Category: Life

Screaming the Loudest

The benefit of teaching young people that the world is a meritocracy is that this enduring myth encourages people to try their best. As long as they believe that the cream eventually rises to the top, they’ll continue to toil diligently, confident that there’s a demonstrable correlation between dedicated effort and eventual reward. Once the...

The Elderly

The surrealist artist and poet Dorothea Tanning is 96 years-old. The gentleman who organizes our local golf club tournaments is 82. Countless people in their seventies (do the Rolling Stones qualify?) lead full and active lives. My father is in his sixties. At this point in his life, numerical age is irrelevant. After surviving two...

Chemicals

Just as devoutly fatalistic folks ascribe everything that happens – or doesn’t happen – to an omnipotent author in the sky who meticulously scripts several billion not very interesting biographies every day, we have a friend who transfers responsibility for the course of life to a different higher power. Chemicals. Our pal believes that human beings are...

All Five Senses

There’s some sort of problem in my left eye at the moment, the details of which I won’t bother to enumerate. Suffice to say it’s concerning enough that I’m going to see a doctor — something I almost never do. And then, one presumes, everything will be all right. I couldn’t help, though, imagining what...

A Blessed Life

Capitalism requires that we consumers feel as though we never have enough. Our lives will be fuller, richer,better if only we might acquire, chew, possess that which we don’t yet have. The media reminders that constantly bombard our senses teach us that more money, more fame, more fabulousness will magically enlighten our days as friendship, love...

Foretelling the Future

Knowing in advance, whether through precognition, special access, or heightened powers of analysis can be both profitable and impressive. If we could predict with certainty the winner of this weekend’s Masters tournament, the biggest gainer on today’s New York Stock Exchange, or the six numbers in the Powerball lottery, we would reap a handsome profit....

To Mom and Dad: Thanks!

A study published this month in Pediatrics magazine suggests that toddlers who watch TV risk attention problems, including difficulty concentrating, acting restless and impulsive, and being easily confused. This discovery won’t come as news to my parents, who raised me on a strict diet of one-hour-of-TV during the school week. At the time, of course, I resented...

If Trees Could Live Forever

I think that I shall never see A poem as lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; A tree that looks to God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray; A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her...

The Meaning of Dogs

Throughout my early boyhood our family had a succession of German Shepherds, all of whom perished prematurely because of disease and whom I only vaguely remember. First there was Caesar, and then (a second) Brutus. (My family, I realize in hindsight, had a thing for Roman history.) I don’t remember much about these animals except...

Things Versus Experiences

We work to make money so that we may clothe, feed and shelter our family and ourselves. We also work so that we may acquire things: baubles, gadgets, appliances, games, art, and more clothes, food, and shelter just in case we run out. Sometimes a good life is measured by how many things we’ve managed...