December 03, 2021

01

Beech Woods 01 11/21/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Emptiness is the origin
of all that is.

The simplicity of emptiness
is the primal step before
what needs to happen.

To neglect that step
is to act within
the noisy complexity
of time and place,
and to create out of
wanting/willing/
demanding/insisting/
having to have--
ignoring the matter of 
what needs to be,
which flows from 
allowing/assisting/
permitting/enabling/
perceiving/conceiving
what is called for here and now.

Emptiness is the source of
realization, alignment,
seeing and being at one 
with the moment between now
and what's next--
and the key to moving in accord
with the flow of synchronicity
throughout our life.

The emptiest space
is the place
between breaths.

Inhale by consciously extending
your stomach
pulling air to the bottom 
of your lungs.

Exhale by drawing your stomach
inward and upward
expelling air out through your nose,
and pause for a count of five.

Repeat the process for three to five breaths,
experiencing the emptiness
in the space between breaths.

Practicing this enables the emptiness
from which spontaneous responses to 
the situation at hand arise unbidden
and lead the way beyond willing/desiring/
forcing/compelling/having to have
with creativity,
novelty,
ingenuity,
and surprise.

–0–

02

Scrapping Fall 02 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Carolina Thread Trail, 12-mile Creek Segment, Waxhaw, North Carolina
All our life
we have been upheld
and kept safe
by forces we cannot name
or understand.

Direction comes from beyond us.
We are led along by what,
we do not know.

Our life unfolds around us
more by accident 
than by our own design.

Why not endeavor to live
in harmony with that which
is living within us
and through us
by living in/with "the sacred,"
beyond thought and words?

A shift in consciousness
is all it takes.

By moving toward what is meaningful
to us,
living in light of what we love,
doing what needs us to do it,
and seeing where it goes.

–0–

03

Sourwood 01 11/11/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Think of "The Sacred"
as the unknown-yet-knowable reality
within/without
leading,
guiding,
directing,
upholding,
nurturing,
nourishing,
enabling
the unfolding of our life and being
through all of the conditions and circumstances
of our life.

The Mystery of our own becoming
experienced as
more than words can say
in the background 
and the ground
of each here and now,
apprehended,
sensed,
felt,
as a resonance
or a wonder,
imagined or real?
We cannot be certain
beyond the conviction
that something is real,
but what,
who knows?

The Sacred Ground of Existence--
The Holy Background of Normal, Apparent, Reality--
pilots our boat 
on its path through the sea.

How did we get here, now,
from where we started?

It is a mystery shrouded in darkness,
and the gateway to what,
we do not know.

Acknowledge The Mystery,
The Holy,
The Sacred,
and live to be aligned with it,
aware of it,
immersed in it,
upheld by it,
through the allegiance of the known
to the unknown,
of the called to the caller,
in all times and places,
and see where it goes. 

December 02, 2021

01

Maple Panorama 02 11/02/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Water finds the way
through the conditions
and circumstances
blocking its path
to its gathering place,
its being place,
its home,
where it belongs.

We all are looking 
for where we belong,
for the place 
that is home
for our soul,
right for our spirit,
a safe and joyful
place to be.

Knowing who we are--
knowing the face 
that was ours
before our parents were born--
knowing who, and how, 
we were born to be,
and being aligned with
our original nature,
grounded in who we are,
is all we need to know
in order to find our way--
the way that is our way--
through the conditions
and circumstances of our life
that block our path
to our gathering place,
our being place,
our home,
where we belong
with those we belong with--
a safe and joyful place to be.

–0–

02

Southern Woods Fern 02 11/04/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Indian Land, South Carolina
We are stewards of our soul.
Guardians of soul.
Servants of soul.

We do what is good for our soul,
what flows from soul
for the good of the here and now,
the time and place,
of our living.

We offer what we have to give
for the good of both our soul
and each situation as it arises.

We balance, harmonize,
grace and bless,
soul and world.

We are here to be a blessing
and a grace to both soul and world.

If we live striving to benefit ourselves
at the expense of both soul and world,
we are on the wrong track,
circling round and round
in the empty wasteland,
wondering what we are doing wrong.

