The Meanings IN Life

When I sent my client a list of questions and action items early yesterday morning, I finished the list with a playful, “What’s the meaning of life?”

Then today, on this beautiful crisp morning, as I sat down on a patio chair for meditation, that question made its way through the candidates of my morning pause and begged for an answer.

As I’ve aged and as I’ve learned and as I’ve fallen and as I’ve grown and as I’ve listened, and as I’ve observed, my ideologies, beliefs, and values have been strengthened or have shifted and have had entirely new additions.

I’m not sure if there is a meaning “OF” life. There very well may be. The great philosophers have lobbied for multiple millennia over the Meaning Of prize. The Athenians (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle) would say it is happiness and a virtuous life; the Theist is about following God’s will; the Daoist follows the way to harmony; the Confucianist seeks moral character and benevolence. And the Subjectivist — of which I am one — believes that reality and my own “truth” is related to consciousness.

As a pedestrian window-shopping for what may be the meaning OF life, I can confidently say that I find meaning IN life.

As I exercise my level of consciousness and awareness, life’s meanings continuously flow like the current of a lazy river. I find meaning in the playtime with my little munchkin grandkids. I find it in the quiet moments at night when pondering the universe and its expanse. I find it when learning about and valuing others, especially in conversations that matter. I find it in the moments when we say nothing, but our spirits and touch say it all. I find it while pedaling on mountain trails and skippering my kayak through the rapids. I find it in the prose and poetry penned by the great authors who paint and interpret life in their words. I find it when my vocation is driven to build healing environments and much less about income or the creation of “wealth” (whatever that even means). I find it in the lyrics and the melody of others whose stories may have been mine. I find it in the natural and the supernatural.

And I find the meanings in life with and through you, my friends. Our chapters are fodder for an epic novel whose beautiful characters and magical acts are anything but fiction.

Birthday’s Murmuration of Ironies

Dad, you left life 34 years ago today. Way too young. I can say that not only because it is true, but because today, for a few more hours, I am the exact age that you were when you died. And I feel so young.

We knew you would be leaving us. The precious cadence of breathing was painfully difficult. Your soldier’s strength, withered and fatigued. And your quick and sharp mind acquiesced to the fade of memory and the struggle to grasp the moments around you.

The ironies sweep like a murmuration of flyers whose spirits mock the phrase, “Rest in Peace” and spend their days in playful heavenly dogfights. The night you passed, I was taking an evening break from the hospital watch. Home for dinner and to be with a gathering of friends who brought goodies and comfort as we knew the loss ahead and, at the same time hoped to offer birthday wishes and even a moment of celebration of life.

Later in the evening, unexpectedly, but not surprisingly, my brother-in-law knocked and entered my home.

“Dad passed.”

There were tears. Bowed heads in prayer. Whispered curses. Deep inhales and exhales as if ready for a leap into something unknown and unwelcome. And silence. My birthday would follow within hours of your passing. But, just a few feet down the hall, sound asleep in her crib, was Chelsea. Brand new to this world. She joined us only 19 days before this one. I walked to her bedroom and listened to her quick little breaths. They were soft and rhythmic and almost prayerful. Her eyes were peacefully closed. I imagined you in peace. With the heartbreak of losing you, Providence reminded me that where life ends, life begins.

I knew birthdays would forever really suck as April 12 would be full of memories and a sense of loss. But, I have Chelsea there to remind me of the moments you held her before telling us goodbye. Your words, “You be a good little girl. I love you.”

And then, as if Providence had not completed her work, and God was not finished reminding me of the imperfect and beautifully temporal nature of this world, Logan was born on April 14 two years later. Those “mysterious ways” reveal the beauty of life in the midst of great sorrow. So, here I sit, I am exactly the age you were on the same day when you left us and filed a new Flight Plan. And it was at this moment in the evening when you closed your eyes and flew.

