Category: Life

What Is This Thing Called Luck?

Motivated strivers brought up on the encouraging nostrums of business seminars and personal “empowerment” training know that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. In this model, luck isn’t an unseen, fickle agent. It’s something that doesn’t exist — and if it does, it can be conquered with hard work and cleverness. People who play the...

Deciphering Intelligent Design

Proponents of “intelligent design” — which is another way of saying “opponents of the theory of evolution” — were pleased by President Bush’s recent remarks that “both sides ought to be properly taught” in public schools. Here was the most powerful person in the world lending credence to a wacky notion that has been widely...

Time is Money

Of all the cliches one encounters regularly, “time is money” may be the one uttered most frequently and with the largest degree of conviction, particularly by people who charge by the hour. The concept is that the two are interchangeable. After all one IS the other. If only it were so. Our maniacal pursuit of...

Golf Abides

A couple of days after watching Jack Nicklaus play his last round of competitive major championship golf , we got a letter from an 83-year-old woman we’d met on a golf course. She reminded us that her regular foursome, composed of friends from high school, met every week to hack it around. “We really love...

The Appeal of Obsessives

Each week at the local library, where I serve as a volunteer literacy tutor, a man comes in and sits down at the table across from ours. I assume he’s homeless, because his skin and clothes are dirty, and his hair unkempt. (Since he has a full beard and lacks an iPod, he’s probably not...

Fishbowl or Shroud?

You may hate your job, husband, car, wardrobe, and neighbors. You may bridle at the indignities of waiting in lines, dealing with low-wage clerks, negotiating traffic, and cleaning up after the dog. You may wish your life wasn’t your life. But you don’t want to be famous. Not really famous. The money’s good, and having...

Working Hard for Indolence

We’re taught that indolence, if not an outright sin, is an unattractive quality that ambitious strivers should abhor. The byproduct of laziness — i.e., nothing — doesn’t enrich the world in any way, whereas effort and action, even when fruitless or irrelevant, keeps the turbines of consumption pumping. Work: good. Indolence: bad. Yet, for many...

The Chase

Living in Los Angeles, in a neighborhood that’s near Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, enclaves of wealth and luxury that neatly summarize all that is grand (achievement, possibility, beauty) and horrible (excess, vulgarity, greed) about America, one has ample opportunity to reflect on the pros and cons of consumer-driven capitalism. The question that comes to mind...

Awful Acceleration

String Theory, a byproduct of quantum physics that we confess we don’t fully comprehend, holds that this thing we call Time doesn’t really exist — at least not as we generally understand it, as a continuum that moves from past to present to future. If this is true, then we need another word to describe what...

Never Enough

Strip away the effective marketing campaigns that inspire Acquisition Lust, and what’s left? Remove the cultural conditioning that programs us like so many robots, the script that compels us to want-need-desire-require more, and what do you have? An illusion. Many of us find meaning in life through a maniacal pursuit of money and the things it can...