I’m filling in today for Sy Safransky, who said he needed a break — “a vacation from being Sy,” is how he put it, with his characteristic flair for melodrama. Of course, he might be less exhausted if he curbed some of the histrionics; if he just walked a straight line from one end of his life to the other without stopping every few minutes to get another pebble out of his shoe.


Because I often write about my desire to lead a more disciplined life, some readers imagine I actually live that way: sitting cross-legged every morning and following my breath over the river and through the woods; sliding behind the wheel of “Sy Safransky’s Notebook” and clocking 120 miles per hour on the specially built track inside my head; lacing up my running shoes according to secret esoteric principles revealed only to those who commence their morning run at the same time every day, regardless of weather, injury, or a broken heart. Well, sometimes I do live that way. And sometimes I neglect my practices for a day, a week, a month — do I hear two months?