I raise my glass of Scotch and toast you, to life, to the sweetness of its gifts, and to what’s next. I love you.


Dawn Chorus and the Chipping Sparrow’s Hello

It was just after 6 a.m. The air was crisp and cool. I sat with legs crossed and eyes closed in a quiet reverie while joining Joe Dispenza for a Generous Present Moment. As with any meditation, I acknowledged the thoughts boisterously seeking my attention, the feel of the breeze — a leftover of the previous day’s clashing of pressures high and low — the sounds of distant traffic and the birds.

The goal is always to be aware of my sentient state but to move beyond the distractions and practice intentional presence and the topic of the moment. Or to nothing at all and just be…empty.

But this morning, the Charm of Finches and the Host of Sparrows were in a full-on Sing-Off. These harbingers of Spring decidedly opened the day in rhythmic and melodic fever. I resigned to the anthem and paused my virtual meditation muse. My attention went to the dawn chorus.

The Chipping Sparrow’s song was soloed in quadruple meter with exactly 5 seconds between each verse. Her greeting went on for over seven minutes before finally handing off to another feathered suburban dweller whose response was from a distance and was less about cadence and much more freestyle.

I smiled and let the breeze carry their chorus through the woods and up to the patio and right to my thankful listen. There was a flutter. It was close. For a moment, I thought to duck and cover. Then silence. I opened my eyes to find one of the sparrows perched on the wooden table next to me that held a cup of coffee that had long since lost its heat. I looked down and said, “Good Morning.” She bobbed her head quickly from side to side, lifted quickly, and flapped back to the trees to join her Breakfast Club.

Good morning.

Conversations with Poseidon #15

SEAN: Ahoy!

POSEIDON: Yo, my friend. Welcome back, Chief. It’s been a while.

SEAN: Yes, this is where it all began, Captain. I sonar-messaged you when I arrived. It’s been three days

POSEIDON: First of all, I was in the Mediterranean. Buffett was at Club Med. I’m not sure how many live shows he’s got left in him.

SEAN: How was it? Did he sing Coast of Marseille? That’s my favorite.

POSEIDON: Couldn’t tell ya. I had just set up my Tinder account before the festival. I was working on changing my profile during the concert.

SEAN: What was wrong with your profile?

POSEIDON: I followed the instructions. My location can change in a wet minute, so I listed the Aegean Sea. And I hate when people lie about their age, so I listed mine at 2,723. I’m not sure I was being taken seriously. I apparently got nothing but Left swipes. And I guess my picture wasn’t the best. I think I look pretty good for a couple and a half millennia.

SEAN: I didn’t know you were dating. Did you and Amphitrite split?

POSEIDON: Yep. She left me for Jason Momoa. I asked her what she thought about the age difference. She laughed and said he has always been attracted to older women. I said, “Like a couple of thousand years older?” She threw a conch shell at me.

SEAN: Yikes. Well, all the best with your online dating.

POSEIDON: Thanks. No luck so far. But wait, I just got swiped. Who is Daryl Hannah?

SEAN: What’s all the commotion out there in the water?

POSEIDON: Oh, that’s just my entourage.

SEAN: Oh, like a school of fish?

POSEIDON: More like a Shoal. Ever since we started our Aquatic Diversity and Inclusion program, I’ve got new species and new cultures in my circle. I love it! How have I gone all this time thinking that sameness is better?

SEAN: What’s a Shoal?

POSEIDON: A little marine micro-learning is in order, my nautical neophyte. A school is a bunch of the same kind of fish that swim together. They turn and twist and dance almost seamlessly. They look alike, think alike, act alike, and they like to binge-watch The O.C.

SEAN: Sounds like some of the Meetup groups in my hometown.

POSEIDON: Haha. Been there; swam that. Now a Shoal is a little different. Shoals have different species that stick together and behave a little more loosely. They are together for social reasons — food, friendship, wine, you know, the stuff of life.

