We

Which word do you use more often, “We” or “I”?

David Brooks’ column “How to Actually Make America Great Again” reflects on the new book by Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett called The Upswing It chronicles America’s swing from solidarity (we) to individualism (I) over the last fifty years.

As one point of evidence, the authors cite that the use of the word “I” in American books has doubled between 1965 and 2008.


Integrity

Are you a person of integrity?

Before you answer this question, consider these two definitions of the word integrity.  

“The firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” (Merriam Webster)

“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.” (Cambridge)

The key characteristic of both definitions is not the presence of moral principles or a strong moral code but it is the fact that there is a firm adherence to them and that we refuse to change them.…


Speak

Zadie Smith is a brilliant writer distinguished by both her accessible prose and astute observations of the human condition. Reading her slender, new volume of six essays called “Intimations” – all written during the pandemic – is like having a conversation with a friend as you go through a difficult time. It is a salve of words.  

Among her many gifts is humility. At one point she acknowledges a basic conceit of all writers. …


Teach

Our children have many teachers – in school and in life. The role of any teacher, defined either by profession or practice, is always critical to the success of our children. But is profoundly more so during times of great uncertainty — much like the challenging times we live in now.

Teaching is often associated with instruction, but observation and modeling are equally important.  We may say, “do as I say not as I do” but in the long run they are more likely to remember and follow our actions than our words.…


Deep

I was drowning. 

I was just chest high in the water when my feet slipped off the rock and sent me sinking down into the deep end of a swimming hole. I don’t know if I was 7 or 8.  Nor do I recall which state park this body of water was located. What I do remember is the abject sense of terror I felt that was only assuaged when my older brother quickly swam to my aid and lifted me out of the water.…


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…


Complementary

To hear this term is to presume something positive. It implies that things fit with one another, get along, are nice.

Yet in the field of psychology, complementary behavior may not always be as helpful as it sounds.  It means you respond back to someone in the same way they did to you.  For example, if someone yells at you, you yell at them.

By comparison, non-complementary behavior is responding to someone in a different way from which they acted towards you. …


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.…


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…


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.…