Life of Awe

Curiosity and the Wonder of Not Knowing

May 14, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” Rosalia de Castro

A couple ideas come to mind when I think about curiosity and not knowing.

Newton’s Beach

The first idea has come with age. I have discovered that “the more I know leads me to realize the less I actually know.” I am reminded of the famous story of Isaac Newton on the beach. Shortly before he died, Newton is said to have sat on a beach pondering the wonders of life when he realized that as much as he knew about science and the universe, he still regarded himself as only a pebble the on shore of great truth.

It was the “not knowing” that drove Newton’s curiosity to better understand the issues of gravity which led to science as we know it today through the eyes of Einstein and the like.

The Excitement of Having No Direction to Go

My second thought concerning not knowing is much more personal. As most of you know, I am an insatiable traveler. Add to that, I am a terrible tourist! I have very little interest in typical “tourist type sites.” I guess I have already seen much of what I desire to see, (especially in Europe.)

I find myself captured by culture and the surprises of ordinary sights that I would never have otherwise even experienced. For instance, an ideal day-trip is to walk out of my Airbnb, backpack on, point a direction rather unconsciously, and say, “That’s where I’m headed today” and just start walking. I find markets and cafes, vendors and ice cream shops. On oh, always just a bit of expresso on the way.

Driven by know knowing where I am headed I become immensely curious. Just as Rosalia de Castro writes, “Not knowing where I am going inspires me to travel it.”

Know-It-Alls, Yuk

Don’t you find know-it-all personalities to be immensely frustrating and boring. Incapable of discussion, the only type of conversation they can have is one in which they lecture and you listen. Instead, I love conversationalists that surprise me with “I don’t know much about that” or “tell me more.”

Perhaps the purpose of this post is to lift up the “Not-Knowers” and encourage others regarding the power of the ravenous curiosity that comes with admitting (first to yourself) just how much you don’t know. That leaves space to discover your potentially rich and informationally hungry mind.

And Then There is the Ego

As Ryan Holiday writes, The ego is indeed the enemy. As long as our defensive and protective egos rule we will have little desire to admit our limitations. I recently read that the ego is highly resistant to change and is highly defensive. The ego lacks the capacity to admit not knowing.

And yet, the wise person is first to admit they have much to learn and to experience—the wonder of not knowing.

Admit Not Knowing

And Learn the Wonder of Curiosity

Photo courtesy of Deagreez at istockphoto

On “Being” the Good News

January 8, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

Your life is your theology and your sermon. Don’t preach the good news but be the good news… Preach as you go! Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” St Francis of Assisi

In October 2020 Pam and I vacationed in Spain and Italy, praying with St Teresa of Avila and St Francis of Assisi. One thing is common to both mystics, each of them lived the message of Jesus. Although both were indeed theologically brilliant, it was their Jesus-like actions that persuaded others to join them. Humility, poverty, and love were their hallmarks.
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A New Year of Surprises

January 2, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

It’s good place to be when all you have is hope and not expectations.” Danny Boyle, director of the movie Slumdog Millionaire

How does it work? Hope without expectations. If you expect nothing, then for what are you hoping?

Here’s the real question: At the end of the day, are you hoping for accomplishments and possessions, or are you hoping for something even greater? It seems to me that our primal human hope has more to do with interior desires than external acquisitions or accolades.
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Do You Have a Place?

November 7, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

Real places are never captured in words. There is always more.” Erin MorgensternThe Starless Sea

In his book The Teachings of Don Juan, Calos Castaneda, describes his medicine man/Shaman Don Juan, as instructing a new student not to leave the porch area of the retreat home until he finds “his spot.” No matter how long it takes. “Search and rest in various spots until you find yours,” commands the Shaman. As I recall it takes the searcher more than one full day find his spot—but he did

And I think we all have “a spot” or perhaps even a few of them, where we can find comfort in ourselves and with ourselves. There are spots in my home where I am most comfortable. But then there are also “places,” cities or regions that simply feel like you belong.
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Love is in the Details

September 4, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn’t resonate.” Jacqueline Woodson

I went to a funeral. After a small handful of inspirational speakers presented, a younger man made his way to the front and spoke words from the heart of wisdom. In a very comfortable everyday manner of speech, he prompted us all, several times, not to neglect the “details” of love.

