Overcoming Performance Anxiety

I’ve always had a crippling fear of performing in front of people, which is funny because my dream as a teen was to be a rock star. Delusional teenage Kevin even bought a cheap Les Paul knock-off guitar to fulfill this dream. Inexpensive guitars today are pretty awesome, but back in the ‘70s, cheap guitars were horrible instruments — mine was no exception. After years of lessons on a clunky guitar, my skills improved at a snail’s pace and I never felt I was good enough to play for anyone. When I started college and found I had more natural skills for writing computer software than music, I discarded my dreams of touring and playing in a band.

Twenty years later, I owned a better guitar and tried to get back into playing, but never got much traction. Even paying for lessons failed to get me focused enough to practice daily. Having no goals or any hope of being able to play for anyone but myself, I drifted away from the guitar again.

Fast forward to 2014, my move to San Francisco put me in an apartment just two downhill blocks away from the Van Ness Guitar Center. While browsing the guitar section one day, I was convinced to sign up for lessons by a store promotion. The instructor they assigned me turned out to be a great match. Like me, he was a fan of blues/rock guitar and taught me techniques used by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan — two of my guitar heroes. After a few weeks of lessons, he said, “You should go to an open mic night at a blues bar and just get up on stage to play riffs with the band.” My response was, “Do you even know me?! I can’t play in front of you as well as I do alone in practice! There’s no way I can handle an audience.”

After a couple of years, my teacher went on tour and I had to switch instructors. As the weeks passed, I found that I was enjoying learning guitar more from YouTube. As an added bonus, this also eliminated my anxiety about performing in front of my teacher. I dropped my single, in-person instructor and added three or four online replacements.

It only made sense to use YouTube for learning guitar, since I already had been watching various channels to learn more about tasting whisky. In three years, I went from barely knowing about whisky, to being a resource for friends on what whiskies to buy. During that same time, my guitar skills ramped up to the point where I didn’t feel guilty about buying a proper guitar and amp setup. Slowly, my confidence on the fretboard was improving as well.

Then around the middle of 2019, I came up with an idea: What if I started a YouTube channel that somehow incorporated my two favorite hobbies? Can I blend drinking whisky and playing guitar in a way that people would tune in and watch?

I came up with the name Whisky Riffs and immediately grabbed the domain. I recorded a couple of videos to see if I could overcome my fear of playing guitar in front of an audience. After posting those to my new channel, I let it gather dust for several months. I wasn’t ready to commit to regular episodes.

It took me until the end of December to decide to go all in. Within a week of making that decision, I learned how to set up lighting, audio, and use my iPhone to record quality videos. My iPad Pro would serve as my editing rig. After a few test recordings, I posted my first episode.

Whisky Riffs Episode 1: Ardbeg Uigeadail Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Whisky Riffs was happening, but now I was committed to weekly episodes. My first goal was to get to 100 subscribers, so I could pick my own YouTube channel name. That happed on January 23 — just three weeks in — and provided the momentum I needed to plow forward. I set a goal to keep improving my channel and process with each video: better riffs, more polished recordings, and faster editing skills.

Recently, I posted episode 16. That’s incredibly satisfying, given that my first episode was posted just 14 weeks earlier. I have consistently posted an episode each week, plus a couple of bonus episodes. My performance anxiety isn’t gone, but my commitment to pushing out regular videos keeps it in check. Every week, I have to give myself a pep talk to turn on the camera and face the bright LED lights. The way I end my intro to every video is as much for me as it is my viewers:

Let’s do this…

Whisky Riffs Episode 16: Laphroaig Lore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

And if you aren’t already a subscriber but are enjoying my videos, please visit Whisky Riffs and Subscribe. Cheers!

2017: A Good Year for Me

There was a lot to be angry and sad about during 2017, but I can’t afford to start a new year focusing on the negatives. Life is just too short to waste time on the darkness. Instead, I’m going to begin 2018 by reflecting on the positives over the last 12 months.

