Codger

Codger: (adj) an elderly man, especially one who is old-fashioned or eccentric.

It is not because I keep piling up birthdays–nor that there seems to be a new wrinkle in my countenance.

No, it is the fact that I believe that “codger” is not based on age. Instead, it’s a disposition.

Going through the store the other day, I noticed a fellow–no more than twenty-five years old–who was with his wife and little daughter.

He trudged.

I’m sure he didn’t need to. I’m quite positive that his legs were still filled with lots of power. But somewhere along the line, he convinced himself to adopt the profile of the masses when it comes to everyday living.

I describe that condition as a perpetual visual and emotional proclamation of, “It’s too much.”

  • It’s too much debt.
  • It’s too much crime.
  • It’s too much trouble with the kids.
  • It’s too much argument with my spouse.
  • It’s too much pressure on the job.

Once convinced of this, any individual–at any age–becomes a grouchy codger.

He or she spews the venom of a sour soul, giving up on the possibility of the possible–checking out, absolutely certain that there’s no need to check in.

Now, I will grant you that many old people have also donned this persona in honor of their ancestors, simply to prove they were no better nor worse than their predecessors.

But it seems to me that it keeps starting younger and younger, and considering the fact that we seem to be living longer and longer, it certainly might make for an awfully dreary lifespan.

If you want to keep from being a codger, you have to use both eyes and ears:

One eye on what’s going on, and one eye on the blessing that might be coming your way.

One ear on the complaints that surround you, and the other listening intently for the song of hope.

 

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Coach

Coach: (n) a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team

The same tenacity and grit which is necessary to make one successful can just as easily be used to commence a life of crime.

This is the difficulty the adults in our lives face when they train us, and of course, coach us.

They certainly know that initiative, spunk and creativity are essential for forming the building blocks of a prosperous lifestyle. Yet in the moment, these particular attributes, especially when spoken from the nasally nastiness of adolescence, can be obnoxious.

So our instructors often have to find out whether our conduct, being sweet and kind, is a foretelling of goodness or brain death–and if our unwanted opinions prophesy greatness or the possibility of time spent “upstate.”

Let me give you an example.

During a football game, when we were losing 48 to nothing, I ran to the sideline and said the following to my coach: “Come on, coach! This defense you put together for us is just not working!”

I was fourteen at the time, and he was probably in his mid-twenties, trying desperately to survive the humiliation of being drummed by his rival on this field of debauchery.

I noticed that my coach’s face began to twitch. His eyes expanded. The veins in his head popped out, and his countenance became crimson as he slowly said, “Please sit down. Our defense is fine.”

I noticed that he avoided me for the rest of the game, as I avoided many tackles.

Fortunately, he did not personally address my inadequacies and focus on them because of my snippy, snarky comment. He restrained himself, and therefore, I believe I grew up using my precocious nature for good instead of joining forces with the villains to destroy Batman.

It’s not easy being a coach. You don’t always win, but end up stuck with your team, no matter what the score. You can’t blame them or you look like an idiot. You can’t accuse the referees or you appear to be a sore loser.

All you can do is teach what you know, and hope, by the grace of God, it’s enough.

 

 

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Childlike

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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Brothel

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Brothel: (n) a house where men can visit prostitutes.

Aside from the fact that no little girl aspires to be a prostitute and that the environment surrounding “the oldest business” is usually permeated with drugs and crime, the whole adventure has a nasty quality that accentuates many of the more degrading aspects of human nature.Dictionary B

For some reason, we have begun to justify this particular activity by saying it “empowers women” since they are receiving money for what they would usually give away.

But dare I say, any average human being sitting on a chair in the middle of a room, observing the transaction between a prostitute and his or her customer, and then viewing the experience, would probably not walk away saying, “That is one damn lucky whore.”

We can speak nobly and liberally about such things because we don’t ever actually visit brothels.

The crime, the evil, the subjugation, the stench and the humiliation involved in the operation of a brothel takes it out of the realm of the business world–being able to join the Chamber of Commerce and network with the local doughnut shop.

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Breathalyzer

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Breathalyzer: (n) a device used by police for measuring the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath.

Intolerance always enters our lives when we fail to recognize our own weakness as being equally pathetic to the vices we condemn.

I have never been a drinker. Yet I don’t want to be a self-righteous tee-totaler.Dictionary B

It’s so easy to be critical of those who drink too much, drive, and are prosecuted because of the results of a breathalyzer. Driving while intoxicated is dangerous–often lethal.

Yet by the same token, I find myself somewhat bewitched by food.

