I learned to think by studying poetry and literary theory at Harvard. Following graduation I worked for two years on Wall Street to repay my parents what they’d borrowed for my education. Then I worked as a writer, newspaper editor, and corporate communications consultant in northern California.

The day I turned 30 I made a list of the five things I wanted to do before I died. One was live and work in another country. So I moved to Japan, taught English, and read lots of Buddhist books, applying their teachings to my professional challenges.

These random experiments in applied religion succeeded well enough that colleagues began cornering me at parties, usually after I’d enjoyed a few margaritas, asking me to explain what Buddhism was exactly? After classes, students thanked me for encouraging them to question their assumptions and think for themselves about how best to live. Since this was in fact my “hidden” agenda, I decided I might as well make a clear commitment to my passions.

After training at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, I studied for several years with Shohaku Okumura and was ordained a zen priest in 2011. I helped edit several of Okumura Roshi’s books on zen, including The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo. Later I facilitated a weekly sitting and discussion group overlooking a river in southern Maine. These days I’m practicing zen in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and studying clinical mental health counseling.