May 08, 2021

01

Virginia Hay Field 05/29/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Hwy 58, Floyd, Virginia
We all are carrying a load.
Complexity, conflict and contradiction
have their way with us.
Balance and harmony are rarely present for long.
Making peace with our life 
was out of the question years ago,
and we have settled for
making it through another day,
one day at a time.

Finding our life and living it
doesn't make it into our top 100
things to think about,
and going through the motions
is the best we can manage most days.

It is the same old same old
everywhere we look,
and all we look for
is something to take our minds
off the business of being alive.

We turn things around
by being quiet for five minutes
five times a day. 

Silence is the sure cure
for what ails us,
but first the pain and anguish,
sorrow and sadness.

We meet it all in the silence,
waiting for us to reconcile 
ourselves with everything that has been.

We don't live this long
without stacking up grief
beyond measure in the quiet darkness
of memory and remorse.
And we live to forget 
what can't be forgotten.
And won't go away.

Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends
gathering it all into our awareness
without addressing everything at once,
in a "This, too. This, too." kind of way. 

Acknowledge it as it comes up,
and welcome it to its rightful place in your life.
Promise it its time with you in due course,
and return to the silence
of here and now,
and what now,
and what next.

Learning to be still and quiet
with the all-ness of our experience
is the turning point 
from the past as it has always been,
to the future as it might yet be.

We are the fulcrum between old and new.
Being quiet and open,
present and receptive,
is the key to the door to our life
as it still might be.

"Here I am.
I'm sorry to be late.
Let's see what we can do,
even now, even so,"
quiets the accusers,
the remember-ers,
the grudge-bearers,
the critics,
and all those who want their time with you,
and puts you all in the present
with "Here we are, now what?"
to deal with at last.

All that has been has its rightful
and necessary place
in the work to create what can be.
Nothing is to be dismissed, ignored, forgotten.
Everything is of value 
in doing what needs to be done.

We have been nurturing wisdom into being
all this time,
and now for its realization and application
in the service of what lies ahead--
to be revealed and revered in the silence
of wonder and amazement,
moment by moment,
day by day
the rest of the way.

Sit still, be quiet
for five minutes,
five times a day.

May 07, 2021

01

James River 03 10/29/2019 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, James River Visitor Center, Monroe, Virginia
We have to meet the silence
empty and open,
still and receptive.

No fear.
No desires.
No anger.
No hatred.
No judgment.
No opinion.

We bring stillness and emptiness,
openness and receptivity
to the silence,
and wait,
watching,
for what emerges,
occurs to us,
arises,
appears,
beckons,
calls,
urging us to action
without
fear,
desire,
anger,
hatred,
judgment,
opinion.

Just seeing.
Just hearing.
Just knowing.
Just understanding.
Just doing.
Just being.
Just becoming.

What needs to happen.
What needs to be done.
When it needs to be done.
How it needs to be done.
Where it needs to be done.
Because it needs to be done.

Out of our true nature.
Out of our original nature.

With the gifts,
daemon (sounds like "diamond"),
virtues,
spirit,
energy,
vitality,
characteristics,
qualities,
ways of being and doing,
seeing and saying,
that came with us from the womb.

Moment by moment,
in each situation as it arises.

This is our dharma-duty
that we are born to serve
and to do
out of our true nature,
our original nature,
within the context and circumstances
of our life,
all our life long.

We never quit being
who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
for the sake of
the true good of the whole,
in filial service
and liege loyalty and devotion
to that which needs us to be
who we are,
where we are,
when we are,
for the sake of 
the true good of the whole.

If you do not know 
what I am talking about,
sit still and quiet
and allow the silence
to show you
what I mean.

–0–

02

Field Road 05 11/14/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Fulfilling our destiny/dharma 
is doing what needs to be done--
what needs us to do it--
what we need to do
in the time and place of our living. 

We may well want to do it,
and we may be compelled to do it,
past all wanting, desiring, craving.
Our destiny/dharma is 
that which we have to do
or to live forever having not done it, 
having failed to respond
when the time for acting was upon us,
or having responded with a steadfast refusal
to do what we knew was needed,
but did not have the heart for,
or the interest in.

Putting ourselves in the service
of our destiny/dharma
and serving it
with all our heart,
and soul,
and mind,
and strength 
is finding our life
and living it.

Through all situations
and circumstances,
no matter what.

The trick is to remember
what we are doing
and refuse to let anything 
keep us from doing it.

It will seem to be useless,
pointless, meaningless, hopeless
futile and absurd. 
Keep going.
Stay with it.
Believe steadfastly
that it matters how we live,
and live as though it does--
anyway,
nevertheless,
even so!