SEAN: Sounds like my pod of “Besties.”

POSEIDON: Did you just say, Besties? I just lost a little respect for you.

SEAN: It’s an inside thing.

POSEIDON: Keep it there. And listen, Gilligan, a Pod is a group of marine mammals. I’m not sure if some of your crew even qualify as mammals.

SEAN: Hey, my peeps are as warm-blooded as they come.

POSEIDON: Breathe Minnow-Man. I’m just messing with you. I know Alan and Kevin like the deep dives. And Kevin is our guy. He renovated the Great Hall in Atlantis. A little pricey, but we were under pressure. Pardon the pun.

SEAN: Well, not to get too metaphorical here, but I like that we all march to a different drum, but we are still in the same parade of life, and we’re in the same band.

POSEIDON: OK, that’s a little cheesy, but I get it. The main thing is that there is safety and joy in numbers. But your differences are your strengths.

SEAN: No doubt. But it’s weird that some swim away, and we don’t always know why. But it’s also wonderful when new ones swim in and find their place in our shoal.

POSEIDON: But you have to have criteria. For any species to join my shoal, they must be able to (a) travel, (b) demonstrate exceptional Trident skills, (c) demonstrate proficiency in MS Word and Excel – – I actually don’t even know what those are, but it’s on every other application, and (d) have never worn skinny jeans or camouflage Crocs. What are your criteria?

SEAN: Haven’t thought much about it. I think mine is limited to (a) demonstrated aversion to friend and relationship drama, (b) does not gossip or put others down, (c) stated commitment that Tommy Boy, Fletch, and Goodwill Hunting are the greatest movies ever made, (d) is not so stuck in their teens that they think good music is not made anymore, and (e) they believe wine has more healing properties than any food, drink, or pharmacological elements.

POSEIDON: Damn, Land Rover, that’s more than I have. And I’m a God.

SEAN: Hey, I’ve got some Russell’s Reserve and a bottle of Sixteen Appellations up in the cottage. Wanna get sauced and make fun of the Romans?

POSEIDON: I thought you didn’t want to put anybody down. But you know I will.

SEAN: Oh yeah. How about we get sauced and watch Fletch.

POSEIDON: ”It’s all ball bearings now.”

SEAN: Touché Captain Nemo. Glad to see you.

In Other(s) Words: Ethics 103 and Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King

I remember it like it was an hour ago.

About 15 of us plebe undergrads sat and waited anxiously — in a good way — for Dr. Ralph Eubanks to gallop in for our weekly lesson. His classes felt more like a club than a required three-credit business class. His rhapsodic manner and love of learning was the draw and was one of the reasons students lined up early every year to be one of the lucky ones that got a spot in his smaller and limited series classes. This would be my 3rd class in his Ethics series. I was honored to be considered a bit of a mentee.

He grabbed a chair, flipped it around so that the chair back was in front, sat down, and offered a joyful, “Good evening, my Ethics ingénues. Let us become better today.”

Instead of a lecture, that night would be a dialogue. “If you could meet a person today or a historical figure that you consider being one who pursued an ethical code, who would you choose?”

By this point, I resembled the small business school’s version of the iconic Sweathog, Horshack. Dr. Eubanks told me once that my eyes always had that, “Ooooh Ooooh, Pick Me…Pick Me” look about them. He directed his happy gaze at me and said, “Why don’t we begin with you, our spirited Mr. Keyser?”

“If you could meet a person today or a historical figure that you consider being one who pursued an ethical code, who would you choose?” ~ Professor Ralph Eubanks

I asked if I could pick two. He replied, “Of course. I think New Math has its place here.” (his wit eclipsed only by his love of knowledge and his almost childlike gift in passing it on).

I responded that Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were the two I would like to have known.

