by Gabe Berman – the author of Live Like a Fruit Fly

Keeping My Mouth Closed – Not Likely

My friend doesn’t have cancer.

I was standing right next to him when the surgeon said, “All of your pathology finally came back. All of your nodes are clear. You don’t need chemo or anything.”

Tears of relief spontaneously squirted from his face.

He hugged the surgeon, wiped his eyes, and then hugged me.

Now lets go back a few weeks.

He doesn’t have a car so I drove him to the grocery store. He’s sixty-four and I wanted to save him from catching busses in this glacial weather. Especially with surgery looming in the near future.

“What’s wrong with this fucking place?” he screamed in the middle of the pet aisle.

“What happened to the damn kitty litter? What the fuck are they doing here? ” he continued down this path to a complete coronary.

Because he was so stressed about the possibility of cancer, understandably so, I said nothing other than offering to take him to a different store.

However, it wasn’t just his health causing him to boil over. He tends to get angry at non important things often. As most of us do.

Today, I was hoping he’d have a more evolved disposition in the grocery store.

But people don’t change. Even after dodging a life threatening bullet, they don’t change.

There was only one bag of the type of kitty litter his cat likes and he totally flipped out again (just an FYI – cats shouldn’t have the right to give a shit about what they shit on).

I said nothing.

I said nothing for maybe about a second.

I considered allowing the universe just to unfold as it will. But since I’m part of the universe, I had to unfold as I will.

“Jesus man, after everything you’ve been through, you’re still going to let these little things ruin your day?”

Life is so bizarre.

And how we treat it is even more bizarre.

with love and gratitude,


Go(o)d Luck

“My god, she’s so stunning.”

I said this to myself, about Jennifer Aniston, while thumbing through People magazine’s Red Carpet Edition at my sister’s kitchen table. I was drinking a Fresca. Which, of course, has nothing to do with anything other then it being my dad’s favorite soda. Well, it was his favorite soda. I don’t know if they have soda in heaven. Or for that matter, if there is a heaven. But if so, I hope they have Fresca in their vending machines up there. And I hope they’re free. That’s the least God could do for us.

One of my nephews, who’s ten years old, was standing behind me and looking at the pictures over my shoulder.

“All of these people are so lucky,” he said.

I straightened him out with, “Actually man, some of them are ridiculously talented actors.”

“Yeah, but they were born that way,” he responded.

To look him in the eye, I twisted my head around as far as I could like an owl and I told him that he was right.

This is when I’d normally make a pithy point about using your gifts so you can become lucky too. Or maybe I’d say something about not comparing your gifts to others. But then again, I could take this in the direction of idolization of celebrities who are probably thousands of leagues below you on the evolutionary scale.

But to paraphrase the Oracle in Matrix Reloaded, you’re just going to have to make up your own damn mind about what you want this to mean. If anything.

Because right now, the only thing I care about is what happened forty-six years ago today. My parents got married.

Is there luck in life?

I don’t know.

Is there a heaven?

I don’t know.

Is there a hell?

Yes. For fucking sure there is.

It’s the stew we sit in when we’re trapped in our haunting thoughts.

So, I’m going to get up from my laptop and figure out how to spread some kindness today.

Especially to myself.

It’s the least, or maybe the most, I can do with my day.

Maybe it’s the path to whatever heaven there is. While we’re still here.

As always, with love and gratitude,


Returning To The Lion’s Den

The elevator doors opened on the eighth floor of the NYU Medical Center – the Labor & Delivery floor.

People were hugging. Shaking hands. Wiping away happy tears. A brand new baby was brought into this world of ours.

Like a hummingbird sucking the nectar from a flower in full bloom, I absorbed as much of this lovely snapshot as I could before the doors closed and we continued our descent to the lobby.

I breathed and smiled.

It was exactly what I needed.


A minute before, I was deep inside my reoccurring nightmare of the twelfth floor.

It’s where my dad almost died three years ago in an acute care unit (before he actually died a few months later).

My friend is recovering from surgery, quite beautifully, in the adjacent room and I trekked into the city for a visit.

I hope that perfect new baby never has to see what I saw. Or feel what I still feel.

