Cramp Someone’s Style

Cramp someone’s style: (v) to prevent someone from free action or expression

 Evil is sneaky.

Evil rarely attacks good.

Evil doesn’t necessarily criticize good.

Evil just makes good look limited—and we, as human beings, foolishly make the decision that trying to find a better way of living just ends up cramping our style.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

It’s happening every day in our world. Folks are so afraid of being vanilla that they try to come up with their own flavor, and when they find it distasteful, they discover they’re stuck with it because it’s become their trademark.

We are completely convinced that the “good boy” cannot be a dynamo in bed as a lover. No, it’s the over-drinking, under-thinking, greasy-haired, motorcycle-riding, jobless fellow who has the secret to the female orgasm.

In politics, we contend that anyone who sits around and discusses how to run the government is too boring to vote for, and we want somebody in there to shake things up—even though it may create problems of earthquake proportions.

We are just so afraid that our style is going to be cramped and we’re in danger of being boxed in that we find ourselves beckoned to an isolated corner, to be tempted by a “snake in the grass” with something that ends up fruitless.

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Cram

Cram: (v) to fill something by force

 It is impossible that all of the memories we have of another person are going to be good. Matter of fact, a good portion of the people we encounter may end up touching our lives in more negative ways than positive.

Yet it is useless for us to hold onto grudges, believing they grow more valuable over time, like a fine wine. funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Case in point:

Much of the time I spent with my mother was not particularly beneficial to my soul. I suppose this article would be more interesting if I went into the details of those unfortunate moments. But since I have sifted through them, I will spare you the unnecessary remembrance.

What I would like to do is recall one Thursday afternoon—many, many years ago—when my mom showed up to the junior high school to drive me across town to the gymnasium, where I was going to attend basketball practice. I was just thirteen—frisky, ornery and always looking to do something beyond the pale.

I had invited all my friends from the team to catch a ride with me in our family sedan. Little did my mother know, when I asked her if it was alright for some other guys to come along, was that I had invited fourteen.

Now, she was not a woman given to enjoying, enduring, and certainly never planning a prank. I don’t know why, on this particular day, she didn’t put her foot down and object. (Maybe it was because her foot was on the gas pedal.)

But one by one, my friends crawled into the trunk and the back seat, laying on top of each other, giggling like first graders, complaining and breathing heavily, until finally I inserted myself into the front seat, which now held six people including my mother, barely able to close the door behind me.

Once we all were in, she chose to take a long, dramatic pause. Now that I, too, am a parent, I’m sure her thinking was:

A. What in the hell am I doing?

B. Won’t it be just as much trouble to get them out of the car as drive them?

C. Where is the town cop this time of day? and

D. Could I actually make a stand on this without totally humiliating my son and becoming known as one of “those” adults?

She simply reached up, put the car in drive, and took us the two-and-a-half miles—very, very slowly—to our destination.

She was surrounded by adolescent laughing, gasping, spitting and snorting.

She never said a word.

She never took her eyes off the mirrors.

We arrived, and miraculously, were able to disengage from one another’s flesh, run into the building and start bouncing the balls.

I didn’t thank her, I didn’t look back, and we never spoke of it again.

But there is one day in my memory when my mother, with all her quirks, allowed me to cram fourteen friends into the Chevrolet—without yelling or fussing.

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Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship: (n) the skill possessed by a craftsman

 “Oh…are you still writing your little blogs?” she asked me, having obviously just taken a fresh batch of condescension out of her oven.

I simply replied, “Yes.”

It’s not what I wanted to say. funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I yearned to tell her the number of people who were stopping off at my blogs, and even fudge the figures a little higher.

I wanted to point out the power of the written word.

I certainly had an impulse to make her feel smaller—that she was unable to do what I could do.

But I recently have realized that if you’re ashamed of what you’re doing or how small it is, then you’ve reduced your life to a trickle of envy.

I am not envious. Matter of fact, every day when I sit down and write to you, I think about two things:

1. I want to be content with my content.

I want to make sure I’m telling you things that will exhort your journey instead of further exhausting you.

