Summer as a Verb

Summer means different things to different people. If you are a kid, it means no school. If you dig the water, it means game on. If you are in Maryland, it can mean eating steamed crabs, rockfish season, river swimming, and/or lightning bugs. Maybe it means family vacations.

Winter and spring this year were fully scheduled. Events and programs at the community center; three different evening small groups at Christ Church Easton; lacrosse season and school for the girls. All great things, which drove where and when to be and what to do.

Summer right now is an opening up of the schedule. But in some ways, I can already feel this notion of chaos taking over from order, or inactivity as a response to hyperactivity. So it’s time to create fun and balance and challenge all at the same time.

Yesterday morning, I found Paul’s Letter to the Galatians staring at me:

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (Galatians 5, 22-25)

That is a great reminder, note to self, and guide for how to approach summer, or life in general, every day.

With all that as backdrop, I like making fun “to do” lists. Here’s one for the summer months.

1. Summer reading – read three unread/unfinished books from my bookshelf. My “to be read” stacks of books grow and books I have started or wanted to read get cast off. I started yesterday by picking back up T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” White’s wild take on the King Arthur legend, an imagination-shaping story for me as a kid, a favorite book of my brother-in-law, a book I have started and not finished. I am giving myself to the end of June. Other likely contenders are James Hillman’s “A Blue Fire,” Richard Rohr’s “The Divine Dance” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions.” Every summer should have some Vonnegut.

2. Regular running – as a 5-mile run yesterday evening can attest to, I have some work to do. I let my running slide this winter/spring, and it is one of the habits that rights my body and mind.

3. Paddleboarding – at least 50 miles of summer paddleboarding. More than doable without being a stretch goal at all. I’ve just written about stand-up paddleboarding on the Shore, I live walking distance to the water, make the miles happen.

4. It’s called Natitude – go to five Washington Nationals home games (September counts). When I worked in DC, it was a habit. The girls are Nats fans and enjoy live baseball, and we haven’t caught a Nats home game the last two seasons. Time to change that.

5. Prayer – My deepest connections and most meaningful moments are when I can feel the Holy Spirit at work, when I “let go and let God” to quote a friend and small group leader. That happens more frequently when I silence and open my mind. Making time for prayer is an integral part of being guided by the Spirit.

6. Life’s a Beach – we’ve got our annual Ocean City pilgrimage on the map for July. But Assateague Island is easy. Boat and paddleboard beach exploring. Make more time beach time.

7. Go new places – I’m going to keep this broad. It could be trails, small towns, road trips, scheduled or unscripted.

8. Grow things – summer mulching has begun. I need to plant tomatoes again and regain that connection to the earth, even potted flowers and plants and the habit of watering in the mornings while drinking coffee.

9. Make a skateboarding adventure – there are a few folks who I think will be on board with this. We’ve pondered the Western Maryland Rail Trail before. I don’t know what this might become or where, but I want to recapture the feeling skater Jason Adams talks about here.

10. Live music – summer and live music are meant to go together. In June, we’ve got Josh Ritter at the Avalon Theatre and The Specials in Baltimore on the books. The Avalon has outdoor music on Harrison Street, the community center will be having Philip Dutton and the Alligators, just to name a few.

This list is hardly exhaustive, but it’s a way to shape thinking about the summer. A way to carpe the diem. John Eldredge wrote something that resonates with me: “We are created for adventure, and if we cannot find one, we start blowing things out of proportion so it feels like we have one.”

In the case of adventure, or summer, it can also be a state of mind. Be guided by the spirit, and approach these days, weeks, and months for all that they, and we can be.

Space for Grace

Tohu wa-bohu. It’s fun to say. Like an incantation you would chant while waving a magic wand over a hat. Tohu wa-bohu. It’s a Hebrew phrase from the Book of Genesis, describing the state of the Universe before God created order. “Formless void,” and “primordial chaos” are two of the translations I enjoy the most.

