Category Archives: Opinion

The Transformation of Downtown Springdale

It was an unexpectedly cold morning. Even so, tulips were everywhere downtown, giving me splashes of color in bursts as I walked. It was beautiful to witness so many installations of canopy and outdoor lights in alleys and nooks and crannies.

There are places in Downtown Springdale that startle you with a mix of form and function. If the right people are involved, this could be amazing. I’m hoping that color finds a better home here.

Downtown Springdale is substantially different than it was a year ago. Entire blocks and buildings have surrendered to history, while others sprouted in their wake. It feels like the area is awakening. Even as the national economy falters, it’s difficult to miss the fact that Downtown64 (as it should be called, by the way) is the focus of a lot of energy and attention. Art, storefront displays, food, outdoor dining/drinking, public spaces, the Apollo Events Center, a trail, bike shops, lofts/apartments off Emma, a marathon, murals, and outdoor dining events; the area is markedly different than it once was. That’s a good thing.

The Arts Center of the Ozarks, often overlooked. Even though the picture is blurry, I’m leaving it, if only because I didn’t have my glasses on when I took the picture.

One of the many murals showing up all over Springdale. If I had a say, every wall would be covered in color and beauty.

Perhaps the ugliest logo in human history. Not quite the ugliest, but I still hate how this logo somehow made it through the process of becoming the city’s logo.

Don Guero’s is no Mr. Taco Loco, but it adds flavor to Emma.

Out of the last several times I’ve dined out, it’s been on Emma. Fair or not, living in East Springdale isn’t conducive to fine dining.

The one thing that is missing for me is a coffee shop for early morning. Such a place would bring visitors to Emma at an earlier hour. As the number of people working near Emma increases, it is inevitable. The question is who’ll realize the pull of such a place first. Art economies require copious amounts of both alcohol and caffeine. I included Bike Rack’s picture because the hours posted on the door don’t coincide with them being open. Trailside Coffee inside the Phat Tire Bike Shop is the other competitor, located off of Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park. Maybe we’ll get back to normal when the pandemic is over.

Speaking of ‘open hours,’ the barbershop adjacent to the Apollo had the same problem the other morning. Unless the clientele is vampire-oriented, someone forgot to turn the light off by 4 a.m.

That is a fox in the middle of the picture. I heard yipping and scampering behind me for at least a minute. I assumed it was a dog following me. It wasn’t. It was Mr. Fox. He was mostly unafraid of me. I took the picture near the intersection of Grove and Quandt, where the vacant church that should be a private residence sits. Years ago, I lived on Grove Street, near the Arts Center of the Ozarks.

I like Emma much, much better now that someone wisely installed multiple 4-way stops and mostly eliminated the one-way street nonsense that once plagued downtown.

Taken from the creekside portion of the trail approaching Huntsville Avenue.

Many people are unaware that there are loft apartments above James & James off Emma.

Storefront art installations; this one is across from The Odd Soul and Mr. Taco Loco on Emma.

Small house tucked away near the Apollo Theater. I love such residences, along with upper story apartments and condos in urban areas. A smart developer built a row of apartments near the old Washington Elementary building past the Community Clinic and near the Jones Center. I think it’s brilliant. (Little Emma apartments) They look sleek and modern. The picture I snapped of them looked terrible.

The old Layman building property. Except for the corner on Water Street, the entire block is gone. For Springdale residents, the absence of anything here is striking.

… as does the block that once held the Bank of American and HelpCard building, along the railroad excursion depot.

If you’re interested, you can still go back to 2007 using Google Streetview and ‘drive’ the old Emma and its old buildings. It’s worth the time to do so if that sort of thing interests you.

No matter how you feel about the changes to Downtown Springdale, you should prepare yourself for ongoing transformation. Millions of dollars will continue to funnel through this corridor. I predict it will be both functional and beautiful. That Springdale is building its new Criminal Justice Center within pitching distance of the Shiloh Museum and Turnbow Park is genius. It anchors downtown and adds an element of safety to visitors. It’s possible to walk for thirty minutes and witness millions of dollars of investment happening right in front of us.

