One of the routes I walk through my neighborhood takes me past a large pigeons’ roost. The pigeons and I have an agreement of sorts: I will walk slowly so as not to scare them as they pick at whatever they’re picking at on the ground. And those sitting above me in the trees will not, well, you know.

On one particular day, a truck blared its horn as it approached a nearby intersection, and the startled pigeons took flight. But they didn’t scatter randomly in the air. …

And it’s not just that we can do anything we put our minds to.

You’ve undoubtedly witnessed the plethora of books, articles, movies, interviews, and TV programming in the recent weeks, all attempting to acknowledge and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Most treatments of the Apollo program look back nostalgically: “We did something truly remarkable — and not just once, but six times!”

Some of these treatments seek to apply a challenge and lesson to the problems we face today: “If we as a nation could do that, why can’t we solve _______?” …

Photo by Brandon Mowinkel on Unsplash

Three ways to improve the dreaded annual event.

Let me start by noting that I am not a huge fan of baseball. The game is played too slowly. The players make too much money. And attending a game in person is too expensive. Plus, I spent too many years growing up in Chicago listening to “This is the Cubbies’ year!” It never was.

Nevertheless, a fascinating baseball statistic caught my eye as I was about to toss the New York Times sports section onto the recycle pile, something called “secondary batting average.”

A player’s traditional batting average is the number…

photo: toa heftiba unsplash

The human kind

Fifty years ago last December, the Apollo 8 spacecraft was nearing its rendezvous with history. For the first time, humans would leave one heavenly body, the Earth, and travel to another, the Moon.

Helping to signal that event was a phenomenon that would never make the evening news or flash across a billboard in Times Square. But to the jubilant bunch of plastic pocket-protected souls studying the numbers on their computer screens in Mission Control, the moment was a sine qua non of orbital mechanics. You see, thanks to natural laws and mathematics, heavenly bodies and rockets move in relation…

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

“Where do you want to go today?” - from a Microsoft ad campaign

There is that iconic moment in the film Forrest Gump, when Forrest stops running after three years, two months, 16 days, and 16 hours and reflects, “Mama always said ‘Put the past behind you before you can move on.’ ”

It was time for Forrest to stop. It was time to move on.

I had my own Forrest moment just this morning. A fellow Medium writer, John P. Weiss, had penned another beautiful piece, this time about his recent visit to a bookstore in New Orleans. …

Lake Fonck, Patagonia, Argentina (photo by the author)

Discovering the real reason I fly fish.

My fly line starts to unfurl as it should: a tight, straight loop running in front of me with the fly quickly catching up to the end of the line.

“Put it right in front of the wall,” my guide had whispered only moments before.

“The big browns sit there because it’s dark and protected.”

It is dark. The sheer black granite wall that abruptly disappears into the lake is further darkened by late afternoon shadows, so much so that it’s hard to see where wall and water meet . …

“A River Runs Through It”

No, that’s not a typo.

There I was, sitting on the couch with my wife, watching the end of “A River Runs Through It,” when it happened. Like it always happens at the end of that movie.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

OK, now limit yourself to five and see what emerges.

Recently while waiting out a long connecting flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, I settled into the nonfiction section at Barbara’s Bookstore.

I think the book saw me before I saw it because as I was about to walk toward fiction, I heard a whisper, “Look here.” I turned back to “History — Current Events — Biography” one more time.

And there it was.

“Earthrise” — NASA

“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” — William Faulkner

  • A seemingly endless war on foreign soil
  • Political upheaval and extreme partisan division
  • Protests by athletes during the playing of the National Anthem
  • Racial, ethnic, and gender inequality and strife
  • Demonstrations in the streets
  • Conflict with Russia

As U.S. News and World Reports concluded, those events and others signaled that “…the country’s values and institutions were fraying under enormous pressure.”

Today, right?

Actually, U.S. News and World Reports was reflecting back on 1968 – one of the most tortuous years in our nation’s history.

At the time, the U.S. was embroiled in the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. As U.S…

Photo by Dieter Kühl on Unsplash

Gifted? Practiced? Or something else? Why I probably won’t get better at fly fishing anytime soon.

“If I were a fish, I’d hide there,” I thought, as I surveyed a small island some twenty to twenty-five feet off to my left. There, in the island’s shadow, I could safely park in the soft current – inches away from the river’s rushing water, yet close enough to dart out and snatch any food that drifts by.

I cast up stream and watched as my two weighted flies quickly sank below the water’s surface. When the strike indicator passed in front of…

Jeff Ikler

Personal career & leadership coach, fly fisher, space nut, writer, teacher - a river runs through it

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