I don't know why the crayons bothered me so much. It wasn't the first time I'd realized she had too much stuff, but then it's easy to rationalize the other things, like clothes: she gets dirty often and she grows fast–90th percentile for her height and her weight according some weird standard that I'm convinced exists because parents are desperate for a way to measure their kids' progress and receive logical validation that they're doing everything right.

But fifty crayons? That's enough for fifty kids! It's just too much. She's already influenced by the excessiveness and overabundance that surrounds her every day. Why would I want to teach her that it's okay to have more than she needs all the time by allowing her to always have more than she needs? She doesn't even know what to do with fifty crayons!

So I took them away, all but ten or so, several of which were broken–I couldn't help but think about how some kids would be overjoyed to have even a tiny broken piece of just one crayon, let alone ten.

Going too far in the other direction–to the other extreme–isn't good either. It's a balancing act. She didn't cry when I took them away. I don't think she even noticed. She's still young and doesn't yet understand the concept of enough or not enough. That's my job, to guide her to a healthy understanding that being grateful for what you have is more important than figuring out what's enough.

Endings and Beginnings

Today my daughter will complete her first trip around our Sun while breathing this Earth's air. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed. There are days I wonder why I'm spending so much of that time working on my computer, but I'm reminded that my need to provide for her is as much a part of life as the unrelenting forward momentum of time.

My life has changed a lot over the past year and with it has seen a change in the way I write, create, and share my thoughts and experiences. Its been hard to set aside time to write, time outside of what I already put in to making a regular income as a computer programmer. Its been even more difficult to find the energy to edit my intimate thoughts into a format that I feel comfortable sharing with the world.

The logical work of writing computer code has largely been the only thing that I've found the desire to write, as writing anything else feels so energetically taxing that it seems all but impossible.

I often wonder if my exhaustion is only the result of not getting enough sleep and programming all day, or if it has more to do with the energy that goes into soaking up each and every moment I spend with my daughter, an activity which has grown inexpressibly joyous with the passage of time.

Writing in my private, offline journal has itself been a challenge, but I knew that I would greatly regret not doing so if I stopped altogether, especially in these first months of being a father, so I push myself to write, sometimes in multi-hour marathons dumping the events and half-recalled thoughts from the prior few weeks where, despite having so many moments that I wanted to put into words, I found no energy or motivation to write.

Maybe living in the moment is just too enticing at times. And worth being enticed.

I started the paid journal subscription in November 2011, two years prior to the birth of my daughter. That was three years ago. At that time my life was quite different and a subscription-type offering felt like the perfect fit for me. However, that format no longer seems to fit my writing style nor my lifestyle and it feels like I've been ignoring that reality for far too long, a fact which itself has impeded my ability to publish anything at all.

As of today, I'm ending the paid journal and will instead focus on publishing free work on my site and putting together books that I can offer for sale.

All paid subscriptions have been canceled and, as promised, if you wish to request a full refund from the start of your subscription, you can do that. In any case, everyone who has paid for a subscription will be added to a special list and you will receive a free copy of everything that I release going forward, forever (unless you choose not to, of course).

I don't know how to express my gratitude to all of you who have showed me support since I started the paid journal. Thank you.

A year ago my daughter was about to be born. She was a week late and her parents had no idea what they were getting themselves into, nor how many sleepless nights lie ahead. I had no idea how my writing would evolve or change or how that event might change my goals as a writer.

I can say now, with certainty, that despite my relative quietude over the past year, my writing ambitions are as alive as ever. I hope that you stick around to see what's next, but, most of all, I hope that you hit reply on this email and just say hello. I would love to hear what's going on in your world.

The Big Picture

Its been a while since my last update to this journal. The monthly payment notifications that I receive from subscribers like you feel to me like little nudges, reminders that I haven't published anything in some time. I apologize for not keeping you as updated as I should be.

My life priorities have shifted a lot since the birth of my daughter, who, at three months old yesterday, is at this moment bundled in a soft pink blanket sound asleep in my left arm, my iPhone in my right hand typing this in between glancing out the airplane window at the Earth far below. We're somewhere over Delaware right now, en route back to Boston after spending two weeks in Florida. She has done amazingly well with flying and hasn’t cried at all. In fact, she does better flying than she does driving. Maybe it has something to do with how she flew fourteen times before she was born.

I say that my priorities have shifted, but maybe that's not true. I feel the weight of responsibility in my life has shifted dramatically, yes--suddenly it's no longer just me that I need to think about--but I still have the same personal goals and ambitions as I did before Ananda was born. I still want to write and publish. I still want to find a way to contribute to humanity. I still want to travel. I still want go to Mars.

Sure, I have family responsibilities now--father and spousal responsibilities--but everything else is still there, everything else is pretty much the same. None of it is number one of course, but it's not all irrelevant or unimportant either.

