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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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Mistaken Identity

Experienced poker players say that if you don’t know the patsy at the table, it’s you! It might be true! I pride myself on being open-minded; it was part of my training. Few people, however, look at both sides of an issue. Why bother when we know we are right?  I am concerned about polarization …

A Strange New World

World leaders met in Glasgow last week to discuss actions to address climate change. I’d like to be optimistic, but there are economic realities to overcome! I studied economics in college. Unfortunately, much of what I learned is dangerously outdated, beginning with the extolled supremacy of market-based economies.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not …

Discipline

Discipline separates who we are from who we want to be. That may sound harsh, and a little old fashion, but that’s the way it is! I remember a story about an adoring fan meeting Itzhak Perlman. He told the great violinist that he would be willing to give his life to play like him. …

Choose Kindness

I like to listen to podcasts when exercising. Recently, the American author George Saunders was on The Ezra Klien Show (highly recommended). The subject was kindness, and I have been thinking about their discussion ever since. Who deserves kindness? That may seem like a ridiculous question. Doesn’t everyone deserve kindness? Perhaps a better question would …

Little By Little

Recently I was in Wal*Mart, and the lady in front of me bought a whole stack of Powerball tickets. She paid cash.  One shouldn’t judge others, but she didn’t look like she could afford her groceries. Someone wins the Powerball. Maybe it will be her. Except I once read that hitting the big payoff would …

An Inside Job

I grew up in a devout Christian family.  My parents held firm views on most things, especially when it came to religion. They believed there were two types of people in the world; believers and non-believers. Most of the families on our block regularly attended church. We didn’t associate with those who didn’t.  The United …

Change

Most of us resist change.  Given that change is constant, a better strategy would be to lean into it, but it’s hard to do.   Friends that were better downhill skiers than me (most) encouraged me to lean forward and point my skis downhill. That’s exactly what I was trying to prevent. Fighting gravity, I …

A Part Of Us

I have an embarrassing confession to make.  At the risk of being canceled, I need to share that there is a little bit of W.C. Fields in me! The part I’m referring to concerns small children and dogs. Don’t get me wrong. I like animals. Cats are my favorite. A cat will walk into a …

Zero-Sum Games

I am becoming increasingly concerned about growing divisiveness in our country.  The danger of sharing my thoughts on this matter is that it ignites further political vitriol. That’s the last thing I want to do. Setting ideology aside, is it possible we’re becoming unhinged because the fundamental operating premise of both political parties is wrong? …

Angels Get A Better View

I believe a life well-lived balances body, mind, and Spirit. But, what does that mean for people who do not hold Spiritual beliefs? Are they excluded? The meaning of Spirit is deeply personal. Recognizing that people hold diverse beliefs, I approach Spirit in a broadly inclusive context. This will fall short for some, but is …

The Mathematics of Life

I’m one of those people who finds math difficult. In grade school, I would rather add or multiply than subtract or divide. I had trouble understanding how to take away more than you have or divide something that is whole. That’s still true. It was difficult to avoid math in college. Strangely, I breezed through …

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