Love as Palliative Care

December is for many a time of joy, and one of the most joyous things about it is the glee of young people and, in many cases, the way the milestone of an annual holiday allows us to chart and reflect on their trajectories of growth. While I will invariably experience some of that in the coming weeks, for me the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 forever marred the holiday season. One more specific element of that is that (at the risk of sounding particularly morbid, but I’m just trying to be sincere) I can no longer look at young people without some part of me consciously acknowledging the possibility that they may not grow up. I recognize the privilege that allowed me to make it until the morning of my 39th birthday with that aspect of mortality and frailty remaining an abstraction, but so it went that until then I took growing up for granted. As a result, I have grappled ever since with how to keep my heart open and keep my spirit of nurturing undiminished within that awareness that everyone I know will die and some of them will do so way too soon. It is through this inner turmoil that I began contemplating the notion of love as a form of palliative care.

Continue Reading

Which Voice Do I Obey?

I’ve been thinking about how we all have multiple inner voices giving us perspectives that have varying degrees of present-moment relevance, healthiness, and so on. Listening to our intuition is useful only insofar as we are confident that said intuition is coming from a solid foundation.

Continue Reading

Millet Brick and Pursuit of the Best Self

I have often referred to Kate as my best critic and pointed out how much I enjoy and appreciate that. While that’s true, I think it’s worth some explanation. It’s not that she just criticizes me often or indiscriminately, or that I just perversely enjoy having my flaws pointed out. Rather, I fully trust her embrace of the responsibility to help me be my best self, something that was central to our marriage vows and remains core to our code of ethics as individuals and together and core to my needs from my support structure, especially the person at the center of it.

Continue Reading

Dr. King and the Value of Constructive Obliviousness

Today I am focusing on how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. modeled for us the hard work in the short run that can lead to dramatic differences in consciousness for subsequent generations. While obviously remembering the struggles our forebears endured is vitally important, my dream today is that by continuing the work, my great grandchildren can be as oblivious to outdated social and philosophical scourges as I am to what life was like without ever experiencing electricity or indoor plumbing.

Continue Reading

Note to Younger Self on PC speech

An open letter about political correctness to my 20 year old self on the occasion of finding a since-shredded copy of his poem “ya figured me out, a**hole” Dear me, First, I really appreciate the spirit behind this poem. I remember how frustrating it was that virtually everyone in your poetry class at Rutgers assumed…

Continue Reading

EDS Awareness 2018: I QUIT

If I had a dollar for every time I dragged my aching carcass out of bed the morning after a gig and declared “I quit,” then I’d be buying dinner for everyone reading this. A couple weeks ago I had a gig in NYC with my old friend and colleague Amanda Monaco’s band, also featuring one of my longtime musical heroes. And I finally put my money where my mouth was and I DID QUIT, though not in the way I have historically intended with the statement.

Continue Reading

MLK, ‘Trane, and 3 Steps to an Aspirational Life

This month I am choosing to focus on how the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. modeled the aspirational life, an existence governed by what could and should be. The older I get (and the scarier the threats become to my country’s moral fabric) the more essential this view of life becomes to me. It also becomes more difficult for me to separate it from the cosmic possibilities that exist in music, something for which John Coltrane is Exhibit A (and quite possibly Exhibits Bb-G# as well). I have long viewed these two figures as aligned, but what is most significant is how these lessons can be applied by any person who chooses to, regardless of career path. Few of us would herald Dr. King today if not for the balance he struck between the moral and spiritual profundity of his “dream” and the corresponding day-in and day-out work.

Continue Reading