If we are going to ever
take anything on faith,
let it be this,
and live like it matters
to our very last breath!

May 06, 2021

01

Highway 163 from Mexican Hat to Monument Valley “The Forest Gump Highway” — 09/26/2007, Oil Paint Rendered, Utah
We all crave the freedom
to do and to be
with no clear notion regarding
doing what, being what.

It is as though we are being pushed
to do something, to be somehow,
without knowing what or how.

What to do?
How to be?
The possibilities are endless.
Where do we begin?
Not this!
Not that!
Is all we know.

Well. It's a start.
Start there.
Start with that.
And go slowly.

What is it about this
that is not?
What is it about that?

Become interested in all 
of the nots
that led to this not,
and to that one.

What do they have in common?
What is the uniting element
in all of our nots?
What are we moving away from?
Avoiding?

What do we seem to be moving toward?
What attracts us?
Fascinates us?
Where are we most calm,
most balanced
in most harmony with our life?
Doing what? Being how?

Pick up the trail...
Away from this,
toward that...

What is guiding our boat
on its path through the sea?
Seeking what?
Escaping what?

Explore these things 
in The Silence.
Sit before them there.
Waiting, watching
for what emerges,
arises,
appears,
occurs to us
out of nowhere,
unsought,
unbidden,
of its own accord,
to call us,
compel us,
to action
in its service.

Go there.
Do that.
Be one with what
calls/compels you
into its service
throughout the time
left for living--
without having to know why,
or for what.

–0–

02

Bodie Island Lighthouse 03 11/03/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
I am fascinated by,
wonder-struck by,
the complexity of life,
of our lives,
of existence--
which is to say,
by The Mystery
of life and being.

What holds it together?
What threatens to tear it apart?
What keeps it going?
What keeps us going?
In the service of what do we live?
How does that work
for the continuation
of the whole thing--
without our giving any thought
to the whole thing at all?

No matter what we do,
it keeps going!
It tucks whatever we do
right into the process
as though that was the very thing
it needed from us all along.

And, if we cooperate,
it seems to like that just fine,
and we seem to have a better time of it,
as well.

What is "it"?
"It" is The Mystery
at the heart of life and being.
What's its game?
Its point?
Its purpose?

All of our questions are invalid.
All of our suppositions are paintings
on a prehistoric rock wall.
Whatever we tell ourselves
is just what we have to say
to give us some sense of meaning
and foundation,
direction and purpose.

We get the same outcome
by sitting still,
being quiet.
Or by exploring our nighttime dreams
and our daytime flights of fantasy.

Everything is a vehicle of projection,
an inkblot,
a mirror,
showing us who we are,
saying nothing about what it is.

We have nothing to say about it.
Our place is to be quiet,
and watch,
and listen.
And do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises,
to the best of our ability,
and let that be that--
trusting ourselves completely
to what, we do not know.

–0–

03

Field Road 08 11/14/2014, Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Our place is to do that
which needs us to do it.

Joseph Campbell said that it comes down to
doing what we conceive to be our duty,
seeing what is called for in a situation
and doing it out of our original nature,
"without," he says, "either desire or fear
for the fruits of the outcome,
without desire or fear for the fruits
either for yourself or for others,
but simply proceeding in the order of life."

He said,"There is a cosmic rhythm,
a cosmic order,
and that order is intrinsic to our nature,
so the real goal of life is to know
how to function in unison with this order."

This is called "living in accord with the Tao"
by the old Taoists
(and by the young ones as well).

"So that," as Campbell said, "our spontaneity
is the spontaneity of nature itself."

It is living in tune with the moment
in such a way as to read the situation
as it is unfolding before us
and around us
so that we know what is needed
and respond out of our own true nature,
with the virtues, or facilities, 
that came with us from the womb,
spontaneously meeting the need 
in ways that are uniquely appropriate 
to the occasion--
the right deed done
at the right time,
in the right way.

The old Christians would say,
"To live like this
is to be in the center of God's will."
And the old Taoists would smile and say,
"Amen."
 

May 05, 2021

01

Birch Log 10/21/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine
Between 200 and 500 CE,
the person or persons responsible
for the Taoist treatise "Cultivating Stillness,"
wrote:
"Abide in stillness, 
and you will enter the true way,
this is called 'receiving the Tao.'"

About the time the Book of Job
was being written, 
Prometheus Bound was also being written.
Two works dealing with two men's response
to an absurd deity in control of their life,
with two completely different outcomes.

2,000 years later, nothing has changed.

The Truth remains the Truth.
To be seen or not seen by those
who live under the same sun
that has burned above all of the ages
to live upon the earth.

