Breaking Free Of The Past

freedom

Photo: Leonidas Tsementzis

As I wrote in an earlier post, The True Cause Of Cruelty, for me seventh grade was a disaster.  I was persecuted by anti-Semites and so traumatized that my parents endured owning two houses at once for six months in order to get me into a new school.  I left seventh grade mistrustful, fearful, and socially isolated, feeling as if I’d hidden my true self for so long in order to minimize the risk of persecution that I’d lost track of it entirely.

In subsequent years, I’d occasionally look back and wonder how the experience had scarred me, figuring vaguely that what didn’t kill me made me stronger, but never really delving too deeply into the fear that still remained in the pit of my stomach whenever I’d be thrust into new situations. Continue reading…

The Importance Of Having A Mission

mission

Photo: jurvetson

We’re all meaning-seeking creatures, rousing ourselves up out of bed on different days for different reasons—one day to pass a test, the next to help a troubled friend, the next to run errands—but always motivated to participate in each day by some kind of purpose.  But if we plumb deeply enough into our hearts, excavating down to the most elemental parts of ourselves, invariably we’ll find only one purpose—a mission, if you will—sitting firmly embedded there, a mission against which we measure the value of everything we do.  Whether we’ve consciously assigned this mission to ourselves or we’ve unconsciously accepted someone else’s assignment to us, exactly what it is matters more than almost anything in life.  Continue reading…

Letting Go

sonLast week my 18 month-old son, Cruise, started Montessori preschool.  The first three days my wife and I dropped him off he cried so hard he could hardly catch his breath, his chest heaving in great racking sobs.  By the fourth day, however, we were listening to him repeat his teacher’s name every few minutes on the way over, and when we dropped him off and gently prodded him into the classroom, he entered, stood, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and stared curiously at all the other toddlers crying around him.  When we came to pick him up at the end of the day, we watched him through the classroom’s observation windows sitting in a little toddler chair eating a piece of cantaloupe with the other toddlers, also in chairs, and drinking juice out of a plastic cup by himself for the very first time.  Rather than burst into tears when he saw us realizing we’d been separated from him all day, he ran up to me, wrapped his arms around mine, and smiled. Continue reading…

How To Decide What Risks Are Worth Taking

choices

Photo: nutmeg

Life continuously presents us with difficult choices.  Do we start our own business or stay in our (relatively) safe job?  Do we absorb the high cost of health insurance or risk going uncovered because we’re healthy now?  Do we get the screening colonoscopy?  Do we get married?  Do we have children?  Do we choose what’s behind door #1 or door #2?

Every choice we make, big or small, easy or difficult, has potential benefits and risks.  Many times we make choices based on emotional biases born of personal experience (we won’t let anyone operate on our herniated disk because we know someone who awoke from the surgery in even worse pain).  If we’re not fully aware of the source of our biases, we risk basing our decisions on flawed reasoning.  What we really need is a systematic way to sort through the risks and benefits of a choice that incorporates our personal values in order to make choices that give us the best chance to obtain the best outcomes for us. Continue reading…