Wednesday - April 17th, 2024
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Mark O’Brien

 
My Spiritual Journey
April 15th, 2024
My Spiritual Journey &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

Author’s Note: I was once asked by a devotee of Simon Sinek if could state my why in five words. Because I’m a writer, I cheated; that is, I hyphenated. My response was, “I write to restore self-faith.” When I said that, I didn’t mean my self-faith. I meant I write to restore the self-faith of all those who’ve abandoned theirs, surrendered theirs, or had theirs stolen. I seem to be developing a morbid case of FOMO (fear of missing out). It stems from my increasingly empirical sense that I may be one of the very few people on the planet who’s not on a spiritual journey. Please don’t... Continue Reading

April 15th, 2024
Heard It in a Love Song
April 8th, 2024
Heard It In A Love Song &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

The Marshall Tucker Band released its self-titled debut album on Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records in 1973. As soon as my buddies and I heard “Take the Highway” and “Can’t You See”, we were instant fans. In 1977, the band released its sixth album, Carolina Dreams, which was certified platinum in the same year and was their most commercially successful album. It contained the track, “Heard it in a Love Song”, that reached No. 14 on the Billboard charts. “Heard it in a Love Song” provoked philosophical debate that endures to this day. The controversy is about the last two lines... Continue Reading

April 8th, 2024
Byline 360° Revisited
April 3rd, 2024

On Monday, April 8th, we’ll conduct Byline 360˚ as you’ve come to know and love it. Then, we’re going to take a nap for two months. Starting Monday, May 13th, 2024, we’ll begin meeting twice a month, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, for three months. But this time, Byline 360˚  will be an actual workshop, with actual work to be done between sessions. In short, we’ll talk, draft, share and discuss our drafts, then revise and refine them. Over our six sessions, we’ll figure out why we do the things we do when we write, which of those things we might do better, and which of those things define... Continue Reading

April 3rd, 2024
Hope, Control, and Letting Go
April 2nd, 2024
Hope, Control, And Letting Go &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

On April 23rd, I’ll be leading a discussion in Salon 360˚. The title of the session will be the same as the title of this post. Inspired by some of my recent experiences with a longtime friend, the discussion has ties to the Herman Melville short story, “Bartleby the Scrivener”; to Unsheltered: Voices from the Street, a book being compiled and published by 360˚ Nation and Peggy Willms — and to A Bronx Tale. In short, the session will be about reconciling: The desire to bring about what we believe to be favorable outcomes The illusory and presumptuous nature of control The relinquishing... Continue Reading

April 2nd, 2024
Chicken or Egg
March 25th, 2024
Chicken Or Egg &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

I was recently in a conversation with a client. We’ll call her Petunia (not her real name; although, I wish it were). Petunia happens to work in a very large (as in global), very dysfunctional (as in no responsibility or accountability) company that has her beyond frustrated. Part of her frustration is that she’s very responsible and very willing to be accountable. But her responsibility and accountability aren’t acknowledged, rewarded, or reciprocated. During the conversation, I asked a question it had never occurred to me to ask before: Do companies like that breed irresponsibility and... Continue Reading

March 25th, 2024
We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
March 18th, 2024
We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

We live in a horse race. Two nags, Gluefoot and Gimpy, are neck-and-neck coming down the stretch, and we have no idea which horse will cross the finish line first. Gluefoot represents the uncertainty of whether we’ll persist in our belief that we can control (because we’ll be blamed for) everything. Gimpy represents the uncertainty of whether we’ll come to realize we’re insignificant and ineffectual beyond the ability of our imaginations and our egos to comprehend such a thing. Exhibit A is climate change. I came across an article in The New Yorker entitled, “What a Major Solar Storm... Continue Reading

March 18th, 2024
The State of the Onion
March 13th, 2024
The State Of The Onion &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

I was going to excerpt portions of President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union remarks and annotate them with snide comments. But four things happened: I realized snark is indistinguishable from truth at this point, and snark doesn’t sit well in some circles. Neither does truth. And here we are. I wouldn’t have enough time to peel the onion sufficiently enough to respond to all the delusional falsities in Uncle Joe’s remarks and still have time for everything else in my life. I found this post in The Federalist that highlights 30 of the lowlights. So, I decided to let it go at that. I... Continue Reading

March 13th, 2024
What’s In a Name?
March 11th, 2024
What’s In A Name? &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

I happened to see a notice that, Melanie, one of the singer/songwriters who achieved some popularity during my wayward youth, passed away earlier this year at the age of 76. It started me thinking about the plethora of famous people who’ve managed to become known by a single name only, often just their first names. This is just a partial list: Cher, Madonna, Sting, Rihanna, Charo, Sade, Usher, Prince, Adele, Beyoncé, Sinbad, Bono, Flea, Liberace, Zendaya, Lizzo, Pink, Twiggy, Slash, Yanni, Snoop, Drake, Kesha, Fabio, Shakira, Björk, Aaliyah, Eminem, Ashanti, Banksy, Seal, Oprah, Morrissey,... Continue Reading

March 11th, 2024
My Musical Calendar
March 4th, 2024
My Musical Calendar &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

I have a theory that, for some people, the calendar just stops. It stops at different times for different people. But it definitely stops. All of their cultural influences — sartorial, tonsorial, musical, et al. — freeze. I don’t know if those freezes could be considered time warps. It’s more likely they reflect periods of time in which the frozen people were most comfortable. I developed the theory in sixth grade. It was 1966. I was 12 years old. I had a classmate named Dennis Kennedy. I don’t know how old Dennis was. But he shaved, smoked, and drove his own car to school. His calendar... Continue Reading

March 4th, 2024
A Silly People
February 26th, 2024
A Silly People &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien

On The Scale of Self-Deceit and Frivolity Unto Extinction, there are points well beyond first-world problems. They indicate the extent to which life in the United States is luxurious enough that we can afford to make shit up to worry about. They also confirm the point made by Bill Maher that Americans are a silly people. Consider this item, which was brought to my attention most recently: On February 9, 2024, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper ran an article with the headline, ”PETA wants carousel maker to stop creating rides with animal figures”. Not animals. Animal figures. At the very least,... Continue Reading

February 26th, 2024