Cranium

Cranium: (n) the part of the skull that encloses the brain.

 After nearly six years of living in a vegetative state, unable to communicate, in what appeared to be constant discomfort and pain, my son, Joshua, died of pneumonia.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We were traveling at the time, and found ourselves in the state of Washington. The state law required an autopsy. I was in no mood to object. I certainly did not want to interrupt my grieving by arguing over a body that had long ago lost its impetus, and now was finally granted rest.

After a couple of days, the coroner called me on the phone and told me I could come in and meet with him to go over the results of his findings. We had a lovely chat.

When I arrived at the surprisingly small facility, he invited me back to the morgue where he was working on a murder victim who had just come in. I don’t know whether I was supposed to be there—if it was legal or proper, but I think from our conversation on the phone, the coroner had developed some tenderness and empathy, and felt like we could talk.

Shortly after I arrived in the room, where there was a body covered with a sheet, the coroner was beckoned to take a phone call.  I sat in a chair, waiting for his return, trying to mentally gain perspective on the past few days.

I was peering around the room when my eyes suddenly fell on a skull sitting on a shelf. A cranium.

For some reason, even though there was plenty of light in the room, I felt all alone and frightened. I wanted to run away. I had no business being in that room, and certainly not in my present broken condition.

When the coroner didn’t return, I stared at that skull. That cranium. A bony case which once held a brain—a mind filled with millions of thoughts, feelings, connections, purposes and perhaps a poem memorized at age five.

It was surreal.

How could we humans be so alive, so full of wonder, inspiration and creativity, and then, with the removal of blood and oxygen, turn into what appeared to be a cheap prop from a horror flick?

I cried.

Part of me was crying for my lost son. But some of me was weeping for us, as humans.

How noble our creation.

How fragile our pose.

Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Advertisements

Cotillion

Cotillion: (n) a formal ball given especially for debutantes.

A cotillion used to be subtitled “a coming out ball.”

Now that phrase would evoke great laughter—because “coming out” means something completely different from it did when we were funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
referring to the first time a sixteen-year-old girl was dressing up like a woman and spraying perfume in her hair.

Somewhere lodged between the fallacy that “everything in the past was better” and the hard sell of “everything now is superior” lies some sort of compromise.

Maybe if we approached the passage of time similarly to the way we eat food at a smorgasbord, we might just arrive at a blending of practices which would be satisfying and beneficial to our well-being. For after all, at a buffet you grab a plate and walk the line, take a little bit of half-a-dozen or more items, go sit down and discover what is pleasing to the palate.

This is exactly what I try to do with my human life.

I have no desire to live in the past, filled with disease, pestilence and prejudice. Yet I’m not particularly satisfied with being overwhelmed in the present, with forms of idiocy which have merely donned contemporary costumes.

I do like a little bit of the cotillion to go along with my Facebook and Instagram.

I like the idea of the transitions in life being honored with celebration and a touch of reverence instead of the crude way of thinking that a young girl becomes a woman by losing her virginity.

How can we balance the human heart, spirit and brain? The heart wants to be moved, the spirit wants to be inspired and the brain desires learning.

So I guess my goal is to feel my way along, looking for those things that inspire me, and then try to make them my own.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Confess

Confess: (v) to admit or state that one has committed a crime or is at fault in some way

I am fat.

At least 51% of this is my fault.

I am a recovering “liarholic.”

Please help me stay away from the booze of explanation.

I am self-piteous.

Not as much as I used to be. (Of course, adding that caveat expresses a little self-pity.)funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I am egotistical.

But I have been careful to immerse myself in the beauty of humility to avoid the cesspool of humiliation.

I am still somewhat opinionated.

Yet I am generally able to avoid this vice by putting invisible duct tape over my mouth.

I am capable of judging people.

This one is especially dangerous, since I am incapable of being judged.

I am occasionally ungrateful…

As I learn to be grateful for every occasion.

I still catch myself complaining.

I am so relieved when I stop and my brain opens back up for business.

I am vulnerable to sin.

I do so much better when sin and I take different paths home.

I am learning to confess.

Word has it that such an endeavor is the only true doorway to healing.


Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories 'Til Christmas

(click the elephant to see what he’s reading!)


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Cock

Cock: (n) a male bird

How should I handle this word? You see, everything I mention will come across as a double entendre.

Even the dictionary definition is “a male bird.” Where did your brain go on that one?

Some words just don’t have permission to be uttered in public. I even giggle inwardly when I hear a storyteller speaking to young children utter the term, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”

A pundit, becoming extremely pungent, might say, “Cock and bull story.” I’m sorry. My brain is off and away.

I am not dirty-minded. But I do have dirty laundry laying around. And because of that, certain words, phrases and ideas cannot be spoken in front of me without my brain doing a childish tap dance.

