Posts

A New Year’s Look On Life

I started this blog nearly three years ago during the first weeks of the pandemic lockdown. At the time, I never expected it to be a long term project. This is post number 155. To date, the blog has 13,000 views from people in 45 countries. That blows my mind! Those stats don’t exactly put…

Closing Thoughts For 2022, Part 3

As we close 2022, I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of wisdom, truth, and love. Having previously covered wisdom and truth, I turn this week to love. Love If asked to name the opposite of love, I would say isolation.  Isolation goes against the natural order of things. Naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) noted, “When we…

Closing Thoughts for 2022, Part 2

As we close 2022, I reflect on the meaning of Wisdom, Truth, and Love as preludes to offering a new approach to expanding joy and meaning in our lives. Having previously covered wisdom, I turn this week to truth. Truth Facts may be accurate, but the ultimate truth lies beyond facts.  It is obvious from…

Closing Thoughts For 2022, Part 1

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on today’s social/cultural environment in the context of living a meaningful and joyful life. On the surface, it often appears incompatible. The wisdom of our elders seems to have escaped us. Truth has become relativistic and unmoored. We’ve sacrificed the love of our fellow citizens for our own increasingly narrow agendas.…

“Younger Than That Now”

In 1964, at age 23, Bob Dylan recorded “My Back Pages.” The song’s refrain caught my attention the first time I heard it! “Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” I was never sure what it meant. But lately, it’s becoming clear.  Dylan wrote protest anthems that helped define…

Courage

What did you want to be when you grew up? How did that turn out? I have always dreamed of being a performance artist. X never got that square! John Lennon observed, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.” That’s pretty close to the mark! Most of us find ourselves in careers…

Reality

Our two-year-old Granddaughter recently asked her mom, “What is reality?” We’re not sure where that came from, but it’s a profound question for a 2-year-old or anyone else for that matter to ask. The quick answer might be reality is everything we experience.  But what about things that are beyond sensory experience?  Mysticism is a…

The Quickening

“The quickening” is an ancient term signifying the beginning of life, the first time an expectant mother feels her baby’s kick.  Modern technological advances have shifted the definition of life’s beginning closer to the time of conception. Today, a new life is sometimes defined in terms of “viability,” when a developing fetus can survive independently…

Out Of My Mind

Can you be free of your mind whenever you want? “I’m depressed!” “I’m stressed out!” “I’m upset!” Sound familiar? Let’s step back for a moment and ask a simple question: Who is the I?  People have pondered this question for thousands of years. “I” is usually assumed to be a product of thought, but this…

Happiness and Hard Times

I started kindergarten in the autumn of 1960. One of the first group activities our class of 30+ students learned was “duck and cover!” When the school siren sounded, we were taught to quickly get up, form a single file line, and move out of the classroom to the school’s basement. There we would crouch…

The Good Life

“The good life,” any idea what that is? Advertisers suggest it’s hanging out with Snoop Dogg on a white-sand beach drinking Corona beer! Some say it’s retirement.  Others say it’s a million bucks in an investment account!  Still others are “Searching for some other place to be.”  I was thinking about my definition of “the…

Ghosts

Summer is in the rearview mirror. Autumn’s blowing by us in the passing lane, and the ghosts of Round Lake have returned. Exiting Leder Bay on the last pontoon boat ride of the season, we passed the small island in front of our cabin. The popular beach was empty, but I could clearly see Bryan…

Better Together, Conclusion

I wrote this series out of concern for the future of our democracy. The most significant problem we face as a nation is our growing separation from one another. Previously trusted institutions, including government, business, and religion, fail to champion needed solutions. My thesis is that we’ve reached a point where change is required from…

Better Together, Part 4: “We Can Work It Out”

People rarely change without strong intentions and a lot of practice.  We are habitual creatures. Even a modest change in behavior takes at least 40 consecutive days of practice to initiate a routine. I have no idea why 40 days is magic. Still, I’ve found that if I adopt a new behavior for forty straight…

