Decrepit

Decrepit: (adj) weakened by old age; feeble; infirm

Turns out my grandpa was not decrepit.

I was wrong in my twenty-two-year-old assessment.

Just last week, I discovered that he had just chosen to slow down, and instead of being rushed and hurried, paced himself in such a way that he would not have to arrive at his destination out of breath.

It was actually rather intelligent.

So my criticism of his turtle speed and caution when reaching for a handrail at a flight of stairs was ill-founded, reeking of prejudice.

He had just grown old enough to discover that the tortoise does win the race over the hare and that handrails on stairs are quite attractive and reassuring.

For all those years, I thought my grandpa was decrepit, when really, he was just exercising his wisdom more than his legs.

I learned this through reaching the same age he was when I criticized him.

Oh, that the young could temporarily feel the creak in a joint when it is asked to move too quickly. There would never be another harsh word coming from their lips.

No one is decrepit if they can fulfill the mission they’ve set out to do.

No one is decrepit simply because they choose not to be speedy.

And no one is decrepit merely by accumulating memories of birthday parties—or becoming an active member of the AARP.

Dammed

Dammed: (adj) restricted

 The directions were simple, clear and accurate.

A friend of mine invited me to join him for lunch at the cafeteria of the prison where he was employed as a chaplain.

This particular penal institution had a back gate where the employees entered, with an electric fence which was turned on during the day and also at night, after the employees had already arrived or departed.

I was coming at a time when the fence was normally turned on, so my friend told me he would make sure it was disengaged for my entrance at 11:15 A. M.

The explanation seemed simple enough, the plan sound.

But when I parked my car and headed toward the gate, it occurred to me that if my buddy happened to forget to turn off the fence—maybe because he got involved in a conversation or was just absent-minded—I might be walking up to a barrier that could hurt me.

Yes, the obstacle before me could leave me dammed. By that I mean, blocking my way to where I wanted to go.

Still, I had an instinct to just trust Reverend Ted. Yet that optimism quickly dissipated when all the rest of the inclinations from my body screamed out in disapproval.

What if honest Reverend Ted, on this day, was somehow or another transformed into Dopey Ted?

So for nearly five minutes I just stood and stared at the fence, trying to discern if it was “lit up.”

There was no obvious answer.

Thinking it might be wise to touch it with something other than my hand, I reached down in a clump of grass nearby, pulled up a stick and nervously threw it toward the fence. It hit and bounced off without any buzzes, whistles or sparks.

Temporarily reassured, I stepped forward to enter, when memories of my chemistry class reminded me that wood, as you find in a tree limb, is not a good conductor of electricity.

Matter of fact, “wood” would be classified as wouldn’t.

So I looked around for something else to use to bolster my confidence that my friend had actually turned off the fence.

I came up with nothing—except my car keys.

Now once again, my chemistry training kicked in and reminded me that car keys are metal and would certainly let me know if there was an electrical current running through the obstacle that dammed me.

Unfortunately, unless I planned on standing back five feet and throwing them at the fence, I would be in danger if I was holding them when I did my test.

Of course, throwing them was ridiculous.

But not so ridiculous that I didn’t end up trying it.

So standing about seven feet away, I threw my metal keys and metal key ring at the fence. Unfortunately, they were small enough that they passed through the hole of the chain links and fell on the other side.

Just then, my friend walked hurriedly toward the scene, staring down at my keys, now at his feet.

“What in the hell are you doing?” he asked.

I paused.

Should I tell him the truth?

Should I share my apprehension, if not complete doubt, over his memory?

But before I even knew what I was saying, and certainly never consulting my better senses, I responded, “Sorry, man. I tripped and my keys fell out of my hand into the air.”

He frowned and stared at me like I was a crazy man he had once had as a friend.

He picked up my keys, walked over to the gate and opened it. I quickly scooted forward and scurried through the opening.

“You’re so weird,” he said.

I had no reason to disagree with him.

It seemed a very appropriate, metered assessment of what he had just experienced.

Amount

dictionary with letter A

Amount: (n) a quantity of something, typically the total of a thing or things in number.

Amount does not exist.

For somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood, we forget how to count.

Everyone develops their own take on any given situation, and skews the numbers to prove their contention.

Unlike our experience in the fifth year of life, when seven pencils were placed in front of us and we faithfully reported the exact number, we now will either pad the stats or limit the possibility of our seven pencils.

It is difficult to get a straight answer.

If people favor a project or pursuit, they will embellish the number to make it seem more plausible.

If they think the idea sounds boring or ridiculous, they will play down the potential and make it seem futile to attempt the endeavor.

Yes, perhaps the greatest thing we can do in life is just learn to count again:

  • If it’s seven pencils and we know we need ten, then we can honestly assess that we’re three short.
  • If it’s seven pencils and we need five, we can generously donate two of our assets to others in need.

I don’t think the word “amount” actually exists in the adult world.

We’re just too busy advertising our opinions to simply offer an accurate assessment of what we have.

 

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