I’m not crazy.  I’m just a little unwell.  I know, right now you can’t tell.   Matchbox 20

Dear Russell & Friends,

My oldest son and I joke that the best thing for writer’s block is to write about it.  Perhaps that’s why the musician strums and plunks, the sculptor abstracts, and the poet zooms into the mundane.  One week ago I took the first two pills of a z-pack, the five day course of needless antibiotic that I sometimes retreat to after several days of sore throat, low grade fevers, and general crumminess.  Whether it was placebo effect, anti-inflammatory property or response to a true bacterial bronchitis I do not know.  I do know that the rest of the week felt progressively better.  And that I was able to take two hour naps with vivid, forgotten dreams. Unwell.  Why can’t I be thankful in the interregnum?  Why must illness remind me of health?  I can’t be alone.

This season has been more of intake and thought than output.  I’ve read more, written more in my journal, and prayed more on long runs that I hadn’t been capable of in some time.  I lost two colleagues in sudden death.  In career, in family, in calling I’ve been asking that classic middle-age question:  what do I want to be, who do I want to be, when I grow up?

One concept that came back to me was you.  This is only my second foray into digital life.  The first was a blog called The Breakfast Table that neither Russell nor I can find even with the internet wayback machine. I abandoned that blog as the cognitive load of corresponding with strangers was more than I could handle. What is different ten years later?  I have not Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  There is just a friend who no longer believes, his family who may, and many people like him.  There is just my family and me who do believe, and a deep desire to find the intersection.  I need something that will last past fifty even though I am more aware than most that I may not.  You see, I’m an oncologist.  I have more experience than many with those who live with an awareness of the end.  And more recently with those who live life fully with no idea that today’s dawn is their last.

First rule of writer’s block rambling?  Keep it less than 500 513 words.  So, what?  I’m reading Francis Schaeffer, Thomas Paine, Isaiah and Leo Tolstoy.  I’m thinking of the 2,000 people who follow this blog and the 6 people who joined Charity Miles.  I’m thinking of why this effort matters to me and why it is okay to pause and grow and even to decay.  I’m thinking of fifty and how not to fail.  I’m thinking of a book called failure at fifty that I’ve been writing in my head.  All chapters start with an “f” word of more than four letters.  I need help with one for career.  More soon, I hope.  Just a little unwell.

Pascal – – 1:16

photo credit: Russell, his telescope & the 2015 blood moon


  1. I told you last week that I have writer’s block, but I don’t know if that’s true. I keep getting inspired—there is so much I want to write about—I just don’t know how to write it. There are so many voices in my head trying to say something (but I’m not crazy, either)—I just can’t figure out which one is mine.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I will write from the plane today. I told Russell last week (the day I saw you) what my next post would be…it actually goes quite nicely with yours.


  2. You had me at Matchbox 20… :0)

    I have writer’s ennui, which is not quite the same thing as writer’s block, in that I have things to say, but little will to say them. I find it increasingly useless. So, I’ve been working on getting a new travel blog off the ground. (I know, I know–how very original, right?) Anyway, I find that writing about things that make me happy offers a nice respite from howling at the moon (and yes, image pun intended). I’ll leave the social commentary to Trevor and Larry for the moment; more people are listening to them anyway…

    BTW, if detente is still on the table, do share…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. And you had me at ennui. I think that detente may indeed be what or who I want to be when I grow up. I’m just having growing pains. So glad to converse with you. For us, writing is a great medium.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For the record, I would definitely read Failure at Fifty. I also wanted to say how much I appreciate the work you already do. This blog bolsters my faith in humanity in a serious way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! That is on the list, but it just doesn’t fit as well as things like friendship, forgiveness, finance or food. I may resort to the OED. FIeld is the best that I’ve done so far too.


      1. “All chapters start with an “f” word of more than four letters.”
        Derivations not allowed 🙂

        I think your calling is thought. Your job right now may give you space, but you are so much bigger than it. Beyond your job awaits a career and beyond that a profession. We may need to do detente together. I’m honestly not up to it alone. But every time I read your writing, the calling is clear.


  4. Anytime I have a brain block as I call it, I take myself out of that moment and for some crazy and unexplainable reason the moment seems to find me…prayer, meditation, reflection, downtime, all of the above or a mix of some…whatever happens during that time brings life back into perspective again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Pascal,

    “Failure at fifty” sounds amazing. I don’t think I’ve properly expressed how frequently and deeply I focus on the memories that the dying Russell will want to look back on, and how to best achieve them through planning an action now. It’s a huge driving force and without it I’d likely focus more energy on the base desire for entertainment and less on the long-term rewards of learning and struggling for a goal far-off. I’m so future-minded that I have a daily task on my checklist for reflecting on these long-term goals and assessing my steps today and plans for tomorrow. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this among my friends, and I would love to learn from your book!

    I’ve been mulling over a similar project. Not a book, but an app that pulls people to reach for the good life by determining what that means for them, planning how to reach it long-term and motivating them to work towards it daily while not losing sight of the joy of the journey. It would focus on mind (learning subjects of interest, philosophy, etc. – whatever works for them – Plato’s “music”) and body (physical fitness and food, including heart training as well as weights/core – Plato’s “gymnastic”). It would have a journal/log, tie in to social media, allow competition, stay private, and provide a legacy of your hopes, values, lessons, and heart for you to pass on to future generations. Names would be something like “The Good Life” or “Mind and Body” or “Legacy”, etc.

    I don’t really want to write apps because they run on an operating system who’s time is very limited. I want to build tools that will help people do what you do – care enough about other people that they will try to learn to see the world through their eyes. This experience brings compassion and reduces extremism, making our children and ourselves safer and more connected, improving equality and justice, and stabilizing humanity for the future. We can’t build an app for that, and I don’t really care for apps, but it’s what I do for a living. I might as well start somewhere. You work on your book, I’ll think more about the app side. 🙂

    Gentleness and respect,



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