in neutral,
without an investment in the outcome,
with nothing at stake--
nothing to gain,
nothing to lose--
unattached to self-interest
or personal concerns,
frees us to respond to what is happening
in ways appropriate to the occasion,
in light of what is being called for,
here and now
in the situation as it arises,
just as it is.

and precedent
can be set aside
in favor of the merits of the case
and the needs of the moment
"thus come."

This is the way to take a photograph.
And it is the way to live 
in each scene throughout every day.

The scene calls for the approach to the scene.

We cannot decide beforehand
how the photograph ought to be taken,
or bother even with wondering
how it is supposed to be done.

It is supposed to be done
by seeing what's what
and responding in ways 
fitting to the time that is at hand.

Just breathe.
Just see.
Just hear.
Just take it all in.
Allow the mud to settle
and the water to clear,
and wait to see what you do
free to do what needs to be done
in the moment that is here, now,
with everything on the line,
and nothing personally 
to gain or lose--
like the archer before the target
before the arrow flies.



The Grandfather Mountain Variations 02 Oil Paint Rendered–Price Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
We see the way we see.
We think the way we think.
We feel the way we feel.
We believe the way we believe...

What sets us up to see,
think, feel, believe...
the way we do?
What makes it easy for us to see,
think, feel, believe...
the way we do?

How do we know that the way we see things
is the way to see things?
Or that the way we think about things
is the way to think about things?

It is just "spontaneous," isn't it?
We don't know why we do it the way we do it, do we?
We don't think about any of it, do we?
Why not?
Why don't we think about it?
Examine it?
Inspect it?
Make inquiries?
Get to the bottom of it?

How much time do we spend looking into
the way we see things?
How much effort do we put into
seeing differently?

Who do we live to please
with the way we see things,
think about things,
feel about things,

Who do we live to displease
with regard to these things?

Who would be most happy with us
about the way we see things, etc.?

Who would be the least happy?

Who influences/controls
our seeing, thinking, feeling, believing?

How would we go about deciding for ourselves
how to see, think, feel, believe?

Who is in charge of who we are?
Who will not allow us to be different?



Pearson’s Falls 04/14/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Pearson’s Glen, Saluda, North Carolina
We experience something
and respond to it in some way.
All the time.

Seek the source of the response.
What creates our way of responding
to the experiences of our life?

Our entire history of responses
have a theme running through it.
What is the nature of that theme?
How do we always respond to similar situations?
How do we never respond?

How do the ways we respond
perpetuate the responding environment
we have created and live out of,
insuring habitual responses
day after day?

How much awareness/reflection of our response
is included with each response?
How self-aware are we?
How self-transparent are we?
How often do we wonder why we respond the way we do?
Or why we never respond the way we never respond?

Do we ever talk to anyone
about our response pattern?
Do we ever think about it?
Do we ever change it?

How does alcohol fit into our response pattern?
Inquiry into the nature of our responses?
Examination of the elements involved?
Experimentation with different ways of responding?

How thoughtfully do we live?
How mindfully aware?
How much do we know about
what outside of us
triggers what is within us?

What flips the switch that sets us off?
What is the origin of "the switch"?
How did it come to be?
How would we have reacted
before "the switch" was formed?

How does the process of "switch formation"
continue to work in our life?

How much time do we spend in a week
getting to the bottom of who we are?

What goes into our being the way we are?
What do we regret about the way we are?
How do we wish we were?
What are we doing to assist the transformation?

Where do we go from here?

Published by jimwdollar

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

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