We get dropped off at the curb at LAX in the morning, a few days after Christmas, the four of us, myself, my wife, two toddlers, three bags we want to check, four carry-ons, and a large, collapsible wagon we use to schlep our gear around whenever we attempt to navigate the serpentine marathon that is airline travel with a family of four. Our plane boards in a little over an hour. Odds of making it? To be determined. Read more
Our society, quite literally, prides itself on confidence. Our heroes and role models teem with it; the celebrities, Grammy-winning musicians, and sports superstars so many of us seem to idolize (and are taught to at a young age) overflow with a bounty of this particular character trait. As kids and into adulthood, we’re taught to hold our heads high, speak up, look others in the eyes, believe in ourselves, be proud, be confident, be bold. Like most, I faced my fair share of challenges in pursuit of such confidence as I labored awkwardly through adolescence, early adulthood, and the years beyond. Getting confident in one’s self isn’t easy and yet, along the way, I never doubted that doing so was important, if not essential.
1997. Fall. Just looking for a little down time, I stroll alone into a small arthouse movie theater in the Castro district of San Francisco. I’m not intent on seeing a specific film and select a documentary called Waco: The Rules of Engagement (probably due to a convenient start time). Roughly two hours later, I leave the theater literally sobbing, my heart feeling violently cleaved in two by what I could only describe later as a loss of innocence. For the first time in my life, I became genuinely suicidal, my mind swimming with a furious tempest of questions and doubts and frustrations, uncertain whether I could foresee myself willingly participating in a society so cruel, so senseless, so (for lack of a better word) evil.
Life is full of choices. Some choices may take months or years to decide, others are so seemingly inconsequential that we may not even notice ourselves making them. The question is, why do we make the choices that we make? What motivates us to choose this over that from one moment to the next? How can we make sure that our choices serve us, not just for right now, but over the long haul? These are essential questions to answer if we want to cultivate mastery over our lives.
One of my fondest memories is from one night in Thailand. I was alone at a café on the banks of the Mekhong River, looking across into Laos on the other side. The weather was perfectly clear where I sat but, over in Laos, a storm was moving slowly along the river’s edge. Peacefully, I watched the storm safely from afar, the moon overhead in an otherwise vacant sky. While I sat comfortably sipping my coffee, I marveled at the storm’s hundreds of lightning strikes as it crept, like a mythical goliath, across the far off shore. It was a truly beautiful hour of my life.