Coated

Coated: (n) a layer of covering

I, for one, appreciate and enjoy the candy coating on my aspirin.

I know it’s just a brief whiz-by of sweetness, but it keeps me from tasting any of that aspirin flavor that sticks in the back of your throat and makes you cough.

It’s just damned considerate.

This crossed my mind about twenty years ago, but I didn’t really do anything about it until last year. (Sometimes it takes nineteen years to work up the gumption to follow through on one of your own pieces of brilliance.)

But twenty years ago, I thought to myself, the problem with human relationships is that they aren’t candy-coated.

We walk around with some adult, grown-up notion that things should be nasty, and the more bitter they are the better it is–because we’ll end up with such a great, complaining story.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that this applied to me. I was waiting for somebody else to put it into practice. But then I sat down one afternoon and realized that I am sometimes hard to swallow:

I can be bitter

I can be nasty

I can be sour.

And the truth of the matter is, my responsibilities require that I use candor and truthfulness to get the job done. After all, can there be anything worse than a writer who’s a liar–which may force him to write more lies later?

Yet there are human ingredients of sweetness that can be added to truth, so that we can feel love as we embrace reality.

May we never lose kindness.

May we never forget the power of being gentle.

May we always take into consideration a sense of humor.

And certainly, may our daily lives be blessed by the power of apology and the simplicity of a thank you.

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Chronicle

Chronicle: (n) a factual written account of events

It is a rather humbling thought–that each one of us basically makes our appearance on Earth and disappears, all within a hundred years.

A hundred years may sound like a lot if you’re five years old, but by the time you reach fifty, it is melting like summer ice.

Truthfully we all leave one lasting impression behind. How did we chronicle our journey?

Because we do chronicle it–through our attitude, our faith, our persistence, our interactions and our willingness to evolve and adapt.

Some people choose to chronicle Earth by acting like they’ve been placed here to critique it. They always seem to have a negative side to the most positive results. They will gladly tell you it’s just their nature–their way of helping to maintain quality control.

Some people chronicle the Earth by refusing to participate.They develop four or five ideas which they refuse to amend no matter how much evidence comes to disprove their assertions. They are proud of stubbornness.

There are those who chronicle the Earth by ignoring it and waiting for heaven. Their whole focus is in achieving an eternal life which has been heavily promoted but not seriously reviewed.

But for those souls who believe in simplification, the best way to chronicle the Earth is to stay silent until it is time to count one’s blessings. Obviously there will be some struggle in achieving good. There will be many errors in the process of getting there. And there will be moments when the Earth will seem like the hell we’re escaping to get to the heaven we desire.

Yet it is such a boring way to live–complaining about the status quo instead of announcing the coming show.

I shall chronicle the Earth, though I will only be here for less than a century.

I will make sure that century is peppered with good reports, bold experimentation and a faith that includes myself and others, with the presence of God.

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Chewing Gum

Chewing gum: (n) flavored gum for chewing

Early on in my life, I decided there were two types of people I did not want to become: argumentative and complaining. I find that anyone who pursues these two qualities always ends up turning off anyone they know and feeling very alone.

So I am not going to be argumentative, nor do I share this story with a complaining spirit.

One night I fell asleep with a huge wad of bubble gum stuck in my mouth and woke up the next morning with it lodged in my hair. (It was
back when I had hair. Lots of it.)

The gum, for some reason or another, had managed to distribute itself all throughout my locks. When I went to a barber to ask what could be done, the suggestion was made that I shave my head and start from scratch.

I was twenty years old. This was unacceptable.

So a friend of mine decided to look up in the encyclopedia (since there was no Internet at the time) how to remove gum from hair.

There were three suggestions. Being barely out of our teens, we decided to try all of them.

The suggestions were to smear the gum with mayonnaise, peanut butter or motor oil. We divided my hair into thirds and sampled all of the solutions.

None of them worked.

Except… for some reason, the peanut butter and the mayonnaise clung to the gum, making, if possible, an even worse mess.

I did not know what to do.

Finally, another friend of mine attempted to surgically and carefully cut the gum out of my hair, leaving behind whatever part of my “do” remained.

After this process, my head looked like crab grass with dried-out places in between, apparently caused by drought.

It took six weeks–yes, six weeks–before my hair grew out and all the gum was completely dispelled from my scalp.

I still chew gum.

But never as a nocturnal practice.

