The Huffington Post Says I Have a Beautiful Wife

Earlier this year I was interviewed by humorist, author and columnist Lisa Earle-McLeod. Author of the book Forget Perfect — Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear, Lisa is hysterical and quite delightful. (Check out her site and her “Perfect Minute” video essays.) Lisa also writes for The Huffington Post, rated #1 by Technorati on its “Top 100 Blogs” — making it the single most influential English-language blog in the world. Recently Lisa reported on our conversation in a wonderful Huffington Post review of The Go-Giver. Pinch me: am I dreaming? I wrote Lisa to thank her, and included the URL for my wedding pictures. She wrote back: I love wedding pictures; weddings themselves are a bit of a pain, unless you’re just a drunken guest of course, but the pictures are great, and these are particularly beautiful. I must say, for a geeky writer, it looks like you caught yourself one heck of a good lookin’ woman. And you know, she’s quite right. I did, didn’t...

Photographic Memory

It’s official: the wedding pictures are up for viewing on their own web site. Here are my bride and me, in the church… … and on our way … … into the sunset. The entire album is worth viewing — our intrepid team of photographers, led by the redoubtable John Fitzpatrick, are excellent at what they do! And yes, the sky really did look like...

The Thing About Words

Yesterday I bought a spare phone charger. At the register, I held out my debit card uncertainly at the card-swiping gizmo. The man behind the register saw my confusion and said, “Strip down. Facing me.” I paused, then repeated his words back to him. The woman at the next register burst out laughing. I mean, if I were entering the Army, okay. But to purchase a phone charger? That seemed austere. Strip down, facing me. Words. Honestly, they’re pretty malleable. I have a friend who grew up hearing “Silent Night” and thinking that “Round John Virgin” was a character in the story. When I was little, I had a friend who used to wet her bed every night. My mom told me she had “a bladder problem.” I had no idea what a “bladder” was. I thought she said my friend had “a splatter problem.” And that made perfect sense to me. When my son Nick was little, he had a problem pronouncing the words “airplane” and “airport.” He said, “ahhplane” and “ahhport.” This went on for a few years. Then one day, we drove to the Charlottesville Ahhport to pick up my dad, who was coming for a visit. We collected the maestro, and as we began driving home, Nick said something about how exciting it was to “come get Grandpa at the ahhport.” Then he turned to my dad and explained in perfect English, “I can’t say airport.” “No?” said my dad. “What do you say?” “I say, ahhport,” Nick...

To Korea, With Love

Last month, when I saw the Japanese edition of The Go-Giver, I didn’t see how anyone else could possibly equal that amazing production, let alone top it. Then, a few days ago, the Korean edition arrived. Oh, my. Since nobody in our house reads Korean, I can’t tell what’s actually being said in the ten (!) full pages of text that come between the title page and the table of contents, but they include the phrases “sustainable competitive advantage” and “My joy in giving is greater than your joy in receiving.” Can anyone read Korean? If you can, I’ll loan you my copy in exchange for elucidation! The illustrations are beyond great: they’re completely adorable. The cover (above) features Pindar, Joe and Claire. Here, form inside, is a picture of Joe, Pindar, Ernesto and Nicole: and one of Joe — you guessed it — serving coffee. (Notice Gus, Meerschaum in hand.) They’ve made the key a critical element in the book: I suspect each Law is now called a “key” — but again, until I find someone who reads Korean, I’m in the dark. With my way lit by some wonderfully illuminating...

The Secret of Empty Spaces

I remember my eighteenth birthday. I was young and in love, and the road ahead was positively shimmering with possibilities. I was unstoppable, and nothing was impossible. Then post-eighteen life began unfolding. Strivings, successes, failures, catastrophes. Fortunes rose and fell, marriages and friendships blossomed and crumbled. Some public triumphs, some personal tragedies, more roadblocks and dead ends and cul-de-sacs than I’d ever dream the universe could supply. This summer, I turned fifty-four. (That’s three times eighteen.) And now? I’m young and in love; the road ahead positively shimmers with possibilities, and nothing seems impossible. It’s good to be back. This year I celebrated my birthday by spending twenty-four hours not writing anything. For a writer, spending time not writing is precious, in the same way that cleaning out your closets helps grow your wardrobe and having earthworms in your garden helps the soil bring forth plants. It’s the aeration that comes from introducing emptiness. Empty space is one of the greatest lessons the passing years unscroll. It is the core secret of all creative endeavor, the one that most readily divides wannabes from masters. The value of white space in page layout; of silence in music; of understatement in rhetoric. Of knowing when the greatest eloquence lies in not saying anything at all. I think of Jack Benny, Johnny Carson and Jon Stewart, of Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, of the peculiar genius of Steven Wright: all masters of the pause. In traditional churches, mosques and synagogues there are these vast empty spaces above our heads—extra space, someone once said, “to leave room for God.” In the same way,...