Delay

This week has been marked by delays. Delays by their very nature can be maddening and disheartening – particularly when we feel as if we have no control over them and the action that is being delayed is timely.

I took the first notification “Your flight is delayed” in stride as it was only 25 minutes and a modest flight delay is predictable. By the seventh “Your flight is delayed email” we had entered the land of the surreal.…


Trying

Tracy Chapman’s song, Fast Car, tells the story of longing for a better life.  Over the course of the song’s four and a half minutes, you’re taken on a ride of yearning, frustration, resignation, and hope.

It is a simple but beautiful song about the complexity of trying to better yourself and your situation.

I heard the song at a pivotal moment in my life where, like the characters in Chapman’s song, I too was longing to escape –  to in her words, “leave tonight or live and die this way.”…


Accepting

I’ve read countless memoirs and interviewed dozens of people about their journey but none have been as honest, conflicted and raw as Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld.  Her story is marked with countless issues and circumstances that she has had to overcome and her book looks to reconcile them in the context of a culture that likes these stories told in a very particular way.

Her experience in crafting her college essay is particularly telling.…


Take

Last week while walking my dog, I noticed what I thought was one of those awesome free standing “Lending Library” kiosks.

However as I approached, I saw that this one did not include a single book. Rather, it was filled with canned goods and other non-perishable food items. The sign at the top read, “Take What You Need.”

The presence of such a structure was both a sign of our difficult economic times and a refreshing public display of community kindness.…


See

Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

He is writing about the role artists play in society in a chapter perhaps appropriately named, The Prisoner.


Word

Words matter.  At their best, they evoke common understanding, connection and feeling.  At their worst they mislead, misrepresent and divide.

All words are an abstraction of sorts, a representation of something very real.  On a range of issues, experts too often rely on particularly abstract words that are so open to interpretation one could drive a truck through it.

Metaphors are the opposite, they attach to an idea something we can easily relate to and understand.…


Subtract

Recently, I had two exchanges with family members that did not go particularly well. Both were spurred on by trying to refute or debate claims fueled by divisive media outlets. Since the election, I have largely tuned out of political shows, but like Michael Corleone says in the Godfather, “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

I called one of them the following day and posed this simple question: “Does watching political shows bring you any joy?”…


Eventful

This Sunday was quite the eventful day for me for multiple reasons.

CBS Sunday Morning segment featuring the story behind my new children’s book, Three Little Engines was scheduled to air. The excitement was palpable for several reasons. The idea of having my book and its message shared with an audience of millions is obviously pretty cool.  Selfishly, the idea that my mom, my family and friends would be able to gather around the TV to see me talk – not just about the book – but about how grateful I was for all they had done to get me “over the mountain” was a tremendous gift.…


Lucky

Over the last several months, I’ve been on a good run.  

It started with being asked to give the commencement address at my alma mater. 

Then on Friday, I published my first piece for Esquire.  I’ve always wanted to write for them and this specific topic, “Dads without Dads” is an especially personal reflection timed for Father’s Day.

There is an NPR special report I’m working on examining inequality in education on Long Island that will air at the end of the month.…


Questions?

These are hard.

What would you take for yourself, that you know would help someone else more?

What would you give your child, that if you gave to another child instead would dramatically change their life? 

These philosophical questions are ones that we don’t explicitly ask ourselves. They are by design difficult to answer. They pit our egalitarian principles and a belief in a fair world against our most basic desire to provide and protect ourselves and those we love. …


Investments

Two weeks ago my daughter asked me for some help on a school math assignment. She was given an imaginary $100,000 to invest in ten stocks and track how they performed over the course of two weeks.

In selecting her stocks, she picked things she believed in or liked. She likes to listen to music, so she chose Spotify. She loves to read, so she chose Scholastic.…


A new way to give thanks this Thanksgiving

This week provides a welcome respite for many, as we put aside our daily troubles, gather with family and friends, and pause to give thanks for what we have and those who helped make it possible. 
 
It can come in the form a few words over a meal, a phone call or a prayer.  All are valuable practices in gratitude.
 
But often these moments can be fleeting and soon replaced by Black Friday sales, workouts, and holiday movies.


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…


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…


Where does wealth come from?

By definition, wealth is “an abundance of resources.”  In other words, you have more than you need.
 
It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows the primary determinant for wealth is not how much we make (income) but how much we are given (intergenerational transfer). 

This can come in three forms.  

  • Inheritance that is passed down upon the death of a parent or grandparent or other older relative.

This Is Me vs. This Is Us

This devastating article details the lengths to which a private school went to drive their students into college. It included allegations of abuse, falsifying transcripts and encouraging students to exaggerate the challenges in their life in their admissions essays. 

The idea was to “manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity.”

In the fictional world of the TV show “This is Us”, a recent episode also focused on a character’s inspirational admissions essay. …


What Our Dogs Can Teach Us About Moving Up

As I write this, my two-year old Cairn terrier mix, Scout, is sitting on my lap. Occasionally, he rests his head on my right forearm, making the act of typing a more delicate matter.

The benefits of dog ownership are well documented. They improve both our physical and mental health, reduce stress, increase our sociability, confidence and sense of responsibility and generally just make us happier.  But…


Check Your Shoes

When you are born on the bottom rung and now stand near the top, you ask,“How did I end up here?”

When you grow up in trailer parks and now live in a beautiful home, you wonder, “How did I end up here?”

When no one in your family went to college and you now teach at one, “How did I end up here?”
 
The typical answer to these questions is “Hard work.”

Don’t Follow This Recipe

“It begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War miscalculations.”

There is a lot to unpack from this statement in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s new documentary, The Vietnam War.  

While it was written to summarize the origins of one of the most divisive periods in our country’s history, it could just as easily be applied to other past and future conflicts.


One Woman’s March

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards, where white clouds of bloom drifted above the green land. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.”


What Is A Real Rags To Riches Story?

This Friday is the birthday of the person whose name is so synonymous with rags to riches tales, they actually refer to them as “Horacio Alger stories.”

However, there are many fallacies associated with both the man and the over 100 stories he wrote about boys rising out of poverty. 

  • Generally speaking, the boy never ascends to riches.  It’s a middle class life they aspire and rise to.