This particular piece has been knocking at the doors of both my heart and mind for quite some time now. I’m admittedly inexperienced and young, so please feel free to grin at the earnest naiveté of my delivery, but today, the understanding flooded over me: who am I to ignore this longing to write?

And so tonight, I find myself in the company of an almond milk latte and many mental puzzle pieces, trying to clarify this picture for myself and perchance for others. The topic that I’ve been turning over in my head is that of glory, specifically, the ageless notion that glory flows from the courageous human effort to undergo a present sacrifice in the anticipation of something greater in store. I invite you to buckle in and join me on the expedition, as my pen (well, keyboard, but that doesn’t sound as nice does it?) records this common thread of glory from the ancient Greeks, to Humans of New York, to Walden, to True Grit, and to the novel Unbroken.

If you emerge from this discourse with one thing, let it be this: glory requires sacrifice. What seems to be a one-time grand display of valor is always the logical fruition of a long-time habit of little courages. I think that’s the piece we forget a lot; that our short term decisions inevitably build the long term outcome. For those who don’t shy away from power and responsibility, this is great news. It means that there is an unseen weight to our everyday actions, a chance to conquer some tiny, new territory.

The ancient Greeks rooted their idea of heroism in the attainment of kleos aphthiton, literally, undying glory. This means that (rightly considered) every hardship encountered presented an opportunity to gain immortal fame, for if such difficulties were overcome by great manliness, the story would be sung for generations to come. This was the only kind of immortality the ancients believed that they had a fighting chance for– so fight they did. In fact, the great classic epics of the Iliad and the Odyssey are simply records of these very songs: through them, the Greek heroes truly did achieve kleos, and their memory lives on even today. Consider this resolution of the Trojan prince Hector, from Homer’s Iliad:

Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.

The blueprint for glory did not allow for a peaceful, comfortable life at home, but rather required that they seize ever opportunity to prove their courage. The prize of immortality was won by remaining in the minds and hearts of their lineage and would hopefully inspire the young men of women of ages to come to do the same. Only then, do the words of Homer’s later epic, The Odyssey, ring true:

Even his griefs are a joy long after to one that remembers all that he wrought and endured.

I remember first encountering kleos aphthiton in my favorite high school class as a freshman, history, like it happened just this morning. It was an interesting concept, but just that, a far-off notion accompanied by monsters, cheating warrior husbands (same thing), and goddesses whose vanity and jealousy put my high school clique and I to shame. It took me some time to realize that kleos was relevant to my life for the very reason the classics themselves are still relevant: they reveal fundamental truths about human nature. Tonight, I’m interested in the way this reminds me of a Humans of New York post that I read on Facebook my freshman year of college:

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Wow. I remember reading this for the first time and being hit hard. “And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays.” So every day and night that I spent screwing around, I could have spent those hours progressing towards the woman that I want to be. Instead, I had been guilty of letting so much time slip away from me, and thoughtlessly becoming a woman that I did not want to be. In fact, what dawned on me was that little economic notion known as opportunity cost; I wasn’t just staying contentedly in place, no, I was forgoing opportunities to grow, opportunities that others had the decency to utilize. The real kicker is that not only does only living for the weekend cheat your future self from someday realizing your full potential, but the world loses a great person, a great mind, and a great example for future generations as well. 

Anyone can hit snooze, grab a triple latte, online shop during class, hit up a party and repeat. Now this is not to say that any of these things are necessarily bad, on the contrary, they’re very good, but the key is not to be caught consistently chasing after the little goods at the expense of a bigger great. It’s an unfortunate reality of our human condition, great things will require sacrifices. If I want to save up for that vacation in France, I can’t buy every dress that catches my eye; if I want to run a half marathon, I can’t indulge in ice cream every night of the week; if I want to become a diligent businesswoman, I can’t just stop learning when the classes cease. There is no glory in the path of least resistance. It takes grit to “reawaken and keep ourselves awake” as Thoreau triumphs in his book, Walden. One can imagine that this is what the Greek bards would have advocated for; this life lived in light of the perpetual future rather than the short-term gratification. Life is made of strong stuff, yes, but we must not water it down, as this washes away the good with the bad and replaces it with a cloudy, lukewarm existence. In the same passage, he later expands upon the glorious task of beautifying each day through our vigilant character:

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

Our first obstacle to glory, then, does not lie in a foreign enemy, but rather we encounter it when we are tempted to choose the short-term over the long-term, the good over the great, the path of least resistance over the extra mile. Therefore, we embark from our comfortable homes, our very own Ithacas, to pursue our life’s mission (though our deepest hearts remain at the familiar hearth.) For the Greeks, their glory-reward only came after facing death undaunted. I would argue that a far superior form of glory, that is unseen by the outside world, comes daily by the thought well thought, the word well said, and the deed well done. An uphill battle, the little sacrifices turn to joys as we soon see them building the sure foundation for a great life work, a corporeal form of immortality. It will take true grit (fabulous book, by the way) to become the hero of your life. And we all know that the world desperately needs heroes.

Perhaps you had the pleasure of reading the book Unbroken (movie, anyone?). If older brother Pete Zamperini’s advice was written off as too dramatic to challenge you personally, I’m convinced that you should think twice:

“A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.”