It’s a phrase Fr. Bill Ortt has unpacked in a couple different small groups at Christ Church Easton of late. He used it to point out that the first things that God created, in addition to light, were time and space. These were the ordering principles of the Universe. To get rid of the chaos, it was light, time, and space.

The image above is William Blake’s “Ancient of Days,” in which God creates order out of chaos. Blake is depicting God putting his orderly stamp on the Tohu wa-bohu. It’s an image I am familiar with: it’s on my left shoulder, the first tattoo I ever got, when I was 25, after my first encounter with Blake in Dr. Gillin’s British Romanticism class at Washington College. Funny to come back to it in a new way, almost 20 years later.

There is something to that need for order. When we want to calm the chaos in our own lives, we need to shine a light on things and create time and space. When things get hectic, there is a blueprint that goes back to the beginning.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith.” I like Lamott for her honesty, humor, compassion; for her irreverent reverence; for her willingness and ability to shine the light on herself and laugh and make us laugh at what she finds; for her willingness to wrestle God and surrender; and for her unique and personal path and walk of faith.

Both in reading her and for some time before, I have had the notion of “grace” on my mind. Here is how Lamott looks at it:

It is unearned love–the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.

There is so much there that I like. Grace is what is left when we have nothing else. It’s what is there when we are on empty. It’s foundational. It’s also not something we have alone, or by ourselves. Grace connects us to God and to each other. Sometimes that is a tough lesson to learn for those of us who are hermits by nature.

Here is another way she puts it, “Man is broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” Let’s play that out to bricks and mortar. A single brick only gets you so far. With a bunch of bricks, you can have a sidewalk, patio, house, etc. But the key to putting bricks together is mortar. And you have to make space for the mortar to join them together and make them stronger.

You have to make space for grace. If we get so busy with our lives, or so self-absorbed that we can’t see or feel grace, we are the bricks without mortar. We are the ones deluding ourselves that we can do it on our own.

We are broken. We live by mending. The grace of God is glue. We need to make space for grace.

The Gameplan Part II: The Real Work

You’ve called yourself to action, now what are you going to do with it?

That’s the real question. And the answer has been growing in me for 44 years. It’s something that has gained momentum and traction, has surfaced at earlier parts of my life, and keeps coming back, with more force. It’s to the point now where I can feel it when I pray, when I listen, and it can overwhelm me when I don’t expect it. It’s something that is bigger than me, maybe something for which I am just a vessel.

The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. – Frederick Buechner

I’m not clairvoyant. But I try to pay attention and to be mindful when and where things keep coming up. In July, I made a conscious change to more actively follow my dreams. To live life more intentionally and closer to my heart. To commit myself to writing in ways that I hadn’t before. During the past year, but especially the last several months, I can feel a clearer voice and purpose when I write, that seems to come the more I do it. It’s moving toward something, or some way to see.

And a strange thing has happened repeatedly now when I talk to people. I get, “You’re writing a book, aren’t you?” “There’s a book coming.” “It’s time to write a book.” I didn’t think so until a couple months ago, but it has been connecting threads, uncovering itself, and coming to light. More on that another time.

buechner-quote

I have been drawn to learning. It recently came up as a primary strength of my personality. No surprise there. I’ve talked before about deciding  against going to graduate school in Duquesne University’s philosophy program, just after college. I took the more practical, sensible option of getting to work.

Years later, when the contract we were working on ended after three and a half years of working in Washington, D.C., I was at a similar crossroads. Reading and thinking and praying back then, I felt a pull to go to seminary, to delve into studying Christian theology and see where that went. It felt strange, but right, and I talked to a handful of people about it and began researching options. Then I was offered another DC job for a good paycheck, which I took, thinking it the best option for my family, and let that notion fade.

My sense is that things in our lives happen when they are ready to happen and not before. Both of those times, feeling pulled to deeper study in faith and philosophy, I wasn’t ready. It wouldn’t have been real in the way it needed. It was while working the second DC job that I lost track of what my heart and soul wanted out of life, my marriage fell apart, and ultimately so did the job. I had to hit the reset button on life. That had to happen.

