Thanksgiving Haiku

A moment of pause…

…Before gathering at your Tables of Gratitude.

(And please permit me to express my own gratitude for your engagement, your commentary, your kind words of encouragement.)

Thankfulness always,
for the watchful clouds and sky,
your fierce heart aglow.


Check Facebook for this blog’s public page featuring daily snippets of wisdom and other musings from the world’s great thinkers and artists, accompanied by lovely photography.

Gratitude for photographer Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at:

Cirrus clouds photo by Andrew Hidas, with a serious assist from his iPhone and the heavens. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at:

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Choosing Hope Amid the Heat of Global Warming

Hazy sun by Julie Falk

It seems to me our wounded planet is a perfect and inevitable reflection of our own woundedness as human beings. As goes the inner, so goes the outer.

We are flawed and confused, we want conflicting things. In the developed world, we want to drive our fossil-fueled cars to the protest against fossil fuels. Even the most conscientious of us, living by the most modest means, outdo all the kings and queens of history, consuming massive amounts of natural resources compared to our ancestors and the entire third world today.

Yes, we are all part of the problem. All that messiness with Adam and Eve, banished from their perfect garden into a world of conflict, fallenness and self-destruction? That is us—the Christian myth has it exactly right.

Now: Let us all take ourselves a deep breath...

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Thoughts on Paris

Child in Tunnel by Norbert Eder

It’s almost impossible not to talk about Paris, is it? The imagery so stark, the evil so dark and unmitigated. We have a sense of our world upended, our way of life and broadly agreed-upon civilizational values suddenly all a-jumble.

It doesn’t add up in any readily, rationally explainable way that people—people with legs and arms and smiles and parents and probably siblings and their own recent memories of enjoying cafe dinners with friends and loved ones—would hatch a plot to come shoot us dead. Us, whom they don’t even know, who are good people, who would be kind and gracious to them if they’d walked in with a mutual friend that night to shake our hand and make pleasant small talk before heading to their table.

But they weren’t going to any table. They had instead made their own private reservation to kill us in hot spurting blood without ever having said a word to us in this life.

We try ...

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Decay and Renewal: An Analysis of Walt Whitman’s “This Compost”

Compost by Analia Bertucci USDA

Some 16 months ago (about 60 posts in BlogTime), I feautured Robert Ingersoll’s eulogy of Walt Whitman, with a brief commentary indicating I would return to Whitman’s work, it being the inexhaustible centerpiece of American poetry that it is.

So, following the advice of reader Robby Miller at that time that I keep a copy of Leaves of Grass always handy and open it at random moments to a random page and read for a spell, I did just that the other night and landed on “This Compost.”

Such an ecological theme for these times, yes? Conjuring images of all those nice organic carrot peels and lemon rinds we lovingly transport to our backyard compost bins, there to mix with leaves and the miraculously multiplying worms to eventually create a teeming dark pile of life-giving soil.

But Whitman takes a different, slightly darker tack in “This Compost,” where there is not a carrot peel or zucchini tip in sight...

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One More Mile on “The Road to Character”

My longtime friend Jay Helman had some additional reflections regarding my most recent post on David Brooks’s The Road to Character that I found worthy of note. So I’m turning the first part of this post over to him before winding up with a few thoughts in response. More of a continuing conversational mode that blogs ideally engender, rather than a straight monologue. So pour a cup of coffee and enjoy!

JAY: I have continued to chew on this post which has led me to the realm of sport and, to a lesser extent, film.

Sport began with me thinking about a widely acknowledged great man with whom I had the honor of working briefly in my life. As an 18- and 19-year-old athlete I had the extraordinary opportunity to be part of Coach John Wooden’s UCLA basketball program...

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A Commentary on “The Road to Character” by David Brooks

Mountain Road by Daniel

“I have a natural disposition toward shallowness.” That’s a curious line from someone engaged on an exhaustive quest to plumb the depths of human character in a best-selling book, but it sets a tone for the main themes circulating in New York Times columnist and PBS commentator David Brooks’s most recent work, The Road to Character.

Brooks’s self-effacement (“I’m paid to be a narcissistic blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am…”) mirrors much of what follows as he takes us on brief biographical tours of various figures he considers moral exemplars through history. His goal is to seek guideposts and commonalities among people of great character, in the hope that he and his readers can be informed, uplifted and inspired to cultivate and improve their own.

It’s an interesting and somewhat disjointed approach...

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On Data Loss, Fresh Starts, and Grace

Fire by Javier Velazquez-Muriel

So I woke up yesterday morning and all the data on my IPhone had been erased, wiped clean.

“Hello!” it said as I gazed at the screen after leaving it the previous evening performing what was purported to be a standard update of my operating system.

That “Hello” (in umpteen languages!) had an eerie chill to it, as if if I had just removed a new phone from the box. All my contacts, apps, photos, recent messages, emails, notes and audio memos to myself from my walks—gone, emptied, pffft…

Catastrophe, of course. Or at least a modern, pampered, affluenza-infected version of one.

Hours later, those hours having been spent on tech support with helpful but only half-clued in reps from our better phone companies and smartphone manufacturers, I managed to get all my data back from the cloud, lose it all again when launching iTunes a bit later, then regained about 70 percent of it once more, though all th...

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Two Moon Poems: New and Full

The full moon tends to get all the best press and draw the most eyeballs and adulation, but for my money, the new moon (or at least the “new moon + 1 day”; more on that below) is every bit as worthy of our regard.

The full moon represents abundance, being topped out, awash and abursting, like the universal mother with breasts so full of milk she cannot bear to move another inch until she drains them into the avid awaiting mouths of her children.

The full moon lights up the entire earth; we must remain deep in shadow if we are to avoid its glare (as if we’d ever want to, unless we’re a burglar or thug).

But the new moon, that mere sliver of hope, is everything that abundance and fullness are not. Spare and subtle, it allows the stars top billing, encouraging their shine and prominence on the cosmic stage, generous to a fault...

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On the Joys and Virtues of Competition

Soccer Players by US Air Force 150px

Competition, as we know from Darwin, is built into the very fabric of existence. At a baseline level, it’s been all-out war from day one among plants and animals who compete fiercely for food sources, water, and the sunlight that helps them grow.

Nothing symbolic about this competition: If you’re a plant, you need to claim your little piece of soil and sun and cling to it with utter tenacity. If you’re an animal, you either succeed in escaping predators and tracking down prey or plant food for your daily sustenance, or you die.

Nature is very unforgiving. It merely shrugs as all living things navigate the carnage of daily competitive existence.

Darwin sketched a scenario of remarkable creativity and cunning as living things learn from and adapt to the forces trying to eliminate them...

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Six Takeaways From Watching a Conversation Among the Deaf

Sign Language by Darwin Bell

I had occasion to watch a quintet of deaf people have a little social gathering at my neighborhood pool one afternoon last week. Though they also used their voices and formed words, it quickly became evident that their intense and ongoing gesturing with their hands was not due to a common Italian heritage.

Though I could make out an occasional word from where I sat at only a slight remove from them, their speech was not quite clear and it was apparent that they were complementing their verbalization with sign language (or vice versa, actually). I felt a bit like a voyeur as I subtly gazed their way while otherwise keeping my nose in a book, but writers being natural voyeurs, I wallowed in virtually zero guilt as I took note of the following:

1. A couple of people arrived with small ice chests and bags out of which they produced plentiful food and drink...

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