Some practical tools for sharing and lifting the burdens of loved ones who have fallen on hard times.

by Omid Safi

Chris Zielecki / Flickr / All Rights Reserved

There is a story told and retold in the Middle East about how to help someone who’s drowning.

The story goes that a man had fallen into a river. He was not much of a swimmer and was in real danger of drowning. A crowd of concerned people wanted to rescue him. They were standing at the edge of the water, each of them urgently shouting out to him:

“Give me your hand, give me your hand!”

What would it mean to rethink our definition of masculinity?

by Jonathan P. Higgins

Patrick Pierre / Unsplash

I can recall the first time that I asked the question, “What does it mean to be a man?” to a group of young men I was doing healing work with. In this particular situation, the young men were sharing their feelings about an exercise that each of them had just experienced, focused on the misogyny, sexism, and patriarchy that women often face in society.

Many of the young men shared that they immediately wanted to cry after the experience. Upon asking them why it seemed that they were emotionless during the exercise, they shared that…

Going through hardships gives us strength in the places we’d never thought to develop, spaces we didn’t know we’d occupy, room to reach beyond ourselves, toward others who are where we had been.

by Kao Kalia Yang, On Being columnist

Matthew Henry / Unsplash

One day my brother said his face felt heavy. His left eye started to water. He wiped away the liquid. He massaged his face. He went fishing with our cousins.

When he got home, it was late. The sky was dark. The house was dark. He was quiet coming into the house. He didn’t turn on lights until he got to the bathroom.

In the light of the bathroom, he could see that one side of his face looked strange. It appeared to be drooping. He tried to push it up: his eye…

The food of our old family traditions can take on new dimensions, as we return to the recipes — and the memories they carry.

by Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros

Shestock / Getty Images / All Rights Reserved

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~César Chávez

I am a theological nomad by heart. Although I call the non-denominational church my home, I know I can always come home to where God feels most comfortable and deeply present: my abuela’s kitchen, a sanctuary of rich textiles and homemade pastries where the pan de huevo (sweet bread) is a staple. …

A conversation among a group of fathers marks a ceremonial transition, as one era of fatherhood ends and another begins.

by Ben Katt

Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images / All Rights Reserved

My friend’s appointment was the next morning. He was ready for the most part, but wanted to have one more conversation before the procedure. So on a dark December night at a local coffee shop after hours, he convened a group of close friends to help him process the multitude of emotions he was feeling on what was almost definitely his last night — his last night of paternal productivity. In the morning, he would get a vasectomy.

Along with about ten other married men — all of us in our late thirties and early forties, and…

“My journey as a big sister has taught me more about life’s possibilities and the different pathways that people can take into the road of tomorrow than any other thing I’ve been part of.”

by Kao Kalia Yang, On Being columnist

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images / All Rights Reserved

In the home that I grew up in, I was expected to take care of the younger ones. I was born the second oldest in a family of seven children. For nearly the first decade of my life, because my mother had many miscarriages in between me and the young ones, I was the baby of the family. I still have fond memories of my older sister Dawb holding my hand as we crossed the dirt road of our childhood toward the busy streets of America. I can still see the outfits, the…

The path to untangling the loneliness and isolation that many men experience may be complicated, but there is one simple step men can take today: Take a walk with a friend.

by Jeffrey Bissoy

Ted Eytan / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved

My senior year in high school, my friend Mariano and I made a habit of walking around St. Paul, Minnesota every Friday evening. It was an odd activity, and our homeboys would often make fun of us for it, but those walks were surreal — they were a disruption from our dysfunctional lives. At around 4 p.m. when classes were over, we’d hop on a bus to the Highland area in St. Paul, and then play basketball for a few hours at the Groveland rec center. …

“Generational storytelling is a history book. It’s a catalogue of all the places we have been. It is a book entrusted to its people to ensure they are not forgotten.”

by Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images / All Rights Reserved

“Write what should not be forgotten.” ~Isabel Allende

The first time my grandfather shared with me the story of La Llorona, I was a four-year-old girl with pigtails, tucked under his large right arm. He wore a white T-shirt and perfectly pressed blue jeans. The seam on his jeans created a riptide toward my small feet. His legs were raised on the recliner, and he held a cup of black coffee in his left hand. The aroma clung to my nostrils demanding to be known.

“Your tío came home scared the other day. While he was out…

On wandering back into questions and mystery.

by David Baker

Drew Angerer / Getty Images / All Rights Reserved

I was raised Jewish. This used to be my response whenever I was asked what my religion was. Not that the subject came up very often. I didn’t belong to a temple, and volunteering at the annual rummage sale of a local church was the extent to which my wife kept up the faith of her own childhood. Our demanding jobs and three kids left us too focused on the here and now to worry about what lay beyond it. And so amidst carpools and barbecues, our kids’ social studies projects and our own projects at work…

How do our duties as citizens map onto our duties as parents?

by Courtney E. Martin, On Being columnist

Cel Lisboa / Unsplash

Everyone wants the best for their kids. It’s an idea that almost no one — black, brown, or white, rich, poor, or something in between — would take issue with. In fact, most people think this is the bedrock of good parenting: pursuing the best for your own children at all costs.

And yet, how often do we actually reckon with the real nature of those costs? When it’s all said and done, who pays the bill? Is the price right?

The first time this tapeworm of a worry showed up I was…

The On Being Project

The On Being Project takes up the big questions of meaning. Each day, a new discovery about the immensity of our lives.

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