Here

I love the Beyonce song, “I was here.” It’s an inspiring and anthemic reminder and call to action regarding our purpose. Consider these lyrics:

I wanna say I lived each day, until I die
And know that I meant something in somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here


In this context and most, “here” refers to the specific time and place that we occupy. 


“We are the flood and we are the ark.”

The last paragraph on page 194 read, “The most hopeless conditions can inspire the most hopeful actions. We have found ways to restore life on Earth in the event of a total collapse because we have found ways to cause a total collapse of life on Earth. We are the flood, and we are the ark.” 

I paused before moving on to the next chapter and looked up at my oldest daughter finishing breakfast.…


“Best in” vs. “Best for”

As the decade comes to a close, there are no shortage of “Best of” lists — best stories, best films, best songs, best books, best teams, best players etc.

Perhaps you’ve also done your own personal best of the decade list. It would probably be filled with milestones, accomplishments, vacations, and events.

What we don’t see are many “best for” lists.  In other words, what were the best things done for someone else?


What are your greatest hits this year?

With just one month left in the year, it is natural to look back at the previous eleven. For some it will feel like a blur, others a slog, others yet a mixed bag.
 
In the context of our life, it is likely that only a handful of memories from this year will remain lodged in our consciousness this time next year, joining the handful of others from each previous year of our lives. …


Would you like more or have you had enough?

In his brilliant new book, We are the Weather:  Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, Jonathan Safran Foer recites a common definition of the American Dream as “having a better life than one’s parents – better primarily in the sense of affluence.” 

He describes how his grandparents had a better home than his great grand parents and how his parents had a better home than his grandparents AND how he now has a better and more valuable home than any of them. …


What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

This powerful question comes from Rom Mokak,  Australia’s first Indigenous Policy Evaluation Commissioner.  It is a question that the Yawuru people ask when a major decision is to be made for their community.

When I first heard this question, it made me think of what kind of steward I am for not just my children’s future but for their children and their children and so on. I…


“And losing him was like losing the rain.”

When he plays Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out in concert, Bruce Springsteen pauses in the middle of the song, where his friend, the late Clarence Clemons, sax solo used to be.  He does so to honor a man that he was not embarrassed to say he loved or kiss publicly.
 
When he played the song during Springsteen on Broadway, he went one step further, pausing longer to explain his deep affection for the person he called, “The Big Man.”…


What to do?

This week I watched a two-minute video and read a ten-page magazine article that hit me like a punch to the gut and left me staggering and wondering, “What to do?”
 
The video was of the sixteen-year-old environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, who had sailed from Sweden to address the United Nations.  Her provocative and passionate speech left me feeling shamed and helpless.  Watch for yourself.  How do her words make you feel?…


Wanted Dead and Alive

From the time I began writing this weekly note, at least five of its readers have died. Many more have lost a parent, family member, friend or co-worker during that same time.
 
Death, regretfully, is the ultimate fact of life.  Its certainty is inescapable.  Yet for many valid reasons we choose to put the question of our own mortality out of sight and out of mind.  …


Changing Lives is a Contact Sport

The opening of David Brooks new book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life reads:
 
Every once in a while, I meet a person who radiates joy…They are kind, tranquil, delighted by small pleasures, and grateful for the large ones.  These people are not perfect.  They get exhausted and stressed.  They make errors in judgment. But they live for others, not themselves.  They’ve made unshakable commitments to family, a cause, a community or a faith.


Set for Life?

One night last week, while walking my dog Scout, my mind wandered on to the topic of risk.

I was lamenting my own sense of risk aversion. As long as I can remember, the fear of loss has always outweighed the joy of gain in my own mental risk calculation. 

Then looking down, lost in my own head, I found a lottery ticket resting in the street.  It’s…


Father’s Day Presence

This was the seventh father’s day for my youngest daughter. It means that all three of my children now have had a father in their lives longer than I had one in mine.

And I wonder to what benefit?

The absence of a father in my life inspired me to be ever present in my own children’s lives.  

I thought this would mean that they would see me as the greatest Dad ever. …


Just a Little More?

Fifteen miles from my home is Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Its primary claim is the setting for the infamous ride of the Headless Horsemen – the author of which ironically was eventually buried there.

