Clause

Clause: (n) a stipulation

Recently, I had a new grandson born. Everyone was so excited. After all, it’s a new life.

The proclamation was, “Welcome to Earth, little Julius!”

But Julius, my dear little friend, you need to read the accompanying clause. The actuary tables tell us the average person lives about seventy-seven years. Let’s
break that down:

The first eighteen of those seventy years are spent living in a house under rules and regulations, taking orders from everyone over twenty-one years of age, dabbling with all sorts of shit you shouldn’t, and confused because the front part of your brain literally has not grown in.

The next twelve years leading up to the age of thirty, you find yourself on the hunt for education, occupation and romantic elevation. There is too much experimentation, frustration and degradation involved in that process. You will often be bewildered because your original elation over obtaining your freedom has been deflated by reality.

Then you reach your thirtieth birthday–a whirlwind of messy nastiness, some of which you’re already trying to pay off in installments.

Now it’s time to have some kids of your own. You decide on two, and end up with three because someone forgot something. These three children begin the life process, impudently resenting all authority figures over the age of twenty-one, primarily you and your mate. They possess more opinions than intelligence.

You feel love but also occasionally diminished–because what you planned to do with your life has been hijacked by others telling you that you’re already old, decrepit and dead, and it’s their turn.

This takes you to about age fifty. At this point, you are greeted by doctors. They tell you that everything you’ve done in the first five decades has created some unhealthy results in your body. Probes, operations and sometimes diseases kick in to remind you of your mortality.

You suddenly find yourself carrying a pill case. You try to make it unobtrusive or even decorative, but you are now hooked on meds for the rest of your life.

This takes you to seventy. Of course, in the meantime you’ve become a full-fledged grandpa or grandma–with more little children who have found even meaner, egregious ways to ignore you. They are instructed to hug you, kiss you and send you thank-you notes including unidentifiable pictures which they’ve drawn. You learn to acquiesce and call three lines scrawled on a piece of paper “great art.”

This leaves you seven years.

You can’t walk as well anymore. You have to stop to recall your password for your Facebook account. And when you look in the mirror there seems to be the face of a troll emerging from your countenance.

The purpose of this essay is to remind us all that life comes with a clause. It’s a simple one. It’s not even in fine print.

Welcome to Earth (where you better make sure you enjoy what you do, or else what you do will take away all your joy–and that’s for sure).

 

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Chancy

Chancy: (adj) subject to unpredictable changes and circumstances

My confidence is kept in a bucket. You may not know it, but yours, too.

  • It’s not in a salt shaker, where it can be sprinkled.

It’s not in a cup, where it can be gradually poured.

Generally speaking, I have to take all of my confidence and dump it into the next thing I’m pursuing. Confidence cannot be used sparingly.

So we often find ourselves looking in the face of a “chancy opportunity”–wondering if it’s worth our confidence.

I feel that way about so many things I wouldn’t even know where to start.

I think the American way of government is a chancy proposal, that still demands my full bucket of confidence.

I think the marital institution is a very chancy proposal–fifty-fifty, if you will–which still requires I bring a full bucket of confidence.

I think the whole belief system which contends there is a single God who created the universe and is waiting to meet us in heaven, is rather chancy.

But I certainly cannot enter into it halfheartedly or with extreme doubt.

It’s a chancy thing.

Every day of our lives we dump confidence into our jobs, our families, our doctors, our lawyers–hoping that our great investment will bear dividends.

There is no man or woman alive who does not live by faith.

Just some of us decide to call it God.

 

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Cadre

Cadre: (n) a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession.

“I’ve gotta be me.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve never found particularly worthy of my attention. I’ve never been so certain of myself that I did not yearn to have the
fellowship and input of others.

I have found that the word “solo” is a great synonym for “alone.” I don’t like to be alone.

I don’t need other folks to make me feel valuable, or to surround me with a sense of inclusion. It’s just divinely remarkable to encounter individuals who share common anything with one another.

  • Common taste.
  • Common talent.
  • Common faith.
  • Common appetites.
  • Or even common foibles.

Human beings were never intended to be perfect and can be quite obnoxious when pursuing it. We’re at our best when we hang around with each other, admit our weaknesses and garner energy off the cadre of souls huddled in our corner.

When I have attempted to be autonomous, it was like I found myself standing naked in a room full of doctors. It was inevitable they would find something wrong with me.

Am I hiding? Perhaps.

Am I weak? Most certainly.

Am I benefitting from interaction with others?

Always.