I am fully aware that being so vulnerable as to share this with you, I run the risk that some of you, when hearing the word “cock,” may actually think of a rooster. In that case, I do not know whether to congratulate you for being pure, or pity you for being absent a bit of noble naughtiness.

But as for me and my self, I shall not speak “cock” nor can I hear “cock” without becoming twelve years old again, always prepared to burst into laughter over the sound of a fart.Donate Button

 

Cobalt

Cobalt: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 27, a hard silvery-white magnetic metal.

My dad decided to die when I was sixteen years old.

He had planned it for nearly thirty years.

As a cigarette smoker who actually bought tobacco in the can and “rolled his own,” he had pretty well determined the end of his story long before he’d lived out all the plot lines.

I was one of the plot lines.

Before I found out that he had terminal lung cancer which had spread to his brain, there was a brief, three-month period when he became warmer, more tender–wanting some closeness with me.

Unfortunately, by that time I had created so much distance there was no way for me to transport myself to his side–even when I discovered he was dying.

They sat down and explained it to me, pointing out that he would be going through radiation treatments, which involved cobalt. He did.

Yet he barely survived the only cure they had available. When he returned home, he could barely walk and had trouble breathing. His skin was red like he had a deep sunburn, and he smelled like the trash we burned in the back yard.

Being around him just scared the hell out of me.

Everyone wanted me to turn into the devoted son who held the hand of his ailing father up to death’s door.

I just couldn’t do it.

Even when his breathing became so heavy that I could hear it through the walls while sitting on our porch stoop, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I loved him or even be present when the last gasp escaped his being.

This is my memory of cobalt.

It was used in the early years of radiation treatment, and left the patient nearly vacant of the resources to think and move.

As I sit here today, I can wish that I had been a better son and he a better father.

But that is because I have an older mind, and sometimes find it difficult to regain the fury involved in being sixteen.

Donate Button

Circular

Circular: (n) a letter or advertisement that is distributed to a large number of people.

“Shrink to think.”

If you want to get your brain functioning in the realm of creativity instead of repetition, this is better achieved by shrinking what you’re
doing down to its simplest forms.

There is no evil in technology.

There is no sinister nature to the Internet.

But sometimes if life is not simplified, the complication confuses us into believing that we are not responsible for our actions, but instead, victims of a mass plot.

When I was younger, much younger than today, I sat and read circulars. They were little reports, newspapers or flyers put out by people who wanted to communicate what they were doing, how they were doing it and even the way in which they wished others to become involved.

Usually laid out with a typewriter, they were poor quality–carelessly paragraphed and overworded.

But reading them demanded that I do something I did not want to do: stop.

The main reason we don’t start is because we can’t stop. We spend most of our time skidding into the next project with no idea about whether our passions will sustain it.

Please don’t mistake me for some old codger who yearns for the “good ole’ days.” There was so much bad that it deserves to be quarantined for all time.

But there was the introduction of pieces of paper called circulars, which made you stop long enough to think about what somebody else was doing instead of browsing the Internet, bouncing off subjects like a rubber ball.

Donate Button

 

Chopper

Chopper: (n) a helicopter.

Knowing that my brain, like most human brains, has selective memory, and that triggers installed for certain sounds, words, or even smells, I can tell you of a truth that the word “chopper”–and the vision of one–for me conjures memories of Vietnam.

I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I came of age during the height of the conflict, came upon my eighteenth birthday and was eligible for the draft. Helicopters were prevalent in the nightly news, and made me think about that horrible war.

Today I call it horrible. When I was a teenager, I lived in a community that actually had its own chapter of the John Birch Society, and the violence in Southeast Asia was extolled as patriotic–our best avenue for stopping the spread of Communism.

So for me, it’s a chain of mental commands:

Chopper makes me think about Vietnam.

Vietnam makes me think about the protests.

The protests make me think about rock and roll.

Rock and roll conjures images of Woodstock.

Woodstock reminds me that I was living in a provincial village and was too frightened to go to the festival.

And being too frightened to go–as a young man, I was also always arguing with my family over a half-inch of hair over my ears, trying to rebel by listening to The Monkees.

I was no hero.

But as history moves forward, we realize that unfortunately there were no heroes during that era.

The government was corrupt, the hippies were imbalanced, the Vietnamese were crazed, violent and suicidal, the draft dodgers were relegated to the status of cowards as they drove their Volkswagen vans to Canada, and the soldiers who did go to war bled in a jungle that no one even cares one bamboo shoot about today.

So I guess when I see the word “chopper,” I think of lost causes, and I am alerted to spy them–and call them out before they generate guilt, graft … and graves.

Donate Button