Something’s Knocking at My Brain


A tattered and worn sweatshirt that should have been thrown away years ago is warming me on this crisp morning. Though there are newer and nicer sweatshirts in the closet, there is extra cozy comfort in something old, worn, and tied to a memory. I can’t remember ever being so cold as I was that morning painting at Asilomar Beach in Monterey, California, where I bought the sweatshirt. It warmed me then as it does today.

Out on the porch this morning, it was simply too chilly, so I made my way to my little brown art studio in the woods behind my house. Decaying leaves and fallen acorns crunched under my feet as I walked through the yard, where I stopped briefly to look at the old swing my son Brady hung from a high oak branch. I flashed back to the joy on his face when he first built it and stood swinging for the first time.

A Yellow Glow

Brilliant, glowing yellow sunlight bleaches the wall and the wooden pillars holding up the old tin roof of the porch attached to my clapboard-covered studio. The red hammock next to the fireplace glows a reddish orange while it sways slightly in the breeze.

Entering my studio, I see the old 1930s Deco chair with rounded wooden arms and green and red fabric, where our models normally sit to be painted on Wednesday nights. My imaginary throne where I contemplate life and painting is about two feet off the floor.

Sounds of Silence

Silence fills the room, broken only by a “tock tock tock” that I rarely notice unless the room is this quiet. It’s an old quarter-sawn square clock, with a round face. Roman numerals share the face with the words “Standard Electric Time Company Springfield, Mass.” This old railroad station timekeeper has held up my wall for decades.

The Concept of Time

Back in the ’60s we used to ponder time, as though our young minds really understood anything about it. In that same era, a young man just four years older than me became a pop icon. And this past week on his deathbed, David Cassidy’s final words to his daughter Katie were “So much wasted time.”

The Most Profound Thing David Cassidy Said

In spite of his stardom, his recordings and concerts and fame, his last words may have been the most profound thing David Cassidy ever offered the world. We knew of him because we sang along to his songs, and it made us pay attention when we heard those succinct last words.

Far too many reminders of this temporary blip we call life have crossed my path in the past year, with too many good friends and acquaintances lost too soon. Though I never met this teen idol, he influenced the lives of millions of us when his songs became the soundtrack of our lives.

Not a Moment to Waste

In spite of the control I like to think I have by managing my mindset, my health, my diet and exercise, I’m reminded that all you and I have is this exact moment in time, and it must not be wasted.

The Cassidy quote hit me unusually hard. Rather than “I wasted so much time,” I want my final words to be, “I made valuable use of every remaining moment I was given.”

Cassidy’s daughter stated, “This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love … as to never waste another minute.”

Burned by My Own Thoughts

Though none of us needs to be reminded that every moment is precious, I am reminded that I have burned far too many moments with worry, fear, anger, nervousness, wondering what others think, counting my mistakes, or absorbing negativity. Worse is spending time doing things I don’t love or things that don’t make others or myself better in some way.

Rarely do I regret a great story, movie, book, or conversation where I’ve learned something about someone else or myself.

The few regrets I do have are rooted in not listening, jumping to conclusions, reacting negatively, not approaching things with understanding or love, being critical, and just simply being selfish.

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves — regret for the past and fear for the future” — Fulton Oursler

Looking back with regret is of little value unless it acts as prevention for the future. I’ve squandered too many opportunities because I was frozen by fear or self-esteem issues. “What if they don’t like me? What are they inviting me for? What do they really want? They are just saying that — they couldn’t possibly really want me.”


One day I realized that those thoughts were simply getting in my way, killing opportunity. Though they still pop into my brain every day, I try to push them out right away and simply tell myself, “That’s not me speaking, it’s my subconscious mind and my reptilian brain instincts just trying to protect me.”

Our brains, our self-esteem issues, our lack of belief in our own abilities are the roadblocks to taking advantage of every moment.

