I retired on February 1, 2011. Today marks the 10th anniversary of my retirement. They have been the ten best years of my life. Upon retirement, I took a vow of silence and solitude, moved to the woods with my wife and had no social interaction apart from our immediate family (3 daughters and their families). I immersed myself in things that are meaningful to me: photography, reading, and writing. Who wouldn't relish a life like that? I certainly do! I won't be able to get enough of it if I avoid COVID and live into my 100's! But longevity is not a goal. This moment is my goal! To live here, now, open to what is present with me and alert to what is called for-- and to live in response to that, in each situation as it arises. I'm putting together a book of my/our time in the woods (Next door to the woods, actually. We live on a half-acre lot next to the 22-acre Woods, which will be the book's title). It won't be a print version, but a WordPress production. I'll let you know how it's going, and when it's done.
Jacob Bronowski said that we trust people to say what they think-- but people do not always do so. There is a credibility gap, between what people think and what they say, that has to be taken into account. We have to keep that in mind and live out of a skeptical, "I hear what you are saying, but what do you mean, and can I trust that to be true?" kind of orientation, across the table, around the world. Bronowski said, "My personal dictum about all politics is this: Make sure that everybody tells the truth at all times, and tell them when they are not speaking truthfully. We have to tell the truth, as best we can, and stick to that through thick and thin" (The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination). In the same book, he also said: "We can only gain knowledge by being truthful." "People have to behave so that the truth shall be apparent." "We cannot know what is true unless we behave in certain ways." We have to live truthful lives. We have to be trusted to say what we think. The search for truth is a self-correcting activity. Truth corrects truth. Our picture of the world is corrected by our continuing to examine, explore, inspect, probe, question, reflect on the world as we perceive it to be, in ways that allow it to show us what it is. Truth evolves toward truth through countless revisions and realizations. When Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," he meant the truth shall set us free to know more about the truth than we know now-- free from the "truth" to discover the truth-- always and forever, seeking truth by serving truth in the search for truth, always narrowing the discrepancy between how we think things are and how things are.
I live amid people for whom "staying safe" means something quite different than it means to me. Which requires me to live at a distance from them that does not equate to the same distance they have to live from me. Whose sense of "safe distance" do you think applies to me? If you said, "My own," you would be right. Our safety is our responsibility. We live out of our sense of how our life should be lived. Who says so? WE do! In every case, great and small. Our judgment is the only judgment that guides our living, that directs our life. We have to live in ways that reflect/exhibit/incarnate our idea of how our life ought to be lived. Not even Jesus can tell us what to do! We are the sole authority determining what we do, how we do it, when we do it, where we do it-- and we pay the price in terms of the consequences we create by our decisions and choices. Which means going to hell if that be the case. So we cannot live lightly, frivolously, without awareness and consideration. We have to consult regularly with ourselves regarding what is called for and how best we might respond to it. We can't live automatically, heedlessly. We have to be as informed as we can be, with self-transparency self-awareness self-reflection and self-correction guiding us along the slippery slope, the dangerous path, like a razor's edge, all along the way.
The magic is in the seeing (And the hearing). The magic in the seeing (And the hearing) is in the looking (And the listening). Look and listen in order to see and hear. Moment-by-moment in each situation as it arises. All we need to see/do what is needed is always right before us, waiting to be activated by eyes that see and ears that hear. See what you look at. Hear what is called for. Respond as needed to do what is needed. Moment-by-moment. In each situation as it arises. Gautama and Jesus together could not do more. Be what is needed moment-by-moment in each situation as it happens and magic will happen. Anticipation, expectation, and arrogance ruin your chances. Each moment is a fresh moment. Each situation is a new situation. Just look. Just listen. Just do what needs to be done. The way it needs to be done. When it needs to be done. Moment-by-moment in each situation as it arises all your life long. Be like the wind blowing where it will throughout your life as a blessing and a grace upon all things.