Dead

Dead: (adj) no longer living; deprived of life

This can’t be the definition: “No longer living, deprived of life.”

Simply stated, the definition of “dead” is “not breathing.”

For I will tell you—I meet people all the time who are no longer living and certainly seem to be deprived of life.

But they’re still sucking up air.

And they’re often taking that air to spray the contents of the room with negativity, prejudice or snobbery.

Long before we die, some die.

And if we’re still alive when we stop breathing, there’s very little about us that can truthfully be dead.

If our name evokes a smile, if reading a bit of correspondence we sent brings a tear, and if our picture on the wall hearkens to jubilant times, it’s hard to pronounce us dead.

No tomb exists for brilliance.

So what kills us?

What causes us to give up on living long before we give up on breathing?

On the other hand, what would prompt someone to desire to stay alive to the centennial birthday, just to bitch and complain about living conditions?

So I don’t know whether elongated breathing time is a blessing or a curse. If your life is miserable, it is extending the misery, which may just be simulating spending three days in hell.

And if you’re overjoyed—on your way to make love and change the world—and you get hit by a semi, your breathing is snuffed but your living soars on.

I have no desire to be philosophical in this matter and I’m not trying to root out an existential truth to make you think I’m deep and cerebral.

I just choose to believe that dying happens when we stop breathing.

But we can never truly be dead if we have a grasp of greatness …

… and a sense of the significant.

Dark Continent

Dark continent: (n) reference to Africa

Although it’s never really organized, there is a definite attempt to rally for the victim—or make numerous excuses for the bully.

Both positions suffer from a weakness.

The bully and all his advocates appear defensive.

And the victim, trying to come across sympathetic, is often anemic—maybe even a little suspect.

Maintaining the insanity of racism requires a verbose bully and a wounded victim.

And may I say, as long as this profile is bolstered, the roles continue—bully and victim.

For perhaps two hundred years, Africa was referred to as the “Dark Continent.”

It was a conversational way of allowing the ignorance of our society, permitting them a tenuous explanation for egregious actions.

After all, the word “Dark” is simply a more clinical phrasing of “black.”

And adding “Continent” clarified that it was not part of Western expansion by the European explorers.

Merely consider how the slave traders were comforted, easing their conscience concerning stealing human beings by gently reminding one and all that these pieces of property had been poached from a Dark Continent.

Hell, they might even have done them a favor—escaping the treachery of their own surroundings.

We must remember that racism never really goes away.

It just changes its lingo and softens its rationalization.

 

Dap

Dap: (v) to dip lightly or suddenly into water

Excuse me, America.

How would you classify your philosophy of life?

Pardon me, but I seem to have bewildered you with the question. Maybe I should clarify both the term “philosophy of life” and the word “classify.”

“Classify”—as in determine a common ingredient.

And “philosophy of life?”

The motivator that motivates you–to keep you motivated.

Does that help?

I see. You don’t misunderstand the question, you just resent it. After all, why should any one person be trapped into making a distinction on what is important?

But just for little ole’ me—how would you classify your philosophy of life? Just for conversation’s sake.

If you’re still unwilling to answer the question, may I offer an observation or two:

It seems to me that many of my fellow-Americans are very interested in the dap—or dapping—which might place them in the category of being dappers.

  • A little religion.
  • A splash of science.

A post or two on social media, with a tiny splat of generosity and a splurt of opinionated tweets, which some might deem prejudice.

Just a little, if you don’t mind.

“A little off the top. A little off the sides.”

A little off the norm so we can proclaim ourselves “inventive.”

Just a dap.

Because it is ridiculous to become sold out on a show that no one may attend.

What is going to be popular?

Where can I put my toe in the water without making a foothold?

Where can I taste it on my tongue without having to swallow?

Just a little.

Then, if it doesn’t work out, I can always say I was just curious—or deep in my heart, I always knew differently, and certainly, no one ever got me to definitively sign on the dotted line.

I smile when any politician believes he or she has gained the support of America.

Do you ever reach the heart of a dapper?

One who daps? One who just grazes opportunity?

If we’re not too involved, we can always have plausible deniability. That’s why gradually, America has gone from a 93% belief in God, down into the mid-to-high 70’s. And we will continue to drop our belief in the Divine One as we discover how unpopular it is to be registered among the faithful.

It’s much easier to say, “We are spiritual. We have a sense of wonder.”

Much better than proclaiming, “I believe.”

Because the pronouncement of “I believe” is always followed by someone staring you in the eye and challenging, “Prove it.”

 

Dandy

Dandy: (n) a man who is excessively concerned about his clothes and appearance; a fop.

I’m a Yankee Doodle one.

Yes, the British soldiers were so intent on getting under the skin of the American Revolutionists that they accused them of being gay.

That was it.

This the whole meaning of the Yankee Doodle song.

In 1776, a dandy was a man who over-dressed, stuck feathers in his hat—which was a style in France known as macaroni—and was so prissy that every woman, upon encountering him, gave up on any possibility of a night of pleasure.

So what did the Americans do?

Did they go in a corner and cry?

Did they punch people in the nose and throw a fit? (Or maybe throw a fit and punch people in the nose.)

Did they curse? Did they swear?

No. They didn’t even claim they weren’t gay.

They just decided to use the song as a rallying cry for the cause, which certainly must have made the British dandies awfully angry.