I believe the key to shedding our emotional baggage is understanding that it’s there, that it is not protecting you, it’s harming you, and that if you don’t shed it, you won’t live as fruitful a life as you deserve.

Failure Fears

For some the act of letting something stop you from doing these things is a protection mechanism because they fear failure. So, what if you do fail? Fail forward. All successful people will tell you that failure is the foundation of success. Embrace it.

Yes, you deserve to have every moment be as meaningful, wonderful, and memorable as possible. I know there are reasons you may think you are undeserving or incapable.

But if those thoughts are not serving you, it’s time to find thoughts that do serve you.

  • I waste too much time on Facebook, Instagram, and e-mail. I need to spend more time talking and listening with friends and family. 
  • I waste too much time watching the evil news. I need to spend more time reading and growing. 
  • I waste too much time being critical of others. I need to spend more time building them up. 
  • I need to spend more time seeking memories with those I will miss when they are gone. 
  • I need to remember that wounds heal and that I cannot let them control me, and accept that others are doing the best that they know to do. And even if their intent was to hurt me, I will not give them that power anymore. 
  • I need to break down walls and barriers to make my dreams come true, so I don’t look back wishing I had at least tried. 
  • I need to seize more moments. 
  • I need to throw myself more into life. 
  • I need to stop letting procrastination, excuses, and negativity rule me. 
  • I need to assume today is my last and that every moment needs to be my best.

Don’t waste time. It’s your biggest treasure. Maybe this is a good week to evaluate what you’re letting keep you from making every moment the life you want to live.

I leave you with the lyrics of a top David Cassidy song.


I’m sleeping
And right in the middle of a good dream
Like all at once I wake up
From something that keeps knockin’ at my brain.
Before I go insane
I hold my pillow to my head
And spring up in my bed
Screaming out the words I dread:
“I think I love you!”

This morning
I woke up with this feeling
I didn’t know how to deal with
And so I just decided to myself
I’d hide it to myself and never talk about it
And didn’t I go and shout it
When you walked into my room.

“I think I love you!”
I think I love you.
So what am I so afraid of?
I’m afraid that I’m not sure of
A love there is no cure for.

I think I love you.
Isn’t that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say
I’ve never felt this way.

I don’t know what I’m up against.
I don’t know what it’s all about.
I got so much to think about.

Hey, I think I love you,
So what am I so afraid of?
I’m afraid that I’m not sure of
A love there is no cure for.
I think I love you.
Isn’t that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say
I’ve never felt this way.

Believe me,
You really don’t have to worry.
I only want to make you happy
And if you say,
“Hey, go away,” I will
But I think better still,
I’d better stay around and love you.

Do you think I have a case?
Let me ask you to your face:
Do you think you love me?
I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.
Oh, I think I love you.

Composed by songwriter Tony Romeo in 1970.
I Think I Love You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


  1. Rhonda Hancock December 3, 2017 at 4:23 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoy your Sunday Coffee emails. Know that your weekly words of wisdom are appreciated.

  2. Barbara Haviland December 3, 2017 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Thanks for this topic of not wasting precious time.

  3. Yvonne Colclasure December 3, 2017 at 4:56 am - Reply

    I love having coffee with you on Sunday mornings, Eric. Your words paint a picture in my mind. My artist brain relates to your emotions. Thank you.

  4. Peachy December 3, 2017 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Thank you Eric for your wisdom. I enjoy your writing and appreciate the time you take to share your
    thoughts. You are an artist with both brush and pen!

  5. Vimala Arunachalam December 3, 2017 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Beautifully said. Thanks.

  6. Lynn Wellings December 3, 2017 at 5:58 am - Reply

    Amazing synopsis of the most important thing in life: time.
    Thank you Eric for telling us all what we many times forget; that this life is precious and we cannot call our missed opportunities or loved ones back.
    Tears on my palette….