–0–

03

Sunrise 01 11/06/2021 — Aho Valley, Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone, North Carolina
I cannot imagine a quick fix
for making things more like they ought to be
than they are
on anything more than a personal scale.

I can make my life more like it ought to be 
than it is,
like that (snaps fingers),
but not my wife's life,
or my children's life,
or my grandchildren's life...

My power on anything more than a personal scale
is nonexistent.
I am helpless to do anything about
any of the things that impact my life
from any source other than me.

I am limited to governing the way 
I react to those things,
but the amount of rainfall I get on my yard
is untouched by any method I employ.

The same thing applies to the way money
works in the world.

I am confident that money is only good for
buying a place to live,
clothes, food, a way to get around
and tools for doing the work 
that is mine to do.
That is the proper place of money
in all of our lives.

To use it to improve our choices
at the expense of other people's choices,
is an improper/illegitimate use of money,
and I would like for it to stop immediately,
and there is nothing I can do about that.

I am stuck with perfecting myself
in the ways I think I need perfecting,
and I have to leave you up to you,
around the circle, throughout the world.

Which you probably like quite a bit.

Because my idea of perfecting you
and your idea of perfecting you
are probably no where close.
Particularly where your use of money 
is concerned.

December 01, 2021

01

Scrapping Fall 14 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Carolina Thread Trail, 12-mile Creek Segment, Waxhaw, North Carolina
We were born wanting,
but not knowing what to want,
and rarely wanting what we should want,
but always, always,
having to have whatever we want,
everything we want,
NOW!

Particularly our way.
We always, always, 
want our way NOW!

What does wanting know?
It doesn't know how to stop wanting?
It just knows wanting.
Incessant, insatiable, unrelenting, non-stop 
never-ending, wanting.

For what?
For why?
For getting, having, owning, wanting more.

For all of our wanting,
we never seem to get tired of wanting more,
or wanting to be rid of wanting.

Who ever wants to be empty of wanting?
To be free of wanting?
To want to not want?
No more wanting?

What would we do with our time?
What would we do with ourselves?
What would we do?

Is "I want" all there is to us?
"Is this all there is?" (Peggy Lee)

–0–

02

Sunset 02 11/05/2021 — Aho Valley, Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone, North Carolina
How quiet can you be?
How still?
How consciously empty
of desire,
fear,
duty,
anger,
hatred,
malice,
jealousy,
envy,
guilt,
shame?

For how long?

How often?

–0–

03

Country Cemetery 08 11/19/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Lancaster County, South Carolina
We have to create a crack
for the light to shine through.

By emptying ourselves of noise and complexity,
and sitting in stillness and silence,
waiting for the mud to settle,
and the water to clear.

Regularly,
routinely,
dependably,
deliberately,
over time.

It is to be our practice.

Being consciously
empty,
still
and quiet.

–0–

December 2021

This is the page holder for the month of December, 2021. May you find something here to light your path and smooth your way!

Sunset Panorama 02 11/05/2021 — Aho Valley, Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone, North Carolina
The days that are lived unconsciously,
routinely,
regularly,
have a sense of sameness about them
that makes wherever we are
a prison of our own making,
where one day is indistinguishable
from another,
except that today it's roast beef,
and yesterday it was fried fish.

We break the monotonous spell
by seeing what we look at,
asking the questions that beg to be asked,
saying the things that cry out to be said,
knowing what we know,
and what we do not know,
and being intensely curious
about what's what and why,
and how it could be different,
and wondering what would be best
and what it would take 
to live in its service.

By seeing what is called for 
in each situation as it arises,
and doing what we can 
to do what is needed
with the gifts/daemon/genius/shtick
of our original nature
when it is needed,
the way it is needed,
because it is needed,
with nothing in it for us
beyond the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
through all the days of our life.

Living like this brings novelty to life,
brings us to life,
in the work of making life possible
in ways it would never be possible
if we failed to see what is being called for
and did not act to make it happen
with the virtues and specialties
that are ours to share.

November 30, 2021

01

Lake Haigler Orchard 04 11/14/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Reduce noise!
Diminish complexity!
Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

The recipe for balance and harmony.

Noise, 
complexity,
confusion,
and chaos
are the recipe for frantically swimming
amid the clashing rocks
in the heaving waves
of the wine-dark sea.