Judy and I welcomed in 2017 by watching the fireworks in London with a couple hundred thousand of strangers and it was glorious. It was even better to spend time with Scotty and his lovely wife and get the grand tour of Tetbury, England.

We continued that trip by spending the first week of January wandering Paris and enjoying all the history, sites, and food in that beautiful city.

Dining in Paris

In April, after months of dedication to practice and lessons, I decided it was time to invest in a new guitar for the first time in over 20 years. I liked my new Fender Strat so much, that I went crazy just three months later and bought an Ovation acoustic to go along with it. As it turns out, when you have instruments that are fun to play, you actually spend more time using them.

Another hobby that I got serious about was learning to taste and appreciate whisky. It’s been a fascinating trip digging into the origins of Scotch, bourbon, Japanese, and other variations of this golden liquid. And all these years I just thought it was just a tool to keep up with my Aussie pals when closing down San Francisco bars.

The Beginnings of My Whisky Collection

At the end of the Summer, Judy, Patch, and I took a trip to Texas to visit our family and friends in Austin and Houston. In fact, much of 2017 was about connecting with loved ones and there can never be enough of that in my life. I’m blessed to have so many people who care about me and for that I’m very thankful.

My sisters, mother, and me

In September, we took another trip overseas to Italy. Judy and I had never been to Rome or Florence, so we did a deep dive into these ancient cities and fell in love with both. Thanks to friends who gave us plenty of tips, we made the most of our week there.

The Colosseum in Rome

For Thanksgiving, I made a solo trip to Austin and Houston to spend the holiday with two-thirds of my kids and give thanks with my sisters and 93-year old mom.

With my two Austin kids

We wrapped up our year by flying in our Austin kids and spending Christmas in Yosemite—all five of us sharing one hotel room. The views were breathtaking and the time with our adult children was precious.

Our family in Yosemite

Thanks, 2017. For all your rough spots, I can’t complain about what you allowed me to accomplish.

Rise Above

Judy and I saw Hidden Figures today and it drove home just how important it is to stay vigilant to inequality and injustice. It made me cringe to see the rights of women and minorities trampled as recently as the 1960s—a decade of my youth. That movie was especially poignant on a day filled with impressive attendance at all the women’s marches around our country and the world.

When I see that I need to make a change in my behavior, I focus on making a change. This rarely coincides with traditional New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. On Dec. 31 I tweeted that I wasn’t going to continue to retweet negative political posts but focus on positive action instead. My reasoning for this was simple: I need to make a difference instead of merely generating more noise on social networks. Although posting a tweet is technically an action, it’s not one that’s going to change the world. My tweets are me preaching to a choir of like-minded followers. The few that dissent are not going to be swayed by my 140-character posts.

Women’s March in Washington D.C.

Actions that can change the world are the peaceful protests by millions of people who marched the day after the inauguration. Their efforts sent a strong and loud message to our government that women’s rights matter along with other rights. What a marvelous outpouring of positive energy and solidarity. These protests also showed off the best use for Twitter: Pictures and movies of the marches that set a very high bar for how we should spend the next four years.

Unfortunately, most of us—and I’m including myself—have been rolling around in the muck. Every time we comment about Trump’s fake tan or small hands or unique hair style, we waste our time on petty name calling. You know who likes to mock people for their flaws? Trump.

We need to be better than him. When we drop to his level, we become fodder for his followers to point at us and say, “All they do is focus on superficial issues while our leader is trying to Make America Great Again.” Don’t feed the trolls.

It’s going to be a long four-year fight and we have much work to do. There are too many government programs in peril and people who need to be protected. The attacks on our democracy have already started. Our new executive office is spreading lies and threatening the press. We can’t let any of this continue without pushback.

Our fight needs to be for truth. Our fight needs to be focused on standing up for people. We can’t play schoolyard games and call people names. Rise above this bullshit and be better than Trump and his kakistocracy. Let’s do our homework and make sure that everything we post is legit. Lies spread by Trump and his people need to be put under a bright light and exposed. We need to be the light, but we can’t be that when we are being petty.

