My Induction into the Brighton High School Hall of Fame

I am being inducted into my high school hall of fame today. My brother Jim read the speech reproduced below. My parents still live in the neighborhood and were in attendance along with some good friends. Jim beat me, having been inducted years ago.

Here is a flattering video made for the ceremony:

Here is the speech:

All You Need is Love
For Brighton High School
By Michael Gollin    
June 2016

All You Need is Love.
The Beatles broke up in 1970, just before I entered Brighton High School, and their songs had begun their leap toward immortality. As a member of the peace and love generation, this song strikes me as timeless.

Family love is where we begin.
High school is a time when many of us draw apart from our families, but trust me when I say that you will be much happier when you reestablish loving relationships with parents and siblings. All of you should have the pleasure of finding a spouse and creating your own family. Then things can turn full circle when your children form their own identities in their high school years. And when you get old or sick, they can take care of you.

Love of learning comes next.
Hopefully you have found subjects that you find so interesting that you can’t stop looking for information about them. Maybe it’s music, movies or social justice or computer technology or sports. For me, it was nature and thus biology. But I really learned a lot from all of my classes and being on stage or in the orchestra pit for all the musicals!
     Get in the habit of learning and keep it up your whole life long and you will never get bored. The trick is to stay curious and be brave enough to say “I don’t know.” When I was in high school I wondered why leaves are green and several years later I learned the answer, in a college biochemistry class, that the chlorophyll absorbs all the other visible colors and converts the photons into sugar and oxygen. The green color is a gift for us.

Love of work is for the fortunate.
If you find work that you love and that pays a living wage, then you are well on the path of happiness. For me, I love my job as a patent attorney, including my colleagues, and clients, who are professors, a Nobel laureate, the Bill Gates Foundation, and research institutions around the world. When I got sick, I didn’t want to go on full disability and I still do what I can even though I can’t talk or walk.
    It took me ten years of post high school education and ten years of lawyering before I got in my groove and it was hard work all the way.
    What are your goals? Whatever your calling, be patient and strategic and your path should open up to you.

Love of play is easy.
It’s easy to love play and some of our happiest times come when we are playing with friends, whether games, music, socializing, or entertainment. Play complements our other activities and creates one of the strongest threads in the fabric of life. 

Love for humanity.
You will be much happier if you consider the impact of your actions on your community and humanity at large. My simple motto is “increase the good and decrease the bad.” Be creative and fearless and never underestimate the power of small groups of committed people to accomplish great things, or at least good things.

Love for nature.
I have always found peace and refreshment by being outside, whether sitting, walking, hiking, running, biking, swimming, boating or gardening. Now that I can only sit and look and listen, I still try to go outside every day. We come from nature; we are part of nature, and it brings me comfort to realize I will return to nature when my body dies. Whatever helps you to keep your mind, body, and soul strong and fresh, make time for it.

One of my sayings goes like this:
A full life is one that begins in love, flows with love, and ends in love.

In conclusion, to quote the Beatles again, love is all you need.

National Law Journal Review of My Book

Former Venable Life Sciences Head Publishes Memoir

Katelyn Polantz, The National Law Journal
April 26, 2016

Michael Gollin, a founder of Venable’s life science practice, has for four years struggled as his mobility declined. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS, has set in. Yet he’s been as active as ever in thinking about his life’s work.

One of his theses, written as verses to a song late last year: “I learned the most important thing / With my disease onset / No one lives forever / But I’m not dead yet. / Yes! We’re not dead yet.”

Gollin has collected much of his recent writing on a blog, Now those pieces are available as an ebook, which his sister, Kathryn Marshak, who formerly worked in publishing, helped distribute this year. It is available on The book includes new essays as well as writings from Gollin’s blog dating back to August 2012.

Gollin, 58, writes on his smart phone, and he has a language synthesizer that uses his own voice, recorded years ago, to speak.

“When I was diagnosed with ALS, I was dragged into a terrifying new situation, but I realized how lucky I’ve been in life, and I quickly resolved to make the best of the situation,” Gollin wrote recently. “It has been surprisingly liberating to explore this uncharted territory.”

