I love reflection and especially the reflection that bookends a calendar year. The ruminating, meditating, thoughtful examination of the previous year colliding with the hopeful, optimistic, anticipatory dreams of what tomorrow will bring. I like taking stock, and recommitting to a better me living in a tomorrow that I try to make better. The traditional New Year’s examination gives me both of those. My son Gavin (9) asked why there was so much hoopla around two minutes of celebrating. Why there were hours of build-up that dissipates almost instantly. But in those two minutes we close the past and turn to the future as we look hopefully towards what lies ahead.

I start with two quotes to set the tone. The first from Emerson:

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt creep in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

And the second from a talk Jeffery Holland gave at BYU in 2009. I’ve read this talk twice in the last day or two and find it chockablock full of insight and wisdom worthy of reflection – especially at New Year’s. I actually read it to my boys on New Year’s Day, unfortunately with no perceived success. It was sadly lost on them (was it George Bernard Shaw that said “youth is wasted on the young??”)

“as a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind.

Let me start first with a quick recap of some 2016 accomplishments.

In 2015 I climbed my first 14er and fell in love. It was the perfect simile for the mountains I was climbing in my own life.  There are 53 peaks in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet and another 14 in California and Washington for a total of 67 14ers in the Continental United States. It is my hope to climb them all.

After putting 2015 behind me, it felt fitting to start 2016 atop mountains. I made my first two winter ascents in the first days of 2016, finding myself on one of the highest peaks in the country. There is a beautiful juxtaposition between summiting physical mountains and ascending figurative ones. In many ways, I find myself today on a higher plane than at any point in my life. And I see the peaks – both distant and near, real and metaphoric – that I’m aiming for. I followed my January summits with a climb in November, a day after the first snowfall. I summited Mount Harvard and now have 10 of the 67 summits under my belt. I’m looking to climb 2-6 14ers in 2017.

After running my first marathon in October 2015, followed by my second in November 2015, I went on to run 6 marathons in 2016 (Washington DC, Big Sur, San Francisco, Venice Italy, New York City, and Singapore). Running 6 marathons in a year was never my intent – it just, well, sorta happened. I know what you are thinking, “marathons don’t just happen!” One of the highlights was running the Big Sur marathon with the Move For Hunger team and fundraising in their support. I forgot how much I love fundraising for worthy causes, and I think Move For Hunger has one of the most worthy missions. I don’t want to run as many marathons in 2017, but I’m looking at North Korea (yes…I know), Cuba, Chicago, and maybe one other one.

I did my first triathlon in 2016. Miserable! I thought I was going to drown through the entire swim. It took me half way through bike to catch my breath. In 2016, I also did my first Gran Fondo (finished dead last – Woot!), followed by a second in September. I biked roughly 860 miles and ran 715 miles in 2016. In all my miles I thought often of the lyrics for the Avett Brothers song “The Weight of Lies”: “So, when you run make sure you run to something and not away from.” As the last pillars of my marriage dissolved in 2013, I did a lot of running away. In 2016, for the first time in a long time, I finally felt like I was running towards something instead of away. I hope to do 2-3 tris in 2017, perhaps one of which can be longer. I’d also like to do a few Gran Fondos.

New countries in 2016 included Bosnia, Montenegro, and Albania. All visited with my three sons. Those three boys are my everything. The trip wasn’t perfect. Definitely a few things I wish I could have done differently. A few things I’d like to redo. I still find myself constantly praying the trip will be a fond memory for each of them. In the coming months I’ll try to post more about this trip. New countries I’m eyeing for 2017: North Korea (yes…I know), Cuba, Iceland, and Aruba. But who knows where the tide will take me.

One of the highlights of 2016 for me was my 40th birthday. I spent my 40th birthday sleeping on our trampoline with my three boys. A milestone birthday came and went and there is no other way I would’ve wanted to spend it than with my sons. The highlight of my birthday was spending it with them. It will be a birthday I will forever remember and always cherish because in many ways it was nothing more than the best of a very normal day with my sons.

Now onto some of the things I learned in 2016.

1) Process Matters.  In 2016 I learned that process matters. Maybe not as much as outcome, but very very close to it. This was a lesson I’ve long needed to internalize. I have, for a very long time, burned the proverbial candle at both ends. For a decade plus, I was able to do this mostly successfully. There were hints and flashes of crashing and burning, but in the end, for the most part, I delivered. And my, at-times, chaotic process was tolerated by others because the end product was valued. In 2016, and to an extent 2015, this all collided and I learned the hard lesson that no matter how great or grand the deliverable is, a messy process can negate much of the value created. In 2016, I focused less exclusively on what I delivered, and looked more collectively at what I delivered together with the process in which I delivered it. I made concerted efforts to hone the process in an attempt to minimize stress placed on others.

2) Make Time for Self-Discovery. I think I’ve had four major periods of self-discovery in my life. The first was my freshman year of college in Hawaii. I imagine college, especially the freshman year, is a period of self-discovery for many. I think mine was magnified by the distance I placed between myself and home and the time I was able to spend in nature. Hawaii can be very slow (Island Time) which also helps facilitate time for self-discovery. This period was followed by the two years I spent living in the Netherlands as a Mormon missionary. Recently, I’ve started going back through the thousands of pages I wrote in my journal during those 24 months. It’s been interesting to see themes that remain constant in my life still today. I seem to have been haunted then, as perhaps I still am, with a feeling that I simply come up short. I fail my own expectations of myself – whether seemingly high or not. And it’s always followed by a doubling down to do more and try harder tomorrow.

