Fame

Spiderman came to Hastings this week. More specifically, Tom Holland was in my town shooting a new anthology series for Apple TV.  Throngs of kids lined up in a marked off area to catch a glimpse of him. When he finally arrived, clad in period 70’s garb, they screamed.  Calling out his name, filming his every move, clamoring for him to come by and say hello – which to his credit he did.…


Upgrade

My family and I recently went to Los Angeles for spring break. I wasn’t able to select our seats in advance to ensure that all five of us could sit together unless I was prepared to upgrade our seats.

Later in the trip, we went to the Universal Studios theme park. The tickets were not cheap, $125 each. Yet when we arrived we found extremely long lines.…


Savor

My friend recently told me the story about a lunch he had with another friend of ours. They were getting together at an old stomping ground where we had all had lunch dozens of times before. The circumstances this time were different.

Our friend had terminal cancer, was very weak, and it was clear that this would be their last lunch together. Eating his burger took longer than usual and the waitress seemed to hover a bit.…


Aphasia

I was startled when I learned that Bruce Willis was stepping back from acting due to his recent aphasia diagnosis. This New York Times article headline describes this affliction as “stealing your ability to communicate.”

My reaction was informed by my own experience with aphasia over a decade ago. Shortly after the birth of our first child, I found myself, on occasion, saying a word I didn’t intend to.…


Belief

What or who do you believe in?

Beliefs can be a tricky thing. We all have them, in fact hold them dearly. Yet seldom do we explicitly state or share them. More often, beneath the surface, they inform, influence or dictate many of our actions.

Beliefs, according to the Oxford dictionary, can be defined in two ways:
One is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”…


Funk

Have you ever been in a funk? Assuming the answer is yes, how did it feel? More importantly, how did it end?

As I write this, I find myself in the middle of one.

For me, funks are episodic. Sometimes lasting a few hours, sometimes a few days. Rarely much more.

Different from true crises, which force us to focus all our energy to resolve a single pressing problem, funks are often a collection of smaller issues.…


Observe

This week as part of an Earth Science’s assignment, my daughter has to go outside and observe the phases of the moon. Once she’s found it in the night sky, she is to draw what she’s seen. Over time, she is expected to see the various waxing and waning phases and presumably draw some conclusions.

On a few occasions, she’s asked me to go outside and see the moon with her, which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed.…


Anything

My last cycle of REM sleep often occurs just before I wake. It is during this time that your brain processes emotions and emotional memories. It is also when we dream. Lately, it seems as if the emotions I’m processing range from mildly troubling to deeply disturbing. As I often remember my dreams, this can lead to an unsettling start to my day.

As it was this morning.…


Word

Words matter.  At their best, they evoke common understanding, connection and feeling.  At their worst they mislead, misrepresent and divide.

All words are an abstraction of sorts, a representation of something very real.  On a range of issues, experts too often rely on particularly abstract words that are so open to interpretation one could drive a truck through it.

Metaphors are the opposite, they attach to an idea something we can easily relate to and understand.…


Music

It was a wonderful week of music in my home.

My children fell in love with a new song (“On My Way” by Jennifer Lopez), that went into heavy rotation and led to many sing alongs.

I interviewed Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC for my podcast, who reminded me that “music can do what politics and religion can’t – unite us.”

Finally, I had my first guitar lesson in three years.…


Educated

In her 2018 memoir, Educated, Tara Westover, shared her incredible life story. She told of being raised by survivalist parents who did not permit her to go to school or see a doctor. In spite of it all and the accompanying trauma, she went on to go to Brigham Young University (her first class there was her first experience in a classroom) and then on to Oxford University and ultimately becoming a bestselling author.…


Fans

I have always been a huge sports fan. Perhaps to an unhealthy degree. My mood is excessively impacted by the actions of a group of strangers who often make millions of dollars and sometimes seem less upset than I am over the outcome for any given game.

