Deck Chair

Deck chair: (n) a folding chair, usually with arms and a full-length leg rest, commonly used for lounging on decks

  • Cheap rate.
  • Cheap room.
  • Cheap pool.
  • Cheap chair.

That would surmise my experience with motels as I traveled across the country.

So I remember quite well one sunny Wednesday afternoon, when I arrived at the swimming pool of our motel, and noticed that they only offered the white, plastic resin chairs that one would find aplenty at Wal-Mart.

They are really quite remarkable, considering how cheaply they’re made. Looking at them, it’s hard to imagine they would hold anyone of any weight—but they do.

Coming to the pool, I discovered a small crowd of humanity. There was a brief stoppage of time as I became the new stranger, figuring out the gate and getting inside. There was an additional length of time while several of the occupants gawked at me because of my large size.

I was used to this. You can’t walk around being obese and think someone’s not going to notice it. Maybe you wish they would ignore your status or be more merciful, but people see what they want to see and have already judged what they think about it.

The problem that arose on this day was that apparently it occurred to those in the pool that I was going to have to go over and sit down in one of the plastic deck chairs.

They were right.

I wasn’t going to stand around.

And to a small degree, it became an issue of pride.

So I chose to take it on with gusto.

I strolled over, placed my towel on the table, stepped toward one of the chairs, attempted to aim my butt to land in the center, and sat down—only to have the chair give way, with four legs going in four different directions.

I landed flat on my butt, with a broken chair beneath me.

The gathered audience could not help themselves. They laughed.

There was one person who moved toward me to see if I was okay—but overall, I provided the levity for the afternoon.

But you see, it’s always about what happens next.

It’s not about getting in the chair.

It’s not about falling.

It’s about whether you absorb the humiliation or bounce off it like a rubber ball against a wall.

I wiggled my legs, waggled my butt, and rose to my feet as well as I could. Once upright, I turned to those in the pool, did a quick bow and pretended to tap dance. This brought more laughter.

I then picked up the chair with its dangling legs and spoke to the gathered.

“You might want to stay away from this chair–it seems to have a bad leg.”

They all laughed.

This time, they felt like they were allowed to laugh—because I set up the pins and rolled the ball in their direction. After doing my little routine, I quickly made my way down the steps, into the pool, splashing as the folks giggled.

The rest of the day, there was no soul who didn’t smile and nod at me every time I swam by. I don’t think they admired my obesity, nor condoned it, for that matter.

But they had enough human juice in them to realize that the only thing we can do as people on our way to becoming better, is keep a good attitude about it.

 

Debacle

Debacle: (n) a complete collapse or failure.

It is my opinion that the word “debacle” and “failure” should never be linked.

As human beings, it is our responsibility to learn and appreciate the value of failure. In the long run, failure saves time, energy, money and much future humiliation.

That is, unless we try to fix our failure.

A debacle is an attempt—or many attempts—to mend a failure, so it appears there was never a misstep in the first place.

It is duct tape on a broken piece of glass.

It is an awkward apology to someone who’s truly been offended.

It is becoming offended yourself when the awkward apology is rejected.

It is trying to explain something unexplainable.

It is pardoning yourself before anyone else suggests you might be guiltless.

It is sitting in the middle of a mess and demanding it continue because funding is available.

It is repeating the same service over and over again, though nothing and no one is transformed.

It is taking a system that was crafted two hundred and fifty years ago and holding onto it through tradition, even though modern technology suggests there’s a need for alteration.

It is taking the side of your political party when it is obvious that error has been made.

It is swimming in an ocean when warned not to swim—simply because they don’t know how good a swimmer you are.

It is believing that since people are different, you can claim to be better.

It is arrogance added onto sin, dipped in pride…

…and deep-fried in unforgiveable ignorance.

 

Contrarian

Contrarian: (n) a person who takes an opposing view

The contrarians of one generation are the high school teachers of the next.

It was a contrarian who stood up in 1847 and said slavery was wrong. Move ahead forty or fifty years and the whole country has fought a great war (if such a thing as a “great” war is possible) to confirm the point of the contrarian.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Contrarians are people like you and me who affix themselves to a notion they believe is universal or perhaps even divinely inspired, and rather than giving into the pressure to be average or common, they persist in pursuing their train of thought.

I have spent most of my life being a contrarian and have dwelt on this planet long enough to see many of the things that troubled me get worked out, discussed and now everyone assumes they were never issues.