The third period of self-discovery was the period during which I studied in the Middle East followed by the months I wandered around East, Central, and Southern Europe in the late 1990s. This area was under tremendous change at the time, as it shed its former identify and reached for independence. I had very little money which ultimately augmented my experience. I wandered where the tide took me. I slept in parks and fields, in the homes of strangers and of newly found friends. I slept in a field near Dracula’s castle, under willow tree in Hyde Park, and even spent a night in the double bunk of a semi-trailer truck after I hitched a ride across France. I thought often of George Orwell while he was Down and Out in Paris and London.

And then, after this third period of self-discovery, I spent the next 15 years doing what most spend their lifetime doing. I graduated college, got married, had kids, added graduate degrees. Tried to build the proverbial “career” and make it a successful one. In general, I tried to keep up and make the sacrifices that seemed to be the right ones at the time. I was living life, or something like it.

One of the many great things to come out of my divorce was the chance to once again make self-discovery a priority. In 2016 I learned more about myself as an individual than I have for well over a decade. This was driven by a number of factors including slowing down and focusing and optimizing on the things I value most in life. Perhaps in the  coming months I’ll write more about what I’ve learned about myself.

3) There is Beauty and Power in Being Vulnerable. I have found beauty in vulnerability over the last two years – both in being vulnerable to others and in being receptive to the vulnerability that others show me. I have had amazing conversations in the last year because I was receptive to the vulnerability of others. Some of the people I have grown to admire the most are people I didn’t even know a few years ago. My first marriage lacked vulnerability completely. When I think of the non-negotiables of romantic relationships, vulnerability is at the top of the list.

4) Optimize on What Matters. 2015 was a year filled with a tremendous amount of change as we formalized the dissolution of our marriage. I remember a specific moment wherein I was facing a long series of decisions and I was struggling to determine which of all of the good choices were the best. Moreover, many of choices were tightly interwoven so one decision here would impact another decision over there. Wise counsel from my oldest brother helped me to realize that I needed to identify one or two core priorities and then optimize all of my decisions around those priorities. From there, I could let all of the other choices fall around that single priority. My three boys are the most important thing to me. They far exceed anything else in my life. Whenever I’m faced with options, decisions, and alternatives I simply optimize on them. This simple decision tree has fundamentally changed how I see the world and how I decide between many good choices. I’m not perfect, but optimizing decisions on them helps me overcome decision paralysis and also brings with it a tremendous amount of peace that I am doing all I can.            

5) Be Present. I think I’ve always made efforts to be present, but I really saw the beauty and significance of this over the last year – especially as it relates to my kids. Good luck to anyone trying to get ahold of me when my boys are with me. I often put my phone in a drawer in my bedroom when they are. Related to this, I made one simple change in my life in 2016 that has made a tremendous difference in allowing me to be present – I set my phone to “Do Not Disturb” from 9PM to 5AM. It’s awesome! My phone doesn’t ring. I’m less likely to notice texts. I’m able to be present. Over the last year I volunteered as much as I could in my boys school and found tremendous joy doing so. I try to have lunch with them once a week. At one point, my ex-wife called me “Mr. Volunteer.” She was being pejorative. And in that moment I realized in the insults of my ex-wife are some of the greatest complements a guy could ever hope for.

6) You Can’t Push Again the Wind. One of the most valuable, and beautiful pieces of advice I received in the last year was that “you can’t push against the wind.” I didn’t fully understand this at first, but overtime I’ve come to realize the power and wisdom of this advice. We all have in our life distractors, those people who are critical of us and seek to find fault in what we say or do. They might be former spouses or someone else that we can’t fully get out of our lives for a wide array of reasons. These individuals feel compelled to send derogatory texts or emails. They say belittling things. They seek to degrade, demean, and disparage. Nothing we can say or do in response will stymie their crude, coarse, commentary on our lives. They, and their comments, are the wind. You can’t push against the wind. You can’t stop the wind from blowing. But its’ blowing has no bearing on you and eventually, though it might take decades, it will blow itself out.

7) Write Your Narrative. Michael Lewis said, “I get such pleasure out of knowing that I’m lucky. It also allows me to assume that I will continue to be lucky. I am creating a narrative of my life, and it makes me braver and less fearful.” I have similar feelings, though I think I would be inclined to replace “lucky” with “blessed” and in place of feeling “braver” I’d say it makes me feel “greater peace.” I think we have more control over our stories – especially the chapters that lie ahead – than we allow ourselves to realize.

8) Love Unconditionally. After a year-long battle with a rare brain tumor, Josiah Lanier died in May 2016 at the tender age of 10. He touched thousands of people and his life left a giant wake in this world. I’m not sure a day goes by that I don’t think about him. In the final weeks and months of his life, I would carry him up my stairs when he would visit my house. He possessed deep, profound humility unmatched by anyone I have ever met. I’ll never forget the last time he visited my house, and the feeling I had after carrying him downstairs, that it would be his last visit there. I went back inside and falling to the floor, bawled until I couldn’t breathe. Josiah’s life taught me what unconditional love looks like. I saw it in his father, dressed in a matching superhero outfit. I saw it in his mother, when she’d lean in to hear and ascertain his needs. I saw it in the thousands of people who were touched by Josiah’s life. By people who donated time and money and talents to Josiah and his family. And I saw it in Josiah himself. They he would give his precious time to others. He would allow people to visit him and to ask how he was doing. He’d allow adults to talk to him, in the horrible way that adults talk, something no 10 year-old likes to do. He showed constant compassion and deep unconditional love.

