Fortnightly Dispatch No. 09 – Dispatched

Issue No. 09 is now out in the world. Highlights include: What it means to have enough, how to find all things interesting, Austin Kleon on “Comfort Work,” interview with Jonathan Smallwood on daydreaming, a lesson from Earnest Hemingway on why you should plan your weekend, and a round-up of photos from the past few months in the Journal section.

I hope you consider subscribing and following along HERE.

Mission San Juan Capistrano
[Journal] Kai | Mission San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Safe Harbor is a State of Mind

“‘Safe Harbor’ is a state of mind… it’s the place – in reality or metaphor – to which one goes in times of trouble or worry. It can be a friendship, marriage, church, garden, beach, poem, prayer, or song.”

~ Luanne Rice (American Novelist)

Photo: Handheld with my Apple iPhone, @ Dana Point Harbor on the evening of the Holiday Boat Parade. A wonderful evening.

The Boba Chronicles (1)

Hi everyone…Boba here…Dad has granted me access to his blog and I’ll be sharing my adventures…finally some worthwhile ‘notes and photos’ here! … today was a good day, but not without some ‘trickery’ … Mom got me all ready for a walk this morning but something seemed a bit suspicious…once my harness was all secure, I lurched out the front door, ready to head to the park for some frolicking…I look to my right and see our neighbor dog Luna headed in the same direction…fun, we’re both park bound! … but something in her canine eyes tells me all is not quite ‘normal’ …sure enough, one glance to my right and there it is…the mobile dog grooming truck! … ahh, the bait and switch … I succumb… frankly, this is much better than the strip mall grooming venue … and, on the bright side, this grooming session will be accompanied with numerous treats once I tuck my tail between my legs and show the grooming lady my scared-puppy-eyes expressions…my final thought for the day: yeah, I was overdue for a trim, I just wish Mom and Dad would have considered a day when it’s not below 50 degrees F in Southern California … I’ll be staying inside on the couch most of the day! … check out my nails!

Boba the Pitbull Dachshund showing off her newly trimmed nails

Read: Lessons by Ian McEwan

The focus on piano lessons is what initially drew me to this book. I “read” Lessons via Audible over the course of a few weeks, with many of those listening sessions happening late at night (alongside some bouts of insomnia). I really like the style of Ian McEwan’s writing, and this book delivered on that front. I also liked the story arc (is that a word) of this book, as it navigated many different historical timeframes and events (fall of the Berlin wall, Cuban Missile Crisis, Covid pandemic, etc). Roland, the main character/protagonist, is relatable in certain ways, and I’d say the parts of the book that stood out the most for me were those that delved into struggles with his inner demons combined with his perspectives and realizations across the different seasons of life.

Lessons by Ian McEwan
“Lessons” by Ian McEwan


Instead of reading notes (which are more suited for non-fiction) I’ll instead share my “summary” in a few paragraphs:

Overall, McEwan’s “Lessons” is a captivating novel that explores the depths of human despair and identity. The story follows an unexpected friendship between two people, a young boy and his eccentric piano teacher, that slowly unravels as secrets of their past come to light. The story unfolds across all seasons of life for the main characters, with many twists and turns (which mostly kept my interest). The compelling narrative conveys complex emotions of love, loss, guilt and shame.

A powerful combination of realism in the characters’ interactions is punctuated with sharp wit makes for an evocative read/listen. As I followed along with Roland’s journey, I was also brought face-to-face with many of my own innermost thoughts and emotions.

As with most McEwan books I’ve read, this one too evoked emotions like sorrow and pain alongside joy and pleasure – a testament to how good writing can capture both heart and mind.

Read reviews or buy this book on Amazon

Read: Sage by Chris Bruno

I can’t remember which podcast interview featuring Chris Bruno (author) I listened to — it was one of many in the stream that accompanies me at the gym or on neighborhood walks with our dog.

Sage by Chris Bruno

But I do know his words resonated, and appealed to many of the nuances I’ve been navigating on this current pathway into midlife. Morgan Snyder, an author I appreciate on many fronts, wrote this about Sage – A Man’s Guide Into His Second Passage:

“Curated with clarity and care…[a] timely message for men who deeply desire to experience the full portion of masculine maturity, build an enduring legacy in the second half of life, and finish well.”