If you’re a fan of Springdale, I recommend that you walk the area when other people are still asleep. It’s another world an done conducive to discovering new things about our common geography.

P.S. You’ll discover things about yourself, too.



Heretoforward March

“Lymph, v.:  to walk with a lisp.”

One of my favorite people asked me half-jokingly if “heretoforward” was a word. When she used it, I understood it in context.

My short answer to the question? Yes, because it conveyed meaning.

Is it proper? Who cares?

I added it to my dictionaries to ensure I use it in the future without being reminded of some arbitrary rule.

“Heretofore” is a ‘real’ word. It supposedly means ‘before now,’ or ‘previously.’

If that stupid word is a ‘real’ word, then so too is ‘heretoforward.’ English is stuffed with ridiculous words, thousands of them, most of them orphans.

It reminds me of the word ‘overmorrow,’ which means ‘the day after tomorrow.’ It’s a good word, one that shouldn’t have fallen out of favor. If we’re going to use logic, let’s take a hard look at some of the rules we take for granted, especially those which make it hard for regular people to immediately understand how our language can be used. I didn’t put the word ‘properly’ in that last sentence because ‘proper’ is a unicorn.

Regarding language, I am not a perfectionist and certainly not a purist. I like language that breaks things and evolves rapidly. If you search the ‘language’ or ‘grammar’ tags of my blog, I’ll probably irritate you with my consistent message: language exists in its present form because we politely agree that it does. It really is that simple.

You can accuse me of laziness all you want. Heretoforward, it won’t bother me. I’ll be over here doing whatever I want with the language. I won’t stray too far because I’m not writing “A Clockwork Orange.” The point is to convey meaning. If I can do that while causing the purists’ hair to stand on end, even better.

Since I’m helping someone new learn a bit of Spanish, I find myself reminding her that English is a bastard language and trying to impose its arbitrary rules on other languages is a recipe for disgust.

P.S. Commenting to tell me how stupid I am wastes your time, not mine. Ha!

Under a Filtered Sun

This afternoon, I waited and sat in the shade of a leafless tree, and read the handwritten copy of Ecclesiastes that Mary Emma transcribed for me some seven years ago. The sky above me was clear, blue, and reminded me that serene as it is, it masks a volatile and unpredictable world. It’s still my favorite book, in part because not even scholars can agree whether it is highly optimistic or pessimistic, coherent or incoherent. It is not a religious text. Each time I read it, I realize that I’ve become a different person and interpret its optimism and pessimism in equal doses.

And I read Mary Emma’s passage from John I that she added: …”the light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.”

I sat in the filtered sun and read. And pondered.

It’s amazing the big circle that life places us in.

All those years ago, when I asked her to write it for me, I could not have imagined the place and time I’d find myself in today. I hope her world has blossomed into a spectacle for her, too. .

A Peek Behind The Curtains

The hubris of life, of majestic leaps atop a mountain, of impractical love. That’s why I made the picture of the woman leaping with apparent joy. I hope she is happy and that the moment was magical for her.

Once you’ve peeked behind the curtains of someone’s life, both warts and happiness, seeing the frailty you share in common minimizes the feelings of your inadequacy. There’s something to be said about knowing that the person who seems impenetrable is as uncertain or more so than you are.

For every boring life or person walking the sidewalks with a wide smile, there is another person who wears the smile and frenetic cloak of being busy as a shield. It’s often unknowable whether each person is truly happy. People are adept at concealment.

If we could hear the tone of people’s thoughts, especially those who seem to have it all together, I think most of our feelings of inadequacy would disappear.

We window shop when we are in the world or when we use these electronic portals to peek into other’s lives.

There is joy, laughter, and fulfillment.

There’s also pain, remorse, regret, and loss.

For every bite of anguish I experience, I know that the toll for others, though often invisible, burns them privately. I regret that our lives don’t allow us to drop the pretense.