They each stood for something. They both died for it. One, MLK, a civil rights apostle from his earliest days. On the other hand, Robert Kennedy acquired his zeal for equality and social justice after being largely insulated from it during his privileged youth. RFK was not an early adopter of the social justice movement. In fact, he contributed to the “investigations” of MLK by allowing FBI wiretaps. But, unlike the rhetoricians of then and now, he let his conscience prevail. He changed. He evolved. He pushed both legally and morally against the toxic status quo so entirely hypocritical to the central vision of this democracy: Freedom.

MLK stayed true. He never wavered in his pursuit of the “Dream.” He knew full well that it was possible and more likely probable that he would not see it realized in his lifetime. But he was an “influencer” in the biggest way. No, not one who sought multitudes of Likes and followers as social media dopamine. He influenced thought, rationale, emotions, and stirred the better Angels in untold humans, black and white. If Dr. Eubanks (R.I.P.) were to ask me that question today, I would answer the same, but ask to add a third. Dr. King’s collaborator and civil rights giant in his own right, Senator John Lewis has become of the most influential thought leaders in my life for well more than a decade now. Prior to his own death in July of 2020, Lewis wrote in his new book, Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation, what he would say to MLK today.

“We’ve been remembering your example and listening to your words. We can still hear you. I hear you every day.” ~ John Lewis

“I would catch him up on this year 2020 especially and say, ‘Look at the progress we’ve made and look at the work we still have to do’ “ He went on to say, “We’ve been remembering your example and listening to your words. We can still hear you. I hear you every day.”

On the day of Dr. King’s assassination, Robert Kennedy spoke to a crowd in Indianapolis. Unscripted and without rehearsal, he said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black…So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

And from the man whose day this is — “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” ~ Martin Luther King

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King. For your words of inspiration; for your works to improve humanity; for your tireless campaign for justice and civil rights; and for a legacy that I hope and pray is honored and continues to lead to a better society. I will gladly walk those miles with you and for you.


“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” ~ Martin Luther King

The Cost of Un-Care

I was recently asked to contribute to a GoFundMe page to help someone with medical expenses from their recent COVID hospitalization. And I absolutely will.

That said, this doesn’t get talked about much — the COST of this mess.

I’m not even talking here about the macro effect on GDP, mental illness, loss of life, or long-term health impact (see below)…this is just the personal bank discussion.

It’s not enough that this country spends over twice the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare as any other developed country. Add to that, our health outcomes are worse than ALL of them.

Summary: We spend way more. We get less for it. We are NOT healthier.

  • The U.S. spends more on health care, yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the 11 “wealthiest” countries.*
  • The U.S. has the HIGHEST chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average.*
  • Compared to developed countries, the U.S. has among the HIGHEST number of hospitalizations from PREVENTABLE causes and the HIGHEST rate of AVOIDABLE deaths.*
  • We see the doctor much less and we have fewer of them than any other country.*
Courtesy: Visual Capitalist

We have incredible potential, immense resources, and life-changing technology. But we aren’t using it well, and too many of those truly benefiting are known more by their ticker symbol than their overall impact on population health outcomes. The reality is, we have much work to do on the economics and inequities in healthcare. But, as bad as that is, we are losing lives. That cost can’t be replaced.

…people will wait 45 minutes at Chick-fil-A for 8 nuggets and a sweet tea that costs $8, but damned if they will wait for a harmless pinprick that is free and might save lives…including their own.

Back to GoFundMe.

The average hospitalization for a COVID admission in North Carolina (no, not one of those “Oh, something else was wrong with them and they called it COVID in the hospital” myths) is around $45,000. That’s for those that DO NOT require “complex” care such as ventilation or a stay in ICU. It can go up to $235,000.00 for those needing ICU, ventilation, and more complex care.** For a while, insurance companies were waiving co-pays and deductibles. How kind. Trust me, it will come back around in rates one day. Take a look at that again. Some will be hit for a 1/4MM? Many are uninsured or underinsured. They could spend their life paying it off…if they even consider it.