The moral of the Garden of Eden
remains the same over time:
"You are going to let your personal desire
for gain and pleasure
ruin your chances at a life
that is truly good."

Or, as it is sometimes stated:
"The Best is the enemy of the Good."

What is good?
Who is to say?
I am to say for me,
you are to say for you.
Who knows what they are doing?
Time will tell.

This is the theme that plays itself out
in the lives of all 
between their birth and death.
How good is the good we call good?
Time will tell.

What leads us to declare
that one thing is better than another?
To say that one thing is good
and the rest is not?

We are all in Eden.
What shall we say?
How shall we know?

"Abide in stillness
and you will enter the true way,
this is called, 'receiving the Tao.'"  

How many have benefited 
from these words
over 3,000 years?

Only those who know what they mean
can understand what they are saying.
How do those who know, know?

What separates Prometheus from Job?

What guides our boat
on its path through the sea?

How do we know what to do when?

"Abide in stillness..." 

–0–

02

Dogwood View 04 04/15/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Balance and harmony,
spirit, energy and vitality,
are worthy guides,
indicating when we are on the beam
and when we are off it.

Ignoring,
dismissing,
overriding
the guides 
has us where we are,
individually and collectively.

We have left the path,
lost the way,
and wander in a wasteland
of our own making,
looking for smooth and easy,
hoping for the best,
dreaming of deliverance
and happiness ever after
at a price we can afford.

The price is the sticky part.

The price we have in mind
is wishing it to be so
without doing anything
to make it so.

We don't want to do anything.
We just want to be happy.
We just want to have our way.
What's wrong with that?
Why can't we just have our way?

Why can't we do what we want,
when we want,
the way we want,
for as long as we want,
and then do something else we want?

That's all we have ever wanted!
Why is that not the way things are?

The price of having what we want
is relinquishing the central place
of having what we want in our life.

Simply put,
the cost of being fully alive
is growing up,
seeing what's what
and doing what needs to be done about it,
in each moment
of every situation as it arises.

Our refusal to do that
is what kicked us off the beam
(And out of the Garden of Eden)
to begin with.

And, here we are,
in the wasteland of our discontent,
still having to grow up.

That is all that is ever in our way.

–0–

03

Howard Street 10/27/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Village of Ocracoke, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Distance from complexity and conflict,
contradiction and forced choices,
anxiety, fear, uncertainty, insecurity, instability,
anger, resentment, grief, sorrow, mourning...
is balance and harmony,
silence and stillness
where the mud can settle
and the water can be clear.

We need places like that in our life.
Sanctuaries,
retreats,
oases 
from a torn and broken world.

A photograph might be
such a doorway,
a portkey,
from there to there.

An art museum.
A library.
A city park.
A country meadow.

The world is filled
with such healing places.
Balm for our wounds,
consolation,
comfort,
for our souls.

It is wrong to not seek them out
and soak up
what they have to offer.
A break from the press of our days,
a relief from the weight of life,
a place to,
in the words of Robert Ruark,
"recover from the past
and store up for the future."

May 04, 2021

01

Darwin Falls 04/02/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Death Valley National Park, California
Our practice comes down to
the way we consciously
follow a particular program
for our life.

The elements of that program
are unique to each individual,
but include a basic set of:

Grounding in the silence.

Conscious development
and readjustment
of our relationship 
with ourselves,
one another
and the invisible world.

Distancing ourselves from
distractions such as 
noise,
desire/craving/wanting,
judgment/opinion,
fear/resentment/anger/hatred,
guilt/shame/humiliation/embarrassment.

Following the Alchemical observation,
"One book opens another,"
in reading the works of those
who have sought out what works
through the ages,
and making our own contribution
to their effort
through reflection on their experience
and ours,
without taking anyone else's word for anything.

Looking for things that ring true,
that resonate with something within,
that call us to look closer,
investigate further,
know more.

Listening to our heart,
our body,
our nighttime dreams,
and our daily life.

Knowing when someone 
is pushing their way 
into our life
in a way that diminishes
our capacity and responsibility for
thinking our own thoughts,
coming to our own conclusions
and deciding for ourselves 
whom to listen to
and what to do--
and drawing the necessary lines.

Trusting ourselves to know
what to do,
when, where and how,
and following the guidance
that comes from within
in all matters great and small.

Finding the tipping point,
the balance place,
between the "I" and the "We,"
so that "Thou Art That"
remains a personal realization
and not a communal imposition,
and we remain in charge of
what to say "Yes" to
and what to say "No" to
all our life long--
so that the life we live
is ours in the fullest sense of the term,
and what we do here, now,
is entirely up to us,
for better and for worse,
throughout the time left for living.

