Chutzpah

Chutzpah: (n) shameless audacity; impudence.

One man’s impudence is another man’s courage.

I’m sure the bus driver thought Rosa Parks was very impudent when she refused to move to the back of the bus during the civil rights
conflict in Alabama.

Many of my teachers thought I was impudent when I questioned practices I felt were faulty, but were still part of the “scholastic logic.”

We live in a generation where your cause is meaningless to me and my cause is sanctioned by the will of God.

Yet I would never use the word “chutzpah.” It’s not because I’m anti-Semetic (which most people under the age of twenty would define as having something against cement.)

It’s just that I find the introduction of impudence, strife or vanity only complicate my possibilities instead of enhancing them. We are a race that promotes self-esteem while greatly enamored with humility.

I realize it is possible to be too humble, but it’s a risk each one of us should take.

Because when two impudent people stand on the field of play, hurling insults at one another, boasting of their prowess, the whistle does eventually blow, beginning the game. At that point, it becomes obvious who is better trained, who has a more ingenious plan and who will endure.

One great gift you can give to yourself is to shut up, impart your gift, and see how it rates amidst the cascading efforts of others.

 

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Cement

Cement: (n) a powdery substance used to make concrete.

I was young. My idealism and passion were running far ahead of my common sense.

I met a fellow who wanted to start his own construction company. He explained that he had the knowledge–just not the bucks. An
opportunity had come his way to lay down the cement for a very large driveway.

All he lacked was the front money.

I was not totally stupid. I inquired of him. I asked him if he knew how to do the job–if he had any previous experience.

After about half an hour, I was convinced that all the gentleman needed was the chance to get his seed money so he could do the task and therefore give himself a decent start on a new career.

Matter of fact, he invited me to come down and watch him lay the concrete. So I did.

The truck arrived, poured out the cement. But my friend did not have enough workers to spread it out and smooth it down, so it began to harden–lumpy, uneven and just generally ugly.

I watched as he became frantic and finally gave up, as the cement refused to be pushed around anymore.

It was a disaster. Not only did he lose the money I gave him, but the client demanded that he make restitution and pay another contractor to do the job.

I learned three things that day:

  1. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t invest in it.
  2. Passion is no replacement for experience.
  3. Cement hardens much quicker than we want it to.

 

 

 

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Anchor

dictionary with letter A

Anchor: (n) a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the bottom.

It was made of aluminum, about twelve feet long, with three wooden, bench seats inside, one of the perches broken.

It was my dad’s boat.

It more resembled a canoe with a thyroid problem.

But whenever my dad launched his vessel onto the great and mighty waters of Hoover Lake, he suddenly transformed into some sort of John Paul Jones, which to me as a boy, appeared as a nautical monster.

He began using the lingo of the sea and was perpetually angry with his crew–embodied solely in myself.

He explained that the best way to fish was to find a quiet, deep lagoon and drop your anchor so your boat wouldn’t move, and you would be present with your bait, to lure in the schools of fish. (Often we often must have arrived during some sort of fish holiday–because the schools were usually out.)

Nevertheless, he yelled at me to drop anchor, which was a forty pound cube of cement block, which he had put together by pouring it into a plastic bucket and then destroying the bucket to free the cement once it had hardened. Attached to this heavy clump was a rope.

Now, you must realize–we only had twenty-five feet of rope on our anchor–which is fine is you happen to be perched in twenty-three feet of water. But as I lifted the huge mass over the side of the boat and dropped it into the water, I was never sure if it actually hit the bottom.

So after an hour or so, my dad would look up from his fishing pole, where he had frozen his eyes intently, and realize that we had floated far from our desired spot.

This initiated a whole new tirade of “captain-to-deck-swab” complaints. I tried to defend myself by explaining that we did not have enough rope to reach the bottom of the lake, but he never seemed to quite comprehend that if the anchor doesn’t land on the bottom, it really doesn’t keep you in place.

What great symbolism.

After all, if our anchor is floating along with society’s ideas and standards instead of landing firmly on solid ground, we, too, tend to drift from our preferred placement.

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Age

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Age: (n) 1. the length of time that a person has lived 2. a period of history 3. (v) to grow older, especially visibly

When I was twelve, I really wanted to be thirteen. God, I ached all over! It was probably just the onset of puberty, but I didn’t know.

I really looked forward to eighteen, too. Twenty-one was cool, but since eighteen was the new voting age and I wasn’t that interested in drinking–not a big deal.

I felt a little giddy when I was twenty-five because I got to be in that group of “over twenty-five.”

Thirty put a chill down my spine, but then I realized I had nine more years for the decade. By forty I had so many kids that I barely remember the birthday.

Fifty was spooky. It’s when I really began to notice that age IS an issue. I don’t know–maybe my skin turned grayer, or I limped more, or wrinkles formed in my forehead? I’m not sure. But suddenly, everybody under the age of thirty started to treat me like a senior citizen.

It was quite frightening when the envelope arrived from AARP, inviting me to be a member. I recall how horrified I was the first time some teenage girl at Applebee’s asked me if I wanted to apply my senior citizen’s discount. A little piece of my soul wanted to roll over, crumple and die.

But I have especially noticed it this year, as I travel around the country. Younger folks think it’s powerful to treat me like I’m over the hill and couldn’t possibly have anything to share with anyone who isn’t eating their meals through a straw.

Actually, I think we have four different “ages:”

  1. An emotional age, which should be more mature, but most folks freeze at about thirteen.
  2. A spiritual age–a delicate blending of a child’s heart and the wisdom of Solomon.
  3. A mental age, only determined by how willing we are to continue to learn instead of pouring cement into our cranial cavity.
  4. And a physical age, which is strongly determined by genetics, lifestyle and willingness to exercise and consume fruits and vegetables.

If you average all four of those ages, you arrive at your actual number. You should try it.

By the way, I tallied mine. I came up with 43 years, 8 months.

That’s about right.