And, we bring it all on ourselves.
By refusing to say "NO!" 
when it needs to be said,
and by refusing to take "No"
for an answer whenever it is said.

"Thou Shalt!"
Whether it is something we say,
or something said to us,
is the root of all our problems.

"Thou Shalt!"
is the dragon
we all must slay
on our way to emptiness,
stillness and silence,
balance and harmony,
sincerity, integrity and self-transparency.

Whatever its source.
Even if we turn it against itself
and make
"Thou Shalt slay the dragon called 'Thou Shalt,'"
we complicate simplicity
and muddy the waters of life and being.

Simply walk away.
Simply simplify.
Simply be filled with emptiness.
Simply be still and silent.
Simply wait for the way to open before us,
trusting ourselves to know it
when we see it,
and waiting to see if we see it.

Reduce noise!
Diminish complexity!
Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

–0–

02

The Woods Next Door 11/21/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Lao Tzu despaired of his chances
and went off to the west to die.

Jesus despaired of his chances
and handed himself over to his accusers.

Socrates despaired of his chances
and submitted to the judgment of his peers.

The list is long of people of vision
being exhausted by the refusal of others
to see what is before them--
to see what they are doing--
to see much of anything at all.

Prophetic vision is always coming to grief
in the common protest of the prophets:
"Oh, Land, Land, Land!
Hear the word of the Lord!"
(Or, as Jesus put it,
"How long am I to bear with you?
How long am I to put up with you?")

And the Land cares not.

The land goes to hell in its own way,
time after time--
and none can stop it,
no not one.

The lemmings will rush to the sea.

It is the way.

And the way to deal with the way,
is to see it for what it is
and get out of the way--
in the spirit of,
"When you meet an elephant coming toward you
along the path,
GET OFF THE PATH!!!"

Allow the lemmings their rush to the sea.
Allow those who see not
their blind satisfaction
with being led about by the blind.

Joseph Campbell said that the Bhagavad Gita
(With the oldest religious advice of the ages)
could be summed up as saying,
"Get in there and do your thing--
and don't worry about the outcome!"

The prophets of every age would do well
to take note,
say what they have to say,
and let that be that.

–0–

03

Fenced In Too 11/12/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Fort Mill, South Carolina
Things are not the way they need to be
throughout the world.
That is something we all can agree about,
which means we will never all agree about
how things need to be.

That is the fundamental divide
separating us all into groups
of people seeing like we see,
and groups of people seeing like they see.

It is the old Us/Them Divide
that has played its way out
in all times and places,
with Us killing Them,
and Them killing Us,
until we pare things down
to a manageable polarity
until stress builds
over the issues separating us
builds to the point 
of having to "thin out the ranks" again,
and it comes and goes 
like the cosmic tides and seasons,
Us and Them forever.

As stupid at any point
as it is at every point
from the beginning until the end 
of time.

All because we cannot tolerate differences,
or allow them,
past a certain flashpoint
of incendiary viciousness 
over opinions regarding 
how things need to be.

November 29, 2021

01

Ginkgos 06 11/28/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Ballantyne Ginkgo Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
Sit with these words and phrases
and mine them for their gold
as a regular and on-going practice.

Treat them as guides to the way,
and companions along the path.

Tend your relationship with them
with filial devotion,
allegiance,
and loyalty.

Emptiness, stillness and silence.

Balance and harmony.

Sincerity, integrity and self-transparency.

Spirit, energy, vitality.

Virtue, courage, resiliency, faithfulness.

Original-nature.

Grace, compassion and peace.

Live aligned with them.
in light of them,
forever.

–0–

02

Beach Tree Panorama 06 11/23/2021 Oil Paint Rendered –22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
T.S. Eliot wrote in "The Four Quartets,"
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

His idea that "we shall not cease"
and "at the end" 
we will arrive at the beginning,
connects me with Carl Jung's idea
of "the circumambulation of the self,"
where there is no direct way
to what we seek--
which is to know ourselves
and to live in accord with our original nature
through all of the conditions and circumstances
of our life.

