It has been said that many people live lives of quiet desperation.   The idea is that they quietly endure their anxiety, uncertainty, and fears regarding their lives and future.  They are desperate to find meaning in their lives but keep their doubts and concerns to themselves and put on a good face to the world so that everyone thinks that they are content, secure, and confident.

There may be some truth to this idea.   When we greet someone it is customary to ask the routine question, how are you?   We don’t expect anyone to actually tell us.   We expect the equally routine response, I’m fine, how are you?   We would be quite surprised and probably annoyed and uncomfortable if they went on and on about all of their problems and issues.  The point being is that it is polite to ask someone how they are but we don’t really want to know.  Most of us expect other people to keep their real feelings quietly to themselves just as we keep our feelings to ourselves.

Luckily, most of us have people in our lives that we are close to and to whom we can express our deepest felt feelings.  Our loved ones provide us with an outlet for all of that pent up emotion that might otherwise erupt into rage if held in too long.   We all need a shoulder to cry on so to speak once in awhile so that we can vent and then get on with our lives.

Without that outlet, all too often that quiet desperation can become a very public display of anger and violence.   Many times, in the aftermath of a senseless mass murder, for example, the perpetrator is described as a quiet, unassuming person that no one could imagine would commit such a horrendous act of violence.   It may not be a coincidence that many of our most extreme crimes of violence are carried out by that quiet, lonely person who always kept to himself.

Certainly, no one can condone or excuse this kind of behavior; however, it may be wise to not underestimate the fury that can come from quiet desperation.   Perhaps, the next time we ask someone how they are we should take the time to actually find out.



Within a few days of each other, I attended the wake and funeral of a ninety one year old woman and the wake of a twenty four year old woman.  There is an obvious difference between these two situations and that difference made me think about mortality and putting life in perspective.

During the eulogy for the ninety one year old woman, you could not help but admire this woman for the exemplary life she led.  It was clear how much she touched and influenced the lives of not only her children and grandchildren with wisdom and kindness, but of the many people she helped during her career and her life.  This woman was given the opportunity to live a long, full life and was a wonderful role model to everyone around her.  She enjoyed a rich and rewarding life and she will still be missed by the many people who will cherish their memory of her.

In sharp contrast, the twenty four year old woman was at the threshold of her life when it tragically ended.  Although she touched many lives in her short time here, her family will never experience the milestones she might have enjoyed if she had lived a long life.  They will never see how she could have lived to her full potential.  This young woman was not given that opportunity and no one will ever know why.  In the eyes of her family and friends, she will be forever twenty four and will also be missed by many people.

The grieving in each situation was so very different.

This experience made me focus on my own life. It not only made me think about my own mortality but it made me think about how I live my life and whether or not I have made a positive impact in my little part of this world and the lives around me.  In thinking about my own mortality and my family I am reminded that all life must be enjoyed and cherished because it is so fragile.

On Monday, Joe provides information on Living Wills and Health Care Proxies in “Dying With Dignity”.



There was a campus legend when I went to Syracuse University that a Philosophy professor posed an essay question to his students as their final exam.  The entire exam was simply one question, Why?   This, of course, perplexed the students who went on to write long and involved answers trying to find meaning to this question.   The legend goes on to say that the student who received the highest grade answered the question just as simply, Why Not!   This is not true, I am sure, but, I wish that it were.

Why, to me, is the most important and most elusive of all questions.  In journalism you are taught that every good story consists of five key elements, Who, When, Where, What, and Why.   We all want to hear the factual details, but, ultimately, the most fascinating part of any story is, Why?   Why did it happen?  Why did he do it?   We spend our lives trying to figure out the answer to why things are the way they are without ever really finding out.   Life begins and ends as a mystery.

Why, you may ask, do I seek the answer to a question that can never be adequately answered?   I don’t know other than, Why Not.

So, while it is appropriate to ask why this past year was so difficult for many of us, why not strive for a better new year even if we don’t have all of the answers.



Each generation is born into a different world than those that came before them.  This is true, in part, because the world changes so quickly that each generation grows up with technologies that were not available to prior generations.  We went from the Wright Brothers to the Moon in just three generations.  This advance in technology continues to increase at an unprecedented rate, making things we marvel at today obsolete in just a few years.

Each generation also faces new problems and challenges in what seems like an ever more hostile and dangerous world.   There are people living today who have lived through two World Wars, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the list goes on and on.  Trouble continues to plague each new generation as we live in apprehension that there are worse dangers to deal with in a world that seems to have gone mad.

The point is that each generation lives through their own unique trials and tribulations, yet, as each generation grows older there is the tendency to look back at their past as being somehow better than today.  The good old days seems to be a refrain we all resort to when nostalgia clouds our vision of the past.  We come to believe that the past was a simpler and less troublesome time that has been forever lost.

This desire to reflect on and long for times gone by is just part of our nature.  It provides us with some comfort, particularly, when we feel overwhelmed by the demands and complications of our daily lives.  Perhaps, it is due to the fact that as we age we realize we have more past than future and the past takes on greater meaning for us. Yet in our heart of hearts we know that it is not true.  We know that our memories of the past are selective and distorted and that the past was not really any better then today, just different.

I have come to realize that each day should stand on its own merits and that it is not necessary to long for the past or curse today in hopes of a better tomorrow.  Even if you want to change the world, accept today for what it is and enjoy the time you’re in.  Ultimately, each day brings with it its own problems, complications, pleasures, and joys.



As we come to the end of another year, it is appropriate to reflect on the truly important things in life such as family, friends, and the joy of living. 

As one gets older, it becomes more apparent that life is an adventure, that goes by all too quickly, during which we need to savor and cherish every moment.   I, as most people, hope for a long life; however, as I reflect on the true value of life, I have come to believe that it should not be measured simply by the ticks of the clock; but, it should also be measured by the beats of your heart.  The true value of life is not just how long it lasts; but also the enthusiasm, energy and compassion with which you live it.       

We at USFSB wish you much success and a great adventure now and for many years to come.