That calling to continued, deeper, sustained study in faith and Christian theology is back, exponentially louder than either time before. I’ve ignored it twice before; I won’t do that again.

slide-jesusreally

I get stirred up, moved, inspired when I read Thomas Merton, Buechner, C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Richard Rohr, and of late John Eldredge (which is where the image just above is from). I feel things working in me and through me when I am in church. But that isn’t enough. I have to do something with that, I have to act.

One of the things I have seen during the past year at Real Life Chapel with Pastor Frank Short, is how vital and essential small group study is. Church on Sunday is a time to recharge, to reflect, to come together, to pray. But there is no dialogue, there is no depth, it is not the time or the place for the real work to be done. That’s where smaller groups, and directed study and engaging with each other comes in.

Getting people together for some purpose seems to be something I do. A number of years ago, we had a writer’s group, which was a big part of a number of our lives for a stretch. In 2008, a few of us started the Rise Up Runners group, which led to more adventures and friendships than I could have imagined.

Life, and our personal walks of faith are best shared. We need to be encouraged, challenged, helped out, questioned by others. It’s not a safe or easy walk. There are wrong turns, bad ideas, fog, darkness. But there are also accomplishments, clues to be found and left, ways to hold each other up.

God acts in the world through people, among other ways. Through us. Finding and honoring our tribe of spiritual adventurers is key to making sure we find and keep to our path.

Now what are you going to do with it?

That’s the question my heart has been sitting with and my prayers have been in conversation with. When fire and passion and energy have built, are building, what will I do with it?

The answers that keep presenting themselves, over and again: 1) write, tell and share your story.  Dig deep, sustain it, tie the threads together, focus it. Look to examples like Buechner and Merton, that’s part of why they are there. 2) Learn, study, sustain and direct it. Follow the repeated calling to graduate study, find your teachers and mentors for that road. 3) Find and convene and honor a tribe, a small group for Christian study. Engage, laugh, celebrate, wrestle with stuff. Help each other.

Life is an adventure, at least how I want to live it. When I look back, so many things and experiences have been building in me and informing me, some I could hear, some I ignored. They are beginning to come together, and I’ve been quiet enough to listen, to hear, to feel.

It’s all led to right now. It’s where the good stuff is. Where the fun is. And where the real work begins.

Waiting, Seeing, Creating

The older I get, the more I am convinced that Dr. Seuss had it all figured out. If you want to understand our environmental predicament, read “The Lorax.” If you want an ode to the imagination, go after “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.” And if you want to know about life, dreams, and what it is to try to get through it all, read “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

I know “The Waiting Place” better than I’d like to. I venture out, explore, reflect, live in the moment, but sooner or later, I recognize it. I’ve circled back to the waiting place. As much as I try to be my own man; as much as I try to be open to God’s voice and direction; as much as I try to be open to the Universe, God and the Universe move at their own pace, not mine. And so, the waiting.

It can be a habit. But waiting doesn’t have to be just sitting around. I can wait actively. I am not in prison. And even in prison, there are role models for how to wait.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film 'The Shawshank Redemption', 1994. (Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images)

Andy Dufresne, of Shawshank Redemption fame, had more meaningful adventures behind bars than most free men have. But he came to a point where he realized it was time to make a change, even at the cost of his life. I realize there are movies and books that I come back to a good bit, and Shawshank will likely continue to be one of them. Andy’s “get busy living, or get busy dying,” sticks in my soul as a life mantra. A reminder.

Dufresne and Louis Goldstein could have been peeps. The only words I remember from my Washington College graduation were Goldstein’s, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” That was his take on “God helps those who help themselves.” Maybe you’re in the waiting place, well, get up and do something about it, or don’t expect to move very far.

When we are in the waiting place, we can feel stuck. Or I can. And part of that reason is because we know the waiting place. We can get comfortable waiting. We know what it feels like. So we hang on. And by hanging on, we make ourselves stuck. It’s by letting go that we move on in the direction we are supposed to go.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu

So we need to let go. Be unanchored. Undone. Untethered. We need to start. To start something new, to create. In the letting go, in the creating, what we need is to create, to begin our lives anew. Each day.

