River running through the mountains

Life Force

I’ve penned Lessons from the Cockpit for over four years and in all those posts I don’t believe I’ve written one as important as this. If I’ve cultivated any major life philosophy over the years, this is it.

In 2010 I launched a business with two partners, great people whom I trust completely. We’ve grown from only three of us initially to nearly fifty employees. Last week we were named number nineteen of the fifty fastest growing companies in our region. The company has exceeded my expectations in every way, and I feel the best is yet to come.

I share this to highlight the fact that I’m not a passive guy. Anyone who knows me will attest that I don’t sit and wait for things to happen. I look to the sky for lots of things—peace, inspiration, fun—but I’ll never lift my eyes upward with the expectation a financial windfall will float down and land at my feet.

To an outside observer, it may appear that...


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Young child doing a cartwheel outside in the sunshine

Raising Fools – Part 2

Continued from Raising Fools - Part 1

I’m lying with my upper back flat while the rest of me twists to the left, right knee almost touching down to the floor mat. The move soothes my lower back, especially the right side that is tight from sitting at a desk too much lately. Over twenty people surround me, all of us mirroring the moves my wife makes from atop the platform at the front of the group exercise room. We are stretching at the end of her weight training class; she tells us to twist a little more if we can.

I glance around the room and an errant thought skims past. It disappears before I grasp its full meaning. Not until I walk past the gym’s yoga studio a day later does it hit me. I back up to...

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statue of a fool jester standing on one foot while balancing something on one finger

Raising Fools

We have three boys, all with different personalities yet similar in so many ways. When the oldest was eleven or so, I’d often walk into the family room to find him nearly upside down watching television. There were many variations on the position, but he was always twisted in some fashion, usually with part of his back resting on the floor and his feet on the cushion where most people plant their backsides.

“What are you doing?” I’d say. “How many times have I told you to sit like a normal person? Get up!”

He’d reluctantly stand and attempt to sit on the couch like a gentleman. But within fifteen minutes—two minutes if I left the room and peeked back in—he’d find his way to the floor again, feet on the cushions

Flash forward. Now I’m experiencing the same behavior with the middle and youngest boys. I look into the family room and they are twisted into the oddest positions on the floor, more like pretzels than humans.

It gets worse.

Whenever my thirteen-year-old does happen to use the furniture, he never...


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goldfish jumping out of the water into a larger bowl

Expand Your World

Conventional wisdom says aquarium fish only grow as large as the tank will support. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m willing to bet it’s spot on for humans when it comes to growth as individuals, whether emotionally, socially, intellectually, or spiritually.

Humans don’t live in aquariums, but many do live strictly within the invisible walls of comfort zones. Some only move beyond them when forced. And like the fish trapped in an aquarium that’s too small, when we operate only within the safety of comfort zones, we stunt our growth. 

I can’t speak for you, but I need to grow. In all aspects of my life. I want to break through any wall that prevents me from exploring this world to the fullest. Growth only occurs outside those walls.

What will you do to move beyond your comfort zone today? Tomorrow? Forever?

I have suggestions:


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Red and white radio tower with half a moon in the distance

The Transmission of You

For those of you who still listen to the radio, perhaps you have a favorite station you tune in to on the way to work everyday. What if a runaway truck demolished your car in the office parking lot one bright afternoon, with everything inside destroyed including the radio? Would you be devastated because your favorite station no longer exists?


You may be sad or mad that your car and radio were demolished, but you’d move on. You’d buy another car, maybe a new one with an improved radio. Then you’d tune right back in to your favorite frequency.

Always remember: Your body is the radio. Your soul, your essence, is the frequency. And that frequency is broadcast by a vast, universal “radio tower” that will never cease transmission. Events of the world will eventually demolish the receiver that is your body, but nothing will ever destroy the transmission that is you.

Live on.

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Let Nature Spill In

Our upstairs air conditioner stopped working one Friday evening in late May. I almost called the repair guy but held off. Waiting until Monday meant a cheaper bill instead of rates at time and a half. And I knew we’d sleep comfortably over the weekend if we opened the windows since temperatures still hovered around the mid-sixties at night.