9) Our Emotions and Our Actions are Choices. Be Kind. Be Grateful. In 2016, I saw clearly our emotions and our actions are both choices dictated by free will and agency. We choose how we feel and how we respond. I want to choose kindness, gratitude, and ultimately happiness. Happiness is a choice. Maybe it starts with gratitude. Gratitude and kindness together with humility and acceptance. And in the end, we can choose happiness.

10) Be Prepared. Yes, I channeled my inner Boy Scout in 2016. Take time. Have the right gear. Know when to ask for help before a series of mistakes ends with that final fatal mistake that so often follows a series of errors. Take a few minutes to prepare.

One night last week I found myself weighed down with the swirling emotions of mind and soul. Worried I wasn’t being all that I so desperately and deeply want to be. Stressed and distracted by an upcoming court hearing after Andrea filed a motion to quibble over 2-4 days of the boys’ visitation schedule, though they are with her for 80 percent of the year. Remiss that the summer was drawing to a close. Wondering if I’d done all I could for my boys this summer. Wondering if I had done any good. Had I taught them? Had they learned? Had we laughed? Had we loved? Had we experienced the beauty and bounty of life? 

I had sketched out some of my feelings. To clear my mind. To solidify my thinking. The therapy of fingers on computer keys, letters making words, and words lightening the soul. 

And then come the sweet moments and tender mercies of life. 

A normal evening. Three boys. Diverse needs. A previously requested baked potato, a bedtime snack, now ready, is placed on a plate and sprinkled with cheese. Another request from upstairs echoes and bounces and reverberates to me. I tell son #3 his baked potato is ready and set it on the table. I head upstairs to scratch son #2’s back until he falls asleep. We look at new sneakers for a new school year, talk about the day behind us, the new one before us, and I scratch his back. 

As the deep steady breathing of sleep overtakes the uneven stroke of my hand on his back, I slip off to order shoes. Sons number 1 and 2 have put themselves in bed. I vocalize my love for each of them. I trail downstairs and turn the browser to Footlocker. 

Moments later I hear little footsteps.  Son #3 works his way down a few stairs until I am fully within his view. He leans over the railing and says, “dad, I read what you wrote and I think your best is more than enough…”

Tears swell within my eyes as the familiarity of the vernacular sinks in. I look next to my computer to see the remnants and remains of a now cold baked potato and realize son #3 must have somehow seen,  while I had been scratching backs and looking at Lebrons, what I had written out in previous sitting.  

Though still a draft, with a single comment from a child, it suddenly felt complete. Both imperfectly unfinished and perfectly complete. As if the unfinished complemented the finished to form something entirely new. I leave it here, suspended in that condition. An incomplete, imperfect draft made whole with a comment from the stairs. Previously in that seat I had been contemplating fatherhood, trying to find words for the emotions I felt and the things that were weighing on me. But in this moment, the small interactions that only parenthood provides, I experienced all the joy and peace that is fatherhood.  

After our short exchange, #3 beckons me upstairs to bed. While he’s falling asleep I say aloud “I love you so much” to which his little voice replies, as he purposely inhales one last breath before drifting off to sleep, “I know.” 

Reflections on Fatherhood

I often worry I’m not doing enough. To be sure, I am trying to do all I can. I am trying to do all within my power. In trying my best, I often feel my best isn’t enough. I worry my best isn’t sufficient. I worry all I’ve got isn’t enough for the three most amazing young men in this remarkable world. I love them more than anything and I worry they aren’t learning all they should or internalizing all they could. I worry they aren’t learning the art of hard work. I worry they don’t internalize the right lessons from discipline. I worry they’ll remember the bad times and forget the good ones. I worry they fail to hear how much I love them in all that I do for them and all that I try to provide. I worry they miss the “I love you” of back scratches and other trival measures. I worry they don’t see the plight of those around them. I worry they aren’t developing empathy

To My Sons on Father’s Day

I have three sons. As a result of divorce, I don’t see our three sons daily. I do see them frequently. Not every day of every week, but in some weeks every day. It is a tremendous blessing. I’m at their baseball games, lacrosse games, football games, swim meets, basketball games. I go to their art shows. I go to other events at school. I have lunch with them at school every week. I volunteer in their classrooms. I’ve been the mystery reader so many times in my son’s 2nd grade class, that it’s not a mystery to anyone anymore. Even second graders intuitively understand probability and likelihood. We go to church together every week. They are with me Wednesday after school and every other weekend. They are with me for half the holidays and half the summer.

I try to be at the crossroads for my boys. I cheer them on. I encourage them. I talk to them when they need me. Like most dads, I also talk to them when they don’t want it. I hope they see all of this as my unconditional love for them and my hope for their wellbeing.

I will miss all of these moments when they are older, but I also look forward to the relationship that will develop as we age. There is something extremely delicate about balancing being present in the present, looking forward to the future, and longing for the past. As humans we are not always perfect at finding the balance between those three diverse and powerful states of mind and at different times fall into one of those three spheres more heavily. Too heavily. The balance is something I am always working on.

I optimize on them with every decision I face. I try at least. I’m surely not flawless and I’m constantly fighting off self-doubt. I’m filled with massive amounts of self-doubt around Fatherhood and love (and probably a million other things).

I don’t get to pick what they remember of me, or remember of anything. Memories are funny things in that way. We remember some things while forgetting others. We focus on some things while glossing over others. We don’t get to decide what our children remember, but we do get to decide whether it is a good memory or a bad one. I have influence on how they remember things. I get to decide what role I play in those memories. Was I patient with them? Did I listen to them? Did they feel heard? Did they feel loved unconditionally? Did I teach them good principles and let them govern themselves? Did they feel guidance? Did they feel autonomy and freedom of choice? Did they see what they could have done differently rather than just blaming others for a given outcome or interaction? Am I helping them along the path of self-mastery?

