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Dear Copthorne Macdonald,

After reading your book Getting a Life and looking through your website discussing wisdom, I thought I had garnered a fairly accurate idea about what kind of person you are and how you see things. During this process, I enjoyed your writing and understood your point of view. In some ways you remind me of my father, who is also an engineer; he loves to look at the world from different perspectives, explore meditation, see the world abstractly, and analyze how one can connect with nature and use this insight to better oneself. I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to communicate with you via video-chat, because it gave me a deeper look at the person behind the words I had been reading.

As much I have learned from the lessons in your book, the most profound thing I took from you was actually a small instance during our video conservation in class. For a brief moment, you - once again reminding me of my father and his knack for giving good advice - spoke about the importance of overcoming one's obstacles. Hearing this small word of advice from someone who is an expert on wisdom and "joyful and effective living" made me realize just how important this issue is my own life. Over the years, I have always let the smallest problems get the best of me; I have never been able to accept them as a part of the challenges in life that can be surmounted with hard work and determination, so I would always turn away or give up. Because of this, I am finding myself become especially lost and defeated as I face a new set of obstacles at a time of transition in my life.

However, hearing your words gave me the spark I have needed for too long to finally step up and face my issues head-on. I have been afraid of the future. But I will always be afraid if I don't take my opportunities into my own hands and take action to make the best of what I have ahead of me. If I let my problems overcome me, if I back down, or if I don't fight for what I want in life right now, then I will never succeed or never have a future. I don't want to be afraid anymore.

I can't control the fact that my best friend is moving across the country this week or that I won't be able to come back to Rollins next year. I can, however, control my own decisions and actions, and I can create my own path. I have the power determine my own destiny and take everything that comes along with that, whether it may be more struggles or new successes. And I now have the strength inside me to keep going and keep working as hard as I can to achieve it. Thanks to your inspiring words, I can now take control and take my first step to "getting a life."



April 15, 2010

Dear Brooke,

I found your letter both touching and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your feelings so frankly. You can "take control" and take those first steps toward "getting a life," I have no doubt.

Throughout life we get flashes of insight into things. Into the way the world really works. Into possibilities that we hadn't seen before. Into the way our mind has been working and now needs to work. We see something clearly for the first time, and things are never quite the same after that. What we've seen, we've seen. The insight can't be undone. What seems clear from your letter is that you have had a very important insight. YES! Taking control. Facing the unknown future with confidence that, while there will be challenges and impediments, you will be able to deal with them — to go through them, climb over them, or skirt around them.

I am sorry that you won't be able to come back to Rollins next year. It is indeed a wonderful school. But you've had some self-transforming time there, and the good fortune to have had a term with Dr. Nordstrom and the personal writing experience. Sorry, too, that your best friend is moving across the country. Sometimes the desire is not there to keep up a relationship, making the separation even more painful. But if the desire is there on the part of both of you, think about keeping in touch via Skype. The software is free. Webcams are cheap. And there is no cost per minute to use it. Chatting for hours is free. And Skype-with-webcam really does create a feeling of personal presence that's much more intense than just talking on the phone.

"I have the power to determine my own destiny and take everything that comes along with that, whether it be more struggles or new successes." I'm sure there will be both, Brooke, and if there are things you'd like to share along the way, don't hesitate to drop me an email.

All the best,