Now, the average cost for a vaccine is…$00.00.

Of course, that doesn’t account for the inconvenience costs of waiting in line or missing a Fantasy Football party. It’s amazing, people will wait 45 minutes at Chick-fil-A for 8 nuggets and a sweet tea that costs $8, but damned if they will wait for a harmless pinprick that is free and might save lives…including their own.

This isn’t an attempt to pick a fight or criticize the My Body, My Right Freedom movement. You have your own truth and convictions. Please, just take some time to look at all of the perspectives and the costs and ask, “Is it worth it?”. Pun intended.

We can do better. We must. Thanks for at least thinking about it.

*Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
** Source: Fair Health, FH Total Treatment Cost COVID-19 benchmarks as cited in Becker’s Hospital Review, Oct 2021

Sean’s Journal: Epilogue by Proxy

Disbelief turns to quiet resignation. Frustration gives way to anger. Anger at those things inanimate, those things pathogenic, and those things entirely human. Anger turns to grief. Grief turns to a numbing of mind and heart.

Yesterday’s grief was too much. It carries on this early morning. Yet another loss. So very tragic. Needless. Not that there is ever a “needed” loss. When it is those you love and care about…those you’ve shared space and conversation with…the tears flow more and the questions pelt like a relentless hail storm.

And during that awful spell, there is the insatiable need by a few to hijack the moment as an open door for their own philosophical gain. A revolting and, dare I say, evil attempt to make agenda of another life lost.

In one such case, a much less personal one, a beautiful and iconic actress was the convenient target of their machination. For those who have such a cynical view of a global quest to treat and recover from a pandemic that they must offer spurious claims that a booster killed this dear woman, is your shame so infinitesimal that you knowingly and intentionally dishonor the person? Is your desperate search for something empirical to boost (pun intended) your conspiratorial virtual reality that you will accept a debunked and moronically crafted claim just to make you feel somehow justified and get a few “Amens” from your posse of doomsayers?

Worse yet, some of it ironically comes from those who put more chemicals and abusive substances in their body—recreational and otherwise—that it would make a chemist change careers and turn to sorcery because of its virtuous appeal. As Val Kilmer’s portrayal as Doc Holiday in Tombstone uttered, “My hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

Just for a moment, as hard as it might be, honor those lost…those who are the victims. There is a place for the debate. The events and losses can and should spur dialogue and understanding. But, for God’s sake (or whoever’s sake you might be in deference to), allow for expressions of Rest.In.Peace prior to your Rant.In.Propaganda.

Lessons from the “Happiest People on Earth” and My Resolve

They are a people of the Amazon. Simple. Ancient by our standards. Of their own.

Reading, and later listening to Anthropologist and Linguist, Dan Everett, I considered some of this tribe’s cultural staples as possible guiding principles for my own life as this new year begins.

The Pirahã (pronounced Pee-da-HAN) tribe is an incredibly happy lot. The evidence from scholars and anthropologists is less the kind of academic journals filled with Evidential Probability (EP), Causal Inference, and more. No, they observed and measured how much time they spent smiling and laughing. Whether correlated or causal to their contentment, these features may just have a place for me.

They don’t count – No, I’m not saying they don’t matter. They, quite literally, don’t count. They have no sense of numeracy. As Mr. Everett points out, “They are cognitively capable of counting; they simply choose not to.” The closest they come to numbers are the linguistic notions of some, more, and many.

For Me: What if my days had less attention on numbers — how many of my goals were achieved, how many miles I rode on my bike, how many pounds I shed, how much my portfolio grew (or lost), how many Likes or Loves a post received, or any other how many or how much of that matters stuff?

The immediacy of Experience — They live in the present. Their language lacks mythology. They require empirical evidence to guide their conclusions. There is no focus on what happened before or what might happen later. They don’t speak in abstracts. They require evidence based on personal experience (yours or their own) for every claim made.

