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.

 

December

December: (n) the twelfth month of the year, containing thirty-one days

Normally, I do not like to hear someone say, “This is my favorite…”

Mainly because if you hang around them for twenty minutes, they will stake claim on a new favorite which has jumped ahead of the old one, which has lost predominance in this brief span of time.

But I do believe December is my favorite month. (You will notice how easily I abandon my own concepts and asides.)

I say this about December because it contains both my birthday and Christmas.

This is not to say that my birthday is Christmas and therefore I am the Christ. (I did want to make that clear.)

My birthday is one week before Christmas, and I’ve always relished the beautiful time of year, and in a strange sense have felt uplifted—that the whole world decides to decorate in honor of my appearance on Earth.

But the main thing I like about December, and the reason I believe it should be the first month of the year, is that all the things that make us better people seem to stop, park and walk around for a while.

  • Commerce
  • Communication
  • Family
  • Money
  • Celebration
  • Decoration
  • Good secrets
  • Smiles
  • Excellent eating

 

And a twinge of faith growing in the worst scrounging Scrooge

It is amazing.

Is it amazing because it commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth?

Is it made special because we have decided to turn up our childlike and turn down our childish?

Is it the fact that money flows freely, budgets are met, surprises are provided and dreams are explored?

Or is it just because, in a thirty-one-day period, all these possibilities unite for a common holiday?

So whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” (and by the way, the word “holiday” is a hybrid for “holy day”)…

Well, whatever you say makes little difference to what you feel.

And Christmas is a time when we allow feeling to take supremacy over thinking and doing.

Most of the time, we’re frightened to permit this.

But Christmas is feeling, dressed up in emotion, saturated with faith, and glittered with invention—proclaiming peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

December is my favorite.

You can even come back tomorrow, and more than likely, it will hold the same noble position.

 

Crept

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crept: (v) to move slowly or with great stealth

Lying quietly on my bed in the darkened room, I allowed fear to enter my heart.

It was all so foolish.

I was suddenly overtaken by an exaggerated sense of my mortality. It reminded me of the time I was a nine-year-old boy and overheard someone say that a patient in a hospital had died from swallowing his tongue.

I didn’t know you could swallow your tongue

But all that night I kept waking up, heart pounding, convinced that my tongue had crept down my throat and was trying to enter my stomach.

Although awareness of pending difficulties or threatening illnesses is common, it is not good for us to allow the apprehensions that have crept into our hearts to sneak into our thoughts and manipulate our actions.

Lying there on the bed, I tried to rebuke myself, but still found that when I closed my eyes, visions of my own demise persisted. And even when I dozed, my dreams were determined to become nightmares.

We are silly. I am Chief of Silly.

But once evil has crept into our lives, there has to be a ceremony—a exorcism—from all such darkness.

 


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Collect

Collect: (v) to bring or gather things

I collect.

I grab my basket and step into life, picking up things that suit my fancy, meet my needs or stir my soul.

From democracy I collect the value of personal freedom.

I collect a wisp of meditation from the Buddhists.

I collect tenderness, mercy and endurance from my sisters.

I collect devotion to country from communist China.

I realize the danger of eating too much pork from my Muslim brethren.

I collect the value of play from the children encircling me.

I collect my thoughts by rejecting my prejudices.

I collect the true history of my life by quieting the ideas I wish to promote.

I collect fruits and vegetables at a good price at Aldi.

I collect the power of the Golden Rule from my friend, Jesus.

I collect a searching, inquiring and probing mind from my atheist friends.

I collect a respect of science from God.

And I collect a respect for God from science.

I collect things that other people think are meaningless so I can have a personal treasure in my heart.

I collect a respect for things old, current and even those things which sniff of the future.

I stand in awe of Earth as I collect my trash and throw it in the garbage instead of allowing it to go “blowin’ in the wind.”

I collect my anger and force it into a small box, where it doesn’t think it is bigger than it actually is.

I collect those little boxes of anger and open them up in my private times to address the concerns.

I collect passion for my dreams.

And I collect dreams to welcome passion.

I am a collector.

Not much of what I collect has a dollar value.

Yet all of what I collect is valuable.

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Closure

Closure: (n) the process of closing something

A papa’s brain is very reluctant to accept the death of his thirteen-year-old son–especially when that boy had been in a vegetative state for nearly six years, following a hit-and-run car accident.

