Decompress

Decompress: (v) to relax; unwind

When I was nine years old, a friend of mine jammed his finger.

It hurt.

No doubt about that.

But over the next week, through the urging of his mother, the jammed finger went from being a painful incident to a potentially lethal trauma.

Every day when I saw him, he had a new angle on how a jammed finger could lead to some sort of bizarre complication, culminating in a contorted death.

Honestly, I started avoiding him, waiting for his finger to heal, so that he could become normal again.

That has been my inclination with the human race.

Since most people think they have a jammed finger, they are prepared to exaggerate their wounds to make themselves feel more endangered.

Therefore I hate the word “decompress.”

I hear it all the time: “I am under so much pressure that I must get someplace and decompress.”

Really?

I guess I have a different definition for “pressure.”

To me, pressure is when you realize you’re going to die.

And even then, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.

Everything short of death is problematic—and by problematic, I mean solvable.

I am just completely flummoxed as to why we think our lives are more intriguing when we express levels of breathless desperation.

Why is it more enticing to say, “I don’t think I’m going to make it,” than “I’ve had a bad week.”

Why must we think the world is going to end simply because we can’t find our favorite jar of pickles?

How in the hell important do we think we are?

For the record:

I do not need to decompress.

I do not require escaping somewhere to spend even more time musing over my plight.

I need to expand.

I must be around people who also have problems, and together, we can develop the good cheer of realizing that there doesn’t seem to be anything life has come up with that can destroy us.

If we reach that point, we gain a certain lightness of spirit—an irrepressible joy that makes us love ourselves and valuable to those around us.

Don’t decompress.

Just don’t get yourself in a position where you take things too seriously.

In life there are no dramas—there are just comedies, and sometimes we don’t get the joke.

 

Death

Death: (n) the act of dying; the end of life

Pwanged with a silly stick of maudlin muddling, I will occasionally imagine what the world will be like right after my demise.

That being my death.

When doing so, my eyes quickly fill with tears over how sad I presume others will be over my absence.

And then, without warning, my brain suddenly rights itself, and I realize the past five people I know who have died were afforded about one week of concentrated bereavement.

And then life, wearing very heavy boots, marched on.

I don’t know how it should be.

I don’t know what the correct length of time is to commemorate and memorialize the deeds of another traveler who is leaving because of the absence of breathing possibilities.

But it should be different.

Shouldn’t it?

Even people we regale as “planet changing souls for the ages” only get thirty seconds of silent reflection prior to the opening of Wall Street.

Thirty seconds? Really?

I, of course, understand that there will be spasms of dismay for a length of time over the departure of a fine friend—hopefully including me.

But the audacity of the human race—to think it has the energy and intelligence to proceed without me—is a worrisome, if not tearful, conclusion.

I don’t know what to do about that.

But after careful consideration and pausing to ponder over possibilities, I have decided that my best approach is to get even…

…and stay alive.

Cyanide

Cyanide: (n) a salt of hydrocyanic acid, as potassium cyanide, KCN.

 If, in your job description, there are instructions describing the circumstances, conditions or situations in which you are required to drop cyanide tablets in your mouth to commit suicide, then, in my opinion, you’ve chosen a poor profession.

I don’t care for any philosophy, religion or nationalism that promotes the idea that ultimate devotion requires the loss of life.

For instance, I would be very happy to assist my country in diplomacy, giving food to the hungry or even trying to find a way to motivate myself to dig a ditch.

But when you refer to the ultimate sacrifice—that being, giving your life in a war for freedom—I must tell you, I find this hideous.

Likewise, in Christianity, when they discuss the disciples becoming martyrs for the faith, I have a tendency to mull over the possibility that there might have been a way to skip out of the pagan land that was so pissed with their preaching and just go to more receptive audiences.

I know this might make me sound shallow.

But death, suicide and popping cyanide in the last moments to make sure you are not captured and interrogated is not only unappealing, but anti-human and anti-common sense.

I will not dwell with those who revere death as the supreme statement of consecration without objecting to such futility in favor of using our hands, our minds and our spirits to enhance the world.

Certainly this eliminates me from being a spy.

I probably will never work for the CIA.

Even the FBI might pass me over in favor of a more death-willing applicant.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cremains

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cremains: (n) the ashes of a cremated corpse

She stared down at the container, fighting back tears, and turned quietly and sincerely to the undertaker, motioning with her eyes toward the vessel.

