January 29, 2021


Yellowhead Mountain 09/24/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Lucerne, British Columbia
What we see is a function of how we look.
How we look is influenced
by our expectations
and our past experience.

We don't walk fresh upon anything
and know what we are looking at.
Reality is an extension of our expectations
and our experience.

We cannot make sense of anything that is 
absolutely new to us.
We see everything in relation to something else.

It is always appropriate to ask,
"What influences me to see what I am looking at
the way I am seeing it?"
"What makes me think I know what I am looking at?"
"What makes me think 
that what I think is so,
is so?"

Our opinions about things
are just our opinions about them.
Everything exists as opinion.
Nothing exists as fact.
We treat everything as fact.
It would transform our life,
and the world,
if we started thinking about things 
as opinion.

Of course, that is just my opinion.



The Watchman Oil Paint Rendered — Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah
All it takes is being right about what is important.

Being right about what is important
is the best trick in the Book of Best Tricks.

The first thing to know
is that we do not know.

The second thing to know
is that there are different types of knowing.

The third thing to know
is that delusion and illusion
are powerful forces
at work in our lives,
and we cannot dismiss,
ignore or deny
the possibility that 
we are failing to see
what we are looking at.

The fourth thing to know
is that what is important
changes from moment-to-moment,

The only thing that is static
and rigid,
unchanging over time
is that it is important
to know what is important
at all times,
in all places.

That's it. 
Get the ratios right
among these things
and there it is:
what is important,
here and now.

Once we know that,
comes the question 
of what to do about it.
That is the next most important thing.

Know what is important,
and be right about it,
know what to do about it,
and be right about it.
That only leaves doing it--
the way it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
for as long as it needs to be done.

That's it.
No one could do better than that.



South Shore 09/21/2004 Oil Paint Rendered — Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
Marriage is the easiest thing in the world.
All it takes is cooperation.
If you aren't getting the cooperation promised
at the start,
you can't be married
no matter what you do.

All cooperation takes
is doing what needs to be done
regardless of how we feel.

People who don't feel like being married
and let cooperation go
kill the marriage
by breaking the first rule of marriage:
Doing the right thing
requires you to do the right thing
whether you feel like it or not.

It is no different with marriage
than it is with anywhere else in our life.
Wherever we are,
we are asked to do what the situation requires
whether we feel like it or not.

In this sense, being married
is just like being alive.
Our life asks us to do what life demands:
To live like we mean it,
whether we fee like it or not!

This is the foundational commitment
to marriage and to life.
We can think of our life 
as being married to our life,
and living our life as it ought to be lived,
is practice for being married
the way we ought to be married.

Doing one helps us with the other,
and it is practice either way.
The practice of being alive
is doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done
when it needs to be done
for as long as it needs to be done
whether we feel like it or not
all our life long.

Get that down
and we have it made
wherever we are.

And, in marriage,
our partner has to be doing it, too.
No one can be married by themselves.
It takes cooperation.
And we take up the work of cooperating
with one another 
in producing the miracle of marriage
at the very beginning,
by taking our vows seriously,
and living to carry them out
no matter how we feel.

In this, marriage is a lot like
the Velveteen Rabbit,
becoming real over time,
and once it is really real,
nothing can take it from you.
It lasts forever.

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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