Croup

Croup: (n) any condition of the larynx characterized by a hoarse cough and difficult breathing.

One of the more annoying aspects of writing a column or posting a blog on the Internet is what seems to be the incessant need to talk about life beginning with how it relates to yourself.

I will be honest—I don’t think I am as interesting as other folks do.

I don’t know whether this is even possible, but I have often felt I was boring myself.

But when I saw the word “croup” today, I couldn’t resist relating a piece of personal identity concerning the condition.

Up until five years of age, I was sickly.

Chubby, round-faced and ill. (Very attractive for young parents.)

Every time I caught a cold, it went into my chest and I mustered a hacking cough which eventually made it difficult to breathe. So my mother often rushed me into the bathroom, turned on all the faucets with hot water, and sat there with me in the steam, hoping my croup would clear.

It was so bad one night that the town doctor was called to come to our little bungalow.

He  felt compelled to give me a shot of adrenalin in the heart to keep me among the living.

Yet somewhere along the line—about the age of six—I began to improve. It was a good thing, because on top of my croup, I was festered with an inability to master swallowing pills, and the only real treatment for my condition were these huge, white sulfa tablets, which greatly resembled horse pills.

So yes—because I could not swallow them, I had to chew them up—two at a time, every four hours.

When the reprieve came and “croup” decided to become a part of my past, I was jubilant. Later on we discovered that because my dad was a cigarette smoker, the air quality in our little home was not conducive to my fussy lungs.

So even though I shared this story with you in candor, and the years have certainly passed, and I have proven myself to be more balanced for the human environment…

I still feel like a Willy Wonka Wimp.

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Counterproductive

Counterproductive: (adj) tending to defeat one’s purpose

I think it is wisdom to take a moment—maybe even sit down—and consider what it means to be a productive person.

There are five words that come to my mind:

  1. Solvent
  2. Temperate
  3. Loving
  4. Generous
  5. Focused

Now, there may be others, but you can take these five attributes, blend them together and end up with a productive human life.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

So let’s take a moment and consider what is counterproductive.

Starting with Number 1, solvent, I would assume the counter would be financially in need, as impulsive would be the opposite of temperate.

Let’s move along. Shall we say that spiteful might be considered counterproductive to loving? And stingy undoubtedly would discourage generosity.

Distracted certainly is the antithesis of focused.

So what do you get when you put together a human life which is financially in need, impulsive, spiteful, stingy and distracted?

It seems to me that you might end up with the American culture—so intent on individual families that it lacks vision for the entire humanity on Earth, and also so entwined with the Internet that opportunity which often stumbles into the room is ignored in favor of binge-watching.

I’m not so sure you can build a human being of quality, soul or mercy by trying to emphasize counterproductive values.

I think our first step into escaping our own trap of inefficiency is to realize that we’re all in this together—over the seven continents, all of the countries, all the races, all the religions and both genders.

In doing so, we might begin to produce instead of having our fruit rot on the vine.


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Couch Potato

Couch potato: (n) a person whose leisure time is spent watching television.

Quietly listen or observe the contradictions around you and you will be able to accurately assess what is true and what is just the present jabbering fad.

For I will tell you, it is completely impossible to be so busy that you “just don’t know what you’re going to do,” and still have enough time to binge-watch a television show or an Internet series.

One of these two thoughts does not go with the other.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

In similar fashion, it is highly unlikely that we are on the verge of equality between men and women when every romantic comedy has a female protagonist who is completely dissatisfied with her life of business success and financial gain, but according to the plot of the screenplay, must find a man or she will be despaired.

Likewise, be careful listening to those who threaten that couch potatoes—people who spend more time sitting than moving—are in great danger of shortening their lives.

It’s a toss-up.

I’ve met people a hundred years old who worked hard all their days—and just as many who may have never actually gotten out of a chair.

There doesn’t seem to be any universal reasoning for who gets heart disease, the big C, a stroke or any other variety of deadly disorders simply based on whether they rose from their couch and walked around more than anyone else.

Matter of fact, I have bought potatoes at the store, put them into my pantry, and come back many weeks later and found that they were still edible. Potatoes seem to have an impressive lifespan.

So beware those who think they can sum up everything in life with an exercise program or people who think what you eat doesn’t make any difference at all.

Here’s a clue—an idea that just might have legs and feet:

If you’re planning on binge-watching something like “Game of Thrones” for the next eight hours, just make sure you’re snacking on salads and seeds instead of pizza and Big Macs.


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Cornhusker

Cornhusker: (n) a Nebraskan

It would be much easier to claim that you’re a cow if you’re able to chew your cud and moo. Producing milk would also be a positive.

When I graduated from high school and opted not to go to college because my wife and I were pregnant with possibilities, I realized that I did funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
not want to be the kind of guy who didn’t go to college and worked at the kind of job this kind of guy is forced to take.

I liked music. I thought I had some talent.