I write each of my boys a letter every week. I’ve missed a week here and there. When they are with me in August for example, I generally don’t write them. But by and large, I write them every week. It’s one of those trade-offs life gives us. One of those tender mercies of life. I’m optimistic, perhaps even bordering on idealism and romanticism. I like to see the good in experiences and the good in people. I like to see the good in all that life throws at us. I believe in the perennial art of making lemonade.

Growing up with parents who are divorced will give my sons different experiences than they might have gotten had their mom and I been able to work through all that life threw at us. So often people see only the negatives. The loss that occurs because of divorce. I can see those too. I have felt those losses deeply. But I also see positives, even for my three sons. Or perhaps I’ve tried to create positives to offset the negatives. Experiences they wouldn’t have gotten had their parents stayed married. Lessons they might have never learned.

My weekly letters to them are one of those things I’ve created. I hope they are positive (did I mention massive self-doubt??). By the time my youngest son graduates High School, he will have some 500 letters from me. I hope these letters can be a positive force in their lives. I hope these letters can give them something – if not now, then sometime later in their lives. Imperfect words of advice from their imperfect dad. Above all else, I hope these letters show each of them just how deeply I love them.

My three boys are perfect to me in that imperfect kind of way. They aren’t as polite as they should be. They aren’t as empathetic to each other as I’d like them to be. They should be kinder to their mom at different times. These are all things we are working on. It’s a slow work. And I often think that I’ll only know if I’ve done any good some twenty years from now. Perhaps even longer. Fatherhood is a long exercise. A patience exercise. You get flashes of feedback, but for the most part you have no idea if you’ve done any good until they themselves reach the age of fatherhood.

As I reflect on my own fatherhood, today on Father’s Day, here are some of the things I want my sons to always know.

To My Sons on Father’s Day

Know that I am proud of you. Know that I love you unconditionally. Know that I believe in you. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I truly believe that. Know that I think about you constantly. I reflect incessantly on your wellbeing. I wonder if I’m doing all I can. Am I showing you how much I love you? Am I teaching you the things you need to learn. How to tie a tie. How to score a baseball game. How to drive stick. These are all lost arts in America today. But especially this last one. You really need to know how to drive manual.

Know that I believe in you. Beyond the baseball fields. Beyond the basketball courts. Beyond anything and everything you accomplish in school, I believe in you. I believe you can be a source of good in a world that is progressively in need of good people doing good things. I believe you know the difference between right and wrong. Your resolve to choose right needs to be concrete in the years and decades to come.

Know that you are very different than your brothers just as they are different from you. I love your differences. At the same time you share many things. You share loving parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. You are surrounded by people who love you dearly. I know at times you might feel like you want to escape this lovefest! My hope is that this love grounds you. I hope that it steadies you.

There will always be storms in your life. Hopefully not constant storms, but inevitably, unavoidably, unescapably, unsurprisingly there will be storms. They will build on the horizon and attack you unexpectedly. I pray that these storms will be short. I pray that the love I have for you, the faith I have in you, will ground you in these moments.

You have countless people who are invested in you. I hope you see the great lengths to which all of these people go on your behalf. See the good. Find the good. Seek the good. Replicate the good.

I am grateful for every moment I have with you. I hope you see in these moments my love for you. I hope in these moments you see that I always chose you. Sitting on the coach, xBox remote in hand, losing to you badly, I hope you see my eternal love for you. Jumping on the trampoline with you until you want to move on to other things, I hope you see my eternal love for you. Playing with you in the pool and letting you stand on my back while you pretend to surf, I hope you see my eternal love for you. When I’m in the stands cheering for you or at the school helping, I hope you see my love for you. In all of the experiences I try to provide, from camping to traveling, I hope you see the eternal love and hope I have for you.

My greatest ambition for you, my greatest hope, is that you are simply better than me. I think every father hopes to raise boys that are better than themselves. I hope that you are kinder, wiser, and more empathetic. I hope you work harder and smarter. I hope you are more aware of others. More willing to give of yourself. I hope you are a better father and husband than I have been. I hope the mistakes you make in life are less pronounced than the mistakes I’ve made or will make. I hope you can take the good in your mom and I and build upon it. I hope you can cast off the areas where we simply aren’t that good yet. In a single word, I hope you are better than I am. In that single accomplishment, I will feel like I have been successful and I will feel like you are on your way.

Do not delay the decision to choose the right until the choice is before you. By then, it is too late. Choose today to be someone who always chooses the right. Protect those who can’t protect themselves. Serve others unconditionally. Be kind no matter how you are treated. Do these things because they are good. Do these things because it is right. Don’t look for reciprocity in life. The reward for doing good, being kind, and choosing the right is self-awareness that you did all you could. Mindfulness that you gave all you had.

In a recent letter I outlined a few things I hope you can internalize as you grow older. You won’t do all of these perfectly at all of the time. You probably won’t do any of them perfectly any of the time. But life is about striving. And specifically striving to do good. I hope these can act as waymakers as you work through life and establish your identity.