We don’t know what rivers flow behind someone else’s eyes, nor do we really understand what ignites them. Some people craft an ornate and expansive wall around them, on to which they project the facade they want us to see. This is truer when the disparity of their daylight life grows distant from who they are at their center, in the shadows, in private, or in whispers.

It’s exciting to peek behind the facade and share that protected self. It’s sublime and affirming.

But the shriek and tenor that results when some do not want to acknowledge that you’ve seen their secret self? Though you’ve not wronged them, they flail and pivot with the agony of your having shared their inner monologue.

It often gets masked as anger.

It’s not.

Anger is the symptom. It’s really sublimated fear.

It doesn’t have to be.

It’s okay.

Some of us can be glad we experienced another facet of life, even if the ending was a surprise plot twist.

It is a gift to hold the truth of someone else in your own heart. Even if it lodges there like a dart.

Of that, I’m certain, even as certainty eclipses my grasp.

The foolishness of my own certainty came back to punch me in the gut. In time, I will forget the lesson, just as I did with the lesson of life’s urgency; it’s a lesson that can’t be explained. It must be experienced.

The Malefactor Realization

You are a villain in someone else’s story.

I’ve written about this before.

It is an uncomfortable truth.

The realization hurts worse when you understand that you had to be made into one for the other person to get to a narrative he or she can live with. I think we are all guilty of this in some form.

It’s a rare thing for people to look at one another, nod in acknowledgment, and go on with their lives. We are wired to evaluate, judge, and appraise.

None of us like to imagine we acted badly. Sometimes, we have. And sometimes, not that often, we are outmatched by a superior intellect or a harder heart, both of which contribute to the likelihood that you’re going to be the rapacious villain when the words “The End” appear.

It will burn your heart and sense of fairness to be at the epicenter of such attention. Flailing won’t help – and neither will rebuke.

Sometimes, we’ve been assigned motives that don’t reflect what is in our head or heart. People need those motives to protect themselves from introspection or scrutiny.

It’s okay that it’s that way.

It is possible to act with the purest form of love and still stumble so badly that someone labels you as the villain.

It’s hard to change that label because so often there is no observable trail, no defense to be made, and no fair reckoning of facts or forces.

Yes, even in love, especially so; if vulnerability is invoked, it amplifies the rawness and center of people.

Consequences often overshadow intentions.

There are times when there is no real lesson, no moment of clarity or closure.

Only of acceptance.

Anthony Marra said it well: “You remain the hero of your own story even when you become the villain of someone else’s.”

Yesterday, I reached my moment of clarity and gave myself closure. In so doing, I ruptured some unseen line of acceptance. And I realized that the villain was me.

And I accept that, even though the label fails to align with the truth of my life. But such statements are given to an audience of no one. Fighting your labels is seldom rewarded.

I want everyone to be fulfilled and happy and to have people in their lives who love and appreciate them.

I say none of these words as villainous. But perception and personal filters assign motive for anyone reading this.

I had nothing but love in my heart.

I hope we all find our way back to it.

All of us.

Love, X

Language Belongs To All Of Us

“If we have to guess or spell words phonetically in order to be able to say them properly, why don’t we just change the spelling to be phonetic in the first place?”

I’m a better-than-average speller, but I despise the way our language makes people uncomfortable when using it. Most peoole use only 800 or so distinct words in a day. And most communication is verbal. One of my biggest pleasures is trashing the expectations of those who disagree. We all abuse the language in our own way. It belongs to all of us, to use and misuse as we wish.

Earlier, I witnessed a needless haranguing over language. I intervened jokingly. The self-appointed expert asked me something to exert dominance. I replied in Spanish. “I wasn’t talking in Spanish and I don’t understand it.” I laughed. “No, but he does, so who is the asshole now?”

I intended to write more, but I slipped and fell off my soapbox.

