One Day

Planning ahead, whether to the next week or the new year, always has me asking a familiar question: what do you want?

That's a question that propels me into the future, a place where it's easy to live, where there's endless potential and where anything is possible but nothing really happens, that place where we can pretend to make choices and pretend to know their consequences but experience the truth of neither.

Imaginary choices have no real consequences.

Life doesn't happenĀ in the future. It happens here, today. Life is an adventure made one day at a time. How you spend your days is how you spend your life. The next week, the next month, the next quarter, and the next year are all made up of days.

What choices can I make today that will positively influence my future?

If that question propels you back into future-thinking, bring yourself back to the present by asking "What's next, right now?" The answer doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be good enough, for now.

1% of your day

15 minutes = 1% of your day.

What could you do for 15 minutes every single day for the next year that would have an immense impact on your life?

One percent. Can you dedicate one percent to that activity?

How about two percent? Three? Four?

30 minutes = 2% of your day.
45 minutes = 3% of your day.
1 hour = 4% of your day.

You probably spend 24-32% of each day sleeping.

What are you doing with that other 70%?

Ctrl Alt Del

In 1981, David Bradley was a computer programmer helping build some of the first personal computers. It was a slow and tedious process, often producing a glitch every few minutes that required a full reboot of the entire system. A full reboot meant wiping the computer memory and running a full set of memory tests, which took valuable time.

When you're creating something new and it's producing a glitch every few minutes, you're not going to get very far if trying again requires a long intermission. You need to fail fast and fail regularly so that you can learn quickly and continue improving.

David decided that he wasn't going to accept things the way they were. He was the programmer. He could create whatever he wanted. So he created a shortcut, a key combination that would reboot the system in such a way that the memory tests would be skipped: Ctrl + Alt + Del[ete].

Our life has a Ctrl Alt Del shortcut too. It's call choice.

Each moment is an opportunity to press Ctrl Alt Del, to reset our system. We don't need to go through all the trials and tribulations of the past. We can skip all of those and go straight to the current moment.

How do we press Ctrl Alt Del? By making a choice.

A choice to see something different.

A choice to act in a different way.

A choice to think differently.

A choice to make something better.

A choice to define our future.

A choice to be generous.

A choice to serve.

We are the programmer of our life. Instead of letting the existing programming run in a loop, day after day, year after year, until the system shuts down forever, we can choose to create something new, to change.

And whenever you come upon a glitch, just press Ctrl Alt Del, adjust the programming, and then keep going.


When you die, the rest of the world won't go on merrily without you. It can't. It's too late. You existed and therefore it's going to go on changed in some way because of your presence, because you existed.

Who are you to have an opinion? Who are you to make yourself heard? Who are you to make bold claims or have big aspirations? Who are you decide what's right and what's wrong and what should be done about it? Who are you to decide?

Actually, who are you not to?

You exist, not did exist or will exist, but do exist, here, now, in this active moment of time, in this dynamic slice of spacetime, at this point where the pen makes contact with the paper of history, perched at the precipice of everything.

If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? This is your flashpoint.

Perfect Record

You don't need to have a perfect record. You just need to show up more times than you don't. If you can't remember the last time you didn't show up, that's good enough.

Time erases imperfections when something greater outshines them.

Nobody has a perfect record of walking--we all slip and fall down at some point. Yet nobody thinks about that (unless it's you and you just slipped), because something greater--getting back up--outshines the act of falling down.

You don't need to have a perfect record. You just need to show up more times than you don't. And if you haven't shown up in awhile, that's okay too.

Imperfections in time are erased by consistency in movement towards perfection.

Nobody has a perfect record of brushing their teeth--we all miss a day at some point. Yet nobody thinks about that (unless it's you and your teeth are scuzzy), because something greater--brushing your teeth regularly--outshines the act of missing it.

An imperfect record becomes one that appears perfect when you consistently apply the act of choosing to work towards perfection. When and how are not important. All that matters is choosing to act.

What Lie Ahead


Why does the world always seem bigger when we're younger, the days longer, the fun more memorable, the days problems less worrisome? Perhaps it's because we don't yet know any better, or because we haven't been told where the edges are, or maybe it's because we just love each moment more fully, not so conscious or afraid of what may come but intensely soaked in the present, living now so wholly that everything else, including ourselves, pales in comparison to what lie ahead.

Sentenced to Life

This year I have found myself becoming, ever so slowly, more and more interested in poetry. A few poetry readings have been instrumental in this increasing interest, including this one by Clive James called Sentenced to Life, which I heard the other day on NPR (originally published on BBC Radio 4 - Today on May 26th, 2014).

As I listen to Clive read his poem I find myself reflecting on the totality of life--past, present, and future--and observing how circular life can be, the way it ebbs and flows, the way it changes, but how, when you really take the whole thing in, it remains much the same.

There's Always Tomorrow

I was doing a bit of journaling at the end of what felt like a long day, noting the list of things that I had completed from my task list. It was a very short list of completed items and I commented in my journal that the list was terrible, that I could've done much better. Then I wrote, there's always tomorrow.

But no, there isn't always tomorrow.