2. I want to honor the craftsmanship that goes into forming a sentence, completing a paragraph and promoting an idea.

I don’t want to sit around and argue about my style or my syntax. Instead, I want to admit that my ideas can always be better presented, with tighter structure and fewer words. It is ironic that the greatest lesson a writer learns is to write less, and then edit even more.

What is the shortest distance between two points? Let me give you a clue. It isn’t a run-on sentence with lots of purple prose. It is finding a way to say it that is easy to comprehend, but still lights a candle in the brain.

It is craftsmanship.

It’s when I watch the plumber working on my toilet, and he’s in the middle of completing the project when he pauses, looks at it carefully, disappears, and then comes back from his truck with another piece. And then he turns to me and says, “It would have been fine with that bolt, but this is going to be much better.”

Goddamn it, if I don’t want to hug him.

So my dear friends, I continue to write my little blogs, and I do it in the pursuit of craftsmanship.

For at 10:42 P. M. every night, this pursuit grants me great peace of mind.

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Craft

Craft: (n) an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill

It is a chilling sensation of frightening proportions that sometimes the word “craft” appears by itself.

Normally it travels with its friend, “art.”

“Art and craft” are much easier to comprehend—at least for me. Art is something I understand. It stirs in my soul. Thank you, God, or whoever is in charge today.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But every once in a while, someone will suggest that we all “do crafts.” I break out in a cold sweat.

Because as much as I enjoy the “art” part of arts and crafts—in other words, coming up with new ideas, angles and possibilities, when it comes to taking something in my hands, and well—let us say, crafting it—I become a fumbling elephant with four feet and a cumbersome trunk.

I don’t know what it is.

When I was in kindergarten, paste, crayons, construction paper and staples made me develop hives. Mainly it was because some of the kids in my class were so good at it. They made birthday cards for their parents that actually looked like Hallmark might approve it. Mine, on the other hand, greatly resembled a Hallmark card that had already spent time on the floor, been crunched in the corner and stepped on by thirty people.

So I tried to offer ideas and pay off my classmates to do the work for me by giving them my bag of Doritos at lunch. I got caught by the teacher in the midst of one of my transactions, and she tender-heartedly (but obnoxiously) said, “Come on, Johnny, you can do it. And whatever you come up with will be just fine.”

I took her at her word. I dipped into the paste, scribbled with the crayons and stapled everything in sight. Even though my teacher was an extraordinarily generous and kind person, when I presented my craft, I am pretty sure she had to swallow a gag reflex.

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Cradle-to-Grave

Cradle-to-grave: (adj) from birth to death

Just another night, sitting around with members of the human tribe, thinking about the wonders of the world, ignoring them, and pursuing problems.

The weakness of our race is the foolish notion that we can live forever, while simultaneously being obsessed with a terror of the grave.

Which one is it?

Are we going to live forever? Or will the next processed hot dog we consume give us stomach cancer?funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Yet the insurance companies, the government, the churches and in many ways, the business and entertainment industry make their money by dragging us into a “cradle-to-grave” mentality.

This is why people become so obsessed with a new baby. We even pretend they’re cute. The notion of new life reminds us of our own lives and sprouts a yearning to be young again—or at least as young as our number of birthdays will permit.

But there is only one way to live a good human life.

You must eliminate the second, the minute, the hour, the week, the month, the year and the lifespan.

If you become obsessed with the second, minute and hour, you’ll be a nervous ninny, incapable of enjoying the life you are presently breathing.

If you find yourself overly adult—insisting on the week, the month, the year and the lifespan—you will fret over health, retirement and the loom and gloom of your demise.

Here it is: human life runs by the day.

This is why each one begins with the sun and closes with the sun. It comes up, it goes down. There is life.

If you live as if only one of these will be provided, just think how delighted you are to awaken to a new sun and a new day.

If we woke up every morning convincing ourselves to include as much joy as humanly possible in our sixteen waking hours, then we’re bound to have many adventures we couldn’t possibly have planned—which will spontaneously arrive to take our breath away.