Give It Away

“Tomorrow is promised to no one.”
― Clint Eastwood

My 24″ X 30″ custom Clint Eastwood painting found a new home today. Into the hands of a new father, his second child having arrived in the last couple of days.

Previously, he commented on it. I don’t remember whether he loved it, or thought that his dad might. I get my stories mixed up because I worked as an intermediary to get another version of this done for the dad of a friend of mine.

“They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.”
― Clint Eastwood

It is a thing I do. I give away my favorite paintings. Sometimes I replace them. Sometimes, I take a stab at reinterpreting it with a replacement I make myself. The latter is the course I chose after gifting my sixth or seventh Doc Holliday painting. The version I created gave a new wrinkle to my story about the painting. The orange-toned one in the picture of this post is no longer mine, either.

Here’s one of my favorite Eastwood lines, one which probably should be emblazoned across people’s arms:
“Let’s not go and ruin it by thinking too much.”
― Clint Eastwood

Also, other times, I give them away without regard to how much I love the item. Everything is impermanent. Finding a new appreciative eye to enjoy something, even something I’ve not tired of, is a sublime pleasure. I have my memory of it, my story. And that story, once remembered, grows lengthier by my ability to relinquish it to someone else.

So often, I find myself wanting the story more than the thing itself. Stories can be repeated, shared, and recalled without risk of loss. Those items? Fire, flood, famine, theft, and dust can render them useless. My biography, especially the portion regarding my youth, is particularly suited to remind people that calamity is always on speed dial.

The didactic takeaway is that all of us are impermanent, too.

“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”
― Clint Eastwood

With horror, life made me remember this fundamental lesson anew. It was one I swore I would never again forget. (Which proves our minds are hard-wired toward the easier path of pushing such relentless truths to the background.)

“Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.” – Clint Eastwood

Still Here

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.” – Orson Welles


This is me at 170 lbs.

I didn’t take this picture to post it. I don’t hate my own picture as many people do. I’m an average man. Anyone with any knowledge of the human body can imagine what I look like dressed, in a swimsuit, or naked. Don’t think too long on that image. Or, think long on it. We are humans, each one of us. We guard our appearance as if keen eyes don’t already know. It’s part of what allows us to feel guilty about our weight. Even for those we love, we tend to suffer for being unable to openly discuss our weight.

Even people who preach “No secrets!” to others and to their partners will fight to the death to keep their weight a secret. The problem with that is by doing so, those people are openly acknowledging that they can’t control their eating. (There are exceptions, so don’t scream at me. Generalities aren’t written to cover the fringes, so chill out and have a beer.)

As for me, I’m not one to be guarded about my weight. Since this change, I will completely abandon the notion that keeping one’s weight secret helps anyone. It doesn’t. It shields us from acknowledging we have a problem. Having said that, this attitude doesn’t cover everyone, nor would I want it to. And I wouldn’t think it to be kind to be insensitive or hurtful to anyone who isn’t at the same stage as I am. Likewise, we have to stop pretending that people don’t know our weight or what we look like.

Another lifepro hint: a lot of amazing-looking people suffer from the delusion that they aren’t attractive, sexy, or normal. At risk of repetition, if you have someone in your life you says you are good-looking at your weight, believe them, especially if their words align with their reaction to you,. Also, congratulations. That kind of appreciation is worth much more than many other things that we think give our lives value. If you find someone who looks at you with hungry eyes, you’re lucky; if they love you too, you’ve won the lottery, one that will help you overcome a mountain of stresses in life.


“One of the secrets of weight loss is that being the right weight allows the enthusiasm you bring to your love life to double the pleasure. We are biological machines designed for pleasure. Give up all the needless food and find that pleasure elsewhere. You’ll thank yourself. “


I don’t weigh myself often because that is a distraction for me. Also, the plateau I hit still affects me. I’m not eating enough calories for my body to ‘relax’ about this process, I’m sure. I don’t think I’ve had a day since sometime in October where I wasn’t running an energy deficit for the day. My weight fluctuates by several pounds sometimes. Some days, I drink enough fluids to drown a zebra. (Note: I don’t advocate the drowning of zebras.)

