Currier and Ives

Currier and Ives: (n) the lithography firm of Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, which produced prints of American history, life, and manners.

Why is it necessary to advertise our depletion by criticizing what once brought us completion?

Why are we so sarcastic about elements that at one time brought comfort and joy to our souls?

After all, is cynicism really a belief system?

Is negativity a plan of action? Is sneering the equivalent of smiling?

Does denying have the energy of accepting?

I grew up in America. The country that surrounds me today is still my home—it’s just dirty.

Fortunately, we don’t throw away our bathroom because it needs cleaning, nor do we cast our clothes aside because they’re sullied with dirt.

Clean.

I need visions of where we are to go.

I need to see the best to achieve better.

I require encouragement.

I find it impossible to gain breath and sustenance on a diet of despair.

Currier and Ives once represented the simple life we now sarcastically proclaim ridiculous, and even sometimes insist is insensitive to all cultures.

Does this mean we contend joy, family, warm fires and beautiful pastoral scenes are “white” things?

Is it necessary to express the plight of the poor by having pictures of starving children? Must we alarm others to sickness by offering snapshots of bedsores?

My eyes are thirsty for hope.

I could stand a little Currier and Ives.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Critical

Critical: (adj) judging

Two sentences:

  1. I am so good.
  2. I am no good.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Just changing one word in that phrase—from “so” to “no” or from “no” to “so”—renders a completely different conclusion.

It’s where the human race bounces.

Somewhere between so and no, we’re always on a journey to over-exaggerate our value or else proclaim ourselves wormlike.

Matter of fact, if I were to capsulize—perhaps even in a nutshell—what prevents us from becoming nutty is realizing that both profiles are stimulated by a flash-bang of insanity somewhere in the deep regions of our cranium.

No one is SO good.

Even in the midst of excellence, there is error that challenges to increase effort.

And no one is NO good.

Even within those souls we consider worthless, one can find value, even if that one only refers to God.

This is why a nation, or dare I say, a world of critical souls saying critical things to make their critical nature produce critical cynicism, causes the planet to teeter on a critical cliff of danger.

A critical condition.

I don’t agree with the axiom, “if you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all.”

Nor do I assert that everyone who is critical offers something to the “great conversation.”

I have developed a simple procedure in dealing with my fellow humans:

If I view something, hear something, watch something or read something that they have produced and there is nothing at all that I like about it or understand or appreciate or concur with, I remain silent.

Because to be honest, a critical contribution is only valuable if it follows a positive encouragement. If there’s nothing positive to say, being critical places the burden of guilt onto the judge.

In this case, that would be me. I can’t afford the guilt.

If they pursue, and say, “You didn’t have any opinion on the material?” I quickly grab the beauty of the lower seat and reply:

“Sometimes things go over my head.”

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


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Crevasse

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crevasse: (n) a deep, open crack

“It’s just about eight feet.”

God, I hated those words.

Growing up, I was the chubby, endearing, intelligent and funny friend. If you put me in a room watching Chiller Theater or listening to music or eating pizza, I was the star of the show.

But every once in a while, I got myself trapped into doing activities that blubber-boys should never participate in whatsoever.

I was thirteen years old and was asked to go on a hike.

I cannot lie—I went on the hike because at the end of the hike we were supposed to have a cookout over an open fire with marshmallows. They did not explain that there would be a five-hour death march preceding it.

I was panting within fifteen minutes, melting with sweat within a half hour—my legs so weak at the end of fifty minutes that I could barely stand.

This in itself was problematic.

But then we came to the Brave Man Crevasse.

The grown-up in charge of the expedition had mentioned it the night before with starry eyes, nearly breathless over the joy each of us would have in taking what he called “The Great Leap.” Struck by stupidity and still dreaming of marshmallows, I had failed to consider the impact of his statement.

About three hours into the hike, with me praying for death or the second coming of Christ, we arrived at The Crevasse.

Very simply stated, it was where the path ended and then resumed eight to ten feet over on the other side, with a drop of about fifty or sixty feet in the middle

The major problem was that before I could even consider what we were doing or how I personally was going to achieve it, many of my friends boldly took the jump and landed safely on the other side. Applause followed.

Pretty soon it was down to Lance and me. Lance was considered to be the coward of our troop—afraid of every type of bug, and really somewhat terrified of dirt. Lo and behold, Lance decided to choose this day for his epiphany of courage. He jumped up in the air and landed, his foot slipping at the last moment, nearly falling, but grabbed by some nearby buddies, who then alternated with pounding him on the back for his courage and clapping wildly.

