Confederacy

Confederacy: (n) the Confederate states

As I sit quietly, my mind sometimes conjures the memory of something really dumb I have done. I am most comfortable when that piece of idiocy is well in my past.

But it is important, when that nasty memory comes to the forefront, that I own it, regret it and establish how ridiculous it was and how it mustfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
never be done again.

It’s part of being human.

Rationalizing all of our activities and granting them license immediately turns us into assholes.

Assholes, in this instance, are people who think they do not have elements in their past that need to be remembered with shame.

There was a time in this great nation when we denied our creed of the equality of all mankind and decided it was all right to own people as long as their skin was black. So intensely were we deceived that we were willing to go to the battlefield, bleed and die as feuding brothers.

A Confederacy challenged our Union.

It was shameful–a frightening part of our past.Yet it is a chapter of the book we call America.

We have two responsibilities:

  1. Don’t deny it happened
  2. Offer the necessary regret and shame required to eradicate it from happening again by eliminating all the prejudice that brought about such foolishness.

 

 

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Concentration

Concentration: (n) the action or power of focusing

Pain is insane.

Especially when it is self-induced.

It is an automatic thought that springs into our head: if things aren’t difficult, they’re not real accomplishments.

This is certainly one of the greatest pieces of human foolishness.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “I need to concentrate” without frowning. They are communicating that they are so damn mature that they must go into contortions funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
to acquire achievement.

What the hell?

If life was intended to be difficult, yet we are all universally intended to live it out, how cruel is our Creator? For we are not all suited to the same regimen.

Of course, a certain amount of concentration is necessary to alert the brain to turn off all phones, ignore other messages, and place focus on the project at hand. Undoubtedly.

Yet if that experience is not rewarding–and dare I say, joyous–we will run away from concentration in favor of erratic behavior.

So I taught all of my children, and those who ever came within my earshot, a very simple principle, which both initiates concentration and provides fulfillment through it:

Wherever you are, be there.

Don’t split your attention. Don’t be considering lilies and weeds at the same time.

Allow yourself the glorious blessing and luxury of inhaling the atmosphere which has drifted your way.

 

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Coagulant

Coagulate: (v) to change a fluid into a solid

Every once in a while, my silly little boy shows up to take over my manly frame.

For what I hope is a brief time, I start thinking like a child or an adolescent instead of taking advantage of the library of my journey.

One day I convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Of course, the more I considered that my heart was being attacked, the more abundantly symptoms leaped to the forefront to do their best imitation, trying to reinforce my foolishness.

Eventually I found it necessary to drive to the emergency room and check in.

Well, nobody questioned my contention because…well, because I’m fat. After all, that’s what fat people do. They eat too much cake and pizza and have heart attacks. Since I wasn’t eating, the possibility of cardiac arrest was available.

So they put me on a treatment while they tried to figure out what to do with me. One of the things they gave me was an anti-coagulant. This is a drug that keeps your blood from clotting. I didn’t think anything about it.

But when it turned out that I had mingled a case of indigestion with an anxiety attack to simulate a cardiac event, they sent me home. They offered one warning: “Keep in mind, if you cut yourself, it’ll be very difficult to stop the bleeding.”

I ignored them.

That evening when I went into my bathroom to shave, I did nick myself. I put a little piece of toilet paper on it, as gents often do, but it continued to bleed down my neck, over and over and over again.

I do not know when it eventually coagulated, because I had to lay down and wrap it in gauze.

Whatever they intended for that particular drug was very effective.

I could not coagulate.

So as it turns out, on that particular day my greatest danger was not having a heart attack, but rather, bleeding to death from shaving.

 

 

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Claptrap

Claptrap: (n) absurd or nonsensical talk or ideas.

“Come, let us reason together.”

If we’re going to accept the idea that politicians lie, how will we know when they’re telling the truth?

If women want to be equal but still think it’s “kind of cool” when guys open doors for them, how will they ever gain equal footing?

Our generation is filled with the claptrap of contradictions. We want to insist that we’re not bigoted as we awkwardly use a phrase like “African American.”

We want to appear intelligent as we negate the value of studying history to learn what to avoid in our past.

We think if we say something stupid enough times, it becomes smart. Silliness is silliness, whether it’s promoted or not.

There is a lot of claptrap–a lot of concession that things are rotten but perhaps they’re meant to be that way.

There is angst in our souls because we are weary of hypocrisy, yet unwilling to cease being hypocritical.

Claptrap is when we speak things that seem to be popular in the moment even though in our hearts they ring untrue.

It fills the air with fake helium, causing all of us to talk funny.

