April 05, 2021


The Tree on Roan Mountain 06/15/2012 — Roan Mountain National Forest, Carver’s Gap, North Carolina
We die because 
it becomes too much trouble
to keep going.

We Peter-out.
We dwindle down to nothing.

Our knees go.
Our eyesight goes.
Our teeth go.
Our hearing goes...
The list goes on and on.

And we get to the place
of saying the hell with it.

I'm suggesting that longevity
is not the point,
and that quality of life is.

The phrase "quality of life"
needs to be explored.
What does it mean to you?
What number would you give
the present level of the quality
of your life--
with 1 being next to nothing,
and 10 being beyond compare?

My best would be a 6, here and now.
I think I will blow the whistle
at 3, maybe 2.

This is my 77 April 5th.
I think 87 will be stretching it.
More like 83-84.

In the meantime, I'm going to 
devote myself to the pursuit
of what interests me,
and see where it goes.

You are, well, up to you.
What do you see for yourself?
What do you intend?
How shall you proceed?

This point of demarcation
between me and you
gets us to the heart of the matter,
two of them, actually.

The first is that we see things 
the way we do
because it is the way
someone we admire and/or
want to please sees things.
It is the way the people we run with
see things.

We aren't going to change
the way we see things
until/without changing the people 
we admire/want to please/run with.

This in the key factor 
in determining 
how different things can be
with us.

Alcoholics, for instance,
have to change the people 
they hang around with
if they want to quit drinking,
and they have to start hanging around
with people who don't drink,
or with no people at all.

Etc. regarding all of the things
you want to stop doing
and/or start doing.

Who you run with makes all the difference.

The second is that the way things are
is just the way things are.
It is easier that way.
Streams take "the course of least resistance"
on their way to the sea.
Don't we all?

There is no reason for it.
Saying "God's will" is saying
"It's just the way things are."
Ask, "Why is it God's will?"
Or, "Why does God want things the way they are?"
Gets eventually to, "That's just the way things are!"
So, "cut to the chase"
(Take the course of least resistance)
and go straight there
with no "beating around the bush":
"That's just the way things are!"

What are we going to do about it
is the question.

"This is the way things are,
and this is what we can do about it,
and that's that."

What are we going to do about it?
That's the question
that only we can answer.

We better be quick deciding.
It will be too much trouble to fool with
before long!



Camden Harbor Sunrise 10/02/2002 Oil Paint Rendered — Camden, Maine
There is our life
and there is how we live it
and that's that.

What do we mean by the life we are living?
What do we intend?
What are we doing?

What is our life's work?
Our "body of work" consists of what?
What are we about?
What are we up to?
Who are we showing ourselves to be
through the way we go about
living our life?

If we were to "do better,"
what would we do?

Does it matter?
Does it matter to us?
Why does it matter?
Why doesn't it matter?

What are we doing here?
What are we going to do
with the time left for living?

Drink more beer?
See the sights?
Party hearty?
Look for some action?

We answer that question
whether we mean to or not.
Why not mean to?
Why not give it our best effort?
Why not live the life
we would be proud to have lived?

Too much trouble, you say?
Great epitaph.
"I woulda done better
but it was too much trouble."
You'll be proud to live with that
for eternity.
You should have a tee shirt made up,
wear it around the beach.
Drinking beer.



Colors of Fall 04 Oil Paint Rendered — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
"Live the questions."
"Dance with the questions."
What questions?
All of the questions!
Find out for yourself
what questions are your questions
to explore/answer
through the way you live your life!

Our life is the answer
to the questions we are living--
and to the questions we are failing to live.
Refusing to live.
What are those questions?
The ones we have nothing to do with.
What are they?

I'm living to discover
the place of silence, stillness,
solitude, reflection, experience
and questions
in my life.

What are the questions 
that are important to me?
I'm living to discover them.

I am my own experiment
with silence and introspection.
Can we find a reliable guide
through our life
just by attending what arises,
emerges, appears, occurs to us
in the silence?

Is silence a source of direction
that is trustworthy,
valuable, reliable
in leading us into a life
we would be proud to live?

What is the source of the silence's wisdom?

How does the silence know what it knows?
What knows beyond the silence
that uses the silence
to commune with us/me?

What is the source of my life--
of my vitality--
of me?

Are we all connected to each other
by being connected with the silence
or with what is beyond the silence?

In communing with the silence,
are we communing with ourselves
and with each other?

Is there a collective "mind" directing,
enthusing, vitalizing all of us?

Are we all "plugged into" the same source?

Are we capable of being choreographed,
harmonized, united, formed into
one universal/cosmic being?

Are we violating some sacred principle
when we break the silence
and presume to speak for 
That Which Is Beyond The Silence?

Would it be better--
in sync with That Which Is Beyond The Silence--
to simply be quiet
and see what arises
without saying how things are 
and ought to be,
but just wait,
and see?

No authorities?
Just servants?
Of the silence?
Just the silence?
And us listening?
To see what emerges?
And doing what needs to be done
about it?



Crepe Myrtle 06 03/27/2021 Oil Paint Rendered
and unsociable sorts
have the benefit of silence
going for them.

Not that they can't create
their own noise
and distractions,
but they have the opportunity
to avail themselves
of the grace of the moment
that is upon them
in every moment.

Whether or not they 
take advantage of it
is on them.

I don't know that hermits, etc.
are any more centered, focused and grounded
on and living out of
their own, original, nature
than the rest of the population,
and I think balance and harmony
require "the other side of the coin"
to be upright and intact
and operating on all levels
at peak performance
with a good disposition
and no impeding deficiencies.

Where to draw the line
between too much and not enough
of anything 
is the perennial dilemma.

We have to be aware of the importance
of walking two paths at the same time
between the Yin and Yang--
the contradictions and contraries--
of our life throughout our life.

We balance the opposites,
integrate the polarities,
bear consciously the pain
of our conflicts
and make things work
as best we can--
as best they can--
moment to moment
in each situation as it arises,
and let that be that.

There is no solution
to the adamantine truth 
of Yin/Yang.
We negotiate and compromise
and "walk with a limp"
all along the way.

Minding how we go,
and seeking the guidance
of silence
as we are able
every day.

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.

3 thoughts on “April 05, 2021

  1. Oh, I wish I had known you in Greensboro! I keep up with your friend Melanie Bassett, also a great admirer. Your wisdom speaks to my heart. The photographs are without equal.


    1. Thanks Jim, If we wait long enough with our eyes open what’s helpful generally comes into view, but knowing it when we see it is entirely up to us–and what we bring to the Dance! So, where would I be without YOU? You make it all possible! And we all dance together thanks to everyone else! — Jim


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