December 21, 2021


Kisatchie Pines 02 03/18/2015 — Kisatchie National Forest, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
We can start anywhere.
That's the coolest thing
about finding our way.
It always begins right here, 
right now,
where we are.
And with letting that be that.

Too much of the time
we want to be anywhere but 
where we are.
Where we are is what brought us
to wanting to be anywhere but here.

Had to get here to want 
to be somewhere else.
Start here.

And what we start with
is asking all of the questions
that beg to be asked
by being here.

Make a list.
I'm serious.
Write them down.
And write down all of the questions
that are generated 
by asking the questions.

Do not pause to answer any of them,
and do not think any question
is an answer in itself--
every question is a springboard
into other questions.

Our place is to ask al of the questions!
By writing them down.

Buy a spiral-bound notebook.
Or start a file on your computer,
or whatever your favorite way to write is.
And start writing your questions.

All good questions lead to more questions.
Ask them all.
See where they lead.
You are on your way!
Following your questions
is the best way to get anywhere,
especially away from here, now.

Do not assume you know anything.
Do not take anything for granted.
Ask questions about everything
you think you know!

Heidi-ho! Off we go!



Black Bayou 17/18 Panorama 11/02/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe, Louisiana
Tradition and theology
are cop-outs.
When we turn to tradition and theology,
we are letting someone else
do our thinking for us,
do our deciding for us.

May as well chug whiskey 
straight from the bottle.
We have checked out of our own life,
and turned things over to someone else,
to something else.
Because we are tired of doing our life
on our own.
And do not want the responsibility
any longer.

You can take your Hero's Journey 
and shove it anywhere you like.
We've had it.
Worn out with it.
Through with it.

Bring on tradition,
and/or whiskey!
We are going to stop living
here and now!

That's what tradition, theology
and whiskey are good for.
Dying long before we are dead.
Because we just don't have 
the heart for it.
For one more day of thinking 
for ourselves,
making our own decisions,
wondering where to go from here.

It is called being at the end of our rope.
That is a great place to be.
We have to get there
before we can change our mind
about what is important--
thinking we know what is important
is what gets us there,
to the end of our rope, I mean.

And, once we get there,
we think checking out is 
the most important thing.
But, at the end of our rope,
we have proved to ourselves
that we cannot be trusted
to know what is important,
particularly what is most important,
so we have no business opting out,
and going with tradition, theology and/or whiskey.

Our place is simply to hang on
to the end of our rope
and see what happens,
dangling there, waiting.

Now, my formula for waiting,
at the end of our rope,
or anywhere else,
is to wait in the right kind of way,
which means emptying ourselves 
of everything.

Particularly moods.
No moods while you wait.
And thinking.
No thinking while you wait.
And emotions.
No emotions while you wait.
Clean all of it out.
All your wants/wishes/fear/desire/
certainties and convictions...
All of the 10,000 things
that crowd in there
in your poor little over-loaded,
over-crowded, mind.
Open the door and sweep it all out.

Wait as empty as the space between breaths.
Exhale and pause,
start counting slowly
until you absolutely must inhale,
and when you inhale,
inhale slowly, extending your stomach
away from your spine,
filling your lungs all the way to the bottom.
And exhale slowly, sucking your stomach in
toward your spine,
so that all the air is expelled.
And pause there, again,
counting again,
until you have to inhale.

Do that for five rounds of inhaling and exhaling.

Now, think about the time between breaths.
That is how empty you need to be.
As empty as the space between breaths.

Wait in the emptiness,
just breathing, normally now,
and pausing between breaths
for a comfortable count between five and ten,
inhaling, exhaling, waiting,
in the stillness as still as the surface of a pond,
allowing you to see to the bottom.
Notice what is on the bottom.
In the silence as quiet as the far side of the moon.

Wait in the emptiness,
in the stillness,
in the silence,
for something to stir,
on its own,
of its own volition,
out of nowhere.

Welcome it as your lodestar,
your talisman,
your symbol,
your guide.
And carry it with you
as you reenter your life,
no longer quite at the end of your rope,
and now with a companion of your own devising
that you had nothing to do with constructing.

Tradition did not give it to you.
Theology did not give it to you.
Whiskey did not give it to you.

You are quite capable of having what you need,
to find what you need,
to guide you where you need to be.

With your new companion as your guide,
comfort, pal and friend,
explore what it represents,
suggests, brings to mind, discloses, reveals,
has to say...
And see where it goes.



Watkins Glen 09 09/20/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Watkins Glen State Park, New York
The Big Three Barriers
to the Spiritual/Hero's Journey
according to Buddhism 
are Fear, Desire and Duty.

To which I will add:
Anger, Hatred, Depression, Jealousy,
Dependency, Laziness, and Lack of Curiosity.

You are encouraged to add to the list
out of your own experience.

The Things That Keep Us From Doing
The Things That Need To Be Done List.

Doing the things that need to be done,
the way they need to be done,
when they need to be done,
where they need to be done,
because they need to be done,
using the resources of our Original Nature
and the context of the circumstances at hand--
for the joy of doing them
and the satisfaction of having done them--
in each situation as it arises,
all our life long,
is all the Spiritual/Hero's Journey
comes down to.

That is all that is asked of us.

This puts us in right relationship
with our life,
with ourselves,
and with one another.

And the only things that stand in our way
are the things on The List.
Get them out of the way,
and there is nothing but 
"fair wind and following seas"
all our life long.

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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