  7. Bonnie Anderson December 3, 2017 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Brilliant………Thank you.

  8. Patricia Bachhuber December 3, 2017 at 6:35 am - Reply

    One of the best things that’s come of my discovery of plein air painting is you Eric, with your beautiful writings and passionate support of artists. This piece is something to read every day. You bring so much to the world; thank you.

  9. Barbara Chenault December 3, 2017 at 7:02 am - Reply

    I love your Sunday Coffee emails……. they make me step back and take a second look at myself and what I am appreciating and accomplishing. They are so thought provoking!! Keep them coming!

  10. Donna Cordova December 3, 2017 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Hi Eric,
    I just met you in Miami…. I coined Tom Toms his new name.
    1st of all If I could have turned Miami into a commune and kept everyone there, It would be an amazing place to live!! That was the type of community spirit we all had as artist, painting & sharing together! It was amazing.

    I got to see David Cassidy 1 1/2 years ago, out here on the North Fork of LI. He gave us so much joy. At the same time, because of the joy he gave us, he had to change his life and isolate himself. The person on that stage that night, was not the person we all knew. The alcohol had taken its toll. It made me step back and realize, how to live my life better everyday. Your message this morning was spot on. Live in the moment and take care of ourselves the best we can and appreciate those around us and our exact moments of time.

    Thank you!

  11. Nancy Yu December 3, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I like how you’re thinking, Eric. I’m following similar paths. Especially making NOW points with those I love.

  12. Lynn St. Clair December 3, 2017 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Good Morning, I sit in St. Simons Island, GA. As I read your message I feel as though I am sitting in your studio. Thank you for sending me special thoughts for a life well filled of love with family and friends. I send you happiness and blessings, Lynn

  13. Wendy Davis December 3, 2017 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Beautifully said. I needed that this morning. Thank you. 🙂

  14. Christine December 3, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Inspiring post, Eric. Thank you for your, and David Cassidy’s words.
    You do help keep up the keeping on!

  15. MaryLou Thomas December 3, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I am 94 years old, still healthy and with it. Your Sunday posts are uplifting and encouraging. I know how valuable time is, especially now that I am so old. I tell myself to stop wasting a minute of it. I am a painter and have been since I was 17 when I received an oil paint set for Christmas. It is something I love to do. I can’t go to any of your grand paint outs, but imagine they are wonderful fun. Keep having them and enjoying them. Onward and upward! And keep on sending your Sunday Coffee.

  16. Penny Duncklee December 3, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Several years ago I realized that:

    Time is Now.
    Now is Forever
    And, Never.

    The last minute has gone and the next one has not yet arrived. Thank you very much for your Sunday Coffee with Eric writings. They are full of wisdom. I am looking forward to saying “Hi” to you and giving you a hug in Santa Fe, next April. Interesting: I tried to enter my Website and I am doing something wrong. has always worked before….

  17. Celeste Mycoskie December 4, 2017 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Monday hit a home run with me…”I NEED TO ASSUME…TODAY IS MY LAST! Carpet Diem!

  18. James Payne December 4, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Eric, Thanks so much for the stories you write. I find them so interesting and very educational. I am a 77 years old retiree. i had a photography business back in the late 90s where i shot mostly weddings and portrait. i now pass my time reading and doing pencil drawings, i love to draw. I look forward to receiving more post from you.

  19. Donna December 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this!!! Words to follow…… much time wasted…how true!!! Had issues in the past with health and a car accident which could have been “my last”.

    Have enjoyed your other essays but never responded. Keep writing!!

  20. Cheryl C Rogers December 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Love this! Thank you!

  21. Judy December 6, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Loved this post – just the things I needed to hear today for a myriad of reasons and a whole bunch of tenderness was opened up inside of me. Thank you for all the beautiful reminders.

  22. Glora Sutton December 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Amen to everything you said.

  23. Lenora Michaeli June 28, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks for another informative website. Where else could I get that type of info written in such an ideal way? I have a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

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