Yearly Archives 2014

Top 10 Lessons I Learned Teaching My Daughter to Drive

So my daughter got her driver’s license today after many months of practice. (You can find reflections on that practice in a post from last March here.) In recent weeks, with the basics well in hand, I have placed a heavy emphasis on the finer points of the enterprise, and, considering all the verve and occasional vituperation of her teenagehood, she has been a rather surprisingly dutiful student.

We might consider these last weeks before Exam Day a kind of Dad’s Finishing School To Become a Truly Excellent Driver (and Person).

The other point sinking in here is more for me than for her: that one never learns anything as well as when one has to teach it. And that learning anything in depth always carries within it the seeds of learning about Much Larger Matters.

So herein are the Top 10 Things Dad Learned (or was at least reminded of again) from all his teaching.

1...

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Irreplaceable You: The Life-Changing Loss of Our Beloveds

A year ago October, I wrote a post on “Life Changers: The Six Kinds of Experience That Blow Your Mind to Bits.” It included a proviso that the six I mentioned—travel, the arts, love, sex, mood-altering substances and children—were hardly an exhaustive list. Which became clearer almost immediately as I hit the “Publish” button, already regretting I had not made it seven items.

How could I discuss life-altering experiences that shake us to our core without mentioning death?

Don’t worry—I won’t compete here in either length or breadth with the entire libraries devoted to the topic from learned battalions of philosophers, theologians and poets.

I will instead focus on one point only, one that frankly, has been something of a revelation to me over the course of my life...

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Thanksgiving Poem

THANKS GREAT AND SMALL

For the Mystery,
the X,
the source of comfort
and question (and cruelty)
and eternal longing and love—

Thanks.

For the leaf flutter,
the ant scurry,
the slant of light on my chair,
this chair, at precisely
5:01 (and 31.6 seconds)
on the afternoon of November 9th,
never seen again through all
the warp and woof of futures unknown—

Thanks.

For these friends
and that food,
the drinks to pair,
the touch of care,
the earth so fair—

Thanks.

For this branch of that tree,
for birds in the air,
a bridge crossing there,
the juice of a pear,
the glint of sun on hair—

Thanks.

For the flesh’s tingle,
(Ooh-uhh-huhh),
for locomotion and
vintner’s potions,
the glory of books,
the gifts of cooks,
all people, this person,
life’s call for immersion—

Thanks, thanks, thanks.

And thanks once more,
It is all in the giving—

Thanks.

***

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A Meditation on Hope

A Meditation on Hope

My newest crusade is to have the cleanest, most litter-free potter’s field in the world sprawled in front of me on my morning walks through the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, not one candy wrapper, cigarette butt or beer bottle surviving the sweep of my gaze as I traverse its hills and dales.

My eyes are mine sweepers, extending 180 degrees through the harbor, left, right, back, up and forth.

My mission: to find and emerge triumphant over every litter bomb, no matter how tiny it is or clever its attempts to hide behind a bush or under mounds of dead fall leaves.

Out with you and into my bag, pocket or hand, you Doublemint wrapper! Quit your cowering pretension that you’re just another tree twig, you lollipop stick!

I am onto your nefarious ways!

It is good to have a noble purpose in life, and I am surpassingly glad to have found mine.

The modern world can be hell on hope. Bad guys wreaking havoc all over...

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Cries for Freedom: The Berlin Wall and Brittany Maynard

I don’t believe I know one person in my everyday orbit who has even one shred of doubt that Brittany Maynard wasn’t fully entitled to the self-determination she employed on November 1 as she ended her own life under Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

At a heartbreaking 29 years old, she was making a clear, rational, and yes, spiritually mature decision to end her life on her own terms, in her own time, before the ravages of the inoperable brain tumor she had endured overcame her ability to make any decisions or make any sense whatsoever.

Let me be clear: I regard human life as a precious gift that we must hold in the tenderest, most exalted esteem. What a kick it is, yes? Inexhaustibly enriching, full of beauty, intrigue, challenge, high humor, endless curiosity and capacity for love, wonder and joy.

Except when it isn’t.

And when confronting the end point of the disease that was soon going to kill M...

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