We are a country which has accepted claptrap as being inevitable instead of squinting at it and offering a quizzical, “Pardon me??”

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Clampdown

Clampdown: (n) a severe or concerted attempt to suppress something.

I was a parent to six sons.

Three of them were my biological offspring, and for the other three, I was more or less a godfather (minus kissing the ring and slaughtering
my enemies).

Different experiences bring different quality. As a parent, you would love to pass on that sage wisdom to your children. It’s not really an issue of morality–it’s just that certain activities suck up more time, energy, heart and soul.

In other words, in the long run, they’re just not worth the payoff. For that reason, they’re rather obvious–but not to a fifteen year old kid.

  • Smoking looks cool until you start coughing.
  • Drinking may seem sophisticated until you vomit on your favorite pants.
  • Multiple sex partners almost seem ordained until your crotch starts to itch and you need a shot of penicillin.

So how is it possible to pass on to the growing organisms in your household how to avoid the stupidity of certain activities which not only fail to deliver in ultimate satisfaction, but certainly can be dangerous?

After conversations, pleadings and reasoning comes the possibility of clamping down.

Since your children will not remove themselves from temptation, you make a vain effort to take temptation far away from them. Of course, historically this only increases the fervent interest of the hapless adolescent.

I never drank, I never smoked, I never looked at a snapshot of porn–but all of my children, to some degree, have investigated these vices as if communing with a vicar.

I wish I could tell you that clamping down is an effective means of eliminating foolishness. But since being a fool is in the storehouse of every human being, whether we like it or not, he or she will probably pull it out at one time or another–and give it a spin.

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Charity

Charity: (n) the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

“I’m no charity case!”

It is a statement often flung in my direction when I’m attempting to be generous to someone who obviously could use some bolstering.

The statement is prideful statement, and unfortunately, doused in ignorance. For truly, there is not a soul among us who does not
occasionally require the charity provided by strangers.

In viewing my abundant life, there have been many times when I have possessed finance to fund an unnecessary, extravagant dinner–and also specific occasions when a dollar bill lit up and danced before my eyes because its arrival was truly divinely inspired.

If we go with the Old English definition of charity–which is love–the desperation each of us possesses to be loved is incomprehensible.

Denying it makes us look like foolish, pouting children.

Demanding it too often has the whiff of the charlatan.

So I have a simple saying in my life:

“May those around me who happen to arrive at just the right moment to come to my aid find me busy doing my best, unaware that they are on their way.”

 

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Brigadier

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Brigadier: (n) a rank of officer in the army, above colonel and below major general.

Sometimes foolishness gets a pass, but it has to be legitimate foolishness. Dictionary BI’m talking about that fresh kind that just slipped out of your stupid brain because of your ignorance. If you’ve done foolishness before, you can’t claim that it’s “innocent foolishness.”

I did a foolish thing.

I was so young, self-inspired and full of false confidence that life decided not to punish me for my presumption.

My younger brother decided to join the army. Considering he had never even played with army men and walked with the sensitivity of a marshmallow, the idea was ludicrous. But it was in full swing before any of us realized that he had sauntered off to be a soldier.

The first we knew of it was upon receiving a call from basic training, where he pleaded for us to “get him out of there”–or he was going to commit suicide.

Now, I can discuss with you the unfairness of him placing me in that situation, but instead, I will tell you that in an attempt to be a good big brother, I called the army base where he was doing his imitation of G.I. Joe, and talked to a Brigadier General. Now, I don’t know exactly what a Brigadier General is, but it sounds a whole lot more important than me.

For some reason, he took my call. I don’t know why. Maybe he was just a nice guy. Maybe he couldn’t believe that someone was asking for his younger brother to be released from basic training.

His first inclination was to laugh at me. After all, you can’t maintain a volunteer army while promising a money-back guarantee. If everyone who was displeased with the accommodations at “Fort Kick Your Ass” was released immediately, we wouldn’t have enough soldiers to march in a small-town parade.

So on the first call he chuckled.

On my second call, he took the fatherly approach, explaining how the military works.

On the third call he appealed to my patriotism.

On call 54, he asked me if I knew how powerful he was.

But somewhere along the line, on the 93rd call, he paused. This is what the Brigadier asked me:

“You’re going to keep calling me until we release him, aren’t you?”

I replied, “You can just stop taking my calls.”

“Then I would have a suicidal assistant to deal with,” he presented.

I really don’t know what happened.

I don’t know if what I said made any difference at all.

But this fine Brigadier General realized that I was sincere and that my brother was not even suited to the rigors of being a back-up in the chorus line.

They released him.

It was a miracle.

But actually, it was an expansive piece of grace … granted by a man who was trained to be ruthless.

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