When the young man died, it seemed righteous. After all, his only daily companion had been pain with discomfort, along with a few gentle
touches.

The father didn’t feel great grief over the loss, just immense guilt. Matter of fact, for the next six months, the young boy kept calling to him in his dreams, asking his father to come to a creek in the middle of the woods in Central Louisiana. The significan ce of the location was baffling–but the purpose for the union was obvious.

It was a retreat into nature to find a natural way to heal bones and brains, and restore the little fellow back to wholeness.

Night after night the beckoning came, and the father joined his son by the water, feeling the coolness of the breeze as they feverishly worked on exercises and pursued healing.

Then, just as quickly as the invitation had come, it was gone.

He was gone.

But what the young boy from the dream had succeeded in doing was taking away the guilt from Papa’s mind. Spending those nights dreaming of a cure gave Daddy some closure.

It was an act of mercy.

It was a mission of kindness.

It was apparently something that God allowed the young soul to do … before going to receive his reward.

 

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Cloak-and-Dagger

Cloak-and-dagger: (adj) characteristic of mystery

I suppose if I saw someone walking toward me wearing a cloak, I might be curious enough about their fashion choice to wonder what they were hiding beneath the bulky garment. I’m not so sure I would assume it was a dagger–more likely twenty unwanted pounds.

But maybe it’s the same thing. Since we don’t live in a time when people are stabbing one another with stilettos over grievances, a redefining of “cloak-and-dagger” for our period might be in order.

I contend that the cloak-and-dagger of our generation is the hiding the real truth of our abilities behind self-promotion. And the dagger which follows is an inadequate performance, leaving our fellow-travelers unimpressed.

Then too often violence ensues.

Because we should never have claimed to be more than who we are, we are inevitably going to fail, which will make us defensive and therefore volatile.

What would happen if we stopped lying about our abilities?

What if we decided not to chase big dreams?

What if we judged our talent on the response to our performance rather than what we think the response should be “if people weren’t stupid?”

Our society is still menaced with the “cloak-and-dagger,” because unless we praise the misguided claims of those around us, they just might turn on us and stab us with whatever is available.

So let me be the first one to take my cloak off and cast aside my dagger. I will do my best to tell you of the gifts I have, mingled with my weaknesses. If you find additional flaws, I thank you for saving me from the embarrassment of humiliating over-assessment.

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Basket

Basket: (n) a container used to hold or carry thingsDictionary B

I have never been particularly fond of work.

I do prefer work that I make up instead of chores that are made up for me. But like every other God-fearing American, I enjoy money.

So when I was a kid–about twelve–my dad, for a very brief time, grew strawberries on our little farm, with the intent of picking them, selling them and procuring an extra income.

Nobody in our family knew how difficult it was to pick strawberries. The plants do not have the decency to grow tall enough to reach up to you. No, you have to go down to get them on the ground.

My dad wanted to sell a pint of strawberries for a quarter. He offered me a nickel for every pint of strawberries I picked.

So I picked and I picked and I picked–and every time I brought him a pint to examine, he said it was not quite full.

At the end of the first day, I had only picked two pints, earning a dime. So overnight, practically in my dreams, I came up with a plan.

Unknown to my father, I carried a roll of toilet paper with me into the strawberry patch, and filled the bottom of my basket halfway with toilet paper, making sure that when I picked the strawberries, they covered the toilet paper so that it would take half as much to achieve a pint.

That night I not only received great praise for picking more baskets–eight in all–but proudly walked away with 40 cents.

I pulled this off for two days until people who were purchasing the strawberries began to complain to my parent about being cheated out of product by being given bathroom issue.

My father was furious.

I don’t know whether he was more unhappy because of the complaints of the people or because I was such a cheat.

But I learned that day that a basket is a basket and never will cease to be a basket.

If you find the basket is too small, then you need to get a larger basket.

And, as in the case of my strawberry picking, if you find the basket is too big, rather than cheating, you must acquire a smaller basket.

 

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Back Burner

Back burner: (v) to postpone consideration of or action on.Dictionary B

I think I will share with you a little secret–maybe not so much a secret as a piece of true magic.

It is the blessing of inviting things into your life instead of merely accepting them.

