March 01, 2021


Glade Creek Mill 07 Oil Paint Rendered — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
Wherever we are is just where we are,

If we could be somewhere else,
we might well be there,
but this is where we are,
and we can only be comfortable
with people who are no further away,
than two or three degrees either way
on a 360 degree circle of different-ness.

People who are 180 degrees away
are likely to be seen as enemies,
perhaps as evil,
certainly as threats.

We can only handle so much different-ness.
And we much prefer none at all.

This is an area in which
we all need to get to work,
increasing our ability to accept--
not just tolerate--differences
in other people on every level.

As the world gets more crowded,
and as environmental changes
reduce the livable land areas,
we are going to be keeping company
with people from a wide variety of backgrounds,
and views,
and interests,
and preferences.

It would be a good and helpful thing
for all concerned,
if we would start practicing
making them welcome.



Sandy Stream Pond 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Mt. Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Millinocket, Maine
The way to Absolute Perfection
is doing what needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

It comes down to
Doing. It. Right.
Whatever It. Is.

Why is that hard?
Only because we don't want to.
We want what we want,
when we want it,
the way we want it
in each situation as it arises
all our life long.

You see the problem, I'm sure.

What does,
"Thy will, not mine, be done,"
mean to you?



The Path Up Roan Mountain Oil Paint Rendered — Roan Mountain Highlands, Carver’s Gap, Tennessee
Sit still.
Be quiet.
Listen to the silence.
Embrace the silence.
Explore the silence.
When you lose the silence.
Return to the silence.
Your breath is the path to the silence.

Breathe slowly and deeply.
Breathe to the bottom of your lungs.
Allow your diaphragm to move your rib cage,
extend your abdomen,
fill your lungs.
Exhale slowly,
by sucking in your stomach
until no air is expelled.

Pause for a count of five between breaths.
Follow your breathing to the silence.
Your breath is the path to the silence.
The silence is the way to all things.

Disclosure: The silence is not silent.
Thoughts and images,
feelings, moods, static,
rampage through the silence,
stirring up dust,
destroying the fantasy of happy quietude.
Here is the trick:
Fold it all into the silence!
Treat it as white noise!
Move it to the background!
By the simple technique of refusing
to be engaged by any of it,
but being aware of all of it.
Tuck it into your awareness,
return to the silence.

Once you notice yourself being engaged
by the white noise,
remember your breathing.
Breathe slowly, deeply, as above
and follow your breathing to the silence.

Disengage from the noise this way,
by returning to your breathing
and exploring the silence
holding everything in your awareness,
watching the noise fade into the background
without engaging anything that arises
in the silence.

For twenty minutes
as often as you can work twenty minutes
into your life
up to three times a day,
more often if that is possible
and you are comfortable with it.

Another disclosure: You don't have to be still.
You can take a shower.
You can mow the lawn.
You can go for a walk...
Any kind of repetitive, physically safe,
movement--dancing, say,
or playing the drums--
is perfectly conducive to the silence.

Carry the silence with you wherever you go.
Learn to be silent anywhere, everywhere.
Let silence become your new perspective.
Your new best invisible friend.
Fold everything into the silence.
Observe the silence.
Explore the silence.
Befriend the silence.
Become a student of the silence.

The silence is the origin of all that is.
The silence is our teacher.
Our mentor.
Our guide.
Our path to understanding,
new life,

Sit still.
Be quiet.
Listen to the silence...

February 28, 2021


Woods Stream 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
Finding what resonates with us
and spending time with it
opens the way to balance and harmony.

Resonance is the bond uniting us
with the mystery
at the heart of life and being.

We know it when it happens,
but we cannot predict 
when it is going to happen,
or make it happen by force of will.

Something "strikes a cord,"
and we are "charmed."
Trying to analyze it
is a waste of time.

Recognize it,
acknowledge it,
and move closer to that
which calls your name!

Be spellbound!
Explore the experience!
See what it asks of you,
and where it goes!

Adventure begins this way
all of the time!



The Covered Bridge 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Sunday River Bridge, AKA Artist’s Bridge, Newry, Maine
Freedom gets a lot of press these days.
People assert their freedom
to not wear masks
which keep everyone free from COVID 19.

Everyone who screams about being free
to do what they please
are not free to choose what they please.
They know what they want
but they are not free to change what they want.
And they haven't changed their mind in years--
because they can't.

Jacob's call to "choose this day
whom you will serve,"
is about as free as it gets--
free to choose our master.

We want to be our own master,
but how free is that?
Free to do whatever we please
is pleasing whom?
And doing only what we please
keeps us from being free to be
a healthy,
trustworthy human being.