  • DuBravacs are cognizant of others and their feelings
  • DuBravacs value meaningful fun together
  • DuBravacs love working. We have strong work ethic. We work hard, especially on behalf of others
  • DuBravacs are charitable. We help others and we serve others.
  • DuBravacs are empathetic. We are aware of the plight of others.
  • DuBravacs support each other. We build each other up. We take the time and effort to build people up.
  • DuBravacs Stick-up for each other
  • DuBravacs are kind and compassionate
  • DuBravacs have a strong instinct to obey God
  • DuBravacs have a joyful attitude
  • DuBravacs are physically active
  • DuBravacs love and respect nature
  • DuBravacs value family
  • DuBravacs respect their mother
  • DuBravacs value education. We are lifetime learners.
  • DuBravacs do not resort to physical violence.
  • DuBravacs love to travel and learn from the experiences that travel affords
  • DuBravacs are creative. We look for non-obvious approaches.
  • DuBravacs are problem solvers.
  • DuBravacs are humble and we approach others with humility.
  • DuBravacs are good listeners.
  • DuBravacs are respectful.
  • DuBravacs are generous in all things. We share and are kind.
  • DuBravacs talk through issues. We talk through our emotions. We talk about tough subjects in an open way.
  • DuBravacs seek to live a life of integrity.
  • DuBravacs have a mutual understanding of what things we prioritize, how we solve problems, and what really matters.

Certainly we could add to this list. And I hope you will. As you define who you are, you will in turn be defining who we are.

I love you. More than any letter could ever convey.


It has been over a year since I last posted anything to this blog. I imagine it isn’t uncommon for many uncommitted bloggers like myself to begin anew shortly after the start of a new year (and new resolutions). Only the coming months (and years) will tell if my determination to blog more frequently will land on the massive pile of broken resolutions and missed goals. Already I’m slipping from my original intent of writing daily. Perhaps I’ll adjust and shoot to post 365 times over the coming year. Here is what I wrote on January first as I flew from Washington, DC to Denver:

I entered 2015 with the explicit goal to post more frequently to this blog. I’ve never given this site the attention I have always intended to give it and I felt more frequent blog posts in 2015 would be a good start towards reinvigorating it. Headed into 2015 I didn’t believe I could post daily, but I thought writing a few times a week was a realistic and obtainable goal. In 2015, as in past years, I’ve always started my “New Year’s Resolutions” AFTER CES because of the sporadic and chaotic nature of that week for me. This goal, together with others I set headed into 2015, weren’t going to materialize as planned however.

Immediately following the 2015 CES I flew to San Francisco to officially launch “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate.” I marked the official launch of the book on the morning of January 13, 2015 by speaking at a Churchill Club event. Later that day I had a meeting at Infinite Loop (Apple’s HQ). When the meeting was cancelled I decided to beeline it for SFO in the hopes of jumping an earlier flight than the redeye I had scheduled. I was anxious to see my family and liked the idea of surprising them by getting in earlier than expected and being there when they woke up.

The late afternoon flight I caught got me to my house around 2AM. I walked into my house to find everyone gone and divorce papers waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Yes, my wife filed for divorce while I was at CES – a cliché seemingly ripped from a Silicon Valley episode.  Divorce is hard whether you want it or not. My priorities changed as suddenly as my paradigm.  Goals like “blogging three times a week” dissolved quickly. Our divorce was finalized in September after futile attempts to reconcile over several months. I’m appreciative for a year filled with much self-reflection. In the end, it is clear we didn’t bring out the best in each other and I’m grateful for the peace I feel.

I enter 2016 with the goal to (once again) revisit the blog and write and post daily (yes daily!). It is an ambitious goal because the habit isn’t yet solidified. Unlike past years, wherein I’ve started my new year’s goals and resolutions after CES, I decided I would try to jump right in. My intent is to shoot for 500 words (or more) a day. Topics will very drastically. I might scribble some early thoughts that will feed an op-ed down the road. I’m currently engrossed with exploring and researching how the Internet is impacting society and imagine this will become a frequent topic for blog posts in the year ahead. I’m sure I’ll comment on things I see happening in the tech sector – especially when I feel like the vast majority of people are missing it. I’m sure I will undoubtedly post on vulnerability and love and family and friendships and divorce and peace and all assortment of similar topics should I feel so moved to write.

In the past I have been a prolific journal keeper. For several years I wrote every day and as a result I have thousands of pages filling boxes of books. I hadn’t kept a journal for years but began again last year. I enter 2016 with 163 entries on 117 different days over the last 13 months. I suppose my hope intent with my blog is to bifurcate my writing.

It will be difficult to write on days when I am with my boys – I tend to pour all of my attention into them when we are together. But I will do the best I can. And with that, here we go!

I have experienced some amazing baseball games in my life. I’ve seen heroic hits (Werth’s 13 pitch at-bat and subsequent Walk off HR in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS) and historic meltdowns (Drew Storen and the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS). I’ve seen World Series Wins (Red Sox at Fenway in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series) and even a Perfect Game (Matt Cain in 2012).

I’ve seen hundreds of hit-less innings and innings filled with nothing but hits. I’ve seen baseball games end in ties. I’ve attended exhibition games and old timers’ games. I’ve seen games at every level of play – attending games at the start of Spring and deep into the Fall. I’ve waited out rain outs and wished at times for nothing but rain. I’ve attended countless games as a son and even more as a father.

I’ve eaten more hot dogs than I dare try to count.

But these are not the things that make baseball what it is. What truly sets baseball apart – what makes baseball America’s Pastime – is not what takes place on the field, in all of the innumerable games that happen over the course of a season, but rather what happens in the stands. It is the stories that are exchanged between a boy and his father. It is the peanuts that are passed between a father and his daughter. It is the beer and soda spilled when jumping for that foul ball that never quite reaches you. It is the smell of new leather from the fresh mitt on the hand of a boy at his very first game and the smell of old leather from the mitt resting on his father’s lap. It is the hot dogs passed down the aisle and the cash passed backed up. It is the smell of cotton candy. It is the bags of Cracker Jack pitched several aisles over by vendors as they work their way up the stands. It is the yell of “Cold Beer” and “Last Call.” It is standing for the National Anthem and applauding soldiers who have recently returned home. It is the cheering of Sausages in Milwaukee or presidents in Washington DC.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, boys never grow up and baseball reminds us of this. As fans settle into their seats and the players take the field, that boy in every man is reawakened. Baseball is America’s Pastime because it allows us to dream and there is nothing quite so American as dreaming big dreams. Baseball is America’s Pastime because of what happens between the innings – not during them.