Better Together: Part 3, “Tell Me Why”

“Tell me why is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?” -Neil Young If you’ve hung with me to this point in the series, you know that I believe the most significant problem America faces is our growing separation from one another.  It’s a problem because “separation” is wired into our consciousness. Each individual experiences…

Better Together, Part 2: “To Our Children’s, Children’s, Children”

In the introduction and Part 1 of this series, I made two claims: The first was that our growing separation from one another is the most significant problem our nation faces. The second was that our disagreements are, in a sense, “wired in,” arising from the unique context of our experience and predispositions. On the…

Better Together, Part 1: “There’s Only You and Me, and We Just Disagree.”

How did we get to be so politically divided? It seems like a simple question, but I’ve yet to come across a definitive answer. I believe it comes down to the fact that it’s impossible to put oneself in another’s shoes. Perhaps our views would change if we exchanged backgrounds and life experiences with a…

Better Together, Introduction

“Better Together” is a new series addressing our Nations’s greatest problem, our growing separation from one another. ———————————————— In a recent survey, more than fifty percent of college students said they would refuse to date someone from the opposite political party.  A lot has changed since I was in school! Earlier this year, I had…

“Smalls”

—————————————————————— Please Note: This will be my last post until after the Labor Day Holiday. I’m freeing up time to work on a new series. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait.  —————————————————————— Basketball fans are familiar with commentators’ use of the term “Bigs,” referring to a team’s star seven-footers.  Dr. Julie Krull, author of…

A Question Of Belief

“The world is deep; deeper than day can comprehend.” -Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s statement is born out in the new James Webb telescope (JWT) image of deep space.  If you missed it, here it is: The image contains thousands of galaxies like our Milky Way. It took light from the most distant galaxies in the image…

The True Measure Of A Life

Most of us fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to someone else and coming up short. Perhaps the comparison involves an accomplished friend or an admired artist. I’m certainly guilty of this. After playing a tune on the guitar or writing a post, I’ll often compare the result to a song I’m attempting to…

“The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”

The title quote is attributed to Yogi Berra. It’s absurd yet relatable!  My academic training was in economics, specializing in price forecasting. Forecasting involves applying statistical models to past data to anticipate future events.  In applying my newly minted knowledge to the business world, I quickly discovered the truth in another Yogi line: “In theory,…

The Inner Journey (6-Minute Read)

The other day I was cutting up downed limbs left over from bad winter storms at the cabin. Afterwards, I was exhausted. I suppose I need to step up my aerobic exercise. No big deal! Sometimes, storms disturb our inner peace. When that occurs (and it always does), it is a big deal. Whether we…

Good Bosses

During my thirty-five years of employment, I had eleven bosses. Most were great. However, a few were not.  MJ’s wise council got me through the not-so-great ones. She told me to carefully watch the bosses I disliked and figure out why, and then make sure I never exhibited those behaviors with people that answered to…

Remembering Dad

It’s hard to overstate the influence Dad had on my life. He wasn’t so much a buddy, like Mom. Instead, he was more of a revered coach. Conversations with Dad were never casual. In my adult years, our frequent discussions centered on economics, politics, and investment finance.  Dad was a staunch conservative. Though we often…

Thoughts Matter

This post is a little late this morning because I didn’t have anything prepared when I woke up. Luckily, David French’s blog, “The French Press,” supplied a wonky-sounding term that stimulated some thoughts.  The term was “stochastic terrorism.” It refers to violent events that can’t be precisely predicted but whose probability rises as the flames…

Learning To Be Still

About four weeks ago, the ice finally went off the NW Wisconsin lake where our cabin is. This year, it took its sweet time, courtesy of a cold, wet Spring. I love getting up early on summer mornings and taking the kayak out. Calm conditions offer a rare glimpse of a beautiful aquatic world normally…

Not Even In Your Dreams

This past weekend I was playing with our 21-month-old Granddaughter in the yard, and Kahlil Gibran’s (1883-1931) beautiful poem “On Children” came to mind: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.” He continued: “their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,  which you cannot visit, …

