May 11, 2022


Canoes 09/24/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
This present moment's relationship
with the entirety of my life 
is seemingly inconsequential 
in its ordinariness,
but the theme of "ordinary"
played out in a string of such moments
begins to weigh-in on the entirety of my life,
and becomes quiet influential over time.

Enough "ordinary days" become
a quite "ordinary life."
And, it turns out, that our life
is not much different 
than the ordinariness of our individual days permit.

Any one day, then,
becomes a predictor of what the life as a whole 
will look like.
And a collection of those days
is an even better predictor of that life.

This is reflected in Carl Jung's observation,
"We are who we always have been,
and who we will be."

And is expressed in my sardonic inquiry,
"How different can we be?"

Our full potential for different-ness
is expressed/experienced
by our affinity for emptiness,
and self-reflection.

The realization of who we are
is the best lever for changing who we are.
And that realization is the aim of self-reflection.

The more self-aware we are,
the more likely we are to align ourselves with
behavior that is a reflection 
of the ideal we embrace
for how we should go about our life.

The more often we catch ourselves 
acting out of accord with that ideal,
the better our chances of changing our behavor
to reflect the ideal.

Emptiness, stillness and silence
provide a wonderful atmosphere
for exploring last night's dreams,
reflecting on recent events
and our relationships with others,
in order to examine our behavior
and get to the bottom of why we did what we did.

The result of a lifetime of such revere
is a life that is as different 
as it is possible for us to be.
And it is not likely 
that we will be un-recognizably different,
but will be, after all that soul searching,
"just like ourselves."

But the soul searching will not have been wasted,
because knowing and being who we are,
in being "just like ourselves,"
is an important element in being able to
be who we are
in each situation as it arises
in service to the good of the situation
as a whole.



Old Stone Bridge 02 10/08/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina
Ideally, we live our life
in service to who we are
(Our original nature),
with the virtues
that are ours to use,
in doing what is ours to do
(The activities that bring us
and our virtues together)
and what needs to be done
in the here/now
of each situation as it arises
all our life long.

How close are you coming with that?
Are you clear about your original nature?
Are you clear about what your virtues are
that you are to serve and share?
Are you clear about the activities
that bring you forth 
as the unique individual you are
within the circumstances of your life?
Are you clear about what needs to be done,
when, where and how to do it 
the way it needs to be done?

Are you living to incarnate yourself,
your nature and your virtues,
within "the flow of circumstances"
that constitute your life?

If not, what is keeping that from happening?

How closely can you approximate it
anyway, nevertheless, even so?


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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