December 14, 2021

01

Beaufort Swing 11/12/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Harbor River Marsh, Beaufort South Carolina
What keeps us going?
The next thing!
We have no idea what it will be,
or how we will respond to it.
The possibility of new and innovative
is never farther than the next thing away.

The next thing stands before us
as the Cyclops stood before Ulysses.
Joseph Campbell said,
"It took the Cyclops
to bring out the hero in Ulysses."
The next thing does that for us.

We have to call upon the Hero within
to stand up and meet 
the next thing,
and do with it what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
anyway, nevertheless, even so,
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
no matter how often we may have done it before.

The Next Thing
is the Sisyphean task
awaiting us all--
calling out the hero in us all--
waiting for us to gather ourselves
and do it again,
for no other reason 
than because it needs to be done.

As with everything,
the right attitude is everything.
By standing up and doing the next thing
that needs to be done (again),
we are molding the right attitude
and shaping the right way of living
by bringing our original nature
to bear upon the time and place of our living,
time after time,
and that alone is bringing
something new to life moment-to-moment,
after all, where is that being done anywhere?

Who do we know who is doing the next thing
in the right way?
In doing it ourselves,
we bring novelty to bear upon the same old same old
in the way we greet the day,
and that creates the possibility
of seeing something new,
of doing something different,
of bringing to life something
that would not be there without us,
of changing the world--our world, at least--
of changing ourselves,
a little at a time.

Improving our attitude is the surest way I know
of improving the world.
And the next thing is always there
to assist us in doing that.

The Hero's Task is how we meet the day,
everyday.

–0–

02

Tupper Lake 04 09/22/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Adirondack Park, Tupper Lake, New York
Jesus was an original human being.
The list is long.
But not long enough.
The other list is longer
to the power of infinity.
Cows following cows
from the barn to the pasture
and back to the barn.

The reason unvaccinated people
are unvaccinated is their social circle.
The people they hang out with.
That is the reason 
things are as they are worldwide.

If you want your life to be different
than it is,
hang out with different people.

If you want your life to be 
what it is capable of being,
hang out with fewer people.
Stop watching TV.
Get off of social media.
Spend time in the natural world.
Visit art museums.
Listen to a wide variety of music.

Expand your interests.
Empty yourself of judgment,
agendas,
opinions,
desires,
fear,
duty,
anger,
and everything
that prevents you 
from experiencing the moment
of your living.

Sit in the stillness and the silence.
Watching the mud settle,
watching the water clear.
Seeing what you look at.
Knowing what's what
and what is called for
in response to it.

Do what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
on your own authority,
with the gifts/genius/daemon/shtick/interests/etc.
that come with you from the womb,
for the joy of doing it,
and the satisfaction of having done it,
in each situation as it arises,
all your life long.

Be the original person you are created to be.
Day in and day out 
for the rest of your life.

Switch lists.

That is your mission
if you choose to accept it.
Beginning here.
Now.

–0–

03

Blue Ridge Fall 01 10/11/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Jesus came tossing out theology and tradition.
His, "You have heard it said,
but I say unto you..."
turned the Judaism of his day
into an enemy determined to see him dead,
declaring, "It is better that one man die,
than that the entire nation be destroyed!"

The entrenched way of seeing and doing things
never goes quietly into the night,
and Jesus was a threat to all
that was seen and done.

From turning over the tables 
of money-changers at the Temple,
to harvesting wheat and eating it,
and healing on the sabbath,
Jesus was against the way religion
was done in his day.

And he paid for his defiance 
with his life.

And within about 300 years of his death,
the Christian Church was burning heretics
at the stake
for doing the same thing Jesus did
to stir the wrath of the Pharisees and Sadducees
of his day. 

Religion does not lend itself to reformation, 
and has a hard time changing its mind 
about anything.

Changing our mind is the key to success
on all levels,
and the essential characteristic
in finding our way to The Way.

We get there one mistake at a time,
one wrong turn at a time,
one dead end at a time.
The right kind of attitude
about all of our failures
is the path to The Path.

The trick to arrival is to keep on walking.

Our investment has to be in the search,
and not in making The Find.
Thinking we have found the answer
for everyone
is a clear indication 
that we don't know what we are doing.

The right kind of emptiness,
the right kind of stillness,
the right kind of silence
will lead to the right kind of clarity
more surely than anybody's Book of Doctrine.

When in doubt, be quiet,
and see what stirs to life
in the gap between thoughts.

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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