Below are a few poems and essays from Gollin’s newest work.

Cherry Blossom
Crossing the Delaware
Never Give Up
At Sea
BIO Conference

Facing Death to Take Charge of Life

Facing Death to Take Charge of Life
Michael Gollin

What are the most important questions when we and loved ones face serious illness? The article below sums up the inquiries succinctly.

From The New York Times
Seeking a ‘Beautiful Death’
Before making an advance directive, talk with your doctor and your caregiver about just how far end-of-life care should go at the cost of comfort.

The kinds of questions doctors should be asking:

■ What gives your life meaning and joy?

■ What are your biggest fears and concerns?

■ What are you looking forward to?

■ What goals are most important to you now?

■ What trade-offs or sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve those goals?

Everyone can answer these questions although based on personal experience they become more directly relevant and therefore less frightening when you have a serious disease or are older.

The book Being Mortal, by excellent writer and surgeon, Atul Gawande, tackles these issues in a very personal and comprehensible way. Our late in life decisions should be driven by our humanity, not the health industry imperatives. Key questions include the following.
What do you understand about your disease?
What are your priorities for your remaining time?

There was a TV show about this book.

I found the book more helpful. For example, I have made it known that I don’t want 911, ambulance, and emergency room treatment. Maybe for a broken bone, but otherwise I can be treated at home for ALS and my ventilation better than at an ER, if treatment is viable, and avoid massive discomfort and dislocation. I have rushed to the doctor in my own wheelchair in our van and returned home the same way to live my life as best as I can. I’m fortunate in that sense.

Everyone will face their health fate however they can. But it helps if a loved one or doctor or nurse asks the right questions.


Book from Blog

I am extremely pleased to announce the launch of my new book, Innovation Life Love: Reflections on Living with Mortality.
It’s available on Amazon already although we’re still working on the descriptive material.

The book compiles most of the poems, essays, speeches, and other material from this blog, with new material. It is more an eclectic journal of my recent years than a memoir.

For the earlier posts, I was still touch typing. Now I struggle with my left thumb on my phone. But it’s all good. Thanks to endless help, support, and encouragement from my family, especially my sister and my wife, and many others, including readers in more than 85 countries, here is a dream come true.

If you do buy it, don’t forget to write a review on the Amazon page!


Here are some excerpted comments posted on the blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

– Michael, you are an amazing writer. This captured, with your typical grace, the battlefront you’re on and what that means. You continue to be an inspiration ….

– Michael – Thanks for the inspiration. When I think I’ve got too many challenges, I remember that an attitude of gratitude, along with acceptance, is the key to positive thinking. Amen.

–  Well said, my dear! I am so glad you soldier on tablet in hand–every campaign needs a good chronicle.

Such a lovely post, it just encapsulates the ups and downs of life.

Wow, Michael. For a guy who types with one finger, you did an amazing job here … Great post!

– So beautiful, Michael, I’ll return to it again and again. Thank you.

– Gorgeous and timely.

– Your grace, strength and dignity are both amazing and inspiring.

– Spoken from the heart, and you have a very big heart, Michael! Your heart is far bigger than the ALS.

– What a fantastic blog!! Thanks for spreading happiness!!

– I read your autobiography and I was amazed by the things you have accomplished and continue accomplishing. How do you find the courage and stamina to keep going? Wow! I will continue checking your blog as I find it very enriching. I wish your life continues full of love and happiness. You are an inspiration!

– Your poetry is beautiful and I wish you the best!

– Your website is beautiful and inspiring. Sending love.

It brought tears to my eyes how you know you are part of nature. How we all are part of nature. Comforting and deeply beautiful. Thank you for your wisdom.

– A world of wonder, and endless inspiration.

– A fine series of metaphors and flowing sounds for the sense of a generous and growing self connected (by e.g. vapor, reflection, heat, spark, intent, sound, mind, attitudes and actions) to a greater other. Not easily conceived or sustained, but the short lines make it all possible! Congratulations!

– Lovely imagery!

– Magnificent Michael. Thanks for the reminder to be still and listen.

– So wondrous. We are all cherry blossoms, seems like. You are among my cherry blossoms, Michael. That, too, is all I need.

