She was the first to ask

“What’s that mean?” she asked. “Safety Third.”

She was the first person who had asked what my shirt meant.

I said: “It means joy should come first.

Or we can stay in our cave, stay safe, not take risks.”

In a world that’s increasingly about getting more: being more open, having more, producing more, gaining more experiences… we still haven’t become more brave.

Excitement is still stimulating us, but in very constructed, intentional packages, being delivered through screens, apps, profiles, and now, literal masks.

Instead of taking risks, we medicate ourselves with more work, more play, more drugs.

Because that’s safe: We know what to expect in those structured places.

But joy comes from exploring, from surprises, from navigating hardships, from experiences in the unknown.

Not safety.

The Disease

To Know Everything

To Do Everything

To have Everything

That others have

Right now.

All boxes checked.

Nothing missing.

No suffering.

Zero casualties.

No Pain Anymore.

Whole Again.

Constantly connected.

No boundaries.

Knowing everyone.

Knowing everything 

Having everything 

Others have.

The Dis-Ease of our Times.

I fell…hard

Her leaving me only accelerated my impact with rock bottom. I was already on a downhill slide and barely maintaining. My jobs had slowly become unbearable: I felt underutilized and unappreciated. Add to that a year that had been filled with death and sickness of those close to me.

So when she left, I was thoroughly crushed. My ego was shattered: An ego that had made me dependent on another. Most of my life, my being had not been enough: I always needed something external: More money, a perfect relationship, more fun, more connections. Simply being wasn’t an option.

So there I was, at the end of that year, cracked wide open. Completely vulnerable. All my identities shattered into pieces. And with everything gone, all that was left was a naked human consciousness. Alone.

But not alone from a lack of friends or love. Quite the opposite: Friends helped me regain my confidence and my self-awareness. They helped me find my humanity as an individual. And they helped me find that special someone: My self.

So much of life is trying to find something, or someone, to make you feel good enough. Satisfied. Accomplished. But relying on something or someone is not sustainable. Because everyone moves on, whether they choose it, or death chooses for them.

As I saw my weakness, I recognized it in the people around me as well. I saw the whole of humanity, each person in their own pain, moving forward through their fear, anxiety, happiness, and joy. And we were all sharing this human suffering.

In the end, I reached the answer to all life lessons: The one fundamental requirement to make it through the suffering of life:


Gratitude for simply having the opportunity of the human experience.

I knew the value of gratitude before hitting rock bottom. But this time, I realized it from a place of suffering. I felt it, instead of telling myself I should feel it.

And once you realize it, you can share it with whoever may cross your path in life.

I will always remember what she said when she left:

“You’ll always be more stable on two legs than four.”

Meaning, it’s less risky alone, than with a partner.

I thought she was wrong, but after awhile, I learned that she was right.

People are a wonderful risk. Life is a wonderful risk.

If you really want to live.


I can’t stand it, I can’t allow it,

no more abuse, no more overreach,

no more imbalances, no more people going without,

no more disparity, differences, no more inequality,

no more violence, no more hurt, no more offense,

no more disrespect, no more struggle, suffering pain,

in my life or anyone else’s, we can fix this,

if only we give some people the control over everyone.

We can smooth everything out, everyone out, 

equal shares for all,

equal men nurses, equal women nurses, equal men police,

equal women police.

Equal outcomes are only fair.

It’s because I love you, that we need to force this on you.

It’s good intentioned.

Follow my path, I promise

No one will hurt anymore.

Curiosity will save us

Continuing down the other path.
Of judgment and hate and control.
Is the wrong direction.

The country was not founded upon that.
Instead, it is based on openness.
Allowing you to be who you are
To do who you are
Without attempts to control you.
Most of the time.

Americans respect the human spirit
So much so, that they trust it
To decide and choose.
To make mistakes
And try again.

The wonder of the human spirit!
Of what it can accomplish.
America respects human potential.
so that it can create.

Curiosity will save us.
Not fear of others.
Not anger.
But love of what is

Something went wrong.

I made myself some coffee and watched the local morning news.

They had a poor reporter out in the snow, on a side street, pointing out the snow still on the road.

Flurries continue, they said, be careful out there.

So I decide not to drive to the gym.

After making some breakfast, I looked up in surprise.

They had a live video of all the highways.

And they were completely clear, traffic moving smoothly.

I was shocked.

Just a half hour ago I had felt cautious

Because of their stories on the uncleared side streets.

This is what media does: Focus on the problems.

They exaggerate them…they ruminate on them.

Hour after hour, day after day. 

They create a story. 

And in every good story, there must be conflict.

They will always find something wrong.

And after listening to them long enough

You will begin to have their same mindset

Finding wrong in everything around you.

And you won’t even know why

You became so fearful of the world.

The battlefield

Change the world if you see the opportunity
Change it from a place of mindfulness
Because anger and hate distort reality.

Problems appear larger, more threatening
And people are no longer human beings
But enemies or allies.

A world of absolutes
An ideological world
A dark place
Where everyone is with you
or against you

And life becomes a war
Any action justified 
It’s us against them
On the battlefield…in my mind.

No harm intended

Old George Orwell got it backward. 

Big Brother isn’t watching. 

He’s singing and dancing. 

He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. 

Big Brother’s busy holding your attention 

Every moment you’re awake. 

He’s making sure you’re always distracted. 

He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.

He’s making sure your imagination withers.

Until it’s as useful as your appendix. 

He’s making sure your attention is always filled.

And thus being fed, it’s worse than being watched. 

With the world always filling you, 

No one has to worry about what’s in your mind.

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, 

No one will ever be a threat to the world.

Excerpted from Lullaby.

Reality will never be your fairy tale

They sell us scenarios
Not specifics

We may think we’re getting a Wall
Or forgiven loans.
But what we get is the illusion of safety
The feeling of security and support.

Because they want us to think we need them.
When most things are fine enough
Before our minds start chattering with worry.

Because story tellers paint a dangerous world.
But the true danger is believing them
And giving them more control
So they can take care of us.

Real leaders empower you to do things.
They don’t take power in order to do so.

Fairy tales are nice.
But they aren’t the foundation of living life.

Feast on your life

The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror.

And each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say sit here, eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes.

Peel your own image from the mirror. Sit.

Feast on your life.

By Derek Walcott, “Love after love”