Love is a Verb

As I stood there contemplating his potent words I was reminded of the oft-used phrase, “love is a verb.” Love is an action word, not a concept nor a theology.

And since it is a verb, it is best defined by the adverbs, nouns, or pronouns that follow. Love is best described by the actions it takes and the responses these actions generate. Too often these actions of love go unrecognized if we are not careful to pay attention with the right kinds of eyes and ears.

Unrecognized “Details”

My current coach sends me a book a couple times each month. Unfortunately, too frequently I fail to see the love that she sends with each gift. A friend called yesterday to ask about the source of a quote I used on a blog. When I told him it was unattributed because I was the writer of the quote, he was shocked. “You wrote that??!!” “Haha,” I chanted, “tis true.” What a gift of love.

“Details” That Last

Almost twenty years ago, I was coaching a 12-year-old baseball team at a “Father’s Day” baseball tournament in our area. I jokingly asked the boys, “So… what did you guys get me for Father’s Day (all the while knowing full well they brought nothing).” That was when 12-year-old Joe Musgrove (now a pitcher for the San Diego Padres) piped up, “We’re gonna win you a championship, Coach!” And they did. What a very huge gift of love. Winning only added to the joy of the young Joe Musgrove’s words of love to a coach.

Tis a day I shall take with me to the “Pearly Gates.”

Love is Not

A Nice Theory

Photo courtesy of yacobchuk at istockphoto

 

 

Making Room for Surprise

July 31, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

We must become hospitable to interruptions… Purposefulness requires paying attention, and paying attention means—almost by definition—that we make room for surprise… Our true purpose is fashioned in the crucible of interruptions.” Physicist Mark Buchanan (from Bill Britton, p 39)

For me, the three most detestable words heard at an upscale restaurant: “How is everything?” Especially when asked by a manager… frequently. Maybe if asked once perhaps the question is kind and even acceptable. But when I am queried two, three or more times I become irritable.

Don’t they understand my experience is not about them? If I don’t like something or desire service, I’ll let them know. From me, no news is good news.
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When Were You Most Happy?

July 17, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future [or the past].” Seneca the Younger

In a writing curriculum that I am part of I was recently asked to describe, “The time in my life that I was most happy.”

Bad Question

In truth, I don’t even like the question. The response seems to assume that at some point my life was the very best it could ever be. After 70 years I have learned that is a dumb question. That’s because, for me, the answer will always be “right now is the time I am most happy with my life.” Even though today I am facing serious personal struggles, today is still the time in my life I am most happy.”
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Turning Down Your Volume

June 6, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

Those who love their own noise are impatient with everything else.” Thomas Merton

A Real Life Story

So I’m sitting in a restaurant alone doing what many of us do in such situations: I am eavesdropping on a conversation at the table next to me. It’s almost impossible not to, especially when people have louder voices.

Then the inevitable occurs: while one person seems to be dominating the conversation, I hear another voice saying, “That reminds me of when…” But the speaker refuses to give up. And so 15 to 30 seconds later I hear the same voice with the identical retort, “That reminds me of when…” And once again, that doesn’t slow down the lengthy conversant.
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How We Ever Lose “Pleasance?”

April 24, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Make new deposits to the pleasant memory bank.
Let your life be a reason for others to live
.” ― Somya Kedia

I was thinking just the other day, “How pleasant my life was.” It occurred to me then that the word pleasant seems to be a forgotten word in our common vocabularies. I like the word. Pleasant seems to connote a “calm sense of peace,” even while in the thrust of a marvelously understated happiness or joy.
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Surprised by Beauty

January 30, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 3 Comments

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed… only if there is a light from within.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

My friend and best man, Wayne Herman, recently visited his father shortly before his death at 91. At the Memorial Service, Wayne told me, several people agreed that Carl always had an endearing “twinkle in his eye.” You never knew if he was up to mischief or if he was just feeling the beauty of life.
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