January 16, 2021

04

Emerald Lake 09/27/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Yoho National Park, Field, British Columbia
We cannot control what happens,
but.

We can strongly influence 
what happens next
by the way we respond
to what happens.

Balance and harmony
do not depend upon
external circumstances.

Living from our center
with sincerity and non-contrivance,
mindful awareness
and optimal emotional distance
between ourselves
and what is happening
in each situation as it arises,
positions us 
to see with right seeing,
hear with right listening,
and offer what is called for
in the right way
at the right time--
spontaneously,
without anxiety,
like a parent taking care 
of their child,
or like a tennis player
responding to their opponent's 
ground stroke--
even as we pass through 
the clashing rocks
on the heaving waves
of the wine-dark sea.

–0–

03

Dry Falls 04/02/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Pisgah National Park, Cullasaja River Gorge, Highlands, North Carolina
The trick with caring
is to live as though we care
whether we care or not.

Fake it, as the AA slogan goes,
'til you make it!

Live to fake it so well,
not even you can tell
"if it's real or if it is Memorex"!

It doesn't matter if you really care
if you really live as though you do!

Just act the part!
Play the role!
Live so as to deserve 
an Academy Award every day
for the way you express/exhibit/incarnate
caring in the world!

If the world can't tell the difference,
and if you can't be sure of the difference,
for all practical purposes,
there is no difference!
And you will be doing what we need you to do!
And all of life will be blessed
by your doing it!

Live like you mean it!
Care like you mean it!
Whether you do or not!
The difference you make in the lives of others,
and in the world at large,
will be the same!

Do not get hung up on "not really meaning it"!
Live as though you really mean it!
Feelings follow actions,
as the old saying goes.
So get in there and act your way
in to feeling what you don't feel yet!

Living as though your heart is in caring
about your life,
is a necessary step toward caring about your life!

If you are going to take anything on faith,
take this on faith--
and live as though it is so!
And it will be so!
The world is dying for you to will and to do here!

Step into your life
and live there in ways that do 
what needs to be done there
the way it needs to be done
when it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises--
whether you feel like it or not--
and all the world will rejoice and be glad!

–0–

02

Cullasaja Cascade Oil Paint Rendered — Pisgah National Forest, Cullasaja River Gorge, Highlands, North Carolina
We are here to care
about everything we care about,
and we are here to care about all things.

Caring is the foundation of life,
living,
being alive.
To not care is to be dead.

The only thing separating the living
from the dead
is that the living care about being alive,
and the dead don't care about anything.

Give yourself a caring-quotient.
On a scale of 1 to 10,
with 1 being dead
and 10 being maxed out in love with the universe,
where do you stand now?

Are you more dead than alive,
or more alive than dead?

You owe it to yourself,
and to me,
and to all of us who are,
ever have been,
or have yet to be,
to move toward caring more
each day of your life!

Caring is caring about what we do
and how well we do it.

Caring is the most important thing about us.
Everything hinges on the quality and depth
of our caring.

If you are going to practice anything,
practice caring about everything!
About everyone!
About all of it!

Care like it is the only thing that matters!

It IS the only thing that matters!

–0–

01

Tunnel View Oil Paint Rendered — Yosemite National Park, California
Martin Hägglund, writing in This Life,
says we have to attach ourselves
to what is meaningful in our life.

We cannot abandon what is meaningful
in the service of ambition.
We cannot put meaning aside,
or put it off,
until we have socked away a fortune
and have it made.

The price of a fortune
is the loss of a life.
The life that meaning
was calling us to live.

There is no substitute for meaning.
There is only meaning and denial.
If we are not living meaningful lives,
we are kidding ourselves.
We are lying to ourselves.
And are in denial.

Drinking too much,
drugging too much,
partying too much,
working too much,
burning the candle at both ends too much...
chasing money,
burning meaning.

We have to sit down with ourselves
and have a come to the truth
of how it is really moment.
We cannot kid the part of us
that knows meaning when we see it.
So, sit down with that part and listen.
If you will.

You have to will it to be so.
You have to will your life back into place.
You left the way,
turned aside from the path,
and wound up in the wasteland of your discontent,
and now you have to find the road back to Eden.

Ah, but you know the price of returning to Eden!
No one goes back there without dying!
This doesn't mean a physical death,
but  spiritual death.
We have to die to all that is keeping us 
from living a meaningful life.

That means working it out.
It is like dying to work meaning into our life,
to live comfortably around meaning,
to live with a foot in different worlds,
to pay the bills and do what we pay the bills to do!

Death and resurrection is the recurring theme
of living the life that is our life to live.
A life of meaning and purpose
is a life of joy and sorrow,
a life of vulnerability and pain.
A life of being true to ourselves.
A life of troth,
good faith,
and dharma--
lived aligned with our heart,
in accord with the Tao.

We have to will that life into reality.
Day by day.
Moment by moment.
It doesn't just happen.

"Pick up your cross, daily," said Jesus,
"and come along with me.
Those who put their hand to the plow,
don't look back."

Every seer who has seen has said the same thing.

Living meaningfully is no walk in the park.
We cannot do it only when we feel like it.

Are we up for it or not?
That's the question.
We like the idea,
but are we committed to it?

Will we live meaningfully,
or throw life away?

That is the choice.

We are kidding ourselves
if we think it isn't so.

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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