–0–

02

Field Road 06/24/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
We live best from the ground up,
and from the inside out.

This is called Living Organically.

Responding to the world
from our Original Nature
is offering what we have to give
in the service of what is called for
moment by moment.

To manipulate and exploit
each moment
in light of what we hope to gain
from the moment
is to impose our idea for our life
on our life
in the service of having our way.

This is called Living Inorganically.

The difference is the difference
between living to be who we are
and living to be who we want to be.

No difference is greater than this difference.

It is the difference between having it made
and having nothing at all.

–0–

03

Painted Hydrangea 05/17/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
Milton Erikson tells a story about a horse walking
into his yard when he was a child,
and his father ordered him to take the horse home.
Milton had no idea where the horse came from,
so, he climbed up on the horse's back
and kept it from stopping to eat grass,
and the horse took itself home.

This is a wonderful metaphor for our search for
home,
God,
The Way,
The Tao,
enlightenment,
illumination,
awakening,
awareness,
realization, etc.

The 14th observation in "Cultivating Stillness" reads:
Although we speak of attaining the Tao, 
there is really nothing to attain, 
since we possess it from the very beginning. 
We arise from the Tao. 
The Tao resides in us. 
We cultivate ourselves from within.

This is the way it is with 
home,
God,
The Way,
enlightenment,
etc.

We only need to know what we know,
what is "there" already,
within.

We have to figure out 
what it might mean
to keep ourselves from stopping to eat grass,
and watch us take ourselves home, etc.

What are we doing to
"shoot ourselves in the foot,"
and stop ourselves 
from going "home"?

How are we interfering with
our own illumination/awakening/enlightenment?

Take these questions into The Silence,
sit quietly,
and see what arises/emerges/occurs/beckons...
within.

And notice where we "stop to eat grass"
on the way to The Silence."

–0–

04

Field Road 11/13/2014 06 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
What happened to knock you off track--
if you have been knocked off track?

What took the wind out of your sails?
What caused you to give up?
Quit?
Say, "What the hell?"
Take up drinking
and druggin'
and stop exercising?

When did you give up
and start doing whatever it takes
to get through another day?

Write yourself a letter 
about that entire experience.
Say all you have to say about it.
Delve into it.
Don't just pass it off.
Explore it.
Relive it.
Remember it.
Write it out.
All the way out.
Keep the narrative going
for as long as it takes.

Ask all of the questions
that beg to be asked--
and all the questions
the questions raise.
And do your best to answer them.

And ask all of the questions
the answers beg to be asked.
And answer them.
Etc. And So Forth.

This is called getting to the bottom of it.
You owe it to yourself to do that.
The self, I mean, that was counting on you
to not do that.
That self needs you to do this.

It's a way of redemption,
of atonement.
Of confession.

The best way.

Start writing.

May 03, 2021

01

Camden Harbor Morning 09/23/2006 Oil Paint Rendered–Camden, Maine
When we embrace our fate,
we unite with our destiny.

We are born into our fate--
our DNA is fated.
We couldn't do anything about it.
It is a given.

So are our parents
and our point of origin
in space and time.

So are our loves and our hates,
our preferences and our disinclinations.

And all the things about us
that we cannot help.

Our destiny is what becomes of us,
because and in spite of,
the things we can't help.

Our destiny is what we do with our fate.

Our destiny is what we might yet be--
anyway, nevertheless, even so.

Our destiny is what is ours to do
with the gifts/proclivities/interests/
genius/daemon (sounds like "diamond")/virtues/
character/spirit/etc.
that came with us from the womb,
in the time and place,
the context and circumstances,
the here and now,
of our living.

Our destiny and our fate are bound together,
and join to produce us and the life we live.

Our dreams may have nothing to do with either.
And may have everything to do with both.

This is where The Silence enters the frame.

We find our way amid fate, destiny and dreams
by tuning to The Silence,
and waiting for "the mud to settle
and the water to clear."

By "cultivating stillness,"
and watching/listening
for what arises/emerges/occurs/appears 
unbidden within,
to beckon and call us to action.

Judgment and opinion have no place
on the road to what is ours to do,
or, their place on the road
is to provide the excursions necessary
to learn they have no place on the road.

Balance and harmony are essential guides.
We "feel" more than we "know."
And must learn to know what we feel,
and to trust it to lead us along the way.

The rule of thumb is:
"We feel our way to What,
we think our way to How,"
though where feeling stops
and thinking starts 
is a point to faint to find.

