May 30, 2021


Big Creek 13 Oil Paint Rendered — Big Creek District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina
The movie "Groundhog Day" is my template,
for waking up.

We all wake up the way Bill Murry/Phil Connors
wakes up.

Murry's/Connors' advantage in the movie
is that nothing changes until he does.
With us, everything is changing all the time,
and we have something else to see
before we have seen that last thing.

We don't get 400 years
to learn to play the piano.
We have to learn everything at once,
or close enough to once
to make it complicated.

But our advantage is that
the complications are--or can be--
waking us up by forcing us
to take the contradictions
and polarities
into account.

The complexities are here
to wake us up.

And what they wake us up to
is/are exponentially increasing complexity.
"Simple" is extremely complex.
(And the movie, "Being There"
with Peter Sellers/Chauncey Gardner,
is a great presentation of 
the complexity of simple).

The more we see,
the more we see
the depth and scope
of what we do not see.

The more we see,
the more there is to see.

Waking up is eternal and everlasting
in its unfolding.
We are never awake,

We are always waking up,
being enlightened,
becoming illumined.

There is no end to 
what we don't know.

And, knowing that
is where we all start
the process
of knowing more
than we knew
when we walked in.

And we see
by saying what we see
and asking all of the questions
that beg to be asked
about thinking we see 
what we are looking at.

Questions complicate the situation.
Complication is good
in that it doesn't allow us
to get by with simplifying the process.

Questioning everything
gets to the bottom
of no bottom to anything,
only more questions
about more things.

And that's good.
It forces us to look closer,
to listen more carefully,
and to know that knowing more
is what knowing is all about.

Knowing in the service of what?
Is another question
inviting us to explore
what we think we are here for
and what we are trying to get
through the process of asking questions
and seeking clarity.

What are we going to have
when we get there?
"Full realization"
is going to do what for us exactly?

There is only going on
past "full realization"
to "fuller realization."
And to laughing at the idea of graduation.

What do you think a plausible,
acceptable, reasonable,
end would be?

Where does AUMMMmmmmmm... stop?
Then what?



Unity Presbyterian Church Panorama 01-17-2018 Oil Paint Rendered — Fort Mill, South Carolina
No one ever changed anyone
by telling them what they need to hear.

People change by being listened to,
heard, understood--
not by being told.

When people are listened to--
and pushed/encouraged/invited
to explore what they are saying--
to say more than they have ever been
asked to say--
so that they get out of their 
repetitive liturgy of their life
and are forced to search for what they mean
and how that relates to what they also mean--
magic happens.

Realization happens.

Growth occurs.

Telling me how you see things
and how that relates to 
how you see other things,
and how you hold it all together
by refusing to see what things,
produces an inner conflict--
perhaps a conflict of values,
a conflict of interests--
that requires you to adjust
the way you see things.

Adjusting the way we see things
changes the way we see things.

Changing the way we see things
is all that growing up consist of.

We do not grow up until we change
the way we see things.
And we change the way we see things
by seeing the way we see things
in light of the ways we see other things,
all things.

When we listen to people,
and ask the questions that beg to be asked
about the way they see things,
and how that relates to the way
they see other things,
we introduce complexity into their life,
and force them to take into account
things they normally deny,
about their own seeing/positions,
and require them to reconcile
the contradictions within their own constructs
of reality/truth/facts
and that is where the shifts happen
that cleanse "the doorways of perception"
(Aldous Huxley),
and that changes everything.

Reconciling our own opposites
forces us to grow up against our will
and transforms our life
and our relationships with ourselves,
one another,
and our way of living.

Making all things new.

By being listened to
and thereby required to hear
what we are saying
and how that relates
to what we are also saying.

The people who believe in freedom
want to kill/purge/destroy
those whose idea of freedom
challenges them to expand their idea of freedom.

They want to be free to ignore
what freedom requires,
and how being free binds them 
to the requirements of freedom,
which extends to everyone 
the freedom they want only for themselves.

Freedom is never freedom from responsibility.
Freedom is freedom for responsibility.
We are all free to the extent
that we are responsible 
for guarding the freedom for everyone,
and giving everyone the opportunity
for exploring their freedom for expression
and the responsibilities freedom imposes
upon all who would be free.

My right to be free has to respect/honor
your right to be free,
and we are both responsible 
for guarding the freedom of each other,
which restrains and restricts each other,
and forces/requires us to be free
within the legitimate/necessary 
limits of freedom.

What are the limits of freedom?
Freedom from what?
Freedom for what?
Freedom from imposed restraint
has to be freedom for self-imposed restraint.
Unrestrained freedom is bondage to want/desire/
and life beyond the boundaries 
necessary for life.

We can't tell people that,
but we can listen them to that,
by finding the contraries
that require us to live within 
the tension of mutually exclusive opposites.
Freedom is bondage to the requirements of freedom.

How do we understand "this"
in light of "that"?

Questions lead to reflection
which leads to realization.
And questions require conversation.
Not yelling.



Electric Peak 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Yellowstone, National Park, Wyoming/Montana
If I could go back as a consultant/guide to myself
I wouldn't.

I wouldn't know what to change
without changing something
I wouldn't want to change.

We have to find our own way
through all of our circumstances/situations,
learning as we go,
as best we can,
to the extent that we are able,
and let that be that.

What would we change about our life
that wouldn't change everything about our life?
How different does our life need to be?
Making anything better
would make what worse?
And how would that impact the lives
of all others who interacted with us
over the course of our living?

What is better?
What is worse?
How fine is the balance?
How thin is the line?
Between how things are,
and how things need to be,
and how things might have been?

How do things need to be?
Who is to say?

All we have to work with is how things are,
and what needs to be done here and now
to make things as good as they can be
within the context and circumstances
of the situation at hand.

How good can this situation be?
How can we help it be so?
What influence do we have upon
the good of this situation,
all things considered?

Good for whom?

How good is the good we call good?

How do we decide what to do?
When to do it?
How it is to be done?

In light of what do we live?
What outcomes are we striving for?
What is acceptable?
What is ideal?
When do we stop meddling
and simply let things be?

When do we allow things 
to unfold according to the 
way of their own becoming?

When do we permit nature to take its own course?

How do we shape our life?
The lives of our children?
The lives of those around us?
How do we know what to do?
What do we think we are doing?
How do we evaluate the effect 
we are having?

I believe in light touches,
and gentle nudges.
And relying on instinct,
and spontaneous sincerity
in the service of our natural inclinations
as the most reliable guide
along the way.

And if living in these ways
gets us into a mess,
we have to trust that
continuing to live in these ways
will get us out of it--
and allow how things work out
to just be how things work out.



Falls Pond 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Kancamagus Hwy North Conway New Hampshire
Seeing things the way we do
is the place to start.
Everything flows from there.

What makes us think
that the way we see things
is the way things are?
Is the way TO see things?
Is the way things ought to be seen?
Is the way everybody should see things?

How do we know that what we say is so,
is so?

What makes us the authority
on how things should be seen?
On how things should be done?

What makes us the authority
on saying what is authoritative
and what is not?

And if we are the authority on
saying what is authoritative,
doesn't that make us THE Authority
governing how our life is lived?
Governing how all life ought to be lived?
And isn't that a bit arrogant?
And self-deceiving?

What exactly do we know that is worth knowing?
And how do we know it is so?

Assumption is the foundation
of much that is called "knowing."
It is the same "knowing"
that declared 
the earth to be flat
and that the sun goes around the earth.
And refused to look through a telescope,
saying it was a "delusion."

How we see things 
may have nothing to do
with how things are.

Start there.
And see where it leads.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: