Cumber: (v) to hinder or hamper

Pellets of energy.

Think about it.

I know some folks believe that human beings are good, and others insist that we are naturally evil.

This has not been my finding. I would be hard pressed to describe the human race as good, and equally distraught to characterize them as only devious.

Actually, every single day, each one of us is bestowed pellets of energy. Energy doesn’t come with character specifications. It is neither hellish nor celestial.

It’s just energy.

And because it’s energy, it can be useful, and it can also be squandered.

Every morning when I rise, I yearn for my pellets of energy. I’m careful not to make too many promises, just in case I turn into an asshole between breakfast and lunch.

But I am fully aware that my value to other folks lies in realizing that if I don’t use my pellets of energy well, I’m just hanging around cumbering the Earth.

We don’t use the word “cumber” anymore.

It’s an Old English term, often associated with Biblical quotes.

But it fascinates me that we struggle for longevity without demanding that it be accompanied with purpose.

There has to be something more than gardening.

We can’t expect to sustain value merely from arriving on time to our doctor appointments.

And for the younger crowd, simply passing a test does not qualify anyone for superb consideration.

I don’t want to cumber the Earth. I don’t want my family to be ashamed of themselves because they wistfully wonder when I’m finally going to croak.

I want myself—and hopefully everyone else—to be fully aware of why I still hang around and notice the by-products of my hanging.

I do not want to cumber your life.

I do not want to cumber the Earth, filling it with carbon dioxide instead of sucking some of it back out.

I do not want my friends to feel responsibility to me today because of what I did yesterday.

I do not want to cumber the ground, the Earth, my surroundings, my loved ones or the cosmos.

I would like to take my pellets of energy and turn them into goodness instead of mediocrity or darkness.

What shall we do with these pellets of energy?

Get ready—it’s coming around again tomorrow.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


Coot: (n) a foolish or crotchety person, especially one who is old

I have officially become old enough to become a coot. I’m not sure what age qualifies you, but age is certainly a factor.

There are other considerations:

Coots always talk about “how good things used to be.”

Coots tend to refer to society as using a “handbasket on their way to hell.”

Coots pine for a time when they were younger and full of energy.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I honestly don’t feel any of that whatsoever.

Many of my growing-up years were filled with ignorance, prejudice, anger, self-righteousness and bloodshed in an unrighteous war. So I don’t yearn to go back—I just insist that there are two things the human race can’t live without, and we should cease deleting them from our browser.

Human beings must have empathy and self-deprecation. If you don’t like the idea of self-deprecation, then insert humility.

When we stop feeling empathy for the man or woman next to us, we become enemies to our own species, similar to a bee who plots with the flies to steal the honey.

And when we don’t produce adequate humility, the obnoxious odor that comes off our being chases people from the room.

I’m not an old coot.  I don’t care who you sleep with. I don’t care what your political party is. I don’t care what your faith or lack of faith might be.

But when you mess with empathy and humility, I will dig my heels in, because then you’re plotting the destruction of the human race—of which I am proudly a member.

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Childlike: (adj) of an adult, having good qualities associated with a child.

After avoiding it for decades, I finally went to one of my high school reunion luncheons, to meet up with the old gang, whom I had not seen since I held diploma in my hand and dreams fluttered in my brain like butterflies.

We were older.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that deems aging as either a crime or a disease rather than a natural situation which is meant to garner advantage.

What is the advantage of being older? You have sorted through the younger things to do and eliminated the ones that cause humiliation and disease.

That’s pretty powerful.

But what I discovered when I sat down to eat my lunch was that my classmates from a former time were very concerned about their health–cholesterol, salt intake, circulatory system and bladder. I probably should also throw in a few mentions of bowel movements.

It started off well, but when I ended up being glib and funny instead of decrepit and dying, a resentment settled into the room.

I think my friends found me childish. “That guy never grew up. Doesn’t he know there’s a certain protocol for being our age?”

I kept talking about the things I was still doing, the places I wanted to go, the things I was seeing, the passages I was writing and the songs being composed. I was not bragging. I was thrilled to be alive, to share with these old haunts.

Try as I would, the conversation was incapable of reaching the level of being childlike. I brought up some of our former escapades, only to discover that rather than giggling over the incidents, heads were dipped in shame.

I don’t know much about heaven. Nobody does. It is an advertised hot spot without an adequate brochure.

But from what I have learned, it will be a mind trip into discovering the joys of being childlike, simple, joyous, playful and jubilant.

I sure hope we’re up for it.


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Beyond: (prep) to the further side of.

Dictionary B

I find myself taking some time off from touring to visit family.

I am told that this is meant to be a pleasant excursion, and there are pleasurable interludes within the available experience.

But I think America’s obsession with family is a ploy to avoid dealing with the world as our brothers and sisters, attempting to limit life to a much smaller Christmas list.