It wasn’t my plan to do it this way; I gave myself permission to go crazy if unavoidable. Random cravings do strike. But I would still rather have chips than desserts. Since I have ‘healthy’ chips to satisfy my cravings without guilt, I have yet to eat sugar. (Even disguised as a cupcake, ice cream, or a candy bar.) Since everything I write seems to draw polarity, I am NOT saying that sugar is the devil like others do.

It is possible that further losses might not be sustainable without losing a lot of muscle mass or by playing dirty tricks on my body. Muscle burns more energy, of course. I suspect I have lost a bit of muscle mass, but certainly not from a lack of physical activity. Food reduction almost inevitably results in muscle loss if you don’t incorporate exertion into your day.

As for whether I am capable of simply eating almost nothing, the answer is completely ‘yes.’ It’s laughable how easy (for me) it is to just not eat at times. That such a comment would be possible for me is still a surprise. My fingers are crossed that old habits and thinking don’t creep back into my head. Were my job not so physical, I would likely incorporate strenuous exercise into the mix a few times a week to experiment with how my body reacts. I haven’t done anything except change my diet during this entire process. People are still surprised that it was so simple for me: eat a lot less, and eat healthily as much as possible.

People do laugh at me for audibly appreciating the taste of what I eat. Early yesterday, I had canned tomatoes with an additional mix of tomato-chicken broth. I added a specific hot sauce and seasonings. It was delicious, as evidenced by me saying “Yum!” and/or groaning in appreciation. My supervisor laughed. “That’s your secret!” Of course it is. I eat things that I love, ones which are simple. That’s as big as a secret as losing weight by keeping one’s mouth shut. (I laughed as I typed that last part.)

I got on the scale yesterday morning because I felt like I could run and jump my car, even though I was up and outside around 3:30 a.m. I felt a little outside of my own body. As I wrote about before (thanks to a friend of mine who did the same), nothing tastes as good as the way I feel. This morning, for a brief instant, that feeling overwhelmed me. If the rest of my life were on track and aligned with this feeling, I would probably be insufferably happy all the time – and you’d want to hit me with a shovel.

Running at a deficit also presents the possibility of lower energy and the risk of depressive thinking and feelings. I’m on guard about this. I have obstacles in my life, like everyone else. For me, being thinner saved me from certain negative consequences of the stress and diminished mood. Drastic reductions in food intake creates a greater propensity to suffer from reduced mood. Absent other changes and circumstances in my life that are also at play, I think this process could have hurt me had I not had an unbelievable focus of goals and a profound reason to live (and live a happier life) in the last few months. I’ve filed it away in case I’m around people trying to do the same thing in the future. They’ll listen to me if I’ve experienced it.



Sam’s Club has a 16oz bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning for less than $9. That’s quite the steal, even compared to Walmart at more than twice the price.

For reasons which escape me, I used to dislike iceberg lettuce in a bag. Maybe due to the extraneous added ingredients. Who knows? Recently, I tried it again. This time, I followed a tip online and skipped the salad dressing, instead opting to use only dry seasonings on the lettuce. I also tore the lettuce thoroughly by hand. It reduces the odd texture but also increases the ‘stick’ factor for the iceberg lettuce. I doubt normal people take ‘stick factor’ into consideration when discussing salad.

While not my intention, I’ve always resented the tendency to over pile a simple salad with a junkyard of ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, they can be divine. But are they necessary? By what alchemy do we decide what ‘enough’ is? And at what point do the additions add nothing of value? Since reducing and eating less, I am amazed by how much less is enough.

Today, I tried the lettuce with the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning.

Lord, was it good.

In the past, people have said, “But the seasoning has SO much sodium.” After looking at several bottles of ranch dressing, it turns that Ranch salad dressing has a LOT more sodium than the seasoning. While I don’t worry much about sodium content, the seasoning tricks your tongue into thinking it is a lot more salt. And there’s nothing to mask the intended ranch flavoring, as is the case with dressing.