If you don’t learn to do this well, you will find yourself shoving great intentions and inspiration to the back burner of your stove and being forced to quickly make macaroni and cheese on the front burners every single day.

I think it may be the key to joy–being able to invite situations into your space instead of having them linger at the borders of your feelings, demanding entrance.

I meet people every day who have a novel stuck in their back closet.

Many of them have a horn they used to play, that they always meant to get back to.

And countless numbers envision a trip which has been put on hold for years because of budgetary concerns.

This is why we came up with the infamous “bucket list,” which we supposedly pursue after we’ve been given a terminal diagnosis and we have so few months left that we finally get down to the business of living.

I am repulsed by the idea of a bucket list.

I have set my course to invite possibilities into my soul instead of being kidnapped and held for ransom by responsibilities.

But how do you do it?

  1. Discern the signs of your times.

Long before foolishness arrives, it threatens by showing a little bit of its potential stupidity. Identify what has proven to be inefficient and get away from it as soon as possible, even if others insist it “only needs a few more tries.”

  1. Be picky about invitations.

Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into joining the gang.

  • Bad ideas generate a mob.
  • Good ideas stimulate a membership.

So if you’re looking for evidence of what is worth pursuing, stay away from the mobs and look to the wisdom of those individuals who are more selective in their participation.

  1. Choose based upon your dreams.

If something is completely out of the realm of what you envision to be the fuel for your life, don’t pump it into your gas tank. Even if it has promise, finance or gives you appreciation from others, if it is contrary to your vision, it will cause you to perish.

I never back burner that which stimulates my heart … but I am more than willing to take contrary views and unnecessary tribulation completely off my stove.

 

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Arise

dictionary with letter A

Arise: (v) to get or stand up.

Laying in my bed on Christmas night, I was caught between the world of fatigue and the itch of possibility. I wasn’t sure whether to surrender or scratch.

The reason I was fatigued is because a mixture of aging, obesity and over-activity had left me nearly defunct.

Yet deep within my soul, the little boy who totes my dreams was anxious to see better. So as I have often done, rather than giving into the old man, I allowed my spirit to hobble to its feet, to chase the nymph of possibility.

When I finally caught up with him, I asked him, “What is it you want?”

He uttered one word alone.

“Arise.”

I realized what a poetic word it truly is. Its meaning has commanded armies and raised a Savior from the dead.

I looked at the little messenger with bewilderment. Finally I asked, “How shall I arise?”

He said:

“Arise from being satisfied, walk out of your contentment and be willing to be a bit confused for a season, so at the end you might be illuminated.

Arise from your fear of insufficiency and dare to empty yourself of what you have, and challenge the storehouse of God to refill.

Arise and see the world before you as an opportunity instead of a problem

Arise and look at your brothers and sisters as family instead of aliens.

And by the way, arise from the table before you eat too much.”

He giggled and ran away and I tried to follow to the best of my ability, lagging behind. I thought to myself:

Lagging behind hope was much better than dwelling in piety.

 

 

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Aggression

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAggression: (n.) hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront: e.g. his chin was jutting with aggression

Human beings are lions.

It’s the truth. Even though some folks portray themselves as lambs, it’s a little shocking when later on they sink their teeth into you.

The true journey of life is not about denying the lion and the passion you have for what you want, but instead, tempering it with the mercy to do it fairly and granting license to others to pursue their dreams.

I think the only aggression that exists in life is when we pretend to be passive and end up being mean-spirited.

I will be honest with you. I know what I want. I am not in denial. I’m not trying to hide it behind noble gestures or religious conviction. My only responsibility is to make sure I am candid with you about my desires and don’t pretend to be flexible where I am not and willing where I am resistant.

The greatest danger in life is to be a liar–and probably one of the worst lies is telling people that you don’t really care one way or the other.

Even though the dictionary portrays aggression as a violent act, passivity can be equally as devastating, if not disabling.

When I know someone is aggressive, I am fully aware of their intentions and can adjust my involvement based on that conclusion. But when they disguise their motives, they leave me vulnerable, without allowing me the opportunity to choose to receive their ideas on my own.

After all, can there be anything more dastardly than the statement, “we hate the sin but we love the sinner” or “I just want you to be happy, and I know the only way you’ll be happy is if you do … “

I am an aggressive fellow when it comes to my own life and passive when it comes to yours–and where that is not true is exactly where I need to work … every day of my life.