May 04, 2022


Mount Robson Aspen 09/27/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Mont Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia
Something knows where to put the tripod. 
Or did, back when I used a tripod.
Now, something knows where to stand,
how to compose the image,
when to take the picture.

I don't think about any of this.
I simply listen for "Yes/No,"
"Here/There," "Now/Later"...

It all begins with what catches my eye.
I have no say-so at all in the matter.
My eye is caught of its own volition.
My eye is not "mine" at all,
but belongs to something "other than me."

Something catches my eye,
and I'm onto it just like that.
Looking closer,
looking for a clean (no powerlines etc.) composition,
looking for the best lighting,
deciding on the best time of day,
whether it's a sun shot or a cloudy day shot...
I'm not "thinking" about any of this,
just knowing.

Knowing is automatic,
I know when the picture is "there,"
and when it is "not there."

Who is the "I" that knows?
We all have one.
Do we listen, is the question.
Do we know what we know, is the question.
Are we paying attention, is the question.

But, back to the matter at hand...

There has been a carryover of this
approach to photography
into my life.
Or, it was already my approach to life,
and it carried-over into photography.
I don't know which way it is.

I know there is something that knows,
and I generally wait to be prodded
into action--
or, I wait for action to be evoked
by the flow of circumstances
within the situation.

I don't think about it.
"Now? Now? Now?"
I just act and deal with the response
to my acting.
Sometimes, I'm right,
and sometimes, I'm wrong,
but I don't keep score,
or a running tab on how I'm doing.

I just keep showing up where 
I think I need to be
and participate in what's going on
in ways most appropriate to the occasion--
with nothing to gain and nothing to lose
and nothing on the line.

This approach keeps the noise level down
in my life,
the complexity level low,
and the drama level non-existent. 
All of which I find to be most enjoyable.
I have no trouble being still and quiet
in ways appropriate to the occasion.



Anhinga 09/25/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Sumter, South Carolina
People who are against abortion
and against gun control
give me the heaves. 
I'm throwing up all over the room
just thinking about it.
About the gross inconsistency
of their lives.
About their refusal to grow up
and bear the pain 
of their own incongruity,
and irresponsibility.

It's like this.
To be against abortion
and for guns
is the biggest non sequitur 
in the Big Book of Non Sequiturs.

It makes no sense.
It doesn't connect.
It is a blatant contradiction.

Guns are for killing. 
If you want to do target shooting,
a BB gun or a slingshot would do that.

Guns are for killing.
And the right to own/carry a gun
gives you the right 
to kill whomever you decide needs killing.

A gun gives you the right
to perform a retroactive abortion
on whomever you decide is a threat to society.

You might be against abortion,
but you are ready to make exceptions
if the situation calls for it.

You make the call.

That is all women are asking for. 
The right to make the call.



Sundown on Pamlico Sound 10/24/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Jesus lived a life 
that led to his death,
like John The Baptist before him,
and 10,000 martyrs after him.

Like Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Like Lao Tzu
in his self-appointed exile
and death "in the west."

Like all of the Native Americans
who declared, "It is a good day to die."
And died that day.

Like everyone who knew/knows what is important,
is right about it,
and lives a life commensurate/aligned/in accord with
what they know to be so.

Living like we mean it,
means living like that.
Means we are going to live 
in the service of doing what needs to be done,
and if we die, we die.

What are you serving with your life?
What do you know needs to be done?
If you have any hesitation here,
sit for a while
in the right kind of emptiness,
and silence,
and see what appears unbidden,
of its own accord,
spontaneously arising,
to stir you to action 
in its service,
no matter what.

If nothing happens,
you aren't ready for the adventure,
and have to do the preliminary work
of coming to terms with the ways
you deny/dismiss/discount/ignore
the significance of your original nature
and the virtues/daemon/genius/shtick/etc.
that came embedded in your DNA
from before you were born.

When you get to the bottom of you,
there you are,
and the life you live expresses/exhibits/incarnates/
reveals that
for all the world to see.

Which is all Jesus and the rest of them
ever did.

And all any of us need to do.

Just be natural,
as "one thus come."
And the path unfolds before us.
And if we die, we die. 



Badwater 03/21/2007 Oil Paint Renered — Death Valley National Park, California
We have this fantasy/illusion/delusion
that we would be better off
somewhere else. 

Call it "The Garden of Eden Syndrome."

It is endemic to the species.

And, it is the root of all of our troubles.

Trying to improve our lot
makes things worse
as it makes things better.

It is called,
"Shooting ourselves in the foot."
Sometimes, it is "in the head."

And there is no fix for it.
No solution.
It's a part of the way things are
that we have to take into account
and live around,
knowing that we do not know
where we are better off,
and noticing when we are pushing
for something different, 
maybe better,
and sit for a while
in the right kind of emptiness,
and silence
to see what arises "on its own"
and how that might address
our situation.

It is called, "Listening before we 
do anything potentially stupid."

"No pushing,
no striving,
no forcing,"
is a good rule of thumb.
But it is okay
to force a window open
if you are in a house on fire.

All rules are to be understood
in light of what is 
appropriate to the situation.
Anything might be called for
at any time.

Making the right kind of emptiness,
and silence
an essential practice
all along the way
(And all along the Way, as well).


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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