We also need the support of the free press. It’s been years since I’ve had a newspaper subscription, but I recently subscribed to The New York Times. It’s our job to keep the press honest as well. Force them to use blunt language and to call out lies with clear and direct headlines. The Trump administration is using classic disinformation techniques to bury the truth and keep people from believing that there are even any facts or proof that can be trusted. This battle won’t be won on Twitter. It needs a broader reach with more detailed reporting.

If you have a website, use it. Write more words than you can fit into a tweet. Call out injustice and hold your House and Senate representatives responsible for their actions and their voting. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if Trump somehow gets impeached or steps down, the layers of horrible leadership run deep.

As painful as this presidential transition has been, maybe this is what we needed. I know that this has forced me down from my apolitical pedestal and made me think more about state and local politics. Our country has shown that millions care enough to step out and speak up. If it takes a nightmare to wake up more of us, then let’s make the most of this new dawn.

Also available on Medium.

Real Power

I’m not at all happy with how our 2016 national elections turned out, but what’s done is done and we have to move forward.

I can move forward with hope because I know that the person who holds the executive office of the United States of America only has so much power to affect my world. The real power to affect change is in my hands—all of our hands.

Here’s a little secret that you may not know: Government doesn’t create change, it bows to it.

Every important change in our country has come from the people making a decision to do things differently and then pushing for the government to ratify that change. Politicians don’t act, they react. They know that they have to do what their constituents demand or they will no longer hold a seat of power.

If you have been sitting back waiting for the government to fix your problems… wake up. The only person with any power to affect long-term change in your life is you. So forget about who won or lost and who was on what team. Change starts with each and every one of us deciding to make this a better world. And the best place to begin to make a difference is locally in our own communities.

Real power is feeding the hungry.

Real power is sheltering the homeless.

Real power is speaking out for those who are being oppressed.

Real power is learning to embrace change and growth.

Real power is choosing to walk away from hatred and finding a way to love everyone.

Pointing fingers and playing the blame game is easy; we can do that with almost zero effort. It’s harder to take responsibility for change in our lives because we have to actually do something. It’s disruptive to our routines. But with how divided our country is on politics, we can’t afford to sit back and blame others.

Let’s all find one positive thing to change each and every day of our lives. Let’s show the world that we can be better than we were in this past election cycle. The real power is still undecided. It’s time to vote with our actions.

Taking Risks

This article is for my children. It will probably be ignored, as is most parental advice, but I need at least to do my part to communicate the power of taking risks in life.

How much you enjoy life is due to your comfort level with risk. If you live a life with the impossible notion of having zero risk, you may be happy but you won’t know how much happier you could have been if you explored new experiences with some risk attached. Risk is the opposite of comfort. If you feel comfortable at all times, the risks you’re taking aren’t stretching you—and everybody has different comfort levels. I’m very comfortable looking out a window of a jet flying at 40,000 feet, but put me on a 10-foot ladder that shakes a bit and I’m freaking out. Another person might think I’m crazy for boarding that plane, but cleaning the gutters on their house is no big deal.

The key is that fear can drive decisions. Decisions affect what happens in life and those experiences shape people. In my life, I have more regret over the times I played it safe than the times I took risks. When I started my first company, I was just 19 years old. To some it looked like a risky decision, but there was very little risk involved because I was a college kid, living with my parents and had relatively low expenses. I didn’t have anything to lose with this venture since it was bringing in more money than my illustrious job wrapping burritos at Taco Bell.

Looking back, the business I created was the safe route. My company wrote custom software for local businesses. We would agree on an amount for a project, sign a contract, and they would pay me 50 percent up front and the remainder on delivery. Incredibly low risk. A higher risk option would have been to sell my software in computer stores—the way apps were sold before the internet. Selling packaged software was tempting because I wouldn’t just get paid once like contract work, I’d get paid over and over again for that time I spent building it. This might have been a lucrative business, but I was too afraid that my software wouldn’t be good enough and, in addition to the months of unpaid coding time, there’d only be a handful of sales. The prospect of making little or no money for my effort was terrifying.

