The Discourse is back!! And dang does it feel good to be writing to you.

After nearly two months of wrestling with technology and some heavy internal topics-I'm back writing again, thanks to my therapist and The Discourse website has gotten a needed refresh on the back-end and front-end, thanks to Pete.

If you're getting this email you at one time signed up for the either The Discourse or my general, rather randomly sent free email.

The internet is gigantic-and the gratitude I have that you actively pick my words is gigantic too. Particularly those who have joined and written their own stories within The Discourse community. Those that signed up four years ago and are still here.

For the most part The Discourse will remain the same as it's always been. An online platform for sharing stories. Stories without comments, likes, or word count restrictions. It's where I'll continue to share a more private side of myself. It's a safe place where Discourse community members can do the same. It's where I'll also share parts of the book I've been somewhat endlessly working on for the last three years. A free letter will come once a month to everyone.

I hope it's where we find humanity together-through our written stories, through letters to one another.

Moving forward, I'll be sending letters twice a month instead of four. A more realistic output for me and input for you. Book recommendations and writing prompts will continue to be included in each letter.

Over the last four years, I've used the Discourse to inquire about many aspects of life. From grief to joy. From humor to skiing. All of the past letters are now categorized into life themes on the site. But moving forward, my aim is to write with a particularly heavy interest into the beauty of living. To fill the category on Awe and Wonder. To write about how to make living an art, make living a joy whenever possible. A record of my own search for beauty.

The first record, the first letter back, is below and available to all of you. In celebration of over four years and 107 letters, anyone who joins The Discourse can do so with the first month free here: The second letter of May will go out to community members the week of May 27th.

Looking forward to writing and reading stories again.


Can Eating Fish for Breakfast Be the Cure for Grief?

I ate the same breakfast for nearly all of my competitive ski career. Miso soup, rice, and a small piece of fish was my foundation for a day spent flying off cliffs for fun and sometimes glory. I had picked up this superstition in a book about the habits of sumo wrestlers. It was their belief to not eat anything that stood on more than two legs before a competition. Cows-out. Chicken-better. Fish-the best. I figured if it worked for them to stay standing on two feet, it would work for me. Which was true, at least part of the time. 

I had been in New York to run the city's famous marathon before one of my winter seasons of skiing started. Myself and a few thousand others had run on a Sunday. I had planned to stay with a friend in Brooklyn for a few extra days in the off chance my legs couldn’t function. A high likelihood since I had run on zero running training or experience. (Luckily my ski workouts and the energy of the city carried me through) On my last morning in the city, with all my friends working, I found myself alone in line for a restaurant with a cult following for their traditional japanese breakfast. Thrilled to be in the company of others who enjoyed soup over bacon at nine am. 

Just before the opening hour, the two chefs walked past the group of us waiting, two large, whole fish scales and eyes and all draped across their arms. A few minutes later they invited us in to their cozy establishment to eat said fish. Chopsticks rested on pearled half shells. Elements of wood and linen and stone created a den of zen.  Most of the customers were divided into couples which left myself and a book yielding middle aged man and I to be sat next to each other at the counter. 

Cell phones had yet to be permanently installed in our hands, so eventually I found myself talking to my neighbor. The food was so good he had given up on his book and talked back. In between bites and slurps and chews he told me that his father had died the day before. And how he didn’t know exactly how to spend this day, but he knew it couldn’t be working. So he called in sick and decided to try eating at this place that he had read about and always wanted to come to.

Many years of breakfasts later, after becoming far too familiar with grief and loss myself, around the fifth anniversary of my partner's death, the memory of this day reemerged. Not just because it was the best food I’ve put in my mouth before ten am. But rather as a recognition. 

A recognition of the desire for beauty born out of a dark pit of sadness and confusion. It is the delicate flower coming out of the concrete. It doesn’t trade or lessen the pain. Your heart isn’t a nightclub with one emotion in after one emotion has stumbled out. But the search and enjoyment of beauty does, at least for me, bring variety to the pain.

You see some really breathtaking stuff when searching for beauty. Like the lilac tree the size of an elephant in my neighborhood. Or the sight of my neighbors drinking wine together in their yard-certainly laughing at some moment during their seventy year history. Beauty in the sight of Mont Blanc’s evening shade of pink seen while taking the trash to the bins. The tenderness in the way another neighbor talks to her flock of chickens. The way the lilac greets me every morning through my window. Searching for beauty is a beginners game in the historical neighborhood of the small town I live in.

The pain is not a gift. Beauty, not a cure. But I’d be damn sure it does make you love it all. Somehow.

A reminder, a driver, that on some days, the most important thing to do is to eat a delightful breakfast.


May 17th, 2024 Chamonix Valley, France

Book Recommendations (Archived book list here)

North Woods by Daniel Masion

This one was a horror and a treat. A horror because it has some rather graphic moments in it-like someone getting chopped in half kind of moments. I often read it right before bed, which led to some absurd dreams. A treat because it is magical the way Mason was able to string the whole thing together. An engaging, wild history of one piece of property that had me thinking about time in the hundred of years kind of way. And that kind of thinking always makes me relax about my own short life.

Writing Prompt for May

Write your own operating manual. An instruction book that you could give to anyone you meet. Handling instructions. Feeding instructions. Sleeping instructions. This can be done as a list. A poem. Or however it comes out of your pen. The next Discourse will be a play on my own if you want to wait for an example for inspiration.

Community writings can be sent to Moving forward, community submissions will be both posted on the site and also sent as emails to the private Discourse community-there are just too many good ones and I think they deserve the same space as mine. Feel free to note on your submission if you'd rather it just be posted and/or if you'd like your name to remain anonymous.

Community Messages