I wish, just about more thank anything, the same for you.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…

love and gratitude,


I Wish…

I wish I could sit on a bench on the boardwalk and stare comfortably into the ocean while seagulls glide by without feeling the restlessness of thinking I should be doing something else. I wish I can write the way Springsteen’s “Born To Run” sounds. I wish I could look into my dog’s eyes again. He was such a good boy and I can still feel his fur against my face as if last night was the night I was was ten years old, resting my head on his tummy as he breathed a few of his last breaths. I wish kindness and compassion and generosity were the measures of success. I wish I was less affected by the anger of others while waiting in line at the post office. I wish they were less angry to begin with. I wish nothing horrible happens to them or their loved ones but if something should and they’re fortunate enough to survive, I hope they return to the post office with a more evolved perspective. I wish you knew how much I believed in you. Yes, you. Regardless of your past “failures” or hard times. I wish you knew how much I loved your essence. So much so that I need to keep from crying right now. I wish I could time travel back to my youth and tell myself that almost nothing I worried about is worth worrying about. I wish my mom continues to live happily and healthily for a long, long time. I wish, more than anything, that my dad crosses over from the other side and flips, from heads to tails, the penny I placed for him on the dining room table so my belief is confirmed and I can live the rest of my life as lightheartedly as a leaf lifted off the ground by a gentle breeze.


Nothing Left To Let Go

I’m broken wide open.

Gloriously so.

All I am, right now, is an exposed heart.

Warm. Loving. Gentle. Full.

Unaffected by any anxiety.

It’s the way I get after seeing a truly lovely movie.

I wish I can feel this way forever.

Because I’ve felt enough of everything else.

Like the last bit of sun at the end of a summer’s day, I will sit in this for as long as I can.

I wonder if there’s anyone else in this moment who feels the same.

I hope so.

I really hope so.

with love and gratitude,


The Best Medicine (Maybe)

I went to sleep smiling last night for the first time in a long time.

Trying to make some sense of the day and of the world, I usually watch Eckhart Tolle talks on YouTube or videos about the quantum nature of the universe before going to bed. And that was my exact intention last night but you know how it can be with YouTube – a serendipitous “wrong” click can bring you to the unexpected right place.

I somehow found myself watching Louie C.K., Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais having a semi serious sit-down about comedy.

I didn’t uncover any answers to the Big Questions which are always ricocheting around in my head, but at least I wasn’t sad. In fact, I was pretty happy.

But maybe that is the answer.

Maybe, when you break it down, our search for enlightenment is actually a more adult way of admitting that what we’re just trying to somehow regain the smiles of our childhood.

We strive for inner peace so we can help work on world peace but maybe the truth is – we simply and purely just miss being happy more than we’re sad. Or worried. Or stressed.

If this is the case, it seems like I skipped over the steps by watching those comedic virtuosos last night. Why watch videos of Buddha level gurus when you’re really just trying to lightheartedly laugh your ass off? Just find something that leads to lightheartedly laughing your ass off and voila, you’re good to go.

But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Not really. Because laughter, although lovely, doesn’t last.

YouTube is just another drug. And like weed or whisky, you can’t partake in it all day.

Life always sneaks back in. And although the particle theorists and ancient sages might be right when then say that everything is an illusion, we still have to live in it.

That’s why we strive for enlightenment. Because we want to maintain a light heart after the YouTube clip ends. We want to smile through whatever life throws at us. We want “happy” to be our natural state. Of course there’s a lot in life that will rattle us, but we’d like to return to happiness after the slings and arrows have settled.

How do we get there?


Together through kindness. Together through less expectation – of ourselves and each other.

And yes, together through laughter.

thank you for spending this time with me,



Handel’s “Concerto Grosso in F Major” is gorgeously cinematic and inspires with such simplicity and spaciousness.

It’s in my headphones now while I’m sipping a coffee at Starbucks and staring at leafless trees through a window. Birds fly in and out of frame. It’s still bright, but the sun will soon set.

My goal was to sit here and force myself to write something that contributes beauty to this world. Something out of thin air. Something that stirs souls.

But how can I compete with Handel or this water colored sky or these trees or the mysterious essence of life which surrounds me in here?

I can’t. I just can’t.

All I can do is allow myself to receive these gifts in this moment.

Maybe that’s the secret to adding beauty to the world when we’re in between ideas. We can breathe consciously and give ourselves the permission to become fully permeable to the beauty right in front of us when the opportunity arises.

It probably arises more often than we think.

And when it does, we should abide there. While we still can.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy new year –


Unbelievable. Literally.

“Hey Gabe, just wanted to say hello. We’re at the beach. Beautiful day today. Miss you. Speak to me. Bye.”