In hindsight, I can see how foolish I was to let fear drive my decisions. That was the Wild West of the personal computer industry, before Microsoft was a household name, and would have been the perfect time to take that risk. Instead, I let this time slip by and two years later was married, buying furniture, paying rent, and collecting stuff. It would take 25 years for me to realize that more stuff wasn’t the key to a happy life. Taking risks and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone was the answer. When I finally summoned the courage to risk building and selling apps on my own, it opened a whole new world for me personally and professionally. Many of the friends I have today—and my current job at Apple—are a direct result of taking this risk.

Speaking of Apple, I had another opportunity to dramatically change my future during the second-coming of Steve Jobs. I had just sold all my shares from my most recent startup and was deciding whether to invest in AAPL stock or buy a bigger house. Our old house wasn’t tiny and we could easily have stayed there, but the short-term comfort of a bigger space was very appealing. The new place was very comfortable, but if I had used that $20,000 down payment to invest in AAPL at around $10 before several splits… well, let’s just say that I would have had my choice of any house I wanted today. I don’t allow myself to do the math anymore because it’s too depressing to see the cost of choosing comfort over risk. Additionally, buying the bigger house meant buying more stuff, which made it even harder to risk moving or expanding our universe.

No one can guarantee that a risky decision will turn out better than a safe one, but there is a theme in my life. Every time I allowed my fear of the unknown or the uncomfortable to guide my decisions, I delayed advancing my life. In each instance, I can recall my gut telling me to take the riskier path and my head talking me out of it. Some of my most daring moves—the “trusting-my-gut” moves—have been in the last 15 years. I was almost 40 before I really started seeing how many opportunities I lost because I didn’t want to be uncomfortable or fall hard due to a big failure. This means I took a lot of risks in my life when I had a lot more to lose—when the decisions to give up comforts and security are dramatically more difficult.

I wasted so much of my youth playing it safe.

So here’s my simple advice to you: Take as many risks in life as you can while you have less to lose.

You are young and single with more of a job than a career—you can afford to experiment. Focus on finding a position that offers learning and experience over income and stability. Grab the job that lets you travel and explore other cities around the country and the world. Rent a furnished apartment instead of anchoring yourself to bulky, expensive couches, tables, and chairs that have to move with you. Expand your horizons before your vision is blurred by familiar surroundings. Check out cities with diverse cultures, magnificent museums, exceptional landscapes, and opportunities to broaden your views.

What you understand today as fun and enjoyable is limited by what you have experienced. Your comfort is a trap that keeps you from seeing and fully experiencing this beautiful world. Exploring it on the internet is nowhere near the same. Also, being comfortable is highly overrated. Some of my fondest memories were the times when we had no plans and just decided to go on an adventure and see what would happen.

It took a few trips to London and Paris and a move to San Francisco after five decades of life for your mother and I to understand how cool it is to shake up things and try new experiences. Our world is bigger and better now and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is out there culturally. My hope is that you don’t wait as long as we did to step out of your comfort zone. I never knew that I’d like so much of what I like now and never would have if I didn’t push myself to take risks throughout my life. My wish for you is that you surpass my accomplishments, and the best way to do that is to start embracing change now while you’re young and free.

The place (or person) that you love might be out there right now, but you’ll never know it if you don’t go for it. Stretch yourself. Find a bigger, deeper happiness than you could ever imagine having today. Make yourself uncomfortable. Take risks.


Life is full of little gems; those moments that you want to bask in and never leave.

Today was a sunny Saturday morning and we had just finished breakfast. Judy and I were sharing a decadent, almond milk mocha—sharing one eases the calorie guilt—when she looked at me and said, “I don’t want to move.” I was confused for a second, but then it clicked that my lovely wife meant, “move from this moment.” And the moment was good.

