Food for Free Thought is an attempt to discover and share ideas and practices for a life well-lived. Nathan Meffert is a thinker, creator, designer and entrepreneur.
The Food for Free Thought blog and podcast is my attempt to build an island of sanity in the stormy seas of the internet. When I got serious about the project in mid-2016, my goal was to explore, share and amplify ideas, practices and resources to help readers trust themselves, make independently-minded choices and live a principled life of truth and meaning.
While this remains true, the project has also become a record of my own journey to the frontiers of mind and heart to recover those jewels for myself. This quote from Dr. Jordan B. Peterson sums up this aspect of the project:
“What do you want to be king? What do you want to subordinate yourself to? How about your heroic willingness to encounter the unknown, and articulate it, and share it with people? There’s no nobler vision than that.”
– Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, 2017 Maps of Meaning 10: Genesis and the Buddha
Since I started, I have learned a few things about my part of the journey:
- Reason and rationality, while incredibly powerful tools, can be dangerous without a framework for meaning. Meaning is found in different ways for different people. For me, it’s art, music, spiritual and philosophical texts, meditation, family connection, time in nature, etc.
- We know when our personal efforts line up with the big picture. For example, when personal goals line up with family goals with community goals with state and national goals. It seems to be that human physiology is tuned to receiving that signal, something hard to define but roughly akin to a sense of meaning and purpose.
- There are parts of each of us that are stubbornly conservative and parts that are highly, radically, progressive. For myself, I see these parts as complimentary—with the progressive part ideating and championing change, while the conservative part resists change for change’s sake, plans a measured approach to the change that’s required, and protects change when it proves to be wisdom.
- I want to become the kind of person who is expert at holding seemingly conflicting points of view simultaneously. I want to use my art and writing as a vehicle to create dialogue around big, conflicting, and sometimes frightening ideas and I want to trust that, in the end (sometimes after a long, long period of awkwardness and conflict) the deeper and more transcendent truth will reveal itself.
- Of all of the liberal values that undergird our system of government and social progress, I believe that the freedom to speak our minds is paramount. Other freedoms, in my analysis, flow from that basic tenant. As an artist and as a designer, I believe that a free exchange of ideas is a prerequisite to innovation and creative thinking.
Lastly, this is a messy process. While thinkers, artists, philosophers and spiritual teachers of the past can offer some possible guideposts on the journey to meaning and truth, it’s up to us to define this for ourselves in relation to our position and time in society and on planet Earth.
As for me, part of my contribution to the broader human project is an attempt to share my journey in no uncertain terms. I trust that that is enough, is a form of beauty in its own right, and I look forward to hearing about yours.
Nathan Meffert, the sole author of Food for Free Thought, has done field research on the mammals of North America and amongst indigenous societies in both North and South America. He has taught ecological design to landscape architects, farmers, and urban planners, and has applied and developed design thinking as a discipline for business systems innovation in the manufacturing sector.
These days, you can find him publishing articles, essays and podcasts in the areas of free speech, critical thinking, social progress, art and innovation on the Food for Free Thought blog and on Twitter and Instagram as an activist, public thinker, and poet. Nathan also recently co-founded Modern Animal Social Brand and Innovation Studio (modernanimal.co) to help mission-driven social and creative organizations tell compelling stories, build movements, and change the world.
Nathan is a member of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), the Professional Design Association (AIGA), and the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA). You can follow him on Facebook here, Twitter here and Instagram here. Or, go out on a limb and email him here.