When I was a kid, the worst thing you could call someone was “a fag.”  But I will tell you—the kids who survived such ignorance are the ones who didn’t throw a fit, but instead, made fun of their attackers. 

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy

A Yankee Doodle do or die.

Yankee Doodle went to town

Riding on a pony

Stuck a feather in his hat

And called it macaroni.

You’ll never get people to stop being bigoted and offering lame attempts at humor to punctuate their prejudice.

You do have the power, though, to absorb their attacks, and turn them into your new marching song.

 

Dallas

Dallas: (n) a city in NE Texas.

If you want to lose your prejudice, travel.

I dare say it is impossible to refrain from some sort of stereotyping of other individuals and races as long as you remain in one locale, or only scuttle about a hundred miles or so.

Although you may try to be open-minded, black people seem ridiculous when you’re only around white people. And white people all look like slave owners when you are living in an urban area, surrounded by your identical color.

Travel is an amazing thing.  You immediately see two lies played out:

  1. People are different
  2. A region can reflect an attitude

In both cases, it’s just not so.

Although the South touts hospitality, it is only dribbled out based upon whether the Southern lass or gent deem you to fall into the realm of normalcy.

And people being people—possessing biological, mental, spiritual and emotional propensities—generally speaking ooze out favored sentiments.

The first time I went to Dallas, Texas, I was expecting cowboys, Southern jargon, big, thick steaks and beautiful women adorned with pumped-up hair and large smiles.

Don’t get me wrong—these are available.

The Chamber of Commerce, the churches and the politicians make sure they have representatives of this style of Dallas on call for the tourists.

But when you step a little deeper into the community, you find human beings. Most of these souls don’t have enough security, finance or agenda to be hateful or loving.

They’re just doing the best they can.

So these folks are not different at all and feel no compulsion to reflect the attitude of Dallas or any other metroplex they might need to represent.

Bigotry is kept alive by business, religion, politics and entertainment wishing to keep us separate.

We have certainly learned this year that when the same problems are thrown at people who are supposed to be different, those who survive stumble upon mutual solutions.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama: (n) formerly the ruler and chief monk of Tibet

Religion reminds me of taking a machine gun to battle house flies, the premise being that the more bullets you have to destroy the varmints, the greater your chance for success.

The problem?

Unfortunately, you destroy everything in sight with your machine gun, just to dispel some annoying fly-bys.

As a human being, I am fully aware what qualities I appreciate in other human beings—and what I do not.

For instance:

I don’t like to be cussed out.

I don’t want to grovel for attention.

I like to be able to speak my opinion and have it heard, if not honored.

I can survive a bit of grumpiness as long as it’s followed by a season of smiles.

I like to be right.

I like to feel healthy.

I like someone to notice when I’ve done good work.

And I like people to forgive me when I’ve stunk up the joint.

What I’ve just shared with you is a summary of the true value found in religion. Everything else is legalism, prejudice, ritual, outlandish oversight, and rules and regulation—frequently about issues that have not been pertinent since the fifteenth century.

They say there is a man in Tibet called the Dalai Lama who is full of wisdom.

I don’t doubt that.

If you climb into my van, I’ll drive you down the street to the nursing home, where we will walk through holy ground and meet many such men and women.

These are the traveling souls who have worn human skin and discovered much foolishness and settled on simple things, like a small squirt of whipped cream on top of their tapioca pudding.

The Dalai Lama may be just fine.

I don’t disfavor him because he is not of my faith.

But I do not believe that his mere lineage from some dude grants him the license for a holy genetic order.

I think we should listen to the Dalai Lama just as intensely and feverishly as we do the Dolly Parton.

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain: (n) a series of interconnected or related things or events

 Bigotry doesn’t appear just because human beings are placed on the same planet together.

We don’t naturally hate each other.

Bigotry, intolerance and emotional mayhem are the conclusion of a daisy chain of unfortunate connections.

Since we know where this ends up—a random hatred—how does it begin?

What are the links that lead us to acting like the Missing Link?

When do we lose all our humanity and turn animal, emulating our jungle roots?

There is an unholy six.

When placed side-by-side and linked with false premises, these six generate the kind of treachery that assumes a national need to kill six million Jews or to steal the land of the native population.

It begins with insecurity.

Insecurity is a nasty itch inside us, making us believe we cannot be heralded for our good deeds if others are also being appreciated.

Insecurity loves to link up with jealousy.

Jealousy is foolish because it limits the value of what we do and overestimates the success of those around us.

After insecurity links with jealousy, then jealousy welcomes gossip.

Seemingly, the most civil way to destroy our competition is to verbally discredit them by making all seem abnormal.

When gossip has fully spewed into the atmosphere, it finds a settling place in allegiance.

The allegiance can be religious to God, patriotic to a country, political to a party, or even an exaggerated devotion to one’s family.

After allegiance has been established (on shaky ground) it embraces paranoia.

Paranoia compel us to commit irrational acts, forewarning of treacherous deeds.

We are looking for the villain behind every plot and the enemy around the corner.

Once we are fully paranoid, it is a simple step to allow our bigotry to control every decision.

This daisy chain is strewn throughout history.

But rather than allowing the historians to be the prophets who frighten us away from such foolishness and encourage us to gain security without hurting others, we continue to take all the timidity in our fearful souls and set the daisy chain of destruction in motion.

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