In case you thought you had a bad day …

… consider the Syrians fleeing war, risking death at sea with their spouses and babies …

Boston Globe Article on Syrian Refugees

Suddenly, the b.s. I stressed over today seems like a weekend at the Holiday Inn with imported beer and a beautiful nymphomaniac who thinks I am super-cool.

May God (or the smiling Buddha or Whoever) bring them safely to shore. And may the rest of human civilization find a way to treat them like people in need instead of criminals.

The Left and Right Political Divide


People tend to cling to their little set of closely held beliefs. They want to think they have the superior position, logically, morally.

I’m guilty of this, just as you probably are.

There was a time when my core beliefs and political positions were heavily influenced by thinkers/authors/speakers/entertainers who leaned in a certain political direction.

I can tell you those positions have changed quite a bit for me over the last decade or two. Not from right to left or left to right. But from entrenched to liberated.

Here is something I FIRMLY believe: if you take any issue that is fraught with left-versus-right tension (immigration, education, taxation, abortion, gun control, freedom of religion) and you can see NO MERIT AT ALL in the opposing arguments?

You haven’t thought about it hard enough. You are entrenched, unmovable, and you’ve let your emotions prevent you from independent thinking.

Because, if we’re intellectually honest, BOTH sides make legitimate points on all of these issues. Both sides have a view that should at least be considered thoughtfully, not dismissed out of hand. As soon as we demonize our ideological rivals, everyone has lost. When conservatives are fetus-loving right-wing-nutjobs and liberals are tree-hugging femi-nazis … all hope for meaningful dialogue is lost. All hope for thoughtful compromise … gone.

The further we get to the extreme right or left, the further from reason we get. The folks that are way way out there, to either side, aren’t going to engage in balanced, reasoned dialogue. They’re going to shout slogans and shake fists, they are deaf to any opposition, no matter how nuanced.

But most people don’t fall into these extreme categories; nor do most people embrace every single last idea of the party they identify with. (Those that do, I have to admit, scare me a little.) In most cases, we probably have more in common with “those people” (our political/ideological rivals) than we think.

Yes, at the end of the day you have to come down on a side, make a choice, vote for a person or party that best represents the sort of thinking you believe ought to guide us as a nation. That’s all well and good, as far as it goes.

But if we don’t open our minds up a little and see our neighbor with the opposing viewpoint as a fellow human being of infinite worth, a person whose views should be heard and judged, in their entirety, by their merit … well, we will have what we have. People who don’t hear each other and don’t respect each other; people incapable of working together to accomplish things for the common good. Political gridlock. And that kind of sucks.

Solitude: Do I Like it too Much?

Little wonder I am anxious to run off into a fantasy world of my own making. There I can be the world-saving hero...
Little wonder I am anxious to run off into a fantasy world of my own making. There I can be the world-saving hero…

Solitude is my frenemy. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I need/crave alone time. Quite a fair amount of it, to be honest. For reading, writing, working on guitar skills, for binge-watching some Netflix series (like “Broadchurch”) that has me all caught up in it. I also just need to be away from all humanity at times. Humanity can get you down, you know.

Some of this desire for solitude I attribute to the weirdness of being me, particularly the writer in me. It is a little odd for a person to actually want to sit in a room alone for countless hours with a keyboard and a monitor for company. Such a person lives in their head a lot, assigning thoughts and words and actions to people they’ve invented. This is a world in which they rule with absolute authority: deciding when the sun rises and sets, who wins and who loses, who lives and who dies. This is not really normal. But I can say that when I am doing it I feel I am doing one of the few things that I am meant to do. For whatever mad reason.

The problem with this prolonged solitude is that, when you leave it, the “real world” waits for you. In the real world, you find you are, in fact, not omniscient. Surprise. If something shitty happens, you can’t just cut to the next scene. You can’t cut and paste events in any order that you fancy. No deleting of unpleasant characters or consequences.

Another part of the problem is that I am in a season of life that is not a whole lot of fun. In the real world, I have a ninety-four-year-old dad whose mind is rapidly deteriorating and an adult son who is talented, smart, funny, charming, and chock-full of good qualities but seems to like dancing on the cliff of potential self-destruction on a regular basis. So I am constantly waiting for the next bizarre thing dad will do and the next possibly future-ruining thing my son may do. It’s a bit stressful. Little wonder I am anxious to run off into a fantasy world of my own making. There I can be the world-saving hero, instead of the guy wiping my dad’s urine off the bathroom floor or the guy paying my son’s court fees.

So, yes, I need my solitude. But a couple of miracles might be helpful too. Nothing too fancy. Some inner peace. The voice of God saying something comforting. A winning Lotto ticket. World peace. You know, just a little somethin’-somethin’.

Too much to ask? Yeah. Probably.

Need Help with the Origin of a Phrase

I run across the phrase “everything is slightly ridiculous” all over the place. But I have yet to discover its origin.

When I Google it, I get many instances of the phrase being used, but no attribution.

I did find that Charles Dickens’ last novel, Our Mutual Friend, has the line “Everything is ridiculous” in it.

So has someone just added the word “slightly” somewhere along the way, and it has become part of the lexicon?

Can anyone wipe away the cobwebs of my ignorance, shine the lamp of knowledge? Help me, please?



My Memoir Has Been Published as a Kindle Book, Available Now!



Would a loving God eternally punish people who don’t believe the right things? Or, as author Jim Wormington puts it, “If light is the only color in your divine box of Crayons, how can the picture you draw be so full of darkness?”

Wormington’s memoir, “Rob Bell Saved Me From Hell,” is the chronicle of his spiritual evolution: from rigid, oppressive Fundamentalism to expansive, liberating Universalism. It will encourage you to smile and challenge you to think.

Is it possible to “get the hell” out of your religion without losing your faith? Could it be that God’s love and compassion are greater than you ever imagined?

My Best Wisdom …

… is useless. Mostly.

Not because I don’t have any (though, like most worthy notions in this world, it is borrowed from elsewhere) … but because I rarely apply it. It exists primarily as “good ideas in my head.”


But a good idea is good idea. Right?

I have long said that one of the most important things we have to accomplish in life is to “Learn to like living in your head.” If being with yourself sucks you are in trouble because that is where you will be spending your entire corporeal existence.

As French dramatist Jean Anouilh put it, “Our entire life consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are.” Or as Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

It seems so easy to dwell on what we don’t like about ourselves: imperfections of the body, insufficient accomplishments, inadequate wealth, failed relationships, morally ambiguous choices … the list goes on and on. We don’t focus enough on forgiving and accepting ourselves, which is pretty much always the only place from which we may be ready to implement positive change.

Be your own best friend. Remind yourself that you have frequently loved others to the best of your ability. Remind yourself that you are loved, that you possess talents and positive attributes and, most importantly, the capacity to choose to be your “best self” the next time you face a choice. Which is pretty much every second of every day.

What will you tell yourself about yourself today? Will you point out every bad thing, beat yourself into a bloody useless pulp? Or will you spur yourself onward to a better day than you had yesterday? And on into tomorrow and the rest of your life …

The choice is yours. And mine.

As we look toward 2015, I urge you (and myself) to choose the path of inspiration.