What's in My Bag

What’s in my NOW? — Rick Akin, DDS, MD

issue #174

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My name is Rick Akin, DDS, MD, and I have been searching for all of life’s good things since childhood. At 52, I find myself returning more and more to the beauty and ideas I encountered during my under-appreciated liberal arts undergraduate education!


  • Watercolor paint and a brush — I have a favorite brush, colors, papers, and techniques, and I practice every day. I keep all my paintings because it helps me face my perfectionist tendencies. Creating something, no matter how small, that never existed before has become meaningful to me at this point in my life. 
  • My classical guitar and music book — I tried YouTube, apps, and self-discipline, but the best investment I have made was a simple nylon string guitar and an instructor. He uses something called the Parkening method to teach classical guitar. I like Glen Hansard and Damien Rice, so it is certainly not my style of music, but I decided to learn his way. I now believe there is no replacing in-person interactions when learning an art form from a master. The eye-to-eye accountability, the great insights into how to play along with the value you show them by getting there on time, paying them for their expertise, and so many other intangibles of this experience have made these past 11 months an incredible journey. 
  • Kindle — It has taken me a long time not to be covetous when seeing someone with a big physical book on real paper. Although I think some books need to be tangible to me, like Mary Oliver or small books like Stop Sweating the Small Stuff, It’s All Small Stuff! by Richard Carlson, but when I do buy now, it is always used. I don’t know for sure if the 50 or more books I’ve read on my simple used Kindle is better for the environment, but it is good for my bookshelf, and now, with the audible version available right within the Kindle smartphone app, I cannot make excuses for not getting in at least a few pages in each day.


  • Richard Rohr on YouTube — A few years ago, I first came across a book called Falling Upward by a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. More than anything, his videos and books have helped me reassess (and heal) my relationship with God.  The long and short of his message you may ask? To me his message is summed up with in two words, love and mercy
  • The Marginalian — I found Maria Popova’s website through a Tim Ferris podcast. She says her work is “primarily about the idea of timeless nourishment,” and her weekly emails break me out of the monotony that can sneak into my life by bringing me fresh ideas with deeper meaning, which I can then dive into easily and quickly because they are so well presented.


  • “It changes.” — Buddha. I read this recently, and it has played out far more for the positive than the negative in my life.

What’s in your NOW?

We want to know what’s in your now — a list of 6 things that are significant to you now — 3 physical, 2 digital and 1 invisible. 

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