February 28, 2022


Beulah Land 02 Oil Paint Rendered
There is the authentic 
and the inauthentic, 
the genuine
and the sham, the fraudulent, the lie.

There is our original nature,
the face that was ours before we were born,
and there is the shoe that does not fit, 
the life we are told to live,
the person the culture requires us to be.

What we do to make a living
takes the life right out of us.

And it is our role,
our adventure,
to get the life back into us
by living the life that is our life to live,
and being the authentic, 
original human being
that we are born to be.

"We are the sculptor
and we are the stone"
(Alexis Carrel).

And it is time we get to work.

The life that remains to be lived
is what we have to work with,
and there is not a moment to spare.
Our work is to bring ourselves forth
into our life,
and there is no greater contradiction,
than this one.

We are born into a culture of expections
and restrictions,
limits and possibilities
and ways things have to be done--
never mind what needs to be done.

We step out of the womb into a room filled
with ideas of the right way to be.
We are handed a life from the start
that is somebody else's idea
of the life we are to live.

This is the "primary mask"
that will make the important people
in our life very happy with us.

But (And this is where it gets interesting),
we already have a mask,
that isn't a mask at all,
but a "face that was ours before we were born"
just dying for a chance to show its stuff
to the world.

This is the "antithetical mask"
that is against all the ideas the culture
will try to sell us throughout our life

(The terms "primary" and "antithetical"
originate with Y.B. Yeats),

And we have to decide from the start--
and again and again throughout our life--
whose side we are on.

And make the adjustments that are 
constantly required to accommodate ourselves
to what is expected of us by our external environment
and by our internal makeup.

This is Yin/Yang to the core,
and our place is to balance the opposites,
to harmonize the contraries,
and make peace with the polarities,
in light of William Blake's observation,
"Without contraries is no progression!"

Our original nature clashes with the circumstances
of time and place. 
We are born for this and we have to do that
to pay the bills.
What are we going to do?
We have to work it out.
This is hell and it is heaven.
It will kill us and it will restore us to life.
It is the thing that is ours to do,
that we must do while the light lasts.

Throw everything into finding the life that is
authentically, genuinely, your life to live,
and find ways to live it
in and around the things you do to pay the bills.

Negotiation and compromise, Kid.
Negotiation and compromise.

How you do it is up to you,
but do it, you must.
And the time to start is now.

What is yours to do?
What is your life to live?
How are you going to do it?

Those are your questions to answer
in the way you live your life.

I suggest taking all of your questions
with you into the right kind of emptiness,
the right kind of stillness
and the right kind of silence,
and trusting yourself
to what you find waiting for you there.

And let the adventure unfold before you
as you endeavor to live it day by day
through all the days of your life.



Canyonlands 06/20/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
"The adventure we get
is the adventure we are ready for"
(Joseph Campbell).

If we are not on an adventure
it is because we aren't ready for it,
and didn't have what it takes
every time the train left the station.

That doesn't mean we will never have an adventure--
our life is our adventure,
and it is waiting for us to live it
the way it needs to be lived.
Are you up for it is the question.

All of our adventures require us to 
have the courage to say yes
to what is being asked of us.

Looking back over my life,
I can spot the places
where I had the courage to do 
what was being asked of me,
and where I did not have the courage.

And that alone is the sole determinant 
bringing me to this place in this time.

The same thing can be said for you.

What we have the courage for 
at any point in our life
is the fulcrum levering our future
into place.

Do not get down on yourself 
for not having the courage to do
what comes along!
If you had thrown yourself into it
that would have been the tragedy,
or the comedy,
that knocked you out of being here, now.

We have to say yes to the life we are living
even if that means saying no 
to the opportunity that is before us 
in any moment.
Saying yes to our lack of courage
shuts out one future and opens up another.
And here we are.

Now what?

Now we do what we have the courage for
in this time and place,
and see where it goes.
Letting our courage be our guide
through all the days left for living.


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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