Seeking to be is, itself, being,
and being here, now,
is all we can ever hope to be,
and "realized eschatology" is
comprehending that the "coming one"
has always been with us,
and is us,
just as we are,
particularly just as we are,
as one "thus come,"
like the Buddha under the Bo Tree,
right here, right now,
and on we go
being ourselves,
true to our original nature,
in every here and now
throughout time
and beyond time,
just by being where we are,
doing what needs to be done
the way we would do it,
knowing there is nothing more to it
than that. 

–0–

03

Fall Woods 01 11/24/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
"What's worth your time?"
is the easiest question to be wrong about.
Look around.
Everyone you see is wrong about the answer to the question.
Being right about the answer
would be bad for the economy.
Very bad.

The culture is geared to giving us 10,000,000...
(The zeros go forever)
wrong answers to the question
to keep us chasing after all that does not satisfy
and keep the cash registers on full ca-ching mode. 

What's worth your time?
You are afraid nothing is, right?
Nothing comes to mind,
so it must be that nothing is worth our time.
And we are stuck in a life
with nothing to live for
and nothing worth doing,
so pass the opioids 
because why not?

Because that is so stupid
it's nauseating. 
I'm throwing up just thinking about it.
"I don't know what's worth my time,
so it must be nothing. Pass the pills!"

"Pass the pills" is the quick fix
to the pain of being alive
and not knowing why we are alive
or for what we are alive.

Bearing the pain is the solution
to all of our problems today.

Sit still.
Be quiet.
And empty yourself of your fear
of emptiness,
of your fear of pain.

Open yourself to the silence,
and wait.
Waiting is a test of your mettle. 
We have to have what it takes
to do what is asked for,
and siting in the silence
is easy compared to 
doing what needs to be done
"without hope,
without witness,
without reward."
(Steven Moffat, "Dr. Who"),
which is what doing what is worth 
our time requires.

We have to bear the pain all the way.

So, open yourself to the silence and wait.
You can go about your life while waiting,
but remember you are waiting.

You are waiting for something to stir
in the silence,
for something to arise, appear, emerge,
wink at you and whisper your name.

And, like that, it's gone,
and you are left to wonder if something happened,
or if you just imagined it.

This is another test,
because you are as likely to dismiss
what occurs as it is to flash out of sight.
It's playing with you
to see if you can be trusted.

By now, you have rejected it 1,000...
(And all those zeros) times,
and it is tired of being ignored.
This is called pay-back time.

Keep sitting, waiting, watching.
As you go about your life.

It may appear in a dream,
the kind of dream that cannot be ignored,
or forgotten.

It may appear out of nowhere,
as you turn a corner,
and drive past it,
and are unable to get it out of your mind.

This is destiny crossing your path.
We don't go seeking our destiny,
we wait for it to come seeking us,
and we prepare ourselves to know
an open door when we see it,
by looking at every door that comes along.

When the door with our name on it opens,
we walk through.

The first step is the hardest.
The next most important thing
is refusing to quit in the service
of that which calls our name.

"Whoever puts their hand to the plow,
and looks back, has to remember how essential 
it is to not turn around,
but to trust themselves to the path
that is their path no matter what."

Living with troth for and trust in the way
brings help where we didn't think help would be,
and invisible forces seem to be protecting us
and guiding us along the way.

We cannot push our luck,
but we can trust it,
and we will find confirmation in 1,000...
(And all those zero's) ways
all along the way.

All it takes is trusting that it will be so,
and when the door opens, walk through.

November 28, 2021

01

Big Rock Preserve 02 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina
One of our superpowers 
is bearing the legitimate pain
of being alive.

When we carry the pain 
that is ours to bear,
we know that we are one
with all others in the experience
of the pain of life.

That knowledge is the source
of our identification with one another
and all human beings--
all beings--
who know the awful, grounding, truth
of life's grief and sorrow.

No one escapes the pain of living,
and in the end we all die.
The experience of that reality
makes us all one.
We face the ultimate loss of everything
together, as one.

At its heart,
compassion is the recognition
of our identity with one another
in our vulnerability and anguish.

Compassion makes life under these--
under any--
circumstances possible,
livable,
even enjoyable,
joyful.

The superpower is joy 
in the midst of sorrow.
Saying, "YES!" to life
on life's terms,
in an "anyway, nevertheless, even so"
kind of way
(Which is the very same as,
the "Thy will, not mine, be done,"
kind of way,
with the "Thy" understood to be
"The Way Things Are."