“After I had worked with them for over twenty-five years, one night a group of Pirahã men, sipping coffee with me in the evening, asked out of the blue, “Hey Dan, do Americans die?” I answered them in the affirmative and hoped that no one would seek empirical verification.” ― Daniel L. Everett, Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

For Me: While I believe strongly in the power of story and history, and while I entirely believe in vision, dreaming, and planning, I do feel I should live MUCH MORE in the present. To be more aware of now. To concentrate on who and what is in front of me and what THAT person and what THAT moment means.

No Coercion and the Absence of Anger or Resentment — The Pirahã don’t have language or actions that suggest resentment or anger. Perhaps it is due to a complete lack of social hierarchy and that all members of the tribe are considered equal. If something negative happens, they fix it and move on. They don’t tell anyone else what to do. They live their own life.

For Me: I spent too much time over the last 5 years resenting what I felt (and still feel) was the most morally destructive, socially decaying era since the days prior to Equal Rights legislation. I have seethed with anger at a respiratory tract-infecting virus that has no discrimination in its attack and spread. As angry as I was, and remain, at this microbe, I resented the seeming ignorance of those who, instead of listening to the best information and science that might protect so many (including themselves), listened to conspiracy theorists or talking heads with a political agenda. Even worse, they listened to no one and just gambled on immortality and parroted the nescient, “My body; my right” dogma.

I didn’t like the sense of judgment I felt. It was unnatural for me. “Who am I to say what they must do?” It’s rhetorical: I’m nobody. But I still…felt.

What I can do is share my convictions and wonder if they matter. And I can listen to theirs and learn. I will remain vehemently committed to creating a safer population through vaccine advocacy; I will be a boisterous protagonist for social justice, reducing healthcare and economic disparities, and peace; I will continue to urge versus argue…debate versus “Damn it”…advocate over adversary…less professorial and more the knowledge-hungry plebe. I hope to channel my emotions into positive dialogue for change. I don’t want to coerce; I want to converse.

It is funny that as I seek to seriously reduce attention to time and what’s left and what was, and I am writing about it as a New Year post and fresh resolution for the next iteration of me. Chronological irony at its best.

Happy Time. May there be more…and many :).

My Jeep is Me

A speedy downhill finish, ducking under a fractured limb of Water Oak, a full tug on the rear brake as I approach the trailhead where I am parked at its entrance. The rear tire locks and the bike slides across a mixture of damp leaves, sand, and gravel and into the front bumper of my Jeep.

I catch my breath and laugh. No one hears. No one is near. My outdoor companion of twenty-one years greets me with a big red smile. I can almost see his headlights roll as if to say, “Whatever, Hot Dog.”

Pulling the water bottle from its holder on the frame, I climb onto the battered and scarred hood of “Rangler” (short for Red Wrangler…clever, eh?). I thought of how many places this old Jeep has been with me. My Jeep and me. As I reflected, the moment turned from nostalgic to metaphorical. My Jeep…is me.

Despite its age, still has a great sense of adventure. Happiest when off the beaten path and far away from the highway. Prefers the open air to closed-in spaces. Runs a little hot now and then and needs hydration and a rest for the tempering. A little harder to see through the cracks in the glass.

An empty space where the radio once was. Ripped right out and stolen. Never replaced. A reminder of when my song was lost and a nudge to listen to the sounds of the waves, the woods, the wind. None of the locks are working. No need. Trusting nature and assuming the best in others. Manual five-speed stick. Old and quirky original clutch. Getting where he’s going requires push and pull, shifting and timing. Things no longer run automatically :-).

He carries the reminders of times past and things cared about. Tickets, notes, maps, stickers, pebbles and sand, weather-worn cards, Tybee’s collar and his chewed-up Frisbee, a glove compartment with keys to locks unknown or forgotten, flip flops from beaches gone by. Mementos bought, found, dragged in, or fallen. Pelted and dented by a hail storm in ’17. No insurance claim — not one to worry much about cosmetics. Scratched and torn from the journeys. A little rust here and there, but not enough to get him down. The ghost of Tybee still sitting shotgun and waiting for me to invite him to run alongside.