"We know when we are on the beam
and when we are off it"
(Joseph Campbell).
And so, the trick is to know what we know,
to attend our feelings,
and honor The Silence
with regular returns to the stillness
of mindful awareness.

(The Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube videos
are excellent resources here--
the shortest ones first)

With these instructions in hand,
all that is left
is being quiet
and seeing what happens.

Happy trails,
with one thing leading to another
all along the way!

–0–

02

Dockside 11/14/2017 07 — Port Royal, South Carolina
All religion is grounded 
upon the principle
of the accumulation of merit.

If you want to get to heaven
and avoid hell
either before or after you die,
you have to do it 
the way the religion in question
tells you to do it,
there-by earning your reward
by the way you believe and live your life.

It is the same way 
with what I have to offer.
With my approach,
you earn merit by having no interest
whatsoever in earning merit.

The heart-felt position
of "No merit! No gain! No contrivance!"
of "Only sincerity! Only spontaneity!
Only living with nothing in it for you!"
is the key to awakening,
realization,
illumination,
enlightenment,
and the glories of "the Farther Shore,"
and "The Pure Land"
of happiness and glory everlasting.

Nothing to be gained
is the way of infinite gain.

And merit-based religion
is the only kind of religion.
And "unconditional love"
is the best joke of all
(Because if you don't believe 
love is unconditional,
you go straight to hell).

–0–

03

Evening Path 09/06/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
There is no straight path
from here to there.

Carl Jung talks about the journey
from outer to inner
as "The circumambulation of the self"--
a spiral inward from the widest base
to the still point at the axis mundi,
where we arrive to join all others
at the heart of who we are.

There are no shortcuts on the way
from our head to our heart,
and everyone faces the same
hardships and ordeals,
makes the same discoveries,
uncovers the same truth,
realizes the same revelations,
comes to the same conclusions,
and knows what has been known
by all who have known
through the ages:
Be Who You Are!
The I and the We are One!
Thou Art That!

"At the end of all our exploring,
will be to arrive where we started,
and to know the place for the first time"
(T.S. Eliot).

May 02, 2021

01

Big Creek Trail 11/02/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The key to happiness is few opinions. 

The more opinions we have,
the less happy we are.

The people who know everything
have no idea of how to be happy.

See everything,
judge nothing,
be happy.

Compassion and grace
leave things as they are
until it becomes necessary
to make changes.

And then, they act
with compassion and grace
to change what must be changed
as it should be changed,
when it is time to be changed,
and everyone is blessed
without knowing how or why.

Those who know,
live organically,
authentically,
genuinely,
from their heart,
out of their original nature
and transform the world
without making waves
or stirring up dust.

Because their actions
are in sync with time and place,
things are changed
without force or show,
and no one knows anything happened.

Living sincerely
in response to what needs 
to be done--
without contrivance,
manipulation
or agendas--
is appropriate 
to every occasion,
and as unremarkable
as "Bless you,"
is to a sneeze.

Just seeing,
just hearing,
just knowing,
just doing--
without judgment or opinion,
designs or contrivance--
with nothing to gain
and nothing to lose,
serves the good of the moment
without doing anything
out of the ordinary,
and everything is as it should be,
apparently of itself,
as magically
as water finding its way to the sea.

–0–

02

Dogwood Lane 02 04/15/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbriar District, Cosby, Tennessee
We generally perpetuate our moods
by giving them more attention
than they deserve.

Moods come and go throughout each day.
Triggers and buttons are everywhere.
Something is always setting us off,
stirring complexes to life,
generating moods,
producing states of mind,
sending us into spirals,
up or down depending on the context,
instigating drug or alcohol use
to celebrate or escape the emotional whirl--
because we can't just let the mood pass
with a nod of recognition
and go on about our business.

Our moods have their business, 
and we have ours.
They are like emotional memories
we will never outlive,
and we can acknowledge that 
without allowing them to ransack
what remains to be lived.

Perhaps, we honor them
with a few minutes of silence,
acknowledging their right to exist,
because we have been in some places
we are glad to no longer be,
but letting them have the run of our life
permits them to hijack us and haul us back
to times we left for good reason.

We say, "Thanks for the reminder--
I'm glad things are different now,"
and turn our focus to what needs to be done
here and now,
moving back into our day.

May 01, 2021

01

Dawn Silhouettes 12/06/2014 06 Oil Paint Rendered — Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort County, South Carolina
All it takes is time.
Time will tell.
Everything becomes clear in time.
Time reveals all.

If you don't know what to do,
just wait to see what you should have done,
and you will know better what to do
next time.

