Paid Back in Full Without Receiving a Dime

I took the afternoon off work and headed up to meet my friend Clemetin at the Social Security office some miles from where I live. Clemetin had received a notice from Social Security stating that his monthly benefits were being cut and giving him 30 days to appeal. But having spent many years in prison, Clemetin has an aversion to people in government offices. He's quick to anger when they seem to disrespect him. And he's quite sure that's what they'll do. So I offered to … [Read more...]

My Doctor Doesn’t Touch Me Any More

Hi Jonathan, Do I need to schedule an appointment with you this fall or have annual check ups become a thing of the past? I've scheduled a mammo for this month. What else do I need to do? That's the email I wrote to my doctor this week. He responded a few minutes later saying that I should come in for some blood work to check medication levels, but no need for much else. This correspondence got me thinking about how the doctor/patient relationship (at least mine) has … [Read more...]

Finding Common Threads Among our Differences

Most every morning, I visit St. Mary's Park in the South Bronx where I walk and run and work out. It's a lovely park with big trees arching over a wide path and big natural rock outcroppings on the hills. A running track tucks into the back of the park with slant boards and pull up bars in its center. The park is beautifully laid out, but it's not well-maintained. Litter isn't picked up regularly. The grass is poorly cut. Weeds grow through the pavement here and there. And … [Read more...]

Are You a Member of the “Me Generation?”

I have joined the “ME generation.” I know that phrase is generally used to describe so-called Millennials — people now in their 20’s.  Samantha Raphelson, in her piece for the NPR New Boom series, cited them as “self-absorbed, self-centered, selfie-snapping-20-somethings.” Today’s 20-somethings are just stepping into adulthood. They may not have steady jobs. They sometimes seem uncaring in their independent and individualistic ways.  Many of them don’t have families to … [Read more...]

The Universal Need for Unconditional Support

Yesterday, my friend Clemetin wound up back in prison. He didn't end up there because he's dangerous or has done anything particularly bad. He was put there because he hasn't shown up for court-mandated appointments. Several months ago, rather than putting Clemetin in prison, a judge assigned him three years of probation during which he has to show up regularly to meet with a probation officer. But that has proven to be too much for Clemetin. He showed up at the … [Read more...]

What Does it Mean to Have Limited Opportunities?

I've been enjoying Seth Godin's new book, What to do When It's Your Turn (and it's always your turn). It's a beautiful book. Fantastic images. Elegantly laid out. And it has one of those covers you just like to touch. One image in the book jumped out at me. It shows a wonderful photo of 29 physicists who in 1927 gathered at the Solvay Conference in Brussels. The photo includes many of the most remarkable physicists of their time... in fact... of all time. People like … [Read more...]

Friends for Life — Your “Through-Line” Friends

Do you have people in your life who have been friends for so long that you speak in a sort of code? People who have been with you through thick and thin? Friends who know you inside and out? Most people have hundreds or even thousands of acquaintances, but relatively few long-time, deep friends. I've just spent the day with Barbara, one of my closest friends. We've known one another for decades. We've laughed together and cried together. We've encouraged one … [Read more...]

My First Adventure with Miracle

Meet Miracle Edwards. Miracle is a beautiful 8-year-old girl I met over the summer with her father. She had never seen a ballet or anything like it before, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to treat her to a performance. Preparing for the Big Day I called her father, Jeff, several times and left messages but didn't connect.  I let some days pass and was about to call again when my phone rang. It was Jeff, returning my call. He and Miracle had talked about … [Read more...]

Trapped in a Crazy Court System

You might be wondering what happened to my felon friend, Clemetin, who was picked up in the park and accused of selling heroin back in August... A crime he didn't commit. A few weeks earlier, he'd been caught stealing a pack of peanuts from a store. He did do that. But that's a far cry from selling a deadly illegal substance. Punished for an Uncommitted Crime Since then, he's been in and out of court, sitting for days at a time, and then having to come back again … [Read more...]

Ask These Three Questions Every 90 Days

I just had breakfast with my super smart friend, Brigid Ganley, who started a new job this year. When she was starting out in her new job, she set up a meeting with every staff member in her department and asked each of them the following questions: What would you preserve and why? What would you change and why? What advice do you have for me? The information she gathered from these questions has proved invaluable. Not only did she see strong patterns when … [Read more...]