Last night I went to the Washington National’s game against the Angels. I had four tickets in my regular seats and decided to make a guys’ night out of it. The weather was perfect and as we settled into our seats and the players took the field we made that all too familiar transformation. We talked about “grown-up things” but dreamed big dreams and crafted bucket lists. We talked of mountains climbed and ones that remained yet unclimbed – both the physical and spiritual varieties.

We nodded and laughed and listened.

The game ended and we each went our separate ways. Back to adulthood. More willing perhaps than when we arrived because we each quietly knew that we only needed to return to a diamond somewhere – anywhere – to once again find that boy in each of us.

At the start of the year, I set a goal to post more frequently to this blog. I’ve done a poor job. I’ve been very active on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram, have done nothing with Tumblr and have posted only infrequently on this blog since the start of the year. I have yet to master the art of short – but still meaningful – posts. Perhaps I can still salvage my goal.

recent article by Kevin Kelly caught my attention and I found myself wanting to add more than just 140 characters to the conversation. Kevin makes the claim that time is more valuable than money when traveling. I fully agree with that premise. Like Kevin, though perhaps not (yet) quite as extensively, I’ve traveled constantly over my lifetime. His quick log at the start of his post even resembles my own experiences in many ways. Though I haven’t (yet) walked 1,000 miles on a single trip or bicycled across the US. I did once fly to Hawaii on a door-prize win. I’ve traveled first class and been pampered. I’ve hitchhiked penniless on multiple continents and wandered for months across country borders with no destination and only a return ticket several months away. I was once robbed in a small train station where everything of value was taken and I was grateful because the only valuable items to me, my journals of prior 6 months, were viewed as worthless papers.

As the son of an Army Officer (hoorah), I grew up moving around. Growing-up, a small sign hung in our kitchen that read: “Home is Where the Army Sends You.” Home for me included multiple locals on two continents before I was 18 and I followed by adding several more in the few decades since.

In many ways travel defines me and I’m extremely lucky to have a day job that allows me to travel. And when I travel – especially to far-off locations where I’ve never been – I always try to take a few extra days to get lost. Like Kevin, I believe it is far better to have more time than money. As Kevin writes:

When you have abundant time you can get closer to core of a place. You can hang around and see what really happens. You can meet a wider variety of people. You can slow down until the hour that the secret vault is opened. You have enough time to learn some new words, to understand what the real prices are, to wait out the weather, to get to that place that takes a week in a jeep.

Unfortunately today I have more money than time. But when I travel, I try to use money to get me where only time matters. And then I watch and wait.

With the 2014 CES officially behind me, I can finally take a minute and set some “New Year’s” Resolutions for 2014. While no longer technically the start of the new year, in recent years I’ve started waiting until after the close of CES because – as 150,000 others also know – CES (and Vegas) occupy such a big part of January any goals or resolutions set on 1.1.14 would have quickly been tossed to the wayside. By waiting until after CES I at least have a fighting chance of keeping the resolutions alive until mid-March….

I’ve focused on five elements on life: Spiritual, Professional, Physical, Education, and Family:

Spiritual: As my life has gotten busier over the last few years, I’ve noted recently that I’m not making sufficient time to meditate, ponder, and reflect. I’m too busy running from one assignment to the next. In 2014 I want to cordon off 60 minutes a week for meditation.

Professional: At the onset of 2013, I planned to write more but really didn’t write as much as I would have liked. I allowed other tasks to take precedence. In 2014 I want to write 500 words a day. I plan to write more blog posts here and elsewhere, and attempt to publish editorials, op-eds and generally wider than I currently do. Related to this resolution, I want to finish the manuscript I’ve been working on with the intent to publish it in 2015.

Physical: I’ve never felt compelled to run a marathon and that still remains true. But the idea is warming on me. Not for 2014, but perhaps for 2015. With that said, I would like to run more in 2014. I’m going to target 250 miles for the year. I’ve never tracked what I run so we’ll see if this is too little, too much, or just about right. Last fall I started spending 15-20 minutes most mornings doing something physical (ie sit-ups and push-ups). I want to continue this 5 days a week.

Education: Simple. Finish a long overdue PhD dissertation.

Family: With three boys running in different directions, I am often running from one formal activity to the next. While we spend a fair amount of time together, try to just “hang-out” as much as we can, and I do hold a formal meeting with each of them individually once-a-month, I’d like to spend more one-on-one time with each of them. I plan to do one thing with each of them individually each quarter. A date night with dad if you will. And with that, I see several nights at Chucky E Cheese’s in my year ahead.

With the recently past U.S. government shutdown I came to the quick and uncomfortable realization that the government is far to heavily integrated into my daily life.  I was in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for most of the U.S. Government shutdown and still felt the impact. While in Paris I used my one free weekend day to visit Normandy – where I found the U.S. cemetery closed.

We all saw the reports of the potential delays in “government services” like approving new smartphones or verifying pilots are sufficiently trained to fly. My favorite article during the shutdown was found in the Wall Street Journal.Skateboarders See a (Kick)Flip Side to the Government ClosingWith Washington Plazas Empty and Patrols Down, a Banned Sport Is Suddenly On.