  • To become a Sage is to offer generative life to the world.
  • The full realization of our humanity is not measured by the battles we fight, the wealth we accumulate, or the kingdoms we rule, but by the depth of soul we grow in the second half of life.
  • Old men who do not become Elders merely become elderly.
  • Your greatest legacy will be found in the recovery of the glorious masterpiece God has written into your life and putting it on display for all to know the Master – that is the true measure of a man.
  • The enemy of our hearts wants to hijack our masculine power and castrate our potency, to overrun our kingdoms and take us and those in our care captive.
  • Boys are born, but men are made, men do not automatically become Sages with age. Sages too are made.
  • No one can enter the second half until and unless he is willing to take responsibility for his own identity and meaning.
  • As the body cannot live without food, so the soul cannot live without meaning.
  • Our wives, jobs, children, church, community, parents, and friends will fail to provide us the meaning of our lives. We must relieve them of these duties and free them to be who they are, not who we need them to be for us.
  • Not midlife crisis…midlife awakening.
  • [Something to ponder] – The life I’m living may not be the same as the life that wants to live in me.
  • The true weight, the true richness of who we are, cannot be held in first-half containers.
  • Every man is called to take heed of the changing seasons of his life and mark them with purpose and intention.
  • Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have — right now.
  • The Sage of the second half has moved away from the constant drive for bigger and better and finds joy in the gift of the present. It truly is the secret.
  • [As a Sage] we have enough inner stillness to seek the kingdom found in everything and everyone.
  • A significant indicator of a man’s intentional movement over the threshold into his second half is the degree to which he divests of his ego’s need for elevation and instead finds his way back to the dirt.
  • There is space inside the Sage for others to find rest.
  • The first hallmark of the Sage is his settled contentedness, which then creates within him an inner spacious hospitality for others.
  • Second half Sages move toward the mystery of God, not away, and welcome God’s victory over their first-half theological egos.
  • Sages are not either-or thinkers, but they bathe in the ocean of both-and.
  • Grief and suffering are a crucible for the soul, where the white-hot flames of pain and sorrow transform a man’s heart, fundamentally moving him forward in life’s journey.
  • Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.
  • The tentacles of contempt do nor easily release a heart.
  • Rather than accept what is, let us be a generation of men who reimagine what could be.
  • “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Jeremiah 6:16, NIV]
  • For men to move further into the second half, our younger parts must find their way back.

Read reviews or buy this book on Amazon

Disclaimer: These Reading Notes are not a replacement for reading the book — just a sampling of my personal notes (copyright to the author), and potentially out of context as well.

Read: The Road to Character by David Brooks

There’s an overarching theme that led me to purchasing this book … it’s the distinction between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.”

As explained on the book’s dust jacket:

“Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “resume virtues” — achieving wealth, fame, and status — and “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.


  • Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.
  • “Thankfulness,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey said, “is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.”
  • The inner struggle against one’s own weaknesses is the central drama of life.
  • Truly humble people are engaged in a great effort to magnify what is best in themselves and defeat what is worst, to become strong in the weak places.
  • British writer Henry Fairlie: “If we acknowledge that our inclination to sin is part of our natures, and that we will never wholly eradicate it, there is at least something for us to do in our lives that will not in the end seem just futile and absurd.”
  • [Some] had to go down to go up. They had to descend into the valley of humility to climb to the heights of character.
  • The ultimate joys are moral joys.
  • Don’t ask: What do I want from life. Ask a different set of questions: What does life want from me? What are my circumstances calling me to do?
  • “Inner Hold” — a rigorous control of one’s inner state, a disciplined defense of one’s own integrity.
  • A well-lived life involves throwing oneself into struggle…those who pursue struggle end up being happier than those who pursue pleasure.
  • Humility is the greatest of virtues. Is you can’t learn it, God will teach it to you by humiliation.
  • Sin is a necessary part of our mental furniture, because without it, the whole method of character building dissolves. People develop character by struggling against their internal sins.
  • Practice a gratuitous exercise of self-discipline every day. If you act well, eventually you will be good. Change your behavior and eventually you will rewire your brain.
  • Dwight Eisenhower [diary note]: “Anger cannot win. It cannot even think clearly.”
  • General Fox Conner: “Always take your job seriously. Never take yourself seriously.”
  • [Re: Moderation] Fueled by passion…policed by self control.
  • [Re: Moderation] A life organized not around self-expression, but self constraint.
  • [Re: Moderation] The best moderate is blessed with a spirited soul and also the proper character to tame it.
  • [Re: Suffering] Most people shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering.
  • Richard Winn Livingstone: “One is apt to think of moral failure as due to weakness of character: more often it is due to an inadequate ideal.”
  • Holiness isn’t in the next world but is embedded in a mundane thing like a marriage, which ties one down but gives one concrete and daily opportunities for self sacrifice and service.
  • [Augustine] Say no to one set of desires and pleasures and rise to a higher set of joys and pleasures.
  • Only God has the power to orient your desires and reshape your emotions, not you.
  • The humble person understands that experience is a better teacher than pure reason.
  • Each struggle leaves a residue. A person who has gone through these struggles seems more substantial and deep.

Read reviews or buy this book on Amazon

Disclaimer: These Reading Notes are not a replacement for reading the book — just a sampling of my personal notes (copyright to the author), and potentially out of context as well.