At the bottom of it all
is the need for things to work.
Walk through a psych ward.
Things aren't working there,
and everyone there wants something,
but being free to have it
doesn't make anything work better
for anyone.

The truth is that for things to work
we have to live in certain ways,
whether we want to or not.
And that's the truth.

It is the truth Jesus was talking about
when he said,
"You shall know the truth,
and the truth shall set you free."

Free to do what is the question.
Free to do what needs to be done
in each situation as it arises
is the answer.
Whether we want to or not is implied.

That is the key to making things work.

Until we do that,
we are all in a psych ward,
hoping we get our meds today--
with "meds" being whatever it takes
to calm us down.

February 27, 2021


Roadside Cascade 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, approaching Chimney’s Picnic Area from Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Once we adjust and adapt
to our life,
everything is perfect.

Until then,
we are at war with our life,
hell-bent on pounding it
into a shape that is
pleasing to us,
contending with forces
quite beyond us,
determined to have our way
with our life
or die trying.

And nothing is ever perfect
all the way to the end.

Accommodation and adaptation, Kid.
Accommodation and adaptation.



Lotus Blossom 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Bass Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
The Journey and The Way are One, 
and are to be integrated with 
“It isn’t found across the ocean, 
or over the mountains, 
or in the hinterlands, 
but is right here, 
right now, 
closer than your next breath!"

"The Kingdom you seek 
is spread out over the earth 
and no one sees it--
though they walk through it
every day!"

All those paradoxes 
come together 
with realization. 
And seeing deepens 
and expands with time, 
and is not once and done, 
but unfolds and opens up forever. 

We are nomads for eternity, 
without leaving home!



Jackson Lake 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
Living to serve what is called for
in the moment of our living
is not going to smooth our path,
and open the way
to all we ever wanted
and more.

Go and learn what this means:
"Thy will, not mine, be done!"
This is the Tao of Jesus.
He is saying,
"Live in accord with the Tao,
moment by moment,
and let everything fall into place
around that,
whether it meets with your approval,
or not."

That is not The Prosperity Gospel.

Jesus said, "Do what needs to be done
and let the outcome be the outcome,
whatever it may mean for you personally."

And his life was his message.

When he said,
"Take up your cross each day
and follow me,"
he was saying,
"Let your life be your message."

When he said,
"Be like the spirit 
that blows where it will,"
he was saying,
"Don't have to know 
what you are doing,
or be guided by 
what is pleasing to you,
but by what needs to be done."

The Tao of Jesus
is what the world needs
and the world knows it not.

February 26, 2021


Cape Lookout Lighthouse Oil Paint Rendered — Carteret County, Southern Outer Banks, North Carolina
What do you take your time with?
Spend time with?
What do you do well?
What do you care about?
What do you believe in--
not as a statement of faith,
but as a declaration 
of what is important to you,
of what matters to you?

These are centering questions.
They point you to--
they reveal to you--
the things you can't be talked out of,
the things that are central to you,
that express/exhibit/incarnate
who you are.

They are windows into who you are.
Visit them with that in mind.
See what they have to say to you,
about you--
what they might reveal to you
about who else you are,
and what might also be yours to do.



Peyto Lake 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
I think that in order to see things clearly,
we would have to look at them
with the advantage of being fluent
in several languages.
My favs would be:
and Cherokee--
though I would be open
to substitutions
and additions.

I would love to know how the world looks
through the lens of those languages.

What becomes visible and invisible
as we move down, or up, the list?

How does how we say what we see
limit/expand/enable us to see 
what we look at?

If you can help me with this,
I would like to hear what you have to say,
perhaps using the comment option
at the bottom of this page.

And whether or not you can assist me here,
I count it against me and my handlers
that I was not introduced to other languages
earlier in my life,
and urged with passion
and relentless pursuit
to learn more than one language
not native to me.

It is a regret that I did not do so
that I will carry with me to the grave,
and into whatever lies beyond.

A second chance would be
put to good use.



Winter Berries Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
The old Taoists talk about 
living in accord with the Tao.

I take that to mean
living in the flow of life,
in tune with what is happening
and what needs to happen in response,
and doing it because it needs to be done
for the sake of doing it alone.

This is a jam session 
of bluegrass musicians,
at one with the music,
going where the music takes them,
with each musician at one
with their instrument
and with the other musicians
at the same time,
for the simple joy and wonder
of participating in the music,
of being graced and blessed
by the music.

Living in accord with the Tao.

We can do that with our life
by practicing the skills of being
attuned to our life.