I have this voicemail saved on my phone. It’s from my dad.

I listened to it again last night and I swear I still catch myself having that reflex reaction to call him right back.

He’d say something like, “You haven’t called us in awhile.”

And I’d get all defensive and say, “What are you taking about? We spoke like, three hours ago!”

Half joking around and half serious he’d respond, “As I’ve said, it’s been awhile.”

He left his body two years ago today.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to living as lightheartedly as I can.

It’s the only path that makes any sense anymore.



Cardiac Mutation

Just when I thought it was safe to assume I knew something about God and/or the universe, I catch a show on Nat Geo Wild about animals of the Galapagos and I see a mommy bird looking on, unemotionally, as one of her baby birds grabs the neck of another baby bird and then successfully drags it out of their nest to leave it die, unprotected, on the rocks along the shore.

Murder, for this species, is the norm.

And just as I’m trying to write that introductory sinewy sentence above, a friend of mine serendipitously texts me, “The world is made of love.”

I call bullshit.

Fucking, total, goddamn, bullshit.

The cold, cruel truth is this: the world is made of the brutal survival instinct.

And the strong survives. The end.

I know it goes against the gospel of new age spirituality many of us cling to and hope to be true, but maybe we must face these facts:

There was the Big Bang, the Earth formed and cooled, fish grew legs and walked out onto to dry land, monkeys turned into man, wars were fought, The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper’s, and here we are today, at the pinnacle of evolution.

Covered skeletons of greed machines, pushing and dragging the weak from the nest. Not to survive anymore mind you, we’ve basically evolved passed that one, but we push the weak from the nests to acquire more. More, more and more. At the sake and expense of others. That is the history of humanity.

In other words, we have devolved.

So, maybe Darwin was correct up until a point. In the beginning, it’s survival of the fittest. But maybe evolution wasn’t intended to stop there.

Many years ago I wrote to myself, “Maybe God evolves at the same rate as we do.”

Maybe it’s time now for love, as my friend said in his text, to be what the world is made of.

Maybe we will evolve to have bigger hearts.

I hope so.

For now, I’m just grateful that I’m on that path.

How about you?


Ezekiel 25:17

I did something today that I’m not so proud of.

A women told me her husband is in the hospital and I said, “Maybe you deserve it.”

I was pulling out of a parking space in front of a grocery store and this woman wanted to jam her minivan into the space next to mine.

While my car was still moving.

Not exactly very safe.

She made eye contact with me and gestured her plans with an impromptu set of hand signals.

I quickly calculated the variables of the situation and concluded that she, because she obviously didn’t learn the lesson in kindergarten, was going to have to wait her turn.

Like HAL in 2001, I read her lips as she looked on in disgusted disbelief.

She then, unmistakably, called me an asshole.

I creeped up next to her, came to a complete stop and rolled down my window.

I calmly asked, “Was this so important that you had to call me an asshole?”

She tried to defend herself but it was all subconscious code for, “My sense of entitlement dictates my thoughts and behavior.”

So I cut her off by saying, “Life is so fucking short and you had to call me an asshole because my car was still in motion when you wanted to park?”

She froze.

And then hit me with this non-sequitur, “My husband is in the hospital.”

And that’s when I delivered the line, “Maybe you deserve it.”

I got halfway down the block and considered turning around to find her in the grocery store so I could apologize.

But, upon calculating the variables, I decided to keep driving. Because if she said anything piggish to me, at all, I’d be facing manslaughter charges for beating someone to death with a loaf of Ezekiel bread.

See, the thing is, I woke up on the wrong side of the world this morning.

Sometimes that just happens. You just wake up and things just annoy you, right?

I really tried to dwell on gratefulness when I caught myself feeling this way though. But then this happened. It’s really not the end of the world, but our lives are inhabited by mindless, greedy zombies and sometimes I’m just sick of it.

And I really can hate this woman as much as I hate bible thumping republicans or a decapitating terrorists. Because they’re all the same. It’s just a difference of degree.

But as I sit here in Starbucks, removed from the situation, the lens zooms out and I can see more of the picture. The thing is, I’m the same as well. It’s just a difference of degree.

And we’re all doing the best we can in the moment. The best is far from good enough if it hurts others, but it’s still the best.

So, as always, it’s up to people like you and I to remember that we’re all connected so we can be the rare ones to make the higher choices.

I just need to keep reminding myself that good prevails.

thank you,


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