July 18, 2021


Scott Creek Sunset 02 02/29/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Edisto Island State Park, South Carolina
I love what I do,
and where I've been,
and where I am,
and I have deep sadness/melancholy
over how few people understand
that what we do,
where we have been
and where we are
are the most important things,
and that how we are with that
is how we are.

It doesn't matter where we are going.

Where we are going is just going to be
where we are.

And if we have never been glad
just to be here/now,
we cannot expect to be glad
to be  there/then.

It is all about perspective.
How we see what we look at.
The way we are with whatever
is with us.

What do we need to be content
with how it is with us?
What is standing between us
and joy/gladness/satisfaction?
Except for what things would be fine?
For how long?

What do we do about the things
we can't do anything about?

Where do we go to be at peace?
To enjoy the wonder of balance and harmony?

What is disrupting our balance and harmony?

Upon what does our stability depend?

In what ways do we need to 
transform our relationship
with ourselves,
our life,
and with other people?

What needs to be changed 
about our relationships
with those things?

What is keeping that from happening?

What do we think about
that prevents/interferes with
our thinking about this?

Reflection is the path 
to new realizations.

Nothing changes 
until our mind changes
about what is important
and what needs to happen
and what we can do about it.



Blue Ridge Dawn 11/09/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone, North Carolina
The world needs a good listening to.

Too many people are talking too loudly
to listen.

All we need is to be heard
to the point
of hearing what we are saying.

We all need that.

Where do you go to be listened to?

To be heard?

When is the last time you said anything
beyond your usual banter?

When has anybody asked you
about your balance and harmony?

Your spirit, energy, vitality?

The ground of your joy and satisfaction?

Your specialty and how often you engage in it?

We all need people in our life
who can listen to us (hear is)
on a level at which we need to be 
listened to (heard).

That is pretty much all we need.

The trick here
is to become what we need
by offering to others 
what we need from them--
with no strings attached. 

Become the listener other people need.
Without using that as a ploy
to get them to listen to you.

Just listen.
To them.

You will hear from them
what you need to say,
what you have to say--
particularly if you listen
to enough of them.

It is the same story.
It is the same pain.

Listening deeply
is seeing clearly.

We are the solution
to our own problem.

It hinges on our being
what we need to find.  



Boone Fork 15 10/16/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
The song goes,
"We get out kicks on Route 66..."

Where do you get your kicks?

This may be the most important question.

Knowing where we get our kicks,
and getting them regularly,
so that our life is lived around
the things we get a kick out of doing,
is the most important thing
(Without question to my way of thinking).

And, if that doesn't apply to you,
start living in ways 
so that it does apply to you.

You will probably discover
that the things you get a kick out of doing
won't pay the bills.
You will have to live on two paths,
or tracks,
at the same time.

So that there is what you do to pay the bills,
and what you pay the bills to do.

Live that way.
It will make all the difference in your life,
beginning almost immediately.

It will require you to change the way you live,
in order for your life 
to support your life--
your being alive to the time and place
of your living--
instead of being an automation,
an automaton,
going through the motions of life,
like canned laughter on some sitcom.

And your direction will come increasingly
from your heart
and not from your head, 
or from someone else's idea
of how your life ought to be.

Our life has its own meaning,
its own orientation,
its own flow,
and it is our place to 
live in accord with our life's idea
for itself.

We are built for a certain life,
directed toward certain modes of expression.
We get our kicks in different ways.
We have to be true to the things
we get a kick out of doing/being--
and to be careful to not allow
addictions to sidetrack us
into thinking that addiction is the kick
we are looking for.

Addiction is a substitute kick.
A false kick.
An artificial kick.
We are kidding ourselves,
and have to do the work,
and pay the price,
and bear the pain,
of being true to our heart's deep joy
and our soul's deep yearning,
while figuring out how to do that
and pay the bills.

It will help if we incur only the right bills.



Why are we here?
What are we here for?
What do we mean--
and for whom/what do we mean it?
What do we intend with our life?
Does our life have intentions for itself
that we must intuit/realize/ascertain
and serve with liege loyalty and filial devotion?
How do we know?
How can we be sure?
What if we are just making it all up?

We will be worse off or better off
by the quality of the things we make up.

How we answer these questions
determines everything that follows.

It would behoove us to give ourselves
to these questions
with an appropriate degree of curiosity
and seriousness,
which is to say, playfulness,
and to make our best effort
at a life well-lived--
though this may have no correlation
with ease of life,
wealth and position in society,
and any of the supposed signs 
of a successful life.

So, at the start, we have to understand 
the difference between outward appearance
and inward pleasure and satisfaction,
and being satisfied with appearances
may result in being starkly empty
and disappointed with our inner reality,
and how the way we live can impact either,
or both, inner and outer.

Why are you here?
What are you here for?
What say you?
How do you know?



Blue Ridge Fall 15 10/16/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
The Buddha and Jesus never had a chance.
Nothing has a chance. 
Drugs, sex and rock-n-roll carry the day,
every day
through countless ages of days
from the first day to the last.

It has always been about 
drugs, sex and rock-n-roll.

Buddhism and Christianity attest 
to the validity of the statement.

What is the Institution of the Dalai Lama worth?
Or the Vatican--
ignoring for the moment
the value of the holdings worldwide 
of the Church.
Of all the churches.

That wealth represents the victory 
of drugs, sex and rock-n-roll over time.

You can have your Four Noble Truths
and your Sermon on the Mount
but wealth and privilege
are drugs, sex and rock-n-roll
maxed-out in overdrive,
downhill through time what a ride,
with institutional Buddhism and Christianity
joining in the festivities
and dancing into the night 
every night. 

If you aren't saying what they want to hear,
they will spin it into what they want it to say,
and the beat goes on, and on, and on...

Poor ol' Buddha...
Poor ol' Jesus...
Queen, Elvis, the Beatles, et. al.,
have crashed your show,
stolen your thunder,
and led you to the door.

The only thing that sells,
ever has,
ever will, 
is the tried and true,
Drugs, Sex and Rock-n-Roll!

Your own people attest to that. 



Chemung County Barn 03 09/23/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Elmira, New York
The five hallmarks of life are
balance and harmony,
spirit, energy and vitality.

Monitoring these markers
will guide us into doing the things
that support/maintain/sustain them,
and avoid the things 
that deplete/disturb/destroy them.

Our life is our responsibility.
It doesn't "just happen."
It happens consciously/mindfully,
with awareness,
and aforethought.

Being alive requires our complete participation
in making the choices
which affirm, enable and allow life
to be more than being 98.6 and breathing.

Taking regular readings of our
balance, harmony,
spirit, energy and vitality--
and making the adjustments necessary
to stay in the black and avoid the red--
is the path to the path of a life well-lived. 

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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