That means silence, 
and being aware of the present moment
on all levels
without being hooked,
owned by anything--
being aware without judgment or opinion
of all that is with us in the moment.

Seeing what we look at,
hearing what is being said
and how we are responding,
knowing what's what,
just sitting,
just seeing,
just hearing,
just knowing,
and watching what arises unbidden
as impulse,
as calling,
as invitation
to do what needs to be done
without having anything invested
in the outcome,
with nothing to gain or to lose,
just doing what needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
doing it and being done with it
for the joy of doing it
and moving back into sitting
and seeing,
and hearing...

It's the practice that allows us
to resonate with our life,
and enter the dance,
being danced by the music of life
for the wonder of it all,
in tune and in time with flow
of life and being.



Big Creek 00 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
An inventory of the things we care about--
and the degree to which we care about them--
is a good practice to include
in our regimen for maintaining 
our awareness of ourselves
and our life
throughout the time left for living.

What matters to us?
How is that evident in the way
we live our life?
How would anybody know it matters to us?

What are the basic, fundamental, core, essential
concerns that ground us,
orient us,
and around which our life coalesces?

What do we serve with all our heart,
mind,soul and strength?

Who would know that about us?

Meditate on these things.



Rangeley Lake Sunset Oil Paint Rendered — Rangeley, Maine
Old people have a hard time
processing change.
They like it the way it was.

Old people tend to be in charge of things,
because of their position 
in the community,
because many of them are wealthy
and have the power associated
with money,
and because it is traditionally assumed 
that old people know what they are doing.

I'm talking about the Republican Party here.

The Republican Party is devious 
to a fault.

It calls multi-million dollar tax cuts
to wealthy corporations and individuals

They call financial assistance to farmers

And they call aid to the poor,
both in terms of financial help
and in terms of programs to assist
poor people with job training, health care
and child care,

Republicans have no shame,
no conscience,
no guilt,
no compassion,
no heart,
no soul,
no concern for anyone
not like them.

And they will say and do anything
to maintain their power and extend it
over poor people
and all people of color.

They justify what they are doing
in 10,000 ways,
all of which come down to 
"I'm going to do this 
because I want to
and you can't stop me!"

Leaving the rest of us with no recourse
but to band together
and vote in every election,
local, state and national,
and vote for whomever has the best chance to win
who is not a Republican
for as long as we still have
the right to vote.

February 25, 2021


Midnight Hole 03 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek District, Waterville, North Carolina
In every situation,
there is a tipping point
where the responses 
of the people in the situation
can influence the outcome
of the situation
for better or for worse.

Our response in the present moment
has an influential impact upon
future moments,
both immediate and distant.

We wield the power for good or for evil
as surely as any super hero or villain
ever did.

Our present situation
is the result of our past situations.
Our future situations will be,
at least to some degree,
what they are because 
of our present situation.

The people for who things
always seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The people for whom things
never seem to work out
have a part to play in their outcomes.

The present moment matters.
Our response to it matters.
We hold the future in our hands
in every moment.

We have to know that in our bones,
and live as though we do.



Early Light 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
"How could things be better?"

The question opens the way
for all the questions raised by the question.

Questions do that for us
when they aren't looking for The Right Answer,
or even The Answer.
Questions that are tied to answers
aren't questions at all,
but entrees to The Answer.
They are Answers' way of getting air time. 

Answers have us where we are,
which is wondering how things could be better.
Without Answers,
we would be in a lot better shape!

Or, better, with all of our Answers
properly understood
as nothing more than steps on the way
to better Questions,
we would be in a lot better shape!

Our hope is in the Questions!

Asking all of the Questions that beg to be asked,
without waiting around for Answers,
leads deeper and deeper into wonderment,
thinking things that have never 
been thought before,
saying things that have never
been said before,
doing things that have never
been done before,
and a brand new world, Golda!

Questions are the path to a brand new world!

How could things be better?
Ask all of the questions this question
begs to be asked--
without stopping for Answers!

See where that takes you!

It will be a new way of looking at things,
and that will mean the utter transformation
of things,
and that will mean a brand new world.

We ask our way to brand new worlds--
and beyond!



Cullasaja River Falls 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Cullasaja River Gorge, Nantahala National Forest, Franklin, North Carolina
Think of the Force in Star Wars
as the Tao in the Tao te Ching.

The Force and the Tao are beyond morality,
good and evil,
right and wrong.

They are What The Situation Calls For.

But, here is the catch,
not for the good or bad of anyone/anything
in the situation!

Good and evil, right and wrong,
depend upon what side you are on.
If you don't have a side, what?

The Force and the Tao, don't have a side.
They have a Way.
What's the Way?
What needs to be done here and now--
in light of here and now!--
for the sake of here and now!

