Courtesy Paramount Pictures
My dad was born and raised in Northern Idaho. Few, if any, minorities lived there at the time. And yet my Indian-loving grandfather and grandmother taught him not to pay attention to race. Instead, they taught my father to accept each individual on their own merits, like many people had before.
My mother and father taught me the same. In fact, I can’t recall a single time when my dad mentioned race when describing someone. Bank robber in the news? He didn’t mention it. Star athlete in the news? He didn’t mention it. Poor family in need? He didn’t mention it.
Outside of home, I experienced a very different, if not disparaging “us against them” interpretation of race while growing up in the deep, formerly segregated south. That is you talk about race and generalize it all of the time. You divide or bond over it even.
In middle school, for example, one girl who didn’t look like me insisted that minority races cannot be racist or prejudice. That didn’t make sense. Another classmate approached me one day and starting spewing derogatory and racist language, wrongly believing that I shared his toxic views because our skin looked the same. That didn’t make sense either.
Today, I realize we have to talk about difficult things sometimes, racial tension very much included. But I also believe someone’s race is a lousy indicator of their true character. If my own upbringing is any indication, we can either rehash the same juvenile discussions on race to similar effect, or we can take the more mature approach that my father did: in most instances where race doesn’t matter, don’t mention it.
I’m not saying this simple act can cure centuries of racism. But I know first-hand it has the power to heal. You should try it sometime (if you haven’t already). Unless you’re being asked by a cop to identify a suspect, please don’t mention race when describing someone.
I don’t always study philosophy, but when I do, I make it count.
Case in point: A friend and I were recently discussing the human condition over email. Exhilarating stuff, I know. I’ll skip to the best part.
Basically, we decided that humans struggle to internalize both complex and simple realizations. Complex ones because they’re harder to grasp, and simple takeaways because we’re usually too distracted by temptations, desires, and pleasures to see them through, even if we believe in them (or so argues Aristotle; more on him later).
At this point, I asked my buddy, “So if humans struggle to comprehend both complex and simple ideas, what in the HELL are we good at?”
His reply, “Entertainment. And nothing else.” Full stop. The gravity and strategic double periods of his remark made me do this:
At which point I enrolled in a 36-course undergraduate class from Smith College. Not exactly. But I did download the audible version of the class, The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Greatest Thinkers, from Amazon!
Having already graduated (go, fight, win!), I did this solely for my own enlightenment. Little did I know how much impact professor Jay Garfield’s masterful curriculum would have on my worldview, existential outlook, and shared beliefs with others.
Here’s what I learned: Continue reading…
The story first published to blakesnow.com in the fall of 2012
With the help of two babysitting grandmas, a good job, and lots of decisiveness, Lindsey and I vacationed in Paris this year for her birthday. It was our first time to Yurp. (And I thought Boston was old!)
Travel bragging aside, I learned several things on the trip, including a few reoccurring generalizations. They are as follows: Continue reading…
Valentine’s dinner with kids at home beats crowded restaurants
Like any red-blooded American, I grew up observing Valentine’s Day, albeit casually. I traded candies with classmates, chocolates and stuffed animals with crushes, and used to take my wife to “romantic” dinners at crowded restaurants.
It was not an enjoyable experience, especially the latter. A few years after marriage, my wife and I started eating Valentine’s dinner on another day the week to beat the crowds, but that didn’t feel right either.
Then one day nearly 10 years ago, my wife proposed a radical idea: “Why don’t we stay home and cook a nice candlelight dinner with the kids and celebrate all kinds of love, not just romance?” By this point, I didn’t really care since nothing seemed to work. “Sure,” I said. Continue reading…
credit blake snow
A happy wife is a happy life. Or so goes a popular adage.
This goes both ways, of course. But I suspect the saying is written primarily for men because we probably fail as spouses more often than women.
Either way, what’s the key to successful marriage?
First and foremost, always pretend you’re still courting your spouse, writes popular Quora author and Cal physicist Richard Muller. “Seduce. Entertain. Be nice,” he says. “Do all those things you did when you were trying to win her over.”
That means taking a sexual interest in them (not just maintenance, mind you—that’s not love-making), making them laugh, smile, and feel good about themselves, and respecting them no matter what (as opposed to misjudging, resenting, or objectifying them).
Lastly, “Don’t take them for granted, ever,” Muller says. Do this long enough and you’ll probably get divorced.
In other words, surprise them. Marriage is not a given. Do all you can to earn your keep. Contribute. Give. Don’t just take. Be the spouse you’d like to have.
Sage advice, Mr. Muller.
I recently sampled a book in which the author said such-and-such was the “second most enchanting thing” he’d ever seen, save only seeing his wife for the first time. The line made me reflect upon the first time I met my wife:
In a hot tub. Continue reading…
I don’t know if falling in love is more challenging today than it was before. But it can’t be easy with the constant allure, cover, and distraction of smartphones.
Case in point: I saw a guy macking on a girl recently—or at least trying to. He was obviously interested; his attention undivided. She was preoccupied with her phone, however. She occasionally rejoined his advances with peppered smiles and words, but she mostly focused her attention on the tarot card-sized device she cradled in hand and poked at with thumbs.
From a distance, I couldn’t tell if she was coping with embarrassment behind her phone, considering a counter-flirt, or not at all interested. If I had to guess, I’d bet on the latter because newly crushing or in love couples usually stay fixated on each other’s eyes. Of course, interested males are horrible at deciphering this universal truth — always have been, always will, with or without smartphones. But I know first-hand how complicating phones can be to loving relationships. Continue reading…
My wife and I recently borrowed a large sum of money to buy a highly illiquid asset. To secure the loan, we disclosed more of our financial behavior to the bank than we’ve admitted to anyone else, including God. And rightfully so—again we were borrowing a large sum of money, and they wanted to make sure we’d pay it back.
In addition to scouring our personal finances, the lender took a fine tooth comb to our business finances. I’m self-employed. But my wife owns 50% of “the company.” I generate and service all the income. She gets half. Many would call her—as my lender often did—a “silent partner.” But she is anything but. Continue reading…
This formula, from the ’70s of all decades, is elegantly simple:
frequency of lovemaking – frequency of quarrels = marriage success
Not sure if it’s causation or correlation, but it certainly mirrors the ups and downs of my marriage. Oh, la la!
- What is her name? Lindsey Snow
- How long have you been married? 4 years
- How long did you date? 1 year
- How old is she? 24
- Who eats more? I’m really good with a fork, so me.
- Who said I love you first? Me. Her initial response: “Thanks.” No joke. Continue reading…