A Little Soon To Say

My Dad grew up on a farm without electricity or indoor plumbing. Throughout his life, he waxed nostalgic about the “Good ole days.”  As a kid, I listened to his stories and thought, no thanks, I like switching on the lights and flushing the toilet! Now that I’m an elder, I fear I am falling…

A Different Era

My Grandmother lived in a small rural community in Southern Indiana. Letters to her were addressed; Grandma Coats, Pekin, Indiana 47165. No street address was needed. When visiting Grandma, everything would be found exactly as it had been. I can close my eyes and picture every item in her house.  The only new thing Grandma…

Remembering Mom

My sister Janet is very thoughtful. Rather than Googling our Christmas gifts, she makes them by hand, often from childhood artifacts.  This past year, she spent countless hours researching family records to make a book detailing the lives of our ancestors going back four generations. In addition to vital statistics, she included pictures and personal…

The Better Angels Of Our Nature

You probably recognize the title of this post. It’s from the last line of Abraham Lincoln’s 1st inaugural address, given on March 4, 1861. Lincoln began the final paragraph of that speech with: “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends.”  The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Is…

Time

I am fascinated by time.  As strange as it may sound, I’m not sure I know what it is! My summer of 3rd grade was so vast that 4th grade wasn’t visible. And yet, three months pass in the blink of an eye. Einstein discovered time is relative. Assuming our perception of time relates to…

Reflections, Vol 6: How does perspective inform our lives?

This series poses questions for personal reflection. My views are offered as a thought starter. —————————————————————————— We live in a time where facts and truth are difficult to agree on.  It really shouldn’t be so hard. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Fact as: “Something that has actual existence” and Truth as “the body of real things,…

Reflections, Vol. 5: How Might We Grow Younger In Spirit?

This series poses life-questions for personal reflection. My views are offered as a thought starter. ———————————————— How might we grow younger in spirit? I recently read that Clint Eastwood is 91. (Hold on, I’m going to need a moment). He’s working on a new movie, and a reporter asked him where he found the energy…

Reflections, Vol 4: Is Spirit Relevant In Our Modern Age?

This series poses questions for personal reflection.  My views are offered as a thought starter. ————————————————— First, what is Spirit? Many define it in the context of a diety, which divides people into two camps, believers and non-believers.  I find the division unnecessary.   Spirit is an “in-betweenness” felt when deeply connected. People connect to…

Reflections, Vol 3: What Is The Secret To A Happy Life?

This series poses life-questions for personal reflection. My views are offered as a thought starter. ———————————————— Most people are either happy, or they’re not. My Grandmother said she was born happy. Others are the opposite. It almost seems that happiness is a by-product of our internal wiring. There’s no shortage of books on happiness; Amazon…

Reflections, Vol 2: How Can We find Peace In A Troubled World?

This series poses life-questions for personal reflection. My views are offered as a thought starter. Question: How can we find peace in a troubled world? ————————————— Last week, Apple notified me that my daily screen time was 3 hours and 10 minutes. A lot of that time was spent at this keyboard. You’d be surprised…

Reflections, Vol. 1: Does Life Have Meaning?

This series poses life-questions for personal reflection. My views are offered as a thought starter. Question: Does Life Have Meaning? ———————————————————— One of my favorite Jackson Browne songs is “For A Dancer.” I’m going to borrow a portion of the last verse to frame my reflections. And somewhere between the time you arrive And the…

Reflections: Introduction

Recently a friend and former colleague sent me an email offering a thoughtful critique of this blog.  Having worked together on the same team, she challenged me to consider whether the blog practiced concepts I believe in, namely: 1. Listening vs. Speaking 2. We vs. I 3. Asking vs. Stating Her critique reminded me of…

The Anatomy of Peace- Conclusion (6-minute read)

Sooner or later each of us faces the universal problem of finding our way through significant hardship. Despite efforts to the contrary, life circumstances are often beyond our control, leaving us no alternative but to soldier on. How do we find sunshine amidst such storms?  “The Anatomy of Peace” presents a retrospective understanding of the…

