Custom

Custom: (n) a habitual practice; the usual way of acting in given circumstances.

I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life.

I’ve spent more time with strangers than family.

That’s why I learned to never know a stranger—to make all humans part of my family.

But I thought I would stop in today and tell you seven of my favorite customs I encountered during my journeys:

  1. Smiling when you first meet a new person.
  2. Walking away from a stewing pot of gossip.
  3. Eating what is set before you and discussing it later.
  4. Believing that women and men are basically just human.
  5. Not listening to accents—just noticing what people accent in their lives.
  6. Loving your neighbor as yourself.
  7. Asking twice as much as you think you should and saying thank you three times more.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Criminal

Criminal: (n) a person guilty or convicted of a crime

If my recollection holds any accuracy of memory, I believe it happened right after my twenty-eighth birthday. I was in a room with a bunch of friends—and some strangers—and a question was posed.

“What was your first job?”

Well, I let three or four people go before me so that I could understand if I was on point, what the question really meant and the best way to answer it.

After the fourth teller finished his story about being a bag boy at a grocery store, I raised my hand and explained, “The summer between my junior and senior year, I joined some sort of national work program for teenagers sponsored by the government, which offered opportunities for local jobs at minimum wage. After volunteering, I discovered that the possibility afforded to me was working at the cemetery, cutting the grass and taking care of the gravestones.

“I was torn between being grossed out and wondering whether anything could be any more boring. But the only other thing available was with a farmer, bailing hay. I did not like hay. I didn’t like heat. I didn’t favor sweating and knew the farmer would be there the whole time, and I’d have to really work hard. I thought that the keeper of the graves might actually trust me to do the job without peeking over my shoulder.”

“I was right. Matter of fact, after about four or five days, I discovered he never showed up to confirm my work. So I started coming to the graveyard, signing in, and then leaving. I was able to continue this practice for about two weeks, collecting my check—until I finally got caught.”

At this point I stopped speaking, thinking I was going to get some laughter and maybe even a round of applause for my tale. But instead, a young woman sitting across the room gasped and said:

“Geez…that was criminal.”

Looking into all the faces around me, I waited for someone to speak up and offer at least some support for my ingenuity.

No one did.

I was angry.

Although I did not stomp out of the room, I made my exit from the party as quickly as possible without drawing attention to my frustration.

I fumed. How dare anyone accuse me of being a criminal? I knew what a criminal was. It’s someone who commits crimes, right? An individual who breaks the law and is tracked down by the police and thrown in jail, to stay there until they learn their lesson or complete their sentence.

Then a horrible thing happened.

My conscience showed up.

For some reason, my conscience was in a mood to talk, in a most accusing way.

Mr. Conscience reminded me that three years ago, I had skipped out on rent that was due.

He also brought up the fact that I copped some money from a drawer when I was at a friend’s house.

There were four or five examples that my goddamned nosy conscience decided to dredge up. Each one could be individually explained away—and had been, by my glib nature.

But collectively, they showcased an individual who felt he was superior to everybody else—certainly high and lifted above the rules—and therefore could do what he wanted.

The conclusion was simple. I was a criminal because I committed a crime by breaking the law, which was really a rule set by those who have the uncomfortable job of trying to make things run smoothly by seeking common ground among diverse people.

I was thoroughly ashamed.

Since that day I have not lived a faultless life, but I’ve never been a criminal again. Because even though I don’t always agree, I always know that agreeable is necessary.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


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Coproduce

Coproduce: (v) to produce a motion picture, play, etc,  in collaboration with others.

My son works in the independent film industry.

Matter of fact, for four years I joined his wife, Tracy and him by penning thirteen screenplays, which they ably turned into feature-length funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
movies.

It was very enjoyable.

We agreed on almost everything—except…

He really felt it was good—dare I say noble?—to collaborate. To co-produce with strangers.

Let me make it very clear. I love people as long as I don’t have to endure too many of their opinions.

I welcome input.

I learn from almost everyone.

But normally I do this by watching their successes and imitating those procedures.

What I do not like to do is sit around a table and “brainstorm.” To me, brainstorming leads to a tornado of confusion.

