Cost

Cost: (n) the price paid to acquire, produce, accomplish, or maintain anything:

Every once in a while, when I get in a high-minded way, I start considering what I might share with God if He asked me where I thought there funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
could be improvements in the entire universal scheme.

Of course, when I get right down to specifics instead of just general bitching and put a piece of paper in front of me, I actually have very little to suggest—especially anything that would be tinted with consequence.

Yet I do think it might be beneficial if the entire Earth were similar to a department store. In other words, all the opportunities, temptations, doors, windows, possibilities and passing surprises would arrive before our eyes, with a price tag attached.

After all, that’s the nice thing about a department store. If you eyeball something you like, you can immediately forego an impetuous buy through gazing at the price tag and realizing that it’s just too much. Or, to your delight, you are overwhelmed to discover that it’s a bargain as you toss it into your cart and rush to the checkout counter.

Life doesn’t work that way. Life advertises, pushes, thrusts forward, teases, taunts—never forecasting or even giving a hint of what the price might be if you or I grabbed the item and made it our own.

In other words, if you’re obese and you went into a bakery and saw a twelve-inch apple cobbler, there could be a tag attached which would read, “Enjoy. It will cost you two weeks of living.”

That pack of cigarettes in the store that screams at the fifteen-year-old kid for attention because he saw someone smoking in a movie would have a little warning sign on the front of its logo, explaining, “Smoke ’em if you got ’em, but if you stay with ’em, you will die twenty years earlier than if you avoid ’em.”

Men and women who prance around looking for reasons to be unfaithful might be adorned with sandwich boards displaying words like, “Loser! Cranky! Really bitchy! Gonorrhea! Mentally unstable!” Or “Likes to hit women.”

No such cost is made available to us as we journey on, in a darkness of ignorance.

It is the reason that this simple author believes in the Spirit. Without that guidance from within, poking us in the ribs and telling us to either go forward or quickly step back, we are lions in the jungle without teeth.


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Cobalt

Cobalt: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 27, a hard silvery-white magnetic metal.

My dad decided to die when I was sixteen years old.

He had planned it for nearly thirty years.

As a cigarette smoker who actually bought tobacco in the can and “rolled his own,” he had pretty well determined the end of his story long before he’d lived out all the plot lines.

I was one of the plot lines.

Before I found out that he had terminal lung cancer which had spread to his brain, there was a brief, three-month period when he became warmer, more tender–wanting some closeness with me.

Unfortunately, by that time I had created so much distance there was no way for me to transport myself to his side–even when I discovered he was dying.

They sat down and explained it to me, pointing out that he would be going through radiation treatments, which involved cobalt. He did.

Yet he barely survived the only cure they had available. When he returned home, he could barely walk and had trouble breathing. His skin was red like he had a deep sunburn, and he smelled like the trash we burned in the back yard.

Being around him just scared the hell out of me.

Everyone wanted me to turn into the devoted son who held the hand of his ailing father up to death’s door.

I just couldn’t do it.

Even when his breathing became so heavy that I could hear it through the walls while sitting on our porch stoop, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I loved him or even be present when the last gasp escaped his being.

This is my memory of cobalt.

It was used in the early years of radiation treatment, and left the patient nearly vacant of the resources to think and move.

As I sit here today, I can wish that I had been a better son and he a better father.

But that is because I have an older mind, and sometimes find it difficult to regain the fury involved in being sixteen.

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Clampdown

Clampdown: (n) a severe or concerted attempt to suppress something.

I was a parent to six sons.

Three of them were my biological offspring, and for the other three, I was more or less a godfather (minus kissing the ring and slaughtering
my enemies).

Different experiences bring different quality. As a parent, you would love to pass on that sage wisdom to your children. It’s not really an issue of morality–it’s just that certain activities suck up more time, energy, heart and soul.

In other words, in the long run, they’re just not worth the payoff. For that reason, they’re rather obvious–but not to a fifteen year old kid.

