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Letter to my son on his first birthday

Dear little buddy, Before you came along, I was always looking ahead -- charging forward. Now, I want to stop time. I think about it a lot. I'll hold you and wish I could just stay in that moment, trying to remember every detail. Here's one of my favorite times of day: walking from my truck to the house after a long day of work. I know as soon as I open that door, I'm going to find you crawling on the floor. I'll call out your name, and you'll pause for a second before you smile...

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Ode to my first house

Once, I asked dad to take me to his boyhood home. We sat there, engine idling. I stared at the siding, the green shutters, the stump in the yard and tried to feel something. My dad didn't say much, but I'm sure he felt a lot. He'd grown up there with three brothers, all of them dead; his parents dead. And here's this house, filled with different people, different stories, entirely different lives. Now, my wife and I are selling our first house, moving a few miles away to Bellbrook. I keep thinking about the fact that...

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Setting sail with Margaret Wrinkle

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"I'm going to get a little woo-woo here," Margaret Wrinkle says. That's code for going deep down in it – for talking about things with elusive definitions; things we must analogize. "Your rational mind is a boat drifting on the ocean of your subconscious," she says. "Do you want to tell the story from the tiny boat or from the ocean?" Wrinkle keynoted yesterday at the Antioch Writers' Workshop in Yellow Springs. The room was dim, hushed as she described the 15-year journey that lead to the publication of her first book, Wash, in 2013. It's...

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Will you pass the 100 year test?

Wikipedia editors debate who deserves an entry on the site. In the past, it was common for the "100 year rule" to be evoked. It was a simple, one-question test that went like this: will this person be of general interest to the world 100 years from now?  If the answer was yes, that person was granted an entry on Wikipedia. If the answer was no, well, sorry pal; history's moving on. Much debated, the test eventually got dropped in favor of more general criteria. I still think about the 100 year test, though. It keeps the flame alight. Will...

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Thank you, Mr. Webb

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Once, I tried to egg my teacher's house. I was in high school -- a junior maybe? A senior? It was dusk. We drove by Mr. Webb's house slowly. The plan was this: I'd stand up in the passenger seat, poke my head out the sunroof and launch two eggs -- one right after the other. They'd explode on Mr. Webb's porch, maybe even the front door. Then, we'd drive off laughing, high-fiving and hell-yeahing as we imagined him trying to solve the mystery of the egging. The grand irony is this: when I look back...

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What David Bowie’s death says about art

David Bowie learned he had liver cancer 18 months ago. Six months later, doctors told him it was terminal. He'd already suffered a series of heart attacks. The writing was on the wall, and he agonized over the realization that he wouldn't get to see his 15-year-old daughter Alexandria grow up. And yet, there he was writing music, sending thank you messages to his oldest collaborators, working on musicals and videos -- often to the point of collapse. His final album, Blackstar was his farewell. The lyrics to Lazarus stare at mortality and grin like a Cheshire...

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Dancing with your fear

I think about art every day. What I've learned is this: art is counter-intuitive. The good stuff looks and feels effortless. It's whole and solid as a shiny metal ingot. It's as if there were no other possible way the work could have been formed. And yet, the process of creating art is painful. It's riddled with doubt and fear. What matters is butting heads with your fear and pressing forward. No artist who has been in the trenches will tell you different. It doesn't matter how good you get – the fear never goes away....

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2015 Year in Review

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When Socrates was on trial 2,400 years ago, he condemned himself to death with these words: "The unexamined life is not worth living." I spent my first 30 years wandering and exploring – doing pretty much anything but examining my life. More recently, I've been obsessed with improving myself and the lives of the people around me. The only way I can do that is by looking at what's working and what's not. Here then is my first public year in review. With inspiration from James Clear (I highly recommend you sign up for his email...

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On the Birth of My Son, Percy

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My life expectancy is 78.74. If we follow the averages, Percy, we’ll have 40 years, 58 days and 4 hours together. That’s 40 Christmases. Thirty-nine birthdays. Your mother called me the morning of your birth: “I think my water broke.” She left a message with her doctor. Then, she decided it was an excellent time to drive to Kohl’s and pay off her charge card. She was in the parking lot when the “trickle” turned into a “gush.” “Thank God for long coats,” she said. She fished around for towels and used Meijer’s shopping bags to put down on her...

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A letter to my daughter on her second birthday

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Dear Claire (on your second birthday), Every Sunday evening, I take out the trash. I ask you to help. "OK," you say. I carry your 25-pound body to the garage and plop your butt on top the trash can. When I rock the can back on its wheels, you fall onto my chest and cling there like a koala. I roll you to the end of the driveway, and we drop off the trash. It's so cosmically insignificant, and yet one of my favorite moments every week. It's thirty seconds when we're together, your head against my chest, us scanning the sky,...

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