Wayfinding

You have reached your destination

I have nothing against Google Maps, but this week it told me to sleep in the middle of a five-lane city street packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

We were driving to see the redwood forests of northern California. We overnighted in San Jose, where we’d booked a charming little Spanish-colonial hotel, set among lush trees. I put the address into Google Maps, which confidently led us into the heart of a major metropolis jammed with vehicles, pedestrians, and huge, flashing Christmas light displays. “You have arrived at your destination,” said the soothing voice from my phone.

So I called the hotel, which [...]

Can you say metaphor?

This is my second year in Pennsylvania, and I have to say, spring sprang faster last year. One day, it seemed, green burst out of the bare trees like fireworks: BOOM!

During a lockdown, the explosion of green seems to be going in slow motion. The forest is still pretty much brown and gray. The machinery of life is going full tilt, but I don’t see much to celebrate yet.

CAN YOU SAY METAPHOR?

The pandemic has thrown a shadow over Earth. For those of us stuck at home or fighting the virus or both, it can feel very cold up in [...]

The Two Angers

There are two ways to be angry. One can ruin your life. The other can save it. During these difficult months and years, we’ve all probably felt both kinds of anger—which is fine, but not if we can’t tell one from the other. We may mistake destructive anger for constructive anger and end up creating a world of hurt for ourselves and others. 

I learned this recently from an old friend of mine. I mean an oooooolllld friend. Like, he recently turned 756. But for someone so aged, not to mention so dead, he’s been a vibrant source of guidance [...]

What You Need to Know to Age Beautifully

I was lying on the floor with my eyes closed, diligently practicing a yoga posture called shivasana (“corpse pose”). Some say that this is the hardest to master, but I thought I was doing pretty well. Not to boast, but yoga teachers often take me for dead no matter what pose I’m attempting.

Anyway, as I lay there a random idea came to me. “How strange,” I thought, “that this body had three children.” Then I realized that it actually hadn’t. Since all our atoms are replaced every seven years, not an atom of the body I have now was present when [...]

How to Seek Sanctuary in a Time of Chaos

Every few months I have a recurring dream: I’m walking through my home and notice a door I’ve never seen before. I open the door to find an enormous room—a cathedral, actually—with sky-high ceilings and glorious stained-glass windows. My reaction isn’t surprise, but recognition. “Oh, yeah!” I think in the dream. “I knew this was here all along! I just forgot.” Along with the memory of the space comes the memory of its function. The cathedral in my dream is there to offer sanctuary.

A lot of us could use a little sanctuary right now. As I write this, cases [...]

Time to Transform

Any normal year, I’d be prepping for my annual pilgrimage to this place: Londolozi, South Africa. This year, though I can’t go there, Londolozi is helping me see this pandemic in a different light.

In the 1970s, two South African teenagers named Dave and John Varty were devastated by the sudden death of their father. The boys were advised to sell the family’s barren cattle farm in the bushveld. Instead, they decided to try something they called “restoring Eden.” Not realizing how crazy this idea was, the Vartys spent years repairing the terrain and waterflow, bringing native plants back to [...]

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