We are all born into a similar fate,
we have no say as to the time and place and parents
of our birth
and the conditions/circumstances of our life.

Our destiny is what we do with the givens,
how we respond to the here and now,
regardless of what it is--
with how we bear the pain of being alive.

A compassionate embrace of life
and of everyone living under the curse of life
(We are all going to suffer and die),
transforms the nature of the situation
much like the Elder Wand,
or a superpower, 
would do.

And from there, anything can happen,
along the path that constitutes
the Adventure of Being Alive.

How well we bear the pain
tells the tale we are here to tell.
It all comes down to,
and flows from, 
that one thing.

–0–

02

Sourwood 04 11/04/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
Everything is grounded on chance
all the way down--
the chance that our parents were our parents,
the chance that we were born when and where 
we were born,
the chance that we are male or female,
or male in a female body,
or female in a male body,
or that a war came along
to ruin our chances at pitching in the major league...

All of it is based on chance.
What are the chances
of the way things are
being the way things are?

Whatever those chances are,
they improve considerably
based upon our attitude/perspective
which guides our response
to what they are,
when they are,
how they are.

We have a better future
based on how we react to our present.
Every here and now is a fulcrum,
a turning point,
upon which the future is shifted
into position.

The next moment flows from
this moment.
How we live here determines--
or strongly influences--
what we live with there.

We improve our chances
by the way we approach/deal with
our chances--
the chance that this is what
we have to deal with
and not something else instead.

What gives us the best chance
of improving our conditions/circumstances
within the conditions/circumstances
of our living 
is to empty ourselves
of desire/fear/anger/hatred/duty/agenda/opinion/emotional reactivity/
and sit/stand in the stillness and silence
what needs to be done arises/emerges/appears/occurs to us
to call us--thrust us--
into action.

When we do the right thing,
at the right time,
in the right place,
in the right way
because it is the right thing to do,
for nothing but the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it
in mind,
we transform the time and place of our living,
one situation at a time,
improve our chances and our choices,
and have it made,
as much as we can have it made
given the nature and conditions/circumstances
of our living,
and open ourselves fully to the adventure of being alive.

–0–

November 27, 2021

01

Rockport Harbor 01 10/13/2009 Oil Paint Rendered Panorama — Rockport, Maine
Live in the service of your original nature,
bringing your gifts/genius/daemon/shtick/virtues
to life within the circumstances of your living
in each situation as it arises,
in doing what needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
how it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done--
for the joy of doing it,
and the satisfaction 
of having done it,
situation by situation,
for as long as you are alive.

It is for this that we have been born,
and for this that we live
all the days of our life.

To fail to serve our original nature
is to miss the point of being here, now.
For that there is no exoneration or absolution. 
only regret and contrition without consolation.
We lived without being alive in the time and place
of our living.

–0–

02

Scrapping Fall Carolina Thread Trail 01 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 12-mile Creek Segment, Waxhaw, North Carolina
The interpretation of experience
is the meaning of experience.
Saying what's what is one thing.
Being right about it is another.

Experience must be experienced
as dynamic, fluid, flowing,
evolving, transforming, moving,
moving, moving...

Experience is a dance with life,
living, being alive.

Alan Watts asked Joseph Campbell,
"Joe, what form does your yoga take?"
Campbell replied,
"I underline passages."

Lao Tzu said,
"The path that can be discerned 
as a path
is not a reliable path."

Jesus said,
"The spirit is like the wind
that blows where it will."

Nailing things down
with explanations,
definitions,
analytics,
exactitude
and precision
misses
the heart of the matter
by saying what cannot be said.

Live to dance with your life,
going where the music takes you,
not-knowing way more than you know.

Way, way, more.

03

Country Cemetery 01 11/19/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Lancaster County, South Carolina
We live to discover what is important--
to know what is important
and be right about it--
and to live out of our own authority
in doing what is important,
where it needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
because it needs to be done,
for the joy of doing it
and the satisfaction of having done it,
in each situation as it arises.
all our life long.

That is all there is to it.

What's the problem?

