Know your kryptonite

We spend so much time focused on and promoting success that sometimes we usually look past glaring deficiencies that are waiting to sabotage even the most robust success strategy. While there are as many schemes for success as there are stars in the sky on a cloudless night, papering over our liabilities will surely sidetrack our best-laid plans moving forward.

For this post, I’m going to diverge from the “three steps to success” model that’s all the rage—at least for today. Today, we’re going to focus on weakness. Continue reading

Reading books 2012

Books 2012 01

Why read? That seems to be the question at hand since I’m once more at the end of a calendar year with another assortment of books read over the course of the past 12 months. With a list like this comes some sort of requirement to justify the time I invested in making my way through these books. Hence, I report back to you, dear reader.

The rediscovery of reading transformed my life back in 1997. I say “rediscovery” because like so many, I’d found other second rate substitutes for books and reading in the course of leaving school and entering the realm of work. Now I’ve come back to an even more essential task—reading broadly. I wish a few more of you would begin wrestling with this task. Continue reading

Waiting for the end of the world

Snoopy waiting for the end of the world.

Snoopy waiting for the end of the world.

Here we are at December 21, the supposed end of the world. As of 7:49 am, the world appears to be carrying on like it has for billions of years (or thousands if you don’t trust science). Of course all that could change at any moment.

Doomsday scenarios have been with us since the beginning of time. One of my favorite bloggers, John Michael Greer, has been providing a weekly feature at the end of what are always long, well-written posts. He calls these, “End of the World of the Week.” He’s now up to #53 and what these call to mind is that mankind has always been fascinated and gotten caught up in the apocalyptic. Greer also illustrates that these predictions have always proved inaccurate. But that hasn’t deterred another crop of doomsday prophets from setting up shop and making a new round of failed predictions. Continue reading

Wisdom for my day

I think I mentioned that my mom, now dubbed St. Helen of Immaculata by my sister, often offered tidbits of wisdom in the form of sayings and even poems to the young JBE.

One in particular has stayed with me all these years. It’s authorship is unknown and I might argue that it’s loosely based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The wisdom expressed is something I can really understand now, 40+ years later.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This second passage comes from none other than Confucius, arguably one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propagate the highest virtues to the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families, they cultivated their own selves. Before cultivating their own selves, they perfected their souls. Before perfecting their souls, they tried to be sincere in their thoughts. Before trying to be sincere in their thoughts, they extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such investigation of knowledge lay in the investigation of things, and in seeing them as they really are. When things were thus investigated, knowledge became complete. When knowledge was complete, their thoughts became sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their souls became perfect. When their souls were perfect, their own selves became cultivated. When their selves were cultivated, their families became regulated. When their families were regulated, their states came to be put into proper order. When their states were in proper order, then the whole world became peaceful and happy.

When all else fails us, I say look to the past to find your way forward.


Making it in Maine

Maine logo

Maine might be open for business, but too often, the business being discussed and the deals cut by our fearless leaders in Augusta bypass Main Street for the malls and retail models better suited for a “Happy Motoring” utopia running on borrowed time. That belief sadly still holds sway, along with the presumption that excess consumption can be maintained into perpetuity.

Don’t get me wrong—consumerism will continue to drive our economy for the next decade at least, but true sustainability and local and regional economies built for the long haul are going to have to be led by locally-owned storefronts and production rooted in Maine, not corporate big boxes. Continue reading

Happy thoughts

Happiness is very important to Americans. At the very least, appearing to be positive, happy, and avoid challenging accepted conventions of everyday existence is required to be liked and even popular.

I’ve learned a lot the past 10 years about not letting my thoughts and cynicism sidetrack me and I’ve decided that I’m not going to be tossed to and fro on a sea of negativity or despair. Continue reading

The aftermath of a shooting

Sometimes words fail us. Other times, attempts at piecing together a few sentences that sound coherent and stop short of being preachy is nearly impossible. As a writer, you try but you know your framing is always going to be off kilter.

Since Friday morning when news reports first began intimating that yet another public shooting had occurred, I’ve been resolute about limiting just how much coverage and subsequent analysis I was going to allow myself, at least in the hours following an event that’s tough to get your head around. I’ve tried to stay removed from it. What do I mean by “staying removed”? I mean outside what’s become the norm when these regularly scheduled acts of random carnage take place; the usual hand-wringing, the ideological bleating, the moralizing—all made worse and amplified by the always on, 24/7 opinion streaming and lack of reflection made all-too-easy by the social media twins of Facebook and Twitter. Continue reading