Smile

I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, my mind struggling to process the hour of bad news I had just watched.  At a loss, I wondered what would happen if I just forced myself to smile. I imagine if anyone had seen me, it would have looked quite ridiculous, as I stared at the ceiling trying to hold a forced smile as long as I could.

The first five seconds were legitimately challenging, perhaps evidence that these muscles had atrophied a bit during these last several months. Eventually, as…


Results

I find “results” to be a perplexing word.  

When you see “results’ in print is your instinct to read it as a noun?  As in “I want results.”  Or do you read it as a verb — “when I do this, it results in that?”

Its origins date back to the French “resilire” which means “to rebound” and is the root word for resilience.  There is a looseness and flexibility in its original meaning that I admire.…


Thinking

Inside Bill’s Brain is a documentary series that invites us to see how Bill Gates thinks. Among the more remarkable practices is his long standing “think weeks,” where perplexed by a particular problem, he loads up a bag of books on that topic and takes off to a secluded cabin where he just thinks about that issue. Returning hopefully with a deeper understanding, a plan of action, perhaps even some solutions worthy of exploration.…


Tears

It happened as the parade of cars drove through our town, our children’s teachers beeping and beaming as we waved.

It happened as I attended the virtual graduation ceremony at City College and read the students and parents’ supportive and proud comments and emojis scroll down the Youtube Live chat box for an hour.

It happened as I watched each episode of Some Good News, as each story chronicled one beautiful act of appreciation after another.…


Feeling/Doing

“In one word, write down how you are feeling right now.”  

This was how I started each class over the last month at the two different universities where I teach.   

Students were encouraged not to use terms already added to the zoom chat by another student. Some results were predictable.  Anxious, tired, afraid, nervous, unsure – always made the list. More practical needs were also expressed – allergic, hungry – as were, albeit more rarely,  the aspirational – hopeful, grateful.…


Open?

There has been a lot of talk and some action about “opening” lately.  Most of it has been focused on opening the economy, or more specifically businesses.  Some are clamoring to get back to life “as normal” while others are concerned that such a move would endanger our individual and collective health. This debate, if you want to call it that, is taking different shapes depending upon circumstance, geography and is greatly affected by leadership of lack thereof.…


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.…


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.…


This Week in Courage

As many lament what they see as a lack of moral courage in our politics and society, it perhaps is helpful to take pause and appreciate how rare and special this particular type of courage actually is.

Over a hundred years ago, Claude Monet wrote “It is a tragedy that we live in a world where physical courage is so common, and moral courage is so rare.”…


That is very kind of you

“That is very kind of you”  I said to the man on the train who offered up his seat so I could sit next to my mother.  I’m not sure why I used that somewhat antiquated phrase. Perhaps it is because I have been thinking of kindness a lot lately.

It began last month when my wife and I took our three daughters to see Little Women.…