Also, using a typical 36oz bottle of ranch dressing, it contains 35 servings at 130 calories each, equaling 4,680 for the entire bottle. The bottle of seasoning has 568 servings at 0 calories per serving…

You can waste your time learning to make a mess and make your own healthier ranch dressing. OR, you can try using dry seasoning first. Chances are? You won’t like it. But you might.

And even if you don’t, you’ll discover a million ways to use this ranch seasoning on all manner of food. I have. I’ve always loved using seasonings and flavorings this way.



If everything were as easy as becoming overweight, effort would be pointless. “Choose your hard” still resonates in my head. All of us love food. Some of us love exercise. We have to find a balance.

For most of us, the recipe is still there for us: eat less and you’ll see results. Eat a lot less, and you’ll see more results.

“I don’t eat desserts. I can. I just don’t. I don’t eat fried. I don’t eat dairy.
What do I eat cardboard? Ha.” – X



The next images highlight a lot of my thinking. As eye-catching as the second picture is, the woman in the first picture, to me, is much more attractive. She’s smiling and using the things some erroneously to be ‘less than’ in her favor. Her hair is beautiful, her glasses fit her personality, and no matter her weight, it is obvious that she loves life.

As with these… The second picture might be more likely to be in a sleep fantasy with the lights dimmed.

If you have doubts, google each sex at different weights. We come in all shapes and sizes.

Love is one size fits all.

Whatever weight you may be, if it isn’t what you want, change it. If it is difficult, it will feel that much better if you can use your intelligence to get there.

And if you are at the weight you want to be, join me in preaching the gospel of helping people appreciate themselves.

Love, X


Best money for an honest opinion you’ll ever spend. If that sort of thing is important to you. If you have someone in your life who observably finds you appealing, that is the best definition of attractive imaginable.



I’m probably the last person you’d expect to have an opinion about clothing or fashion. My past self was disinterested. Being fat makes much of the concern difficult to navigate. Once upon a time, I loved crazy clothing and vibrant, ridiculous colors. That love has returned.

Now that I look at ‘fashion’ (whatever that is) with a thinner eye, I discovered something I knew before: I am a huge fan of asymmetrical clothing. Shirts, vests, dresses, everything. I don’t remember noting the inclination as strongly before. Maybe there wasn’t as much of it. Maybe it’s me who has changed.

Interestingly, science fiction tends to portray most people in the future as fans of asymmetrical clothing. Don’t get me wrong: normal cut and other clothing is still interesting. But I find myself seeing the odd angles and mismatched materials much more interesting. I guess there is hope for me not getting old yet. In case you’re wondering about the last comment: it is difficult to find new things and enjoy them and feel old simultaneously.




On a personal level, I haven’t lost a lot more weight. I’ve lost some. But I have not jumped on the scale. I’m at a plateau and I’m still okay with that. But do I feel thin? Lord, yes, I do, even though I have a pudge. I’ve yet to lose all sense and dive into unhealthy behavior, at least in regards to eating. I hope I don’t lose this sense of gratefulness to the universe for providing me with this feeling. I’m still convinced terrible consequences were impending without this big weight loss. I’m equally convinced that being significantly thinner is going to keep me smiling, even when other things might not, for quite some time.



Being bilingual sometimes causes awkward laughter. Earlier this month, I invented a better, new word that better expresses what younger people want for Feb. 14th.

“Will you be my valentine?” will now be replaced with the more accurate, “Will you be my sinpantalón?”

¿Quieres ser mi San Valentín? = ¿Quieres ser mi Sinpantalón?



As an educational comment. Many people do not know that a standard 9 volt battery contains six AAAA batteries (now obsolete, of course) linked in a series. Additionally, If you connect two 9 volts to opposite polarity, you create a hand warmer. Also a detonation device if you’re not careful.