I lived through the civil rights movement, and though I grew up in a white-bread-mayonnaise community, I decided to support equality.

While people were screaming about patriotism and Viet Nam, I listened carefully and gradually decided I agreed with the contrarian position—that the skirmish in Indochina was ill-conceived.

I was there to remind those from the Moral Majority that they were neither moral nor really a majority.

I have been a blessed man.

There’s nothing special about me except for the fact that I am not afraid to be a contrarian.

I am not terrified when the plurality of my society frowns at my outlandish contentions.

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Contraption

Contraption: (n) a mechanical contrivance; gadget; device.

Getting older changes my opinion on many things.

When I was much younger, I viewed myself as a discovery—a unique human being placed on Earth for some divine cause or mission. Such an idea was immature, short-sighted and arrogant simultaneously.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Getting a little more experience under my belt, I thought I might be an invention. In other words, the creative forces in the universe stumbled upon my attributes and decided to use me to make something else.

Yet as time marched on, I realized that although I was happy and did possess some ability, the combination was not unique to my person.

Pressing on, I now realize I’m a contraption, and like any such device, I’m about as usable as I am willing to be flexible.

For instance, a tire iron is a contraption. It can function to work on tires. You can use it to get something from underneath a couch. Or if an attacker decided to bother you, you might be able to scare him or her away with by brandishing it.

Yes—I am a contraption. I’m just about as functional as I’m willing to evolve myself to be.

I used to be prideful and say I would never do certain things. Once I abandoned the pride, I suddenly discovered there were many more inventive things I could do.

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Community

Community: (n) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

Our little village was filled with community pride.

It was cute–a little bigger than a postage stamp, yet you could walk around the entire downtown area in less than ten minutes.

Growing up there, I was taught that community is not so much sharing a location, but rather, absorbing a basic ideology.

I’m not sure who came up with the standards or the principles which were passed down among the locals and inhaled like air, but generally speaking, you could do well in my community if you understood the mindset and the dress code.

If for some reason, you wanted to vary from the common universal brain, or clothe yourself in such a way as to gain too much attention, then you were initially viewed as comical.

If you persisted, you went from comical to being deemed confused.

And if confusion was maintained, then you would be considered dangerous and need to be dealt with by the negative approaches established by our community.

It was a very successful system.

We were able, through this system, to keep all blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians and long-haired rock and rollers far from our borders–without ever firing a shot.

The teeny tiny handful of those who remained were simply ostracized–or maybe just received really poor mail service.

None of the people in our community considered themselves prejudiced–just enamored by a preference. After all, if you wanted varying behaviors, you could drive twenty miles down the road to the Big City, where there were all sorts of options available, complete with rape, murder and a variety of other crimes. We were thoroughly frightened of the outside world, without ever being officially indoctrinated into a cult.

But our community was a cult.

I found this out when I wanted to stray from the daily routine and pursue my own ideas. No one struck me, no one physically attacked me, and no one even openly rebuked me. They just left me out of everything.

The system works to this day. All across America little towns have a network of gossipers who warn of suspicious arrivals, allowing the community a chance to provide the inconsideration to drive good folks away.

 

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Common Ground

Common ground: (n) a basis of mutual interest or agreement.

I do believe the quote is attributed to Sting, lead singer of “The Police.”

When explaining his tour into the Soviet Union, in one of his lyrics he offered the conclusion that “Russians love their children, too.”

It is so easy to sit on the precipice of destruction and discuss, like naughty brats, how much more our destructive weapons could kill your people than yours could destroy ours.

But in the long run, or in the short time it takes for a bomb to explode, people are dead–and most all of them look somewhat like us.

Anything that comes along to encourage the destruction of the planet, the deception of racism, the alienation of the genders or the false pride of a culture is the feeding frenzy for us pursuing the insanity of gobbling one another up in our social cannibalism.

Every single day, in every single way, in every single building where decisions are made about human life, three things have to be honored:

  1. Flesh may have color, but it is all basically the same.
  2. If people were created, they have one Father.
  3. We have not perfected a way to snatch life from death.

Slow down.

This is called common ground.

Everything else is just a silly argument among children about who can jump the highest, and who owns the shiniest bike.

 

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Coaster

Coaster: (n) a small mat placed under a glass to protect the table underneath.

It’s one of those factors that determines whether you are a bungler or a baron.

There are many.

But when you find yourself with a glass of drink and there is a table in front of you, do you procure a coaster so your condensation does not leave a ring on the table, or do you just put your glass down and later act completely bewildered because your hostess or host was offended by your choice?