For the first half of my life my fandom of Boston sports teams brought exponentially more suffering than joy.…


Rich

Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke is a charming and wisdom filled slim book. It is written as a letter that one of his ancestors left his children before heading off to a battle from which he was unsure to return. He shares twenty values that his children should live by – if they wish to be a noble knight like himself. Within each there is a brief fable that illustrates the value in practice.…


Wishes

As part of my end of the year project to get both my literal and figurative “house” in order, I found myself cleaning out my dresser. The sock drawer is always the most interesting part of this chore. Seeing what miscellaneous artifacts of your previous year were stuffed in between unpaired socks always comes with some mixture of dread and surprise.

Amongst the flotsam of old receipts, lottery tickets, and cards was a plain white envelope.…


Time

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and any other that I’ve shared each Monday morning this year.

Increasingly we come to the realization that for the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on holiday presents, the most valuable gift we have to offer is that of our time.

So I am truly grateful for the few minutes you take each week to read these short notes.…


Wit

The holiday, by nature, can be stressful. Throw in another wave of a pandemic that can impact our health, upend our preparations and wreak havoc on travel plans, it would be understandable if many of us are as they say, “at our wit’s end.”

But to quote the writer, Rudyard Kipling, “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you.…


Listening

Each Wednesday, I commute into the city to teach. It affords me the rare opportunity to relax, read, listen and think. As I travel by train for forty minutes and then walk the thirty blocks from Grand Central to Union Square, I often listen to podcasts, some that make me laugh and others that make me wonder. You could even occasionally catch me singing along to a tune on Spotify.…


Compliments

“Hey, beautiful!”

A passerby shouted this to the person I was having coffee with a few weeks ago. This “drive-by compliment” from one friend to another brought a smile to all three of our faces on an otherwise dreary day.

It reminded me of a phrase that I learned in one of my many, many hours of online soccer training required to be a travel soccer coach.…


Fun?

I’m not sure if I would describe myself as a fun person. Sure I can be funny and I like to have fun – who doesn’t? I also lead a happy and satisfied life. But am I “fun”? Are you?

By “fun,” I’m referring to someone who is naturally disposed to fun. They seek the company of other people, enjoy novel experiences, always up for a good time, like to be the life of any party – even if it’s a party of one or two.…


Grid

Grab a pencil.

Create a grid with an x (horizontal) and y (vertical) axis.

Label the x axis “Time” and the y axis “Meaning”

Now begin to plot the major activities in your life – both professional and personal – on the grid.

For example, I spend a lot of time on email – and generally get little meaning or value from it. Conversely, I get a tremendous amount of meaning from writing and spend comparatively less time doing so.…


Tickets

I was interviewed recently for this article that appeared in the New York Times.

It was a vivid and important look at how young people around the world assess their potential for success in life and what they think is necessary for achieving it.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people in poorer countries were generally more optimistic about their chances of future success than those in more economically developed countries like the United States.…


Experiment

There is a passage in Richard Power’s thought-provoking new novel, Bewilderment, that I find myself returning to again and again.

It describes an epiphany of sorts he has when considering his son and the undiagnosed mental health issues he is dealing with. He writes:

“Watching medicine fail my child, I developed a crackpot theory: Life is something we need to stop correcting. My boy was a pocket universe I could never hope to fathom.…


Build

I promised my daughter I would make her bed on Friday.

I finished it on Saturday.

Of course, making her bed wasn’t just tucking in her covers, arranging her stuffed animals and fluffing her pillow. It was putting together a new loft bed with a built-in desk and shelves underneath.

Now, I don’t consider myself especially handy. I’ve hung some drywall in my time and done a few projects here and there but by and large I would admit my skills are as limited as my tool box.…


Freedom

This weekend my youngest daughter, fresh off her 10th birthday, began her fifth stint in quarantine.

This time around she will miss two soccer games, one of her best friend’s birthday parties, running a Girls on The Run 5K that she’s been in training for months and of course, trick or treating on Halloween. She will also be spending the next week doing school online. Bringing her total time of unnecessary online learning to over forty days.…


Serve

Two weeks ago I watched a grown man cry and it was extraordinary.  They were neither tears of sadness or joy. I suspect they were tears born out of a deep humility, appreciation for others and a calling to serve.

The man was Colin Powell and the event, which was one of his last public appearances before dying last week, was for the school named in his honor; The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.  …