Latest entries

We’re social creatures: We heal each other, but we start dying when alone

by David McElroy

When I came home from the hospital last Tuesday — after spending four days surrounded by the noise of people and beeping machines — all I wanted was to be left alone.

A couple of friends brought me home — she drove me and he drove the car I’d taken to the emergency room — and they were generous in their sincere efforts to do anything I needed done. They offered to go get food for me and take care of anything else I needed.

I appreciated all they wanted to do, but all I wanted was for them to leave. I wanted peace and quiet. I wanted to be alone.

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Who were you before someone told you who you were supposed to be?

by David McElroy

At some point in your young life, you were rewarded for being something — and the pleasure of that reward led you to end up believing that was who you really were.

But who were you before that? Who were you before parents and teachers and culture taught you to conform to what they wanted? Do you remember?

Those people rarely say, “This is what I want you to be.” They don’t even necessarily have bad intentions. But the people around you start shaping you into what they believe you ought to be. Sometimes they try to make you into little versions of themselves. Sometimes they’re acting out of fears from their own lives — trying to save you from something which damaged them.

But you were born knowing who you are. Do you remember who that is?

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Jalen Hurts’ team-first attitude is antidote to ESPNization of sports

by David McElroy

ESPN is both the best thing and the worst thing to ever happen to college sports.

The network showed a lot of absolute junk in its early days, but it also made people become accustomed to being able to see their college football and basketball teams more often. Although ABC and CBS had been the early leaders in college sports, ESPN pushed the boundaries and opened the floodgates. The rights money flowed freely to colleges and conferences.

Fans were happy. Wealthy major conferences and colleges were happy. Athletes were happy with the exposure. Coaches got paid more.

But ESPN was a relentless hype machine. In promoting its games, the push is all about the individual — the single achiever, the big star. And that has taken a lot of the enjoyment out of team sports for me.

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UPDATE: After surgery, maybe I’ll eventually start feeling a bit better

by David McElroy

I was apparently a lot sicker than I realized.

After discovering 12 days ago that I had gallstones, I spent a lot of time reading about possible treatments, but I slowly became convinced the emergency room doctor had been right. I needed surgery to remove my sickened gallbladder.

I was in enough discomfort — and eventually full-scale pain — that I didn’t work much last week. By Saturday morning, the worst pain of my life was back — and it was even worse this time.

I returned to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham Saturday morning. By that evening, I was admitted to the hospital with plans to get me go home late Sunday if surgery went well that morning. The official diagnosis was acute cholecystitis.

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New year is a great time to resolve
to cut toxic people out of your life

by David McElroy

Toxic people rarely have any idea how toxic they are. In fact, they mostly wonder — with feelings of hurt and outrage — why so many people they’ve loved have been so “unfair” to them.

These people don’t necessarily appear to be monsters. You might like many of them when you first meet them. But if you allow them to stay in your life, they’re going to drag you down — and the start of a new year is a great time to resolve to cut their poisonous influence completely.

As with other toxins, some toxic people are more deadly and dangerous than others. Some are obviously toxic from the beginning. Others present themselves as self-sacrificing saints, so they appear to be good people. Yet others will make you so dependent on them that you dare not upset them.

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Something in us usually wants to believe next year will be different

by David McElroy

The sun has set on another year — and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It seems as though I feel this way every year. At least for the last decade or so. I start each year with unreasonable hope that this year will be different. I keep hoping this year will be the one when some of the things I need start to come true.

A few years ago, I heard an interview with Harvard University psychologist Dan Gilbert in which he explained that people are terrible at predicting their own futures. In the abstract, people will tell you they know bad things can happen just as easily as good things.

But Gilbert said a consistent pattern shows up when you ask people to predict things in their own futures. If you take all their predictions and group them into a positive pile and a negative pile, the positives they predict for themselves far outweigh the negatives. They simply can’t see that bad things are going to happen.

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Live in a way that allows you to be the ‘light’ in the life of one you love

by David McElroy

Alice Hathaway Lee was only 17 years old when she met Teddy Roosevelt in 1878. The future U.S. president was a student at Harvard University. Roosevelt was a classmate of Lee’s cousin and it was at their house they met.

As soon as Roosevelt met Alice, he wrote of her constantly in his diary. He was smitten with her. He found her beautiful and charming. He was so obsessed with Alice that he wrote of her all the time. He chronicled her acts of recognition of him, her quiet smiles, her silences — every action he saw her take, as though he never wanted to forget the slightest detail.

Eight months later, Roosevelt proposed marriage, but Alice was in no hurry. She made him wait eight more months before she agreed and the wedding was later that year.

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We all know fairy tales aren’t true, but maybe we need such illusions

by David McElroy

When did you stop believing in fairy tales?

You might say you never really believed such stories. Maybe you knew Snow White and Cinderella and the rest were impossibly unreal. Maybe you never even believed in Santa. Even if you’re among those who never believed — who always recognized a delightful fantasy instead — I’m certain you’ve believed other fairy tales.

In fact, you almost certainly believe fantastic fairy tales today. I probably still believe in some of my own. But I’ve been thinking today that we might need such illusions in order to survive — as individuals and as civil societies.

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Maybe it wasn’t the correct choice,
but I’m not having surgery Friday

by David McElroy

If I had taken the advice of my emergency room doctor tonight, I would be in a hospital bed — getting ready for surgery in the morning. I didn’t take his advice, though, so I’m back home. Only time will tell whether I made the right decision.

I started feeling lousy on Christmas Day and I felt worse as the week went along. At first, it was just discomfort in my chest and back. I felt terrible in multiple ways. I went to work each day but I barely pulled myself through each day until it was late enough to go home and collapse.

By Thursday morning, the discomfort had turned to serious pain. I went to the clinic of a friend who’s a doctor about 11:30 a.m. After examining me and taking X-rays, he suspected the problem was my gallbladder, but he couldn’t be sure without an ultrasound.

He suggested I immediately head to a hospital emergency room.

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Genetics, culture work together to drive us to pursue what we want

by David McElroy

Some people believe holidays change people, but I think they’re far more likely to bring out what’s already inside — for good or for bad. Holidays that center around family frequently tell me who someone really is.

I pay more attention to children than most adults do. I watch families. I talk with children when I can. I take them seriously and I play with them frivolously. I love their world and I love the ways in which they can change how I see my own world.

That’s never more true than around Christmas.

Whether children are from families which are religious or not, there seems to be something magical that takes over around this time. (I presume the same is true in cultures where there are other religious and cultural traditions, but my experience is in an American Christian cultural context.)

Something I experience in these children at this time changes me — or at least brings out something in a stronger way that’s always there.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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