Just like the core memories in the excellent Pixar movie, Inside Out, moments like this can be used to build a structure of support systems to define who we are. They are the platforms that we rely on to give us stability, strength, and joy in life. It’s all too easy to get lost in the darkness of the day with news services pimping despair and fear to the general public and political posturing dredging up the worst of humanity. Personally, I’m always in danger of being swallowed up by my own darkness, and I need to spend more time documenting these moments of light to keep my head on straight.

Earlier this month we had a lunch out with our kids when we were in Houston, and that was a lovely moment. Everyone was talking to each other and enjoying being together—something not always possible with siblings. The laughter and smiles punctuated that moment and made it stand out as one of the good ones. In fact, all my favorite moments are decorated with the faces of friends, coworkers, and family members. People make the moment.

I have a newfound respect for Chris Rock after watching him with Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Something he said stuck with me. In response to Jerry’s question, “How do you like the car?” Chris said, “It’s all about the company. A gourmet meal with an asshole is a horrible experience. A hot dog with an interesting person is an amazing meal.” What a glorious perspective.

I’m the type of guy who picks his company very carefully. The people I work with are as important as the work I get to do. I don’t have time for fake friends and I don’t choose to share my precious moments with just anyone. When we were back in Buffalo last month, I made sure to set aside an evening for my best friend and his wife. He asked where we wanted to eat, and frankly, I didn’t care—just pick a place we can all hang out and talk. It’s about the company.

One advantage of living in San Francisco is that people come here to visit and I get to steal some time with them. My buddy, Mark, flies in from Australia and says we’re meeting up with friends at an SF karaoke bar. I’m there! It’s a great gang that I always have interesting conversations with, so why wouldn’t I make the time? Friends who live in the Bay Area are up for a night out. Why would I miss that moment? It’s so easy to ignore a moment that may end up being one I cherish; I want to capture every one that tries to slip past.

Even the sad moments are worth keeping. Our Houston trip had many great visits with friends and family, but we also had to make the hard decision to put down our 14-year old puppy (she had the joy and exuberance of a puppy at every age). It was the worst feeling to carry out that act, but the final moments with our loving dog were precious. The tears and sobbing reflected just how much love and happiness Magic brought into our lives. I’ll remember that moment because of the wave of emotions it created and because of how wonderfully supportive Judy was during that time. I was a wreck and she held me up. Moments filled with love.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions because they seldom stick, but I’m making one now: I’m going to focus on the moments that matter. I’m going to enjoy those times in life that I get to spend with people that matter. Whatever is happening in the world around me that tries to sink my hope, I will still have these moments to keep me afloat. Thousands upon thousands of moments. Even getting the chance to write this and share it with others is a moment I’ll cherish.


There are two kinds of privacy: that which you freely discard and the privacy that is ripped from your hands.

People seems to be confused about the difference. If you post private information on Facebook or Twitter, you are doing so of your own free will. Your sharing, or over-sharing, is all of your own accord.

When the government is allowed to invade your home—physically or in the digital world—you are no longer in control. There are no more boundaries and you can’t just delete your social media account and stop sharing. Saying that you don’t need to worry about privacy attacks by the government because you’re already sharing everything is the same as saying rape is allowed because you are promiscuous.

Privacy is about consent. I’m careful about what I post online because it does matter what I share. People and governments are not altruistic. There are exceptions, but most people use labels to simplify their lives—and so do I. If I can categorize or label something, it makes my decision about dealing with it easier. That email is junk; delete it. That one is from my boss; flag it for action. These ones are just notifications from services; archive them. I do it with people too. Family, close friends, casual acquaintances, work mates, vendors, etc. How I categorize you determines my behavior towards you.