When I arrived in town, I curtailed my expectation–knowing that my children are all grown, have lives of their own, and are not constantly wondering what I might be feeling or thinking about any given situation.

I used to be Lord of the Manor, and now I am basically the gardener.

It’s not really a demotion–just an honorary position given to the retiring parent who is still permitted to be the groundskeeper.

So I’ve spent the week thinking about the word “beyond.”

  • What is beyond my scope?
  • What is beyond my ability?
  • What is beyond my interest?
  • What is beyond my business?

It is a fascinating series of questions which avail me of great understanding–as long as I don’t accidentally become too introspective or trip over my pouty lip.

The best thing to do as you get older is focus on your own life and let your children do the same. Every once in a while, they’ll pull out a photo album, remember a former time, become nostalgic and call you on the phone.

The key is to make sure you’re available.

Beyond that is beyond reason.


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Attractive: (adj) pleasing or appealing to the senses.dictionary with letter A

As I was getting ready to write this essay to you fine folks, I glanced up and caught a glimpse in the mirror of an aging gent, who apparently had come to sit for a spell and act as an audience for my thoughts.

Yes, there was a brief second when I did not recognize the person in the mirror.

Certainly it is me. I am not in denial.

But there is a different “me” living inside, who is vibrant, young, energetic, playful and probably delightfully naive.

The fellow in the mirror is well-traveled, rugged, worn and definitely showing the effects of the passing years.

Sometimes I forget that he is the face of the project.

Maybe that’s why I like being a writer. It allows the other tenant who occupies my space to pull out his cleverness and “cute” ideas, without having to advertise Grandpa, on the front porch.

I’m not afraid of getting old. I’ve been getting older ever since I was born. It isn’t the first time I’ve been shocked by the process.

So I am fully aware that this is a part of life, and by no means do I resent it–it’s just that occasionally I’m surprised at how it physically manifests itself much more drastically than it does emotionally, mentally or spiritually.

I guess I would be greatly disheartened if my spirit looked the same way as my body does.

What is attractive? Attractive is what causes us to be attracted. So what attracts you to a person and what attracts me will certainly be somewhat different.

I know this to be true:

Anyone who is pleasant to the eye quickly becomes a disappointment if they aren’t able to hold up their end of a conversation.

And it is amazing how ugly a person can become once stupidity has been unleashed.

So I guess I’ll work on my outer core, to keep it from deteriorating too quickly, and trust that you will give my inner man the chance to show you how attractive he truly can be.


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Atrophy: (v) gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.dictionary with letter A

He requested to sing a song.

It was a tune he once intoned as a younger man when he was healthier and well-voiced. I was sitting at the piano and he eased his way to my side and asked me to play the selection for him.

I paused. In that short span of reflection, I was thinking about how embarrassed my friend would be when he realized that all the talents of his youth had taken a southerly route and atrophied.

It is a cruel reality: that which we ignore or fail to use simply decays and disappears without giving us notice.

Fearing that my friend, who was ailing and aging, would make a fool of himself, I tried to change the subject by playing a different song and moving things along. He became insistent, nearly incensed.

  • He wanted to sing the song.
  • He wanted to prove that he “still had the chops.”
  • He wanted everybody in the room to know that he was virile and alive.

There are three things that are immutably true. They are clichés, so people often either ridicule them or ignore them.

  1. If you don’t use it you lose it.
  2. The victory goes to the perseverant.
  3. If you want to get to Carnegie Hall–practice.

They seem almost silly by themselves, but when applied together, you realize that the most important thing in life is to never stop until you’re dead.

Atrophy will set in.

I stalled, but eventually everyone insisted I play the song so that my friend could perform.

As he began, his voice cracked, forewarning of disaster, and when he went up for the high note, there was a horrible squawk.

He felt foolish–it ruined his day.

Even though people told him it wasn’t that bad, and insisted he was brave for trying, I made note:

Don’t do anything in public that you aren’t able to perform in private.

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Assistance: (n) the action of helping someone

dictionary with letter A

There are many wrinkles that come with aging.

Some invade your face and others permeate your brain with wisdom, which allows you the intelligence to avoid extra work or embarrassing situations.

When I was younger I was convinced that my talents, abilities, personality and energy were of great assistance to anyone who was smart enough to employ them. Because I forced myself into situations, I also quickly proved that I was insufficient in areas where I had claimed quality.

This did not make me repentant, but rather, defensive.

Having blown out a few more birthday candles, I now realize that there are three ways to be of assistance.

  1. Do what you do and let people find out what you do, and then, if they feel the need to ask for what you do, let them do so.
  2. Quietly insert your gifts without blowing a trumpet, enhancing the project and having the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve contributed without requiring great applause.
  3. Stay the hell out of the way.

And of course, I must tell you:

The third option is much more necessary than the other two put together.


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