January 28, 2021


Sandy Stream Pond Morning Oil Paint Rendered — Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine
I thought I wanted to be a therapist
for about fifteen minutes.
Not quite as long as thinking
I wanted to be a third-grade teacher.
But with the same outcome:
A quick and permanent end 
to thinking those things.

Reality is all the guide we need.

With the therapy thing,
it became clear that everybody
wants to feel better,
and nobody wants to get better.

Everybody wants everyone else
to change in relation to them.
Everybody wants to know
how to get their way.

Forget about giving up their way.
They are going to have it or
make the world real sorry
for not giving it to them.

Getting better is changing 
our relationship with ourselves,
and with other people.

Getting better is changing
our mind about what is important,
and being right about it this time.

Getting better is changing
the way we think,
the way we see,
the way we act.

Getting better is changing.

No one wants to change.

No one ever grows up without changing.

Everyone who grows up,
grows up against their will.

Therapy is not holding hands
in a circle
and passing love around the circle.
Or attracting positive energy
and becoming wealthy
by deserving money.

The My Way Now movement
fuels the Prosperity Gospel movement
and the If-You-Want-It-You-
Ought-To-Be-Able-To-Have-It mentality
which spills over into
and that's where we are as a country
and as a world.

The Dali Lama said,
in response to the Chinese
takeover of Tibet,
“If, in any situation, 
there is no solution, 
there is no point in being anxious. 
If the forces at work 
have their own momentum, 
and what’s going on now 
is the product of what went before, 
and if this generation 
is not in control of all those forces, 
then this process will continue.” 

And if "this generation"
is actively aligned with "those forces,"
it will be a long time
before reality grinds the truth
into their pores
and they realize the lie 
they are living.

In the meantime, 
we wait for "those forces"
to play themselves out
and for people to wake up
to what fools they have been.



Picture Window Oil Paint Rendered — Oxbow Bend, Mt Moran, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Wyoming
I regret 10,000 things
that I am too ashamed of
to mention,
much less, talk about.
You will have to take my word for it.

I am comforted by Joseph Campbell's confession
of a similar burden of his own past.
His view was that one of the ordeals 
of growing older
is the task of continuing to grow up
by confronting our failures
and the missed opportunities
of our youth,
and coming to terms with them
in a "Okay, I will take from them
what they have to offer
in helping me be aware of
what I am doing here and now
and making better choices/decisions
in the time left for living," kind of way.

We have much to wish we had done differently,
or not at all.
Here we are.
And we are here by virtue
of all of the choices/decisions we made
along the way from birth to here and now.

Our work is always to apply what we have learned
in living the remainder of the journey,
in hopes that our worst errors lie behind.

I am also glad that retirement
gives me fewer opportunities 
to stumble over myself
in finding my way through each day.



North Shore 09/26/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
Everyone is born to die.
Everyone dies.
And everyone is in charge
of their own dying,
and the circumstances 
that lead to it.

Our dying is always the result
of who we are in conjunction 
with our circumstances.

And everything up to our dying
is the result of the same mysterious/secret--
The Mysterium Coniunctionis--
between ourselves and our circumstances.

The "mysterious union"is not so much
between man and woman,
or yin and yang,
but between us and our circumstances.

The relationship of us 
with our circumstances,
is roughly the relationship
of the stream with its channel,
of the ocean with its shoreline,
and its bed.

We are all where we are,
here and now,
as the result 
of how we have responded
to where we have been.

Given who we are
and what we have been through,
and what we have done about it,
we could not be anywhere else
but where we are, here and now.

And that will remain true
everywhere we are between now,
and, including,the moment of our death.

We are living to arrange our dying,
without being aware of what we are doing.
But--being aware of it would simply be
another aspect of it,
leading to it.

Jesus' death on the cross
was a direct consequence 
of the larger circumstance
he created by being who he was
in relation to the moment-to-moment
circumstances of his life.

There is an inevitability to our living
as well as to the fact of our dying.
Our living is the precursor of our dying.
"The secret cause" of our dying.

Carl Jung said, "We meet our destiny
on the road we take to avoid it."

What I'm saying is: Embrace that!
An live the life that is yours to live--
doing in your life, 
with your life,
what is yours to do,
exactly as you would do it,
being you as only you can be you,
as best you can,
and die when it is done
as the hero going to meet her,
going to meet his,
final test.

How we live is how we die.
"Where we stand
is where we fall"
(Steven Moffat, Doctor Who).

Do that consciously,
willingly embracing
the cross at the end of the road--
in a "This is what I am going to do
even if it kills me!" 
kind of way!

Knowing what we would die for,
and dying for it,
is a very important thing to know
and to do.

Don't just die!
Die with a purpose!
By living meaningfully
on the service of that which
is worthy of us!

As a knight in filial/liege service
to his Lady/Lord--
or a Lady/Lord
in filial/service to her/his calling/duty.

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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