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Steven Kalas

Knowing when to dream, when to let dreams go

1993. Two days shy of his second birthday, my firstborn, Jonathan, is exploring the grassy area behind the apartment building. His legs, alive with energy and joy, make the swish-squish sound that is the signature of the modern disposable diaper. I watch him from a distance, sitting on a concrete staircase, guitar in my lap, dreaming, resting.

One credo crucial to a well-lived life: Pay attention

Sooner or later in long-term therapy, most adult patients will drift — or dive — toward their family history. They begin to take a more comprehensive, more honest and accurate inventory of realities they faced as children. The strength and weaknesses, health and unhealth, justice and injustice of the families in which they were reared. Because all families have some combination of all of those things.

Bucket list? With fatherhood’s riches, I’m all set

The sun cracks the horizon on my 23rd canvas of our tent. Curled in my sleeping bag, I notice I’m cold. It’s mid-June, and I am cold! Later today it will be a billion degrees in the Mojave Desert. But right now, camped on the shores of Navajo Lake in Kane County, Utah, the thermometer registers 36 degrees.

Leaving life, reminding others to treasure theirs

Four years of my professional life were spent working in hospice. Director of bereavement and pastoral care. Simply put, four of the best years of my life. Creative, energizing and a daily learning curve. A downer? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite. More hopeful, inspirational, meaningful.

Breaking down, repairing and rebuilding

I fell in love with basketball at a summer baseball camp at Northern Arizona University. I was 8 years old. We happened by the gym during “free time,” and I found myself in a pickup game. It was like I’d played this game in a previous life. I became impassioned.

Love happens in a flash; keeping it gets tricky

First love is a life-changing experience. It happens to most people in adolescence. I waited a bit longer, 22 years old when I, by way of introduction, hit a sunbathing Gamma Phi Delta with a Frisbee. Actually, my friend threw the fateful disc, he and I on a wide expanse of grass behind the chapel at Southern Methodist University, living large and youthful in the spring sunshine.

Knowing difference between complaint, criticism

I can’t get sloppy or casual with this guy. His brain is smart, thorough and relentless. He’s a bit intense, but so am I, so maybe we’re a good fit. He wants nothing more (and nothing less) than to be a good human being. And, someday, he’d like to be a good mate and life partner in a terrific relationship.

Western religion breeding ground of neurosis

Cousin 1 says he believes the guilt his Catholic family taught him was important for his emotional development. Cousin 2 disagrees. She says that same family’s teachings about guilt did nothing to enhance her inner voice for right and wrong. Interesting discussion. But, when I get caught eavesdropping, they toss the debate in my lap.