Our entire life is a record
of what works,
and what doesn't work--
of what to do,
and what not to do.
All we need to know what to do
and what to leave undone
is right there,
revealed clearly as the mid-day sun
on a cloudless day
for those who look 
with eyes to see.

If we keep making the same mistakes
and ending up in the same place,
we either aren't looking,
or we can't see what we look at.
Which keeps us cycling forever
around the same convictions
that haven't worked
since they were conceived.

Who is responsible for what
we know to be so?
That would be us.
How well does our life bear us out?

Our life is the result
of our believing what we believe.
Dr. Phil would ask,
"How's that working for you?"
We have to be honest here
and see who, or what, we blame.

If it weren't for who or what
how would things be different-better?

What keeps us doing the same things,
expecting a different outcome?
When are we going to look at the evidence
plainly revealed by how things are,
and do things differently next time?

We are the only constant remaining in place
throughout our life.
We are what we have believed and done.
And here we are because of that.

Our life isn't going to change
until we change 
what we believe and do.

You know by now where I am going to say
the answer lies:

Sit down.
Be quiet.
Listen to the silence.
Wait for what emerges,
arises,
appears,
unbidden.

See what it is asking of you.

Decide to do it or not.

And keep following this process
until your life takes a turn for the better.
And keep following it
for as long as life lasts.

–0–

02

Dogwood Lane 04/15/2009 — Greenbriar District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cosby, Tennessee
We all have the same source,
the same origin,
the same goal.

This is not a competition.
It is not a race.
It is not test 
to see who is best.

We are not in it 
for what we can get out of it.
The only measure of success
is the degree to which 
we help one another
in the work that is ours to do,
individually and collectively:

Seeing,
hearing,
understanding,
knowing,
doing,
being,
becoming.

Becoming what?
Becoming those who 
see,
hear,
understand,
know,
do,
be,
become
those who see...etc.

That's all there is.

Having, owning, possessing,
acquiring, achieving, amassing...
are distractions
that keep us from seeing, hearing, etc.

It's the old Garden of Eden story
being acted out in our lives
over and over throughout time.

What are we doing here?
What are we living for?
What guides our boat 
on its path through the sea?
How do we know what is worth 
our time and attention?
Who says so?
Who is our authority
in determining the right answer
to these questions?
How do we know they know
what they are talking about?

Where do we go from here?

–0–

03

Field Road Panorama 03/18/2018 Oil Paint Rendered — Lancaster County, South Carolina
I could talk myself out of everything.
I come from a long line of ancestors
who never took a chance,
never stepped out of the normal and customary,
never asked questions,
never explored their world,
never wondered,
never imagined,
never created,
always did what they were told,
and made it difficult
for anyone they knew
to be different than they were.

I'm swimming against an ingrained current
to do anything I've never done before.

Maybe you know what I mean.

When I sit quietly and reflect on these things,
I am always brought to the place
of realizing again
that I owe it to myself
to find out if there is anything to be afraid of.

I am reminded again
that I can trust myself 
to have what it takes
to find what I need
to deal with anything 
that comes my way.

I have always done it.
There is no reason to think
that I will suddenly stop
being able to do it.
So, I say to myself,
step into the thing you fear
and see what there is 
that you won't be able to deal with.

And here I am.
Still in business.
Looking for something 
I can't handle.

April 30, 2021

01

Gingkos 11/28/2017 Oil Paint Rendered — Charlotte, North Carolina
No judgment.
No opinions.
Just seeing what needs to be done,
here and now,
in this context,
under these circumstances,
and doing it.

Moment-by-moment
in each situation as it arises.

We are not free
until we are free
from our wants
and don't wants.

That is the freedom
that allows us to look 
things over,
to see what is happening
and what needs to happen in response,
and to do it
to the best of our ability
with the gifts, proclivities, preferences,
traits, virtues, genius, daemon 
(sounds like "diamond"), original nature/
etc.
that came with us from the womb,
from one moment to the next.

What is possible, here and now?
What are our best options, here and now?
What is called for?
What is the thing to do,
all things considered?

Do that!
With nothing personal to gain,
and nothing personal to lose,
just being what the situation needs us to be,
here and now,
through all of the here and now's
yet to be.

Get that down,
and we have it made.

And the world will be a better place to be.

–0–

02

Canyons Forever 03/07/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim, Arizona
Freedom from bondage 
to our wants and wishes,
desires and cravings,
is the ultimate release
from captivity. 

We are not free 
until we are free to choose
what needs to be done
without being constrained
to obey our wants and don't wants,
our addictions and our disgusts.

Being "free to do whatever we want"
is not free at all.
It is being enslaved to our lusts and longings.
And tormented forever by the delights
that remain just out of reach.

