Life of Meaning

Needed: Bridge Builders!

August 8, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

We ought to have the humility to admit we do not know all about ourselves, that we are not experts at running our lives. ― Thomas Merton

On his album East Ashville Hardware singer/songwriter David Wilcox tells the story of a carpenter in search of work somewhere in rural America. To his luck, he comes upon a farmer looking to build a fence.
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Good Intentions: The Enemy of Integrity

July 26, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

People are always meaning well… That’s often the trouble. Penelope Lively

“Be a man of your word.” “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” “If you ever need anything, just give me a call.” Or, “When you move, just let me know. I can help.”

Whew? Such clichés are uttered with the greatest of intentions, and utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, at times these good intentions are also uttered without much forethought—the receiver of these promises actually believes the promisor meant what was said.
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The Gospel According to Work

July 19, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

In the past century, the American conception of work has shifted from jobs to careers to callings—from necessity to meaning.” Derek Thompson Staff writer at The Atlantic

“So… what do YOU do?”

How many times have you been asked that annoying question?

I say “annoying” because the implications are obvious (as well as disheartening): Our essence as a worthy individual seems to be predicated on what kind of work we do, especially if we can add titles like founder, president, VP, SVP, or CEO. The inferences are clear: such titles mean that we are most likely educated, industrious, competent, and successful. We are worth listening to.
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I Could Be Wrong

July 11, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.” James Baldwin

It all began nearly thirty years ago.

New to the forward thinking of the Episcopalians, I found myself in disagreement with one particular point in a sermon given by the Bishop of the LA Diocese. So, following my inquisitive proclivities I approached Bishop Fred Borsch afterwards during “coffee hour.” It was then I most respectfully questioned the biblical accuracy of his position.

Bishop Borsch thoughtfully considered my question before he responded, “You know, Charlie,” (I had introduced myself to him), “together we believe in the truths of the Scripture and that the words in the text are certainly not “wrong.” Although together you and I believe that Scripture is not wrong, we as errant human beings might be wrong in our interpretations.”

That brief encounter with the Bishop changed my thinking forever. I Could Be Wrong! No matter how sure I may be of any given “truth” I could be proven wrong when confronted with new information. That was when I chose to begin holding my “beliefs” in a bit of suspension, always prepared to be open to new ideas.

James Baldwin was right on target when he assailed the notion of self-righteousness by calling those with such beliefs as dangerous. Certainly, those with unassailable beliefs can be unapproachable. Ergo, “never talk about religion or politics” in a friendly gathering.

In times like we face today, I can think of no better words to live by than “I could be wrong.” My personal beliefs are always assailable and I wish to be open to other ideas.

Now, for me, I still hold certain beliefs very close to my heart and I have a hard time imagining someone changing my mind. But… you never know… I could be wrong.

When In Doubt

Count Yourself as Blessed

Photo courtesy of Deagreez at istockphoto

Self Reflection in Pandemonium

July 5, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“Montaigne left the world to follow its own chaotic crazed paths in an effort to only concern himself with one thing: to be rational within himself, to remain human in an inhuman time, to remain free in the vortex of pandemonium.Stephen Zweig on Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

Sometimes the disorder of social pandemonium requires a respite or retreat in order to gather one’s thoughts. It is so easy to get caught up in the tyranny of the loudest voices, resulting in a chaotic world, both personal and social.
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When Duty is a Joy

June 20, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“I slept and dreamt / that life was a joy. / I awoke and saw that life was a duty. / I worked—and behold, / duty was a joy.
Rabindranath Tagore

In my final, for now, essay on Viktor’s Frankl’s Yes to Life I find myself experiencing a twist regarding my search for meaning in life.

When Duty is An Option

Frankl offers two fresh options for our seeming eternal quest for some kind of meaning of this delightful and troublesome existence we call “life.” Answers to these question are comprised of both individual and socially responsibilities. Frankl suggests two ideas to ponder:
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Rethinking Dignity

June 13, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

… a human being should never become a means to an end.” Viktor Frankl, Yes to Life

All great literature is defined by a handful of common features, one of them being timeless relevance. Viktor Frankl’s lectures in 1946 are indeed timelessly relevant. Written in the post-barbaric times of Nazi Germany, Frankl experienced the very worst of human nature.
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Before It’s Too Late

May 23, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“What are the small ways in which you can contribute to peace on earth? What monumental prayer can you pray to alleviate suffering in this world, one human being, one grey wolf, one old-growth redwood tree at a time?” Mirabai Starr

In her song Wake Up, Alicia Keys hums, “When we gonna wake up… before it’s too late?”

Haunted by a Daunting Reality

I was listening to Alicia while pondering this post and found her words touching a haunting spot in my soul. Although written with romantic love in mind, her message nevertheless reflects an altogether daunting reality. As a people with influence, we need to wake up before it’s too late… for so many reasons.
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Making Space… In My Mind

May 9, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

We want to fill up what is empty. Our lives stay very full. And when we are not blinded by busyness, we fill our inner space with guilt about things of the past or worries about things to come. Henri Nouwen

Space. A vast frontier. No, not Star Wars. More like room to wander about, in the cosmic expanses… in my mind. And yes, these wanderings are best discovered in silence, sans distractions and disruptions—the norm of normal times.

So as we begin the emergence or resurrection back to some kind of normal, I wonder: will I still create time for making space—that room to ponder and delight in the magical mystery tour… in my mind?

*****

The operative words in this little litany of thought are “in my mind.” Yesterday, for example, I toured the regions of my youth—literally. I left the house, drove thirty miles to Pico Rivera and Whittier, where I was raised until about 20.
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