Category Archives: Overcoming Adversity

Some disassembly required

The Chinese say losing something small prevents losing something big. This has become my mantra of late. And my wife reminds me of it when I obsess about forgetting my sunglasses at the airport. She’s right; this has probably kept me from losing an eye. If it sounds superstitious, I prefer to think of it as folk wisdom. Losing something small causes us to be more mindful and appreciative of the big things we have. Continue reading

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The big swim

After our baby’s recent Kasai procedure (liver duct bypass surgery), my wife and I are optimistic about her chances of full recovery. While we love seeing Nat as her active and cheerful self these days, we also know that there’s a strong likelihood that she will soon need a liver transplant. While most people would look upon this as a catastrophic, I feel a sense of serenity. It’s as if I waded out into a violent surf, was knocked down, tossed around pulled out into the calm beyond the breaking waves, where I can now contemplate the nature of the ocean without drowning in it. Continue reading

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The things we leave behind

When most of us think of success, it’s about the things we have accumulated; knowledge, money, seniority and achievements. We derive our satisfaction and happiness from these things based on how favorably they compare to cultural measures. I think about success in terms of who I am becoming, and for me to become the person I envision myself to be, ultimately, my measure of success has as much to do with achievement as it does with what I give up. Wisdom does not come from what we have gained; it comes from what we have lost. Continue reading

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Life is beautiful

Physics dictates that we do not feel speed. It is only our perception of acceleration and deceleration that give us any indication of our relative velocity. Here we all are, hurtling through the universe but we feel as if we’re standing still. So it’s not at all strange that as our lives gain a certain momentum, we become increasingly complacent. In our rush of daily activity, it’s easy to forget that this momentum is our own creation. When we allow ourselves to slow, things come into focus. At a dead stop, we realize just how beautiful each moment truly is. Continue reading

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Point of no return

This week I sometimes felt frustrated when trying to soothe our three week-old baby girl. She’s not particularly fussy, but requires a lot of attention. When my wife sent me some tips on how calm the baby, courtesy of Ask Dr. Sears, it got me thinking about how as adults, we devote a majority of our adult lives to the same self-comforting activities, and through them, learn to tranquilize the anxiety that comes from dealing with the choices and responsibilities of our freedom. Continue reading

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Relaxed urgency

As an American with a type-A personality that can border on crusading, I have sometimes found living in Asia frustrating. 18 years in China, with its stultifying bureaucracy and a cultural aversion to decision making, taught me a lot about the power of persistence, as opposed to being forceful. In Northern Thailand, where everything seems to move in slow motion, instead of applying constant pressure, I find myself adopting the local mindset that things will eventually work themselves out. Yet the apparent choice between driving hard or sitting back and waiting isn’t really a choice, it’s a dilemma that we can transcend. Continue reading

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The strenuous life

“If you are rich and are worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research—work of the type we most need in this country.” — Theodore Roosevelt, Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, April 10, 1899 Continue reading

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