Seeking our own good
at the expense of all other goods
is The Law of the Jungle
beating at the heart of civilizations
around the world over time.

When Jesus said,
"You shall know the truth,
and the truth shall set you free,"
he meant free from the blinders of desire,
and free for seeing and doing 
the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right place
and the right way--
with no concern for what is,
or is not,
in it for us.
And no intent to benefit,
profit,
or gain from our effort
to serve the good of the situation
in light of what it means
for all concerned.

Our life goal is to live
with complete sincerity
and without contrivance--
to do what is good
with nothing personally at stake
in the outcome,
and nothing to gain or lose
in the transaction--
moment by moment
in each situation as it arises,
over the full course of our life.

No one can do better than that,
and it is well within the reach of us all.

It only requires a slight shift of perspective
in the way we view what is important,
and a simple tilt of the will
to tip us in its direction.

And it is the transformation of life as we know it.

April 29, 2021

01

Sunrise 06/26/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Tennessee
Check everything in light of your
emotional/psychological
(Where does that line lie?}
balance, integrity, harmony and stability.

You know when you are on the beam
and when you are off it.
When you are balanced,
inner with outer,
and when you are not.

When you are integrated, harmonized, stable,
at-one with yourself and the moment--
in the perfect position
to take what comes
and do what needs to be done with it.

And when you are not.

What are the balancing,
integrating,
harmonizing,
stabilizing
factors at work in your life?

What are the unbalancing,
disintegrating,
disharmonious,
destabilizing
factors at work in your life?

Is silence vibrantly,
vitally,
present?

Are your conflicts/contradictions/
opposites/polarities
clearly identified 
and in a steady state
of equilibrium--
well-within your normal range
of tolerance--
and at an acceptable stress level?

Are you able to pay the right bills?
Is your future relatively secure?
Can you count on things being
the way you need them to be,
day in and day out?

What needs to be done to move toward
balance/integrity/harmony/stability
and away from destabilization?

This is your core problem.
Get this resolved,
and you are ready for anything.

Once your base is secure,
and you are grounded/anchored
upon the fundamental requirements
for life,
and can pay the right bills,
you are set to step into the day,
every day.

Until then, 
"you are like a fiddler on the roof."

The single most important thing you can do
to introduce balance/integrity/harmony/stability
into your life is to make silence 
vibrantly,
vitally,
present
in a central kind of way.

Live from the silence.
Be guided by the silence.
Be always attentive to the silence,
at-one with the silence,
alive with the silence,
and you will move toward balance, etc.
and away from imbalance, etc.

This is called returning 
to your original nature.

–0–

02

Hunting Island Beach 11/13/2017 04 Oil Paint Rendered — Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort County, South Carolina
We live too loudly to listen.

Noise is everywhere.
We are never noise-free.
Never quiet.
Never silent.
What does living noisily 
keep us from thinking about?

Keep us from facing?
Keep us from having to deal with?
Because we don't know how to deal with it?
What to do about it?

What is at the bottom
of all our striving?
What pushes us into the noise
that keeps us from breathing?

We live looking for action.
What kind of action?
Any kind of action!
In the meantime,
we will settle
for sex, drugs and alcohol,
though not necessarily
in that order.

That will keep us reasonably
sane until the right kind of action
sweeps us away.

We have no idea what that would be,
but we live seeking it
to get away from 
what's at the bottom
of our discontent.

What's at the bottom
of our discontent?

Go there.
Find out.

Enter The Silence
seeking the nature
of your discontent.

Don't leave
until you find it.

Disclosure alert:

Once you find it,
you will never leave The Silence.
It will be your home for life.
You won't be able to live without it.
It will be for you
life enabling life.

–0–

03

Mile Post 244 06/05/2010 Oil Paint Rendered — Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Everything in our life
has worked together
to be where we are,
here and now.

That is all we can say
about what happens to us,
it works together 
with all the rest
to get us where we are.

If we look for direction,
meaning,
and purpose 
in all of this,
we will be imposing
our desire for
meaningful structure
that is important
and exists only 
in our head.

Life just is.
No reason.
No purpose.
No meaning
beyond what we imagine
and impose.

We make things meaningful
(to us)
by the way we respond
to what happens to us.
We are the ones who determine
what is meaningful or not.

We are the conductor,
the choreographer,
the director
seeing meaning
in the thread
that runs through our life.

"Because of that,
THIS!" we proclaim.
Well, yeah. But.
"THIS" did not bring that forth.

It was not for "THIS" 
that that happened.
That "just happened,"
and here is "THIS."
Which is just happening.

