Dealt

Dealt: (v) the result of an action of what was distributed or apportioned

Prostrate on the floor, short moments after tipping on my walker and falling, I was suddenly accosted with the reality of trying to get up.

I thought about all the times that people had joked, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…”

Every time I saw one of those commercials, I was cynical, not believing there could be a situation where a human would be unable to, as they say, rise to the occasion.

I was not injured.

I was just in a predicament where the assets available to me—the lack of strength in my upper body and the faltering of my legs, were threatening to hold me in my original splat.

I was not angry. I was not upset.

Dripping with sweat, I continued to try to disprove what my brain had already explained to me as my reality.

“You will need help.”

For today, this was what I was dealt.

I was moving along with my walker, on my way to my music room to write to you and to compose my thoughts for the day.

Then I wasn’t.

Normalcy was gone. For the first time in a long time, the weaker portions of my human existence had taken over, demanding attention and insisting on leaving me vulnerable.

I tried for half an hour.

Candidly, the attempts to lift myself and eliminate the problem were much more painful than the fall.

Those beautiful souls who are my family stood by, not knowing what to do, perhaps full of ideas, but intelligent enough not to turn the project into a committee effort.

This is my status:

  • Life gave me a brain—I developed the ability to write.
  • I persisted in singing until it was stageable.
  • I played piano.
  • I wrote symphonies.
  • I penned thirteen independent movies.

I can’t get up off the floor.

Today, this was included.

Not despaired nor frustrated–more curious how this tale would unfold, and where there would be a happy end.

After tossing it around in my mind from one brain cell to another, I finally surrendered to the need for outside help.

We called the fire department and in less than five minutes, four eager, young, willing, kind, docile and caring young men walked through the door.

It took about five minutes and they had me standing back on my feet and then sitting in my wheelchair.

I bypassed embarrassment and went to gratitude.

I kicked discouragement out the door and embraced humor.

There was a moment in the room when achievement was celebrated, and we all felt better for being part of a winning cause.

You can spend your life hoping for better cards.

Or you can work with what you’ve been dealt.

Dealership

Dealership: (n) a sales agency or distributor

I was a full-grown man, but when our family car blew up, I was feeling a great need to do something powerful. I needed to restore my position of respect with my children.

I had three thousand dollars. It was enough to buy another car if I had shopped well and hadn’t been in a huge hurry to convey a message to my offspring that I was in control.

I wasn’t in control.

I was still reeling a bit from my all-time favorite car giving up—and also way to eager to replace it without missing a beat.

I located the place in our town where car dealerships congregated to practice their “religion on wheels.” Driving among them, I immediately saw a Grand Marquis that was just stunning.

So I stopped in and talked to Bob. I don’t know whether his name actually was Bob, but it seemed reassuring displayed on his nametag. Bob told me the Grand Marquis was thirty-five hundred dollars.

My two oldest sons were with me on the trip.

They still thought I hung the moon after God displayed the stars.

I wanted to appear omnipotent. I needed to negotiate Bob down to the mat and pin him with a price of my choosing instead of his.

So I told Bob all I had was twenty-nine hundred dollars. He rolled his eyes. He said it was “impossible.” He even walked away to talk to a boss to see if something could be done.

In the process of all this negotiating, I actually cracked through Bob’s sales pitch to a real person. I didn’t know it. I thought I was dominating and was gradually getting what I wanted.

When he finally and reluctantly agreed to sell me the car for twenty-nine hundred flat and we were in the last stages of the paperwork, Bob looked up at me and smiled.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was seeing a father with his sons, or maybe he was tired of overstating the quality of the vehicles he sold just to make a buck.

Then he did something I believe he probably had never done before.

He tried to talk me out of it.

Not aggressively. He just said, “Now, you do know the odometer reads 162,000 miles. Right?”

I was drunk on my own cleverness. I just nodded my head.

Now, Bob wasn’t a saint. He wasn’t going to push it further. He wasn’t going to be totally forthcoming. Matter of fact, it probably gave him an aching pain in the head to offer the odometer number.

But I was determined.

My sons were smiling at me. They thought the car was cool. So I drove it off the lot, pridefully believing I had struck the best deal of my life.

We had immediate problems with it.

I called Bob back. He had forgotten how wonderful our interaction had been and was back to being “Bob the Car Dealer” at his dealership.

