March 21, 2020

01

“What tha…?” 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Black-capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scenes from my hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina
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02

“This Ain’t Rite!” 02 Oil Paint Rendered — Black-capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina

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03

“I Don’t Feel Good About This!” 03 Black-Capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina

04

“This is so awkward.” 04 Black-capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina

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05

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” 05 Black-capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scenes From My Hammock, Indian Land, South Carolina

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This is from 11/26/2007:

I do so much better 
when I'm not forced to do 
what I'm doing. 

Bet you do, too. 

The "natural self" 
is what socialization and acculturation 
take away from us 
during the early years of childhood, 
and it's what we spend our adult lives 
trying to get back to. 

Living "from the heart," 
"following our bliss," 
letting our "passion guide us," 
allowing our life to "flow from the center," 
all sounds good, 
but. 

Life tends to get in the way 
of our living. 

Even if we shuck it all 
and join a monastery, 
there are rules at the monastery. 
Requirements. 
Obligations. 
Duties.

We are expected to arise 
at 4 AM to sit. 

It's a happy fantasy 
to think that we can avoid 
being forced to do things 
we don't want to do. 
But. 

Living to be less forced 
and more natural 
is an opening 
to intuitive and creative possibilities, 
a path to who-knows-where--
opening before us in each moment
to eyes that see,
and ears that hear.

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06

Fall Cascade 11/06/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek, Waterville, North Carolina
It is always time for something.
Being right about what that is
and doing it
is the key to a life well-lived.

Knowing what is called for
and being right about it
are functions of living a long time
with intentional awareness
of our experience 
on all levels.

We are capable of knowing things
that we don't know how we know.

Sitting still,
being quiet,
and waiting
to see what arises,
emerges,
beckons,
calls,
urges,
occurs,
nudges,
compels, 
in the silence
is a path to knowing
that has no rational/logical basis.

We all come packed
with intuitive,
instinctive,
innate,
inherent,
natural,
spontaneous,
unconscious
powers of perception,
guidance,
direction
and realization
that flow from 
"listening to the Force,"
or the Source,
or the Center,
or the Core,
or the Foundation,
or the Tao,
or whatever term you prefer
for "That Which Cannot Be Named
But Can Be Known"
that is available to all of us
and all sentient beings
in all times and places
of our existence.

So teach yourself
to sit still
and be quiet
and sense what it is time for,
and do it.

The Call to Adventure
is that close at hand. 

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07

Sitting Stones Oil Paint Rendered — Midnight Hole, Big Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina
You can't spend much time in AA 
without hearing about the necessary trip 
from "White Knuckling It" 
to "Faking It Until You Make It." 

Just about everyone comes to AA 
after a lengthy bout with 
"White Knuckling It," 
thinking they can lick their drinking problem 
just by standing up to it. 

Their drinking problem is merely 
the surface manifestation of depths 
of denial and self-deception without end. 
You can't stand up when you are sinking. 

AA comes in to "turn the light around." 

"Look, Jim," they say, 
"You have been thinking one way, 
and now you have to start thinking a different way—
The right way." 

They are bearers of the First Spiritual Law: 
"We are never more than one 
slight perspective shift away from having it made." 

And they begin to talk about the difference between 
"white knuckling it" and "faking it until you make it." 

Faking it until you make it is 
acting as though you do not have 
a drinking problem, 
knowing that is as close as you can come 
to not having a drinking problem. 

And "making it" is not graduating from alcoholism, 
but realizing that you are never more 
than the next drink away 
from knowing you are an alcoholic. 

Faking it until you make it is 
remembering you are an alcoholic 
without taking that next drink. 
It is pretending to be what we wish we were. 

White knuckling it is 
proving you are not an alcoholic 
by going without a drink for two months, 
or six months, 
or a year. 

It's walking into a bar without buying a beer. 

"See! I can do without it! I'm not a drunk!" 

You are the next drink away from being a drunk. 

Faking it until you make it is not even driving by a bar. 
It's not going to a beach where they are drinking beer. 
It is knowing better than to think 
that not-drinking means you are not an alcoholic. 

Now for all of us non-alcoholics 
in the audience, 
white knuckling it and faking it until we make it 
applies to a host of denial-based behaviors 
that have nothing to do with alcohol. 

Denial-based behaviors are 
commonly referred to as "addictions," 
and that is a shame, 
because most of us think 
we don't have any addictions, 
like going to church 
and listening to the preacher tell us 
we are going to hell if we don't come back next week 
and listen to the preacher tell us we are going to hell 
if we don't come back next week and listen... 

Right. What's addictive about that? 

Alcohol at least forces us to confront 
our denial-based behavior. 
We are awash in similar denial-based behaviors 
that allow us to trick ourselves into thinking 
we are just fine as we are, 
and it is everyone else who is doing it wrong. 

And we can get by with it because 
we aren't wrecking cars or losing jobs. 

But what is the standard by which we measure 
a life well-lived? 

How truthfully do we live? 
How mindfully aware? 
How self-transparent? 

How right are we about what is truly important? 
How completely does our life reflect 
what is truly important in the way we live? 

What are the subjects we never discuss? 
What are the fears we never address? 
What are the habits that drive our life? 
Who are we kidding about being "just fine"?

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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