You don't know if tomorrow will come, but that doesn't mean that you should live in fear of tomorrow not coming, or that you should live with the assumption that it's not coming.

Instead, it means that you do your best today. You put in an effort to do the best, to make the day as productive as possible, to live it in such a way that you feel it was a full, complete, and good day, and that if you didn't have tomorrow you would feel content in the realization that you treated today in such a way that it proved you were grateful that you had it.

So when you find yourself saying or thinking, well, there's always tomorrow or there's always another day, realize that there may not be. And that's okay.

Your Anniversary

A few days ago a friend emailed me with some bad news: his friend and his friend's daughter recently died in a plane crash in Kenya along with the pilot. The plane went missing in bad weather and the wreckage and remains were found shortly thereafter.

We never know when it will be our time, which is, ironically, much the same as for our birth.

My daughter is due any day now (officially on the 19th, but it could be any day) and it feels like a waiting game. Will today be the day? I just don't know.

In the same way I could wonder, will tomorrow be the day I die? I don't know that either. We never really know until it happens.

I heard something once that really stuck with me: Every year we pass over the anniversary of our death.

We may not know which day--will it be a Friday? or a Wednesday? or the 20th of July?--but we do know that it will happen, and every year that day silently passes through our lives unannounced.

While walking outside yesterday and thinking about this I realized that the opposite is also true: Every year we pass over the anniversary of our birth. Right now, I don't know when that date will be for my daughter, just as I don't know when the opposite date will be true and settled for me.

In some ways this sounds depressing, but to me it feels freeing. If I don't know, and I have no way of knowing with certainty, then how can I let it worry me? And if there's nothing to worry me, then only now remains to be enjoyed.

We know that life comes and goes. This is fact. What we don't know is how much we'll get to enjoy it.

Photography As Art

Why do so many people spend so much time photographing things? We take photos of ourselves, our babies, our friends, and our pets. We photograph the things that make us feel, those moments that appear to give our life meaning, to make it worth having lived.

We witness the beauty of nature but quickly separate ourselves from it, sacrificing the purity of that moment, for what? With such haste we dutifully capture as if witnessing some alien landscape, as if we were alien explorers sent to an unknown world to document for a future generation the fleetingly precious moments that make up our transient existence.

We make baseless uneducated assumptions about what importance future generations will place on the interestingness of our lives, while the truth is they'll likely be just as preoccupied with their own existence as we are with ours, doing whatever activity helps them avoid the unbearable thought of their own impending doom.

The self-portrait speaks the loudest to me. It's as if the soul inside turned the camera on itself and cried out, "I am here! I exist! My life has meaning!"

What is it about human nature that attracts so many of us to capturing moments of time? Is there something in our subconscious, something that remains aware of the limit on our lifespan, something that feels driven by a sense of self-preservation to seek out anything that might help slow or preserve time?

And where is all of this heading? For how much longer will the human race be obsessed with this newfound ability to capture reflections of time, to create something that appears to be uniquely ours but in reality whose value and meaning fades as quickly as the memory of its creators' existence?

When I was a teenager I came across a nature calendar that contained the exact same photo I had taken of a particular waterfall in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The photographer must have taken it from the exact same spot that I stood to take mine. But there was one difference: he used a slower shutter speed and that made the waterfall look misty as it came down the rocks. It was more beautiful and aesthetically appealing than mine, which, having been taken with a faster shutter speed, showed the water frozen in its tracks.

At first, the photo in the calendar filled me with a sense of pride. It was proof that I probably had an intuitive eye for composing 'good photos'. But that's where the story ends. I never again looked at that photo in the calendar. I didn't keep a copy of it and I never saw it again. Instead I enlarged my photo of the waterfall, along with several other photos that I deemed 'frame worthy', added it to a cheap frame, and hung it on the wall.

It didn't matter to me that someone else had taken the exact same photo, of the exact same waterfall, at around the exact same time of the year. It didn't matter to me that the other photo was better than mine. My photo meant more to me because I took it, because it was my photo, a frozen moment of my time captured by me.

But is there really any difference between my time and your time? If ten thousand people take a photo of the Taj Mahal, is there really any reason for me to take a photo of it? And then why take any photos in the first place? What happens in the distant future when everything has been photographed? When every single angle that could be captured, has been captured?

These thoughts lead me back to photography as art.

We create art as a way of expressing ourselves, as a way of capturing and communicating to others what we feel, but true art is not created because the artists' feelings have great importance, but rather because what the artist expresses -- the expression itself -- allows others to experience more of life.

If we focus our time and effort on creating art, then that is time well spent. But what is art? Art is not capture (what the camera does) but rather expression (what is done with the camera). The difference is subtle but important. One requires thinking about what you're doing, understanding why you're doing it, and constantly seeking to improve, while the other lets you get away with laziness and ignorance, pointing a device in the direction of your feelings and pressing a button.

After decades of taking photos, I can see that I have the skills to pursue photography as art, but is that what I want to do? Is my time better spent pursuing writing as art? Or is there some intersection of the two that will allow me to create better art?

And with a newborn on the way, I can't help but wonder: How much of my daughter's life will I be a photographer-dad and how much will I be a dad-dad?