Coach

Coach: (n) a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team

The same tenacity and grit which is necessary to make one successful can just as easily be used to commence a life of crime.

This is the difficulty the adults in our lives face when they train us, and of course, coach us.

They certainly know that initiative, spunk and creativity are essential for forming the building blocks of a prosperous lifestyle. Yet in the moment, these particular attributes, especially when spoken from the nasally nastiness of adolescence, can be obnoxious.

So our instructors often have to find out whether our conduct, being sweet and kind, is a foretelling of goodness or brain death–and if our unwanted opinions prophesy greatness or the possibility of time spent “upstate.”

Let me give you an example.

During a football game, when we were losing 48 to nothing, I ran to the sideline and said the following to my coach: “Come on, coach! This defense you put together for us is just not working!”

I was fourteen at the time, and he was probably in his mid-twenties, trying desperately to survive the humiliation of being drummed by his rival on this field of debauchery.

I noticed that my coach’s face began to twitch. His eyes expanded. The veins in his head popped out, and his countenance became crimson as he slowly said, “Please sit down. Our defense is fine.”

I noticed that he avoided me for the rest of the game, as I avoided many tackles.

Fortunately, he did not personally address my inadequacies and focus on them because of my snippy, snarky comment. He restrained himself, and therefore, I believe I grew up using my precocious nature for good instead of joining forces with the villains to destroy Batman.

It’s not easy being a coach. You don’t always win, but end up stuck with your team, no matter what the score. You can’t blame them or you look like an idiot. You can’t accuse the referees or you appear to be a sore loser.

All you can do is teach what you know, and hope, by the grace of God, it’s enough.

 

 

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Bump

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bump: (n) a light blow or a jolting collision.

Adolescence.

It’s when the urge arrives long before the instinct. Bluntly, the passion to do something far outweighs the available knowledge on what might happen.

When I was in high school, we had a musical group which had two goals:

  1. To sing and impress people.
  2. To get girls because we were singing and impressing people.

So one night after we had done some sort of gig, we were driving in the van that one of our members had purchased–a big, black number that looked really sinister and cool. Each one of us had a girl with him.

Let’s put together the ingredients again:

  • Teenage boys.
  • New van.
  • Just got done singing.
  • Girls in the vehicle.

Of course we had to try something crazy.

So we attempted to find out how fast the van would go. In the process of doing that, we came to a crest in the road, not realizing there was a huge drop-off at the top. There had once been a sign warning of a “bump,” but it had been knocked down many years ago and lay in the ditch, rusting. So as we climbed the hill and got to the top, the road disappeared underneath the tires and we found ourselves airborne.

I’m sure it was not a long jump, but for a short time, our van did its best impression of Air Force One.

We landed with a huge thud, throwing everybody in the air bouncing heads on the ceiling, as the van tilted form side to side, threatening to tip over.

The driver intelligently pulled to the side of the road to make sure that nobody had been killed. Confident that our bumps were well on their way to becoming bruises, we proceeded down the road giggling a little less, partying sparingly.

So the lesson of this story is simple: beware of vans who meet bumps in the night.

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Berate

Berate (v): to scold or criticize someone angrily.

Dictionary B

My wife’s parents didn’t like me.

They had good reason.

I lied, cheated, misinformed and did a bunch of crap which forced them into the role of being critical defenders of their daughter.

Yet I had the excuse of being intoxicated by adolescence. They were supposed to be mature and understand my weakness, but instead, berated me, telling me I would never be anything of quality.

Being very young, I felt it was my duty to verbally attack them also, leaving a chasm of misunderstanding, which I believed would be taken care of over time. I thought that once their daughter and I were married and had children, matters would miraculously transpire to turn us into a family, laughingly remembering former days of conflict.

It never happened.

Matter of fact, I can recite several events in my life when I was berated–or was the berator of others myself–where those relationships have never healed, but have instead settled into an uncomfortable silence of unacceptability.

We are civil.

I suppose there are even moments of kindness.

But the grudge that is still carried leaves both parties breathless, if not hopeless.

So what I have learned with each passing birthday is that the less I confront those around me, the greater the possibility of maintaining the warmth of fellowship.

I suppose we should be a race that is forgiving, gentle and free of resentment.

We are not.

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Apparition

dictionary with letter A

Apparition (n.) a remarkable thing that makes a sudden appearance, especially a ghost.

I believe in ghosts.

Not the cloudy, smoky spirits of souls who have gone on to their reward or retribution. I’m talking about the ghosts of bad ideas, inclinations and fallacies that possessed our world in the past, and now have come to haunt us in the present.

  • Sometimes I just wish we could come up with new bad ideas.
  • Sometimes I just wish there was something new.

But instead we have the poltergeist of previous ridiculous concepts rising up from the grave, where we thought we buried it, only to spook us once again.

We don’t have new scandals. We have the spirit of Richard Nixon and Watergate infesting the present bodies of our politicians, making them do the same stupid mistakes he tried to pull off, which ended up with his destruction.

We don’t have music born of the spirituality and emotions of our own generation, but rather, grave-robbers who go and dig up the tunes of those who are now decomposing.

We are continually vexed by the apparitions of past failures or the ongoing celebration of victories, where the band has already played and marched away.

We spend too much time celebrating the past, forgetting the prejudice, disease and dumbness that prevailed.

I believe in ghosts because we refuse to inter the past.

So we just keep living this stuff over and over again … like a bunch of tales from the crypt.

