Running Late


The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of

mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds.

Thomas Merton

Today, October 17, is my birthday, and my gift to myself is an inward journey.

On Monday I will start a weeklong retreat at the Trappist Monastery pictured above, in the hills of western Massachusetts.

There, amid silence and solitude, I hope to catch up with myself.

I’ve exhausted whole decades of my career running from project to project, meeting to meeting, event to event, commitment to commitment. Running, so I wouldn’t be late.

Now, on a birthday whose number is as revolting as Voldemort, I am still running: two bed-and-breakfasts . . . two books published in the past year and five more in various stages of development . . . a weekly blog posting . . . a weekly column in an online magazine . . . three corporate clients on two coasts.

I am running to do it all—before the time comes for me to go.

Ay, there’s the rub, as Hamlet brooded.

Thomas J. Watson, Sr., transformed the tiny Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company into what was once the world’s most revered corporation—IBM. His slogan, which was the centerpiece of all the company’s endeavors, from research to sales to service, was the simple, single word: THINK.

I spent almost twenty years at IBM with the ubiquitous THINK sign on my desk, like the one below.


Tom Watson isn’t the only business superstar who paid obeisance to the worth of formalized thinking. Here’s what Warren Buffett—arguably history’s most successful equities investor—has to say:

I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business.

I wish he had shared that thought with me a long time ago.

To again quote Merton, that most famous Trappist monk, “What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?"

In my forthcoming novella, Charming Billy, a teenaged boy, tormented by a brutish father, finds peace in “an inner room, in his mind and in his heart, where he hid his thoughts and where he kept his affections. This room was always with him, wherever he was, and it was always a secret place, where only God entered.”

During the coming week, I will try to cross that abyss and find my inner room. 

In my next blog: “The Source of All Evil”

Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.

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  • Nancy Carr
    commented 2015-10-17 19:35:12 -0400
    I love monasteries and the solitude. The food is usually good, too. I could use a retreat now myself. Looking forward to your reporting on your retreat. Blessings and happy birthday!
  • Joe Canas
    commented 2015-10-17 13:51:37 -0400
    Happy birthday, Peter! Enjoy the silent moments — I look forward to reading about them in coming weeks. (But please, take your time!)