Laugh

“What kind of tree can you fit into your hand?”   —- “a palm tree.”

Each morning our daughter’s elementary school principal shares a taped video message.  She concludes it with a joke submitted by a student – similar to the one above. This ritual is a new one, as  previously the morning announcements in school did not include any joke telling.

While not privy to the reason behind this addition. My…


Insufficient?

In the face of our current challenges, I’ve heard many echo my own feelings that our personal actions have been insufficient. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to others whose roles are deemed essential and actions heroic.

This sentiment at times comes when people reflect on their relative good fortune or privilege. But it is not limited to the lucky.

I’ve also spoken to those directly impacted by events.…


Heroic

She drove almost 2,000 miles from Pennsylvania to Texas to deliver a truckload of eggs.  On the way back, her freight was 29,000 pounds of berries – among whose final destinations was a Philadelphia hospital.

On a normal week my sister’s driving comes with its own set of risks. She has lupus and being in a truck is not especially good for her health – even though she does split the driving with her husband.…


Essential

It is early, but my frontrunner for word of the year is “essential.”  We’ve heard it often lately in the context of “essential businesses.” But when life comes in a stripped down version it causes us all to re-evaluate what is essential for our own lives and what are the essential roles we play in the lives of others.

Two of my nephews work at a food distribution center and my sister hauls food across the country in an eighteen wheel truck. 


Connected

The speed of everyday life can make the strings that connect us invisible to the naked eye. When life grinds to a halt those same strings might as well be thickly knotted ropes.

Recently, we have seen these connections first in ways that frighten us.  A virus can spread across continents, oceans, and states, while making the rest of the world stand still. The economic reverberations ring out from Wall Street but come crashing down on every storefront on Main Street.  …


Canceled

They came one after another. A work event I’d been helping prepare for months. Both universities where I teach canceled classes and would move the rest online. A trip to Boston with my youngest daughter for her first basketball tournament. Another local tournament for two daughter’s soccer teams. Then the postponement of the youth soccer season altogether. Then their basketball season. Then one’s theatre program, another’s gymnastics etc.…


Are you contagious?

Contagion is the second most popular movie on Netflix this year as people turn to this 2011 thriller for some combination of information and escapism. I watched this movie when it first came out and remember it as absolutely terrifying. But not for the reason you might think.

Yes, the physical effects of the virus that spreads rapidly across the globe are devastating and graphic (it is portrayed as exponentially more lethal and dangerous than the coronavirus.)…


“A true genius….”

In the the film, And Justice for All, Al Pacino gives an impassioned speech about the meaning of justice and its pursuit. He is defending a judge he knows to be guilty of a heinous crime and is part of a system he knows to be imperfect if not corrupt.  He laments that justice is not the aim of a court proceeding, winning is.  

Ultimately he must choose whether to pursue this objective or to sacrifice ego and reward. …


Heroic Hospitality

Recently, we took our daughters to go see the play, Come From Away. It tells the story of how the small town of Gander, Newfoundland came to the aid of over 7,000 passengers whose planes were forced to land as American airspace was closed in the minutes after the 9/11 attacks. They provided not only lodging, food, and clothes, but also comfort, compassion and love to the strangers who doubled the size of the town’s population for almost a week.  …


Let’s see how your mind works

In this interview, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, recounted what attributes are common among musicians. One that resonated was the idea of musicians having especially patterned minds. The term refers to the ability to remember and think in patterns. In music this comes in especially handy in remembering chord progressions, lyrics etc. For an average person, we might be able to recite the words to a song we know only if we begin at a familiar place, like the beginning or at the chorus.…