Category Archives: Overcoming Adversity

On being Lisa

It would be a lie if I told you that I am not scared. For me, the most frightening part of being smashed against the wall of mortality is the feeling that my life has been a failure. That I haven’t had enough time to realize all of my dreams and to make the kinds of contributions to the world that I always thought I would. — Lisa S. Keary

My dear friend Lisa passed away last week in Chiang Mai after more than a year fighting lung cancer. During this time she wrote eloquently about her experiences in the course of her discovery, treatment and eventual surrender to the disease. She held a Ph.D with distinction from Columbia University and had a exemplary career in human rights NGOs. Lisa did make a great difference in this life and by the end of it, she realized that the things she had failed to achieve mattered less than being grateful for all that she had been given.  Continue reading

Solve for X

If attention is the currency of the internet, then anxiety is the currency of modern society. We are part of a massive, finely tuned anxiety machine that offers us the promise of freedom while churning out a dizzying array of choices that overloads our decision-making bandwidth, and distracts us from what really matters. More choice does not equal more freedom. 200 kinds of toothpaste do not make us free. When we are free, we recognize the difference between purposeful, self-owned choice and simply selecting from options presented to us. Freedom isn’t given, it’s taken, and extraordinary results come from managing the anxiety of freedom that is key to transformational change.
Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Rule #6

The next time you find yourself ranting at salespeople, your mother, tech support, or other drivers, stop to remember rule #6. When I witness someone having a meltdown, it’s invariably because they have thrown rule #6 out the window. I’m guilty of such episodes, but at least I know the rule, despite a temporary lapse, and afterward I always feel foolish. You’re probably familiar with this rule already, though in the heat of the moment, it can be easily forgotten. Directly experiencing it is a revelation that can change your whole perspective on what matters. Continue reading

Tagged , ,


There’s a lot of apocalyptic chatter in the media these days, more so than usual. And you know it will only get worse as unscrupulous people seek to cash in on 2012 hysteria. This, in addition to the usual threats (anthrax, Jihadists, armies of the undead, and the ever-present menace of a robot uprising), has me somewhat worried. It’s not that I buy into the doomsday scenarios (there are plenty to choose from), but it has brought to my attention the need to be prepared when the merde hits the ventilateur. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

In the shadow of leaves

“We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one’s aim is a dog’s death. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling. — Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure, “The Book of the Samurai” Continue reading

Tagged ,

Doubling down

One winter in college I was visiting Paris, sitting at the bistro near my hotel just watching people. An American couple came in and the husband, in an accent I would best describe as “Chicago detective” (the word “Paris” came out sounding like “Pears”), called the waiter and tried to get “Two diet cokes”. The waiter in classic Parisian style, pretended not to understand what the man was saying. “Can you repeat, Monsieur”, he asked in French. The husband, in classic American style, only spoke louder, adding, “I know you know what I’m talkin’ about here”. The waiter, whom I had heard speak English to some women earlier, continued to feign interest in the conversation saying, “Faites un bel effort, Monsieur.” (make a beautiful effort). Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Cosmic bonds

My wife and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotional support this past week from many in our online social networks. What has surprised me is the depth of response from childhood friends that I haven’t seen for 25 years, as well as from those with whom I was never particularly close. These heartfelt sympathies were as profound as those from my own family, which made me wonder how was it that such bonds have endured over time and distance? What I realized is that like everything else in the universe, once bonds are formed between things, changes in one affect changes in the other. It’s called quantum entanglement and it links us in ways that we cannot easily perceive, but has an enduring effect on all of us. Continue reading

Tagged , ,