We all do it and we base our categorizations on what we know about someone. The more we share, the more we risk being labeled by someone, or worse, by the government. The word “terrorist” carries so much weight as a label. It implies evil and murder and hatred. Labels like that don’t peel off easily. Talk to someone who has been put on a no-fly list accidentally and see what they think about labels. If the government labels you as a terrorist, you have zero rights. The term “national security” is already used too often by people in power to trample personal freedoms and is easily triggered by the terrorist label.

What if the government had access to your home and all your private conversations and notes stored on your devices and determined that you were someone who needed to be on a watch list. Maybe you’re not a terrorist, but a sympathizer in their eyes. Even I’m not old enough to know about McCarthyism first hand, but I’ve read enough and seen movies about it and it terrifies me that we could go back to that era. People’s lives were destroyed because they said or did something that went against the accepted norm of thought. Senator McCarthy promoted that communism was a threat to our way of life and we needed to make sure to weed out the Commies before they hurt us. The cause was more important than personal freedom or rights.

”Make sure we stop the terrorists before hurt us.”

”Stomping on personal freedom is okay if it stops those damn terrorists.”

”Terrorists don’t deserve privacy or to have any rights.”

It’s easy to say or think these things as long as the label doesn’t fit you. What happens when the labels change? What happens if you or I are seen as a threat? What if just writing this article put me on a list?

This quote from Martin Niemöller has always sent chills down my spine and does so even more in our current political environment:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I did not speak out;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
As I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.


Few human behaviors rile me up more than entitlement. I didn’t tolerate it within organizations that I ran and it drives me crazy when I see it in other places.

Entitlement is the attitude that the world/society/company owes me something simply because I exist.

“I come to this restaurant all the time; I deserve to have the corner booth I like.”

No, you deserve to sit your pompous ass down in the first available table like the rest of us. And, yes, my wife and I have been asked to move to a different table 15 minutes after being seated because a long-time customer arrived and wanted the corner table. Amazingly, this really happens.

“I’ve worked at this company for 10 years; I shouldn’t have to follow the new employee rules.”

If you’re not contributing to the organization today in a meaningful way, you might not even deserve to still work there. Time on the job isn’t a free pass. You have to follow the rules and be productive. It may sound harsh to be asked, “What have you done for me lately?” but… what have you done for me lately?

“I have a degree from Big Name U and get paid a lot of money. Do you really expect me to wash my own dishes?”

Yes. Yes I do. You make the mess, you clean it up. Shocking concept. I also expect that after you wash your hands in the restroom, you make sure your paper towels end up in the trash—including the little bits that ripped off when you tried to pull the paper out of the dispenser—and that the toilet is flushed. And before you flush, dump in the dozen strips of toilet paper laying on the seat that you used to make your personal defense barrier against potential germs. Why would anyone think that’s the next person’s job?

“I hate having to step over these people lying in the street. Someone should really do something about the homeless problem.”

Yes. You and me. It’s a hard problem to solve, but none of us gets to pretend that it’s not our place to help find a solution or that we deserve a place free of poverty and mental illness. Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s not because they are any less worthy than the rest of us.

It’s really very simple: We all have to contribute some of our time and effort to keep this world healthy—no exceptions. You don’t get to opt out because of any false entitlements you have dreamed up in your head. I don’t care who you are or how long you’ve existed, drop your entitlement and follow some caring rules:

  • Don’t look down on people because they don’t have your status or fame or degree or money. This may be hard for you to hear, but you’re not actually better than anyone else.
  • The more you have, the more generous you should be.
  • Leave the place better than when you arrived.
  • Be nice to the people around you and smile once in a while.

Life is a beautiful gift. Entitlement is the act of stomping on that gift and then complaining that it messed up your expensive shoes. I’m not perfect and have probably come across as entitled on more than one occasion, but I do work to check myself often by asking, “What have I done to improve the place where I exist?” If my answer is “nothing,” then I probably played my entitlement card.


