Dad

Dad: (n) informal for father.

It’s really two stories.

There was the story that should have happened and then, the tale that truly unfolded.

It is impossible for me to be an unbeliever. I don’t think I’m gullible, but I have seen enough surprising things come to fruition that I can no longer muster the doubt of Brother Thomas.

For you see, I should never have been a dad.

Don’t misinterpret the statement. I don’t want you to think that I despised the position or even that I wish it had happened differently.

But I also want you to realize that each time I became a dad, there was no planning, no bank account prepared and often not even a correct determination on the time of the blessed arrival.

I shall not get into all of those stories with this one essay.

Suffice it to say, I was a singer, a songwriter, a piano player, a vagabond—and I was a brat about never wanting to work for anyone else. As you can see right there, I perhaps should be eliminated for consideration for “father of the year.”

So I did it all with my children.

While I was teaching them to be better humans, they were teaching me how to be a good dad.

That’s the way it should be.

As long as you’re willing to look like an ass, identify it quickly and then change your mind, your kids will love you to death.

I drug my kids all over the country.

I had them playing instruments on stage in front of audiences.

I home-schooled some of them.

I lost one child along the way to a hit-and-run car accident.

And somehow or another, all the others arrived at adulthood, found magnificent partners, and are living full-blown, solvent, intelligent and spirited lives.

I will take credit for the fact that I was there, remained, repented and transformed.

But still—someone sprinkled something onto the mess, to turn it into a passable casserole.

What does it mean to be a dad?

  1. Be prepared to be watched twenty-four hours a day.
  2. Be prepared to be wrong—and admit it.
  3. Be prepared to laugh at your children when they act like you’re killing them because of a discipline you must levy.
  4. Have a life of your own, so they can see what you think is important.
  5. Encourage their mother in front of them.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  7. Take them—your children—very seriously.
  8. When it’s obvious to them that you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t pretend you have a secret plan.
  9. Don’t try to be a best friend to their best friends.
  10. Try as hard as you can to never embarrass them.

Even though I was not a natural, I decided to naturally learn from the experience instead of giving up on it.

Now, my sons are dads.

My grandchildren call them that.

And I sit back in my resolute journey and watch my sons learn how to become “Dad.”

 

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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Comedian

Comedian: (n) an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh

If you tell a couple of jokes at several parties in a row, you’ll start hearing your friends proclaim, “You could be a comedian!”

And when you bashfully turn your head, they insist, “No, no! You could do stand-up.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when we prove our worth by knowing how little we are.

I’ve been funny all my life. I know how to make people laugh. That does not make me a comedian.

That makes me lucky.

That makes me interesting.

Sometimes it even makes me valuable.

But to sustain a routine which continually makes people laugh is truly a masterful gift.

Even though I, myself, would not want to try stand-up comedy, I have taken the time to study it quite thoroughly. It has three major ingredients:

  1. You have to be willing to insult people because you’ve already insulted yourself.
  2. You need to be overcoming something and not afraid to talk about it in vivid or even gross detail.
  3. You need to insert just enough pathos and emotion that the audience is breathless to hear more.

Now, if you think a mere amateur can pull off these things, you should go out and sign up for open mic night–at your local pizza place.

 

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Chiller

Chiller: (n) short for spine-chiller.

My parents tried.

As I get older, I vaguely understand that my mother and father attempted to comprehend what was in the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy.

They didn’t do well–that’s why I used the word “tried.” Maybe I should have added “and failed.”

But once a month they would let me have some friends over to spend the night on Friday evening, and after my parents went to bed, we would gather in front of the only television in the house, which happened to be in the living room, and watch “Chiller Theater.”

The movies weren’t really scary–they were 1930′ or 1940’s ilk, chocked-full of silly props and plagued with over-acting.

But with seven or eight young boys in a dark house, poking each other and wrestling, the experience soon turned into a scream fest.

My father would appear from the bedroom, which was adjacent to the living room in our tiny bungalow, and mutter something to the effect of, “You boys need to keep it down.” But my recollection of how it sounded in my ears was: “Youwse keep the clown.”

