Map?

Recently, my wife and I took our daughter to see Dear Evan Hansen. I had seen the musical before with my oldest daughter, watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times with my family who love the music.

Seeing it again live was to restore its power in my mind – power that was diluted by the repeated listening and sing-a-longs on car rides.…


Headache

I have a headache. The precise location of the pain is above my left temple. The temple is particularly vulnerable as it is the place where the four bones of your skull fuse together.

The name temple is somewhat ironic. In ancient times dating back thousands of years, it was believed that headaches were caused by evil spirits.

In order to give them a physical route to leave the “temple” they would drill a hole in the skull. …


Found

How many times have you lost your keys? Hopefully around the same number of times you’ve found them.

Of course, there are many things we lose and can never find again. Or we find things we were never looking for in the first place.

Our deepest losses are of loved ones. As are our most precious finds. 

Our relationship to the ideas of what is lost and found tends to be somewhat transactional.…


More

I knew what I wanted to write about on Tuesday. I am still not sure what I have to say.

Speechless and helpless are two natural reactions when the same thing happens over and over again and you are at a loss for what to do about it.

If you read the number 19,  you know exactly what I’m talking about.  But let us not forget the two – teachers who died in the line of fire.…


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.…


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.…


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.…


Safe

It is among the basic needs on Maslow’s hierarchy – just above those physiological needs of food, water, warmth and rest.

We tend to think first of physical safety, but there are many other forms. Consider the following questions:

Do you feel safe from disease?
Do you feel safe from natural disasters?
Do you feel safe from losing your job?
Do you feel like you can safely pay your rent or mortgage?…


Sick

In a year defined by sickness, this week has been particularly so. 

There are many forms of sickness of which I speak. The obvious one is the coronavirus – whose toll mounts  despite having the means right in front of us to control it.  Less obvious is the sickness in our politics and civil discourse – not just between members of different political parties but within our families and amongst our friends. …


Roles

If an actor is defined by the roles he or she takes on, then by all accounts Chadwick Boseman was a man defined by dignity, strength and justice. Playing Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and the Black Panther, among others, Boseman’s talents were undeniable – as were the many ways in which he chose to share his gifts both on and off the screen.

His death last week of colon cancer at the age of 43 stopped me in my tracks – not just because it was a tragic loss of a talented person in their prime – but because the same disease has wreaked havoc in the lives of my family and friends.…


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.…


Catharsis

During these times, many have sought solace in a well-made television series.  One that can at the very least escape the time, one that when done well provides a much needed catharsis.

A catharsis is an emotional release – “a process of releasing and thereby providing relief from, strong and repressed emotions.”

Two shows that have provided that effect in our household bear many similarities and a few marked differences.  …


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.…


Lines

When I think of a line, I typically think of something that is finite in length or duration.  We may wait in a line for gas or we may draw a line as part of a picture.

I just learned that in purely math terms, a line actually refers to something that is  “a straight one-dimensional figure having no thickness and extending infinitely in both directions.”…


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.…


mom

Yesterday was a mother’s day unlike any other. Under normal circumstances this would be a day where mothers would either be lavished with gifts, taken out to dinner, or maybe just given a break.

No doubt children and families did their best to try and cobble something together along those lines despite our current limitations. 

To repeat a well-worn cliche, now more than ever, mom’s deserve the recognition that too often gets taken for granted.…


Public

One of the defining American debates is the ongoing question of Public vs. Private.  Another way to think of it is — what is mine vs. what is ours?  This question runs through issues related to economics, rights, education, health, property and so on.

Some see these ideas of public and private mostly at odds.  An example of zero-sum thinking (see here for a great summary of research on how this thinking plays out politically). 


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.…


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…


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.…