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Life of Awe

Some Truths are Beyond Mathematics

September 23, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

…there are limits to how much of reality mathematical logic can grasp — some truths many have intuited but none have substantiated.” Janna Levin, Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University

It seems that in the 20th and 21st centuries a new god has arisen in the minds of many very intelligent people. This new god even has a name: Mathematics. In the minds of many, if a concept cannot be proven mathematically is cannot be true but only conceived of as true. Personally I find this troubling.

The Wonder of Science

Now please understand, I love science and the “truths” that have been proven by math. Most of our physical wonders are the result of great science and great math: astrophysics, knowledge of the universe and maybe even creation can be proven by mathematics. Bridges and buildings and transportation and currency and a plethora of others would not even exist without mathematical truths. Yes, I love science.

But science and math are useless when it comes to love and kindness and charity. There is no formula for jealousy; cause and effect, yes, but not math.

UnProvable Truths

Apart from love the most wondrous truth in the world cannot be proven but the truth of its existence is undeniable. That truth is Beauty. Few things move me more truthfully than Beauty and Wonder and Awe. I am bowled over by the awe I feel underneath a sky full of stars and planets and comets. Yes, their existence can be proven by math, but not the truthful feeling I get when I see them.

Of the stars Janna Levin, writes…

There are faint stars in the night sky that you can see, but only if you look to the side of where they shine. They burn too weakly or are too far away to be seen directly, even if you stare. But you can see them out of the corner of your eye because the cells on the periphery of your retina are more sensitive to light. Maybe truth is just like that. You can see it, but only out of the corner of your eye.

I like that thought: truth is often something you can only see “out of the corner of your eye.” I think an appropriate word for “the corner of your eye” is your “gut.” There are many things you know to be truthful, but you cannot “prove” them, yet they exist strongly in your gut.

I Dare You to Prove Love

Love is a universal truth that cannot be proven mathematically. Yet no one will deny its reality. For me, God exists. I cannot prove God’s existence mathematically, yet it is a truth I cannot dismiss. I have tried and failed to dismiss this most important of all truths. But I have concluded that God is Creator, Intervener and the Source of all that is good.

God remains a most important truth in my life. The notion of God explains the truths of life, the universe and everything.

Such is the truth of many Truths. Although their existence cannot be proven mathematically, they nevertheless exist.

And You?

What are your unprovable truths?

As you ponder this question I wonder if you don’t find many (or most even) of the critically important truths in your life cannot be proven by science and math. Yet these truths exist and are probably the strongest beliefs that drive you to be the person you desire to be.

Long live that which cannot be proven!

When Asked to “Prove it!”

Just Say, “I Can’t and I Don’t Need To!”

Photo courtesy of benjaminjk at istockphoto

Worry: Imagination or Reality

September 9, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Here’s a test. One year ago today you were worried greatly over something very troubling. It may have even kept you up at night. It made you nervous and grouchy, afraid and angry. What was that thing that worried you so?
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Just Be Nice

August 19, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things…  Naomi Shihab Nye

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye and her husband were on honeymoon in rural Peru when their bus broke down and all of their belongings were stolen. They lost everything except the clothes they were wearing and a few bucks, certainly not enough to last long in a foreign country.
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Clear Your Head Cache

July 15, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Head trash” is comprised of an enormous collection of feelings, thoughts, beliefs and experiences that you have been piling up since childhood. Your head trash is constantly reinforcing what you can’t achieve.” Jim Palmer, Just Say Yes

NOTE: For computers, “cache” is often stored history (memory) of data used on your browser.
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Lessons from The Wisdom of Trees

June 10, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

One thing we know for sure about trees: they are stationary in one place for either decades or thousands of years and they understand a whole new meaning of Home. With deeply grounded roots their boughs are free to sway whichever way the wind blows without ever diverging from their core.
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Focus on What “You Can Do” and Do It!

May 27, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Focus on what you have and what you can do instead of what you don’t have and can’t do.” Phil Keoghan on Tim Ferriss Podcast

Two phrases drive me nuts, “When I get… then I’ll…” and “If only…” Both focus on what you do not have. And you just might wait a lifetime to get that thing or person you are convinced will fill your life, only to discover that person or thing turns out to be a huge disappointment.
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When Not to “Measure” Effectiveness

May 6, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Is it possible to live our day—to embrace our day—without measuring?

The Proverb says, “There is a time for everything.” I would include measurement. In certain projects measurement is a critical means to complete a task. In certain personal categories, like finances, measurement is also essential.
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Comfort and Fun: Do Your Goals Include Them?

March 18, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments
  1. Do you know what I fear right now? I fear the urban citizens of America have become largely producing and errand-running machines. As a result we don’t have time for things that really matter. The days of Thoreau at Walden, alone pondering and wondering and appreciating, or the passing observations of Walter Berry or Mary Oliver or Naomi Shahib Nye are gone or slipping away.
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The Myth of Authenticity

January 28, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 3 Comments

Authenticity. How did authenticity ever become such desirable character quality in our social basket of personality traits? Truthfully, I’m thinking that authenticity is a farce, a myth.

Does Authenticity Even Exist?

First of all, I don’t even know what it means. Like not being “authentic” means we are pretending to be someone else? Well, here’s some disturbing news: we are always pretending. We “pretend” to be a certain person at our job, another person as a parent, another as a friend, and yet another as a close friend. And then a whole different person as a partner or spouse.

Second, I am not convinced we ever really know who we are in the depths of our psyche or personality. I frequently remind people not to judge another person’s motives when we are not even sure of our own. I can’t speak for you, but for me, I am always changing—outside and inside. Things I once believed strongly, I no longer believe at all now and have been replaced oftentimes by their polar opposites.

Authenticity Requires Acute Self Knowledge

Maria Popova wrote, “…we live much of our lives lost within our own psyches, confused and conflicted about what we really want.” And I would add that we are equally confused and conflicted about “who we are.”

So, where in this do we find authenticity? Because, at any given moment, I am authentically different than I was just a day ago.

Perhaps being authentic is “to thine own self be true.” I can buy that one, except with the caveat that “my own self” is a moving target or as Maria Popova put it, “confused and conflicted.”

However, it is a worthy goal to attempt to uncover thine own self. We call this self-awareness. We are each branded with a certain set of deeply ingrained values that drive our everyday thinking and doing. For instance, I must have independence and freedom. I require an inordinate amount of alone time to think and read and write and paint. (Yet, I love engaging with good friends.) And I must be ever filling my insatiable curiosity about life.

Authenticity and Personal Values

Is living according to those values what it means to be authentic, then okay… I guess. What choice do I have? Perhaps there are two “unauthentic” choices: to deny myself my values (which I must sometimes do for the love of others) or to live with the option of constantly trying to please others.

Both are problematic and yet, sometimes necessary as members of society or a family. Or are they? Is it okay if being true to yourself causes great pain to others and yourself? To which I would answer, sometimes yes and sometimes no. (Boy, I’m a big help!)

The tricky issue is being fully assured of what you want according to your so-called values. World-class author Rebecca Solnit wrote, “The things we want are [life-changing], and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that [life-change].”

Like my friend Melanie in Stockholm told me, “The grass is not always greener on the other side, especially if you are watering the grass on this side.” I’m not just referring to relationships but all decisions we make, even like buying a new car.

Now, back to authenticity. I still don’t know what it means. Most of the time whatever I am doing is the authentic me… at that particular time. Hmmm.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Unless You’re Not Sure Who Thine Own Self Is

Photo courtesy of amazingmikael at istockphoto