So since the order was vague, we would quiet ourselves for a small period of time, and soon be right back to the decibels necessary to make us feel like we were really partying.

I think my parents hated “Chiller Theater” night. This was proven by the fact that they always insisted, when the fourth Friday came around, that I had added incorrectly, and it wouldn’t be until next week. Unfortunately for them, I carried a calendar with me and pointed out their mistake.

So when I hear the word “chiller,” I think of six or seven pubescent and pre-pubescent boys gathered in a tiny living room, wrestling, trying desperately not to knock over furniture, while screaming just enough to prove that we were the true “Monsters of Might” instead of those displayed on the screen before us.

 

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Children

Children: (n) plural form of child.

Four sons were brought into this world by my sexual cooperation. In other words, I’m their dad.

Three other young gentlemen arrived on my doorstep because they were no longer safe and sound in their home environment.

As I look back on it, I must be truthful–because I’m a writer, a vagabond, a searcher and a proclaimer, I may not have been the best choice of a man to have
children. Fortunately for me, my offspring generally disagree.

My approach with children was really simple: I have a life. It is my time to have a life. You are welcome to come along if you don’t complain too much.

They quickly became convinced that their dad was cool, because he wasn’t like other dads. Of course, when they came into their teen years, they became critical of me not being like other dads. The charm of my uniqueness had worn off.

Children exist for two reasons:

  1. To remind us how bratty human beings really are.
  2. To give us a chance through instruction, love and tenderness to make a better generation.

I cuddled with my children but I never coddled them.

I loved them but I avoided getting lovey-dovey.

I gave to them, but never gave into their demands.

I respected them as long as they respected themselves.

I laughed with them as long as they realized there was a season to weep.

And when it was time for them to move on, I granted them the autonomy to be themselves without feeling loaded down with ancient family history.

The Good Book says we are the children of God. It’s very true–because after all, we are a bratty group which needs discipline, but still possesses the potential of bringing new hope for a new generation.

 

 

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Cavalier

Cavalier: (adj) showing a lack of proper concern; offhand.

If we can laugh at it, we can mock it.

If we can mock it, we can make it seem insignificant.

If we can make it seem insignificant, we can deny its importance.

If we can deny its importance, we can stop doing it.

A nasty little process that’s being practiced every day in the entertainment industry, politics and even religion.

The cavalier approach we take to essential issues is damnable. You cannot take life-giving activities and place them on pedestals and put them in the museum of
“practices of the past” without setting up the destruction of our species.

Every morning I get up and ask myself, “What is important?”

It’s not important that my eggs are over-easy. That’s just nice.

It’s not important that my coffee was made correctly. That would be amazing.

It’s not important that my car did not start. That sets up a possibility for a lasting repair.

It is important that I have enough self-awareness to be aware of the other “selves” I will encounter.

To take the cavalier attitude that certain situations, certain occupations and certain people don’t really matter because they are either impossible to handle or not worth the time is the definition of hell on Earth.

After all, hell is the absence of God.

And God is the presence of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

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Body Language

Body language: (n) the process of communicating nonverbally through conscious or unconscious gestures

Dictionary B

Normally, if “body” has a language, it’s fussiness.

By the time our little ticks, twits and jerks become obvious to those around us, we have festered frustration for way too long.

We are intended to be heart creatures, where emotions crop up and we share them with the anticipation of salvaging the good, and having a hearty laugh over the rest.

Yet for those who are afraid to share their feelings, there is a soul. It also gives us a doorway to communication through confession. If we haven’t taken advantage of our heart, to be clean, we can confess our faults to one another and be healed.

But there are those who do not believe in the soul, and for them, there is the brain. So these folks can use the mind to stimulate discussion with others, introducing topics they may not want to confess, but can still garner food for thought.

But when we fail to share, confess or discuss, our inner grumbling comes out through our body language–as our skin literally crawls within the view of others.

  • If you can’t share, confess.
  • If you can’t confess, discuss.

But if you fail to stimulate the discussion, be prepared for your little twitches to be analyzed by the skeptics around you.

 

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