If the baby's diaper needs changing,
change the baby's diaper!
If the dog needs to go outside,
take the dog outside!

"Eat when hungry,
rest when tired!"

When we complicate the situation
by bringing in considerations
that have nothing to do with the situation,
like the long-term financial impact
eating when hungry has
on the gross national product
and the economic security
of the kingdom,
we tie things up in a
"Nothing can happen until something else does!"
kind of knot.

If the situation calls for 
eating when hungry,
eat when hungry!
And let everything else 
fall into place around that!

But, we can't do anything 
because of the effect it may have
on something else.
"Will she/he still love me?"
"Will I get a raise/be fired?"

We live with our own good in mind
and not the needs of the current situation.

We strive to connive,
a future of our liking
into existence.

We live here and now
in light of what we think 
it will take 
to bring wealth and glory
in abounding abundance
to us there and then.

The Way is about
doing what is called for 
here and now,
and seeing where it goes.

Jesus said it best:
"The Spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will!"

The Spirit doesn't know
why it is doing what it is doing,
or what it will be doing next,
or where it is going,
or what the plan it,
or how any of that is important.

The Spirit's actions arise
out of the urgency--the impulse--
of the moment:
"THIS must be done here and now!
We will worry about then what later!"

Which falls nicely in line
with Jesus' little talk
about the lilies of the field,
"Which neither sew nor reap,
but are all decked out in 
the most beautiful array of colors imaginable!
So worry about what needs to be done today,
and let tomorrow's needs
be taken care of tomorrow!"

Let the Force, the Tao, the Spirit
be with you!
And you be with it/them,
here and now!



Ox Bow Bend 02, Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming
There are only two things--
make that four things--
that matter:

1&2 Finding your life to live
and living it,
3&4 Helping other people 
find their life to live
and living it.

Get those four things down
and everything falls into place
around that,
transformed for the good

To do it,
to find our life to live
and live it,
we have to follow the pattern
of all the heros
on all the journeys
throughout time.

Yes, Virginia, there is a recipe.

First, we have to put desire and fear
in their place.
Hint: They don't have a place.

We have to live beyond desire and fear,
that is to say,
without desire and fear,
in order to find our life and live it.

This means we have to do the things 
that need to be done
no matter what--
no matter what it means for us personally,
or for those we love.

Snaps us back to Jesus
and his declaration about austerity:
"Those who would follow me 
have to leave father and mother,
brothers and sisters,
and take up their cross daily
in (finding their life and living it).

Joseph Campbell said the same thing:
"Do you have what it takes
to stick with it?
To do what it requires of you?
Day in and day out?
Whether you want to or not?
Whether you feel like it or not?
Whether you are in the mood for it or not?
For no other reason
than because it is yours to do--
and go on doing--
throughout the time left for living,
no matter what?"

"No matter what?" means we have to 
find our life and anchor ourselves to it
with an adamantine declaration 
of allegiance and loyalty 
that puts liege and filial devotion to shame.

This is what all of those old love stories 
are about.
It isn't about boy and girl finding each other
and swearing their troth forever,
it is about men and women finding their life
and living it through all
of the situations and circumstances of life.

It is not about finding the man or the woman
meant for them,
but about finding the life they are meant for
and living it beyond all other
compelling considerations.

Can they find the life partner
who will aid and assist them in their
dharma/duty to their own life?
That is the heart of the boy/girl 
(or boy/boy, girl/girl) thing:
"Can we be good for each other
in bringing the other forth
and helping the other live their life
to the fullest extent possible?"

Find the person who can create this kind
of environment with you,
and stick with them throughout eternity! 

We are here for the life that is ours to live!
And nothing can knock us off that!

The next thing is learning to read the signs,
to know what the symbols refer to--
the symbols that catch our eye,
that speak to us--
to know what they are saying.

We have to learn to live symbolically,
The truth (the Truth) doesn't lend itself
to the language of logic, intellect and rationality.
The Truth comes to us in dreams
and impulses that make no sense
but speak directly to our heart.

We have to learn to read/understand/intuit
the language of Truth and Spirit
in order to find our life and live it.

What movies mean the most to you?
What books stir something within?
What moves you?
What objects, animals, places, scenes,
poems, stories, etc., 
bring you to life--
bring something within you to life?
Dig in there!
See what connections you can make there!
What is going on there?

It is as though we have been
born into a mystery,
and have to find the clues
that lead us to the life that is our to live.

And then, we have to have the courage,
grit, determination, heart, etc.
to live it.

