Available

Available: (adj) able to be used or obtained

There are a few great principles that just make life work better.dictionary with letter A

Fortunately for us mortals, they are simple.

  • Our attempts to complicate them do not actually improve their quality.
  • Our instinct to ignore them does not negate them.
  • Our decision to embrace them brings a sense of true joy to our hearts which greatly increases our power to endure.

One of these primary precepts is this: happiness is when we begin to believe that what is available to us is our blessing.

Just imagine how content we could become if we thought a box of macaroni, eight slices of cheese and a can of tuna were the makings of a meal instead of symbols of our poverty. Tuna and macaroni and cheese. It is edible, you know. And if we access the spice rack, we might just be able to turn it into a delicacy.

I am only miserable in my life when I convince myself that I am cheated by what is available.

I become giddy with my journey when I take what’s available and turn it into the “Magical Mystery Tour.”

So what is the trick? Here’s what I choose to believe:

What’s the harm in using what’s available until something better comes along? Who knows? What is available may be enough.

And if not, I would rather fill my time being inventive with my resources … instead of bitching about them. 

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Autumn

Autumn: (n) the third season of the year

I hear people say it all the time: “I love the four seasons.”dictionary with letter A

I assume they’re referring to spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Every time I overhear the words, I ask myself, do you agree with that? And I realize I don’t.

I actually like two seasons. Unfortunately, there is no climate in the world that allows for the exclusive pair I prefer.

I like summer and autumn.

Spring has too much rain, buzzing bees and sneezes.

Winter…well, it’s cold.

But summer is warm and autumn gives me the tremendous sensation of flashing back to boyhood.

Magnificent things happen in the autumn when you’re a kid.

  • You go back to school.

At first you hate it, but then you realize that your friends are there and they make great jail mates.

  • Football.

Yes, autumn is the best season for football. Growing up in Ohio, there was just enough chill in the air that you had to wear a sweater or a hoodie, and could almost see your breath in the air.

  • Halloween.

Even if you didn’t dress up in a costume, the holiday afforded donuts and candy and all the things forbidden for rest of the year, but for some reason were sugar- and calorie-free on All Hallow’s Eve.

  • And of course, autumn showcases the beautiful gathering for Thanksgiving.

To me, Thanksgiving is the definition of family–even more than Christmas, when we’re busy buying and receiving presents. It’s a time when we actually have to sit together, over-consume food and converse. Although dangerous, it is a blessing.

I was kind of saddened when autumn became fall.

It must have been a similar reaction that God felt when love was only defined as sex.

There’s nothing “fall”en about autumn.

It is a beautiful season which confirms that the things that bloom must eventually die … to make room for a new possibility.

 

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Autopsy

Autopsy: (n) a postmortem examination to discover the cause of death or the extent of disease.

The State of Washington demanded that an autopsy be performed on anyone who died suddenly.dictionary with letter A

It’s a good rule.

But when my thirteen-year-old child passed away from viral pneumonia and we were touring through the state, it seemed arduous, painful and intrusive.

My son’s name was Joshua. He had been hit and run by a car six years earlier, leaving him with a severe brain injury, in a vegetative state.

No one is ever ready for such a responsibility.

We did our best–but after six years, his body began to wear out, giving up its purpose.

Perhaps better care givers could have sustained his inertia, but when he developed pneumonia, the doctors suggested we refrain from heroic measures and let nature take its course.

Given only antibiotics and fluids, he passed away in less than twelve hours.

The State of Washington was not suspicious of our care. The autopsy was just a necessary step to confirm the absence of foul play.

Three weeks later, after Joshie was long entombed, I received the coroner’s report in the mail.

It was fascinating.

It told a story we did not know.

It told us about a little boy who was fatally struck down in the street and possibly should have gone on to his Maker that evening, but because of the advances of medicine, was able to be sustained without being healed.

His brain showed no signs of cognitive activity and his little body was wracked with the evidence of much pain. His organs had shrunk and he was more or less a living experiment.

My mind flashed back to the six years we carried him around, whispered in his ears, hugged him, kissed his face and desperately tried to feed nourishment into his body.

Was he aware of any of it?

Was there any spirit left to retrieve kindness?

I don’t know.

For you see, an autopsy doesn’t report that. 

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Autonomy

Autonomy: (n) freedom from external control or influence; independence

The trouble with what I think is that it comes from my thoughts. dictionary with letter A

Very limited.

So over the years, I have pondered the difference between needing and wanting.

Living in a society that greatly believes in autonomy, I get tempted occasionally to consider that my information is enough to provide me success.

For after all, I don’t want to need anyone.

And even wanting seems to be clingy.

So the end result is that most individuals go along pretty well until they come across a problem that requires assistance, but instead they worked with their own ideas, leaving a gaping hole or a disaster.

At that point, you can either admit your mistake or you can be a true American and disguise it and lie about it. But suddenly you might find yourself with a microphone in your face as people ask you why you did this terrible deed and what caused you to think you could get by with it.

Ridiculous.

Here’s what I feel–I want to know myself well enough that I’m fully aware of my inventory of facts, so that when any situation comes up, I can either say, “I need no one else on this,” or “I want a buddy.”

I don’t want to be needy all the time, but I refuse to end up wanting because I’m afraid to admit my lack.

So here’s the three-step process which I use every day of my life when it comes to things that pop up in my pathway:

  1. Do I know anything whatsoever about what is confronting me?
  2. Of the little I do know, will my knowledge be enough to handle the difficulty?
  3. If not, who do I want to invite into my predicament to aid me?