To speak of creativity is to speak of profound intimacy. It is also to speak of our connecting to the Divine in us and of our bringing the Divine back to the community. This is true whether we understand our creativity to be begetting and nourishing our children, making music, doing theater, gardening, teaching, running a business, painting, constructing houses, or sharing the healing arts of medicine and therapy. – Matthew Fox (the minister, author of “Original Blessing,” not the actor from “Lost”)

We get out of the waiting place by being ourselves, differently. By opening ourselves to creativity. By creating our lives. By being inspired and doing something with that inspiration. By allowing God to light a spark in us and being consumed by the spark of Divine inspiration.

2016-sept-harper-sunrise

Dreams Aren’t Hash Browns

Dreams aren’t hash browns. You can’t just walk into Waffle House and order your dreams “scattered, smothered, covered, topped, and chunked.” Unless you dream of hash browns. Which is understandable.

For most of us, realizing our dreams takes vision, ideas, focus, work, luck, connections, Divine Intervention, or some combination thereof. And it’s a lot easier to put them off, defer them, without even realizing it. Distractions abound. I have yet to find that dream menu.

When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul’s call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers. We’re doing exactly what TV commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do from birth. Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work, we simply consume a product. – Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”

Forgive me my soapbox. This stuff all strikes a pretty deep soul chord for me. I’m a carpe the diem guy. I try to make the most of each day and not miss opportunities to kayak, paddleboard, or catch a sunset. I try to remember, store, and appreciate those experiences in and for themselves, as well as transmute or translate them into something I can pass along.

2016 Sept TT article

Sometimes carpe’ing the diem means forgoing the sunrise to think and write. The September issue of Tidewater Times is online, and it has a book review I got to collaborate with friend and former teacher Father John Merchant to put together. Father Merchant sent me a copy of Yann Martel’s “The High Mountains of Portugal,” so it seemed fitting to turn it back around on him. Sometimes carpe’ing the diem means putting in the work (planting the seeds) to make something happen later.

Some of my dreams require trail running shoes. Coming up with fun outdoor challenges, doing them, and writing about them helped me land a cover feature story for Trail Runner Magazine in June 2008 and I’ve been looking to create more of those kind of adventures, both to experience and to write about.

RUR AT logo FINAL

The next adventure, running-hiking-walking the Appalachian Trail across Maryland with trail running friends, is in the planning phase to take place this fall (a shout out to Craig Behrin for channeling the spirit of the adventure into a cool logo). That is the kind of experience where so many of the things in life that I dig all come together.

I can dream things up all day long. Anyone can. It’s when I start to do things about them, come up with ways to make them happen, and start acting on them, that life gets interesting, and maybe God smiles.

Whom can I ask what I came to make happen in this world? – Pablo Neruda, “The Book of Questions”

2016 Feet Up OP

Living Stones

Sometimes I would like to be rock, stone, standing impermeable against the elements, against the world.

But neither rock nor stone win in the end; they get taken down; eaten away, cracked, eroded over time.

Wind and water abide. Their persistence and patience are too much for stone.

People have always sought meaning, wisdom, and strength in rocks, it seems. From building tools and weapons, to palming and rubbing a stone smooth in our hands.

I am drawn to stones.

assateague stones

Carl Jung knew something about why:

Many people cannot refrain from picking up stones of a slightly unusual color or shape and keeping them… without knowing why they do. It is as if the stone held a mystery in it that fascinates them. Men have collected stones since the beginning of time and have apparently assumed that certain ones were containers of the spirit of the life force with all its mystery. – Carl Jung, “Man and His Symbols”

rock-cairns-in-tibet

The church I grew up going to is built of stone. It has the feel of something ancient, something permanent. I have to go back to Jung:

The stone symbolized something that can never be lost or dissolved, something eternal that some have compared to the mystical experience of God within one’s own soul. It symbolizes what is perhaps the simplest and deepest experience of something eternal that man can have in those moments when he feels immortal and unalterable. – Carl Jung, “Man and His Symbols”

Ah, but the hubris of man. Our audacity. We want something permanent. We want something to build on; to be that which is built on. The cool, vastness of a mountain. Let me be that. To stand like stone.

