After service in Vietnam as a surgeon in 1968-69, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives and the limitless ways that they have found to be unhappy. He is also a parent twice bereaved. In one thirteen-month period, he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of experience, Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths: We are what we do. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Only bad things happen quickly. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. Livingston illuminates these and twenty-four others in perfectly calibrated essays, many of which emphasize our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or enhance them. These writings underscore that “we are what we do,” and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret, and to move beyond them.