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A Simple yet Effective Formula

The store is hot and crowed; my scarf feels like a python slowly strangling the life out of me; and this basket is so heavy, I feel like my shoulder is being pulled from its joint. Finally, we’re at the register—but on this particular day, of course, they won’t accept my particular form of ID. And as the customers in line behind me begin to…

Keep the Noise Down

Sitting in my favorite cafe in Stockholm, I read and drink coffee as people come in and out and swirl around me. Some days, after I’ve finished—if I have truly been tuned in to my experience—when I get up and walk out the door, for a split second, I’m surprised by where I am. It’s not that I’ve forgotten what city I’m in or the…

There Is a Way

The 101 North is something very different in Western Washington than it is in Southern California. Up here, there’s only traffic if you make it, by going above or below the modest posted speed limits. It is, I will say, a pleasant drive. Especially when Bodhi (my ’93 Jeep Cherokee XJ) is rumbling along this nicely. “Check Engine” just doesn’t feel as urgent. More like…

Read, Write, Make Art from Trash

Walking out of Phuket International Airport—a full 24 hours after entering Stockholm Arlanda—I am still not in a hurry. For the next seven days, like it or not, I will be living at a hotel in Patong: a bustling resort town off the southwest coast of Thailand. Making the most of it, I stretch across my king-size bed and bask in the AC. Reading, writing,…

A Far Brighter, More Interesting Place

In Sometimes a Great Notion—a story about a family of loggers in rural Oregon—Ken Kesey describes an early exchange between two of the main characters: Lying naked together in the bed of his truck, Hank asks Viv, his future wife, what she wants out of life. Besides a pet canary and a good sewing machine, she tells him what she wants more than anything is…

Just Talk to Each Other

Over a cup of coffee, my friend, Drew, tells me about the time he sat on the edge of his bathtub with a pistol in his mouth. He tells me how depressed and alone he felt. And he tells me how, all these years later, he can still taste the metal and feel it rattling between his teeth. Then it’s my turn. So, as the…

A Choice Made Daily

Awakened by the familiar robotic chirp of my alarm clock—a boxy, 1980s relic with no snooze function—I fumble in the dark trying to switch it off. The sudden silence is warm and welcoming, as are my blankets. And it takes every bit of tenacity I can muster to peel them back and get up. Stepping into a cold shower is no more enjoyable now than…

I Look Up

Rambling purposefully along the narrow ridge trail leading back to my campsite, I look down upon the Straight of Juan de Fuca, getting darker and more reflective by the minute. There’s a bench, so I sit—tapping my fingers on the flat, smooth cover of Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. Fighter jets from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island screech across the sky. Their high,…

Mine Belongs to Me

Northern California and southern Oregon are a blur of ponderosa pines and Douglas-fir. Arriving at Crater Lake, I peer down into the electric-blue water—amplified by the virgin, cloudless sky—and I feel a distinct shift. By the time I get to Idaho, having been on the road three days, nothing in me wants to turn west. So I say goodbye to the last familiar face I’ll…

No One Thinks I’m a Writer but Me

If I’m not a writer, that makes things very confusing. Because when I’m hunched over my laptop, day after day, I certainly feel like a writer. Am I still a writer, though—if no one thinks I’m a writer but me? Often I’m told—usually with good intention—all the things I should be: a salesman, an actor, a nurse, etc. The concern is appreciated; but what the people telling…

Let’s Just Keep Things Light—and Wonderfully Mysterious

In 1785 the poet Robert Burns was plowing his field in rural Scotland when he accidentally stirred up a mouse’s nest. With her lodging destroyed, and plans for winter dashed to pieces, the mouse disappeared into a sea of churned earth. Sensing a deeper metaphor for life, as artists tend to do, Burns decided to write a poem about the experience, apparently, while still leaning…

The Last Safe Place on Earth

Koh Mook, Thailand—it sure feels like the last safe place on Earth. For weeks my friends and I dare only to whisper of our island’s possible immunity—not from the virus itself but from the fear it’s causing. But as the pandemic hysteria creeps closer, those of us left here—the blissfully unaffected and carefree—have all decided to go. Back to Norway, France, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, and…

That’s Being an Introvert

Technically it’s still the high season on this side of Thailand. My shorefront hostel on Koh Lanta, though, is empty. I’m literally the only guest. Old Town is a ghost town—but I’m not complaining. I’m staying here for a few days because I needed a break from the social pressures of (laugh if you must) island life on Koh Lipe. I sit alone reading as…

Start by Tearing Something All to Pieces

Over the past few years I’ve painted a lot. And many of those pieces hung on the walls of my various apartments in Los Angeles for months at a time. However, shortly after I started hanging those paintings up, I also began taking them down and zealously destroying them. The previous paintings were something tangible, I cared about them, and I spent time and effort…

How I Moved to Thailand and Became a Professional Scuba Diver

My small bungalow is just steps away from the beach. It has four walls, electricity, a fan, and a desk. There’s no kitchen, no hot water, and my mattress is rock hard—but the rent is less per month than a joint cell phone plan. Hardly a Spartan existence; but I think we all become accustomed to certain comforts overtime. I’m more surprised by all the things…

When Siri Cusses You Out—Listen

One of the most important lessons I’ve received about patience and humility came from a very unexpected source. Not from a dear friend or admired colleague but from everyone’s favorite, always helpful but sometimes hard-of-hearing personal assistant—Siri. I was driving somewhere in Los Angeles, when a thought came to me I wanted to write down and expand upon later. I queued up Siri and asked…

It’s Just Compensation

My first full-time job was at a small auto repair shop in my hometown. I was about to turn seventeen and spent the whole summer cleaning the shop, doing oil changes, and running out for parts. For this, I got paid Washington State’s then minimum wage of six dollars and ninety cents an hour.  On many Fridays, as five o’clock came around, one of the mechanics…

Crazy Maybe, but Not Insane

I finished Dr. Allen Frances’ book, Saving Normal, a few weeks ago, and I can’t stress enough how important it is. It’s a must read for anyone who: (1) struggles with mental health, (2) has been prescribed psychotropic medication, or (3) is raising children. We as a society are in too much of a hurry to find immediate solutions to our problems. We look to…

Part 2: Be Yourself

And why not? The world in which we have all found ourselves is one of isolation, yet we are still a species who longs for community. By attaching ourselves to a specific group, by adopting that group’s beliefs, we create a clear and concise identity. A way to coherently explain our very existence. And thus, as Thomas Merton wrote, “we cheaply purchase a relative security;…

Part 1: Stay Curious

From renowned Christian thinker C. S. Lewis, I learned about the importance of “Repentance,” which Lewis describes as “unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.” Repentance was necessary for me to reinvent my relationship to the many vices that were plaguing my life. Essentially,…

Wheels Up

I have decided to quit my job. I turned in my resignation, gave a two-month notice, and I have no intentions of ever rejoining the traditional “working world” or entertaining the idea of ever having another corporate job. I do know, however, that whatever comes next, it will certainly be a glorious adventure. Maybe I have read too many stories by Jack Kerouac about his…

No Stars at All

Of all the posts I’ve written on this blog, this one has the highest chance of going completely unread. It isn’t going to pop up anywhere other than right here. It isn’t going to appear on my limited Social Media platforms, nor do I necessarily want it to. I just felt like writing. So, here we are. I can’t really explain my current state of…

A Little About Simplicity

The fact that I enjoy books and black coffee is more or less the central theme of this post. So, if you want to save yourself a few mins, enjoy that small glimpse into my personality and be on your way. For those with a more invested interest, I would like to talk a little about simplicity. Life doesn’t always have to be as hectic as it seems these…