Castles in the Air

One of my favorite Thoreau quotes is: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”   

My castle in the air has always been my writing ambitions. Although I’ve done a lot of writing, quite often I replaced working for success with dreaming of it. In my dreams I have been terrifically successful: best-sellers, TV interviews, movie adaptations. 

My reality has been much humbler: a handful of publication credits, 0 TV interviews or movie deals.  

That is until recently. Publishing Tao of Thoreau through Amazon finally attached a tower of my castle to some foundation stones. Still a humble accomplishment, but at least a tangible one. And last month, September 1, 2020 to today, October 1st, I sold 32 books. I don’t know who is buying them; I’m pretty sure all the friends and family bought theirs earlier in the year, so I can only assume that these are people hearing about my book and purchasing it. 

After hardly selling books for months, suddenly Tao of Thoreau took off.

This is after an August where I barely sold any. So maybe something is happening out there. Maybe my book is catching on. 

Strangers. Reading my work. A dream coming true. 

This website is another part of this supporting structure. Again, the numbers are not world-shattering, but I love seeing my statistics. Even one visitor eyeing my work is wonderful. And I’m having fun challenging myself to beat the previous weeks stats.  

My biggest takeaway is this: writing and publishing is making me feel joy. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now the joy of this process is spreading to all areas of my life. I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am in my writing journey, and I am so glad that you are reading this right now. Thank you! 

Losing Control

From my book Tao of Thoreau. Order it from the sidebar!

This is good advice for me at the beginning of the school year. Staying calm and remembering that all of these stresses are indeed transient is difficult right now. I am trying to remember that obstacles are also opportunities and frustrations are lessons. I can let them bog me down or believe these challenges will make me grow.

Tao of Fractals

Fractals fascinate me. Not the math, though I’m sure it’s great, but the patterns. If you don’t know what I mean, check out . Zoom in as much as you want, and you will see repeating, incredibly similar patterns. It’s the similarity that intrigues me: no two structures are quite the same even though they are very alike. 

The Tao Te Ching talks about the earth as a place where “creatures flourish together, endlessly repeating, endlessly renewed.” I think this is an essential understanding of the nature of existence. There is a conservation of form. Humans have an enormous amount of things in common, but physically, intellectually, emotionally, there is enormous variation. 

When patterns work Nature replicates them. Its genius is that it is a pattern, not a mold. Though there are masses of humans, we are not mass produced. We follow the blueprint, but the differences are manifold.

I like to take ideas like this and apply them to my life. Notice my repeated patterns. Observe what is the same, and also the variations. I learn about myself from my own behavior and work, and like Nature, I can choose to repeat what successful and discard what is unsustainable.  

****Interested in philosophy and Taoism? Check out my book Tao of Thoreau. ****

From Tao of Thoreau

This is the first entry in my book. You will see that the left side has a quote from Thoreau, and the right hand side explains the connection of his ideas to Taoism. It also talks of a Seeker, a person looking to live a meaningful, balanced and creative life.


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow out of life, to live so sturdily as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it. Or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it. 


Thoreau begins his quest by radically simplifying his world. Moving to a cabin in the woods enables him to identify distractions and illusions. Being alone helps him strip his life down to find out what is important and true in the hopes of discovering a path that has meaning and value. 

Realistically, most of us cannot separate from society. Still, Thoreau teaches the Seeker to identify parts of life that drain our energy, hold us back, and trip us up. 

This is what he means by fronting “the essential facts of life.” What is truly important? What desires are part of my path, and which pull me away from it?  Thoreau and Taoism propose a radical freedom from distracting and destructive thinking, mindsets and actions.   

I would love to hear what you think about these ideas! Leave a comment.

Avoid the Beginning of Evil

When I decided to launch this website, Henry David Thoreau had a talk with me. He reminded me of a time he had three pieces of limestone on his desk, and became “terrified” when he realized he had to dust them every day, so he “threw them out the window in disgust.” 

His punch line was: “It’s best to avoid the beginning of evil.” 

Thoreau is showing his sense of humor with some hyperbole, but his point is strong: consider the new objects and projects that you take on carefully, and think about the amount of work involved in maintaining them. 

Metaphorically, Thoreau’s limestone represents any task or duty that demands our attention and work. As I say in Tao of Thoreau, when we start something new, we need to be “ready to bring the energy and focus required.” I thought about this a lot as I designed 

I’m launching this site at the end of the school year, which can be a stressful and exhausting time. For this blog to succeed, I need to produce and post content so people who like it will keep coming back. I need to find creative ways to promote it so that it grows. This is a lot of work; moreover, it is work that I will have to sustain for a long time for this site to become successful.  

Then I realized something, so I said this back to Thoreau: “The limestone was decoration. You didn’t want to waste your time on something you didn’t have to. Writing is something I want to do. And with a website, other people can read my work, which has always been my goal.” 

I didn’t see Lao-Tzu there until he said, “That’s right.” I looked at him, and he spoke in that calm voice, echoing with centuries of wisdom: “Do you work and step back. The only path to serenity.”

Thoreau didn’t have anything to say to that, so I guess I have avoided the beginning of evil.