Current mood

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

MacBeth, Billy Shakespeare

471 days later

I’m heading back to the office for the first time since we were supposed work from home for 6 weeks.

Of course there is a traffic jam. It feels like a first day in a new office. A commute is nice every now and again, but I think this will be an occasional occurrence.


Men at 40

Long past 40 but heard this today on reboot and it hit. Hard.

Men At Forty

By Donald Justice

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices trying
His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.


David Whyte on Friendship

I read the Three Marriages last year after an initial introduction to David Whyte on the Making Sense podcast.  He was back on a bit ago and read this, part of his newest book Consolations.  Love.  Every.  Word.

Frindship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness.  Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn.  A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them.  An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy.  All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness.  Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Through the eyes of a real friendship an individual is larger than their everyday actions, and through the eyes of another we receive a greater sense of our own personhood, one we can aspire to, the one in whom they have most faith.  Friendship is a moving frontier of understanding not only of the self and the other but also, of a possible and as yet unlived, future.

Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence.

Through the eyes of a friend we especially learn to remain at least a little interesting to others.  When we flatten our personalities and lose our curiosity in the life of the world or of another, friendship loses spirit and animation; boredom is the second great killer of friendship.  Through the natural surprises of a relationship held through the passage of years we recognize the greater surprising circles of which we are a part and the faithfulness that leads to a wider sense of revelation independent of human relationship: to learn to be friends with the Earth and sky, with the horizon and with the seasons, even with the disappearances of winter and in that faithfulness, take the difficult path of becoming a good friend to our own going.

Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend of sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.


Knowing when to give up when doing stupid things.

The stupid thing we were going to do got stupider with 3-4 inches of packed snow on the trail so I pulled the rip cord about 12 miles in. I was way off my min pace (glad I had that sheet calculated ahead of time and with me). And the snow was not melting off. Based on the sections we did, I am pretty confident that we could have done it in a reasonable amount of time if it weren’t for the snow pack.

Discretion is the better part of valor.


Making stupid plans

In 11 days a buddy and I are going to attempt the 4 state challenge on the AT. 4 states/~44 miles in less than 24 hours. I’m not sure how I ended up agreeing to this, but once committed…I’m in.

It’s going to be a bit different than any other hikes I’ve done. No camping. Light day pack for speed. And more than double the daily miles I’ve ever done.

Since making this commitment I’ve been cranking out a marathon a week on the treadmill (and finally digging into the Expanse). I’ve made a pace chart and if I max out all sections I can finish in about 18 hours. If slowest, I’ll miss the 24 window by about 20 mins.

The hardest part will be at mile 42 we will walk right by our hotel. Facing 2 miles up hill in hour 17 to 23. Good willpower test. Trip report in a few weeks.


Added a hitch to the skoolie this weekend

Picked up a 15,000 lb weld on curt hitch a few weeks ago. Spent a few hours on Saturday and Sunday getting it installed. A little more difficult than I thought, but really happy with how it turned out. Just have to get it welded up and then get the wiring setup and I’ll be ready to tow.


Quarter million

Picked up my 2008 MB E320 Bluetech in May of 2011 with about 32k miles. Just crossed a quarter million.


Historical vs scientific facts

Slowly making my way through Ernst Cassier’s “An Essay on Man” and ran across this gem which seems particularly useful in our attempts to recover from fake news.


Navigating the new rules of social interaction

It’s been more than a year since I’ve been on a plane. Nearly a year since I’ve been in an office. No clear timeline for when that might change.

Last year was a year of constant adjustment and regular disappointment. Trips cancelled. Concerts “postponed”. Restaurants closed. I fell into the trap of thinking that reality cares about our president or even about our calendar which has led to some new disappointments. 

The reality of 2021 is setting in: not too much is going to change from 2020.With that knowledge comes some power. Having had Covid to start the year comes with some added freedom or at least lower anxiety. Especially with reports like this.  I am using this knowledge and freedom to try to make 2021 different than 2020, for us at least.

So what does that look like?  We’ve already been out to eat, although we did that a bit in 2020. I’m going to the gym for small group work outs.  We went to a concert – the first since late 2019. We’ve got plans for dinner groups and trips in the skoolie. I’ve signed up for a few major IDPA matches and have a few hikes in the works (something that I also was able to do in 2020, but am trying to be more intentional this year about where I go and am adding pack rafting to the tool kit).

These changes will definitely improve my mental health.  I am best when I have a few things to look forward to and plan for.  2020 was hard that way, since nearly everything I was looking forward to got cancelled or “postponed”.  There was a silver lining in that though, it did give me nothing else to focus on except the present. I will try to keep that with me moving into 2021.

But I am also worried about the potential consequences of how I choose to navigate my social interactions in 2021.  I am not worried about the things I will do essentially on my own or with my family.  I am thinking about how to negotiate larger group interactions. 

On one hand, I am all about disclosure – the people I might be with should know what else I am doing, where else I have been, who else I have been hanging out with and that I have had and recovered from Covid and then should be able to make their own decisions. 

On the other hand, I know some significant portion of my social circle will react to that disclosure in a either / both of the following ways. 

(1) They will overreact and choose to not do something that they otherwise might.  Honestly, I can accept this one since I know it is just my perception of an overreaction.  I may have it all wrong and they are entitled to what bits of reality they want to let in and which they choose to block out.  None of us has a monopoly on the truth and none of us can see the whole truth at any one time.

(2) They will extrapolate what I am doing / how I am behaving in the midst of a pandemic to make assumptions about what I believe about everything from vaccines to climate change to gun control.  They will suspect me of having been in DC on the 6th of Jan (for the record I was flat on my back with Covid).  This seems a direct consequence of both polarization (there are only two places to stand on any issue) and of the abbreviated content / lack of context and speed of most “conversations” today (I will take one thing I know about you and quickly put you in one of the two buckets I have and from there assume I know you fully).

The second reaction is the one that bothers me and has me struggling with what, how and who to disclose.  To be clear this is not the claim that I am “unknowable” while at the same time demanding to be known.  Quite the opposite – I think I am like everyone else: somewhat knowable, yet full of (hopefully interesting) contradictions IF you take the time.  One part of my worry about this reaction is that I know I do this too.  It’s just such an easy trap to fall into.

To get over the bother and on with an amazing 2021 I will start with trying to be the change I want to see.  That means noticing when I am making broad assumptions about who someone is based on a singular belief or observation.  When I notice, I will try to be more curious to actually learn about them.  I am also going to accept when people don’t want to take the time to do that with me and not worry about what assumptions they might be making.

Here’s to everyone having an amazing 2021!