It is the adventure we were born for.
And we just want to make a lot of money
and be the envy of our peers.

It's called selling out.

It is also called living out of desire and fear.


Are you up for finding your life
and living it,
or not?

February 24, 2021


Vermilion Lakes Sunrise Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
Our motives stem from
our desires and fears.
From what we want 
and don't want.

Look around.
We could do better 
with different reasons
for doing what we do,
and do not.

Reasons that have nothing to do
with our advantage,
or profit.

There are two approaches
to take in finding new reasons
for doing what we do.
Here is the first:

Sit still and be quiet,
watching what goes through 
your mind.
You are waiting for something
to arise that you are not
responsible for.

You don't think it,
remember it,
imagine it.
It isn't logical 
or reasonable,
and comes out of nowhere.
Suddenly, it is just there.

You will know it when it happens.

When it happens,
decide what to do about it.
What is it asking of you?
What is it calling for?
What are you going to do about it?

The other approach is to simply
observe each situation as it arises,
looking for what needs to happen there.
What is called for?

Do it.
To the best of your ability,
with what you have to offer
from the gifts, talents, traits,
virtues, skills, abilities,
interests, etc.
that come with you from the womb.

For no reason other than it needs to be done.

If you begin living from these two
approaches to doing what you do,
you will transform your relationship
to your life,
by seeking to serve something beyond
your own interests and advantage.

And it will improve the world.



Glade Creek Mill 06 Oil Paint Rendered — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
Being in the moment
is the most important place to be,
and we hardly ever
spend any time there.

We are forever thinking about
where we have been,
or where we would like to be,
or what we hate about our life,
and wishing things were different
longing for

Jon Kabat-Zinn offers
the best practice regimen
I know of,
with his YouTube videos
(The shortest ones first)
about being here, now.

Since there is really
nowhere else to be,
why not actually 
do what it takes to be here,

Seeing what is with us here, now,
and what is happening,
and what is trying to happen,
and what is called for,
and how we might help the process
by doing what needs to be done
right here, right now,
because it needs to be done
and not to achieve anything,
or acquire anything,
or accomplish anything
beyond being here, now
in ways beneficial
to here, now
because that is what we are for,
and exactly where we come in?

February 23, 2021


Grand Canyon South Rim 08 Oil Paint Rendered — Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
We take everything on faith.
Or close enough.
"Objective reality" is pretty much fabricated,
assumed, projected, inferred, made up,
and pretended to be what we say it is.

How do we know that what we say is so,
is so?
Who says so?
And, who says they know what
they are talking about?
And, we can take this question 
all the way out,
until we finally have to say, 

We are the final authority
declaring to be so
what we say is so.
Reality is what we say it is.
It all may as well be made right up
on the spot,
for all the good having someone who knows
tell us what's what,
which leaves us having to take on faith
that they know what
they are talking about!

And, when you consider that
for the first 14 or so years of our life,
we were told repetitively 
how things are,
and threatened handsomely,
and punished severely,
for not buying into
what we were being sold,
you have to wonder
how solid our foundation is
when it comes to knowing
and not knowing
what is so.

How many Qanoners have any
foundation at all?
Reality is on shaky grounds.

That being the case,
we would be doing well,
in my estimation,
to make things up
to provide the greatest good
for the greatest number of people--
and take it on faith
that this is how things are,
and how they should be,
and live as though that is the case.

How about Liberty! Justice! Equality! Truth!
for starters?

Live in ways which honor those values,
and let everything fall into place around that!



Peyto Lake Panorama Oil Paint Rendered — Banff National Park, Alberta
If you are going to die,
die with cookies in the oven
and crumbs on your plate.

Don't let the idea of your dying
stop you,
or even slow you down.

Do what the moment calls
to be done
every moment,
and let death take care of itself.

Die surprised that you would die at all.

The good thing about death
is that it keeps us focused
on living fully in every moment.

It is, "Here we are, now what?"
all the way.

As long as we are alive,
we live attuned to the moment,
absorbed in the moment,
open to the moment,
looking for what needs to happen
and how we can assist that
into being
with the gifts of our original nature
that come with us from the womb.

We bring what we have to bear
on every situation as it arises,
and let that be that,
as we step into the next situation
that is arising,
looking for "What here? What now?"
in every day.

When we wake up at night,
and there is nothing going on,
we review what has gone before,
and anticipate what is coming up,
always reflecting on what has happened,
and what will likely happen,
searching for new realizations
and better ways of dealing with
our circumstances--
observing, observing, observing--
observing ourselves observing...
looking, looking, looking
in order to see more than we have seen,
and do better than we have done,
up to our final breath--
living as long as life lasts
with cookies in the oven
and crumbs on our plate,
sorry that we don't have more time left
to do what needs to be done. 