It’s where we teeter–all human beings teeter between understanding and arrogance.

Often we understand the purpose for matters, yet in our arrogance, we resist performing the courteous function simply because it seems tedious and makes us appear too subservient.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a bungler or become a baron. Would I be willing to learn the things that are important to my brothers and sisters, and simply avoid conflict with their tender conscience by doing them? Or would I stubbornly going to insist that it’s a “goddamn free country,” and proceed to take my pet bull off the leash for the latest visit to the china shop?

Coasters are not effeminate.

Coasters are not irrational.

Coasters may not be necessary–but you won’t know until you don’t use one. So why take the risk, especially on the chance that you might unnecessarily offend a friend?

But stubborn we are–all children of Adam and Eve.

Yet, if you want to get back into the Garden, you need to swallow your pride and discover the location of the forbidden apples.

 

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Citadel

Citadel: (n) a fortress on high ground

How can you take the high ground without instinctively looking down on those beneath you?

It became an issue in the recent presidential campaign. Both candidates insisted they were taking the high ground, while simultaneously
using the concept to proclaim themselves superior.

Unfortunately, any insistence on superiority renders us weakened by the kryptonite of pride.

I need a citadel.

I need a place where I can climb a little higher in my consciousness–not to peer down at the infidel, but to have the chance to see things the way they are, and not the way they appear at ground zero.

My life requires a sweetness of morality, a gentleness of empathy and an awareness of my talent.

In order to mingle these factors, I must don the cloak of humility. For humility is not the absence of ability, but rather, the evidence of it without needing to overpower all comers.

Yes–America should be a citadel.

Our faith should be a citadel.

My life should be a citadel: a piece of higher ground that does not insist on being worshipped because of its elevation, but instead, uses the bird’s eye to consider all the sparrows.

 

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Charity

Charity: (n) the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

“I’m no charity case!”

It is a statement often flung in my direction when I’m attempting to be generous to someone who obviously could use some bolstering.

The statement is prideful statement, and unfortunately, doused in ignorance. For truly, there is not a soul among us who does not
occasionally require the charity provided by strangers.

In viewing my abundant life, there have been many times when I have possessed finance to fund an unnecessary, extravagant dinner–and also specific occasions when a dollar bill lit up and danced before my eyes because its arrival was truly divinely inspired.

If we go with the Old English definition of charity–which is love–the desperation each of us possesses to be loved is incomprehensible.

Denying it makes us look like foolish, pouting children.

Demanding it too often has the whiff of the charlatan.

So I have a simple saying in my life:

“May those around me who happen to arrive at just the right moment to come to my aid find me busy doing my best, unaware that they are on their way.”

 

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Betrothed

Betrothed: (n) the person to whom one is engaged.

Dictionary B

The pride that we have over our sophistication is not only comical but often ill-placed.

We have the most intricate system for pairing people into committed relationships that has ever been devised in the history of bipeds with brains.

Yet we also have the highest divorce rate.

So do we question this system of placing the entire experience of choosing a mate based on the level of our interest and financial security?

No. We continue to chase down love haphazardly.

Simultaneously, cultures which pair off individuals in pre-arranged marriages don’t fare any worse than we do. Do you know why?

It’s because marriage has nothing to do with love.

Hell, if we’re going to make this planet work, we all have to learn to love one another. (But that doesn’t mean you’ll exchange body fluids with the population as a whole.)

Marriage requires three unique impositions:

1. “I’m not going anywhere.”

If you believe that separation and divorce are options in your relationship, you will eventually pursue one of them. There is a power in thinking that we possess the intelligence to solve our problems.

2. “I am not satisfied with myself.”

Although it is very popular to be self-satisfied, trying to sell this to another person who sees you every day is ridiculous.

  • I need someone to help me overcome my demons.
  • I need a friend who will see those demons and not run away in terror.
  • And I need a cohort who will not be too judgmental when I invite my demons back in for a one-night stand.

3. Be prepared to laugh all the time.

Most arguments begin because we decide to defend or discuss stupidity instead of laughing at it.

Humor is what makes sex excellent. Since it is such a silly little practice, which is accomplished just as well among the monkeys, we dare not view it as serious or overly spiritual, or we become notoriously foolish.

I don’t care whether you date for fourteen years or if you met each other fourteen minutes ago.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m not satisfied with myself and I’m prepared to laugh” is what makes betrothal be-workable.

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