Life of Meaning

Play Safe… or Live

April 30, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

The unlived life is not worth examining.” Guy Kawasaki

I’m not sure who wrote the following, but I’ve been told that it was a favorite of Hunter S. Thompson

My life will not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out…”

Okay, so perhaps the quote so favored by life-style anarchist Hunter S. Thompson may be just a bit far-fetched. Still, it is nevertheless attractive and worthy of thought. Do I want to be “used up and totally worn out” when I die? Let’s give that thought a “Hell Yeah.” Just one caveat… I want to be old when I die, as well. Haha.

The Need for Safety

According to the oft-quoted “Hierarchy of Needs” of psychologist Abraham Maslow, our hunger for safety and security are found just above the most basic needs for food, water, warmth, and rest. In other words, safety and security are of the most primal of all human needs. They make up the foundation for living fruitfully, for a long time.

I think the truth is that many of us long for both. Yes, although we may claim an appreciation for adventure and risk-taking, we still hope that it doesn’t ruin us (or kill us) prematurely.

The Balance: Safety and Risk

Once again, the sanest approach is to live somewhere in the middle of the continuum, for to hang out on either end can lead to (1) an early death or (2) prolonged boredom.

As an antagonist of “either/or” thinking, I find myself trying to achieve a “both/and” model. Yes, I do want safety. I wish no harm for me or my family. However, on the other end, I do like change and a challenge. I do like taking risks, but only after a good bit of research. For instance, I have probably worked in a half dozen careers, I go to foreign countries alone with very little pre-planned itinerary, or I can take on take on a task that I have never attempted before just because it appears to be fun.

Examined or Not: Just LIVE!

I really resonate with the Guy Kawasaki quote that “an unlived life is not worth examining.” Life is not “tidy,” nor is it intended to be. Life on this planet is messy and our efforts to control are mostly useless in the longer term. Why not live, perhaps not so much on the risky side, but on the side of exciting and enduring experiences?

After all, too much safety can certainly mean not enough living. As always, it is your choice.

Live, Really Live

And Do It on Purpose

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Nunes at istockphoto

Anger Lights Up Our Deepest Passions

April 24, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“The internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.” David Whyte

Maria Popova writes, “Anger, indeed, is one of the emotions we judge most harshly — in others, as well as in ourselves — and yet understanding anger is central to mapping out the landscape of our interior lives.”

The Magnifying Glass of Anger

Although we do judge anger rather bitterly, anger itself can also be like an internal magnifying glass. For, in our anger we discover, in the words of poet/philosopher David Whyte, “what we belong to, what we wish to protect, and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.” Such discoveries are usually indicators of our most precious and vulnerable inner selves.
[Read more…]

The Intimate Affection of God

April 17, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

The notion that God can be intimately affected, that He possesses not merely intelligence and will, but also feeling and pathos, basically defines the prophetic consciousness of God…” Abraham Heschel

NOTE: this post is longer than usual

The Bible is confusing.

Today, many of us continue to focus on God’s love, forgiveness, and universal grace. However, such thinking seems to be less and less common. In fact, I might say, with some confidence, that a significant number of people in the USA have become dissolutioned with a patriarchal God who seems to be more interested in punishment, anger, and what appears to be vengeance than it does about love.
[Read more…]

The Failure of Perfection

April 9, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 3 Comments

He who does not expect perfection is not disappointed when he does not find it…” Charles H. Spurgeon

Lifted from Bill Britton: Wisdom from the Margins

So, I’ll go public with it right now: I am in the early stages of writing a book. The sad thing is, I have been in the “early stages” of writing this book for a few months, and I have made little progress.
[Read more…]

Life is Not a Popularity Contest

April 4, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

We are trying to sort out if we are okay relative to what others think of us.” Michael Gervais

From the moment we exit the birth canal we are needy—for nourishment, touch, warmth, and a soothe familiar voice. These fundamental needs soon blossom to include acceptance and loyalty. After all, in early, early childhood we see ourselves as the center of the only universe we know, the universe of our “self.”

Somewhere, however, between the ages of 3 and 6 we begin to learn that others have needs as well, implying that we are not the only ones in this universe. Unfortunately, too many of us never seem to learn that lesson to its fullest.
[Read more…]

A Commitment to the Creative Act Itself

March 26, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Worry less about what you make — that will mostly look after itself, and is to some extent beyond your control, and perhaps even none of your business — and devote yourself to nourishing this animating spirit. This is done by a commitment to the creative act itself.” Nick Cave

I had a dream recently in which I was chatting evocatively with a woman about the pleasure of writing. In response she suggested that we each write three pages and compare compositions, not as in a contest but as in what joy we each brought to the table.

She sort of off-handedly suggested the title of our compositions to be “over the ball.” I loved the assignment and decided to write a fictional piece on “over the bawl,” thinking I might use a play on words. Off to a great start I felt enthused and engaged until, like in all dreams, unexpected roadblocks got in the way of me completing the exercise.
[Read more…]

Winds from the Wings of Madness

March 19, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Today I felt pass over me a breath of wind from the wings of madness.” Charles Baudelaire

This morning I attended a religious conference and listened to two powerful speakers, my friend Terry Hershey and Fr Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, a uniquely influential ministry to gang members of the inner cities, especially Los Angeles.

Hundreds of people learned and grew in grace listening to the speakers. Many were moved to tears and experienced deeply passionate feelings about life, about themselves, and about God. It’s a stunning event to watch. I wish I could say it is a stunning event to participate in except I today was a “watcher,” not a “participant.”
[Read more…]

Is Value Assigned or Inherent?

March 12, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“[Self-understanding] begins by renouncing the illusory reality which “created things” acquire when they are seen only in their relation to our own selfish interests.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Written March 2020

As I ponder this reading from Merton, I am thinking that he is using the ideas of “reality” and “value” almost synonymously. That which we view is only as real as we assign value to it, according to our selfish interests. Value is a most personal decision, still… influenced by culture. I value that which is highly valued by others, such as gold or jewelry, and I most value that which is meaningful to me personally, despite others’ opinions.
[Read more…]

When Being Good is Not So Good

March 5, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 1 Comments

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” Saint Augustine

Yesterday was awkward.  I felt what feels like an “evil spirit of being good at something” and found it almost paralyzing

This thought surely requires explanation.
[Read more…]

Two Faces of Anger

February 27, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 1 Comments

Anger is a most helpful diagnostic tool. When anger erupts in us it is a signal that something is wrong. Anger is our sixth sense for sniffing out what is wrong in the neighborhood. What anger fails to do, though, is to tell us whether the wrong is outside or inside us.Eugene Peterson Bill Britton

Until reading Eugene Peterson I am not sure I have ever considered the two distinct faces of anger. One face is that of what is often referred to as “righteous anger,” meaning that something is amiss in society, family, and family dysfunction. The other, and much uglier face, is the consequence of my our personal unfulfilled desires. I want to be appreciated; I want to be admired; I want my “stuff;” I want things that validate me and make me happy.
[Read more…]

The Next Chapter Podcast
Living a life of meaning Living a life with adventure Living a life with awe