I took the car in to have it checked out and found out the vehicle had been in a flood, and therefore the electrical system was contorted, and the engine had water in the oil.

I drove that car for exactly three months. It was a classic case of being beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside.

One night, coming home on the freeway, it caught fire and burned up a goodly portion of the engine.

My complete stupidity and arrogance had played out.

But I always gave Bob from the dealership, grace points because some creeping spider of conscience forced him to offer a kind, but unheeded, warning.

Deal With

Deal with: (v) to take action regarding a person or situation

If you will permit me, I shall refer to this as the “Brock principle.”

When I was in high school, we had a fellow in our class named Brock.

Brock was annoying.

No one wanted him around.

Yet at the same time, there wasn’t one of us that wished to come off as “the bully”—to chase him from our presence. So often, we kept Brock around so long that we ended up being crude, if not rude in our comments, requiring his exit.

You couldn’t win with Brock:

  • If you ignored him, you felt like a big, fat, stupid bigot.
  • If you accepted him, you felt like a big, fat, stupid idiot.
  • If you tried to tolerate him, you just felt big, fat and stupid.

I feel much the same way about arrogance.

Unlike Brock, arrogance will try to change its name to get into your life, your party or your fellowship.

Sometimes it arrives under the name “confidence.”

Other times, “knowledgeable.”

And on occasion, even “considerate to a fault.”

But it cannot hide.

Arrogance is the human emotion coming from other people that we have absolutely no capacity to deal with, because our own arrogance becomes jealous, throws a tantrum and runs out of the room.

Deaf

Deaf: (adj) unable to hear

Yes, I have been at a party when depleted chip dip and a lack of musical choices has prompted a theoretical discussion, which everyone initially pretended to enjoy. And I quote:

“If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would you be willing to forfeit?”

We went around the room. Each person mentioned the rejected sense and briefly explained why he or she thought they could survive without that particular gift.

When they came to me, I was legitimately stumped.

Although many people before me insisted that if they had to be without a sense (and taste buds were not included) they would choose to be deaf.

Many of them cited that Ludwig von Beethoven was deaf—”and look at the beautiful music he made.”

Of course, we must realize—we do not know all the details of Mr. Beethoven’s situation, because he was somewhat unable to articulate his condition.

But when I considered all my senses, I realized how frightening it would be to be senseless.

What would it be like to drop a sense?

So my answer was kind of existential.

I proclaimed, “I choose all of them. For there are times that I cannot see, or I will become judgmental. There are occasions that smelling is useless because the present world around me is just one big stink-bomb. On occasion, I must withdraw my touch because it can be misinterpreted. And of course, I must needfully be deaf, or I will hear things that will cause me to remember too long and hold grudges. So to answer your question, I will practice living without all the senses—just in case one departs.”

I had two reasons for my exaggerated answer.

First, I thought it offered a profound point.

Secondly, since it was supposed to be a party, I was hoping that the threat of a philosophical discussion would get us back to playing more music …

… and buying more dip.

Deadline

Deadline: (n) the time by which something must be finished or submitted

Don’t.

Don’t use a deadline.

It will just leave you standing in line, waiting to be dead.

It is the worst idea that anyone ever came up with as far as human beings are concerned.

We are a species that will fret over nothing—so it is a good idea not to give us anything.

I will not take a deadline.

If someone insists on it, I make sure that they push it far enough into the future that I can easily and comfortably finish the project a week in advance.

There is no power in waking up fervently needing to get something done.

There is no rest in going to bed wondering if you should be allowed the luxury of sleep—since the deadline is looming.

Deadlines were created by people who now have enough money that they do not have to observe a deadline.

They like to be served by jumping monkeys and nervous cockroaches, who scuttle their way into completion, never totally joyful over the victory.

Even though all of us have the deadline of dying, God does not tell us when it is.

Can you imagine?

If the deadline was far enough away, we wouldn’t give it a thought.

If the deadline for our demise was coming up, we would try to be faithful—through an ocean of tears.

God, nature and our health snatch us when we least expect it and sometimes chaos does it earlier.

If it were any other way, we’d be bumblers—from our birth to last breath.

Don’t allow yourself to be at the mercy of a deadline.

And if someone demands it, make sure you give yourself enough room that you can get it done early—and spend the rest of the time taking deep breaths and carving apple slices.

