Decline

Decline: (v) to deny consent to

There’s a reason it’s popular.

It is the easiest word in the English language to say.

“No.”

It also fits in well. Since the universe is negatively charged, it seems natural to be prepared to match it with an attitude.

Why should I be open-minded?

Why should I agree to something, knowing that as soon as I do, it will become much more complicated than how it was originally explained to me?

“No” is powerful.

“I decline,” he said. (That even sounds kind of regal.)

But every “no” comes with a shadow—a murky, cloudy covering unleashed by a breathy “what if.”

What if I hadn’t said no?

What if I hadn’t declined?

Would it have been good?

Would I have enjoyed myself?

Would the universe seem more universal?

Would peace be more peaceful?

Would “happy” have an extra p?

I don’t know.

No—I don’t know.

For you see, “no” will never lose its appeal.

It always makes us feel like we’re in charge—and nobody can tell us what to do.

But it also makes us wonder, as we walk away:

What in the hell did I miss?

 

Dealership

Dealership: (n) a sales agency or distributor

I was a full-grown man, but when our family car blew up, I was feeling a great need to do something powerful. I needed to restore my position of respect with my children.

I had three thousand dollars. It was enough to buy another car if I had shopped well and hadn’t been in a huge hurry to convey a message to my offspring that I was in control.

I wasn’t in control.

I was still reeling a bit from my all-time favorite car giving up—and also way to eager to replace it without missing a beat.

I located the place in our town where car dealerships congregated to practice their “religion on wheels.” Driving among them, I immediately saw a Grand Marquis that was just stunning.

So I stopped in and talked to Bob. I don’t know whether his name actually was Bob, but it seemed reassuring displayed on his nametag. Bob told me the Grand Marquis was thirty-five hundred dollars.

My two oldest sons were with me on the trip.

They still thought I hung the moon after God displayed the stars.

I wanted to appear omnipotent. I needed to negotiate Bob down to the mat and pin him with a price of my choosing instead of his.

So I told Bob all I had was twenty-nine hundred dollars. He rolled his eyes. He said it was “impossible.” He even walked away to talk to a boss to see if something could be done.

In the process of all this negotiating, I actually cracked through Bob’s sales pitch to a real person. I didn’t know it. I thought I was dominating and was gradually getting what I wanted.

When he finally and reluctantly agreed to sell me the car for twenty-nine hundred flat and we were in the last stages of the paperwork, Bob looked up at me and smiled.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was seeing a father with his sons, or maybe he was tired of overstating the quality of the vehicles he sold just to make a buck.

Then he did something I believe he probably had never done before.

He tried to talk me out of it.

Not aggressively. He just said, “Now, you do know the odometer reads 162,000 miles. Right?”

I was drunk on my own cleverness. I just nodded my head.

Now, Bob wasn’t a saint. He wasn’t going to push it further. He wasn’t going to be totally forthcoming. Matter of fact, it probably gave him an aching pain in the head to offer the odometer number.

But I was determined.

My sons were smiling at me. They thought the car was cool. So I drove it off the lot, pridefully believing I had struck the best deal of my life.

We had immediate problems with it.

I called Bob back. He had forgotten how wonderful our interaction had been and was back to being “Bob the Car Dealer” at his dealership.

I took the car in to have it checked out and found out the vehicle had been in a flood, and therefore the electrical system was contorted, and the engine had water in the oil.

I drove that car for exactly three months. It was a classic case of being beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside.

One night, coming home on the freeway, it caught fire and burned up a goodly portion of the engine.

My complete stupidity and arrogance had played out.

But I always gave Bob from the dealership, grace points because some creeping spider of conscience forced him to offer a kind, but unheeded, warning.

Conquer

Conquer: (v) to overcome and take control of

I have actually lived long enough to be in a society where seemingly intelligent and even well-educated men are bragging about how high their testosterone numbers are.

That is because, as a people, we have embraced the notion that conquering is achieved by domination.

If that were so, there would still be a Roman Empire. No one ever put together a more formidable force or intimidating presence than Rome.  funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But eventually they were dominated and therefore, conquered.

Yet enduring throughout all that shifting and shaping, the simple words of a Nazarene carpenter not only survived, but prospered–becoming arguably the most powerful message on Earth.

It all spawned from the notion that it is possible, and even necessary, to be more than a conqueror.

A conqueror, as he monitors his testosterone level, is only content when he is dominating and victorious.

But to be more than a conqueror is to find ways to be useful, powerful and on point–even when the strength and authority is not in your control.

This is the message that will survive all the huffing and puffing of the big, bad wolves.

This is the brick house of hope.

It is the principle which states that merely conquering people does not change them to your way of thinking.

So gradually changing them to your way of thinking is perhaps the only way to truly conquer.

 

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Cage

Cage: (n) a structure of bars or wires in which animals are confined

Even though Maya Angelou seems to know “Why the Caged Bird Sings,” I, myself, do not.