February 22, 2021


The Relic 02 Oil Paint Rendered — Down East North Carolina
Getting what we want
and having our way
take us straight to the heart
of the Wasteland.

Everybody knows what they want:
Their Way!
And everybody thinks it is all
someone else's fault
that things never work out for them.

Things never work out
because they want the wrong things,
and try to acquire them 
in the wrong ways.

Things take an immediate turn
toward better
when we want the right things
and work toward them
in the right ways.

The surest way to get what you want
is to change what you want.

But--nobody wants to change what they want.

Everybody has to get to the end of their rope
before they will change their minds
about what they want.

Why wait?
Other than because we are slow on the uptake
and hard-headed as well.

What's the solution?
Intervention sometimes works.
AA talks of "Raising the bottom,"
and giving an alcoholic
an inescapable dose of reality,
in hopes of bringing truth to the rescue.

If that doesn't work,
there is no way quicker to realization,
and awakening,
than allowing our life to play itself out
and bring us to the point of
no place left to turn.

There, the choice
between life and death.
Life is on the basis of 
something other than
"I know what I'm doing
and I want what I want!"
Death is generally
the last wanted thing.

We could make it easier on ourselves
by seeing the emptiness
of our wants and desires
from the start.
That is no more difficult
that looking with eyes that see.
But it is amazing
how difficult that is.



The Relic 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Down East North Carolina
It is all grist for the mill.

What are we milling is the question.

How consciously are we milling it
is the other question.

How much do we interfere 
with the milling process
is the third question.

Answer those questions correctly,
and we have it made.

If we are milling maturity
and compassion,
and grace,
we will have an outcome different
than the one we will have
if we are milling self-advancement,
and greed.

What we are milling
depends upon 
how we look at what we see.
And that depends upon
how we evaluate
what we look at.

Interpretation is everything.
We translate all that happens to us
in ways that are meaningful to us.
Our place is to evaluate
the value/worth of what is meaningful.
How well we do that
tells the tale.

In light of what 
do we evaluate the value
of what is valuable?

What is our primary value
around which everything else
How free are we to call that value
into question?
To probe, inquire, examine, investigate,
evaluate, authenticate or reject
the value at the heart of our life?
How good is the good we call good?
Who is to say?

Who is in charge of saying
what is worth our time 
on the earth?

Ask around.
See what people have to say
in the matter.
Find out how they know
that the value around which
their life revolves
is worth anything at all.



Little River at the Sinks Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Jesus and the Buddha agreed on 
the most important things.
They said,
"You people care too much
about the wrong things!"
And, "You people don't have a clue
about what is important!"
And, "You people care about things
that don't matter at all!"
And, "You people have to wake up,
see what is important
and care about that--
with all your heart, 
and soul,
and mind,
and strength!"

And the people crucified Jesus
and assassinated the Buddha
by poisoning his pork.
And, if they didn't,
both Jesus and the Buddha
made enough enemies
among "the people"
for it to be a possibility,
no matter how remote.

You make enemies
by telling people
they shouldn't care about
what they care about,
and should care about 
something else instead.

But that remains,
to this day,
the only thing wrong
with people
and the way the world works.

Everybody cares about the wrong things.
Get everybody caring
about the right things,
and the world is transformed

Start with yourself.

Examine carefully the things 
you care about.
Decide for yourself
which ones are not important.
Stop caring about them.

Do this exercise once a week,
say on Saturday or Sunday,
for the rest of your life.

That day will be unto you 
as a Holy Day,
a day of reckoning
about what is important
and what is not--
a day of remorse and repentance,
a day of atonement and redemption,
a day of reorientation and re-dedication
away from what doesn't matter,
and toward what does matter most of all.

February 21, 2021


Glade Creek Mill 02 Oil Paint Rendered — Babcock State Park, Clifftop, West Virginia
We like to think George Bailey and Jefferson Smith
(The Mr. Smith who goes to Washington)
are Everyman,
and that Donald Trump and his people
are not.

The assumption is not valid.

The people who profit handsomely
at someone else's expense
are legion. 
Beyond counting.
And they never stop with the conniving, 
coming up with new ways
to make money at our expense.

Jimmie Stewart did us no favors.

We have to be alert
and at the ready
at all times.
We cannot assume everything is fine,
or that we can trust people
to be who they say they are,
or to have our best interest at heart.

They have their best interest at heart.

If you think that is cynical,
pay attention to the news.
My position is ratified,
and confirmed
every day.

They are everywhere.

