January 02, 2022


Great Blue Heron 01 08/24/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — The Bog Garden, Greensboro, North Carolina
Mind how you go.
Know what you know.
Sounds easy enough.
Nothing is more difficult.
Except for freedom of choice
and free will.

How many of us chose to be where we are?
Yet, we got here by freely choosing
the choices that brought us here.


None of us was free to choose our choices.

We say we are free to will what we want.


We are not free to will our wants.

We want what we want.
We don't choose what we want.
We don't know what to want.
And when we know what
we ought to want,
we don't want it.

My father died of emphysema
on a ventilator
wanting a cigarette.
Free as a bird.

Birds migrate when it is time to migrate.
They have no choice in the matter.
Birds aren't any freer 
than the rest of us. 
Flitting around in our life,
talking about "our freedom"
to do as we please,
bound to what pleases us,
incapable of being pleased
by anything else.

Free as a bird.

Free as a termite.

Free as the wind.
Bound as it is by the heat
generated by the ocean,
forced to blow from west to east
whether it wants to or not.
Unable to quit if it tried.
No problem--it can't try.

Freedom isn't free.
Nothing is.

Minding how we go,
knowing what we know,
is as free as it gets.
And who does it?
I can't remember 
where I put the keys.
I cannot know what I know.

I think I am minding how I go,
and trip on the door threshold.

I am here, now,
as the result of forces
quite beyond me.
The same as a pin ball
on its course through the bumpers
and gobble holes.
Minding how it goes.
Knowing what it knows.

Where do our motives come from?
What guides our boat
on its path through the sea?
What determines what we say yes to,
an no to?
What positions us to think the way we think,
and see how we see?
What makes good good,
and bad bad
in our mind?
What changes our mind
about good and bad?
And everything else?

Where do our tastes and interests
come from?
Why do they leave when they go?

Who is right?
Who is wrong?
How do we know?

So, sit down and shut up about it.
Be empty, still and silent.
Find what you believe in.
Know what you can trust.
To what do you owe fealty?
What deserves your liege loyalty
and your filial devotion?
Your unwavering commitment
and sworn duty?

What is the adamantine rock
that grounds you
and nothing can knock you off of?

What do you turn to
when you have nowhere to turn?

What is the unwavering truth
of who you are?
Your source and your goal?

Carl Jung said,
"We are who we have always been,
and who we will be."

Who is that for you?

Do not die without knowing!
And live to be that 
in each situation as it arises
for as long as life shall last!

Whether you want to or not.



Lake Haigler Trail 08 11/14/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
What do you need?
To do what needs to be done?
To do what needs you to do it?

What do you need
to be who you are,
where you are,
when you are,
how you are?

What do you need
to be true to yourself,
to your original nature, 
to the heart and soul
of who you are,
within the circumstances
of your life
in each situation as it arises,
for the good of the whole
insofar as that can be done?

What do you need?



December Woods 14 12/02/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
We ride it out.
We carry on.
By rising to meet the moment
and doing what is called for
in each situation as it arises
throughout the day
every day.

Guided by our sense of the good
and our loyalty
to our deepest truth
and our original nature
in conjunction with the context
and circumstances of our life--
while bearing the pain
of the paradoxes at the heart
of being human,
seeing what we look at,
knowing what we know.

Life is not for sissies,
and we are damned if we do,
and damned if we don't
far too often
to feel good about what is done,
but opting for diversion,
and denial
in the form of entertaining pastimes
and trivial pursuits
is nothing more 
than letting us off the hook.
Which is what we do best,
along with kidding ourselves,
and telling ourselves what we want to hear,
and shooting ourselves in the foot.

Jesus died in the service of his idea
of the good,
which was in direct opposition to
and defiance of,
the idea of the good 
in the mind
 of the authorities of his day.

Jesus was a pacifist revolutionary,
like John the Baptist before him,
and Martin Luther King, Jr. after him,
and came to an end
commensurate with the ends
of pacifist revolutionaries
in all times and places.

What idea of the good
guides our boat on its path through the sea?

How good is the good we call good?

Being right about the goodness
of the good we call good
is all it takes to live the life
that needs us to live it
in each situation as it arises
all our life long
no matter what,
regardless of the end waiting for us.

Regardless of the end waiting for us.


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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