March 20, 2021


Red Barn and White Fence Panorama 05/30/2016 Oil Paint Rendered, Chester County, South Carolina
Live to be free of wants and wanting. 

What does wanting know? 
Does wanting know where we are better off? 
Where we are best off? 

Does wanting know what is in our best interest? 
Does wanting care about our best interest? 
Could wanting make a winning case for itself 
when it comes to serving our best interest? 
To being the champion of our lasting good? 

How many bad choices has wanting 
forced on us over the years? 

How many divorces? 
Wrong turns? 
Lost hopes? 
Dead ends? 

We think we would be lost 
without knowing what to want. 
Put it to the test. 

Go for a week without seeking any advantage. 
Without exploiting any situation. 
Without trying to get anything 
or have your way anywhere. 

Live without wanting for a week. 

Instead, consult the silence 
for what needs to be done 
in every moment. 

Listen in each situation 
for what is called for—
with no preference regarding any outcome. 

Rather than think about what you want, 
ask the silence what it is time for—
and be on guard against influencing the response 
with a finger on the scale. 

Want to not-want—
as though it is the most 
desirable thing in your life. 

It is far more valuable than that! 

The greatest advantage stems from 
seeking no advantage at all. 

Run the experiment for a week. 
See how it goes.



Goshen Creek 11/04/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone, North Carolina
I said this on 22/12/2007:

Beauty grounds us 
in the reality of present experience. 

The magic of "aesthetic arrest" 
wakes us up to the wonder 
of this here, this now, 
and redirects us to the way 
of the simply profound. 

Beauty is the ultimate balancing agent. 
Our excesses and deficiencies, 
fears and dreads, 
losses and sorrows, 
resentments and misplaced affections 
are all transcended 
and naturally put aside for a while 
in the aura of a splendid thing. 

We are centered without thinking about centering, 
at one without seeking integrity, 
peaceful, relaxed, 
without intending or striving to be either. 
We are restored and renewed 
by the unaccountable grace of beauty.

Still so after thirteen years.
And will still be so after thirteen hundred years.

Seek out beauty in art, music and nature
in a deliberate and regular way.
Think of it as aerobics 
for the soul.



Glade Creek Mill 04 Oil Paint Rendered — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
What do you do with all your heart?
How many things do you do with all your heart?
How often?
How long has it been?

Start there in improving 
your quality of life.
Your satisfaction with life.
Your joy of life.
Your enthusiasm for life.

Begin with the things you love.
Begin with doing the things you love.
With all your heart.

Let your life fall into place around that.

Too often,
we settle for 
working it in as we are able
when our life allows--
and like that
that becomes never doing it at all.



Adams Mill Pond Reflection Oil Paint Rendered — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina
I believe in about a cabillion things, 
like the value of what I'm doing for instance— 
in the absence of any validation or verification whatsoever. 
It is all intrinsic with me. 

"I" am intrinsic. 
My world is entirely subjective. 
All objective reality
has to be interpreted subjectively.
We say what it is,
and what it means,
and what it means to us.

What is important to me is important because I say it is—
who can know what is important to me better than I do? 
And if I don't live to serve what is important to me, 
then upon what basis do I go about my life? 

I make it all up! 
So do you!

And, there is a catch! 

The catch is we have to be right about it. 
We have to be right about 
What is important to us.

What is important to us has to be really important to us. 
We can't be wrong about that. 
Our motivation for life has to be flowing directly 
from what matters most to us. 
We can't be kidding ourselves, 
fooling ourselves, 
not knowing what is important to us 
and living like a nuclear powered pin ball 
ricocheting off rubber bumpers 
throughout the time we have for living, 
with no direction 
or purpose 
beyond bouncing from one thing 
to the next 

We have to be absolutely anchored to,
and living out of, 
what is the center, 
core and source 
of our own life and being. 

We can't be living disconnected from ourselves! 
What kind of life would that be? 
It would be a lie. 

We would be conning ourselves. 
We would be straw persons. 
Empty human beings.
Going through the motions of life 
without ever once being alive. 
The dead Jesus left 
to bury the dead. 

We have to be right about what is valuable, 
and live our life around that, 
at all costs, 
no matter what. 

And this gets us straight to the heart 
of what I believe in most of all: 
Sitting still, 
being quiet. 
Letting it all pass in review. 
Even while we are doing something else. 

Always examining, 
searching for contradictions, 
to acknowledge, 
atone for, 
dance with, 
live out. 

Silence is the ground of life and being, 
transforming everything, 
birthing everything, 
all the time. 

We can't be anything 
until we can be quiet 
in the right way, 
all the time.



Cardinal 02 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Scenes (Seen) From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
Living can take the life out of us—
if we let it. 

It starts with who we are 
and what we are living for. 

With what our motivation is, 
and what our expectations are,
and what is in it for us, 
and why we get out of bed each day. 

The words extrinsic and intrinsic 
come to mind. 
They are the difference 
between what we get 
and who we are. 

If what we get for being who we are 
is what motivates us to be who we are 
we are in trouble from the start. 

What we get for being who we are 
can be not very much at all. 

The question is: 
Upon what does being who we are depend? 
What keeps us going? 
What does it take to stop us? 

Basketball players play basketball. 
Is their heart in playing or in winning? 
If they are not winning 
do they lose the edge in their playing? 

Does their playing drop off? 
Do they quit? 

What kind of basketball player 
stops playing because they aren't winning? 
Or because if they aren't playing 
for a chance at the national championship, 
they aren't going to play at all? 

Because it just isn't worth it? 

Where does "worth it" come from? 

A basketball player who plays 
only when it is "worth it" 
isn't much of basketball player. 

What will you do your best for, 
day in and day out 
because you are you 
and you love what you do 
and you live to do it 
because that is who you are, 
and nobody can pay you to do it 
or reward you for doing it 
because you simply have to do it? 
Because you MUST do it? 

What is so much LIFE for you 
that nothing can take it from you? 
Find it. 
Do it. 

And when you get old and decrepit 
and can't do it any more, 
dream of doing it. 
of having done it. 
Imagine doing it. 

Don't ever stop doing it 
in your mind 
until senility takes your mind away 
or you stop breathing. 

That's being a basketball player. 
Or a whatever-you-are player. 
Live your life to play 
whatever your life has to play 
because it is who you are. 

If it is the alto saxophone, 
play the alto saxophone like you mean it 
whether you are playing for some big prize or not—
whether you have an audience or not.

Find what you love and do it 
because it is you 
and you must do it 
because that's what you are here for, 
and being who you are 
is doing what is yours to do 
until you die.

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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