Cronkite

Cronkite, Walter: 1916–2009, U.S. newscaster. 

He had the right look to calm our prejudices.

The perfect voice to allay our fears.

A coiffed mustache to parallel favorite uncle.

And a serious tone to let us know he knew the hell what he was talking about.

We never could confirm if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He felt that his political leanings were inconsequential—even detrimental in delivering the news.

He cried once, when a President was shot.

And he beamed like a proud father when he saw American brothers walking on the moon.

His name was Walter Cronkite.

We don’t have anyone like him, basically because we’ve decided that people who bring us the news events from around the world need to be pretty, opinionated, over-bearing, caustic and political.

It would be difficult for the younger generation to imagine a “newsman.” They are accustomed to talking heads, pundits and rating whores.

When there was no 24-hour news cycle, but there was a need to know what was going on in the world, millions of Americans invited one man into their homes, through their singular television set which sat in the living room in a corner, offering three channels.

This man was Walter Cronkite.

We don’t know if he had fetishes, affairs or a history of juvenile delinquency. It wasn’t because he was secretive. It was because Mr. Cronkite did not believe that he mattered—only that he accurately, truthfully, and dispassionately delivered the update of what was going on in our world.

He was a treasure. He is still a treasure.

And through the miracle of video tape, he can be viewed by some of the young news gatherers, who might just gain credence by personally taking on a revival of his spirit.

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Convent

Convent: (n) a community of persons devoted to religious life under a superior.  

 I’ve never been motivated by fear, even when some of it may have been legitimate.

I cannot stand to be intimidated and frightened just so somebody will believe that I’m adequately aware of a pending horror.

I have been a fortunate man because my journey has taken me every place I wanted to go, and many places I did not envision going but ended up benefitting me.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I once found myself, along with my family, staying for two days at a convent. It was an experience. Let me tell you the difference between “experience” and “blessing:”

A blessing is something you wish would go on forever.

An experience, though initially pleasant, is something you are overjoyed has an expiration date.

The women living in the convent, serving God, praying, and taking vows of both chastity and poverty, were some of the sweetest, gentlest and kindest souls I had ever met. But after about thirty-six hours, I discovered that their profile and practices were initiated through a fear of being displeasing to their Master—their husband. God.

Over breakfast one morning, I shared with these lovely souls my intention to write a novel on the life of Jesus, with him telling his own story. I felt confident that they would be moved by such an adventure. The intimacy we had shared over the stay made me relaxed, and I was forthcoming about details.

They were shocked.

They were offended.

Matter of fact, they pleaded with me to not write such a book, because it would “be offensive to God.”

Honestly, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was argue with nuns—especially on their home turf, the convent. I listened patiently to their objections, and for the rest of my visit I remained quiet, eager to get back to a world where poverty is not preferable and there is a God who welcomes scrutiny instead of feigning offense.


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Conceit

Conceit: (n) excessive pride in oneself

What is excessive?

It reminds me of the old saying about prunes: “Is two enough? Is six too many?”

Of course, the source of that little piece of whimsy is that if you eat too few, your bowels won’t flow, and if you eat too many, you end up funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
gushing.

I guess that’s the way it is with conceit.

If you don’t have enough self-awareness to believe in your abilities to get you through the tough times, then you’ll probably have a life that’s constipated–gripped in fear.

On the other hand, if you think the journey is all about proclaiming the power of your excellence, you will produce so much information that people will not want to be near you.

Here’s a simple way to handle it:  when someone asks what you do, tell them without adding any of your credentials and awards.

For instance, someone asked me the other day: “What do you do for a living?”

I responded, “I’m a writer.”

I stopped. I didn’t explain what I write, how much I write, or whether someone, somewhere decided to give me an award for my scrawlings.

As it turned out, they were completely comfortable with my answer and pursued no further.

Had I produced one more “prune of thought,” my questioner would have been turned off by my self-gushing.

 

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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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Cerebral

Cerebral: (adj) characterized by the use of the intellect

A think tank.

Much of my thinking tanks. Does that count?

We are so impressed with the brain that we fail to read the instructions–like getting a new appliance. We unpack it and try to figure out its
intricacies as we go, instead of truly understanding its purpose.

The brain is where three distinctly different experiences collide:

  • Our upbringing
  • Our fear
  • New information

We cannot receive new information without fearing it and comparing it to what we’ve already been taught. So new information has to work really hard to displace old, faulty mind-wiring.

Because of this, our attempts to be cerebral or intellectual are often the rehashing of old outdated concepts.

Is it possible to give new information a primal position–where we have the opportunity to expand and grow with much more fluidity?

Yes, it is.

But we must take care of our fears and emotional inadequacies. We must get rid of superstitions. Then and only then does a fresh notion have a chance of gaining life in our cerebrum.

The world will continue to be a place of repetitive disaster until we understand that what needs to be done is not already in our brain–but will come as we open the door to greater understanding.

 

 

 

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But

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But (conj.) used to indicate the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated.

I have never come out of a business meeting, a church council, or a corporate pow-wow with a solution. It’s always been a compromise.

Over the years, I have been taught that such compromising is necessary to generate progress. A little of this, a little of that and a little of the other.

We haggle.

We develop scenarios where our possibility is viewed through the lens of negativity. We are so damn proud of our maturity which enables us to troubleshoot situations until we shoot all the goodness, and are left with nothing but trouble.

The word “but” has become the battle cry of the lazy.

There is a simple question each one of us has to ask our own heart: would you rather sit around and discuss something until you’re thoroughly convinced there is no doorway, or would you rather go out and try something and learn as you go?

We are very careful.

But we fly on the wings of those who abandoned caution and experimented instead of merely considering. Our faith is supposed to be pursuing things we have not seen, but dies because our hope is hampered by doubt.

Even our love is insipid, because we are afraid of deep affection.

I love to write. No buts.

I love people. No buts.

I’m looking for a better way to be who I am.

No buts about it.

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Burn

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Burn: (v) to flame while consuming

Snakes and fire.

I believe these two are natural enemies of all humankind.

I’ve always been afraid of snakes, without shame. But I realized my apprehension about fire when I found myself staying at a cheap motel called “The California.”(Yes, welcome to the Motel California…)

I was there with my family and we were occupying a room in the front corner near the office. One afternoon, we were half asleep, watching television, when there was a knock at the door. The manager was informing everyone that there was a fire.

I stepped outside, couldn’t see anything, but decided it was a good idea to get my family and some of our belongings out of the room, load them into the van and move the vehicle away from the property, just in case.

We gathered with the other patrons of the motel in the parking lot, when all at once the second floor, as if on cue, burst into flames. It was so sudden that everyone gasped. In unison, we moved back about twenty paces.

The heat was intense, the smell stung our nostrils. and our natural fear kept pushing us all further and further from the inferno.

It wasn’t a large motel, so by the time the fire trucks arrived, the entire establishment was engulfed in flames–except for the lower level near the office.

The firemen told us it would be many hours before we would be able to get back in to retrieve any belongings that might remain, so we went out to visit some friends and took advantage of a free motel room offered by a kind establishment down the road.

Over breakfast the next morning, I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking. I didn’t know what was wrong. But now I realize that I was completely terrified by the experience, and horrified by what might have happened.

An hour or two later, when we returned to the burned-out shell of the motel, we found that our room was intact, and that our belongings were a little damp, but able to be retrieved.

I don’t ever want to burn.

I guess the worst scenario for me would be to die in a fire while being bitten by snakes.

 

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