14 August 2015

Birthday time! Again!

What's not to like live?
Today is not just Friday but my 46th birthday, so I have an excuse for a little (extra) narcissism and reflection.

Some cliches are deep: "You only get one chance in life" or "it ain't over 'til it's over," for example, refer to each of our unique trails. These trails cannot always be seen, planned or changed, but they can be often be enjoyed, accepted or learned from.

In recent months, I've added to my feeling that it's good to take chances. It's clearer to me that one should not worry about (inevitable) failures or (regrettable) criticisms. Yes, it's important to listen to others and learn from failure -- just as it's important to look at a map before wondering off in a new city. But important doesn't mean paralyzed or diverted. Each of us needs to make choices and take chances on exciting ideas if we hope to live a worthy life.

(Yes, I am a white, middle-aged male with a PhD, two passports, savings and a secure job, but I started off with much less. Everything I have today can be linked to parents who cared for me and an education that allowed me -- and pushed me -- to think. Focus on the basics, and the rest will follow be easier.)

But "worthy" means different things to some. Older me thinks it is more about enjoying what I can do and have accomplished than having the "impact" younger me thought he deserved.

In present terms, this means that I am excited about teaching lots of clever students (i.e., encouraging them to run after setting down the scissors) at the same time as I am slightly depressed about big bad topics (climate change is far more dangerous than local political failure, which can be escaped).

In other (birthday-thinking-summary-prognostication) news, I am happy to be in good health (spending on pool + bike gives huge returns) and enjoy the gifts of my girlfriend Cornelia, dad Hugh, and family/friends located all over the planet. I've got an excellent "day job" with fun colleagues and a "hobby job" talking about water and other social-political-economic diversions with passionate people engaging through blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. And then there's Amsterdam and the Dutch: a city and a nation that is so deep, functional and charming (not always in that order) that I sometimes have to pinch myself. (Seriously, I took last Sunday off after an overwhelming Saturday!) What about the future? More of the same -- I hope -- without knowing exactly how that will work out.

Oh, and one final update: On my last birthday, I announced that I was giving away the PDF of my book, Living with Water Scarcity. Since then, I estimate that it has been downloaded roughly 40,000 times (not including roughly 1,500 downloads for the free Spanish edition). Please do help people find these books. The greatest birthday gift I could receive would be good water management for everyone.


  1. Really enjoyed this. Positivity is nice to read first thing in the morning. :)

  2. Happy belated birthday! I'm enjoying reading your blog :)


Spam will be deleted. Comments on older posts must be approved.
If you're having problems posting, email your comment to me