So there it was—that universal turn of nine heads in my direction.

Their faces were full of encouragement, nodding as if to send good vibrations in my direction.

I thought about following Lance’s example, then realized I was not born stupid. So instead I stepped to the edge and looked over at the craggy hillside, filled with rocks and bushes beneath. My first thought was, “I wonder if I could survive a fall and get the hell out of here in an ambulance?”

But it seemed unlikely and certainly painful.

The delay was apparently unnerving to my cohorts, because they began to express verbal exhortations, which gradually became more ferocious and even challenging. That’s when the dastardly statement came to be.

“Come on! It’s just about eight feet!”

You see, they were wrong. It was a crevasse. There was no place for feet at all. If it had been just eight feet, I could just walk across. But it was eight huge spaces of nothing but air.

Spurred on by a combination of humiliation, edification and (still) the prospect of dinner, I leaped.

But I did not do it feet first. Instead I leaped with the top of my body toward the ledge, barely catching it with my hands, my feet dangling and kicking, and me ready to fall.

Blessedly, all of my friends who had made it safely to the other side grabbed me by whatever they could reach and pulled me up to safety.

My heart was pounding. It didn’t stop its thumping for a solid twenty minutes.

Every single one of the people who leaped across chose not to talk about it.

I think they were terrified that they nearly lost me in the Great Crevasse on the overly lengthy hike in pursuit of toasting a marshmallow.

 


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Compassion

Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.

What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.

Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.

It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might,funny wisdom on words that begin with a C every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.

This happened four–no, five times.

It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.

I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.

I let him struggle.

Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.

Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.

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Collage

Collage: (n) a combination or display of various things.

I have a “collage education.”

I have taken misshapen, unpredictable, often dangerous, meaningless, joyous, sad and uncertain circumstances and molded them
together into a life, inserting my face.

It doesn’t come with a sheepskin diploma. Matter of fact, being sheepish in any way keeps you from forming a good collage for your education.

It is that moment when you realize there’s only one thing that stops any of us from achieving joy: fear.

A young man asked me, “How can I become a good writer?”

I responded, “Stop writing. Express yourself. Stop worrying if it makes sense. Matter of fact, stop being concerned about forming sentences. You can always come along and edit later.”

Do what you do without doing it in fear.

Don’t listen to people who talk about mental blocks. Turn your ears off when people are full of warnings more than encouragement.

Life is a collage, and therein we find our education.

And we receive our graduate degree when we take our collage and use it to tutor others.

 

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Botany

Botany: (n) the scientific study of plants

“Old Lady Martinson.”Dictionary B

That’s what we called her because we were young, cruel and indifferent to the feelings of anyone who wouldn’t giggle at our silly jokes.

I knew her because she occasionally hired young boys to do chores, offering a quarter for what we deemed was worth a dollar.

She had lots of cats. You didn’t need to see the cats to know this. It just required you being “nosy.”

The smell was horrible.

She was also rather odd (which, as I look back at it, I am not so sure is true, considering that when you’re in your early teens, “odd” is anything that doesn’t fit into your two-square-inch box of understanding).

But I do have one solid memory–she loved to lecture about botany.

She told me she used to teach it in college. To prove her point, she constantly talked to the plant life in her large, unkempt, stale-smelling house.

One day she took me on a tour of her various vines, plants and ferns. As she pointed out each one, she offered a greeting, uttered a name and mustered a bit of encouragement.

She spoke to them.

I was spooked–I thought she was going to have a spasm or attack me with a butcher knife like I had seen in one old movie.

She didn’t.

But it was when she introduced me to her African violets and began to sing to them in mumbo-jumbo that I realized it was time to go.

I think plants are wonderful.

I think we should study them.

I think they are essential to life on Planet Earth.

But I also think we should not “chat them up.”

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Bonus

Bonus: (n) something welcome and often unexpected

“…and if you vote for so-and-so, your life will become better.”Dictionary B

“…if you put twenty dollars a week from your paycheck into the bank, when you turn 65, you’ll have a nest egg.”

And of course:

“…if you believe in God, when you die you’ll go to heaven.”

These are examples of delayed bonuses.

I don’t believe that a bonus is really a benefit if it’s delayed.

