March 15, 2021

04

Carolina Thread Trail Panorama 11/12/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Union County, North Carolina
There are situations aplenty
that we cannot make better,
but there are no situations
we cannot make worse
by the way we respond to them.

We hold the power to make every situation
as it arises
as good as it can be
by the way we respond to it.

No super-hero ever had more power than that.

You might think
that we would put more thought
and effort 
into the way we respond
to what is happening
and what needs to be done about it
than we do.

I wonder why we don't.
Don't you?

–0–

03

Boone Fork Creek 08/08/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Today is my 77th March 15.
Last night, I lay awake
pondering my vulnerabilities
frailties and fragilities. 
There appear to be three:
My eyesight.
My hearing.
My memory.

I am at the mercy of
"time and chance"
in all of these areas.

That means my proper role
is to not dwell upon it,
but to trust myself 
to deal appropriately
with whatever happens
when it happens
and live as well as I can
under the circumstances.

Which is always our role
at every stage of life.

We don't control what happens,
but we are in charge
of how we respond to what happens.

Every day,
we get out of bed
and see what we can do 
with the day.

That never changes.

How well we live
with what we have 
to live with
is always up to us.

–0–

02

Appalachian Pond Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia
We live to know where the lines lie.
And to know where to draw the lines.
And to draw them.
And to honor those that are drawn.

Respecting lines is the mark of maturity,
wisdom,
grace
and peace.

Too many people think
there are no lines
but the ones they draw.

Too many other people think
the only lines
are the ones someone else draws.

That leaves only a few of us
to revere and hold in high regard
the lines that are ours to draw
and the lines that are ours to observe.

There is an Old Testament commandment
that did not make it into the top ten,
but should be #1:
"Thou shalt not remove
thy neighbor's landmark!"
(And this implies that our neighbor
should not mess with our landmark!)

We all have to live 
within appropriate boundaries.
That is the first rule of life.

We have to know where we stop
and someone else starts--
and stay within the lines!

Which leaves us with Frasier Snowden's
priceless declaration:
"The only true philosophical question is,
'Where do you draw the line?'"

–0–

01

Eastern Bluebird 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Scenes from My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
I think it is Martin Palmer 
who suggested an alternative translation 
for the Tao te Ching’s 
“The Tao that can be said/told is not the eternal Tao” 
would be, 
“The path that is a discernible path 
is not a reliable path.”

I think that’s great. 
Because: Where does that leave us? 

A path that is not discernible is invisible 
and if it is discernible, 
it is not reliable. 
There may as well be no path! 
I love that.

And I work around it this way: 
We don’t find the path. 
We wait for the path to find us! 
The path is not our responsibility. 
We are the path’s responsibility. 
Our responsibility is to be findable. 
We become findable by being still and quiet 
and watching what arises, 
unfolds, 
emerges,
beckons. 

I like that because 
I am particularly/peculiarly 
cut out for that. 
Sitting still, 
being quiet, 
watching,
listening,
waiting
is quite my shtick.

I think we may interpret,
understand,
explain
everything
in light of what our shtick is.

Need I say
that we are stuck 
with our shtick?

That is as "us"
as anything is!

Stick with your shtick!

Should be a bumper shticker.

PS. Do you know
what your shtick is?
If you don't,
ask someone who knows you.

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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