But if you’re worried about the next minute or if you have some sort of fund or insurance to cover your burial, chances are you will not have grasped the true significance of how life is contained in the single day.

Life is not cradle-to-grave.

Life is a birth and a death—with many, many, many twenty-four-hour opportunities in between—to delight yourself.

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Cradle

Cradle: (n) a small bed for an infant, usually on rockers.

There is still a debate over whether my fourth son arrived early, or my wife didn’t know how to count months. I will not intrigue you further with that particular impasse, but he—that fourth guy of mine—was born on the road. funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Now, it wasn’t like we were gypsies traveling by oxcart, but we did not have a permanent home and we were touring as a family, doing music and imitating our version of creative diversion.

He came early. Or we were late. But suffice it to say, he ended up being birthed in a strange town with strange doctors in a strange hospital in a strange way.

After he was born and the shock of his arrival assimilated through our midst, we needed to find a way for him to travel with us and stay healthy, without later growing up and being so traumatized that he would require an expensive therapist.

At the time we were staying in larger motel rooms that would accommodate our family for a week at a time. Most of these establishments did not offer portable cribs. We considered purchasing one, but decided it was too difficult to tear down and put back together. I don’t know what stimulated that decision—perhaps it was the fact that my other two sons were teenagers and I was only adept at putting together sentences.

So we decided to consecrate—set aside in a holy way—one of the drawers from the bureau offered in the motel room, wherein there would be no socks, underwear or first-aid kit, but instead, it would be the sleeping domain for the new little one.

We had to agree among each other never to refer—at least in public—to this bed as “the drawer in our motel.” (We anticipated some horror or displeasure from the people who might hear such an explanation.) So going old-fashioned and feeling safe with the term, we referred to that drawer as his “cradle.”

It worked.

Most people, when they heard the word “cradle,” envisioned something from Charles Dickens, or maybe the Civil War era. Certainly something “rockable”—but warm, cozy, where the little young’un could snug away to sleeper land.

Amazingly enough, no one ever asked us to describe the cradle or where we placed the cradle in our trailer when we traveled from town to town. It was our secret, and the little one never knew he wasn’t in an expensive bassinet or overwrought crib.

The only important thing was for each family member to remember without question, and to never make the mistake of accidentally shutting the drawer.

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Crackpot

Crackpot: (n) a person who is eccentric, unrealistic, or fanatical.

 So what is a crackpot?

It may not be a word we use much nowadays. We favor asshole. But asshole has too broad a beam to it (pardon the expression).

A crackpot is something specific. A crackpot is a person who may start out well-intentioned but ends up ridiculous because he or she always makes the same mistake.

Crackpots leave out a step.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

For instance, it’s easy to find crackpots in religion. Many start out with a common theme: God created us. It’s a good beginning. But then they jump ahead to crazy notions:

God only loves us.

God wants us only concerned with worship.

God wants us to preach vigorously against sin.

God wants us to keep heaven on our mind.

God wants us to fight for Him.

They leave out the middle steps which justify our faith. For instance:

God created us all—and then here comes life.

You see? There’s a lot of living before we get about the business of dying. There’s a lot of living that needs to be done in peace and joy before we stand face-to-face in an afterlife of eternal glow.

The same thing is true in politics:

Our country needs to have its problems solved, says the politician. Well, it would be difficult to disagree with that. What makes these politicians crackpots is that they skip plans, responsibilities, taxes and timelines—and they jump straight ahead to attack their political enemies, blame other countries or try to load down great legislation with too many programs—and this brings everything to a screeching halt.

In business: “We are out to make a good product…” Then the crackpots of industry leap ahead to this statement: “…and more importantly, make a huge profit.”

Somewhere between the product and the profit there needs to be a happy consumer, a well-cared-for work force and balanced books.

A crackpot is someone who starts out with a good idea and skips all the work it takes to achieve solvency, assuming that the reward should be enjoyed right here and right now. 

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