Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia (Prop Noun): a former republic in central Europe formed after World War I

It was usually right before lunch in our fifth-grade class that the teacher asked us to open up our geography books.

I grew up in a small town.

In our tiny burg, the state capital, which was only twenty miles away, seemed a world apart from us in culture, problems and of course, interaction.

So when my teacher talked about places like Mississippi, Switzerland, Utah and Czechoslovakia, the names began to mingle. The relevance gradually disappeared.

I didn’t know anything about the countries.

Sometimes I confused the states of the Union with places far, far away—in Europe and Asia.

(It was a different time, filled with much prejudice—so we rarely talked about Africa. I knew there were jungles there. There were whisperings about cannibals, and my understanding of the lion was that it was man-eating.)

I didn’t feel ignorant.

I just didn’t think all of these nations and names and locales were of any value to me.

I didn’t see anybody from England coming over to try to understand me—so why was I sitting, opening a book, looking at flat maps representing a round world?

Then I grew up and took my first trip to Mississippi. Although some of its landscape was different from my home, most trees carry a family resemblance, no matter where you go. What opened up Mississippi to me was meeting someone and putting a face to a place.

As I traveled more, learned more, wrote more and created, I met more faces. They were tied to places.

One day I received an email from a young man from Czechoslovakia. He had read one of my books. I was astounded. How did it get there? Apparently, my books were not nearly as timid as I. They felt free to journey and be handled; they welcomed the inspection by people from all cultures.

By the way, his note to me was so nice.

He was so intelligent.

He was so appreciative.

It made me like Czechoslovakia.

It could be a short-sighted way of looking at life, but if I can put a face to a place, then the place begins to mean so much more to me.

For instance, I no longer think that Africa is filled with cannibals or that the lions wish to munch on human flesh.

I don’t think all people from California are “fruits and nuts,” like my Uncle Raymond claimed.

And I no longer believe that all French folk wear berets and do nothing but eat croissants and kiss with their tongues.

I guess the best way to learn geography is to first travel the width and breadth of your own heart, and make sure that you’re prepared to receive what you will discover.

The world is only twenty-six thousand miles—all the way around. Not very much. And within that twenty-six thousand miles are nearly eight billion people.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us all to believe that we would really like most of them?

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cut-throat

Cut-throat: (adj) involving the use of ruthless measures.

Human vice is not nice.

Sin will never actually win.

Mean is obscene.

Most of the end results of our actions are not accidental, but instead, deposits we’ve made which finally produce a dividend.

These deposits could be kindness, creativity, generosity, humor and tolerance.

Such soul-stirring emotions offer remedy.

But we can also deposit disappointment, despair, prejudice, anger, envy and lust.

These pernicious villains always bring about a cut-throat conclusion.

Yet the debilitating devastation left behind is not accidental.

  • It’s not because we “lost control.”
  • It’s not because we “got pushed too far.”

It’s just that we were not wise enough to know what to keep and what to throw away.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Custard Pie

Custard pie: (n) a pie made with custard

Some time ago, back when the only thing open in the middle of the night on a freeway was a truck stop, I was traveling—so sleepy that I decided I should stop at one of these establishments with my friends and get something to eat.

We were in the middle of Dixie.

Apparently had not received the notification that the Civil War had ended—because when we walked in with our long hair—a bit grimy and road-weary—the whole place fell silent.

Just in case you do not understand my meaning, this profile was not selected out of respect, but rather, to communicate shock at seeing “a bunch of hippies,” as they would have called us, stroll into the restaurant.

When I have encountered this kind of prejudice, I’ve always found that the best choice is to stay positive, don’t frown back at them, and keep your conversation within your group. Pretty soon, everybody is eager to get back to their own grits and corn beef hash.

This night was no different.

Except all I really wanted to have was just a piece of pie.

When I think of pie, I have visions of blueberry, cherry, maybe apple—but none of these were available because it was the middle of the night at a truck stop, when most people have turned off all their pie-eating instincts.

The waitress explained that all they had left was “custard pie,” which she said remained because “nobody ever orders it.”

I did. I wanted a piece of pie.

It came, and it was a rather feckless confection—a creamy, white color with just a bit of cinnamon dancing on the top.

I ate it and I loved it.

I treasured it so much that for the next several weeks, I ordered custard pie everywhere I went.

I bought one at a store. It was delicious. Some of these pies were not as good as others, but such is the travail of life. But overall, they had that gentle custard taste, with a hint of vanilla and great sweetness.

I was so enamored with custard pie, I decided to study up on how to make one for myself. I got all the ingredients, put them together, did everything according to the recipe, and ended up with a pie pan that never became solid. It still tasted all right, but it was runny.

I was so disappointed.

I never made nor did I really ever eat custard pie again.

Perhaps that’s a formula for life I should consider.

If I have a vice or if I know of a vice, if I try to do it myself and end up doing it poorly, maybe it will cure me of desiring the vice.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cuisine

Cuisine: (n) a style or quality of cooking

The things that tickle me might make one believe that I’m a cynic (if you didn’t know how adorable I am).

I can barely contain myself from laughing out loud when people pronounce the word “cuisine,” putting as much French pastry in their accent as possible.

“Cuisine” is all part of this notion that people on Earth are different from one another because of their preferences. Actually, it seems we are still trying to divide one another up like a box of Crayolas, by color. Oh, people throw a fit when they hear me say that. We all want to believe we’re enlightened and free of prejudice.

