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Risk and Fear Archives - Page 2 of 10 - The Meaning Movement

Category "Risk and Fear"

Inside The Psychology of Dream Killers (and how to protect yourself)

I went to a going away party for a friend not long after I started this blog. I was excited. This was the birth of a dream. It was scary, fun, and vulnerable.

It’s vulnerable to make something you care about public. Suddenly all of your dreams and hopes manifest in something that people can interact with and respond to. And they will respond.

Sometimes the response is a swell of goodness and resonance. Other times you get push back, questioning looks, and even criticism.

Most times it’s some mix of both.

I ran into a friend at this party and she mentioned the blog and how excited she was for what I was doing. I was thrilled to talk about it— it was all so fresh. I pulled out some cards I made for the site that I was equally excited about.

That’s when I became aware that someone else had entered the room. My friend turned and introduced me to a big man in a bright Hawaiian shirt. Within seconds I noted how he carried himself with a cocky swagger and a certain coolness.

He took my card from my friend and said, “What’s this?”

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Lessons Learned From Near Death Experiences

About 5 months ago I came closer to death than I’ve ever been. On a Tuesday afternoon, much like every other, I started having a stomach ache. It wasn’t that much unlike other stomach aches I’ve had. I thought it was my dinner.

Fast forward a few days. A trip to the emergency room and a CT scan revealed that my intestines were literally in a knot. They couldn’t get enough pain killer into me to help with the pain. Morphine? No effect. Fentanyl? Nothing. None of the strong stuff was strong enough.

Moments later I’m in the surgical prep room and they’re walking me through all of the possible scenarios they may encounter once they have me opened. They may have to remove part or all of my intestines. I might have to use a colostomy bag from here on out.

That’s when I realized just how serious things were.  I was about to go under anesthesia and into surgery.  I would take a nap and would wake up to whatever my new and completely unknown future would hold.

It’s terrifying.  But at the time I just had to keep moving forward.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around it all, but here are some of the things I’m learning as I continue to process it.

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Degrees of Variation (a year in review)

In the beginning of September, a few friends put together a party for my wife and I. We gathered in a friend’s backyard with lots of great food, drink, and many of our favorite people. We called it a “baby party” because I had an aversion to the idea of a “baby shower” (though I’m sure it was similar in many ways). A few friends offered words of blessing and hope for us as we transitioned into parenthood.

One of those friends who shared had been through a very rough transition to parenthood. Her son was born prematurely and they spent the first few months of his life in the infant intensive care unit at the hospital. She talked about how we have hopes for what things will be like and that sometimes life offers variations between our hopes and the events that come.

And other times there are many degrees of variations between our hopes and reality.

Her words stuck with me because I knew her experience and I knew how she’d lived through many degrees of difference from the way she had hoped things would go.

Her words became even more poignant when less than one week later, with my wife 33 weeks pregnant, I was on the operating table as surgeons literally took my intestines out and put them back in (I still can’t even believe it).

This was very different from how I had hoped the weeks leading up to parenthood would go. There were many degrees of variation.

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The Three Big Obstacles to Finding Purpose

I often ask people what obstacles and challenges they face as they work toward meaning in their lives. Though the answers come in many shapes and sizes, they boil down to three issues:

1) Knowing What to Do Next. People often feel overwhelmed by options and possibilities and feel a lack of clarity as to what to do when they have time to do something. Overwhelm is major issue in this search, and trying to decide what you should do next is a major contributor to that feeling of overwhelm.

2) Accountability. People often feel alone in the process. Some of us are asking different questions about life, work, and ourselves than anyone else we know— which can feel very isolating. We hear ourselves say things like, “If only I had a group of like minded people who understood what I am looking for and were trying to do something similar themselves.”

3) Time. People often feel like they don’t have the time to pursue meaning because they have too many other responsibilities. Work, family, friends, etc. can take up our time and energy to leave us worn and depleted.

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The Psychological Necessity of Breaking the Rules

“We see you as an artist,” he said. His hair was long, thick, and wavy. His face thin and defined. His gaze intense and gentle.

Sixteen of us sat around a big solid wooden table, eating a meal together. We were all part of an Artist Residency at the graduate school I attended.

Somehow I ended up among them.

I didn’t think of myself as an artist. Though I studied music composition in undergrad, I always felt a bit like I was faking it— everyone else had a much greater mastery of their instruments and musical concepts.

I thought my main focus for the week of the Artist Residency was going to be writing music. It turns out it was something much deeper.

His words to me around that table were part of shift in how I thought of myself. It may seem small from the outside, but on the inside it was big. And risky.

I didn’t spend time around artists in my younger years. My family didn’t have a category for them. None of us were artists. In fact, I don’t know that I could find a single artist in my family tree.

We’d go to art events, but there was always a sense that those people weren’t our people. They were misunderstood and called “artsy-fartsy”.

Artists may make pretty things, but they didn’t seem to belong in our family.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I began to embrace the fact that I really am a creative at heart, and that making is a big part of who I am.
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