–0–

November 26, 2021

01

Valley View 02 09/27/2007 Oil Paint Rendered — Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona
Changing our mind 
about what is important
changes everything.

Our perspective,
point of view,
way of assessing reality,
is the swing point
between ways of being
and living.

And, is what determines
the things we do
and the things we leave undone.

Our life depends 
upon what we see 
when we look,
and the way we see 
what we look at.

You might think we would
do a better job
of evaluating the validity
of our viewpoint,
asking the questions
that beg to be asked
about everything we say
about the way things are
(Which is always
the way we see
the way things are),
and saying the things 
that cry out to be said
about what we see
and how we see it,
and what everyone else sees
and how they see it.

Prejudice,
bias,
bigotry,
intolerance
and inequality
would have a hard time
maintaining their hold 
on us
once we began to look 
at what we see
and how we see it.

The world would change like that
(snaps fingers) 
overnight.

For the better.

–0–

02

Sassafras and Sourwood 03 11/11/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
We can change ourselves
in the direction of being 
more like we are
than we are--
and of allowing/assisting/encouraging
other people to be more like they are
than they are--
by taking up the practice
of embracing/experiencing/exploring
emptiness,
stillness
and silence,
aligning ourselves with our original nature
and exhibiting/expressing 
our natural self
within the context and circumstances of our life,
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done,
in each situation as it arises,
situation-by-situation
all our life long.

But. 
It is hard to do that alone.
And it is harder to find
a community in which that is being done.

If you can find two or three people
who will join you in the work
of seeing/doing/being,
you will be among the most fortunate people
who have ever lived.

–0–

03

Road Through the Woods 02 11/10/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
The work is ridiculously impossible,
changing what needs to be changed
about ourselves,
and about the world in which we live.

It is absurdly out of the question.

And yet, and yet.

That is the work.

It is the work of being human.
The work of seeing/doing/being/becoming.

It is the work of being alive.

It is the work of growing up.

It is the work of being who we are--
of being true to our original nature--
within the context and circumstances
of our life.

To change ourselves to be more like 
who we are than we are,
is to alter the context and circumstances
of our life.

Is to be a threat to the way things are.

Is to be crucified as a rabble rouser
and a trouble maker
and a messianic pretender.

Is to be burned at the stake as a heretic.

Is to be drowned as a witch.

The world does not treat kindly,
or take lightly,
those who threaten the way things are 
in the world.

We ask for it by daring to be who we are
in defiance of who we are 'spozed to be.

And yet, and yet.

That is the work.

–0–

04

The Maple’s Offering 11/11/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Indian Land, South Carolina
We have to make enough money
to live comfortably
while developing our ability
to be true to our original nature
within the time and place of our living.

Doing this is a matter
of knowing who we are
in terms of our inner nature,
and discovering what we can get by with
in terms of the context and circumstances
of our life.

I had an abusive father
who kept me pretty much bound
to his idea of who I ought to be
until I moved out of the house
and became the overseer of myself,
finding my own way to being who I am
in this here and this now.

This here and this now has its own way
of limiting/restricting who I show myself to be,
and demanding/insisting that I behave
like I ought to--
just as my father did.

And so, the work of balance and harmony
becomes the work of being alive
between the world of our inner nature
and the world of our outer reality.

How conscious we are of doing that work,
and how well we do it,
tells the tale.

–0–

November 25, 2021

01

Big Rock Preserve 01 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte, North Carolina
The wonder of life
is always waiting to be realized,
embraced,
acknowledged,
celebrated,
relished,
revered,
cherished,
adored...

Not ignored.

Everything hinges on
the perspective necessary
to see into the heart of things,
and know things as they are.

We talk to much.
We see too little.
And miss the blessing and grace
of the moment that is at hand.

What is to be done about that?
What is to be done?
While the time for living is upon us
and wonder is all around?

–0–

02

Fall Woods 06 11/25/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
We work to make money
in order to live comfortably
and commune with our original nature
so that we might express/exhibit
the gifts/daemon/genius/virtues/characteristics/shtick
that came with us from the womb
in living a life that is unique to us
and a boon to those about us,
impacting the entire world
for the good of the whole.

Or not.
And, if not,
why not?

Seriously.
Why not?

