July 28, 2021


Lake Louise Canoeists 09/30/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
It takes such silence--
such being quiet
and noticing what is in the quiet 
with us.

What is right now.
Right here. 

It takes such narrowing down.
Leaving the drama at the door.
The constantly looping tape
of what happened when to whom,
and whose fault it is,
and noise, noise, noise...

Remove the noise from our life
and there is nothing there.

We feed on noise.
Noise keeps us from knowing
how it is with us--
and there is anguish there,
and agony,
and fear...

So bring on the drama!
Bring on the noise!

We don't have what it takes
to do what it takes
to just be here, now.

Nobody is just here, now.
Everybody is somewhere else,
on their way to somewhere else.
Thinking about something else.

We have to be here, now.
Thinking about--attending--
what is with us here, now.
Knowing what needs to happen here, now.
And doing what we can 
with the gifts/shtick/specialties/abilities/etc.
that are ours to serve and to share,
to do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
here and now.

That is the tape we need to loop
repeatedly forever.
"What needs to be done here, now?"

We do not need to escape the present.
We need to be present in the present,
doing what needs to be done, here, now.

Simple as that.



Cades Cove Panorama 10 02/28/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee
My idea of/for The Great Society
isn't all that great as societies go.

There would be no disparity,
for one thing.
No polarity.
The upper echelon
would interact regularly
with the lower castes,
and everybody would be living
out of the center of who they are,
around the eternally valid watchwords:
"Know Thyself!"
"To Thine Own Self Be True!"
"Do Unto Others 
As You Would Have Them
Do Unto You!"

Everyone would be looking
to see what they look at--
seeing what needs to be seen,
hearing what needs to be heard,
knowing what needs to be known,
doing what needs to be done--
in each situation as it arises.

No one would be out for themselves
at the expense of everyone else.

The guiding lights would be
"Liberty And Justice For All."
"Balance And Harmony."
"Spirit, Energy, Vitality."
"Sincerity, Spontaneity, Virtue."

And to maintain their awareness
of their responsibility
for creating and serving the atmosphere
required for life to be properly lived
in the society,
each person would be mindfully aware of
their swallowing and breathing,
in that swallowing and breathing
are things all sentient beings have in common.

Difficulty in swallowing and/or breathing
would be the cue to move
back toward the center,
aligning themselves with the way
of the society,
and being true to themselves
in relationship with all others,
working out the conflicts/contradictions
with grace and compassion,
awareness and dedication.

No one would be too poor,
and no one would be too wealthy,
and all would live together
in light of,
and service to,
the true good of the whole.

Needless to say,
this would wreck the hell
out of our current system
of life together,
and transform how things are done
throughout the world.

But, the swallowing/breathing trick alone
would do away with the need for armament



Black Bayou 02 11/02/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe, Louisiana
What kept Sisyphus going?
The same thing that kept Jesus
and the Buddha going.
The same thing that keeps me and you going.
What else could it be?

We all get the same thing
out of doing what we are doing.
The pay-off is the same.

A friend asked me why I did what I did
(I was a minister in the PCUSA for 40.5 years).
I said, "I get paid for it."
She said, "They couldn't pay me enough to do it."
I said, "They couldn't pay me enough to do what you do"
(She was a therapist).
We had a good laugh,
and got back to work.

It isn't the pay!
It isn't the results!
It isn't the glory!
It is the pure joy of doing what we do,
and the satisfaction of having done it!

If there is neither joy nor satisfaction
in what you are doing,
you need to shift your perspective
about what you are doing,
or start doing something else.

I recommend the perspective shift.
A perspective shift is possible
when what you are doing uses 
the gifts/specialties/shtick/abilities/daemon/virtues
you were born with
and you can believe that what you are doing
and the way you are doing it
(You may have to change the way you are doing it)
needs to be done. 

Sisyphus had to do what he did,
so he did it as though it were his idea!
He did it as though he loved it
with all his heart.
He did it as though he were acting the part
in a movie about him,
and he was playing his role
as though an Academy Award 
were on the line.

He played his part so well
even he couldn't tell his feelings for it
were genuine/authentic or just very well pretended.

Was his joy fake?
Was his satisfaction false?
What difference would it make to know for sure?
The impact upon Sisyphus was the same
as it would have been if it were real,
so it may as well have been real.

That's how Jesus did what he did.
It's how the Buddha did what he did.
It's how I'm doing what I'm doing.
How about you?

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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