The promise of a coming blessing is more aggravating than encouraging. In the meantime, it leaves you with two choices: you can suffer through what you’ve got, reflecting on what’s coming, or you can try to forget about what’s coming and convince yourself that what you’ve got is enough.

Both of these profiles have varying degrees of misery.

I don’t think I could be a spiritual person if I thought the only gift I received from such a relationship with God was eternal life.

First of all, I have no comprehension of life going on forever. Honestly, I don’t even know if I like the idea.

And secondly, I need confirmation that I will receive encouragement, value and opportunity by pursuing eternal life in my present journey.

If there’s too much time for the arrival of the carrot after being poked by the stick, the carrot stops feeling worth it.

In other words, if God’s will can’t be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, it’s just not much of a bonus package.

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Blessed

Blessed: (adj) made holy; consecrated.

Dictionary B

To lead a blessed life, one must be aware of how to bless.

Even though the Christian experience extols the power and virtue of “doing good to those who do evil to us,” the typical human reaction is to duplicate what has been done to us–with a 20% increase in rage.

In other words, it’s not really “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” it’s more like “an eye for a popped pimple” and a “tooth for a sneer.”

With that in mind, we must learn that true progress cannot be made in our lives if we’re constantly plotting or dodging revenge.

To be blessed is to bless.

And to bless people is to balance the beauty of challenging and encouraging.

So to be blessed, we must be willing to be challenged, and receive our encouragement as fuel instead of awards. Yes, I take your words of appreciation and fill my tank so I am prepared to dole out the challenge and encouragement to others.

I also take your challenge as a way of improving my ability to relate to humankind instead of constantly finding myself an irritant.

The “Abrahamic” principle of “eyes and teeth” is not going to be rejected by the human race. It is firmly established in most of the religious people of this world.

But if you want to be successful, free of fear and devoid of the need to even the score, then find a blessed life … by knowing how to challenge and encourage those around you.

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Applaud

dictionary with letter A

Ap·plaud (v): to show approval or praise by clapping.

Although many people distinguish between human beings by referring to them as “saints” or “sinners,” I truthfully contend that we all blur into “sainners.” For after all, the saints do sin, and the sinners, every once in a while, stumble into some saintly behavior.

But there is one distinct difference between those who “pew” and those who have “de-pewed” and that is over the issue of whether to applaud or not to applaud.

Those who have refrained from steeple life deem applause a way of showing appreciation and often those within the confines of the holy temple think that such generosity is reserved solely for the Almighty and not for his faithful minions.

Here’s the problem: whether you are in the church or out of the church, you’re still human.

Since saints appear to be those individuals who have escaped the mortal coil and no longer have to worry about rent and traffic gridlock, it is difficult for us to pattern our lives after their mannerisms.

Saints and sinners both have to find a way to be human without offending one another (or God, for that matter).

And I will tell you, one of the sure ways to create a resentful, frustrated and bitter individual is to remove encouragement and approval for his or her work.

In America, we show that kind of “attaboy” with money or applause.

When you remove the applause, as is often done in religious circles, and even occasionally subtracting the money, you end up with a craftsman who is trying to do his work out of duty.

Can I say–human beings just suck at duty? Or maybe it’s just that duty itself sucks.

So even though I have performed in front of the faithful many times, I gently demand that they applaud so they don’t end up looking like a bunch of jerks who are trying to decide whether to enjoy themselves.

Matter of fact, because I know the God who fills my heart is a creative genius, I sometimes will step outside early in the morning, as the sun is rising, smile … and applaud.

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A la

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

A la: (prep) 1. a dish cooked or prepared in a specified style: e.g. apple pie a la mode. 2. in the style or manner of: e.g. afternoon talk shows a la Oprah.

May I give you my “a la” list? Maybe better stated, a reality a la “wish.”

  • Success a la humility.
  • Music a la emotion.
  • Faith a la evidence.
  • Hope a la progress.
  • Love a la tolerance.
  • Nationalism a la vision.
  • Equality a la action.
  • Debate a la cohesion.
  • Purpose a la common sense.
  • Bible a la humanity.
  • Entertainment a la inspiration.
  • Humor a la edification.
  • Encouragement a la critique.
  • Family a la expansion.

There are certain things that were meant to go together, and when they are separated, they wander about the earth in search of a mate. If you become a match maker to these estranged lovers, you ignite a passion that sets the world on fire with potential.

Yes … potential a la “what’s next?”