–0–

03

Rock Harbor 02 10/03/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Rockport, Maine
What needs to happen?
What needs to be done
about what is happening?

What is called for?
To rise to the occasion
with a response appropriate
to the occasion would mean doing what?

How are we preparing ourselves
to answer these questions
at the time the answer is required?

By now, you know the mantra:
Emptiness, stillness, silence.

Every good thing arises 
from emptiness, stillness and silence.

To be empty is to be without
agenda or opinion.
It is to have nothing at stake
in the outcome.
It is to be able to offer what is needed,
when it is needed,
how it is needed,
without bias or prejudice,
or interest in the situation,
beyond being interested
in offering there
the best we have to give
in the service of what needs
what we have to offer.

We find our direction/guidance
in the stillness and silence--
away from the noise and complexity
clamoring for our attention
and offering vastly different,
and differing,
types of direction and guidance.

After a little practice,
we carry emptiness, stillness and silence
with us wherever we go,
unmoved by the circumstances of our living,
listening/looking,
hearing/seeing,
and responding in the moment
to what is called for by the moment,
moment-by-moment,
situation-by-situation,
all our life long,
in accord with the Tao
all the way.

–0–

November 24, 2021

01

Sourwood 02 11/0202021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-Acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
We all have 24 hours each day.
What we do with them tells the tale.
The tale we are here to tell
by the way we live our life.

That is what our life is for:
To be lived in the way
that tells our tale. 
The tale we are here to tell.

How do we know what that is?
By listening to our heart.
Listening to our body (symptoms),
Listening to our soul.
By emptying ourselves 
of everything that would 
interfere with hearing
what our heart, body (symptoms) and soul
are saying.
By sitting in the stillness
and the silence
and listening/looking/
hearing/seeing
what's what
and how it is with us
and what we need to do
in the service of what needs to happen
here and now
for the next 24 hours.

Are we living the life 
that is ours to live,
or the life we want to be
ours to live?

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

What is motivating us?
Driving us?

What are we serving?
Seeking?
Chasing?
Trying to be/do/have
before we die?

Have we settled for 
serving our addictions
and to hell with everything else?

What are we doing with our life?
With our days?
With the next 24 hours?

There remains,
even yet,
even now,
even so,
an adventure with our name on it.

All it takes is emptying ourselves
of all that stands in our way,
and listening to our heart,
listening to our body (symptoms),
listening to our soul,
in the stillness
and the silence
and trusting ourselves
to what arises there
and calls our name.

–0–

02

Rockport Harbor 01 10/13/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Rockport, Maine
All it takes is stepping aboard the train
with your name on it,
on the tracks that are your life to live,
and trusting yourself to the journey,
for doors to open where there were no doors before,
and help to come from sources that were not there before,
and for joy and consolation 
to comfort and confirm your choice
of the way that is your way.

Things fall into place in ways that are amazing,
inconceivable and unpredictable.

Magic happens.
And will continue to happen
as long as you refuse to take control
and force the turns you want to take.

The trick with the magic happening
is that you can't try to make it happen
the way you want it to happen,
when you want it to happen,
how you want it to happen,
every time you want it to happen.

You have to trust the magic to happen
the way it needs to happen,
and forget about the magic happening.

You have to focus on doing what is yours to do,
when it needs to be done,
where it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done
in each situation as it arises.

We do what is ours to do
and let the magic happen as it will.

We are just along for the ride!
And must trust ourselves to the ride!
And live with the wind of the spirit
that blows where IT will,
always in our hair!

And we will have it made.

Starting right now.

–0–

03

Fall Woods 02 11/11/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — 22-acre Woods, Indian Land, South Carolina
It is not too much to ask
to ask, 
"What's wrong with looking at it this way?"

We are here to be the best we can be
at exhibiting our original nature
in the work to be who we are
in the time and place of our living,
by using the gifts/daemon/genius... 
that came with us from the womb
in doing what needs to be done,
when it needs to be done,
the way it needs to be done 
in each situation as it arises--
without interfering with anyone else
doing what is theirs to do,
in any way.

That seems to be basic to me.

To live like that is,
in my view,
to be a true human being.

No one could do it better than that.

"Not nobody, not no-how."