I also don’t like the fact that when people co-produce, they tend to focus too much on their own contribution to the project, sniffing it out like hound dogs looking for a scurrying rabbit, constantly reminding everyone quietly, or loudly, that the preceding portion was their idea.

Perhaps in the long run, I lose some quality by tapping only the sap of my own tree trunk.

But when you only have yourself to blame, you don’t have to share bows or get into ridiculous arguments about whose ingenious notions really made the experience click.


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Coffee

Coffee: (n) a drink made from the roasted and ground beanlike seeds of a tropical shrub, served hot or iced.

An ambiguous lover.

That’s what coffee has been to me.

It always reminds me of that one girl I knew, who was a good friend and occasionally made me think that I wanted to make out with her–and I think she probably felt the same way about me–but we never, ever felt it at the same moment. So awkward attempts to be romantic always led us back to long conversations about how we didn’t want to ruin it because our friendship was so special.

That’s the way I feel about coffee.

I have really tried to get into coffee. It seems like something that should work for me. I hang around with people who enjoy it immensely. Part of me would love to love coffee–just to fit in.

But the numerous times I have tried to have relations with the coffee cup have ended up very unsatisfying.

Maybe it’s because I snuck up on it.

A couple of times it seems like it snuck up on me.

Perhaps it revolves around the fact that our love affair is decaffeinated.

I tried it iced, but it just left me cold.

I tried it with cream, without sugar; with both; and even with something they told me to put into it which I could not identify–and did not help.

Officially…I am not a coffee drinker.

I sometimes hold a warm cup of the fluid in my hands in the midst of strangers and adults so as to take my place in the tribe.

But always, by the time they’re ready to have a second cup or top off their first, I have barely taken three uncomfortable sips.

 

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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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Brethren

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Brethren: (n) archaic plural form of brother.

“I’m doin’ it so my family can have a better life,” he said, being interviewed on one of the singing competitions so prevalent over the airwaves.Dictionary B

I was supposed to be moved by his sentiment. I guess the goal was to get me in his corner by realizing what a fine damn fellow he was for loving his wife and children.

But is that really special?

How basic is it for us to just express affection to those we marry or procreate?

Isn’t the music more important?

Isn’t communicating with others through melody and harmony the greatest aspiration?

I just think I would be very disappointed if Beethoven wrote his symphonies for “a gal and his young’uns.”

Somewhere along the line, we need people to step out of the box of family life, and begin to refer to those around them, who do not share DNA, as “brethren.”

You are my brothers and sisters.

The fact that you look different and come from unique regions only makes you more intriguing.

When we settle for our clan, our cloister and our clump, we are admitting that we have second thoughts about loving the stranger.

Since most of us are strangers to the rest of the world … we might want to reconsider our position.

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Barbarian

Barbarian: (adj) of or relating to ancient barbarians.Dictionary B

I wish I could report that the nervous, prejudiced and angry process of choosing up sides for basketball in gym class ceases after adolescence.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

There are too many people who should possess intelligence and courtesy who continue to follow that barbaric practice of alienating people based upon personal preference.

It causes us to make enemies instead of creating relationships.

We feel we strengthen our relationships by alienating others. Isn’t that interesting? We think by saying that we love “this group of people over here” more than “that group,” we intensify our commitment and affection.

No wonder it’s so difficult for us to believe the statement, “For God so loved the world…”

We think that makes God wishy-washy.

Doesn’t He realize that some people are barbarians?

Doesn’t He understand they are breaking His rules and therefore should be classified as damnable or at least second-class citizens? How can we feel good about ourselves if we don’t make other people feel bad?

There’s a simple statement which is slid into the Good Book which is often overlooked: “I am debtor to all.”

Honestly, folks, I can’t think of any place I’ve ever gone or any group of people I’ve ever met who did not teach me something. I may even have found them distasteful at first, but they still enlivened my palate.

  • They made me think.
  • They made me wonder.
  • Sometimes they were cautionary tales on what not to be–but I used their presence on Earth to make my world better.

There isn’t a race of people who at one time or another was not considered to be barbarians by those ruling over them.

The sooner we realize that the space we occupy is not holy, but rather, the fellowship we create with one another, the better off we will be in using this planet … to bless instead of curse. 

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