Plenty of signs of wear; no signs of slowing down.

As is, no warranty

I Don’t Wanna Be Right

The call began without a “Hello, it’s been too long, “ or “Happy New Year, how have you been?”

No, my ultra-conservative and life-long Republican friend simply greeted me with,

“How’s it feel to be right?”

He was referring to my long held mistrust (for 25+ years) of and complete lack of belief in the moral or ethical character of my Nation’s elected leader in the highest office. He offered a nostalgic homily of how he felt this guy was to be the “savior” (yes, that word was actually used) of the conservative movement. My response…

“Other than his own histrionic spiels, what EVER made you think he represented any form of conservative principle, AND, what qualities of a ‘savior’ did you see?”

He shifted the conversation to our times playing baseball and how he feels 80’s music is the best ever.

I couldn’t let it go.

I don’t know that I’m right at all. I know how I felt then and now about the person and his capacity to lead from a place of humanity or policy or principle. I never wanted our elected leader to fail. I take no satisfaction in watching a necessary and long-overdue exit. I simply breathe better and hope those stepping in will have the necessary character and resilience to lead a country whose diversity can and should coexist and heal from this political apartheid. I do have a competitive streak; those who know me well know that I love to compete. But winning always meant someone was losing. And, for whatever reason, I don’t like that as much. Yes, I was actually one of those parents who supported “participation trophies.” I hated little kids feeling like they lost the joy of play when others gloated in their victory. I wonder if that was the beginning of my move to left-of-center :).

“You see, I don’t want to be ‘right’ about this or about him.”

I love this country. I so love the theory of democracy. And like all theories, they are meant to be proven. In these last months, and I would suggest that over the last several years, the theories of both a Republic and a Democracy have gone through social scientific method rigor and have been failing. And, for some…for many… the dogmas of autocracy and socialism and other forms have been uttered as preference through actions and rhetoric. The reality, at least to me, is that conservatives do not prefer nor do they want to entertain the thought of an autocracy. They are just led by one who sees that as a sanctioned and destined position and have been more afraid of him than tethered to principle. And very few liberals want socialism. There are simply those whose concept of public ownership (a Republic) fights with our other treasured feature of capitalism. It is a worthy tension. And, if dialogue is good and hearts are less about self than about the whole, then we can collectively be a better society—through democracy.

Whew! I just wore my own damn self out with all of that. Crazy what happens with the ink flows and the paper is blank and the heart and the mind are going through a contemplative Ninja Bullet. I digress.

What has happened over the late days of the last year and during these first days of the new year has made me sick. Truly sick. In this last year we have seen the ravages of a pandemic; we’ve seen social injustice at its most transparent (and necessary) exposure; we have seen movements celebrated or excoriated based on their fit with one’s own sense of morality or value systems; we’ve seen the muted prejudices and bigotry of a large (sadly) base flamed and encouraged in rhetoric or inaction; and we’ve seen division like never before along fictitious lines with titles that have lost a bit (or a lot) of their original franchises of Democrat or Republican.

And with all of that, we are still here. We will grow from this if we are capable of listening and talking and learning from sources other than Twitter or talking heads with personal or ad-based agendas. Our system of government and our purer intentions for society over self may be truly resurrected. Our media will remain biased and, as long as we know that, we will seek many sources for what is our truth and our better path. We will love our families and our friends. We will defend against evil—after trying to understand and face what “evil” means (within and outside). We will hopefully find that prospering as a country and as individuals does not have to come at the sacrifice of decency, integrity, honesty, and humanity. And there will be wine. And music — including the 80’s.

Yes, I am advocating for the proverbial, and elusive, Win-Win.