That’s it.

Autonomy is wonderful if you know what you’re doing.

If you don’t, autonomy is that first step you take off the edge of the cliff … insisting that the angels should catch you.

 

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Automatic

Automatic: (adj) a device or process working by itself with little or no direct human control.dictionary with letter A

Racing to escape the wilderness of political correctness and stumbling into the jungle of free speech, let me state clearly for all time:  Being kind is not automatic.

Human beings are neither innately good or evil, but rather, born to be lazy. (I know this will disappoint Steppenwolf, who contended that we were “Born to be Wild,” but let the chips fall where they may.)

So if we’re going to pursue a quality life which frees us of the need to retaliate because we haven’t instigated an attack against anyone else, we must practice what is automatic. And what makes things automatic? They slip out without our permission.

If we had more time to think about them, we certainly would have picked a different approach. But because the abundance of our heart carried a certain venom, the mouth spit it out like a cobra.

So I am going to tell you what I think the three greatest virtues are in a human being:

  1. Kindness
  2. Good cheer
  3. Perseverance

So if you want to tap these virtues and make them become more automatic in your reactions, understand that kindness finds a resting place in our souls because we finally come to the conclusion that we don’t want to be treated like crap.

Yes, it’s true. I am not kind to people because I am so overflowing with heavenly goodness. I just don’t want others messing with me, so I don’t mess with them. Then I sweeten it a little bit with some gentleness, hoping to get some sugar back my way.

Secondly, serious people are always seriously in trouble. Because they are searching for a problem, they will quickly find one and then be overwhelmed by its dimensions.

This makes them a pain in the ass.

If you can’t add some humor to the situation, then basically…shut up.

And finally, perseverance is not something you can muster in the midst of the struggle. Rather, it’s the extra canteen of water you brought along because someone mentioned a trek through the desert.

In other words, you troubleshoot–considering some of the more unpleasant options and then simply prepare yourself aforehand for said trial. Then if these complexities do arrive, you are prepared to endure.

I am trying to get kindness, good cheer and perseverance to be automatic in my life in order to acquire two tremendous blessings:

I did my part.

So please leave me alone.

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Automated Teller Machine

Automated teller machine: (n) a machine that automatically provides cash and performs other banking services on insertion of a special card by the account holder.

I was alive when the first ATM was put into use–September 2nd, 1969, in New York.dictionary with letter A

Now, I was not present for the initial transaction, but it did not take long before these monstrosities popped up everywhere across the nation.

From the time I was 19 years of age until 30, I was at constant war with them. For after all, I never had enough money in my account to withdraw $20. And this was before the gracious era of being able to take out $10, so solvency was defined by whether you had that precious Andrew Jackson in your account.

God, there were times I was close.

  • $17.83.
  • $15.42.
  • Once, $19.89 was my balance.

But no–no deal with the automated teller.

But strange as it may seem, on the night that my third son was born, I found myself in Westerville, Ohio, when my wife called, said that she was in labor and on her way to Mt. Vernon to have the baby.

I hopped in my car and realized that I did not have enough gas to drive the forty miles to the hospital.

It was late and I didn’t have anybody to contact who would have the money.

So I sat in my car, fuming over being such a damn loser, and not having the cash to fulfill my fatherly duties.

I grabbed my card, started my car and drove to the ATM machine, which so many times in the past had rejected me–so much so that I had the sensation that it saw me coming and heaved a mechanical sigh.

As I walked toward the apparatus with my card extended, I looked around to make sure no one was listening and spoke directly to my metal foe:

“Listen, fella. I know I only have $12.38 in the account. But I have to get to Mt. Vernon to see the birth of my son. I realize you haven’t fathered anything during your time on earth, but try to understand. As I gently slide my card into your slot, just this one time…give me $20.”

I hadn’t even finished my little speech when suddenly–without my card inserted–the machine made a grumble, a rumble, a spit and a flick.

Out popped $20.

I looked around to make sure there was nobody who was the true owner of the blessing, and then grabbed it, went to put gas in my car, and then traveled to see the birth of my boy.

The $20 never registered as a deduction from my account, and to this day I do not know how I retrieved it from this uncaring machine.

Was it my words?

Was it luck?

Or did I somehow get past its buttons...to its heart?

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Autograph

Autograph: (n) a signature, especially that of a celebrity written as a memento for an admirer.

Life is an elevator.dictionary with letter A

The same blessing that takes you up is the shaft that brings you down. It all depends on the buttons you push.

I learn this all the time.

Having authored a number of books, I often have people asking for my autograph. It is a very kind gesture.

I never get tired of the jolt of joy that comes into my soul, realizing that someone has first of all treasured my writings enough to purchase them, but also wants me to put my name on them.

It’s exciting.

I even practiced my signature to make sure that it looked “authorian” and had a certain flair that exuded eccentricity.

So one day, having some time on my hands, I perused the Internet, seeking out information on my name and the books I had written.

I was drawn to this website where used books were offered at reduced rates. I discovered that many of my volumes were available–and almost every one of them advertised that it was “signed by the author,” supposedly thus giving it some extra clout.

But to my great dismay, many of these copies I had signed had been discounted even from their original reduced rate–down so low that one of my books was being offered for 59 cents.

So not only was my original work and inspiration diminished in value, but apparently by adding my signature to the equation, no greater wealth was calculated.

It made me realize that I had better enjoy the elevator of autographing when it’s going up.

Because eventually it will come back down…into the bargain bin.

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