They do not have a breathalyzer test for pork chops–but I have driven home from a buffet many times having eaten to the point of nausea, getting sleepy behind the wheel because my blood sugar was soaring to the stars. But no policeman would ever insinuate I was endangering the lives of others.

Please don’t misunderstand my point. Alcohol is dangerous.

Yet there are many people who can eat three-and-a half ounces of meat and be completely satisfied without becoming intoxicated by a caloric binge.

I just want to keep my tolerance available to me when I run across those who fall victim to vice and depravity.

I, too, am weak.

The fact that my consumption does not end up in a courtroom does not alter the situation.

Thank God for breathalyzers because they do keep people off the road who are primed for an accident.

But the piece of humanity we need to always keep in mind is that each one of us has peccadilloes–which if we pick at the wrong moment, can end up being anything from a sin to a crime.

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Bag Lady

Bag lady: (n) a homeless woman who carries her possessions in shopping bags.Dictionary B

Our society has become obsessed with converse thinking.

In other words, if you have the boldness to make a statement or take a stand on an issue which you feel is particularly important, there is always some cynical, perhaps even jaded, passerby, who will pull an obscure point of reference to disprove your contention and try to show it to be ridiculous or foolish idealism.

I mean, you can walk in a room and say to the gathered that we all should learn to love one another, and at the end of half an hour, the denouncing voices will explain that this kind of general affection among humans is impossible because of the dangers of crime and even terrorism.

Never is this more true than on the subject of the homeless.

I have often presented the theory to those around me that it doesn’t hurt one little bit to pull a dollar out to help folks on the street, without feeling the need to inquire of their intentions or plans on using your 100 pennies.

I am frequently argued to the mat by those who present a contrary view, insisting that I am emboldening these individuals to remain without solvency.

Sometimes I am informed how crazy they are.

A certain handful of detractors cite statistics concerning the criminal records of those without a place to sleep.

They will also point out that the homeless and the bag ladies are a blight on the community and needn’t be so because there are agencies to assist them in finding their place in society.

Yes, I will tell you, we live in a converse world.

Those who have decided to become our leaders feel it is essential to present the darker side of every issue as a precautionary tale, lest we become too open to one another and end up with messy conflicts through our generosity.

I am weary of it.

I don’t want to know what the bag lady is going to do with my dollar. If she needs a cheap bottle of wine to get her through the day, then God bless her.

And God damn me if I forbid it out of my self-righteous, superior attitude.

If we don’t get out of our converse thinking, we’re going to begin to believe that there are no absolutes which lead us to goodness.

Instead, in trying to find the potholes… we will cease to build roads. 

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Ancillary

dictionary with letter A

Ancillary: (adj) providing necessary support to primary activities or operation of an organization, institution or system.

It’s a two-step process. At least, I think so.

This thing we call life–or the pursuit of it–affords a dual purpose:

  1. Find out what’s really important.
  2. Get behind the importance.

I’m tempted, like the next guy or lady, to be distracted by temporary terrors and fleeting fads. Matter of fact, I suppose to some degree there’s a certain amount of excitement in chasing your own tail.

But in the long run, or even in the short run, the most fulfilling way to live a human life is to be supportive of important things.

They are few. Isn’t that good? If there were too many important things, we could quickly become overwhelmed.

I remember when my mother-in-law died, her attorney explained that it would be our responsibility to make sure that final expenses and bills were paid. So feeling the need to come across as officious, I asked him to send us these expenditures quickly.

He laughed and said, “There’s really no hurry. After all, your mother-in-law’s not worried about her credit rating.”

Absolutely.

So even though money, status, clothing, food, family, houses, cars and possessions are always jockeying for our full focus, they really are not important.

They are needed–just not the kind of ideas and goals that should encompass our thinking.

So it really boils down to two things. Well, actually three:

  • God
  • Me
  • People.

And I am warned in the Good Book that I should take care of “me” first. Otherwise, I will be constantly nervous about covering my own behind.

And then, miraculously, God and people sort of merge into one project. Because truthfully, whatever I feel about people and how I treat them is the same thing I feel about God.

The Golden Rule is the most sensible concept ever devised. It tells me to find out what I want, then to assume that others also have wants and needs–and to be equally as sensitive to theirs as I am to mine.

It is the only way to be ancillary to the needs of our planet. After all, whether global warming or climate change is exaggerated or not, it certainly won’t hurt me to address kindness in the direction of God’s creation.

Whether there is crime in the world and immorality is insignificant to me finding my peace of mind and spreading that as a gift to others.

I will tell you as a friend, if you continue to chase the whim of our society, you will end up ignoring what is truly important, and therefore pass your time with trivial details, never being supportive of greatness.

Find out what’s important, and then suddenly everything you do … gains importance.

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