Perhaps less well-known is its status as the resting place of perhaps the richest collection of wealthy individuals this country has known. The names are a who’s who of American wealth — Astor, Dodge, Chrysler, Rockefeller, Watson and Carnegie.…


What Will You Leave Behind in 2018?

With 2019 right around the corner, it is customary to look forward.  To set goals, create plans and, of course, make resolutions.  It is also an opportunity to reflect and look back.

Recently a friend told me that during a recent yoga class, the instructor asked everyone to reflect on the question, “what do you need to leave behind?”  In other words, what mindsets, behaviors or habits do you need to change if you want to be able meet those goals, follow through on those plans and keep those resolutions?…


How Strong Is Your Heart?

Years ago, I felt honored to deliver the eulogy at my Grandmother’s funeral. I talked about how the average person’s heart beats 30,000 times a day.  This meant that during her 87 years, it had beat right around a billion times.

I recounted how her heart must have beat differently at different milestones in her life. Racing to her first picture show as a little girl, going gaga over Bing Crosby, straining while working odd jobs during the great depression, or nearly coming to a stop when she learned her first husband was killed in the war.…


Answer These 3 Questions to Test Your Vision

There is an ongoing tension in our vision between short and long distances.  In clinical terms we refer to the extreme on both ends as nearsighted or farsighted. This is a rare instance when we label a condition not by a weakness (e.g. I can’t see things close up) but by its opposite strength (i.e. I can see long distances well).
 
In a figurative sense, we also experience the same tension. Am

What Can You Say in 6 Words?

Distillation requires us to reduce something to its essence.  Within art and literature, it often means that less is more.

Hemingway was especially gifted in this regard and, as legend has it, was once challenged to write a story using only six words. His response?

  “For sale; baby shoes. Never worn.”

This six-word format has been popularized by the organization Six Word Memoirs.

It has also been an effective instrument in getting people to open up on issues like race as evidenced by The Race Card Project. …


This Is THE Moment

It was a simple enough question from a friend I hadn’t talk to in months.
 
“What did you do this your summer?”
 
My answer condensed one hundred days into a handful of stories. Each capturing a brief moment in time. 

  • The walk in the canyon during a family camping trip
  • Drinking Pimm’s with my wife at Wimbledon
  • Swimming with the kids at Walden Pond.
  • A bike ride with the entire family – including my mom!

Three Reasons History Rocks

Jimmy Carter was the first US president born in a hospital. That is the kind of historical fact that makes you go “hmmm that’s interesting.”
 
But history is more than a collection of interesting facts, dates and events. It is who we are and from where we came. 
 
David McCullough’s new book, The American Spirit, is a collection of speeches some stretching back more than twenty years. 

Why Less Time Makes For Better Living

Time is the most commonly used noun in the English language.

In our daily lives we try to manage our time or hope to use our time wisely. We grow frustrated with ourselves when we waste time and try to fill time when we have nothing planned or to do.

When experiencing a wonderful moment, we wish we could make time stand still and for a brief period we can.…


You Have 45 Seconds

It’s the biggest night of your career. Over 30 million people will watch you take the stage to accept an award. Filled with pride and gratitude for everything that it took you to get to this pinnacle of success, you lift your trophy and approach the microphone.

You now have 45 seconds to express what’s in your heart. Go.

During last night’s Oscars a few took the opportunity to use one of the world’s largest stages to make an overt political point — no doubt earning appreciation from their fans but derision from those who disagreed with their views.…


When Christmas Is Your Birthday

It has its obvious drawbacks. It’s near impossible to throw a birthday party.  You did indeed get the short end on gifts and the stiff reality that comes on December 26th when you wake up realizing it will be another 364 days until you open another present.

On the other hand, everyone seems to remember your birthday. On a day when most have a reason to be preoccupied with their own happiness, they take a few moments to share some of it with you.…


Are You Writing a Resume or a Eulogy?

This is a terrific question raised in a TED Talk by columnist David Brooks. Are more of your actions something to talk about on your resume or for others to talk about at your eulogy?

In Linda Ellis’ poem, The Dash, she asks readers to reflect on that “dash” on your tombstone; your life’s actions between birth and death.

So, when your eulogy is being read,

with your life’s actions to rehash…

would you be proud of the things they say

about how you spent YOUR dash?