May 22, 2022


A Man and His Dog 09/24/2015 Oil Paint Rendered — Fish Creek Pond, Clear Lake, New York
Marianne Moore said, 
"The cure for loneliness is solitude."

The trick to managing our solitude 
is emptiness,
and silence.

The trick to emptiness 
is no expectations,
no agenda,
no opinions,
no engagement
with anything that comes up,
so that nothing sticks.
Everything just flows on by.

Speaking of "by," 
by and by, 
you won't notice anything.
It all fades into the background
and emptiness becomes
like the space between breaths,
relishing the stillness
and the silence.

That kind of emptiness
is the source of all it takes
to do what needs to be done
on the field of action,
starting with knowing 
what needs to be done.

You've heard of automatic writing,
perhaps you practice it.
It is the source of everything I write,
and all the photos I take.
With enough practice
(and the practice consists of
getting out of the way--
no expectations, agenda, opinions)
we live automatically,
doing what needs to be done
with sincerity and integrity,
by knowing what to do when,
where, why and how,
without thinking about it,
certainly without scheming,
planning, arraigning, conniving, etc.

Automatic living is straight
from the heart,
moment to moment
in each situation as it arises,
doing whatever needs to be done,
no matter what,
understanding that principles fly
in the face of necessity,
and things can be necessary
that have to be made up on the go,
and we have to do what is called for
without flinching, 
or looking back.

Not looking back is the hardest part.
Be empty of it
so that nothing sticks,
and it just flows on by,
with us concentrating on this here/now
and what needs to be done there.



Around Price Lake 10/17/2016 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
There is a town in Louisiana named Delhi.
And, there is a town in India named Delhi.
In Louisiana, it is pronounced Del-HI.
In India, it is pronounced DelE.
How you pronounce Delhi depends on where you are.
And you don't think about it
unless you move around,
or talk to people who have moved around, 
at least in their minds.
Who have been somewhere else in their life.

I lived 22 years without ever encountering 
the word "cognac."
I didn't move around much,
or associate with the right people.
Every one of us is limited
by the places we have been
and the people we have associated with.

Reading books can help,
but it won't tell you how to pronounce
Delhi or cognac.
We have to live a long time
and move around a lot
to know anything we don't already know.

Knowing things we don't already know
is essential knowing.

I spent 40.5 years as a minister
in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
In that time I served 5 churches
in three southern states,
and all of those churches 
hired me to talk to them about God
and their relationship with God.
They didn't want me telling them anything
they hadn't already heard.

Make sense of that if you can.

I did not give into their orthodoxy,
and banged away at it,
saying things they couldn't make sense of
because it didn't connect in any way
with what they expected to hear.

They didn't run me out of town
because they liked me,
and you can tolerate a lot
about someone you like,
but they dismissed me
with "that's just the way he is,"
like they did with their alcoholic uncle,
and their multi-married sister-in-law.

So, my time spent saying what
they did not expect to hear
grew me up
whether it impacted them or not.
Opened "doorways of perception"
for me, whether it did for them or not.
And I became who I am 
by being who I was.
While they remained pretty much
who they always were.

Things remaining pretty much 
what they always have been
is just how it is,
across the country,
around the world.

Don't let it get you down.
You aren't going to change the world.
But you can be different over time yourself.
Work on that.
Be different over time.
See how different you can be
from one year to the next.

Move around.
At least in your mind.
Associate with people who do.
Ask a lot of questions--
ask all those that beg to be asked!
Let your curiosity guide you
into worlds beyond your world.

Don't think anything that has always been thought.
Or, do anything that has always been done.


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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