Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mr. Fancy-pants

A few hours ago I was getting ready for dinner. We were  expecting dinner guests. I was in the bathroom, getting dressed. The dinner was very casual, and the weather was warm, so  it was shorts and a t-shirt.

My six-year old, Jake, asked me, “Where are you going, ‘Mr. Fancy-pants?'”

I looked at him in the mirror, standing next to me. “What do you mean? I’m getting ready for dinner.” I looked down at myself. “I’m not fancy.”

“You’re combing your hair,” he said. “Pretty fancy for you.”

And so I realized Jake has a bright career ahead of him in motivational speaking.

If you ever want to know how everyone else sees you, ask a six-year old. Not directly, but get his impression of you. He will give it to you, unfiltered by nuance, shame, pride, embarrassment, politeness or civility.

A child hasn’t learned the art of the Polite Lie that’s so characteric of adults, that is so pervasive, we are hardly aware of it.

Go ahead, ask him. If you’re ready for the answer.


Space Age Love Song

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzche said truth is a lie agreed upon. Can something similar be said about love? The poets say love is suicide, and lovers are joined in a pact of tragic suicidal death. A darkly romantic, but ultimately useless notion.


Love isn’t a lie. I believe in romance, and I believe in love at first sight: a chemical reaction triggered by the right person at the right time.

So what is love, but unrealistic hope? Hope, like looking for a single shining pearl in an inky black sea of hopelessness.

Love is hope in a random, reckless world. It is armor against the futility we feel in the face of that senselessness.

Love is our atmosphere against the relentless assault, the constant radioactive bombardment of a chaotic universe.

Love is laying on a bluff of tall grass together, watching clouds drift over on a summer day, while 60 miles and five layers of atmosphere above, the universe blasts away with solar flares, ancient cold, and endless silence.

When love comes, it strikes like a bell deep in your guts. It changes everything. It may not be enough to defeat all your tragedies and villains, but it gives you strength in your legs to rise up off your bloodied knees, wind in your lungs to roar against your foes, and rage in your arms to bring your sword down on them again.

Have you been in love? You’ll know when it happens. Your vision tunnels, then focuses to a pinpoint as your eyes catch across the city street. The clattering noise of the crowd dopplers then mutes. (Because isn’t love a narrowing of perception? An awareness of everyone around you folded and refolded down until there is just two?)

And there it is. Love. Hope.

The world still won’t make sense. But it doesn’t have to when your combined light can shine back against the darkness, together.

A Screen Zombie in the Age of Wonders

I love technology, especially mobile phone technology. I love the way it both frees and connects us. When I was a kid, my friends and I imagined a communications and entertainment device exactly like the smartphone.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law postulates, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Does our current technology qualify us for Clark’s Third Law? Maybe. From a primitive’s point of view, certainly.

This is the stuff I think about as, with this magic in my hand, I gleefully surf the Internet, post pictures to Instagram for hundreds of friends around the world to see, check my e-mail, send text messages to friends around the country, play games with people around the WORLD, ALL SENT ON BEAMS OF RAINBOW UNICORN GLITTER TO SATELLITES FLYING AROUND OUR ATMOSPHERE!

QuizUp Atlas Achievement

QuizUp Atlas Achievement

Sorry. I’m sorry. I get excited. Don’t you get excited?

And do you know what makes me sad? The pushback I see. The judgment against people who enjoy their technology “too much,” look at their phones while walking or just being in a public place. The banning of phones in places where they are clearly useful, such as in schools, libraries, and concerts.

Of course there is a time and a place; common sense, courtesy, and safety must always come first. What I’m talking about is judging the person who is by himself at the mall or at a bar with earbuds in his ears, looking at his phone. Let him be in his own world. Why not? Is it such an insult? Were you going to talk to him?

Maybe he’s shy. Maybe he’s an introvert. The social media mind magic focused through our smartphone totems give us the control we need. A throttle, if you will, to turn our social interactions on and off when it’s time to recharge our social mana. Sorry, Extroverts. Not everyone can be ON all the time.

But don’t call us anti-social. Social media has made us more interactive than ever. This kid staring at her phone is on her way to a Comic Con, a Tech Conference, a Guild Gathering, an Instagram Meet-up, or a Tweet-up. With video conferencing technology, she sees old school friends and distant relatives around the country on FaceTime and Skype. She’s making friendships and romantic connections around the world.

And let’s be done with the “Screen Zombie” slander. My people find it offensive.

Pick Up Your Socks

Let’s talk about resolutions and self-improvement. Some will tell you they don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, they aren’t good for you. Ok, but why?

One idea is you are setting yourself up for failure. That’s depressing. Why try? You’ll only fail.

Another opinion is you shouldn’t reserve self-betterment for only one time of the year. Self-improvement should be an on-going thing, all year long. Fair enough. But that sounds kind of exhausting.

I say go for it, pick a resolution. But don’t go big. Look for something small.

Really small. Micro.

As I get older I find happiness in the in-between moments, in the goofy imperfections of life. It’s these insignificant, almost invisible things that add up.

Instead of sweeping proclamations of diet, exercise, going back to college and so on, look inward for the things you didn’t even realize were bothering you, or that one thing you wish you did.

Once you do that, you’ll be able to fInd a good habit to start, or a bad habit to break.

Most of the habits we need to break involve procrastination. Sound familiar? Stop letting the garbage grow into a sentient monster, take that thing out. Don’t put off getting that hair cut. You know you aren’t happy when you’re fuzzy. Make your bed in the morning. It makes your whole room look nicer, doesn’t it?

Maybe there’s a tradition you’ve always wanted to start, like putting a note in your kid’s lunch. Or what about buying your wife a bouquet of flowers once a week?

Whatever it is, keep it silly, make it sweet. The small, unexpected places are where we find happiness.

Me? I’m going to pick up my socks.