  • Smoking looks cool until you start coughing.
  • Drinking may seem sophisticated until you vomit on your favorite pants.
  • Multiple sex partners almost seem ordained until your crotch starts to itch and you need a shot of penicillin.

So how is it possible to pass on to the growing organisms in your household how to avoid the stupidity of certain activities which not only fail to deliver in ultimate satisfaction, but certainly can be dangerous?

After conversations, pleadings and reasoning comes the possibility of clamping down.

Since your children will not remove themselves from temptation, you make a vain effort to take temptation far away from them. Of course, historically this only increases the fervent interest of the hapless adolescent.

I never drank, I never smoked, I never looked at a snapshot of porn–but all of my children, to some degree, have investigated these vices as if communing with a vicar.

I wish I could tell you that clamping down is an effective means of eliminating foolishness. But since being a fool is in the storehouse of every human being, whether we like it or not, he or she will probably pull it out at one time or another–and give it a spin.

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Cigarette

Cigarette: (n) a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking.

If you live long enough you will see nearly everything in your life go through the natural Earth cycle.

It begins with “interesting.”

Then it becomes “cool.”

It passes through a phase of being “plagued with some difficulty.”

Following that comes “seems dangerous.”

And of course, the final step is “lethal.”

It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. Why don’t we take something that would seem unlikely to apply to this category–like politics?

When the idea of starting a democracy in the New World was tossed on the table for discussion, it was deemed very interesting–so much so that we wrote several documents and put together a club.

After the club got together for a few meetings over some “brews and snuff,” we were enamored with the possibility–just jazzed with its coolness.

So we started political parties. The consensus was there should be at least two so there could be discussion. But immediately each party desired to be the predominant one, which led to some nasty exchanges, false accusations, and the introduction of cheating. Election after election began to prove out that winning was more important than truth, justice and the American Way. Difficulty arrived like a “plague of congress.”

So laws had to be passed because we were in danger of losing the freedom we had hoped to achieve because we allowed the politics to steer policy.

And then, all at once, with one cracky voice, the people proclaimed, “Politics is damn lethal.”

I bring this up because the same thing happened in my lifetime–and yours–with cigarettes.

At first they were interesting. Then cool. Next, plagued with some difficulty, proclaimed dangerous, and now seen as a nasty piece of our social sappiness, murdering people with tar and nicotine.

I often wonder if it’s possible to stop, while musing over something being interesting–and jump ahead to find out if it’s deadly.

 

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Chlorinate

Chlorinate: (v) to impregnate or treat with chlorine.

Sometimes I don’t know if things have improved since I was a boy–or if I was just a little wimp-ass. In other words, I have memories of
some activities being very difficult, odd or unusual, which in my life today, are common.

One of those would be a swimming pool.

When I was a boy of ten years, I went to the local pool in my Central Ohio area, and when I got near the water, I couldn’t breathe. The odor, the chlorine, the mixture of too many people–I don’t know what it was. But my head spun and I thought I was going to faint. (For God’s sakes, you can’t faint when you’re ten years old–unless you plan on being the kicking post in your school for the rest of your life.)

Stupidly, I reached out, thinking it was my brother’s arm, and grabbed onto a thirteen-year-old girl, who immediately screamed. When the lifeguard came running up, she explained that I had accosted her, and with my head still spinning, I was unable to contradict her story.

I looked loopy.

The lifeguard came close to my mouth and insisted he could smell cigarettes, so it was assumed I had become dopey and out-of-control by smoking, and had attacked this young girl at the pool.

The worst part was, as my punishment, the lifeguard made me sit on a chair next to the pool for a full hour, as I breathed in the fumes and became weaker and weaker.

But eventually I got used to the atmosphere and it no longer felt like I was sniffing the air on Venus.

Chlorination seems to have improved over the years.

Or I have just stopped being a flag girl for the marching band.

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