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Apparent

dictionary with letter A

Apparent (adj.)1. clearly seen or understood; obvious. 2. seeming real, but not necessarily so.

All of our eyeballs have been blurred, leaving our vision tainted.

Perhaps it was the disappointment brought on by the tension of adolescence, or some hidden prejudice inserted into our thinking by well-meaning parents.

It might have been high expectation which was dashed and brought crashing to the earth by the flak of reality.

Somewhere along the line we began looking at the world through clouded lenses of bigoted conclusions.

Therefore what is apparent to one person is not equally as apparent to another. Matter of fact, we’ve developed a whole philosophical approach to the issue, insisting that we’re all quite different, and in our difference we find our “special purpose.”

Yet it doesn’t occur to us that if we all have different views of what is necessary, beautiful and spiritual, we’re more likely to collide into each other in the dark than to embrace each other in the light.

I do think it’s important that we come to some common ground on what is apparent, and even if we don’t completely understand it, submit to the wisdom of some very essential precepts:

1. We are not here alone.

In other words, we cannot live our lives as if there are no other human beings, and trying to pursue our goals without a belief in a Creator can be more frustrating than enriching.

2. The truth will make you free.

Lying is a detour which takes you through town, past the beautiful houses, but always ends up at the city dump. No one ever gets away with lying–and truthfully, the longer the deceit is disguised, the worse the retribution.

3. Miracles are God’s business, but talent is mine.

There is no replacement for ability applied with hard work. Those who peddle shortcuts, easy diet plans and get-rich schemes may be the closest thing we will ever see to flesh-and-blood satans.

There are things which are apparent. If we agree, we can begin to pull together instead of pushing and shoving each other. But to get this done, we must stop believing that the Earth is a series of human islands instead of a continent of brothers and sisters.

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Anti-American

dictionary with letter A

Anti-American (adj): hostile to the interests of the United States; opposed to Americans.

If you will allow me to characterize an entire nation in the context of the growth spurt of an average human being, I would put forth that our country is presently in the midst of a seventeen-year-old, bratty, rebellious snit.

Anyone who’s had children and endured the pangs of adolescence will be familiar with the sneering comment coming from your teenage child: “It’s my life. It’s a free country. And if you love me, you’ll support me in my decisions.”

Honestly, we did not become a great country through finding a contortionist’s trickery to kiss our own ass. Our greatness is punctuated by the times we have discovered the fallacy of our own practices and pursued avenues to build a highway to better understanding.

To arrogantly insist that every suggestion that America might need to make some sort of constructive course correction is an attack against our nation is nothing short of high school insolence.

Here are three things I know about my country, I love about my country, and therefore insist that my country continue:

1. We believe in giving.

The minute we start thinking that we are too generous and therefore should take more, we will become the latest dinosaur.

2. We are a free country and therefore capable of changing our mind to better solutions.

I am sick and tired of having the Constitution presented as a docile, stagnant document. It has so far been amended twenty-seven times, and certainly shall be again.

3. We have stated on paper that we believe “all men are created equal” and that no one is better than anyone else.

Even though we’re catching up with our own high-sounding ideas through a bit of painful implementation, we have taken the bold step of declaring an eternal truth.

As long as these three principles are pursued by my nation, I will applaud and sprout a tear or two when Old Glory comes marching by.

When we retreat from them through cowardice or lethargy, I will be in the front of the protest, demanding we return to our standards … and risk being called anti-American by the lazy and ignorant riff-raff.  

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Adolescence

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAdolescence: (adj) period of time of a young person in the process of developing from a child into an adult

I think we have to make up our minds.

We have to decide if we worship youth, teenage years and schoolhouse memories, or whether we freely admit those years were the terror of our lives, a dangerous time when we were constantly threatening ourselves with mayhem, murder and decaptitation.

Here’s the truth, (I feel I can speak this because I raised six teenage sons.)

There is nothing redeemable about human beings between the ages of twelve and twenty-five.

Now, it’s not that we hate them–and of course,  the human race can’t progress without going through this bizarre transformation. We just can’t project a maturity on them which does not exist, while simultaneously expressing disapproval when they fail to measure up.

Adolescence is a form of insanity.

Although it’s not clinically diagnosed, it is universally accepted by those who have experience in this arena as a struggle to the death to survive the amphitheater of hormones and bad decisions, to escape the gladiatorial battle and become a real citizen.

You may think I’m overstating it, but actually, there’s a much greater danger in understating how the decisions made by young humans, with their limited experience, social consciousness and spiritual insight, are frightening and make me want to crawl under the covers.

For instance, God, for some reason, thought it was funny to give sexual desire to thirteen-year-olds. Even though I am sure there is some humor mingled in to that mix, it also is further complicated by the fact that girls of that age are extraordinarily fertile and able to procreate at an amazing rate which would make rabbits blush.

We also expect them to decide what to do with the rest of their lives, at this season when picking out what they’re going to wear to school seems to stupefy them.

So what is the best thing to do with an adolescent?

1. Treat them as mental patients, without ever letting them know that you’ve privately had them committed.

2. Try to get them to reason out their decisions even though the process may seem a bit befuddling to you.

3. Never assume they’re going to do the right thing and always know the wrong thing will be available–and the amount of pressure they get will determine their level of purity.

4. Never be afraid to converse or confront until you’re satisfied with some sort of mutual conclusion.

Of course, due to space and time, I will not even address how adolescence continues to plague us into our fifties and sixties … if we don’t address the real blemishes in our lives.