Category Personal Reflections

On Paying Attention: Ryan Lochte and Media’s Junk News

So we are at the end of these Olympic Games. Mammoth undertaking, nearly the entire world enthralled to some degree or other with these contests reflecting intense passion, competitive fire, and, for the most part, a sense of universal brother-and-sisterhood, human solidarity writ large across nations and cultures and even religions of the world, oh my…

All of it reflecting years of effort and training and dreaming for a select few fortunate enough to make it to this pinnacle of the sporting world.

(Yes, I know it also reflects rampant commercialization, politicization, fraud and influence peddling etc.; I’ll get back to you the very moment I find a large human endeavor that is free of those…)

In the midst of it all, a quartet of lunkhead male swimmers, who I’m sure are fine sons and friends and teammates with many scores of good people who can vouch for their essential good character, get too much ...

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In Praise of Mourning: the Assisted Suicide Party of Betsy Davis

For many years now I have been both pleased and troubled by the trend of turning funerals and memorial services into “celebrations.”

Pleased because the “celebratory” theme does justice, in a profound way, to the whole of a person’s life and character and resounding impact upon those who still live.

Troubled because I fear it can easily lapse into denial and suppression of the honest, healing emotion of grief.

Case in point: the altogether remarkable tale of Betsy Davis, the 41-year-old woman with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease who took her own life last week, but not before she threw an extravagant two-day party for some 30 close friends and relatives to “celebrate” her life at her home in Ojai.

There was much to admire in Davis’s decision to take charge of her own fate in sovereign possession of her own body, about as fundamental a right as we can or should conjure in any world where freedom is ...

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A Happy Birth Day Adoption Memoir

I’ve had a stack of black book personal journals occupying various spots in back bedrooms for many years now. They are the product of an effort for the first five or so years of my daughter’s life to provide a record, a kind of daily diary, of not only what happened, where we went, what we did and who we saw, but more importantly for two people who came very late to parenthood after long efforts to first prevent pregnancy, then to become pregnant, then to become adoptive parents, to provide a chronicle of the heart, of the vast reservoirs of love and delight and appreciation that suffused our lives when she came into them exactly 18 years ago today.

I wanted to give her a taste, many years down the line when she might take a peek at my scrawlings, of just how much she was cherished, not to mention how much sheer fun we had in profound activities like…watching her sleep…and changing her diapers…and clea...

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Memories of Early Jobs

 So my daughter is searching for a summer job, which, provided she lands one, will be her first job of any consequence, save for the very occasional child care gig or house-tending for vacationing neighbors. As a recent high school graduate, she’s a little late to be entering the job world—that’s right, a child of privilege, ’nuff said—but her quest has put me in mind of my own early jobs and the deep memories and images they have left me with most of a lifetime later.

My first sort-of-real job was as understudy for my brother’s paper route. He was three years older, and once he landed the job, he appointed himself CEO. Then he hired me, his 9-year-old younger brother, to get up with him twice a week at 5 a.m. I’d deliver the Eagle Rock Sentinel up one side of the street while he did the other. We did this over a whole bunch of streets.

For this, he paid me the princely sum of $1 each day, $...

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Some Thoughts on Thinking (and Emotions)

Like most writers, I keep a cache of mostly random thoughts, snippets, excerpts, ideas for future projects that I store in a folder on my digital desktop. It’s a big file that I add to whenever I can catch myself in the act of thinking, and in doing so, step outside of that thinking just far and long enough to say, “Hmmm…there may be a blog (or sermon or poem) in that.”

This process, of interrupting one’s unself-conscious immersion in a thoughtstream to consciously note that one is having a thoughtstream that may be worthy of further thinking, is a rather interesting occurrence itself. It is thought reflecting upon thought, which, by virtue of its interruptive qualities, inevitably changes the original thoughtstream that prompted the whole enterprise.

So very meta.

(“I just saw this movie about these people making a movie, and the movie they were making was about the movie industry…” goes on...

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