Anything we make of it
is all our doing.
We make up the story
we tell ourselves,
the narrative we spin
about what happens to us
and how it all works together
to produce our life.

What happens to us produces us
and our life
because we respond to it 
the way we do.
But nothing makes us respond
the way we do.
In this sense,
we produce our life 
more than it is produced
by what happens to us.

How free are we to be
different than we are?
How different can/could we be?
We will never know,
and the question is moot.
What matters is what we do next
in response to what is happening now
and what will happen next.

And so, we are led,
moment by moment, 
situation by situation,
to wherever we will be 
when we get there.

All of which is to say,
it is important that we do our best
to make our best possible response
to whatever happens,
moment to moment,
situation by situation--
because what we do will lead
to what's next 
all along the way.

April 28, 2021

01

Dawn on Hunting Island 12/06/2014 Oil Paint Rendered — Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort County, South Carolina
Goes the saying,
"Discretion is the better part of valor."

And another saying,
"Look before you leap."

Which is to say,
"Know what you are doing."

All of which are wasted
upon those who are all into
"Making hay while the sun is shining,"
and,
"Seizing the moment,"
and,
"Striking while the iron is hot,"
and, 
Not letting opportunity pass them by...

Which gets us back
to the relationship
between discretion and valor.

Courage is required from the start.
Courage is the ground floor of discretion.
We have to have what it takes
to look,
to see,
to know,
and to do what needs to be done,
which may be saying,
"I'm not going there."

Courage is the foundation. 

Without the courage
to draw the lines
that need to be drawn
from the start,
we are left 
with having to draw them
when it is too late
"to save the day."

"A stitch in time
saves nine."

Which leaves us wondering
where courage comes from,
and how to find it 
when we need it.

"The silence," of course,
is my answer to everything.

Sit quietly contemplating courage
and see what arises in the silence.
What occurs to you.
What comes to mind.
What appears.
What emerges...

It takes courage to sit
with the silence.
Just like it takes courage
to draw the first line.

We don't have to manufacture it.
It is already there.
Waiting.
For us to know that we need it
and invite it into our life.

Where do you need to be courageous?
Get out of the way,
and let yourself surprise yourself.

Surprising ourselves is what we can do best.
But it takes getting out of the way.

–0–

02

Beaufort Fall Panorama 11/16/2017 06 Oil Paint Rendered — Beaufort, South Carolina
Regaining our sense
of our place in the moment
resets us in our position
of a wheel turning 
out of its own center,
like a gyroscope
moving through each here and now
with balance and harmony,
seeing what's what
and what needs to be done in response
out of its own inner sense
of what is most appropriate
for the occasion.

Each of us is a gyroscope
balancing the needs of body and soul
in harmony with the needs of here and now.

Integrating opposites,
honoring all perspectives,
listening to all views,
resolving all conflicts
that can be resolved,
exploring contradictions,
respecting the importance
of polarities,
and maintaining the creative tension
of life and being
on all levels,
in all ways.

This is essential consciousness,
crucial to the movement and flow
of every moment.

It is the work of healing,
restoring, revitalizing,
reimagining, and revolutionizing
the world,
one moment at a time,
in a "Here we are, now what?"
kind of way.

And it depends upon us
being fully present 
as mindfully aware human beings,
open to who we are and what we are about
in the time and place of our living.

We cannot do that
and be looking for how 
we can exploit the moment
for our gain,
our good,
our pleasure and glory.

Our choice in every moment
is the choice of Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden,
and the choice of Jesus
in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Here we are, now what?

–0–

03

The Tipton Place 04/18/2006 Oil Paint Rendered — Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Townsend, Tennessee
The Silence is good for the right answers
to the right questions.
It doesn't care who is governor of North Dakota,
or how to spell Minneapolis,
but it comes alive
to who are we and what we are about,
what's happening and what needs to be done about it,
when and how.

The Silence is well-suited
for helping us find our life and live it,
to know what our shtick is
and ride it like a witch's broom
through all of the contexts,
conditions
and circumstances 
of our life,
in being true to ourselves 
and perfectly appropriate
in our response
to what the moment is calling for
in each situation as it arises.

Waiting in The Silence
"for the mud to settle 
and the water to clear,"
is, itself,
a centering, grounding,
experience.

We breathe ourselves back to life,
just sitting,
just watching,
just listening,
for whatever The Silence has to offer.

The Silence is home for our soul.
It is our origin and our goal. 
Living in right relationship
with The Silence
positions us to be what is needed
through all of the noise
of the 10,000 things.

And The Silence is always with us,
present for our good
and the good of the time and place
of our living.
It only takes being quiet
in the right kind of way
to know that it is so.