He, trying to anticipate her question, jumped in and said, “Yes. This is your beloved husband.”

Suddenly, surprisingly, while still holding the urn tightly in her hands, she did a little two-step jig with her feet, laughed, and turned to the austere mortician and said, “So, this is all that cremains?”


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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.

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Coroner

Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.


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Cooperate

Cooperate: (v) to work or act together or jointly for a common purpose or benefit.

Life sent me a text.

It asked me if I had a few minutes to sit down and discuss some things. Normally I would have been responsive, but it was a busy day.

Sometimes I intend to return messages to people but then I get absorbed in happenings and my very, very good intentions are set to the side. These people are often offended. They don’t understand how much I really wanted to get back to them.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

So Life texted me again. This time the request came with four exclamation points. I hate it when people overuse punctuation on the Internet, don’t you? It’s so ignorant. Do they really think that’s going to get my attention?

So this time, I refused to respond on principle—surely it must be some sort of scam.

The following week Life texted me again, and insisted that something needed to be done very soon, or else.

I despise it when people threaten me. Don’t you? Because if you follow up, trying to find out what it’s about, you discover they just played you to get your attention.

Honest to God, if I chased every person warning me about something, or informing me about another thing, I wouldn’t get anything else done.

So I came up with an emoji which I sent back to life. A cute one. I think it was a creature sticking out its tongue.

That kind of summed up my feelings about Life’s interference in my daily activity—especially the pushiness I was feeling from the unwanted messages.

Then all of a sudden, I died.

I arrived at some sort of place that seemed to have an atmosphere, but was completely suspended in time. Standing there waiting for me was Life.

Not seeing anybody else to talk to, I stepped up to Life and said, “What happened? I was too young for this.”

Life looked at me smugly and said, “Did you get my texts?”

“Yes,” I replied, wondering what in the heck that had to do with anything under the sun.

Life took a deep breath. “I texted you because I wanted to let you know that several alarms had gone off in your body which you were ignoring, and you needed to go get yourself checked out.”

I frowned. “Why didn’t you tell me it was important?”

Life groaned, then spoke slowly. “You see, that’s the problem with human beings. You think anything that you don’t know about is an interference, never realizing that most problems can be avoided if you will just stop, listen, receive the message, and cooperate.”


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Confine

Confine: (v) to keep or restrict someone or something

There are no bars.

There are no cells.

There are no guards.

There is no visible punishment.

Matter of fact, it would appear that the prisoner can come and go at will.

But nonetheless, it is a jailhouse.

It is a slammer.

It is a penitentiary.

It’s name is worry.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a COnce a human being is sentenced to a lifetime of worry, the gentleness, creativity, happiness and open-mindedness that might be available is stolen away, and in its place, the convicted soul is confined to limited thoughts laced with anxiety.

It is not necessary to kill someone to destroy him or her.

It is not required to lock in a concrete building, surrounded by steel.

All you have to do is convince any person that there’s something to worry about, and that worry itself is virtuous.

He or she will take the keys to life and lock away potential … until death mercifully pardons.

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Concern

Concern: (n) anxiety; worry.

Concern is the word we use when we want to establish that we are way too mature to be worried. After all, we are mentally balanced, funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
spiritually enhanced and emotionally stabilized to such an extent that we are able to express concern without, shall we say, losing our shit.

But this week, I have taken inventory of what should truly be concerning and what is merely passing rumor, attempting to generate fear.

I am concerned about my apathy.

It causes me to do ill-advised things for my health and also not be sensitive enough to the health and feelings of others.

I have a concern about my ego.

I’m not always certain when it shows up or if it’s the good guy of my motivation is in control.

I don’t have a concern for my family.

I took my best shot. And if that wasn’t good enough, they have had plenty of time to acquire other shots.

I do have a concern for my country.

Historically, every nation that ceases to have a world vision for the human family becomes obstructive to good will and has to be exterminated.

I have no concern for tomorrow.

There is no tomorrow until I make it.

I do have a concern for death.

I am not one of those verbose, fearless individuals who claims he is not afraid to die. If a vote were taken, I think it’s a horrible idea. Death, that is. But since my vote does not count, let me try to scare it away instead of vice versa.

I have no concern about the existence of God.

If He exists, His comprehension is so far beyond my grasp that any attempt on my part to ascertain His will must come across as a roaring farce at the Pearly Gates.

If He doesn’t exist, I will handle those “grave concerns” when they unearth.

 

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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.

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