February 25, 2021


Midnight Hole 03 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
In every situation,
there is a tipping point
where the responses 
of the people in the situation
can influence the outcome
of the situation
for better or for worse.

Our response in the present moment
has an influential impact upon
future moments,
both immediate and distant.

We wield the power for good or for evil
as surely as any super hero or villain
ever did.

Our present situation
is the result of our past situations.
Our future situations will be,
at least to some degree,
what they are because 
of our present situation.

The people for who things
always seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The people for whom things
never seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The present moment matters.
Our response to it matters.
We hold the future in our hands
in every moment.

We have to know that in our bones,
and live as though we do.



Early Light 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
"How could things be better?"

The question opens the way
for all the questions raised by the question.

Questions do that for us
when they aren't looking for The Right Answer,
or even The Answer.
Questions that are tied to answers
aren't questions at all,
but entrees to The Answer.
They are Answers' way of getting air time. 

Answers have us where we are,
which is wondering how things could be better.
Without Answers,
we would be in a lot better shape!

Or, better, with all of our Answers
properly understood
as nothing more than steps on the way
to better Questions,
we would be in a lot better shape!

Our hope is in the Questions!

Asking all of the Questions that beg to be asked,
without waiting around for Answers,
leads deeper and deeper into wonderment,
thinking things that have never 
been thought before,
saying things that have never
been said before,
doing things that have never
been done before,
and a brand new world, Golda!

Questions are the path to a brand new world!

How could things be better?
Ask all of the questions this question
begs to be asked--
without stopping for Answers!

See where that takes you!

It will be a new way of looking at things,
and that will mean the utter transformation
of things,
and that will mean a brand new world.

We ask our way to brand new worlds--
and beyond!



Cullasaja River Falls 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Cullasaja River Gorge, Nantahala National Forest, Franklin, North Carolina
Think of the Force in Star Wars
as the Tao in the Tao te Ching.

The Force and the Tao are beyond morality,
good and evil,
right and wrong.

They are What The Situation Calls For.

But, here is the catch,
not for the good or bad of anyone/anything
in the situation!

Good and evil, right and wrong,
depend upon what side you are on.
If you don't have a side, what?

The Force and the Tao, don't have a side.
They have a Way.
What's the Way?
What needs to be done here and now--
in light of here and now!--
for the sake of here and now!

If the baby's diaper needs changing,
change the baby's diaper!
If the dog needs to go outside,
take the dog outside!

"Eat when hungry,
rest when tired!"

When we complicate the situation
by bringing in considerations
that have nothing to do with the situation,
like the long-term financial impact
eating when hungry has
on the gross national product
and the economic security
of the kingdom,
we tie things up in a
"Nothing can happen until something else does!"
kind of knot.

If the situation calls for 
eating when hungry,
eat when hungry!
And let everything else 
fall into place around that!

But, we can't do anything 
because of the effect it may have
on something else.
"Will she/he still love me?"
"Will I get a raise/be fired?"

We live with our own good in mind
and not the needs of the current situation.

We strive to connive,
a future of our liking
into existence.

We live here and now
in light of what we think 
it will take 
to bring wealth and glory
in abounding abundance
to us there and then.

The Way is about
doing what is called for 
here and now,
and seeing where it goes.

Jesus said it best:
"The Spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will!"

The Spirit doesn't know
why it is doing what it is doing,
or what it will be doing next,
or where it is going,
or what the plan it,
or how any of that is important.

The Spirit's actions arise
out of the urgency--the impulse--
of the moment:
"THIS must be done here and now!
We will worry about then what later!"

Which falls nicely in line
with Jesus' little talk
about the lilies of the field,
"Which neither sew nor reap,
but are all decked out in 
the most beautiful array of colors imaginable!
So worry about what needs to be done today,
and let tomorrow's needs
be taken care of tomorrow!"

Let the Force, the Tao, the Spirit
be with you!
And you be with it/them,
here and now!



Ox Bow Bend 02, Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
There are only two things--
make that four things--
that matter:

1&2 Finding your life to live
and living it,
3&4 Helping other people 
find their life to live
and living it.

Get those four things down
and everything falls into place
around that,
transformed for the good

To do it,
to find our life to live
and live it,
we have to follow the pattern
of all the heros
on all the journeys
throughout time.

Yes, Virginia, there is a recipe.

First, we have to put desire and fear
in their place.
Hint: They don't have a place.

We have to live beyond desire and fear,
that is to say,
without desire and fear,
in order to find our life and live it.

This means we have to do the things 
that need to be done
no matter what--
no matter what it means for us personally,
or for those we love.

Snaps us back to Jesus
and his declaration about austerity:
"Those who would follow me 
have to leave father and mother,
brothers and sisters,
and take up their cross daily
in (finding their life and living it).

Joseph Campbell said the same thing:
"Do you have what it takes
to stick with it?
To do what it requires of you?
Day in and day out?
Whether you want to or not?
Whether you feel like it or not?
Whether you are in the mood for it or not?
For no other reason
than because it is yours to do--
and go on doing--
throughout the time left for living,
no matter what?"

"No matter what?" means we have to 
find our life and anchor ourselves to it
with an adamantine declaration 
of allegiance and loyalty 
that puts liege and filial devotion to shame.

This is what all of those old love stories 
are about.
It isn't about boy and girl finding each other
and swearing their troth forever,
it is about men and women finding their life
and living it through all
of the situations and circumstances of life.

It is not about finding the man or the woman
meant for them,
but about finding the life they are meant for
and living it beyond all other
compelling considerations.

Can they find the life partner
who will aid and assist them in their
dharma/duty to their own life?
That is the heart of the boy/girl 
(or boy/boy, girl/girl) thing:
"Can we be good for each other
in bringing the other forth
and helping the other live their life
to the fullest extent possible?"

Find the person who can create this kind
of environment with you,
and stick with them throughout eternity! 

We are here for the life that is ours to live!
And nothing can knock us off that!

The next thing is learning to read the signs,
to know what the symbols refer to--
the symbols that catch our eye,
that speak to us--
to know what they are saying.

We have to learn to live symbolically,
The truth (the Truth) doesn't lend itself
to the language of logic, intellect and rationality.
The Truth comes to us in dreams
and impulses that make no sense
but speak directly to our heart.

We have to learn to read/understand/intuit
the language of Truth and Spirit
in order to find our life and live it.

What movies mean the most to you?
What books stir something within?
What moves you?
What objects, animals, places, scenes,
poems, stories, etc., 
bring you to life--
bring something within you to life?
Dig in there!
See what connections you can make there!
What is going on there?

It is as though we have been
born into a mystery,
and have to find the clues
that lead us to the life that is our to live.

And then, we have to have the courage,
grit, determination, heart, etc.
to live it.

It is the adventure we were born for.
And we just want to make a lot of money
and be the envy of our peers.

It's called selling out.

It is also called living out of desire and fear.


Are you up for finding your life
and living it,
or not?

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.

One thought on “February 25, 2021

  1. Jim… another great insight, thank you for sharing! ( by giving ‘it’s away, we are able to keep ‘it’). Should be back in Austin Saturday & hope to see you then, friend✌🙏💕

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


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