– What a lovely poem. Really, just lovely.

– I love this poem and I am very honored, proud and happy to be a part of you.

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment | Coursera

I have completed several college courses on Coursera, for free. First was brother-in-law Steve Marshak’s geology class. He’s a gifted teacher and you can learn about earthquakes, volcanoes, fracking, and how the earth moves.

My favorite discovery was A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment.  The professor is lively and backs up his systematic survey of effective approaches and to increasing your happiness with solid research and interviews with known scholars, prepared with a light heart and good humor. I confess I skipped the exercises but I put the lessons to use almost every day.

You can find it at the website. I can’t guarantee these links work.
Go to course

:// https ourses?query=Happiness

Lowen and Navarro: Eric Lowen, Musician, Died of ALS

Eric Lowen, Musician, Dies at 60

We met Dan Navarro at the ALSA meeting. His duo partner Eric Lowen died of ALS 3 years ago. They performed 5 years after the diagnosis.

Dan pointed me to their song about the moment after diagnosis. It is heartbreaking and beautiful.
How Mighty Is The Silence.

I have become a big fan of their many albums with soaring lyrics and perfect harmony.

Card Project 2. Explanation

This was reported from my oldest friend, Judith Harway. Guerrilla art revealed. Brilliant, kind, and well received. Look at the comments under Card Project. They come from as far as London.

Everlasting thanks, Judy and all your co-conspirators.


My Ice-Bucket Challenge
My Ice-Bucket Challenge is a guerrilla art project created for the 2015 exhibit of the Midwest Jewish Artists Laboratory. More to the point, it was created for my brother, Michael Gollin, who is not a blood relative: we were born nine days apart, our parents were close friends, and we shared a practically perfect childhood full of summers running wild in the woods around Santuit Pond. Diagnosed with ALS in Fall 2012, Michael began blogging at, and I began to see the importance of helping his inspirational writing flow out into the world.

To that end, I paired brief, lyrical passages from with winsome illustrations by artist/activist Sylvie Armstrong (my daughter), and created a set of eight cards, each of which has a hand-written message on the reverse side (“This project is to spread awareness of ALS, the motor-neuron disease made famous by the 2014 Ice-Bucket Challenge. Since he was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, my brother has been blogging about the wonder and fragility of life ( In a sense, this is my personal Ice-Bucket Challenge – Please help us make good-will and encouragement go viral by leaving this card where someone else might discover and enjoy my bro’s words. And please visit — let us know where you found this card!”). In a hand-addressed envelope (“If you find this, it’s for you – Please open!”), each card was either left in a public place to be discovered by random strangers or given to a friend. For four weeks – April 27 through May 24, 2015 – I left cards around my hometown of Milwaukee, reaching a total of 305 cards distributed. During that time, visits to Michael’s blog soared, and comments expressing appreciation, solidarity, prayers, and love trickled in.



Documentation of My Ice-Bucket Challenge was included in “Living Waters,” an exhibit by the Midwest Jewish Artists’ Laboratory (Milwaukee, June 3 – July 31, 2015). The card templates have since been passed on to other siblings and loved ones, who, at the time of this writing, continue to place cards around the country, eliciting more readers and keeping the comments flowing in.

Judith Harway
Milwaukee, June 2015

My Ice-Bucket Challenge by the numbers:
Phase 1: April 27 – May 24, 2015 – Cards placed by JH.
Phase 2: After May 24, 2015 – Cards placed by Kathy, Maura, and other family.


Monday, 4/6 125
Monday, 4/13 30
Monday, 4/20 143
Monday, 4/27 394
Monday, 5/4 270
Monday, 5/11 503
Monday, 5/18 455
Monday, 5/25 187
Monday, 6/1 271
Monday, 6/8 248
Monday, 6/15 211+++++

NUMBER OF CARDS LEFT IN WHAT PLACES, April 27 – May 24, 2015 –

Coffee shops 54
Public libraries/bookstores 28
College campus locations 27
Community/nature centers 24
Friends/students/family 94
Little free libraries 18
Other (bus shelters, businesses, etc) 60
TOTAL: 305