Histories

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”  This lyric from the final song in Hamilton, captures not only an important question about our history but also about our present.

There are different versions of our histories – within our families, our institutions, our country and our world.

In many ways, it is less important to reconcile our complicated personal and national histories than it is to at least spend some time examining them.


Struggle

We often romanticize the idea of struggling. We believe that some struggle on the way to achieving any desired outcome is somehow noble or part of how our character is forged.

But to see anyone, especially a loved one, truly struggle, is heart wrenching.  When I say truly struggle, I mean in the strict definition of the word, “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition.”    …


Frustration

I write this at the end of an especially frustrating day at the end of an especially frustrating week.  The sources of my frustrations are irrelevant. By its very definition, frustration is less about the outside world and more about our perception of it.  As this article from Psychology Today points out, “The majority of anger and frustration in life, no matter what the situation, has at its basis one simple thought: It shouldn’t be this way.


Grace

Several months ago, I was listening to Marc Maron interview Glenn Close for his podcast. It was fascinating on many levels — for example, who knew that the actress was raised in a religious cult? 

One story, in particular, has stuck with me. As a young address, Close was an understudy looking to make her Broadway debut. One particular Saturday, the director, Hal Prince, told her that he was thinking of letting the leading lady go and was going to make his decision after the matinee. …


Laughter

When I was young, I would often wait until the precise moment when my sister had a mouthful of cereal before unleashing something silly or ridiculous. My only goal was to create sufficient laughter to cause the milk in her mouth to shoot out of her nose.  I was remarkably successful.

Growing up, I would often take any proverbial stage in an effort to make others laugh. …


Questions?

These are hard.

What would you take for yourself, that you know would help someone else more?

What would you give your child, that if you gave to another child instead would dramatically change their life? 

These philosophical questions are ones that we don’t explicitly ask ourselves. They are by design difficult to answer. They pit our egalitarian principles and a belief in a fair world against our most basic desire to provide and protect ourselves and those we love. …


Brothers

I recently finished reading the Booker Prize winning novel Shuggie Bain.  It was an especially difficult read as it conjured up memories from my own childhood that I don’t often like to revisit.  A time when my mother’s struggles dominated our life.

If there was a silver lining in this brilliant but bleak book, it was to serve as a reminder of the absolutely pivotal role my brother has played in my life.


Success

What makes for a successful day?  If you’re like me, you might take a look at your calendar, figure out in your mind what you have to get done, and what you’d like to get done. Depending on how many things you tick off your mental list, you’ll do some calculation and determine whether that day was successful or not.

On Friday, my day was destined to be tight, small windows existed in between various obligations that included bringing my children to and from school and most importantly taking my wife to a minor medical procedure an hour away and waiting until it was completed so I could escort her back home. …


Food

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately.

On Monday of last week, an essay series that I worked on with Fast Company and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched with this piece from Saru Jayaraman looking at the future of work for restaurant workers. In it, she asks us to imagine a future where “diners don’t just ask about where produce comes from but how well workers are paid.”…