And so, we have to stay tuned into
what is going on.
Congressional inspectors have their place.
Local newspapers were good sources for 
investigative reporting,
but they are nearly gone.

The Lobbyists who write the bills
that Congress passes,
write in loop-holes that effectively
neutralize the bills that pass.

Cheating, lying, stealing is
a big time business.
The George Baileys and Mr. Smiths
are swamped,
in "The Swamp is alive and well"
sense of the term.



Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Oil Paint Rendered — Before the Move, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Hatteras Island, North Carolina
We have to bear the pain
of our own development.

We grow up against our will.

We draw our own lines,
establish our own boundaries,
assume the duties that are rightfully ours,
and live within the limits
we set for ourselves.

We determine the Thou Shalts,
and the Thou Shalt Nots,
that are ours to honor and serve.

"We are the marble
and we are the sculptor"
(Alex Carrel).
We are the chisel 
and we are the stone.

We are who we become over time.
With luck,
we become who we are over time.

"We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all of our exploring,
will be to arrive where we started,
and know the place for the first time"
(T. S. Eliot).

If it goes well, 
after all that work,
we will be us at last.
"The shortest way through
is the long way around."

It takes a lot of looking
to be able to see.
We learn as we go--
that is what going is for.

Live so that each day
brings us closer to who we are,
or at least doesn't take us
farther away.



Blue Ridge Fall 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Big View, Virginia
If you have an agenda,
you have an idea for the situation
that is not organic to the situation.
You are bringing something 
to the situation
that is foreign to the situation.
You are willing an outcome
upon the situation
that doesn't take the needs of the situation
into account.
You are imposing your idea
of the good of the situation
upon the situation.
You are saying,
"NO! Not this! THAT!"
What needs to happen, here and now,
is the question.
Not what do you want to happen.

Our duty--
our dharma--
is to be true to ourselves
within the circumstances
of the time and place
of our living.

What is it time for, here and now,
is the question.
We have to bear the pain of the answer,
and do what needs to be done,
regardless of what we want done.

How objective can we be,
is the question.

I have left situations
that needed something
I could not give them
without betraying myself.
It would have been wrong
to impose my idea for the situation
upon the situation.
And, it would have been wrong
to turn away from myself
and my need for self-expression
and self-determination.

I have also remained in situations
and changed the situation
to reflect my understanding
of what the situation needed,
and other people have left,
unable to embrace and participate in
what I was doing.

How do you know when to do what?
There is no formula that says,
"Here is where you do this,
and there is where you do that."
There is only being still and quiet
and seeing what arises in the silence
as an impulse from your nature,
and living out of that knowing.

We wait for the mud to settle
and the water to clear
in order to know what it is time for
here and now.

Our agenda is to see what we look at,
to hear what is called for,
and to do what needs to be done
in light of what we see and hear.



At the Dock, Too Oil Paint Rendered — Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Be what the moment 
needs you to be!
Be what is called for,
moment by moment!

Sometimes that means taking a nap.
"Eat when hungry,
rest when tired."

Read the moment,
moment by moment.
Go where you are being asked to go.
Do what you are being asked to do.

Our moments carry us along
to where we are going.
If we ignore what the moment
is calling for,
and follow our dreams,
whatever they might be,
they will bring us back
to where we started,
having learned, perhaps,
to listen to the moment,
and be what it is calling us to be.
And do what it is calling us to do.

It may be that following our dreams
was it to begin with.
And it may be that was the moment's way
of waking us up 
to the importance 
of the moment.

Our moments add up to a life.
Do enough moments well
and we do a life well--
and that is the most
that can be asked of anyone.

We cannot do more 
than to live moment by moment well.
Start with any moment,
this one, say,
and it will lead to the next moment.
Before you know it,
you will have lived an entire life well,
one moment at a time.
Just by doing what was called for.

The art of life.

February 20, 2021


John Deere Sunset Oil Paint Rendered — Concordia Parish, Louisiana, ca 1977
It comes down to doing this thing well.
Whatever it is.
Do the present moment well.

To do that,
we have to be all there,
aware of the moment
and what is being called for there.

We cannot do the moment well
in an absent-minded kind of way.

In each moment,
there are the needs of the moment
to take into account
along with spontaneous impulse
of our nature.
Our place is to realize consciously
that we are allowing our natural
response to the situation before us
to arise within
and direct us in meeting the situation
without our being rationally/logically
in charge of our actions.

We do not think our way through
our situations as they develop
any more than we think our way
through the movements as we dance,
or the decisions we make returning
the ball in a game of tennis.

