Party

By the time you read this, I will have attended three very different parties over the course of a week.

The first was a celebration of life for a dear friend who died way too young. Friends from her college days and early New York years gathered to remember a life so bright that to simply say her name would bring a smile to your face.…


Memorial

Memorial Day is an occasion to pause and reflect on those people who died in service to their country. My grandfather was one such person who was killed when a German missile hit his ship off the coast of north Africa in 1943.

While days can be ephemeral forms of remembrance, physical memorials are also erected and stand in public places to ensure that we remember consequential events or people.…


Underwhelmed

Students were gathered in masses. Strangers talked to each other. Often loaning their special glasses so others could get a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Anticipation was high.

When it was all over and we returned to our class, some noted that they were underwhelmed. Expectations had been higher. Promises of complete darkness, lowering temperatures and the quieting of birds were unkept.

This underwhelming feeling was echoed when I went home and heard from my own children.…


Conviction

As we sat in the sixth row of Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of Martin Luther King’s Drum Major sermon played in the background. It was the last sermon he gave from that pulpit as he would soon leave for Memphis where an assassin would end his life.

Shortly after, a large white man ambled up the aisle. I must admit I am not proud of my knee jerk judgmental reaction.…


Savor

Saturday was a day of savoring life.

Earlier in the morning I ran into an acquaintance at the local library. He asked me if I was still coaching soccer (I am) and I in turn asked him the same (he is not).

He mentioned that his soccer coaching days were over, as his children had moved on to high school sports or other activities. I quipped he must have a lot of free time on his hands. …


Songs

As the camera pulled back to reveal the face behind the hand that played the strings, a huge smile cut across my face. Tracy Chapman was on the Grammy Stage.  Playing a duet with Luke Combs who had covered her classic, “Fast Car”, the crowd echoed my reaction. Taylor Swift stood and sang along, others followed suit. It was a quintessential “Grammy Moment.”

Later in the same show, Joni Mitchell performed at the Grammy’s for the first time in her prodigious career.…


Birth

To give birth – whether to a person or an idea – is to bring something new into existence. Its origin is from the Old Norse word meaning “bear.” My assumption is that this was an early acknowledgment of the intense labor that is intrinsic to the act of giving birth.

When we give birth to anything it brings with it a combination of immediate joy, hope, anxiety and fear.…


Produce

Happy New Year.

Before we jump into 2024, many of us might spend some time reflecting back upon 2023. Among the many questions we ask ourselves are those related to accomplishments; What did we do? What do we have to show for the year? What did we produce?

As I look back, I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with or been supported by so many talented, wonderful people and organizations that have allowed me to produce more than a handful of things that I can take pride in.…


Photographs

Like many families, every year we create a calendar. Around December, I begin by looking through all the pictures our family has taken over the last year. We then select somewhere between three and twelve to put with each month. In total that means around fifty to sixty photos end up representing our year at a glance.  A small number curated from almost a thousand.

While I’m sure the family members who receive this gift appreciate it; the act of creating provides me with the greatest present.…


Noise

On a good day, I find it difficult to sleep on a red-eye flight. Recently, as my family and I embarked on our summer vacation to France, it was impossible. In addition to the standard two to three babies who intermittently scream, we were surrounded on our packed flight by a large pack of college students. There seemed like there were a hundred of them. Talking incessantly.…


Heat

The world has never been hotter. While statistics like Phoenix experiencing over twenty consecutive days of temperatures above 110 degrees are eye-popping, we don’t need numbers to tell us things are getting hot up here.  We only need to walk outside.

Long before this latest and perhaps most obvious manifestation of climate change, my youngest daughter has been turning up the heat in our household for years.


Living

I had been wanting to see the movie, Living, for some time. But with busy schedules and sold out shows, I had struck out on several previous attempts to see this small film that was in limited release.

Finally, last week I noticed that it was playing in a town thirty minutes away. So I went by myself to sit in a dark theater on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch a movie about a man who was coming to the end of his life, and wondering if he had ever really lived at all.…


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.…