July 21, 2021

01

Dogwood View 01 04/17/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Be right about what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
and do it.
Situation by situation.
Moment by moment.
Day by day.

That is all there is to it.

But, being right about what needs to be done
is no snap.

We all look at the same situation,
and assess it,
evaluate it,
understand it,
in light of our previous experience
and our individual idea of the good.

And the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor,
and the Americans A-bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
and here we are.

Who thinks those acts were the right things to do
in those situations?

It will not be a unanimous show of hands.

We have different ideas about what is called for
in every situation.
How do we know?
We do not know!
We make our best guess,
and trust our luck.

Sometimes, that amounts to pushing our luck.

We can also try being still and quiet
and trusting our intuition/instincts/heart,
and then trust our luck.

No matter what system we devise
for knowing what needs to be done
in a situation,
we are still going to have to trust our luck.

And that means trusting ourselves
to deal with the next situation arising from this one,
adjusting our approach
and coming up with a different response
to what needs to be done in that situation,
until, over time, we get better 
at reading situations,
and our odds improve,
but they never hit 100% throughout the day
every day.

But, the work remains the same:
Being right about what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
and doing it,
situation by situation, 
moment by moment,
day by day.

Trusting ourselves to get better at it
as we go.

The aim remains the same.
Our ability to hit the target
gets better (we hope) over time.

–0–

02

Pearson’s Glen 13 04/21/2018 Oil Paint Rendered — Colt Creek, Saluda, North Carolina
Everybody is trying to figure things out.
Trying to know what's what
and what to do about it
in light of what that will mean for them
and their life
and/or the lives of those around them.

The people who think they have it figured out
want to tell everyone else how to do it.

All of the so-called "self-help books,"
come down to listening to someone else
tell you how to live your life
because you can't be trusted to figure it out
for yourself--
though they all figured it out for themselves.

The genre should be called
"Let me help you live your life
because I know more than you do."
"Self-help" is quite the misnomer.
"Sit down, shut up, 
and let me tell you what to do" 
is more like it.

Throughout my time "in the pulpit,"
I told the congregations I worked with,
"Listen to me when I tell you,
'Don't Listen To Me! Listen to YOU!'"

We are all on our own here.
We have to learn to trust ourselves
to know what's what and what to do about it
in light of what we determine to be
our best interest
and/or the best interest of those around us.

Everybody has to figure that out for themselves.

It helps to have people to talk 
with about this
who can help us hear what we have to say.
Who can help us hear ourselves think.
Who can serve as sounding boards for us,
and assist us in finding our own way
along the way. 

–0–

03

Electric Peak 03 07/01/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
I don't care what your current situation is,
the way to meet it
is to sit down and be quiet.

Silence and stillness is the solution to every problem.

"Don't just do something!
Sit there!" 

Sitting in the silence
allows the rush of OHMYGOSH
to pour over you.

Sit it out,
feel overwhelmed.
Sit tight,
wait for the shift.
Be aware of your breathing
and watch as your panic/terror/angst
begins to subside.

"All bleeding stops eventually."
Emotionally and physically.

Breathe your way through
the initial shock
and watch how you begin
to collect your fragmented self--
how you begin to come together
before your eyes.

All you have to do is sit still
and watch.

Your mind is a creative force
for regaining your equilibrium,
balance and harmony,
finding your bearings
and putting things into
some semblance of order
in a "Okay, now what?"
kind of way.

It's the old refrain:
"It is all useless, hopeless,
meaningless, futile and absurd--
and that's where we come in!"
Our shtick as a species
is getting through all of the crap
that has been dumped on us as a species
and still be here,
doing our thing.

Our thing is dealing with crap.
It is what we do best.
Look at all we have been through!
We're still here.
Dealing with whatever it is here and now.

So we get our feet under us,
stand up,
look around,
and find what needs to be done next
and do it.

Just don't sabotage your efforts
with the old, "So what? What's the use?
What difference will it make?" whine.
So what if it makes no use, does no good,
has no impact, and nothing comes of it?
Just do what needs to be done next/now!
As though it matters!
The way it needs to be done!

And follow that with the next thing,
and the one after that...
Pretending to care.
Faking it so well that not even you
can tell whether you really care or not!

Looking for what needs to be done
and doing it.

A cup of cool water.
A kind word.
A wink and a smile...

Tending your mule and your cow
in ways that let them know
you are going to care for them
and the three of you together
are going to find a way
of making it together
all the rest of the way.

(Your mule and your cow
are your inner sources of 
nurturing strength and comfort--
your eternal companions on the 
circle of life,
which is a roulette wheel 
of fortune and pain.
Now we are up,
now we are down,
and we are always in the company
of our mule and our cow,
the three of us together on the path,
finding the way, always and forever.)  

–0–

04

Footbridge to Rough Ridge 10/16/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina
We all see differently,
think differently,
evaluate what's happening
and what needs to happen in response differently,
operate out of different motives,
different ideas of the good,
different ends and different means...

We are different within our own family.

When you bring in racial differences,
ethnic differences,
cultural differences,
economic differences,
sexual differences,
religious differences,
language differences...
it becomes amazing in short order
that we can get along at all.

My question is why can't we get along better?
Why do we hold the way we see things, etc.,
against each other?
Why do we hate people who don't 
do it like we think it ought to be done?
Why do we build walls?
And bombs?

What do we think?
That we can get rid of differences?
That we can kill enough of us
to have it all peaceful and tranquil at last?

Why can't we--
why don't we--
start treating everyone really well?
No matter how differently they are from us?

If someone says to us,
"It's people like you
who make people like me
hate people like you,"
why don't we reply:

"Why do you allow us to get 
under your skin like that?
Why don't you stand up to 
our overpowering influence?
Why don't you refuse to be bothered?
Why don't you exhibit your superiority
by treating us with kindness and generosity?
By showing us that you aren't going
to be pushed into hating us?
That you are bigger than that?
Not as stupid as that?
Starting right here, right now?"

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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