We use stones as offerings. We build. Standing stones were built, formations, as offerings to God. A temple.

But God prefers people.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house  
– 1 Peter 2:5

People build with stone. God builds his greatest work, love, with people.

Living stones. Being built into something. Maybe I can build with words. If not my own, then Gary Snyder’s as an incantation:

Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.

Snyder’s words are riprap. Pick mine up like a stone to rub in your hand and carry with you. Pocket them and pull them out when you need them.

What will they say to you?

Saturday Prayer

I have not sat still well today. Solitude’s double-edged sword had me pacing, caged.

I walked Harper across town to the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry and back in the morning. I cut grass, which brings on thinking for me. I read and wrote for a book review article coming due. Changed lightbulbs. Sitting in the yard, I had to move.

I hop on my bike and cruise through town, riding down to the shoreline at the park. I pull Gary Snyder’s “Turtle Island” from my pocket, in all its underlined, written in, and dog-eared grace.

I close my eyes with my face in the sun. An evening breeze brushes my ears and hair.

The waves are sharing an embrace and a conversation with the shoreline; sitting in silence, it is all I can hear–a soundtrack no less extraordinary for being commonplace.

I bend my head in prayer to listen. Language doesn’t need words to speak. No, that’s not it. God doesn’t need words to speak to those who listen.

I leaf through Snyder, who offers a “Prayer for the Great Family:”

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
      holding or releasing; streaming through all
      our bodies salty seas
                          in our minds so be it

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
      trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
      bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
                           in our minds so be it

I don’t properly write in my pocket notebook very often, opting for a bigger one where my mind stretches more. But the pocket notebook made the bike ride, and as I scrawl these thoughts together, I see words bleeding through from the next page.

2016 Ava rehab words

They are Ava’s from the rehab hospital last year. She was working on getting her words back with a therapist–she couldn’t find the right words to say, to answer, but she could write them down. Today being a year since the seizure that landed her there, it doesn’t seem a coincidence to have her words find me here.

I close now wet eyes again to listen to the river. And God.

Riding my bike through town, life goes on. People are happy eating, walking, biking. There are kids playing in the sand and ankle deep in the water at the Strand.

Almost home, I turn up Jack’s Point Rd., and an Eastern Bluebird flies across the road in front of me, into a vacant lot. I have only seen a handful of bluebirds in town and I smile. If you read birds, happiness must be nearby.

eastern_bluebird_11 (1)

Of Herons and Intentions

Herons are personal for me. It’s not easy to explain, but they are somehow a connection, a link to nature and the broader Universe. Mary Oliver calls a Great Blue Heron a “blue preacher.” If you’ve ever watched one–methodical, thoughtful, graceful, you can see why.

My connection to Great Blue Herons deepened when I was training for my first marathon. I could be struggling on a long, low energy run, see one sitting on Papermill Pond or some cove, and instantly feel energized, recharged. It happened often enough to be weird (in a cool way). It would make me smile as I pushed on. A heron run was a good run. And that still happens.

Great Blue Herons are flighty. They take off as soon as you get close to them. Their take offs and landings are so awkward and take enough time and effort that it makes sense for self-preservation why they would be quick to bolt. Lately my interest has been equally on watching the more versatile, cagey, and dexterous Green Herons–there is a rookery on Town Creek in Oxford and they are everywhere. On a lazy evening paddle, we watched one scamper along rip rap in step with us, looking for something to eat. I’ve been thinking about a Green Heron tattoo to keep my Great Blue company.

2016 GB and Green Heron

Peter Matthiessen traveled five continents searching for 15 species of cranes. His adventures are chronicled in the book, “The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes.” I’m not as ambitious as Petey, nor do I have the time or budget to spread such a wide net. But I dig the notion as a model.

