The Cliff (Throwback post)

I’ve rerun this story several times through the years, because this childhood incident is at the root of my personal philosophy. I share it as a reminder for these seemingly scary times.


I learned everything I need to know about fear on a steep hill overlooking Lake Champlain in Vermont. I keep coming back to this story whenever anxiety threatens to stop me in my tracks. Childhood lessons sink in deep.

To my younger-than-10-years-old eyes, it looked more like a cliff than a hill; my impression was informed by the shale-like formations that reached down to the beach and disappeared into the pine forest above. Seen from the cabin our parents rented for a week every summer, the forest appeared to grow to the edge of a steep, rocky incline that I wouldn’t be able to scale if I had to.

And one day, I had to. Continue reading “The Cliff (Throwback post)”


Daylight is promised every day

daylight is promised

For just a few weeks of the year in this corner of the world, you can get up as early as 5 (or even 4:15) a.m. to the promise of daylight whispering in the distance. Most of the day is just a dream this time of morning, a matter of faith rather than a clear reality. But know this, young buck: Daylight is promised. Daylight is promised every day.

Couldn’t you say just the opposite, as well? That no matter how long and how wonderful the day may be, darkness will overtake you in the end?

There’s the cycle defined, and the balance, and the first source of conflict among us, isn’t it? The pull between those who seek the daylight and those who seek the dark. You know what I notice? Most people choose to sleep through the dark and live their lives in the light.

But some also are comforted by the night. It’s quiet, and you can hear yourself think. Isn’t that why you wake before dawn breaks – to be wrapped in the waning moments of the dark?

The waning moments of the dark are the beginning of daylight. This is the time when all creatures – well, most of them, anyway – begin to stir and sing and look about and say, “Look and see! Taste and see! Life resumes! We are rested and recharged and ready to sing another day!” Life grows in daylight – sustenance is dependent on the light. Those who dwell in darkness are conquered by the light.

No. We need both darkness and light. You can’t dwell forever in light, either. You need the owl and the racoon and the other night dwellers to complete the circle of life.

It may seem that way. But we all instinctively seek the warmth of daylight. When evil is exposed, we speak of bringing it forward into the light where it can no longer hide in darkness. We are creatures of the light no matter how much we may be fascinated and curious and even attracted by the dark.

Too much light and heat, I grant you, can be harmful, even deadly. But darkness and cold bring a quicker death to the soul as well as the body. The promise of daylight sustains us through the night, which is the time when we pause to recharge and renew so we can thrive in the daylight – our natural home.

No matter how dark the path you walk, daylight will overtake you if you just hang on.

The final choice

the final choice

It was always coming to this.

The signs were all there: The events, the crazy revelations, the tide of history itself, all led up to this moment, these people in this place under these circumstances. Even the taste in the mouth and the smells in the air felt inevitable. It could only have come to this, and the time was now.

Only one choice was left: Step forward and do it, or turn away and run back to the life that waited back there, unalterably changed forever by events but nonetheless waiting.

Funny how it all felt inevitable, and yet there were choices every step of the way. This time all the right choices had been made, and here they all were as if it had fallen into place, and now the final choice presented itself.

They didn’t have to do it.

But they did.

Finally, they all took a deep breath, blew it out, and breathed in.

No one said a word, but you could feel the words in the air: “All right, let’s do this.”

And they stepped forward.

The world has never been the same.

How to build your wings

building your wings - dreamstime Flying the Firebird

“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down,” Bradbury said.

Ready – fire – aim.

In other words, get started and figure out where you’re going along the way. You do have a general idea of what you want to do, but you won’t get it done unless you start.

Michelangelo is said to have said he saw David in the stone before he started. But the stone must have had some surprises for him – he didn’t plan every rap of the chisel before he began. He just got started and found David inside as he journeyed.

As Indiana Jones escaped from the clutches of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was asked how they were going to accomplish one step of the flight. “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go,” he said. He had a general goal: Get away from the Nazis. He didn’t know exactly how he would do that – he just had a passion for the task and a general idea.

Ready – fire – aim.

As the trajectory becomes clear, adjust the trajectory. You’re off the cliff and soaring – now it’s just you and the forces of the universe or the market as the case may be – in this analogy, gravity – the goal is to master the wind before gravity has its full impact (literally).

Scared? Oh, yeah. There’s a literal deadline. Every worthwhile thing in life is somewhat scary, because every worthwhile thing in life carries some risk. Because life is finite and fragile, and no one is guaranteed a sunset.

Tales From The Glowing Box

vintage TV

“Look! Look over here! I have something to say!”

“Here! Over here! You should buy this!!”

“OMG! Did you hear what happened?!”

The voices barked from the glowing box on the wall.

“Why are they yelling at us?” he asked rhetorically, and she knew it was a rhetorical question but she answered anyway, because it amused her.

“They know it bothers you,” she said.

“They don’t know me from some other shmuck,” he grumbled.

“You don’t know that,” she said, arching a suspicious brow.

“They’re just trying to scare us, you know,” he said. “They always try to say something scary and then try to sell something.” He straightened. “Hey!”

“What is this lightbulb that just flashed over your head?”

“Maybe I should go out on the street, yell something scary at people and try to sell them something.”

“What could go wrong?” she said, her eyes rolling.

10 reasons to celebrate freedom


A long time ago in a land of hope and plenty, a perfect union was formed. But after a few years people got together to try again, declaring the new arrangement was “a more perfect union.”

Even at that, they perceived something was missing from their founding document. They made 10 additions. Continue reading “10 reasons to celebrate freedom”

For Emily, because we found her

for emily because we found her

When Emily Dickinson died, they found a treasure trove of poetry that has endured for a very long time. In her lifetime only a handful of those poems had seen the light of day. She was afraid or otherwise unwilling to share them with others.

What are you keeping to yourself? How do you know you don’t have the power to touch millions of hearts?

You never know until you let the sun shine on your soul and share what’s in there.

Maybe you won’t change the world. But maybe you will.

Give it a try.