May 12, 2021


Great Egret 06/16/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Summerton, South Carolina
The two fundamental,
rules for life
have been true
from the start.

"Know thyself!"

"To Thine Own Self Be True!"

That is all there is to it!

And we can't do even that!

Every other species has no 
trouble with it.

"The oak tree and the pine
grow not in each other's shadow,
and the pillars of the temple
are together,
yet not too near togetherness,
and the strings of a guitar
are separate
though they vibrate with the same music"
(The Prophet--Kahill Gibran).

Lions are lions and not tigers
or goats.
Whales do not aspire to be pigeons.
Prairie grass does not wish it were
giant sequoias. 

But rock stars want to be movie stars,
and baseball players want to be politicians.
And who is happy where they are?
Everybody wants to be somewhere else.

It is never enough to be who we are.

And here we are,
wishing we were there.

With human beings,
the two rules of life
are the first things that go.

And getting back to the start
and beginning again
as willing servants
of the two rules of life
is the sum total
of the spiritual journey,
the hero's journey,
the quest for enlightenment
and illumination.


The way back to the Garden of Eden
winds through the Garden of Gethsemane
and across the face of Golgotha.

Do we have what it takes 
to be who we are?

Is the question we live to answer.



Lower Cascade 03 05/02/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina
We give up this to have that.
This is the third rule of life.

Know thyself.
To thine own self be true.
We give up this to have that.

Those three rules of life
constitute the pathos and the agony
of the human condition.

We live to integrate,
the three rules of life
in a working relationship
with each other.

We live to get the ratios right.

The catch is that
in order to do it,
we have to bear the pain.

The pain of contradiction,
angst and anguish.

We want to be the best parent
in all the world,
and we don't want to be a parent
at all.
Work that out if you dare!
You can't do it without 
breaking your heart.

We break our heart
in the service of what?
Is the question.

Where does our highest allegiance lie?
Our filial devotion
and liege loyalty goes to what?

We live to find out.

We cannot think our way to the answer.
We have to live our way there.

That's why it is called 
"The Hero's Journey."

The other term for it is 
Growing Up.

We grow up against our will all the way.

Are we going to be who we are,
or who we also are?

That is the essence
of the existential dilemma.

The gauntlet, the ordeal,
only humans have to bear.

How well we square up to the task
and live it out
tells the tale.
And we walk with a limp
across the finish line. 



Rhododendron at Mabry Mill 05/23/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Meadows of Dan, North Carolina
The Kindle Books description of The Complete Works of Zhuangz, reads, in part, β€œTo be free, individuals must discard rigid distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong, and follow a course of action not motivated by gain or striving. When one ceases to judge events as good or bad, man-made suffering disappears and natural suffering is embraced as part of life.”

Doing what needs to be done 
in each situation as it arises
requires us to be free from
all expectation,
regarding what ought to be done,
and requires us to be free for
doing what is called for here and now,
regardless of what that might be,
or who stands to gain or lose,
benefit or be ruined.

Suffering follows right action
as surely as it follows wrong action.

What is right for the lion
is wrong for the antelope.

"Life eats life" is the fundamental fact
trumping all moral/ethical considerations.
Something dies in order for something else to live.

What are we going to do here and now?
In light of what do we decide?
What is called for?
What needs to happen?
How do we know?
How do we determine
what must be done?

Bear the pain!
Bear the pain!
Bear the pain!
Bear the pain!

And allow the mud to settle,
and the water to clear.

Time after time.
Bringing forth the best
of your original nature
each time.
And letting the outcome 
be the outcome--
which is always merely a threshold
to the next moment
with its conditions and requirements
and its call for something to be done.

Where we act again in that here and now
to do what needs to be done.

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.

2 thoughts on “May 12, 2021

  1. Jim… thanks for the daily inspirations & here’s hoping you make the journey South unperturbed πŸ’•βœŒ

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


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