Sometimes I find putting my intentions out there makes me more accountable and more likely to make them happen. I’m making my scope regional–whether Eastern Shore, or Maryland, or Mid-Atlantic, we’ll have to see how it comes together. There will be road tripping involved. The goal is to find and see as many types of herons as can be found in the area. Word went out yesterday morning that a Tricolored Heron had been spotted in Grasonville. That’s the kind of occurrence to take note of.

tri colored heron

I’m not a biologist, nor am I looking to make a documentary. I’m going to try for a more creative approach to whatever writing comes out of this, and take a carpe the diem, fun, road trip, and enjoy nature approach to looking for them.

We have a finite amount of time spinning around on the globe here. That’s a perfect reason for going after things that move us, connect us, ground us, inspire us. It’s time for me to expand on what it means to have or make a heron run.

A Writer Writes: The Gameplan

At any given point you can look back at your life. Hopefully you see things that make you proud: the kind of person you are, how you treat people, maybe you have kids and see who they are becoming, personal accomplishments, relationships, etc. But, if when you look back, you continue to not see something you thought you would see; meaning you haven’t done something you wanted to try; it might be worth taking a closer look at it.

For the past 18 years or so, I have had jobs that required me to write. And that’s great, I enjoy it. But only sometimes did those jobs send me after the kind of writing that I would choose to do on my own. I’ve been able to find chances here and there to pursue writing on the fringes, but never a sustained attempt. I’m trying to change that.

pressfield-and-book

Steven Pressfield sees what gets in the way of me, or people in general, going after those things that make up our dreams. He wrote “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which became a movie, and you’ll recognize a number of his other books. But it’s “The War of Art,” that has my attention at the moment. Pressfield calls it “Resistance,” that thing that stands in the way of people trying to achieve their dreams:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

He points out Resistance as that force that stops us from doing something–from starting to workout or diet, to trying something new, to going to church, starting a business, painting, writing, from the simple to the profound. It takes the form of procrastination, excuses, it can be inviting or intimidating or rational. But it stops us, by whatever means. Until it doesn’t. And hopefully it doesn’t take a near death experience, or a mid-life crisis, or something of the sort to make us want to get past it.

When I looked around at myself, at how I spend my time away from work, my mornings, my evenings, I saw some things I liked. Spending time with the girls, running, trying to make the most of the mornings. And I saw some things I didn’t: like week day happy hours in the evenings after work sapping momentum, creativity, motivation. And not much writing. It seemed time to make some changes.

2016 Aug TT cover

The August issue of Tidewater Times is out now. You can pick up a pocket-sized copy of the coolest, carry-with-you magazine on the Eastern Shore from a number of different places. Or you can read it online here. On page 177 in the online version, is the first of an ongoing series of articles and book reviews I’ll be writing there. It helps to have friends like Jim Brighton, who are doing remarkable things like the Maryland Biodiversity Project. If you are the Facebook type, they have more than 5,700 folks following awesome photographs and natural history posts. Regular articles in Tidewater Times is one part.

Getting this site rolling is another. I’ve got others in mind. Stay tuned. It’s also about surrounding myself with other like-minded folks, a creative community of people exploring life and their passions, and making the most out of each day. Some of it will be interviewing and writing about those folks, with Jim being one of them. People have different passions and talents. It could be giving up an office job and opening up a restaurant; it could be starting your own landscaping company and happily spending your days surrounded by nature. When someone’s passion becomes their story, that’s a pretty cool thing to see happen and to share with others.

2016 writing books

There are writers out there whose lives and books inspire me daily. Peter Matthiessen and his environmentalism and spirituality. Tony Horwitz and his ways of tying history to the present in ways no one seems to have looked at. Thomas Merton and Frederick Buechner and their callings by God to follow Him and write about it. Gary Snyder and his seamless synthesis of words, nature, the Cosmos.

It’s a big world out there, full of remarkable people doing stuff that no one else can do in just the way that they are. My sense is that each of us has something of that in us.

The writer Will Durant summarized Aristotle by saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” That’s a habit I’d like to make. It will make for much better happy hour conversations on the weekends.