Deadhead

Deadhead: (n) a person using a free pass

Just to be candid with you, when my children were growing up, I often called them “deadheads.”

It was that glassy-eyed look, which they would sport when arriving for breakfast, believing that if nothing was happening outside, then nothing need happen inside their own heads.

I taunted them about this profile because it does not disappear simply because you cease to be an adolescent.

For if you believe you’re going to respond to what is happening, but stay disconnected until you have confirmed there is activity afoot, you will not only fail to be ready for the opportunity, but will find yourself resentful that you weren’t given more time to prepare.

The secret to life is no secret.

It’s completely obvious.

The whole temperature of Planet Earth is geared to three different emotions, and our job is to know when to use them:

  1. Care
  2. Aware
  3. Dare

Often we arrive and somebody is already hurt. There’s pain in the air and suffering has made its mark. Being able to dip into a heart filled with grace and provide care is ushering heaven to Earth.

Sometimes there’s a chance to do something truly significant, but it is buried under inconvenience or arrives on a day when we have already determined that “we’re too busy.” Yet, for those who are aware and have tuned their ears, eyes and passions to possibility, these little treasures can carry us into the future and place us in great positions.

And we must realize there are occasions when fear, anger or bigotry has shut down the world around us, and it is time to step out of the box of conformity and do something unexpected—and provide immediate benefit.

Can we dare to do it?

So to avoid being a deadhead, you must travel with care, aware and dare tucked into your saddlebags, so you are ready to set up camp and start the fire.

Dead to the World

Dead to the world: Sound asleep or unconscious

“In the world you have tribulation.”

It is a statement attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, but it easily could become a populist favorite.

It’s an elongated version of “life sucks.”

Of course, if you understand the mindset of Jesus of Nazareth, he looked at the world and its philosophical approach as a comedy of errors performed by a calamity of fools.

Is there such a thing as the world outside the world?

Or is this world inside the world we live in?

I think the world is best defined as human beings trying to complicate matters in an attempt to look smarter.

Every time I hear someone say they’re going to organize their affairs, I realize what they’re trying to do is actually complicate them. Organizing should make you end up with less difficulty and smaller problems.

But that’s not the way the world thinks.

So if we’re going to hold a Presidential election, we require sufficient strife, controversy, scandal and brattiness to hold the attention of a public which has been taught that if there isn’t a struggle, then it really isn’t accomplishing anything.

I remind myself daily to be “dead to this world.”

  • Not sleepy, even though that’s nice.
  • Not checking out.
  • But being careful not to check in too frequently.

If you stay on the fringe, you can see the scenery.

That’s what I believe.

The deeper you move into the center of the circle, the more encircled you will become.

The world can be defined as life inhabited by grownups who remember that their parents looked miserable—and they are honoring the tradition.

Feel free to die to that kind of thinking and be resurrected to the joys of individuality, which may make you less famous, but will also prevent you from becoming infamous.

Dead

Dead: (adj) no longer living; deprived of life

This can’t be the definition: “No longer living, deprived of life.”

Simply stated, the definition of “dead” is “not breathing.”

For I will tell you—I meet people all the time who are no longer living and certainly seem to be deprived of life.

But they’re still sucking up air.

And they’re often taking that air to spray the contents of the room with negativity, prejudice or snobbery.

Long before we die, some die.

And if we’re still alive when we stop breathing, there’s very little about us that can truthfully be dead.

If our name evokes a smile, if reading a bit of correspondence we sent brings a tear, and if our picture on the wall hearkens to jubilant times, it’s hard to pronounce us dead.

No tomb exists for brilliance.

So what kills us?

What causes us to give up on living long before we give up on breathing?

On the other hand, what would prompt someone to desire to stay alive to the centennial birthday, just to bitch and complain about living conditions?

So I don’t know whether elongated breathing time is a blessing or a curse. If your life is miserable, it is extending the misery, which may just be simulating spending three days in hell.

And if you’re overjoyed—on your way to make love and change the world—and you get hit by a semi, your breathing is snuffed but your living soars on.

I have no desire to be philosophical in this matter and I’m not trying to root out an existential truth to make you think I’m deep and cerebral.

I just choose to believe that dying happens when we stop breathing.

But we can never truly be dead if we have a grasp of greatness …

… and a sense of the significant.