But let me tell you something very simple about cuisine:

All the people of the Earth, in their diet, have a bread, a potato-like substance, and a meat.

How they make their bread or what their potato looks like or what meat they may choose depends on what’s available.

I could travel all over the world and have no problem at all.

I would just ask, “So what is your bread, what is your potato and what is your meat?”

I think cuisine becomes interesting due to the fact that we can appreciate how each human being (who is so much like us) chooses his or her way to fill their plate.

Honestly, there are a few exceptions, but most cultures are not that fond of green, leafy vegetables, and even eat fruit only on special occasions.

Certainly if they eat more of these fruits and vegetables, they’re healthier, but that doesn’t stop the Arab, the Israeli or the Russian from favoring their particular cholesterol-filled animal flesh.

In addition, every cuisine has its version of a sweet sauce, a barbecue sauce, a catsup and a mustard.

Check it out. You’ll find it hilarious.

So if you ever find yourself going to a restaurant where they’re serving the cuisine of Africa, just take a moment and taste some things.

Pretty soon you will find on your plate their interpretation of French fries, a roll with butter and a hamburger.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crusade

Crusade: (n) any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea or cause

During one December vacation from traveling on the road, I focused in on a seven-word slogan which I planned to use for the following year’s touring.

“No one is better than anyone else.”

I was so excited I could barely contain myself.

I couldn’t think of a better crusade to embark upon, to bring people together, point out our similarities and to hearken one and all to the commonality of humankind.

When it came time to go and do the production, to emphasize this beautiful seven-word crusade for human peace, I met resistance.

People didn’t like it as much as I thought they would.

To some, it seemed to be definitive and absent the possibility for discussion. (Yes—it is absolutely true. There are people on this Earth who feel the concept of love requires a debate.)

I was offended. I was defensive.

I found myself hoping that someone would question the beauty and integrity of “no one is better than anyone else,” so that I could argue with them—knowing, of course, that my stance was pure and holy and theirs most certainly had to be riddled with prejudice.

So rather than becoming a “repairer of the breach,” I succeeded in just making a more intelligent and merciful breach.

It upset people—to be common with others.

I was ready to do battle, like the knights of old—to climb onto my stallion and go into the Holy of Holies and establish the dominance of my particular edict.

Finally, one night I just sat down and came to two conclusions:

If you find yourself fighting, you’re not loving.

And whatever is written will eventually have to be rewritten.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Cronkite

Cronkite, Walter: 1916–2009, U.S. newscaster. 

He had the right look to calm our prejudices.

The perfect voice to allay our fears.

A coiffed mustache to parallel favorite uncle.

And a serious tone to let us know he knew the hell what he was talking about.

We never could confirm if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He felt that his political leanings were inconsequential—even detrimental in delivering the news.

He cried once, when a President was shot.

And he beamed like a proud father when he saw American brothers walking on the moon.

His name was Walter Cronkite.

We don’t have anyone like him, basically because we’ve decided that people who bring us the news events from around the world need to be pretty, opinionated, over-bearing, caustic and political.

It would be difficult for the younger generation to imagine a “newsman.” They are accustomed to talking heads, pundits and rating whores.

When there was no 24-hour news cycle, but there was a need to know what was going on in the world, millions of Americans invited one man into their homes, through their singular television set which sat in the living room in a corner, offering three channels.

This man was Walter Cronkite.

We don’t know if he had fetishes, affairs or a history of juvenile delinquency. It wasn’t because he was secretive. It was because Mr. Cronkite did not believe that he mattered—only that he accurately, truthfully, and dispassionately delivered the update of what was going on in our world.

He was a treasure. He is still a treasure.

And through the miracle of video tape, he can be viewed by some of the young news gatherers, who might just gain credence by personally taking on a revival of his spirit.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Cotillion

Cotillion: (n) a formal ball given especially for debutantes.

A cotillion used to be subtitled “a coming out ball.”

Now that phrase would evoke great laughter—because “coming out” means something completely different from it did when we were funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
referring to the first time a sixteen-year-old girl was dressing up like a woman and spraying perfume in her hair.

Somewhere lodged between the fallacy that “everything in the past was better” and the hard sell of “everything now is superior” lies some sort of compromise.

Maybe if we approached the passage of time similarly to the way we eat food at a smorgasbord, we might just arrive at a blending of practices which would be satisfying and beneficial to our well-being. For after all, at a buffet you grab a plate and walk the line, take a little bit of half-a-dozen or more items, go sit down and discover what is pleasing to the palate.

This is exactly what I try to do with my human life.

I have no desire to live in the past, filled with disease, pestilence and prejudice. Yet I’m not particularly satisfied with being overwhelmed in the present, with forms of idiocy which have merely donned contemporary costumes.

I do like a little bit of the cotillion to go along with my Facebook and Instagram.

I like the idea of the transitions in life being honored with celebration and a touch of reverence instead of the crude way of thinking that a young girl becomes a woman by losing her virginity.

How can we balance the human heart, spirit and brain? The heart wants to be moved, the spirit wants to be inspired and the brain desires learning.

So I guess my goal is to feel my way along, looking for those things that inspire me, and then try to make them my own.


Donate Button


Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News