Daily Life


Ghost Stories Live on For a Reason

There always seems to be an explanation. At least on Scooby Doo there is. After spending the episode chasing after some apparent paranormal disturbance, the gang invariably discovered that it was “old Mr. Peterson” all along, wearing a mask in order to scare the rightful heirs out of their inheritance…or something. In other words, everything makes sense – nothing to see here. But then, just at the story’s end, there would be an unexplained howl, as if to say: Not so fast. Even though Scooby Doo was just a cartoon, in the......

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Yik Yak Is Back

The popular social platform Yik Yak is back in the news. Not that it was ever gone, but some are now pushing in that direction – and raising important questions about privacy, decency and first amendment rights. When I wrote about Yik Yak earlier this year, it was in the spotlight for fostering hyper-local (within a 1.5 mile radius) anonymous communication, especially popular on college campuses. What I wrote then still stands: We need an ethic of communication that matches the new forms of communication which are now so accessible. Real commitment......

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Why We Live Where We Live

It’s hard to keep track of friends and relatives when they move around so much. My address book (when I still used one made of paper) was full of crossed-out addresses and phone numbers and email contacts. Now it’s the same problem on the electronic version: three phone numbers for one person, all tagged “home.” I don’t know which is the old and which has replaced it, or even if any of them is current. For me the underlying question, however, isn’t “Where are they now?”, but “Why aren’t they where they......

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Beyond Bored: Entering the Soul of Creativity

Recently, I introduced meditation to my high school spirituality class. I joined them, closing my eyes, peeking to see how people were doing. The second time I opened my eyes, I noticed more than one student fiddling with their smartphones. As we debriefed afterward, I asked what challenges they encountered as I guided the group to sit with awareness of breath and body. One student volunteered that she was so uncomfortable with the silence she just had to fidget with her iPhone. The boredom was unbearable. When we ‘zone out,’ we do......

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Not So Fast, Columbus Critics

October 12 is Columbus Day – a day to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the Americas. The holiday has been observed annually in the United States since the 1970s, every second Monday in October. But many are asking, should we really be celebrating this event? After all, Columbus’ arrival took a terrible toll on indigenous peoples (as did the arrival of many explorer-conquerers who followed). Anti-Columbus Day critics point out: These Europeans brought diseases, oppression, slavery, coerced conversions and a host of other tragedies to the indigenous communities they encountered. And......

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Get Busy Living: The Beauty of Midlife Momentum

It’s almost like clockwork: “Rabbi, I’m scared to die. I’m not sure my life has meant enough.” It might sound like I’m talking about holding the hand of a 95-year-old on her deathbed, but I’m not. (Rarely do I meet people late in life who are unprepared for death. Most of the elderly people I know tend to feel “ready.”) Those who express the fear above are usually around 40 years old. As I say, it’s almost like clockwork…indeed, for so many of us. It’s a graduation into a new kind of......

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Can You Learn to Love Navigating Transitions?

When I was the parent of a toddler, I learned that transitions are hard. Toddlers don’t have a clear sense of time, so hearing “the playdate will be over at noon” doesn’t necessarily help them prepare. They may not have much agency in their lives, so acceding to changes may feel like yet another place where they aren’t in control. And they don’t have the life experience to know that everything ends – so to them, every ending is a new heartbreak. Now that my child has grown a few years older,......

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The Far Reach of Your Legacy

I have to admit, I’m a total sucker for images like this one captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. I bet it captures your attention, too! If you’re like most people, including me, it’s not just the psychedelic beauty of what NASA has identified as a “veil nebula” that grabs your attention. It’s also knowing that this crystal clear image reaches us from billions of miles away, and that the celestial debris captured for us to view is actually from a supernova explosion in the Cygnus constellation 8,000 years ago! Not to......

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Why We Freeze Up and Forget How to Communicate

We’ve lost the art of civil discourse. According to an annual “Civility in America” survey, more than 90% of us now consider lack of civility a real problem. More than a third of us admit to being uncivil to others. When we take into account social desirability bias, we know that there are a lot more of us out there who are not engaging in civil discourse. Our inability to enter into genuine conversation is undermining our communities and denying ourselves the opportunity to learn about each other. It’s time for a......

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It's a Season of Renewal. So Why Do I Feel Anxious?

This season is supposed to be one of renewal. The transition from summer to fall brings a cooler breeze, a change of color and the promise of brand new page in the books of our lives. We buy new clothes for our kids, who walk into their classrooms with the excitement of being a grade older, with the opportunity to begin with a clean slate. It sounds prospectively exciting, but I wonder why so many seem to feel so darn anxious about it…including my wife, my kids and me. The hope and......

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