Questions to ask yourself today

I recently had lunch with a new friend who, like me, has a progressive brain disease.

He took a sip of his Coke and asked, “Are you optimistic a cure will be found in our lifetime?”

I shifted in my seat. I took a sip of iced tea. It was a simple enough question that forced me to accept a hard truth.

I have long wished doctors would discover a cure in my lifetime. And maybe they could package it in a nice white pill that I could take after a nice meal and, by the time dessert was served, be cured of all that ails me. I have also long wished to run a flight of stadium steps, hurdle a fence with Maggie May, ride two-wheeled bikes with my kids, and sing “Don’t Stop Believing” on stage with Journey.

But I’m almost certain those things will not happen.

“No. I’m not optimistic a cure will be found. I mean, to wait for a cure just seems lazy. An excuse. Yet I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful I will learn to live a meaningful life in spite of my limitations.”

My friend smiled, “We’re all struggling to live in spite of our limitations.”

Albert Einstein turns 143 years young this week (March 14). The GOAT of physics. The father of The Theory of Relativity (I watched this video, “Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for Kids” and still only partially understand the Theory of Relativity.) Mr. E=MC^2. (I really don’t know what that means.) And ironically, a man who was so smart, his last name is now an insult when someone announces the obvious or does something dumb:

This ice is cold.

Of course ice is cold, Einstein.


I thought I could microwave tinfoil.

Well, you can’t. And now the house is on fire. Nice job, Einstein.

Throughout his career Einstein pinned his intellectual success on his willingness to “question everything” and to be “passionately curious.” Einstein’s work is a homage to the importance of questioning yet us modern folk– with computers in our pockets—are uncomfortable with unknowing. We want assurance, certitude, and Alexa to provide answers on command.

One of the neat things about having a progressive disease is that I retired from conventional work at 40 years young.

Now, with time on my side, I’ve been gifted opportunities to converse longer with: writers, teachers, librarians, dog trainers, insurance agents, car salespeople, lawyers, dentists, physical therapists, police officers, baristas, deli technicians, barbers, former students, fellow retirees, recovering drug addicts, people with progressive brain disorders, strangers snarled with me in the post office line, and Amazon delivery people.

Some of these interactions have produced compelling questions. Questions, when removed from the context of the conversation, are bedrock for a philosophical discussion with Einstein or a late-night-staring-at-your-ceiling-listening-to-your-spouse-snore-conversation-with-yourself-discussion.

Are you an optimist?

Are you hopeful?

What have you done today to feel strong?

Do you love yourself enough to forgive yourself?

Who do you admire?

Who don’t you admire?

Since my disease is relentless, shouldn’t I be relentless as well?

How do you cope with negative energy?

What do you think God sounds like?

Do you blame yourself for getting sick?

What do you value?

Do you believe in fate?

How true is the truth?

Do you really want to feel bad for yourself?

How do I know if I’m doing parenting right?

How do I know if I’m on the right path?

Does your work bring you joy?

If I can be kind to others, why is it so hard to be kind to myself?

Why do you write?

Do you just ever want to quite?

Aren’t you tired of suffering?

Do you think the world will end soon?

With gas prices like this, should we walk?

Can you help me?

Can I help you?

Be well,


I want to say hello to everyone who signed-up through the Voracious Readers free Ebook campaign. I’m so glad you are here! I hope you enjoyed Bedtime Stories for the Living. I would love to hear about your reading experience! Feel free to email me or leave a review on Amazon.

Also, if you’re good friends with Oprah and could suggest my book to her I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

Last Week’s Post: How do we cope?

“Through our endless suffering, we’ve developed a beautiful capacity to transcend our suffering. We’ve allowed suffering to refocus our perspectives, strengthen our values, fortify our resolve, and inspire change.”

Quote of the Week:

If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at Thanks!


For those in the Philadelphia Area: A limited number of signed copies of Bedtime Stories for the Living are now on sale at Commonplace Reader in Yardley, Pennsylvania. The Commonplace Reader is a local bookstore with a wide selection of books, super nice employees, and plenty of cozy reading nooks.

Bedtime Stories for the Living

“This was an amazing book. Jay shares his journey through relatable stories that highlight the challenges every young parent goes through. His struggle with his own mortality while raising young kids only highlights the very real insecurities that we all have as we grow up and take on the responsibilities of adulthood. This is a great book for readers at any age to reflect on the challenges we face everyday and how we learn to overcome.”~ Steve, Amazon Review

If you happen to read BSFL, I would love an Amazon review! Due to some Jeff Bezos concocted algorithm, more book reviews lead to greater exposure. And greater exposure equates to higher book sales and as I wrote in BSFL, “college for three ain’t free.”


Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.

Here’s what I’m currently reading: The Humans by Matt Haig

If you like this post, you may also like:

A Conversation with Marcus Aurelius at a Suburban Car Dealership


When I think of Love I think for Mike Tyson


The Allegory of the Broken Cereal Bowl


We’re lucky to be alive


Why we need to tell our stories


Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacherDespite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:

1. Reading
2. Writing 
3. Exercising
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)

Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time. 

You can also visit Jay at

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