Christopher Morley’s last message

read, every day

Read, every day, something no one else is reading.

Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.

Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.

It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.

— Christopher Morley’s last message to his friends, 1957


The Parable of The 27 Failures

baseball - dreamstime_s_5496710

Blam! With a swing of the bat, a hard spherical object reverses direction and is sent hundreds of feet across the air, landing behind a wall. Thousands of witnesses erupt in happiness, praising the wielder of the bat. This is the ultimate achievement in this game, or at least the one with the most instant gratification – the ultimate achievement is probably pitching the perfect game, preventing 27 consecutive opponents from connecting with the spherical object in any meaningful way.

The appeal of baseball may be its lack of a clock, although it has its own deadline in a sense: You must score more runs than your opponent before you run out of opportunities to fail. You’re allotted up to 27 failures, and you only need to succeed a comparative handful of times (few teams ever get as many as 27 base runners in a game) to win the contest. You don’t know exactly how much time you’ll have before the 27th out, which is closer to life than games with a clock. In life, you usually don’t know when time will run out, either.

In life you’ll likely fail more times than you succeed – how many potential mates do you meet before marrying one, how many job interviews before landing one, how many great books rejected before finding a publisher – and you usually don’t know how much time you’ll have; you just keep going until you run out of opportunities.

Don’t be overly concerned when you swing and miss; step back up to the plate and give it another go. With persistence, you’ll connect enough.

[Photo © Michael Drager –]

What is and what may have been

planning the week

When I have time to sit and ponder, the week ahead unfolds with certain order. Today I can do this task and that, and I can start on that project that’s due the day after tomorrow, and this afternoon I should have time to accomplish the usual accomplishments.

But of course, one by one the images unravel with unexpected interactions with other people’s plans and expectations and needs, and The Week That Was is not The Week That Was Going To Be.

As the next week approaches, I assess that at least this got done and that got started, although this other thing is still not begun and overall progress should have been better. The certain order collapsed into uncertain disorder, or at least less order than I would have preferred.

But such is life in the pinball machine, careening from wall to wall and bumper to bumper, getting bopped by the flippers and staying in the game as long as possible.

It never happens quite the way it was envisioned because of the push and pull against each other in infinite combinations. The journey is the destination, because the journey determines the destination, which is always different – slightly or dramatically – from the one envisioned at first step.

Not Empty Yet

not empty yet

There will come a time when you’re tired and it feels like time to set down the mantle and rest – well, rest is OK – but the longer it goes, the more it seems like you’ve said and done all you have to say and do – those are the times you need to lift your head and look around and stretch your limbs and find a deeper reserve – because the truth is, you don’t run out of things to say and do – not in this lifetime – that’s why it’s called a lifetime: Your time of life. As long as your heart is beating and you’re drawing air, you’re not empty yet. Say what you have to say; do what you have to do.

Somedays are like that


Someday I’m going to be rich …

Someday I’m going to get my act together …

Someday I’m going to break through and figure it all out …

The thing is, of course …

If you wait for someday, it never comes.

You gotta make your own someday.

Someday things will be different, sez you?

Why not today? Why not turn today into someday?

It beats waiting.

The second day

the second day

Today is the second day of the rest of your life. I know, I know, the first day may not have gone so well, but forget it.

Move on. Set your mind to making the second day better than the first.

And – maybe you you what’s coming now – resolve that the third day will be the best of the three, and the fourth the best of the four.

Make every day better than the day before, for the rest of your life.

Never say die until you reach the last day of the rest of your life. And even then, say it in the context of “I don’t really want to die, but at least I’ve done all I can.”

The beauty of freedom

national puppy day (crop)

“Tell me what to do,” the young one said.

“Whatever you wish,” replied the mentor. “That’s the beauty of freedom. You do whatever you think you need to do.”

“What if I don’t know?”

“Then do anything. Do something, and see if it fits you.”

“And if it doesn’t? Fit, that is?” the young one fidgeted.

“Then do something else, and something else again, until you find a fit,” the mentor said, patiently. “It’s your choice.”

“I don’t know how to choose.”

“Incorrect. You know how to choose, but you worry that you won’t make the right choice, and so you hesitate.” A pause. “Nothing is difficult about choosing, except working through the hesitation.”

Still inconsolate: “What if I run out of choices and am still unsatisfied?”

Now the mentor smiled, gently. “It is impossible to run out of choices.”

“And what if I refuse to choose?”

“Then you will have chosen nothing,” said the mentor, kindly. “Which will change the mix of choices when you return to a place of choosing.”

“Maybe it will be a better mix,” said the young one, hopefully.

“Maybe it will be,” said the mentor. “But you will have lost what may have been, had you chosen now.”

Reboots are made for walkin’

12-3-2017 reboot

I thought I’d find you here. You’ve been stuck in the same place for so long it’s easy to find you, waiting for – what ARE you waiting for?

You do know that when what you’re waiting for comes, it won’t change the basics? You will still be who you are.

If you want to change something, don’t wait for some special circumstances or some special person. Start working on it today. That way, you don’t have to wait until what you’re waiting for comes.

It might just turn out that you’ve been waiting for Godot, after all, and then where would you be?

What are you waiting for? Get started.