College Essays

The college admission essay is one of my favorite things on earth. It’s the first time many young people will reflect on what matters to them and have to express who they are not only to others, but to the blank page – a page that either embraces or judges them depending on what they project on to it. As someone who loves to tell and listen to stories, I think we need more opportunities as adults like the college essay: where we are invited to express ourselves to the world concisely when it really matters.

Tonight I guided a workshop that invited new and old friends to listen to one another with rare attention. The purpose of the workshop was to facilitate deep connection, and we accomplished this through a series of intention activities. I most enjoyed seeing how what people yearned more for, and even named – the connection with other people – was the exact thing they were doing together.

chess vs. checkers

Can you teach a chess player to love checkers…?

It’s not always a good idea to think too far ahead. You and I both know this.

We know that practices of mindfulness that invite us into the present through the breath, through paying exquisite attention to the moment. I wonder if we can retrain the mind that plans.

The worrying mind craves worry. The planning mind yearns for certainty. So many of the solutions people offer to reduce worry and concern are about inviting our attention to the now. 

images guide meaning

I created two sets of images which you see below by free associating with prompts. It’s one way to study which in your mind and your heart: to create imagery and analyze it. Both sets of images feature light, joy, and intense connection, both are people set in nature, and both are relatively mundane moments elevated. The impact is calming and intriguing, and the image that calls to me most is the first block, upper right. I’m unclear about what’s about to happen next: the source of the light, the relationship between the figures, but I feel something is on the verge of being revealed.


Tonight, I’m contemplating on the power of patience – the revelations it uncovers when we surrender to the unhurried pace–when we little the water drop slowly. My belief is that patience is a tool that influences all other aspects of our lives. The ability to discern when to exercise patience, both with ourselves and with opportunities, versus when to take bold and decisive action, is a choice that lies squarely within our grasp, and one that we should strive to enrich.

the fear book

where do you keep all the recommendations you receive? The tv shows, books, movies, restaurants to check out. I’ve started a practice of taking pictures of them, or websites that describe them, and then reviewing my photos monthly to investigate the gems. I know there are a million systems more advanced than this; however, the best system is the one which actually works.

Recently, someone recommended “the fear book.” which I’m interested to check out.

A quote from the book which caught my eye: “Getting where you want to be has everything to do with awareness, and nothing to do with willpower.”― Cheri Huber. I don’t like the quote because it’s something I agree with, I like it because it’s thought provoking, and, in fact, something I don’t agree with. Even the choice to stay with awareness takes willpower, and action comes from choice. Choosing to notice is in itself a form of choice.

Would you like to read a poem, the kind that you feel deeply before you understand it – almost like a sixth sense – the sense that if you read it more closely it’ll change how you view your life, but also there’s a danger in reading it–a door once opened that cannot be closed because it will tell you, once and for all, what it means to age?

Donald Hall wrote another poem about what it meant be forty, which I read years before I turned that age, and have stuck with me, helping me to understand the feelings I did not have the experience and vocabulary to express.

At some point you move past the need to define what a poem means and you just enjoy it–and find in it a truth that resonates–something that changes you in ways you can’t describe, and its words come to you when you need them, and when you least expect them, alone driving, or walking past tiny stories in tiny New England towns. Words like this will never come to you at moments to impress others, like toasts at dinner parties, or a funerals, or transitions…moments when eloquence is expected; they’re available only when you need the most: not to entertain but to guide, not to inform but to soothe.

the letter

stillness with rick

I am drawn to individuals with clear and distinctive insights and who express them in unique ways. Rick Rubin is a perfect example. One of music industry’s luminaries, he possesses a listening process worth emulating. Through his work with iconic artists such as Adele, Jay-Z, Public Enemy, U2 and Johnny Cash, as well as co-founding Def Jam Records, Rubin advocates for trusting our own experiences, setting intentions, finding stillness and solace through mindful presence, and recognizing the vibrancy of ideas and art. His recent interview with Ezra Klein left a lasting impression on me, particularly his message about belief:

“the beauty of belief is it doesn’t matter whether the thing you believe is true or not. It’s your belief in it that gives it its power. It’s not the truth in it that gives it its power. It’s your belief in it. So belief is a really powerful force in the universe and a great one to have on your side.” 

poem idea

a poem comprised solely of ChatGPT prompts: while the words would remain the same, the prompts would yield different results at a different times.