Politically, I’m a classical liberal. I believe balance can and should be found between being fiscally conservative and socially responsible. As an economist I understand the implications and repercussions of sequestration measures but I also believe these are temporary imbalances needed to drive us more closely to the classical liberal state I believe is optimal. The “market” won’t do it perfectly and timing is always questionable, but eventually we will get the desired outcome. I don’t need the government checking and approving everything for me before I use it or buy it. I will – as many do – essentially free ride off of the market. I’m not convinced we need the government – our government – influencing the smartphones we use or where we skate.

I serve on the Board of Directors for a local youth baseball program. The program runs a small concession stand. They grill hot dogs and hamburgers – sell chips, candy, and cold drinks. In the past they’ve had to be “certified” by the Fairfax County Health Department. This year they received notice that “Effective July 1, 2013, a Health Department Permit to Operate will no longer be required to serve food for a youth athletic concession stand. In the past, the Health Department has conducted food safety workshops for volunteers who work at the concession stands.  It is no longer required that volunteers attend food safety workshops.”

This development was probably driven by budget cuts.  I hope it was.

I’m not convinced even full fledged restaurants should be inspected by health inspectors. If someone gets sick – word will get out. This is especially true today. News travels fast in the digital age. Review sites and social networks will ensure the problem is rectified or the establishment will simply go out of business. Arguably – digital also has a longer half-life than a sign hung in the window by the food inspector. Restaurants today really can’t afford one bad digital review. A digital review hangs in the window forever.

I don’t believe capitalism always gets its right. Life is messy.  Solutions – meaningful solutions – require a good degree of altruism. This requires people – not institutions and at the root of markets are people. Agents working out their destiny – and implicitly providing information and value to others.

In 1999 I lived in the Middle East. En route back to the United States I stopped in Europe. I had lived in the Netherlands and Belgium from 1996 to 1998. There were now other parts of Europe I wanted to see. Changing parts of Europe. I would start in London and push eastward. The Berlin Wall had fallen 10 years prior and to the east was transition. Countries in motion.  Countries redefining themselves. I wanted to see the old Eastern Europe meeting the new Eastern Europe. I wanted to experience the old before it was all new. And while much had changed over a decade, I was hoping some remained.

I had relatively little. I had few possessions. Everything I owned rested in the bag on my back. I had maybe two or three t-shirts.  I had a single pair of shoes. I had few plans. No expectations. I had about $300 dollars and a passport tucked under my waist belt. I had a return ticket leaving from Berlin in about two months time.

I slept in fields and parks, in train stations and back alleys – the last of which I would recommend against even in periods of deep life exploration.

In London I picked up a few books, among which was George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. In this, his first full length work, Orwell recounts living in poverty in these two great cities.  It remains today among my favorite books. It would become my battle cry over the ensuing months. I never tarried in one city long enough to establish myself as Orwell did. But I also wasn’t trying to survive as he was. I was experiencing the rawness that is life.

In London I spent my first night in Hyde Park under a giant Weeping Willow Tree, the weeping branches draping over me. Providing a faux cocoon of protection. Of blocking out the outside world. My second night was spent in Salisbury – in an alley not far from the train station.  I still see it.  I still feel it.  I wonder if I could find it today. It was dark when I arrived in Salisbury. I wonder if I could have found it the next day.

I was officially on the road. My thoughts becoming my only companion, my only diversion, my only friend.  This is the journey.  This is on the road. Thoughts – in all of their states – personal and raw – propelling you forward, sideways, forward.

I experienced the hollowness of transition. As Kerouac’s Sal Paradise put it,

I  woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was — I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.

Where are today’s journeys? Where does this discovery take place today? Eastern Europe has largely matured. The U.S. is easy to navigate and many of the old ways of navigation – stowing away on a train or hitch hiking to the limits of the next town or street intersection is largely gone. Even things like the old Chinatown Express – an informal bus system that traveled between Chinatowns and was historically used to transport immigrant friends to family has become popularized by companies like Bolt and other competitors who have added Wi-Fi and formalized the process with websites and paper tickets.

Perhaps Africa still offers the potential – though in many places the potential is dangerous. Perhaps in that danger is the potential. When I was in Ethiopia last month I had zero connectivity during the day.  I was left to nothing but my own ideas.  My own thoughts. Left to only what my eyes could see, comprehend, and make sense of. Africa is in massive transition – a petri dish for self discovery. Though only there for three short days, the taste of being back on the road was bubbling at the surface.

As Kerouac wrote, the ones for me are “the ones who are made to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.”  The ones for me are the ones “desirious of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn…but burn, burn, burn…”

I too want to strive for life.  Constantly in motion.  On the move.  Burning, burning, burning.  I find sleep a waste of time – and avoid it as much as I can. I fear media has the ability to provide us memories that are not our own. I’m constantly seeking to supplant these memories with ones that can’t be videoed, recorded, or captured. They can’t be instagrammed or tweeted or facebooked. These memories live deep in our bellies. These memories can’t even be sufficiently described with words, diagrams, or drawings.  We feel these memories.  We live these memories. And these memories live deep in us. They are the wrinkles in our face, the scares on our arms and legs. These tell stories of our on the road, stories that reside deep in our souls. Stories that define us.

Can an On the Road experience be had in 2013?

Can self-identification, self-recognition, self-definition still take place as it has for centuries – between one location and a destination that remains hazily undefined.

In the November 16, 1952 New York Times Sunday Magazine, John Holmes writes “one day [Kerouac] said, ‘You know, this is a really beat generation’ … More than mere weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of mind, and ultimately, of soul: a feeling of being reduced to the bedrock of consciousness. In short, it means being undramatically pushed up against the wall of oneself.”