We trust ourselves to respond
appropriately as the occasion requires,
and follow the impulse of our nature
throughout life's course,
building a body of work
by doing the present moment well,
one moment at a time.



Cut and Staked Oil Paint Rendered — Tobacco in the Field, Western North Carolina, ca. 2005
Just do what needs to be done.
Moment by moment.
Situation by situation,
Day by day.

Always need doing,
always need someone doing them,
always languish due to neglect
and violent opposition.

The Four Noble Truths 
of Democracy
are always under attack.
People hate them 
from half-a-world away,
in all directions
at the same time.

If I were God,
I wouldn't know what to do first.
But high on the list
would be requiring everyone
to meditate daily on
And recommit themselves daily
to their service
in a world adverse 
to their cause.

Until my coronation 
as God of the Realm,
I will content myself
with establishing and maintaining
a small oasis of
Tending it daily,
and recommending it highly
to everyone who comes my way.

It needs to be done,
and it needs to be done every day.

February 19, 2021


El Capitan Reflection — Yosemite National Park
We must talk to the world,
and the world must talk to us.
Though "commune" is more to the point
than "talk,"
for with "commune,"
the emphasis is on listening
and not on what is to be said.

How do we position ourselves--
to commune with the world?

Sit quietly.
Tune in.
Wait for the shift to happen.
The shift in perspective
that lends itself
to seeing/hearing/understanding/
what is being said to us 
in the silence,
and what is being called for
within the circumstances of our life.

is a way of opening ourselves
to the world,
not of shutting ourselves off
from the world.
Contemplation and reflection
are required for realization
and discernment.

When we do this,
what happens?
And what happens next?

If our life were a book
what would the title be?

What movie or myth
best represents our life?

What song or poem
best expresses how it is
to be who we are?

It helps to be fluent in metaphor,
and to be able to grasp
what the symbols are referencing
in order to turn the world
and the events of the day
into a mirror reflecting
the inner depths of ourselves.

We see ourselves looking at us--
for us--
when we take the time to listen
to what is going on.

We are speaking to ourselves all the time,
but no one is listening.
The world is speaking to us all the time,
but no one is listening.

We have to know how to read the signs,
to interpret our nighttime dreams
(They all are saying:
"This is how it is with you right now!"
How is it with us right now?)

We have to relate ourselves properly--
appropriately and authentically--
to the environment in which we are living

Religion that does not connect us 
to the here-and-now
is worse than worthless.
Religion that talks to us of the then and there,
or of the not yet but one day,
separates us from the only time that matters:
the present moment of our knowing,
or knowing-not,
what is called for
and what is to be done about it.

This what our communion with the world
will do for us,
open us to the time and place of our living
and provide us with the awareness
and the wherewithal
to trust ourselves to the impulse of our nature
in responding to the need of the moment,
all our life long.

And that is all that is ever needed
in any time and place.



Bow Lake Oil Paint Rendered — Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park, Alberta
Seeing each situation as it is
and responding to it
out of the spontaneous
impulse of our nature
is the foundation
of balance,
and flow, 
and evidence
of a heart 
that is noble,
and kind.

If we allow our concern
for the thoughts/opinions 
of others,
or the Thou Shalts
of parents or culture,
or the zeal for personal gain
or financial reward
to inhibit our following
the spontaneous act of compassion
and grace,
we will "leave the path,
turn aside from the way,"
and wander through the wilderness
of malcontent
and dissatisfaction
all our days.

To serve the moment,
we abandon thoughts of gain,
and seek only to know
how we might be of help
to the time and place of our living
with the gifts that come with us
from the womb--
the spirit,
and virtues/character
which are ours to incarnate,
and share.

Meeting the situation as it is
as one "Thus Come,"
offering what we have to give
to what is being called for,
is all anyone need do
through all the time 
that is ours upon the earth.

No one could do more.



Big Creek 01 Oil Paint Rendered — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterville, North Carolina
Everybody is looking for something.
Ask them what,
and it comes down to,

The maturity level of the species
hovers around 2.5 years of age.

From the beginning to right here right now,
no one has ever been able
to grow someone else up.

Growing up is our responsibility.

And we all grow up--
those of us who do--
against our will!

We grow up--
those of us who do--
against our will
by accommodation,
and acquiescence.

It is called 
"Coming to terms 
with how things are."

It is also known as
"Taking 'NO!' for an answer."

How well do you do that?
On a scale of ten,
with ten being great
and one being not at all?

Ask three friends
you can trust to be honest
to rank you as well.

Make it your goal
to grow toward
and acquiescence
throughout the time
left for living.

Rank yourself
at the end of the day
every day.

Ask your friends to rank you
every three months.

Starting today.