Cloister

Cloister: (v) to seclude or shut up in

It is the universal discovery–or perhaps better stated, pursuit–of every human being: will we discover the better use of our brain before we
uncover the more pleasant use of our genitals?

It has caused parents to hide, protect, imprison, box up and threaten their children for generations.

We are so afraid that our offspring will do things just as stupid as we did–so we figure the best path is to place them on an emotional or even physical desert island, “far from the madding crowd.”

Unfortunately, other parents have the same idea, so one way or another, our children find one another, and learn to clump and hump.

What is it we’re so afraid of?

  • Unwanted pregnancy.
  • Our children marrying before they get their driver’s license.
  • Little Billy or Sally spending their whole lives on welfare, wondering whether six children is too few or too many.
  • Or perhaps having so many lovers that they eventually just dry up and blow away in a whirlwind of fornication.

Even though guiding children–and ourselves–is a very good idea, cloistering has never worked. The human animal always escapes the care of the human spirit, to roam the jungle, panting for danger.

So what should we do?

No one knows.

Good parenting has nothing to do with pursuing a path, but instead, looking down the available paths … and avoiding the dead-end streets.

 

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Claim

Claim: (v) to state or assert that something is the case

I often find myself caught between the emphasis in our society on speaking up for oneself and the wisdom of the ages, which quietly screams, “Shut the hell up.”

I sometimes tremble when I hear people make claims. I especially find it curious when men or women insist they are great lovers. Oh my
God–that’s one that is proven out fairly easily, and can certainly leave you with your pants down.

Why do we need to claim? Maybe Yoda was right. “No try. Just do.”

But for some reason, the braggadocio that precedes our efforts makes us feel reassured. Maybe it’s because we know that when the game is over and the score is tallied, we’re going to lose, so we might as well have some pre-game appreciation.

I don’t know.

But most of the claims human beings make are altered by circumstance, lack of talent, nerves, superior fire-power or just dumb luck. For after all, time and chance happens to each of us.

Recently I was asked at a party, “What is it you do?”

I piped back, “Are you asking what I claim to do? Or what actually gets done?”

They looked at me with a hint of a smile, but perplexed. After all, I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do–tout the bloated extent of my capabilities.

For what would happen if we claimed less, and then, on rare occasions, ended up doing more? Isn’t that the true definition of a genius? Someone who scores higher than expected. Someone who exceeds expectation. Or someone who fills a need that seemed unfillable.

I don’t claim much.

Maybe my best claim is that I don’t have really anything to claim.

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Cheat

Cheat: (v) to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage

Some people compare the human brain to a computer.

There may be truth to that–though the brain is capable of much more reasoning and processing.

But one of the similarities that would hold true is that the brain does maintain a browser. It has a listing of most recent files, frequently viewed files, and even files we think we’ve deleted.

Every once in a while, they’ll just pop up and remind us that the mind doesn’t always find ways to be kind.

It’s a little piece of nastiness.

So it runs a tally.

How many murders have we watched in television and movies over the past six months?

How many shows on the beauty of Antarctica and gorgeous flower displays from India?

How many scenes of pornography and the abuse of the female body have crossed our eyes in comparision to the downloads we have perused of mothers loving their children and women conquering prejudice, to be successful in business?

Because our browser is filled with corruption, we cheat.

  • We cheat on our taxes.
  • We cheat on our lovers.
  • We cheat ourselves out of blessing because cursing is so easily available.
  • We cheat our children out of intimacy in favor of a quick trip to the amusement park.
  • We cheat our talent out of the privilege of being used in a creative way while constantly bitching about the limitations of our job.

We cheat.

And then, fearing that we will be revealed as cheaters, we develop a honeycomb of intertwined lies, which now buzz from our lips with far too much glib precision.

Where will our cheating take us?

Well, we certainly don’t think anybody is going to be better than us, so it turns us into suspicious, angry and vindictive neighbors.

We cheat.

Mostly, we cheat ourselves.

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Allure

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Allure: 1. (n) the quality of being powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating 2. (v) to powerfully charm

One of the things that tickles me about society and human beings as a whole is how quickly we come to the conclusion that we know what we’re talking about, and then actively pursue a path which in the end often proves itself to be erred.

Such is the situation with the concept of attraction, of, if you will, being alluring.

As a man, I was taught that women like muscles, strong bodies, great good looks and sexual prowess. And I believe I can speak freely to say that women are trained to hold dear that beauty, large breasts, femininity and bit of sheepish submission is required in order to allure a man.

Simultaneously, we reject these stereotypes in our more intellectual exchanges as being ridiculous and strident.

But it doesn’t change the patter within the sexes nor has that enlightened view yet reached our entertainment sources.

Here’s what I think is alluring:

1. Don’t be stupid. If you find yourself caught in a stupid situation, quickly laugh at yourself, learn and come out smarter.

2. Don’t be ugly. Everybody has an attribute of some sort which they can play up, as they play down their warts and moles.

3. Know how to carry on a conversation. I call it “the second question.” Most people know how to ask one question, but they don’t know how to follow up on that answer with a second inquiry, which keeps the conversation alive.

4. Be funny. And that does not mean making fun of other people. It actually means that a certain amount of poking at oneself is necessary to create the humility that makes us adorable.

5. And finally, don’t stink. Yes, work on how you smell. Very little is more repugnant in the human experience than an odor which overcomes any desire to welcome closeness.

There you go.

I’m not a particularly attractive person, but I have never lacked friends, lovers and the ability to allure people my way. I will grant you that it doesn’t hurt to be stunningly handsome or gorgeous.

But if you don’t have these other five things lined up in a salute to that physical appearance, your lovely visage can become distasteful very quickly.

How do we allure human beings? By admitting that we’re human … and not ashamed of it.

Abelard

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abelard: Peter (1079 – 1142) French scholar, theologian and philosopher. He is famous for his tragic love affair with his student, Heloise.

“Tragic love affair.”

You know what’s tragic about it? Old Pete and Heloise let circumstance keep them apart and decided to pretend they were in love at a distance instead of chasing each other down and living together for the rest of their lives.

You see, that’s the problem with romance. At first, it’s just too romantic. It later becomes real. Then it often ends up disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with having a silly infatuation filled with love letters, flowers and candy. To say anything against that would be like storming the gates of heaven with a butter knife.

But you can add one thing to your romantic tizzy when you’re first getting started with a new possibility. The two of you can sit down in a moment of non-sexual blur and decide how to handle confrontation–because confrontation is essential in a relationship. This may shock you, but it ends up that we really don’t love our lovers “just the way they are.”

So rather than being five years down the road and waking up one morning realizing that for some unexplained reason you have fallen out of love with your former-hot-mama, it might just be a good idea to deal with the smaller problems when they come up–and have a way to talk them through instead of just tolerating them because you’re horny.

Yes, if Old Pete and Heloise had said to one another, “We’re in love, but we’ve got some problems here with people interfering and both of us are a little bit chicken to fight the critics, so maybe together we can come up with a backbone between us…”

Well, if they had done that, they might have ended up together instead of being listed in the  Dictionary as a “tragic love affair.”

It is true that love is a many splendid thing–but it becomes even better when you find your voice and you’re able to share, fairly candidly, your heart’s desire.