Portals of Perception

When I was young, people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. As an elder, I find myself asking a related question, “How will my life matter?” I suppose we’re all hopeful our impact somehow extends beyond our lifetime.  There’s an ancient Etruscan word for this, saeculum. Rebecca Solnit…

A Milestone Reached

I’ve been reading, thinking, and journaling about the meaning of life for over thirty years. It’s my way of attempting to make sense of things. I had never shared my written thoughts with anyone until the pandemic hit and the world shut down.  Sharing them wasn’t my idea! Doug knew I aspired to write a…

A Father’s Advice

Before Julia headed off to college, she and I took a late summer father-daughter trip to Colorado to see The Dave Matthews Band at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The show was fantastic!  If you haven’t been to Red Rocks, you’re really missing something! The setting is stunning, and the acoustics are incredible.  There was more…

The Story of Atom

The atoms in our bodies are billions and billions of years old. Scientists claim they were created at the beginning of the universe or later by nuclear fusion in the center of stars.   How these atoms got here, and where they are going, is beyond my imagination. The concept of an atom was first…

Connecting

I love to cook, but I find baking laborious. When I cook, I never use recipies. I get ideas from recipies, but following a recipe step by step ruins the whole experience. I prefer to cook on the “fly,” tasting as I go. This is a disasterous strategy for baking. Baking is chemistry rather than…

More

Not much progress was made at the recent climate summit in Glasgow. Our precocious 15-month-old Granddaughter put her finger on the reason! Adalyn has a limited vocabulary, but she understands a good portion of what we say. To ease frustration arising from the gap between her comprehension and verbal expression, our daughter taught her basic…

Whose Dog Are You?

“I am his Highness’ dog at Kew; Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?”  – English Poet, Alexander Pope (1688-1754) I first heard that line in a Jakob Dylan song. The question stuck!  Who’s dog are you? It’s harsh but thought-provoking. Few of us dare to completely be who we are. We feel the…

The Anatomy of Peace, Part 3: Energy, Connection, & “Being”

Happy New Year! New years signal new beginnings. Developing new awareness for our engagement with life is the theme of this third installment to my series “The Anatomy of Peace.” I will return to my short post format next week. New Year’s resolutions are popular, but they don’t work for me. Probably because they never…

The Treasure Chest (8-minute read)

Words make a difference. They influence our thoughts, which in turn become our actions. Dad had a fabulous memory. He made a life-long practice of storing meaningful things he came across in his “mental treasure chest.” He was fond of reciting entries from memory. Dad said his “treasure chest” brought inspiration during difficult times. I…

Merry Christmas!

The year has gotten away from me.  On our return to Minneapolis, we immediately went out shopping for a Christmas tree. We were lucky to find one! Most of them were sold out. Then there is the matter of gifts. Jumping online, I discovered that many of my choices could not be guaranteed for Christmas…

Half-Full

How we view our life determines our experience of life. The past two years are a good example. Two years ago, while gathered around the Christmas tree, we learned our first Grandchild would be arriving the following year.  We were thrilled! For every yin, there is a yang. Ten days later, a medical emergency put…

Photographs

A few years ago I was fortunate to have breakfast with an astronaut who flew a mission on the space shuttle.   I remember being fearful of asking the same questions he’s been asked a thousand times, but I went ahead and asked them anyway. It was a fascinating conversation. When breakfast was over and…

Beyond the “Fourth Turning”

Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Prior to retirement, my job involved anticipating the future. Generally speaking, our forecasts were no more sophisticated than projecting a continuation of current trends. Often this proved incorrect. The best-selling author and demographer Neil Howe says we are in the “4th turning,”…

The GOAT

Who would you say the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in athletics is? Many would vote for football star Tom Brady. He’s not the most likable guy, but at age 43, he’s still lighting up the scoreboard.  Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times! It’s hard to deny his accomplishments and skill, despite…

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