In a move best characterized as “ill-advised,” John located his martial arts studio adjacent to an Anger Management Institute franchise.



Just me? “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes summons a strident desire to recommend a competent mental health professional for the protagonist of the song.



Now I understand why I’m obligated to buy expensive toilet paper: the Bible instructs us, “Be fruitful and multi-ply.”





Feb. 11th

Coming over the hill into the long valley, I realized mine was the only car. Ahead, the ground and everything around it was strangely illuminated from winter’s touch. Winter did not bring its worst to us last night, choosing a subtle reminder that certainty eludes us. Far ahead the emerald traffic light burned with a green intensity. Go. Proceed. And I did, though I wanted to linger in the early February morning, as the world slept. On to work I came, as Evermore melodically hypnotized me. Go. Proceed. The emerald light is somewhere out there.



“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” is great poetry. But evidently a terrible horoscope for the day.



Day after the Super Bowl

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: complaints about the halftime show are proportionally correlated to the likelihood that Centrum Silver is somewhere in the speaker’s medicine cabinet.” – X



The pandemic was a really bad time to start using mustard in the hand sanitizer dispensers. That’s what my manager shoutily told me.6 Comments

(Shoutily is a word because I say it is. You’re welcome.)



If I had a kid, I would name him or her “Mnemonics” so that people would be unable to forget the name without looking foolish.



“‘X, how would you describe his intelligence?””Well, ‘Parts On Order’ adequately covers it.”



Titles don’t impress. Even the monkey closest to the tree trunk is the Branch Manager.



The above picture made me remember Amen Tailor.



The above is to be used when you find yourself irritated that people place ideas over other people.





NO Such Recipe

Being able to sound crazy is a home field advantage. Telling the truth while sounding crazy is sublime.

He looked at me and hesitated.

I knew what he was thinking. “Go ahead. Ask.”

“What’s your secret, X? It’s like you’re training for something. You’re still you. But something else, too.” He was uncomfortable. I’m known for saying outlandish things without context. Doubly so if the other person initiates the conversation. (And triply so if the conversation is personal.)

“Do you have moments where you almost see the world differently? Where things fall away?” I asked him. “Like ‘The Matrix,’ but real? I’m being serious! As if the things you thought were important were illusions and vice versa? Like a hidden truth just becomes obvious.”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“I had one of those moments. I saw myself as this other person, the one I forgot. And I just knew I wasn’t fat anymore.” I laughed. I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when I tell them this. Telling someone that all your previous issues evaporated simply because you suddenly ‘know’ the truth of something sounds ridiculous.

“Hmmm. I don’t know how to get there from here. That’s not specific advice!” It was his turn to laugh. “And yours wasn’t just eating. How did you do the other things?”

“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not about thinking. Move toward the things you want. Weight loss, being happier with what you have, another job. As for the other things, those are things I should have always been doing, anyway, just like being more careful about what I put in my mouth.”

He made a face. “Yes, but what specifically can I do? Not guru stuff, the actual things I can do.”

I returned his grimace. “Stop doing the things you know aren’t healthy or the ‘you’ you’d like to be five years from now. Start doing the things you know you should be doing. Whatever you do, commit to it and be okay with things being awkward and failing a few times until they aren’t. It took a lifetime to get where you are, so start now. Eat less. Eat more healthily. Do things that you actually like to do. And think about how they impact your other choices.”

I could see the simplicity of such ridiculous advice as it reached him.

“Keep it simple. Whatever you do, don’t do it unless you can picture doing it for the rest of your life. Don’t pay for pills, drinks, or expensive programs. You already more or less know how you would like to spend your time. Now go find a way to do more of that and less of the other.”

“Ha,” he said. “I think I can do that.”

“I know you can. I don’t possess any magic that you don’t. You saw me do it. Now let me watch you figure out how to do it.”

I wondered if he might be the next to succeed. I think so. I hope so.

In the last few months, I’ve had versions of this conversation with several people. Most expect a specific recipe for success. There isn’t one.