Damned if I Do, Damned if I Don’t

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t: (n) a situation which one can’t win.

I have become convinced that self-pity is the greatest deterrent to human progress.

If you spend five minutes with any person, he or she will explain both what he or she wanted to accomplish and also why it became impossible.

I suppose this comes about because we think life is a puzzle put together by some Eternal Being and presented to us—and then we patiently but joyfully are to discover how all the portions are meant to fit together.

How could we have free will if we already have a puzzle made for us?

Is the premise that only certain free-will creatures even try to put the puzzle together? Or is it that the puzzle is so difficult that few have the time to pursue it or complete it?

I, on the other hand, happen to believe that life is a shoe box full of rocks, handed to each and every one of us.

The losers in life spend most of their breath-time either lamenting the meaninglessness of the rocks or attempting to put them together in some bizarre configuration.

They are the ones who begin to believe that you’re “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

In other words, “Since everything is stacked against me, and my box of rocks doesn’t make any sense, what’s the point in wearing myself out—chasing rainbows with my saddled unicorn?”

Here’s a tip:

The box of rocks is a diversion. It creates equality.

It makes us all the same—none preferred—and offers a common paradox.

For once you look at your box of rocks and surmise that there’s nothing to be done with it, then dump your rocks—but keep your box. Then go out and start gathering what you’re going to need to construct what you really envision.

You might think it’s cruel for the Creator to ask us to use our brains to surmise that the rocks are meaningless. But by no means do we want every fool to figure out the puzzle, lest figuring it out becomes droll.

Confess

Confess: (v) to admit or state that one has committed a crime or is at fault in some way

I am fat.

At least 51% of this is my fault.

I am a recovering “liarholic.”

Please help me stay away from the booze of explanation.

I am self-piteous.

Not as much as I used to be. (Of course, adding that caveat expresses a little self-pity.)funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I am egotistical.

But I have been careful to immerse myself in the beauty of humility to avoid the cesspool of humiliation.

I am still somewhat opinionated.

Yet I am generally able to avoid this vice by putting invisible duct tape over my mouth.

I am capable of judging people.

This one is especially dangerous, since I am incapable of being judged.

I am occasionally ungrateful…

As I learn to be grateful for every occasion.

I still catch myself complaining.

I am so relieved when I stop and my brain opens back up for business.

I am vulnerable to sin.

I do so much better when sin and I take different paths home.

I am learning to confess.

Word has it that such an endeavor is the only true doorway to healing.


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Common Sense

Common sense: (n) good sense and sound judgment in practical matters

Many years ago I wrote a book called “The Gospel According to Common Sense.”

I was very young.

I did a radio talk show, and the fellow asked me, “How would you define common sense?”

Now, one would think I would be prepared for that question, since I wrote a book with “common sense” in the title. But I think I was expecting “what is your favorite color?” much more than a legitimate question that had meaning.

But fortunately for me, I did not freak out.

I paused. Then I said, “To me, common sense is where Father God and Mother Nature sit down and agree.”

God might be a little idealistic, and the Natural Order does tend to be gruff and unforgiving.

But common sense is where mercy and Mother Earth embrace one another, and come up with ways to make things function–ways that don’t hurt anyone, have a bit of genius to them, and are so simple that everybody can do them.

We don’t talk much about common sense nowadays because we like to alienate ourselves off from others by proving our superiority–be it intellectually, spiritually or racially.

Common sense is looking for a logical solution that also happens to be common to us all.

If you’re determined to be better than the people around you, you might find common sense insulting.

If you’re depressed and think the whole world is out to get you, you might avoid common sense because it robs you of your vacation into self-pity.

There is no real power in life unless you can get God and Mother Nature to work together–His will being done on Earth as it is in heaven.

Yeah. There you’ve got it.

Common sense: heavenly answers that still work on Earth.

 

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Commiserate

Commiserate: (v) to express or feel sympathy or pity; sympathize.

It’s almost like the human being runs on two gas tanks. (Perhaps it’s foolish to try to compare our species to a combustible engine, but if you will forgive my simplicity, I will make the analogy.)

We have one gas tank that fuels us to achieve, and we have another tank that helps us putter along in self-pity.

Obviously, following this comparison through to a conclusion, the tank we fill up more often determines much of our happiness, success and value.

The problem comes when deciding where to place our feelings and attitudes when assisting others. Should we challenge, or should we commiserate?

And if we decide to encourage, which tank are we filling? Are we being sympathetic, which makes our friends believe they are victims? Or are we attempting to be uplifting, stirring them out of their doldrums?

It may sound tender-hearted to commiserate, but honestly, very little is achieved by filling up the self-pity tank of someone you love.

That engine has no power to do anything but sustain idle–not rocket them into the stars.

 

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Bye

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Bye: (n) the transfer of a competitor directly to the next round of a competition in the absence of an assigned opponent

I’m going to take a bye on some things:

  • False praise
  • Political arrogance
  • Religious inflexibility
  • Self-pity
  • Pseudo-intellectualism
  • Pop atheism
  • Self-satisfaction
  • Culture pursuit
  • Racial pride
  • Nationalism
  • Stinginess
  • Gender bashing
  • Nosiness
  • Conservative
  • Liberal
  • Fantasy
  • Destiny
  • Self-gratification
  • Critique
  • Meditation
  • Maturity
  • Selfishness
  • Selfies
  • Self-righteousness
  • Self-almost-anything

I’m taking a bye.

Good-bye.

 

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Body Clock

Body clock: (n) a person’s or animal’s biological clock.

Dictionary B

I try not to think about it very often for fear of becoming a whack job.