 

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Chasten

Chasten: (v) to reprove

There are things that work and there are things that don’t.

Perhaps one of the most misleading ideas promoted in our society is the notion that a thousand paths lead to the same singular destination.
This has caused us to believe that we can ignore the wisdom of time and forge our own thoroughfare–and as long as we get “somewhere near it,” we’ve done a good thing by being independent.

Independence is over-rated. More often than not, it’s permission to fail instead of succeed–because leaving the sanctity of good counsel to prove your autonomy usually comes with a bundle of extra problems which have to be explained away later, as you cautiously tout your victory.

But let’s make three things clear:

1. Complaining is not chastening.

Human beings should not have to endure the incessant repetition of a grouchy spirit hounding them over their actions.

2. Assuming is not chastening.

Trying to take on the profile of “the gentle soul” who innocently assumes everyone knows the truth of the matter is often useless and can be vindictive if the silence causes another soul pain.

3. Prejudice is not chastening.

Asking a black man to hold his tongue because he’s “the son of Cain” and therefore not as worthy as white people is not a rebuke granting growth, but instead, instilling inferiority and fear.

Chastening is understanding what needs to be done–seeing that someone has taken a faulty turn and correcting him or her before the misstep turns into a tumble.

It must always be done in love, it must always be done quickly, and it must always be drenched in mercy and grace.

 

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Byword

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Byword: (n) expression summarizing characteristics

What do people think when they hear my name? That’s damn important.

Even though we try to play down the significance of public opinion, since none of us live an isolated existence, people’s idea of us are pretty important.

Am I so mixed up that those who know me find it difficult to pinpoint a continuing virtue or a clinging vice?

Am I constantly reinventing myself to such an extent that no one is sure what I treasure?

Even though we extol the value of choice, it is actually a blessing. Many times we get no choice. All we have is the overwhelming evidence of how we selected to be known, punctuated by countless irrefutable examples.

What is my byword?

  • Is it selfish?
  • Dull?
  • Is it aging?
  • Kind?
  • Indifferent?
  • Is it oblivious?
  • Gentle?

Each one of these words has attended a master class of achievement.

Frankly, no one assumes we’re oblivious–we have to prove it through our complete mental absence.

No one assumes we’re kind unless we have extended kindness.

No one insists we’re old unless we’re constantly complaining about our pains.

So here’s my advice: pick a profile and profile it daily.

 

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Burnish

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Burnish: (v) to polish something by rubbing.

An important exercise:

Add up all the hours you and I have spent complaining, resisting, avoiding or diminishing the need to improve something. Now compare that to the number of hours it would have taken to do the job.

Every single time, the amount of energy expended in bitching exceeds the required minutes necessary to burnish up the situations in our lives.

Case in point: when I was much younger and rented an apartment, my parents gave me a beat-up coffee table. It was light brown wood, so every little scrape, nick and stain was very noticeable. Bluntly, I did not care. I was a punk.

One day a girlfriend of mine came in and told me that if I took some furniture polish to the table, it would look a hundred percent better. I nodded my head, simulating interest, but inwardly dismissed all her claims. She made the point three more times before she finally walked in, polish and cloth in hand, and quickly–no more than five minutes–transformed that piece of worn down trash into a burnished surface.

It was so shiny that I could actually look down and see my face.

I didn’t know whether to be grateful or angry over her interference. Before I could decide which profile to select, she gave me a quick hug and said, “You’re a man. You’re often too dumb to do what’s necessary.”

She left the room.

My problem was not being a man. My difficulty was that I did not believe I was worthy of a polished table, so I decided to leave it as ugly and unkempt as I felt myself.

 

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Bellyache

Bellyache: (v) to complain noisily or persistently.

Dictionary B

When does comparing become complaining?

When does musing over better ideas turn into lamentation over our lack?

When do we find ourselves bellyaching concerning the tenuous nature of the human race instead of uplifting our species to find the Kingdom of God within us?

I think it all depends on whether we lose our sense of humor.

The minute we feel it is our mission to discuss humanity and the failing conditions of our race in serious terms or with statistics and facts, we are in danger of turning into the kind of intellectual snobs which we normally disdain.

  • With every suggestion must come a hope.
  • Every criticism requires a door of escape.
  • And when we address the creation of Eden–man and woman–we need to afford them the respect given by their Creator, who looked down on them in their total nakedness … and thought it was all good.

 

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