We all have a story.
A dozen years ago, I co-founded Wanderlust, a company that produces large yoga festivals around the world. Our flagship event in Squaw Valley, California amassed enough yogis in leggings to swaddle the Taj Mahal in lycra. In the summer of 2012, I arrived on-site at our host hotel, the somewhat tattered Village-at-Squaw. Knackered from the trip, I was intent on quickly checking in to my usual ski condo and getting to our production meeting. As the stoner-cum-concierge bumbled through an unnecessary ream of clerical work, my patience began to fray. And I said it. It’s the only time I have ever uttered this phrase and I shudder in the paternalism of it even as I type.
“Do you know who I am?” I said.
Befuddled, the desk clerk looked at me, turned to his counterpart and said, “This dude I’m checking in doesn’t know who he is.”
The fool speaks wisely as the wise man acts the fool.
Who am I? This is...
I am in my happy place, snug in the middle lane of the 101 coasting at a modest 60 miles per hour, listening to The Daily, driving to Topanga with Micah. Schuyler thinks I drive too slowly. I prefer “cautious.” It might be genetic.
My beloved Nana, barely 5 feet in heels, seldom broke 25 on the speedometer. As a young boy, I would often accompany her to her sacred weekly hairdresser appointment. There was a soda fountain there in which I enthusiastically indulged, creating madcap papercup cocktails of Mr. Pibb and Fanta. Eventually, she’d emerge from the chair, grip my hand, her long glossy red nails digging at my forearm skin, and lead me out to the mini-mall parking lot.
Automobiles did not spare steel in the 1970’s. Nana would board her colossal Cadillac, often unwittingly parked askew across two spots, like a mouse saddling an elephant. She didn’t drive it as much as it drove her. She’d crawl out of the lot into traffic like a cruise...
My father raised my brother and me through our teenage years as a single dad. It was not a course we chose, but one we maplessly navigated. Our relationship was hardly traditional, swinging between a pizza-for-breakfast kind of bromance and a deep loving co-dependency. As I stumbled into manhood and he, sometimes adolescently, rebuilt his life, we leaned into each other. We relished each other’s company and shared a passion for the cocktail of music, politics and parties. Oh … the parties.
Eventually, somewhat against our will, adulthood beckoned. Time has a father as well. I sailed off into the wide berth of life as if I was the first one to attempt to distill it into meaning. When we’re young, we don’t know that God, that celestial Father, is right where we are.
Last year, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. In the aftermath of his surgery, he lost 35 pounds and became very weak. He remained astonishingly sanguine through the ordeal but his voice,...
Each week Jeff has been writing a Sunday article called Commusings where we take a moment to think deeply on the topics of spirituality, philosophy, and culture. Today, he shares his thoughts after attending a recent Black Lives Matter march in Hollywood with his family.
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Schuyler, my three daughters and I walk east on DeLongpre to the protest.
Others are clamoring down the street, placards in hand, engaged in various forms of spirited horseplay. A sort of nervous energy pervades, like one that precedes performance. It is Hollywood after all.
I am tuned out, lost in thought, moated in the subjective experience of what it is to be me. My mind chatters on incessantly, as it has for weeks, commentating on my blundering internal investigation into where and how I am complicit in the oppression of a people who have so deeply shaped who I am.
I have never been blind...
The kettle is whistling. The water is roiling. Why now? What takes a simmer to a boil?
On Tuesday, muted in solidarity, I called my friend Anasa. She bears no responsibility to answer my queries or hold my shaking hand. Yet she gives me two full hours of her self; her story, her wisdom, her grace. As I listen it becomes evident that, despite studying race relations in college, my true understanding of the African-American experience is a speck on a pinhead.
This is what sinks in when you take one day to shut the hell up and listen:
The fire under this kettle was lit as soon as The White Lion dropped anchor. The heat has been relentless for Black Americans ever since, but over the last three months, the burner has ratcheted up under the entire country. The murder of George Floyd, the final 212th degree.
The coronavirus was the first layer of tinder, revealing the stark inequality and the fragility of the safety net for African-Americans.
Each week Jeff has been writing a Sunday article called Commusings where we take a moment to think deeply on the topics of spirituality, philosophy and culture. Today, he shares the piece we published in the days after the murder of George Floyd.
It’s late Saturday night. There’s a curfew in place here in Los Angeles. Hours ago, police discharged rubber bullets and pepper spray at protestors on Fairfax, less than 2 miles from here. I feel a mix of fury, confusion, guilt, powerlessness and a rare uncertainty about what to do. I sense I am not alone.
In college, I concentrated in race relations. I remember studying Robert F. Kennedy’s extemporaneous eulogy for Martin Luther King as he consoled a bereaved crowd in Indianapolis on the evening of his assassination. It moved me to tears. He invoked Aeschylus:
“And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom, by the awful...
Though death is the only thing we are guaranteed in this life, the associated grief, loss and loneliness are human emotions we often tend to avoid. And our genetic makeup as a species is wired to keep us safe; steering us away from things that can cause us pain. However, COVID-19 has forced us to reckon with and squarely face death, in this lifetime, in ways in which we have never done before.
While some may be praying in churches, synagogues and mosques, no one expects a pastor, in a moment of revelation, to pull a vaccine serum out from behind the pulpit. The development of the vaccine will take place in a lab by someone in white coat not a merlin’s cap. It will be a product of human knowledge that we expect as part of our Amazon prime account.
More will be revealed as this saga unfolds, and the forced reflection upon our own mortality has become more pertinent than ever.
In honor of Mother's Day, Women’s Health Week, and all of the women today, (and every day) who lead with love and endless grace, we bow.
You recognize the value in the unique and interrelated. You are the holders of the sacred. Thank you for your leadership, your love, your endless grace, and for making life possible.
Fifty years after the first Earth Day, we find ourselves in a wicked paradox. While humans have fallen ill, Mother Nature has shown signs of emergent well-being.
On the precipice of choices that will forever determine the course of our collective history, will we reckon with the ways in which we had been complacent in our daily lives that were inevitably stripped away, transmuted, and forever changed in the wake of COVID_19?
We must now do the soulful work of determining our true needs and sources of fulfillment; to revise everything from our global economy to our daily pleasures. And to manifest this discovery with profound acts of conscience, creativity, and sacrifice in service of humanity and our planet.
At this moment, we are not just suffering from COVID-19, we are also suffering from the absence of a dependable source of fact. It is specifically in times of public crisis when we look to steady leadership for reliable information. Sadly, we are now left groping in the dark, anxious, experiencing the end of the truth.
Can we cohere as a society around the truth for the common good? Let us know your thoughts below.