• The New Hedonism

    Like anyone else, I’ve spent a lot of time chasing pleasure. Whether it was food or other substances, I’ve done my share. And then some. And like anyone else, it’s often bitten me in the ass. The very thing I thought would do me good turned around and did me bad. Turns out, managing pleasure […]

  • Winter Is Coming

    Lori and I have been working with a financial adviser on our retirement plan. We’ve been facing down a whole host of decisions regarding risk assessment, asset management, and prudent reserves. We’re not rich—we both work for the government. We’re about as middle class as they come. And in about ten years we’ll both be […]

  • Indian Summer

    Indian summer is the summer after summer. It’s that period of time—a few days or a few weeks—of warm air, wide open skies, and stillness, summer’s last stand before the chill of autumn sets in. Growing up, I always loved Indian summer. I still do. It feels like a secret. Regular summer is all loud […]

  • Living With Hate

    Imagine waking up every morning knowing that there are people who hate you and want you dead just because you exist. Imagine if the most beloved elements of your family’s culture were held up to ridicule—evidence of your inferiority. Imagine internalizing all of this from the moment of your birth—knowing you were the other, that […]

  • When You’re Salieri

    The 1984 film Amadeus presents a fictionalized biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The movie, and the Peter Shaffer play that preceded it, drives serious Mozart scholars nuts because it’s completely made up. But who says art has to be true? What’s fascinating about Amadeus is the relationship between its two adversaries: a young, brash Mozart […]

  • We Are Always Traveling

    We are traveling 1,000 miles an hour around the center of the earth. The earth is traveling 67,000 miles an hour around the sun—19 miles per second. The sun and its solar system are spiraling around the center of the Milky Way galaxy at 550,000 miles an hour. The Milky Way galaxy is flying away […]

  • Surfing

    I grew up in Ventura, California, a small, sleepy beach town an hour north of Los Angeles. There wasn’t much to do. But there were miles of beautiful, empty beaches. The Pacific Ocean pulled us toward her like iron filings to a magnet. Perched out on the horizon were the Channel Islands, uninhabited chunks of […]

  • The Five Ties That Bind

    For French Existentialist philosopher Albert Camus, the only important philosophical question was: why should I not kill myself? Talk about getting to the point. Most of us choose to go on living. But why? As we struggle to answer this question we’re forced to give voice to difficult; elusive truths—the pervasive sense of the value […]

  • Skillful Means

    The Buddhists have a concept called upaya: “skillful means.” It grew out of the simple observation that one shoe does not fit all feet, and that we often have to change our approach as the situation around us changes. Principles and rules are fine, but without the freedom to adapt to the realities before us, […]