My wife and I have dark curtains in our bedroom. Years ago we’d read that people slept deeper if a bedroom was pitch black, so we’d hung heavy curtains to block the occasional light of a full moon. But on this particular weekend we left the curtains open for better airflow from the outside.

I’m an early riser. Not that it’s natural for me, but because I’d rather

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Two palm trees on an island floating above the clouds with a large moon in the background

Nothing is Impossible

What in your world do you define as impossible, that you wish weren't? To make a living as a painter? To run your own business? To travel 100 million light years to another galaxy?

Don’t believe it. Nothing is impossible…nothing.

Let me define “impossible” as I see it. If someone tells me an act or idea is impossible, I take that to mean impossible altogether, that there is no chance it will ever happen, from now until the universe collapses in on itself. I can’t buy that line of thinking. Nothing is impossible altogether, only impossible at a given moment in time and space. It’s a much different idea to say something is impossible altogether than to say it’s not doable at this moment, or this particular spot on earth where we stand right now.

If I asked strangers on the street, “Is it possible or impossible to...

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Empty red chair sitting in a field of grass

An Empty Space

I never thought about the old man until I’d see him on my way home. If the weather was good, he’d be there, sitting on his porch at the intersection of Lake Brandt and Lawndale where an endless line of cars made left turns in front of his house. He always waved. Not only to me, but at everyone making a left there. It wasn’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill wave either. No. His wave had gusto. He’d perfected his own unique brand, perhaps from years of waving from that porch. As cars crossed left before him, both hands would shoot out, palms facing the road, fingers pointed toward the sky. All four fingers on each hand would snap down twice then open back up like a magician showing you he has nothing up his sleeves. A big smile always punctuated the double wave.

The drivers and passengers in the cars, including me, always waved back. You couldn’t help it. Something in his wave made you smile, made you feel good, a great cap to the end of your work day. My boys loved seeing him if they happened to be with me. They always turned in their seats to continue waving at the old man even after we’d passed. After the boys grew older and begin to lose interest in some of the simpler things of youth, they still loved to see the old man on his porch, and they always waved back.

Then one day,

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Row of Christmas ornaments sitting in snow

No “L”

It looked as if a forest had exploded. Green pine needles littered our carpet with a trail of them scattered throughout our foyer. This was the beginning of the New Year, and the mess came from carrying our gigantic Christmas tree outside to the curb. The tree had been netted coming in, so no problem there. But going out was a different scene: I had to forcefully shove the dried thing out the doorway, leaving a bulk of needles behind in the house.

“We need to seriously consider an artificial tree next year,” I told Susan as we cleaned up. “They’ve come a long way in how realistic they look.”

It took some convincing, but when we found an extremely nice one on sale after Christmas, we took the plunge. Susan even bought a strong scented pine spray to add to the illusion of a real tree.

The next Christmas, I unpacked the artificial tree from its box, spreading out the pieces. The groups of branches that randomly came out were labeled with inconspicuous letters. I pulled out a group of “M”s and set them aside, then a group “X”s and placed them in a separate pile. I continued this way until the box emptied.

Connecting the main trunk was easy. Next came the task of inserting the individual branches.

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Red carpet with leader rope and gold pole barrier system

No Small Lives

A great actor can transform a bit part into something amazing and memorable. That is why the acting great Stanislavsky said, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” The quote stood out for me in a passage when I recently read Katherine Jenkin’s book, Lessons from the Monk I Married. I’d often heard the quote years ago when my wife and I used to perform together in theatre shows before a growing family of three sons shifted where we spent our free time.

But the quote stood out for a different reason this time than for its acting context. Lately I’ve been thinking about how easy one’s day can be filled with time wasters and material pursuits, instead of focusing on doing something great. How the internet and television can become our world instead of the real one that calls from beyond our door. Stanislavsky’s quote had new meaning this time, more as a guide for life and the role we play in it. Suppose it read,

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