November 23, 2021

01

22-acre Woods 01 11/17/2021 Oil Paint Rendered — Indian Land, South Carolina
There is a Zen saying,
"If you meet the Buddha on the road,
kill him!"

When Lao Tzu heard it said, 
he laughed
and replied,
"I meet the Buddha
in every person I meet on the road!
I bow in recognition
and pass on by!
That is the way the Buddha
meets the Buddha!"

Of course, Lao Tzu lived
a thousand years before
the development of Zen,
but then he never really said
most, if not all, 
of the things attributed to him.

Being a stickler for precision
takes the life out of living,
shrivels the imagination,
and shackles the soul
in a dungeon built of 
layers of policy,
procedures and crusty old theologians
with their propensity for
decency and order.

Jokes make better points than
lectures, dictionaries
and encyclopedias are capable of making.
And a lecture with no jokes attached
is something cooked up
in the devil's own kitchen.

Lighten up!
Laugh out loud
with every opportunity
that comes along!

That's the way the Buddha 
meets the Buddha!
(And the Christ meets the Christ!)

–0–

02

Rockport Harbor 03 10/13/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Rockport, Maine
Making things better
by the quality of our response
to what is happening
is the one great human contribution
to the cosmos.

The quality of response
is the gift of consciousness
to existence.

Everything else responds to its experience
in an instinctive,
intuitive,
knee-jerk,
routine,
predictable,
unimaginative,
redundant,
locked-in and hell-bent
kind of way. 

With consciousness,
something new enters the game,
or is capable of entering the game,
depending upon 
how conscious we are of being conscious,
how aware we are of being aware,
and how well we engage the two worlds,
unconscious and conscious
in selecting a response
that is perfect for the occasion
out of all the possible responses
available to us
in the split-second between
impact and response.

This is an amazing experience in itself,
experiencing our experience,
and watching ourselves respond to it
in ways appropriate to the moment
and precisely what is called for
out of awareness itself--
with awareness including not only 
what is happening here and now,
but also what has happened,
and what needs to happen
out of our experience/memory/reflection/judgment,
so that "Boom!" there it is--
the right action
at the right time
delivered in the right way,
so that it is just what is needed.

Making things better
by the quality of our response
to what is going on.

(Of course, we can also make things worse,
much worse,
by the poor quality of our response 
to what is going on,
and that is the element of pathology
that humans bring to the table,
being capable of acting in ways
that are harmful to ourselves and others
in a sadistic/masochistic kind of way,
which is an inexplicable and inescapable
downside to the experience
of being alive.

We have the ability to be for ourselves
and for life,
and the ability to be against ourselves
and against life.

Which is weird and undeniable,
and, apparently, immune to conscious control.)

–0–

03

A Huddle of Horses 02/11/2014 — Anne Springs Close Greenway, Fort Mill, South Carolina
Between five and seven million years ago
the first human ancestors stepped into the world.
About two million years ago "modern humans" appeared,
and displaced (or killed out)
the non-modern humans
(Neanderthal and Homoerectus, principally).

In another two million years,
and certainly in five to seven million years,
we will be different than we are now.
Different-better, I'm guessing.

I'm guessing that because evolution 
doesn't back up, go in reverse,
become what it was, very often.
The movement is beyond where we are.

But the impact of human stupidity
upon the evolutionary process
has yet to be experienced,
so devolving isn't out of the question,
because stupidity is rampant among us,
and is driving the next evolutionary leap,
and there is no telling what is beyond that.

Life evolves, 
but there is no reason to think it ends.
Ever.

Bodies die,
but that is no reason to think life dies.
Life winks out of existence here
and pops up over there.
Why not?

Life is eternal, everlasting,
an aspect of Mind, perhaps,
always "there/here,"
never going anywhere.

Flowing into existence in some form,
and disappearing out of existence,
to flow back into existence,
carrying nothing of its former existence
with it as it flows through the cosmos.

Always coming or going.
Always moving.
Never dying.
Only transitioning from one form of being
into another.

Mind being Mind, perhaps.
Doing what it does
because that is what it does.

Our experience is a very temporal/temporary thing.
Why waste any of it?
We are to live while we have the chance!
We have never been before,
in this particular configuration,
and we will never be again.
This is it!
Why not make the best of it 
while we can?