Generations

Leopoldstadt is the new and presumably last play written by Tom Stoppard. It tells the story of two families and spans four generations. While it explores themes of class, culture and religion, its primary question centers around the obligation family has to its members. Not just present but future and perhaps most importantly past.  

Early in the play, the matriarch is showing the family photo album to her grandchildren.…


Being

Last week, I took a few minutes to create a list of all the major things I’ve done professionally so far this year. While the list was relatively long and I felt a certain amount of pride in reflection, something was just a little off.

I tried to recall how I felt at the time each project was being created. Did I enjoy the process? Did it bring me joy?…


Queens

Much has been made about the extraordinary amount of attention and coverage given to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. On one hand, she was probably the most famous person on the planet. On the other, some would say she had, at best, a symbolic role in the world and at worst what she symbolized was colonialism.

Like most of us, she wore many hats – albeit one of hers was literally a heavy crown.…


Act

I have been watching the riveting and thoughtful documentary series, The Last Movie Stars – that chronicles the life and legacy of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Before they were married, Newman and Woodward studied together at the Actors Studio, alongside contemporaries Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

The first episode shares their experience in the studio. A cast of current actors, including Ethan Hawke who directs the documentary, recite The Actor’s Vow.…


Promise

Over the last week, I attended concerts for two of my children. Both are in band, one is also in chorus. In an auditorium packed with proud parents, I doubt that I was alone in marveling at how these 12 and 14 year olds had become such accomplished musicians. They had surpassed my own musicality years ago.

Similarly as I watch all three of my children on the soccer pitch, I must acknowledge that they shortly will become more skilled at their sports than I ever was at mine.…


Soccer

I coach all three of my daughters’ travel soccer teams. Between practices and games, I will spend almost twenty hours a week on a soccer field. This doesn’t include traveling to and from games or any of the administrative headaches that come with the gig.

It can be very stressful getting kids ready, out the door and on time. Each team has had their share of growing pains.…


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.…


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.…


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.…


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.…


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.…


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.  …


Will

On Thursday, my wife and I met with a lawyer to put in place a will – a task that was long overdue. I suppose that one of the reasons for the delay was our aversion to confronting our own mortality. Though, we already had many of the difficult conversations necessary to make decisions that form the basis for this binding legal document. The most important of which was the selection of who would serve as the legal guardians to our children should both of us die while they were still young.…


Driven

Earlier this week, I was looking to connect with Colby Sharp, an educator who hosts a podcast about children’s books, called The Yarn. I stumbled upon his twitter account and was struck by his “bio” which began with the phrase, “driven by gratitude.”

It was such a wonderful articulation of what motivates him and got me wondering about what drives any of us.

In my own life, I know that what drives me has evolved.…


Artifacts

If you see the movie version of “In the Heights” based on the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, you are likely to be wowed by the lavish dance numbers, moved by the stories of dreams and swept up by the fantastic music. Yet for me it was the poignancy of a collection of artifacts that show up in the film’s penultimate scene that will linger long after the images and tunes leave my head.…


Commencement

I created a bucket list before they were fashionable – or even called a bucket list.  I was twenty-five at the time, filled with hubris, and created a list of 51 things I wanted to do before I died.

Looking back at the list, I’m not doing too bad.  I’ve married, become a father, written a few books, taken my mother to Disney World, visited Paris and walked on the field at Fenway Park.  …


Histories

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”  This lyric from the final song in Hamilton, captures not only an important question about our history but also about our present.

There are different versions of our histories – within our families, our institutions, our country and our world.

In many ways, it is less important to reconcile our complicated personal and national histories than it is to at least spend some time examining them.


Grace

Several months ago, I was listening to Marc Maron interview Glenn Close for his podcast. It was fascinating on many levels — for example, who knew that the actress was raised in a religious cult? 

One story, in particular, has stuck with me. As a young address, Close was an understudy looking to make her Broadway debut. One particular Saturday, the director, Hal Prince, told her that he was thinking of letting the leading lady go and was going to make his decision after the matinee. …


Grandma

In conjunction with Women’s History Month, my 11 year old daughter came home from school with an assignment to write a paper about a female member of her family that was no longer with us.

She chose her great grandmother, whom she never had the chance to meet but shares a middle name.

As part of this assignment she had to interview at least two members of our family who knew Nana using a series of questions supplied by her teacher.…


Revisit

Last week, during winter break for my children, our family drove into New York City, for no other reason than to take our dog for a walk. While it was his inaugural stroll through the city streets, it was an opportunity for me to revisit old haunts and places that I called home for fifteen years.  

My memory is not what it used to be. Presumably it’s preoccupied by short term demands for my attention that usually arrive these days via email, zoom calls and, more importantly from my children and family.…