May 10, 2021

01

Edisto Beach Sunset 11/16/2013 Oil Paint Rendered — Edisto Island, South Carolina
It is all useless,
pointless,
hopeless,
meaningless,
futile,
stupid
and absurd--
and coming to a very bad end:
We all are going to die!
And, therefore...

What?
And, therefore, what?

What is the meaning of meaningless?

What do we do in response to it?
In response to meaningless?
In response to the meaning of meaningless?

Who ascribes the meaning of meaningless 
to meaningless?
Who says what it means that it is
"All useless, pointless, meaningless..."?
Who says the "And therefore..." is automatic?
Logical? Rational? Universal?

Who. Says. So???

That would be each of us individually
around the table,
across the board.

We are The Meaning Makers.
We ascribe meaning to everything.
We say what it means that everything is meaningless--
that everything is what we say it is,
and everybody better listen to us
because we are right,
and know what we are talking about.

And we are making it all up.
We are making it up
when we say we are not making it up.
We make that up, too.
We make it all up.
Whatever is meaningful is meaningful
because we say so,
even if we say it is meaningless.

Even if we are repeating what someone else said,
we are saying it is worth repeating
because we say so.
And we are making that up.
And getting people to agree with us,
and saying all together,
"That's how things are!"
Because we all say so,
and how could all of us be wrong?

It is all such a con.
We are conning ourselves,
saying what things mean,
and convincing ourselves that they mean
what we say they mean
because everyone says so.

So, we get to "And, therefore..."
What?
What do we say it means 
that everything is meaningless?
What do we say we should do about it?
Because of it?
Why that and not something else instead?
Why does it follow that because
everything is meaningless,
we should do whatever 
it is we think we should do?

"Because that is the only thing
that makes sense"?
Who says so?
Who says "That is the only thing
that makes sense"?
How do they know?

They (or, you) are
making it up!
They/you make up 
"what makes sense,"
and act as though it does,
and the acting confirms their/your
evaluation of the situation,
and seals them/you to their/your fate.

Everything hangs on what we say
in response to what we have said.
And therefore what?

Whatever we say is going to be something
we take on faith.
Nothing follows nothing.
We make up all of our "and therefores."
We take it all on faith
that we know what we are talking about
when we say whatever we say.

What makes us think we know
what we are talking about?
Why do we take our word for it?
Why don't we wait and see what happens?

We can't stand the suspense.
We can't bear the tension,
can't stand the pain,
of not-knowing.
Oh, the agony!
Oh, the anguish!
Just end it all now!

No!
Don't!
Just sit still,
and be quiet,
and wait!

Take something else on faith!
Like, "Let's see what happens
without making anything happen."
Without messing with the moment.
Without screwing things up worse
than they are.
Without acting like we know 
what we are doing
when we don't know what we are doing.

Just wait.
Just watch.
Take a shower.
Go for a walk.
Don't do anything
to interfere 
with the natural unfolding of things
in the moment, her and now.

Do not intrude on the moment.
Do not rush to judgment.
Bear. The. Pain!

Have some ice cream.
Maybe a chocolate shake.
Sit tight.
Stand pat.
Chill out.
Breathe.
Slowly.
Deeply.
Wait.
Watch.
See what arises
in the silence.
See what stirs to life.
See what emerges.
Appears.
Comforts.
Consoles.
Calls...
From beyond
to right here, right now...
As a new realization
that transforms everything,
and gives you a fresh start on life,
and living,
and being alive.

–0–

02

Bodie Island Lighthouse 05 11/03/2009 — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
The moment will teach us all we need to know:
To listen to the moment.
To see the moment.
To know what we know
and what we do not know...

Every valuable thing is right here right now.

Opening ourselves to the moment
is opening ourselves to ourselves.

Is seeing what is here with us.
Is seeing all that comes with us
into every moment.
Is seeing all there is to see
right here, right now.

Each moment contains every moment
that has preceded it.
Each moment impacts every moment
following it.

This moment is the fulcrum,
shifting past into future.

This moment is "the still point
of the turning world"
(T.S. Eliot),
the axis mundi,
the World Pole,
the center of the world,
the universe,
the cosmos.

It all starts again right here right now.
Teaching us all we need to know--
if we are open,
if we are receptive,
if we are listening,
looking,
watching,
waiting,
ready
for what is waiting
and ready
for us
here/now.

–0–

03

Goldenrod 03 05/10/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Lancaster County, South Carolina
Finding our voice
is finding our face
is finding our original nature
is finding our true way of being in the world.

If we are hungry,
we know it.
We don't have to ask anyone,
"Do I look hungry to you?"
"Am I hungry??
"Should I eat something now?"

We know when we are hungry,
and we know when we have had enough to eat.
We don't ask anyone,
"Am I full now?"
"Should I quit eating now?"

But we let other people tell us
what to do,
how to dress,
how to wear our hair,
what to believe,
what books to read,
what movies to watch,
how to think and feel...
The list is long
of ways we allow other people
to direct our life.

There are boundaries that are our boundaries.
They are the borders
separating us from others.
We have to know where we start 
and they stop.

Robert Frost said,
"Good fences make good neighbors."
They also make it possible 
for us to be who we are 
in relation to our neighbors,
and not just an extension of our neighbors
on our side of the fence.

Or, perhaps we should just start asking people,
"Should I go use the toilet now?"
"Do you think I need to pee?"

–0–

04

Red Barn White Fence 05/28/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Chester County, South Carolina
You know how you see things?
That's how you are going to always see things
unless you enlarge your vocabulary
and change the people you hang out with,
which will probably mean 
changing where you hang out.

And you have to give up judgment
and opinions,
adopting an attitude
of interested neutrality
regarding everything--
which, in itself, will
change the way you see things.

You can have preferences,
but shoulds,
oughts,
musts, 
and 
have tos
go to the burning barrel. 

Include balance and harmony
in with the things you prefer,
and live out of your center
instead of out of your desires
and cravings.

All of this will come together
to enable you to make your peace
with your life,
and live with equanimity
and good faith
in all of your dealings
with other people.

And when you die,
people will come from miles around
to testify to the benevolent impact
you had on their life
and to how much better the world 
has become because you were in it.
And, they will be right. 

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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