For you see, considering one’s own mortality is a drippy, sappy journey into sentimentality which often leaves tears in one’s eyes, considering how miserable the world will be without us.

Still, we’re all dealing with a body clock.

The little girl who dies of cancer when she’s eight years old should have had an opportunity to know that she was going through middle age at four.

Yet how weird would we become if we had any inkling of the actual time of our demise? In other words, if death did not surprise us, how much life could we muster before dissolving into a heap of self-pity?

Fortunately for us, there are certain points of awareness when we realize we have lost a step, can’t move so well or think that most street signs are now written in Mandarin.

We get that little nudge from life that we have less time remaining than what we’ve already used.

It is a merciful motivator to muster the magic.

Because if we don’t start the magic soon … we will run out of opportunities to show off our tricks.

 

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Binge

Binge: (n) a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess

Dictionary B

Until guilt learns how to work in harmony with willpower, we will all feel like marionettes dangling from strings.

It doesn’t matter what your vice may be, although I must admit, some vices are allowed to be more visible than others. A fetish for hot fudge sundaes with extra bananas and cream can be touted much more than a preference for keeping company with little girls.

Yet deep inside every human being is some nagging piece of indulgence which always shows up on the days when our willpower has taken sick leave.

Thus the binge.

Even if guilt and willpower wrestled to a tie in our lives, we would have a fighting chance to control our inclinations or at least channel them in more productive directions. But because willpower and guilt are both affiliated with self-pity, we are never able to control our safari into the jungle of excess. Self-pity tells us that we are being cheated, but also that we are too weak to resist.

So we would seem to be at the mercy of the gluttony of our flesh.

There are those who overcome this by using some sort of rigid mental karma, but I don’t know how they ever reach that point.

‘Tis is the great mystery of this journey.

I think it’s probably one of the first things we’ll learn after passing on to a new world of understanding.

We will arrive in the heaven of our dreams, to discover that the secret of overcoming our binges was …

 

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Bedridden

Bedridden: (adj) confined to bed by sickness or old age.Dictionary B

Perhaps the greatest problem with the word “sick” is that it always travels with its two companions: “tired” and “discouraged.”

So if you try to be sick but hopeful, it is very difficult.

For a very brief season I found myself bedridden due to illness. I will reserve the details of this confinement for another time.

But my main memory is that I was in a hospital on the fourth floor, looking out the window at life below me, and realizing that I had been extracted from it. Efforts at optimism, prospects of prayer and sensations to plan my future seemed pointless.

If I were going to escape the hospital, I would only find myself in a limited capacity, unable to pursue my dreams and travel around, sharing my heart.

Although the term “bedridden” refers to a physical position, it is not long before your brain, your spirit, your talent and your hopes lie down in submission. I was convinced that the things I had set out to do in my life were being “tabled” in favor of a “chair.”

I don’t know what shook me out of it. Maybe it’s because self-pity tried to smother me to death.

  • I fought back.
  • I disagreed with my own negative prognosis.
  • And eventually, I regained my life.

This is why on some nights when I feel particularly energized I find it difficult to sleep. The idea of reclining in a bed is not always a positive one to me.

And because of that experience, I will always believe that getting up is better than lying down.

 

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Bawl

Bawl: (v) to weep or cry noisily.Dictionary B

While I’m waiting for the good rendition of myself to arrive, I’ve decided to work with what is available.

Honestly, it’s the only way to keep from becoming defensive or offensive.

Because if you contend that you’re good, there are folks who will be glad to point out your over-estimation.

And if you walk around all the time looking for an altar of repentance, you will become an obnoxious victim.

I understand the importance of laughing, but I also must tell you the value of crying.

The difficulty I’ve encountered in the process of sprouting tears is that I generally do so in self-pity.

I cry, but more often than not, it’s for me.

So when it comes to forms of remorse like mourning and bawling, I must admit that I don’t even come close to these rather precious emotions unless I’m considering my own demise, how badly I’ve been cheated by others or the fact that traffic on the freeway dared to back up and inconvenience me.

Rather than purge myself of this inadequacy, I choose to treasure the moments when concern, compassion and gentleness towards others touched my heart.

I have probably bawled five times in my life.

Two of those times would have been over some lady who decided I was no longer needed.

Another time would have been the death of my son.

On another occasion, it would have been over-thinking my own mortality.

But there was that one time–that one amazing moment–when the heart of God entered my chest and made me feel what He feels when He sees his suffering children.

I will never forget it.

I yearn for it to happen again.

But it was a transcendent passage … when I stepped out of myself and saw the real need.

 

 

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Backslide

Backslide: (v) to relapse into bad ways or error.

I really enjoy backsliding.Dictionary B

It must be true–because I’ve done it frequently.

As a teenager, I pursued premarital sex, even though abstinence was my promise.

In my twenties, I was an advocate for lying, even though I taught people that the truth makes you free.

In my thirties, I became self-piteous while knowing, deep in my heart, that most of my problems were my own fault.

In my forties, fearing that I was losing my virility, I became lusty and bawdy, trying to convince those around me that I was still viable.

In my fifties, in an attempt to gain gravitas and appear to be a powerful part of my community, I accidentally slipped into some childish arguments with…well, adult children.

About five years ago, I decided that to backslide was just too exhausting.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally fall on my ass and end up sliding along the slippery path on my back. It’s just that when I do so, I try to halt my downward momentum and get back up on the “strait and narrow” as quickly as possible.

I think all of us would do a whole lot less backsliding if we were convinced that goodness really does win out in the end.

 

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