 

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Attenuate

Attenuate: (v) to reduce the force, effect or value of dictionary with letter A

It does plague my thoughts.

Three years ago, my knees, which have always given me a little trouble, basically gave up on the notion of carrying around my weight and allowing me to be a normal “stroller.”

I considered my plight.

I could go to a doctor and check out knee replacements or treatments. Honestly, this would lay me up for several months and take me away from a mission which I feel compelled to pursue with, may I say, some sense of urgency.

So although I’m still able to get around to some degree, for any distance I utilize a wheel chair.

This was difficult for me. All my life I’ve been busy, active, traveling around the country sharing my talents. I didn’t like the sensation of being weak.

But worse than my feelings about the issue was my fear that I was limiting my impact because of the visual of my impairment. It bothered the hell out of me, and honestly, to some degree still does.

When do we cease to be powerful, disappointing in our delivery?

In other words, am I asking people to look past my fragility to accept my viability?

For after all, politics is attenuated by lies, religion is attenuated by intolerance and youthfulness is attenuated by foolishness.

When are we diluting ourselves, and therefore ending up deluded?

I’m not sure.

But as the weeks passed, I realized that in a strange sense, people admired me for continuing through the struggle.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal.

But as long as it doesn’t attenuate my heart and soul … I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.

 

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Anti-septic

dictionary with letter A

Anti-septic: (adj) of or relating to substances that prevent disease-causing micro-organisms.

They put a sign on my door.

Apparently, my condition was common enough that these signs were readily available for ordering from some medical supply house.

The sign read, “This patient is septic.”

Nurses and doctors started walking into my room wearing gloves and masks. I felt like I was in a horror flick and had unfortunately been cast in the role of “the horror.”

What they discovered was that I had an infection which had spread throughout my bloodstream, and therefore every excretion from my body, including my sweat and spit, was toxic.

It was weird.

It made me appreciate the term “anti-septic.” Because when I was anti-septic–completely against the concept–people liked me a lot more and didn’t have to bundle up like mummies to be in my presence.

They put me on a treatment and within a couple of days they were able to remove the sign and my practitioners stripped themselves of all necessary protection.

Now…without becoming too philosophical, we can be septic in many ways, including emotionally, spiritually and mentally. All “septic” really means is that we are poisonous to those around us. It would be good to engage an anti-septic at that point, don’t you think?

So when I am emotionally septic–in such a bad mood that I’m not fit to be a caretaker of snakes–I quarantine myself so as not to spew unrighteous feelings into the air to infect the general populace.

When I’m spiritually septic i spend some time thinking about how blessed I am, and then, with tears in my eyes, apologize to a generous Father in heaven, who is waiting for me to come to my senses.

And when I’m mentally septic–promoting my own prejudices instead of truth–I allow myself the grace of shutting my mouth until some healing can happen in my thoughts.

Anti-septic is a good thing. Because septic kills.

And we certainly have too much of that going around, don’t we? 

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Anosmia

dictionary with letter A

Anosmia: (n) the loss of the sense of smell, caused by injury, infection or the blockage of the nose.

There’s a name for it!

One of my greatest joys in doing this daily essay is discovering that there are words that have been set aside to describe much of the weirdness that I’ve experienced in my life.

I probably won’t remember the word in the moment that I need it, but it’s still nice to know that my predicament is common enough that somebody “worded” it.

Several years ago I had a sinus infection. I didn’t know it was a sinus infection, but all of the amateur doctors I’m acquainted with (who also double as friends and family) let me know that I did not have a common cold, but rather, common sinusitis.

I convinced myself that I got the condition from sleeping in a house where construction was going on and that sawdust had stuffed up my beezer. Of course, this is highly unlikely, but it sounded cool when relating my malady to others.

But one of the things I remember about the experience was that I stopped being able to smell anything. Food, bathroom aromas and even my own particular scent evaded my scrutiny.

At first I wasn’t bothered by this side effect, but then I began to wonder if I was stinking to other folks, and was unaware of it.

I did what every human being would do. I overcompensated:

  • Instead of splashing myself with cologne once, I did it three times.
  • A double application of deodorant.
  • And an extra minute or two in the shower, scrub-a-dub-dub.

It was at this point that I noticed that people were wincing as I walked by, so I decided I must be stinking horribly, so I doused myself even further.

Honestly, I’ve never had all my friends so glad to see me get over an ailment.

So I guess the moral of the story is: when you can’t smell yourself, it’s better to assume you’re okay. 

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