Kerouac spoke of a generation. Self-discovery taking place individually – but collectively across a generation.  Much has been said and written about today’s Millennial generation – but never once have I seen them referred to or discussed in the context of self-realization.

Today we dial-up luxury towncars and black SUVs with the swipe of our smartphone. Can self-discovery be found in the back of a sedan while we change our phone charges – perusing twitter and reading Facebook updates? This isn’t a critique, but a legitimate question.  I think it can, but rather than happening, we must make it happen.

As a young boy – like most young boys I suppose – I idolized my father. I remember helping take off his boots when he would come home. My favorite color as a young kid was camouflage. Yes, camouflage. I wanted to go to West Point and become an Armour officer just like my dad.

As a moved into my teenage years – again not unlike many boys I suppose – the image of my father began to falter. We didn’t see eye to eye. I was rebellious. Never in a overtly malicious and malevolent way. I was a typical teenager struggling through self-identification and self-definition. I had lost a healthy respect – and fear – for my father.  I saw his weaknesses. I saw his flaws.  I was an idealistic youth and as a result judgmental and critical.  In reflection – I was probably uncontrollable and so my parents let me sway – seeking for subtle influence – in contrast to strong oversight that might have pushed me to extremes.

At times it was fisticuffs with my father and I recall some full out fights. Now as I reflect back, I think I was fighting with all of my strength – the misguided ego of youth – and my dad was doing just enough to keep himself – and me – from getting seriously hurt.

After graduating high school I moved away. I went to college in Hawaii – followed by two years living in Europe.  I returned to college in Utah – only to be followed 6 month later by 6 months in the Middle East and two months wandering Eastern Europe. I returned to school in Utah, worked in San Francisco eventually returned to the Washington, D.C. area in the fall of 2001. I had been mostly away – and very removed – for six years by this point.

In June of 2002, I drove with my dad to Wilmington Delaware – where we attended the Single A All Star Game pitting the Carolina League against the California League. Unbeknownst at the time, this trip would mark the first of many to come. Where I would begin to see my dad – really meet my dad – through the eyes of something more than a struggling boy working through adolescence. Later that summer we would travel to Cooperstown, NY for Ozzie Smith’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  We spent the weekend in a baseball town.  In the heart of Cooperstown is the Doubleday Cafe – Cooperstown’s version of Cheers where the t-shirts read: “A Drinking Town With a Baseball Problem.” This was my dad’s kinda place.  A bar in the middle of a baseball town. This weekend cemented are nearly annual trips to All Star Games, Induction Weekends, and jaunts to Spring Training.

Baseball became our common ground.

I had long wanted to go to a baseball playoff game. In 2010 I found myself in San Francisco for work. I carved out time to go to game 3 of the NLCS – checking the box for this bucket list item – but deeply knowing it wasn’t satisfied. In 2012 I attended games 3, 4, and 5 of the NLDS in Washington, D.C. – planning but unable to take my dad because he was out of town. I had NLCS and World Series tickets had the Nationals progressed and would have most definitely taken my dad – but the opportunity never materialized. A day after game 5 I was back in San Francisco where I got to see game 1 of the 2012 NLCS.

With my father’s death in February of this year, a decade of baseball and bonding drew to an end. Until then I had never looked at these singular events for the collective entity they now represent.  A father. A son. After pulling apart over decades, we spent a decade getting back to where we started – a kid helping his father with his boots.

We never made it to the playoffs together something I was always remiss about but especially in the months since his death.

As we moved deeper into October this year I decided I wanted to go to a playoff game with my son. I put in for tickets. I had tickets for NLCS games in Pittsburgh – which never materialized. I had game 7 for the NLCS in St. Louis – which wasn’t needed.  I bought tickets for game 6 of the World Series in Detroit – but Detroit didn’t make it past the Red Soxs.

Then late last week, I was able to get tickets to Game 6 of the World Series in Boston. I would take my own 10 yr-old son. The perfect age to see your first World Series with your dad. I booked plane tickets that could be cancelled should the game not materialize. On Sunday we sat in the living room as the Red Soxs won game 4 of the World Series, tying the series at 2 games a piece, and forcing a game 6 of the World Series.

The entire week I felt the weight of emotion. Angst perhaps. Common emotions I’m sure – but strong, deep seeded emotions nevertheless. I reflected heavily on my father. It is the same angst that has kept me away from Arlington Cemetery. I know I need to go back.  I know I should want to go back. But I just haven’t been able to bring myself back.

Near the start of the game two men in front of me turned around. One – roughly my age or a bit older – asked if I would take a picture of him and his father. The emotion of his request hit me quickly. It hit me deep in my gut and welled up  inside until it pushed tears into my eyes.

Here I am. In the middle of Fenway. 38,447 fans cheering. And I’ve got tears coming down by cheeks.

Throughout the day, many said to my son “you are one lucky boy.”  I’m the lucky one. And I pray he will always remember.


Bonding over Baseball

2002 Carolina League – California League All Star Game – Wilmington, DE
2002 Ozzie Smith Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – Cooperstown, NY
2003 MLB All Star Game – Chicago, IL
2004 AA Eastern League All Star Game – Bowie, MD
2005 MLB All Star Game – Detroit, MI
2006 MLB All Star Festivities – Pittsburgh, PA
2007 Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – Cooperstown, NY
2009 AA Eastern League All Star Game – Trenton, NJ
2010 AAA All Star Game – Allentown, PA
2001 South Atlantic League All Star Game – Salisbury, MD
2011 MLB All Star Game – Phoenix, AZ