Life of Meaning

Unconditional Love, Really?

January 18, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Unconditional love is not fully possible. We are mortal creatures of living and dying and how we love and what we love is conditional upon where we stand in the drama…” David Whyte, Consolations

If you have read recent posts, it must be obvious that David Whyte’s book, Consolations, is my daily morning inspirational reading. And boy, have I gleaned much from it. I read one chapter per day and then write in my journal. So, for that reason you find so much of my recent writing inspired by Whyte.

The Unconditional Love of God Questioned

I was deeply moved this morning by David’s writings on Unconditional Love. Finally, someone is speaking an obvious truth about the virtually untouchable Christian mantra of Unconditional Love. All one need do is read the Torah to discover that multi-thousands were killed under the direct instruction or intervention of God. And so many of them followers of God—just read the Book of Numbers. And one is forced to at least redefine the idea of Unconditional Love.
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Living in “The Now,” Misunderstood

January 11, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“…the guru’s urge to live only in the now misunderstands the multilayered inheritance of existence, where all epochs live and breathe in parallels.” David Whyte, Consolations

When grand new ideas for living a life of meaning arise, I am frequently impressed by the simple wisdom suggested. Such was the power of mindfulness and living in the now.
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What It Takes to Find Oneself

January 4, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life.” Frederick Nietzsche

“Finding yourself” harkens me back to my agenda as a hippie in the late 1960’s at UCLA. Deep and confusing was the journey as so many different proponents of personal and social change became prominent: Abbe Hoffman, Che Guevara, Eric Fromm, and Alan Watts all suggested methodologies for “finding yourself” by different means, from revolution and protests to love and meditation.
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Denial: A Resting Place for the Soul

December 28, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“…to deny denial is to invite powers into our lives we have not yet readied ourselves to meet.” David Whyte

David Whyte writes about the necessity of denial in that it provides space between an emotional crisis and our ability to manage that state. There are times when we are just not ready to deal with it; times when attempts to deal with it does more damage to ourselves than good in remedying our need for closure.
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The Joy of Calling or The Drudgery of Ambition?

December 21, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Perhaps the greatest legacy we can leave with our work is not to install ambition in others… but the passing on of a sense of sheer privilege, of having found a road, a way to follow, and then having been allowed to walk in it…

David Whyte, from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

As an ambitious younger man I found myself driven to achieve, accomplish or win. I would set goals and drive ever so hard to be the best in order to attain respect and even admiration. Now that I have entered Rohr’s 2nd half of living I no longer strive to achieve some form of greatness but to walk the path set before me by God, with humility and acceptance. Yes, this is my calling, my vocation.
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The Need to Cultivate Reason AND Emotions

December 7, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“We have the technology of an advanced civilization balancing precariously on an emotional base that has not developed much since we dwelt in caves.” Alain De Botton

David Whyte writes, “Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts.” The developed world seems to depend almost exclusively on reason, technology and science. Emotions are not only ignored, they are castigated by most intellectuals. And, understandably so, because the craft of being an “intellectual” is founded on fact and reason.
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When Enough Really Is Enough!

November 30, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“You will never feel okay by way of external accomplishments. Enough comes from the inside.
  Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday

Earlier this year (2019) Pam and I hired an expert to help “declutter” my office and our garage. Just too much stuff! And, each of us felt this troubling desire to hang on to stuff we don’t need or will never use, ergo… the declutter expert, Salina Miller.

The Decluttering of Our Souls

If only we each had a Salina Miller to help declutter our souls from the pursuit of achievements as a means to find contentment. We errantly treat our achievements and collections of stuff (including houses, cars, clothes, and vacations to cool places) as a means to somehow renew the emptiness we find in the depths of our innermost beings.
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Being Soft is Hard

November 23, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate.”
Kurt Vonnegut

In a world that tells you to be tough, I firmly believe that the opposite—softness—offers so much more. While toughness inspires you to be strong in the face of emotional, or even physical, difficulties, it also requires that you live in a state of denial and retribution.
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Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Expecting Less to Receive More

October 26, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.
― Leonard Koren

So a few months ago I read Leonard Kohen’s book, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers (not to be confused with the sushi condiment). Leaning on a traditional Japanese past regarding the art of tea houses and the “wabi-sabi” manner of presentation and service of the tea, Koren makes a moving case for the inclusion of simplicity and tradition in our everyday lives.
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Depression: The Unholy Ghost

October 19, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.” A. P. CHEKHOV, The Cherry Orchard

Thoughts on Depression:

It is from afar that I write this post on the “unforgiving malady” of depression. Nearly one year since my last encounter Jane Kenyon’s “unholy ghost,” I find it unnerving to even consider writing on the subject. To think of it requires revisiting hapless memories stored in locked rooms of my “Memory Castle.”

Sometimes listless and apathetic, one thing is for sure: it is downright, wholly consuming. A Darkness Visible types the keys and I dance, to the dissonant chords of another depression.

Jane Kenyon scribbles a poem as she ponders, Having It Out with Melancholy

When I was born, you waited / behind a pile of linen in the nursery, / and when we were alone, you lay down / on top of me, pressing / the bile of desolation into every pore.

And from that day on / everything under the sun and moon / made me sad — even the yellow / wooden beads that slid and spun / along a spindle on my crib.

And toward the end of the poem Kenyon resolves, “Unholy ghost, you are certain to come again.”


So What Now?

Whew. I’m glad that’s done. Delving so deeply into the throes of a depression, even after the fact, somehow seems to once again activate the agonizing feelings of the malady.

Let’s be clear that I am not talking about “sadness.” I fear that sadness often gets confused with depression. Sadness is more episodic in that it is usually related to a particular episode or event, whereas depression frequently seems to have no causality. That unholy ghost seems to sneak in and one is almost suddenly possessed by darkness and melancholy—for no discernable reason.

Marie Osmond has described her experiences suffering from postpartum depression in her book Behind the Smile: “I’m collapsed in a pile of shoes on my closet floor. I have no memory of what it feels like to be happy. I sit with my knees pulled up to my chest. It’s not that I want to be still. I am numb.”

I write this post for the friend who is suffering from or has suffered from depression. Rare is the person that understands the impacts of depression who has not spent entire days under the covers or feels totally disassociated from life. Like addiction, depression is only fully understood by those who have been through it.

I write because “I get it.” Know this… it will pass.

Photo courtesy of Milkos at istockphoto

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