No one ever actually sat down with me and made suggestions on how to use my ability or guided me in a direction of turning my existing efforts into some sort of cash flow.

I was told that I was not allowed to do anything but get a job and take care of my family.

I didn’t want to do that.

Now, I’m not asking you to side with me on this issue, nor am I desiring your cultural rebuke. I’m just explaining that if I were claiming to be a singer and a musician, I needed to go “music” somewhere.

So discovering in a very obscure newspaper a notice that there was a coffeehouse opening up in Kearney, Nebraska, I contacted the fellow beginning it on the phone, told him about my little group, and said that we would love to come and share at his new venue. He was thrilled (since we were from Ohio and he was all the way in Nebraska.)

It didn’t even cross my mind to look at a map. Before I knew it, the gentleman invited us to come and sing at the coffeehouse with the promise that he would “help out with gas.”

At that point in my life I had a van which creaked and squeaked just driving around town, threatening to break down at a moment’s notice. I didn’t care. Nor did my three other comrades.

We set out for Kearney, Nebraska. Matter of fact, when I began this essay today, I had to look up how far it was from Columbus, Ohio, to Kearney, Nebraska. I am so glad I didn’t have the Internet back then, because the distance one way is 968.4 miles.

We packed in some soft drinks, made some sandwiches, gathered as much money as we could borrow and pull out of couch cushions, and took off. We joked about “touring to the Cornhusker State,” never realizing that it would be many, many hours—twelve to be exact—before we would be anywhere near those who were traditionally proclaimed “huskers of corn.”

I’m happy to report that we actually made it there.

As is often the case, the opportunity was even smaller than I could have imagined. But the fourteen people who showed up said they were really impressed with our songs and happy we had made the trip. They gave us thirty dollars for our gasoline, a bushel of sweet corn and a peck of apples.

It was my first payday.

The round trip, as you can imagine, ended up being nearly two thousand miles.

But I was young, looking for an adventure, and especially trying to find a way to escape—for one week—from hearing all the town cronies telling me what a deadbeat I was.


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Convalescing

Convalescing: (v) to recover health and strength after illness

If you will allow me, I will outline the process:

  1. I am sick.

I am not just “under the weather.” I am not “fighting off something.” I am not struggling with allergies.

  1. I am prepared to receive assistance.

Having used up my favorite rabbit’s foot and gone through the Internet to try several homeopathic methods, I am not prepared to do what is necessary to get 
well.

  1. I will understand and honor the procedure.

Even though there are many medications for a cold and the flu, the old adage, “3 days coming, 3 days with you and 3 days leaving” is pretty much on point. The goal is to try to even those nine days out, into one common, more tolerable passage of misery.

  1. I will start doing things that keep me well, and begin convalescing toward better health in the future.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer. He wanted prayer to be healed. I saw nothing wrong with that, so I joined in agreement. Three days later, when nothing got better, I walked into his room and he was smoking cigarettes again. I said, “What the hell?”

He replied, “The damage is already done. Might as well enjoy my exit.”

If you’re not ready for your exit, start convalescing by treating your ailments for what they are, and then find ways, through good health, good eating and good attitudes, to scare them away.

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Contrite

Contrite: (adj) filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement; penitent

The times in my life when I was truly sorry, I’ve been so contrite that I could barely speak.

I was afraid to utter a word. It might fail to communicate the depth of my anguish.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I simply sat, looking at the offended person and attempted to use my eyes to communicate the pain I felt inside. I had no desire to be glib and did not want to explain my position, and I certainly didn’t want to post it as a public statement on the Internet.

So great was my sadness over my actions that my contrite heart choked my words, leaving me with nothing more than gestures and tears.

Contrition is a magnificent experience in our journey. It is where we confirm that we’ve actually succeeded in graduating from being a baby, survived adolescence—becoming a full-fledged human being.

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Contest

Contest: (n) a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize.

I have been accumulating definitions, perusing the Internet and overhearing conversations, speeches and diatribes.

I have discovered that there are many explanations offered for life. Maybe perspectives would be a better term.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

For instance, some folks say, “Life is a journey.” My difficulty with that particular comparison is that life requires us to stop and start so often that it rarely settles on a destination, but rather, requires that we develop an enjoyment of enjoyment of the jerky jaunt.

How about this? “Life is a race.” That would require everyone to be in shape to run it. Looked around lately?

The more optimistic individuals insist that “life is a blessing.” I am suspicious of those who are seeking favor from a Universe in which they appear to barely be specks.

On the other hand, life is not a curse. “It rains on the just, the unjust” and occasionally even in the desert.

So—is life a contest? And if it is, who would be the opponent? Problems? Other people? Or are we a contestant, battling our own uncertain character?

I have discovered, after all of my accumulation, that “life is a set of breathing lungs.”

So enjoy the journey.

Race if you want to.

Be surprised over the blessings.

Laugh at the curses.

And stop contesting the things that come your way.

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