In many ways what has been the biggest challenge for me is finding a way to continue pursuing my personal goals--or for that matter, just finding the focus to work on something--while having someone else in my life to whom I am a father, someone who depends on me and who will, over the course of her life, look to me for wisdom, support, attention, and love.

I'm a big picture thinker. I’m always considering the long-term implications of a decision or an action, but since the day I learned that I was going to be a dad I've felt the need to stay away from the big picture, to not worry so much about the future. It feels too big now, too complex and blurry.

Yes, my decisions and choices will directly affect Ananda as she grows into her own person, but she will be her own person, someone who will make her own choices and blaze a path through life that is uniquely her own. I feel the best thing that I can do for her as a father is to provide her with what I feel are the best tools for trail blazing and to be there for her when she needs me, to be present when I’m present.

It's her future, not mine. It's her big picture and I'm just the lucky dad who gets to make sure that she has the best tools with which to create her life.

Raam and Ananda

On My Feet

"Now that I have a baby on the way, maybe a bicycle would be a good thing to have..."

"Maybe instead of walking slowly it would make sense to be able to get home more quickly on a bicycle... maybe spending less time commuting would give me more time with my daughter..."

I've been walking 10,000 steps every day on average for the past few months. It's a 0.7-mile walk from the house to the train station and from there I commute 20 minutes on the train to Central Square, Cambridge where I work from my favorite cafe.

I make the commute back home for lunch around noon, then back to Central Square around two o'clock before finally heading home for the evening around six. In total, I spend over an hour walking outside every day, rain or shine.

We have a car, but we try to use it as little as possible, and I love not needing to drive everywhere. I've grown to despise driving. It's hectic and incredibly stressful on our bodies. (If you're not stressed while driving, you're either not paying enough attention to driving or you're not paying enough attention to your body.)

Fifteen years of driving and more than half a million miles have also taught me how incredibly unnatural the seated position is for our bodies, especially when we're stressed. I don't need more unnatural things stressing my body; I spend enough time sitting at a computer.

I was talking to my friend Cristian about how I commute by walking and riding the train when he suggested that riding a bicycle everywhere would be more exercise, and probably more convenient. After thinking about it for a few minutes I realized that he was right.

If I had a bike, I would have more options. I'd save time. I would be able to get home more quickly from the train station and that would mean I'd be able to spend more time with my daughter (once she's born... any day now!).

I proceeded to search CraigsList for used bikes in this area. I found one right here in Central Square. It was a black, fixed-gear bicycle in nearly new condition, exactly what I was looking for! I emailed the seller and set up a time to look at the bike the next morning. That was yesterday.

As I got ready for work this morning, I imagined myself riding a bike to the train station, or even directly to Central Square.

That's when I began to realize what I love about walking.

A bike would speed up the pace of my life, bringing me closer to driving a car. I'd need to constantly be alert, watching where I'm going and looking out for people, other bikers, cars, etc., just like I'd be doing in a car.

The world would fly by. My attention would be focused on one thing. I wouldn't be able to look up at the sky and watch the clouds, or stop to literally smell the roses.

I could, yes, but I probably wouldn't.

The motion would be more mechanical and less human. I wouldn't be able to feel the muscles in my legs, and my feet, and my hips and think to myself "those muscles are designed for this motion," because they're not designed for a bicycle, or a car; they're designed for walking.

I love my daily walks. They're not an inconvenience at all, but a refresher. I love getting a whiff of air that smells of flowers and closing my eyes to smile inside, or smiling at a baby as he rolls by in a stroller.

I love the way the world bobbles up and down in slow motion with each step I take.

I love that I can instantly pause and capture a photo of the Earth.

I love being able to read, or not, when I'm riding on the train.

I love smiling at the dogs and following the butterflies with my eyes until they disappear behind a wall of green leaves.

But really, I love being able to take a deep breath of air and smell the earth, to be able to take my huaraches off and walk barefoot and feel the damp earth under my feet.

On a bike, I'm not connected to the earth in the same way. On a bike, my body is just the engine to a machine; I'm only half the equation. But on my feet, I am the machine and the engine. I'm the complete package. It's all natural, as nature designed it.

Would using a bicycle save me time and let me spend more of it with my daughter? Sure, but what good would that extra time be if acquiring it meant she would spend time with a more stressed out daddy?

What good would teaching her present-mindedness be if my mind was always focused on something else, always hurrying here and there as if right now wasn't good enough?

It's so easy to go astray, to make choices with the best intentions in mind only to have those choices take us in a direction that leaves us worse off than when we started.

When it comes to time, the choice that contributes to mindfulness is always the best choice. Mindfulness slows time and gives us more of it. I feel most mindful on my feet.