2014: A Few of My Favorite Things

Buenos días! I’m currently running on Dominican time, which means that although the working world has properly celebrated and moved on with the New Year, I am taking my sweet time to savor this new beginning. The idea hit me while I was eating toast and drinking juice this morning that it might be nice to compile an orderly summary of impactful, memorable pieces I encountered in 2014. So thus, here we are:

A Few of My Favorite Books:

1. Man’s Search For Meaning By: Viktor Frankl

There is no language strong enough to describe my love for this text. The reader faces a new portion of wisdom with each page, and consequently, the desire to share it with the world. If you do anything at all in the new year, READ THIS LITTLE BOOK.

2. Guns, Germs, and Steel By: Jared Diamond

While this is admittedly a formidable chunk of literature, it contains many answers to historical questions and a solidly thought-out thesis, making it well worth the time investment.

3. Walden By: Henry David Thoreau

Grab this classic piece of American literature to revel in next to a crackling fire and a cup of hot cocoa. Thoreau has some very healthy thoughts; we would do well to spend some time ruminating upon his perspective.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People By: Dale Carnegie

This is basically an instruction manual for people. Even my 17-yr old bother – oh I mean brother – read it and liked it. Carnegie knew what it’s all about and successfully conveys that wisdom in his book.

5. Defending the Free Market By: Rev. Robert Sirico

I first encountered Fr. Sirico when my Macroeconomics class was lured from our warm beds earlier this year to catch his 8am speech. I was shocked to find myself 110% captivated by his words and even distraught when it was over. Immediately purchasing and reading his book, I’ve been a fan ever since. He succinctly professes common-sense truths that the reader will recognize are familiar to himself.

*Honorable Mention: The Beautiful and the Damned By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Few of My Favorite Recipes:

1. Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Pancakes : Drizzle with honey and cinnamon and you get pure BLISS. And this is coming from a girl who typically doesn’t like pancakes.

2. Pumpkin and Chickpea Hot Pot : Stumbled upon this beauty while researching vegetarian recipes for my Fall service trip. It’s a perfect blend of homey yet exotic flavors.

3. Parker House Rolls Recipe : The credit goes to my little sister for first discovering this one– hands down the best rolls our Thanksgiving table ever saw, and that’s saying a lot.

4. Skinny Spinach and Artichoke Dip : My go-to when I’m expecting to entertain company. While that level of planning usually doesn’t happen in the collegiate lifestyle, it’s still a delicious back-pocket kind of deal.

5. Fairy Bread : There’s just something about it. 🙂

*Honorable Mention: Pandan Rice Cake. Watch the entirety of this video and you will get the daily crying-laughing bout you deserve. Also, will someone please actually make this and get back to me so I can try some.

A Few of My Favorite Articles:

1. 5 Lessons Running Has Taught Me

2014 was the year that I took up running at least 5x a week, and it has been the best decision I’ve made to date.

2. Looking For Home In All The Wrong Places, How Traveling Made The World My Home

“Traveling may not seem like it, but the feeling of pure bliss that I get when I see a place with my own eyes that I have admired for years from pictures and books, is the most consistent feeling I have ever known.”

3. Bakeries Around the World You Should Visit Before You Die

This. Only because I joke (but not really) that my backup plan in life is to move to Assisi, Italy and open a small bakery. Be prepared to massively crave the cutest carbs…

4. Writers and Their Books: Inside Famous Authors’ Personal Libraries

I just can’t wait to have a personal library of my own someday…

5. A Day in the Life of an Economic Officer

Absolutely exhilarating. It feels more than good to be working toward a goal, and this blog has been helpful beyond belief.

*Honorable Mention: Marriage Isn’t For You

A Few of My Favorite Places:

1. Milwaukee Public Market & Flavors

When an old friend makes an appearance in either Milwaukee or Omaha, these are the primary feeding locations that pop into my mind and rightfully so. Not only does each offer top-notch meals, snacks, or drinks, but the atmospheres are simply spot-on. Grab a few friends and do your tongue and tummy a favor.

2. Oriental Theater & Film Streams

My go-to movie locations. The Oriental is positively majestic and guarantees a breathtaking movie experience, while Film Streams is convenient, clean, and excellent at what they do.

3. St. John’s Church at Creighton

Two words: Bell tower.

4. Milwaukee Art Museum & Joslyn Art Museum

The kind of places you can wander through all day without even realizing it, and still leave wanting more.

5. Maxim’s & Fox and Hounds & WheatFields

Is there ANYTHING more heavenly than a properly done brunch?

*Honorable Mention: Fresh Fresh cafe in Cabarete

A Few of My Favorite Quotes:

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

-William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say.”

– Ann Patchett

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love
with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
-Fr. Arrupe

“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful — that will be my life.”

-Elsie de Wolfe

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

-Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

6: Greatest Love

I had the decency to read Thoreau’s Walden this summer, while stationed in a canvas hammock under a great white oak and a swamp ash. As you might imagine, the literary experience was narrated by the rush of the bending, breezed pondweed and buzzing dragonflies. God, nature, commerce, technology, time, people, conversation, labor, etc. were all fair game, but I must say that I especially loved his eloquent familiarity with solitude. My busy, tired brain was justly reminded of the enrichment in quiet and isolation. Having been familiar with that, it seems fitting that we study his words on the polar opposite (or is it?), the bond of friends:


By: Henry David Thoreau

I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I’m dumb.

For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out ’twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates

And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love’s bands more tight,
Service he ne’er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move


Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter’s storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow’s pride,
For both are strong

Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined

I would claim that the only thing more magnificent than nature is man himself. Hopefully you enjoyed that gem of a poem, happy Monday!