Showing posts from November, 2009

Breaking Free From My Possessions

I'm throwing stuff out. Again. The photo above is from 1985. This battered Volkswagen Van contained all my possessions at that time, and the pillow tied on top is my futon-bed. It wasn't much stuff, and yet this load weighed me down. Several times on the road from Philadelphia to Dallas, I was tempted to park the van and walk away from it.  There's a wonderful scene in Franco Zefferelli's movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, in which young Saint Francis gives his clothes to his father in the central square of Assisi, then walks away naked, toward sainthood. The actor playing Francis, Graham Faulkner was young and toned; this helped us stop wondering what he would do a few minutes later, when thorns and bugs attacked him. Nevertheless, we tend to over-estimate the usefulness of things we keep, and under-estimate what keeping them costs us, to the extent we consider this at all.  The cost reveals itself at odd moments. While recovering from a devastating break-


Here we are, approaching the big holiday of Thanksgiving.  Holidays. I'm both attracted to them and repelled by them. Thanksgiving delivers a wonderful idea—let's appreciate what we have—and an undertone of accusation: You need to be reminded. You're not grateful enough on your own. You don't really deserve what you have, it's just luck or a gift from God that He plans to take back soon.  Does anyone else feel this way? Maybe not. Guilt is my general reaction to everything. So guilty or not, here are some things I like. They keep me going. Max [right], seen here with his friends, lining up for Kindergarten. Living close to the ocean. It's a mental pleasure, since I'm never getting in that freezing water, like these brave surfers. Brightly colored houses. A misty drive back from the grocery store. 

A Few Days in October

In October, 1989 I lived in the Richmond District of San Francisco. I was married to a tall southern belle, and we rented an apartment with 15 windows and sweeping views. We'd come to the city two years earlier, with all our stuff in the back of a station wagon. The city had been good to us.  I painted outdoors a great deal, on the cliffs around Land's End. I had accumulated enough work to participate in San Francisco's Open Studios event. I found a group space at an industrial building on York Street, and paid to show my paintings there. The other artists in the building showed a wide variety of work. Some of it, like the sculpture above, was thoughtful, accomplished and interesting. On the other hand, the idea of "art" is often the refuge of the criminally insane.  A few feet away from my earnest, boring rectangles, a group of aging white guys—The Architects of Doom—built a large installation, resembling a 1970s rumpus room, a place where the Brady B

New Job and Samuel Gottscho

Exactly two weeks after I received notice that I would be laid off, I accepted a new job at my company. Many thanks to each or you who encouraged me during this time. A lay-off can happen again, to either of us, just about any time. This was an interesting experience. It opened my mind to many ideas, and tested my understanding of how the world works. I plan to write more about these subjects later. In the mean time, if you want to put yourself in the best possible position to endure a lay-off, I recommend Keith Ferrazzi's book, Never Eat Alone:  And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time  Ferrazzi's approach has worked well for me. He writes: There has never been a better time to reach out and connect than right now. The dynamic of our society, and particularly of our economy, will increasingly be defined by interdependence and interconnectivity. In other words, the more everything becomes connected to everything and everyone else, the more we begin