Growing up a middle-class, white kid in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York with parents 40 years older than me and siblings nearly half that much, the majority of the music in our house flowed from the ’40s and ’50s. One of the first songs I remember hearing that woke me up was Revolution. I was too young to understand why that song impacted me so very much when it first came out, but it created a hunger in me for new music. As I stumbled into my teens, I bathed myself in the rivers of songs that flowed out of the ’60s and ’70s: Beatles, Yardbirds, Clapton, Zeppelin, Jimi, and so many others.

MTV was launched while I was in college and artists became more than static images in liner notes and on album covers. David Bowie was glorious in videos. My small suburban mind was blown to see his androgyny and theatrics. His sound and visuals were complex and slightly disturbing. I watched DJ and Space Oddity a hundred times (early MTV had a limited playlist) and studied every movement and note. I loved every video he ever made no matter how different it was from the previous one. Bowie defined change for me.

Reinvent. Resist convention. Don’t settle for normal, normal is boring. Shock, challenge, make them think.

I’m sad to see this great artist die, but I’m thrilled to have used his music as a soundtrack for so much of my life. If you see me with a headset on in the next few weeks, just assume that I’m listening to David Bowie.


There are moments in life that we ignore, that we rush past, that we take for granted. So many of these are sacred.

It’s easy to complain. There are plenty of reasons to bemoan the moments that don’t seem to go according to our plan. In that moment, our minds wander and drift to the future and stir up worry. The future is a ghost that distracts our attention. It’s a thief. Pay it no mind. Feed it none of your time. Instead, use those moments and embrace the now; give thanks for what we have—family, friends, a shared meal, laughter, love.

The now is what’s real. It’s what feeds us. Life is a study in the now. I truly believe those who accomplish great things are the most present in the moment. They see more of what is happening around them and don’t let the future affect their focus.

My view of the present is vivid. Being attention deficit, I’m rarely able to focus on a single current event. Sounds, visuals, and smells bombard me and stain my brain even when I work to block them. But I don’t see this as a curse because it allows me to drink in more of the world and, when managed properly, learn more quickly. The now is a busy place for me.

Even with this carnival stimulating my senses, my mind wanders from the now. Not really wandering, more like relating. A sight triggers a memory, which connects to another, which links to a third, and so on. I can travel decades into the past in milliseconds and then spin that moment forward into dozens of scenarios that might have been.

These trips are unwanted and unproductive. I didn’t book these flights of fancy and I’m not skilled at exiting the plane in time to avoid triggering dangerous emotions that too often spiral me out of control and cause disorientation and a loss of direction. Ironically, as often as I am annoyed with these wayward journeys, I also understand that they are part of what makes me who I am. It’s just a matter of training myself to see this time travel as a gift and to embrace it.

Even that which is a flaw should be treated as sacred. It’s meant to be part of my journey and I have the responsibility to make the most of it.

What we do with what we have in this moment with those who are in our circle of influence at that time creates the future. Nothing exists without some action. I can spend hours judging myself or others around me and nothing will change. My thoughts are useless without a next step. If I want change in myself, I need to enact different behaviors. If I want the world around me to change, I must create movement—dialog, discussion, or actions. Wishing it to be different is fruitless.

I won’t deny that I envy skills that others around me possess, but I work to not let that consume me or dilute my abilities. As with so much in life, it’s perspective that triggers what happens next.

I am not clairvoyant. I do not know how many “nows” I will have. The one before me is my only now, so how will I use it? Will I create or consume? Will I reach out or retract? Will I change the world or merely the channel?

This time is sacred. Precious. Fleeting. Scarce. It will only come once and then be gone forever. There will be a time when I sense my last moment and, in that moment, I don’t want to travel back and see millions of my sacred moments wasted or neglected. I want my last journey to be a celebration of life filled with movement and love and change. I have no expectations of a historic legacy for myself. All I desire is my time on this planet to cause a slight shift in the universe—to leave this world a better place than when I arrived. We all get that opportunity and I don’t want to waste mine.

Right here. Right now. This moment is sacred.