I believe in the power to overcome negative circumstances, but such an endeavor always takes a toll.

A loss of simplicity.

A leaking of faith.

Some intangible that departs the soul because we struggled too much to maintain normalcy.

There are three cages.

Undoubtedly, one is the cage we build inside ourselves to limit our passion while justifying such a move by having lengthy explanations to quantify our fears. We’re never able to adequately interact with others or fathom why they would be interested in any person like us–locked up.

There’s also the cage right beyond our space–a barrier we’ve created that says since we’re a father, mother, religious, addicted, black, white, brown, gay, straight, male or female, we are not going to be able to cross the bars of that enclosure and enter into a larger hemisphere of fellowship. We try but we pull back in horror, fearing that the barricade is electrified to discourage our noble effort.

Then there’s the cage that is somewhere out there. We don’t know where it is. We can’t see it. It’s the boundary of our limitation. We don’t speculate on what it may be, but instead, explore all terrain until confronted by the wall. Perhaps we can avoid it. Yes, maybe we never have to reach the edge of our understanding and ability.

So in the meantime, we can pretend that we’re powerful.

 

 

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Blame

Blame: (v) to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.

I’m always looking for a true definition of maturity.Dictionary B

Having rejected the possibility of “old, experienced, educated or powerful,” I have decided that true maturity is when human beings finally reject the futility of blaming.

Blame–the extra step we add in the process of allegedly solving problems while actually manufacturing a maze that takes us deep into the jungle of confusion.

We exhaust ourselves trying to find out why stupidity happens by generating new stupidity through the investigation.

  • Sometimes blame is obvious. Then mercy is in order.
  • On other occasions blame is shared. At that point, some candor would be nice.

But blame is often a mystery. As the great and wise Solomon said, “Time and chance happens to all.”

Yea, we all take our turn in the fast lane–and also stalled in the traffic jam.

For of a truth, maturity is when we finally realize that pursuing the source of the difficulty often hinders the solution.

And unfortunately, it also turns us into self-righteous, judgmental black holes.

 

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Be

Be: (v) to exist.Dictionary B

Since we all exist because our parents got horny, we may want to come along and glamorize the story a little bit. Otherwise, we occasionally are overwhelmed by the futility of life, and may even wonder why we were born in the first place.

This demands a certain amount of arrogance.

Since having a baby is so easy that even dumb people accomplish it, we can’t exactly stomp around and claim that we are part of some sort of cosmic eruption or heavenly proclamation.

Finding a “be” is what is necessary to make us content.

And without contentment, we stop being happy, which makes us annoying and causes other people to wish we’d never been born,

I’m not quite sure which is worse–is it my self-doubt concerning my value, or whether everyone around me doubts my value?

So how do you find your be in a C minus world?

How do you discover how to translate a collision of chromosomes into a beautiful, chromatic, climbing scale of living glory?

1. Never think you’re better than anyone else.

Since we all came from an egg, we should all work on being “good eggs.”

2. Don’t be satisfied with your talent.

Use it and multiply it. Otherwise, you’ll wonder why people don’t appreciate you for doing the same thing you did last year.

3. Be aware.

There is nothing sexier or more powerful, intelligent, profitable and viable than noticing what’s going on around you.

If you take these three things and put them into practice, then you have a chance to not only live a blessed life … but to be instead of not to be.

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Albatross

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Albatross: (n) 1. a very large oceanic bird, some with wingspans of more than ten feet, found mostly in southern oceans. 2. a source of frustration: e.g. the albatross of marriage.

I have an albatross–something hanging around my neck, dragging me down, or at least, making my journey cumbersome.

I don’t like to admit it, because rationalizing the cause and effect is one of my great joys in life–of which I have become extremely proficient.

Yes, vice can quickly become our voice if we don’t silence its raging.

You see, here’s the problem–it’s not really an evil. It’s more of a condition. But what I fail to realize is that every condition is viewed by others to be a vice if they are not also plagued by it, but instead, stand on the sidelines and comment on the error in my trials.

I’m fat.

I’ve always been fat. Being born at twelve-and-a-half pounds, I got a jump-start on large diapers and husky pants.

When I was younger, it was intriguing because I could spin my obesity as “power, might and strength.” I don’t know if I was actually successful at communicating my image, but I convinced myself that I was just “big-boned and muscular.”

After all, it didn’t keep me from achieving my goals. It certainly didn’t hinder my interaction with the ladies.

But now I realize there’s a missing element in my understanding of myself, because I will never know exactly what I could have achieved had I taken the time to figure out how to “lighten the load” of my wagon.

  • How many people passed on hearing my message because they were even temporarily put off by the packaging?
  • On how many occasions did I burst into perspiration when others were standing around, cool as a cucumber, thus making it clear that I had strained myself due to my circumference?
  • And what is the mysterious number of decisions I made to avoid certain possibilities because inwardly I felt they were too strenuous for my frame?

An albatross is an awkward bird. It gives me pause today … how much higher I could have flown … as an eagle.