Collateral

Collateral: (n) something pledged as security for repayment of a loan

No one is ever interested in hearing about my successes.

Perhaps it’s the flash of arrogance that enters the human voice whenever we talk about ourselves in a positive way.

I gain empathy, friendship and humor with my fellow-travelers by “pranking” myself in a snarky way–especially when remembering a time when it appears that I was infested with the demon of stupidity.

To protect myself I always begin these stories with: “It happened many years ago.”

That way you know that I would not pursue this particular adventure today–and if I did, since I am older, I would have more money to address it.

I wanted to borrow two hundred dollars. This was back in a time when two hundred dollars was my “guesstimation” of the value of Aladdin’s castle.

The person from the bank told me that if I had some collateral he would be “willing to consider” such a loan.

I didn’t question any further–I asked myself, What do I possess that’s worth two hundred dollars?

Ruling out my kidney, liver and lungs, I came up blank.

Yet all at once, I remembered that in the basement of my parents’ loan company, there were some huge slabs of marble left over from when they had decorated the office. It seemed to me–since they were marble–that they were certainly expensive.

I wasn’t a rube, so I called a local lumberyard person and asked him what he thought such a slab would be worth.

After he understood the dimensions, he said that if I bought them at the store each one would cost me a hundred dollars.

I was thrilled.

All I had to do was carry three (playing it safe) marble slabs up a flight of stairs, around a corner and out the door, and I would have my collateral.

The problem was, the only person available to help me was my wife. Though sturdy, she was not at a strength level to lift her share of what probably was two hundred pounds each. This did not deter me. I decided the best thing was to put her at the bottom and me at the top.

It took two days. (Not full days. Twenty-minutes-at-a-time days.)

We took a lot of breaks.

Finally we actually unearthed from the basement tomb three two-hundred-pound slabs of marble, got them into the back of our van and drove them to the bank.

I was so damn proud.

I coaxed the banker to come out and see what I had to offer for collateral. Opening the back door of the van, he stared at the dusty pile of stone.

He laughed.

And not just a little. It may be the first time in my life that I was laughed to scorn.

He patted me on the shoulder, shook his head and said, “That’s a good one, man. I can’t wait to tell everybody about this one.”

I assumed the loan was a no-go.

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Chip

Chip: (n) a small piece of something

Thoroughly aware that trying to wax poetic often just leaves you waxy, I will offer the following insight: life is about discovering what chip you’re dealing with.

Is it a poker chip, a potato chip or a discarded chip? All three are applicable to the word “chip.”

You can choose to believe your life is a poker chip–in other words, just a big gamble where you occasionally win but you mostly lose, so you might as well party
and have a good time.

You can also view life as a potato chip. Yes, obnoxiously insisting that “no one can eat just one,” you tackle it with vigor and a sense of awe, believing that every turn in the road is a new opportunity for success.

And of course, you can contend that life is a discarded chip. In other words, whatever is complete and whole will probably not come your way, so the true art of living is learning how to take the rejected pieces and turn them into evidence of your prowess and intelligence.

There may be other chips in life:

  • Certainly we know there are reportedly “chips that are down.”
  • Some chips end up on your shoulder.
  • And occasionally, we may even feel cursed because we’re like a “chip off the old block.”

What chip are you?

Because word has it, the choice you make determines whether you end up chipper.

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Chandler

Chandler: (n) a dealer in supplies and equipment for ships and boats.

Looking back, I realize my oldest brother was a chandler. He was only in his twenties when he decided to open a marina. He sold boats, fixed boats, tied boats, and also sold boating equipment.

I remember as a young man, being very impressed, surprised and intimidated by his success. (My greatest success at that time was getting two A’s in a row in
chemistry–neither of which I deserved.)

My oldest brother was a chandler. I do not know if he loved boats or not. I don’t recall him talking incessantly about watercraft. He did like to fish.

But what prompted him to take the big leap of faith in his youthful years, to establish such a business for the folks who wanted to sail the waters of Hoover Lake, near Columbus, Ohio? (We called it a lake–actually, it was a reservoir.)

My brother ran his business for several years, and then a bigshot came to town with more boats, more equipment, more floor space, more advertising, and more of whatever more will buy. My brother could not keep up. He lost his business.

He was a determined man of discipline and taut feelings. If he was truly devastated, he never let anyone know–at least, not me.

But he never quite found anything to replace his marina. Perhaps it was a chandler he was intended to be–and by intended, I mean desired. Once that was gone, he found himself selecting from Column B.

Yes, perhaps that’s where we all lose our zest for life–wearily thumbing through Column B to try to find something that comes anywhere close to what we once had in Column A.

Yet it feels good, now that my brother has passed on, to write this small article and tout him as the chandler he was.

I think he would like that.

 

 

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Chain Reaction

Chain reaction: (n) a series of events, each caused by the previous one.

I have never found a pear on an apple tree. This seems like a trivial statement. But you see, there are many things in nature which we accept
as true, but never apply them to our personal lives.

For example:

I’ve never received respect by being mean. Fear, perhaps–but never respect.

I’ve never been productive by being timid.

I’ve never achieved good romance by being selfish.

I’ve never acquired money by sitting on my treasure chest, guarding it from thieves.

Life is filled with chain reactions. It is not limited to the elements becoming compounds. It includes the ability to look inside yourself and see the fodder that fosters failure and call out the standards that salute success.

Life is a chain reaction.

I have boarded a bus in the middle of downtown America–a vehicle full of sullen, preoccupied people–greeted the bus driver with a smile, kindly addressed one or two people nearby, and in no time at all, a chain reaction went through the bus, and conversation ensued.

I am powerful.

You are powerful.

I can view my life as a catalyst for creativity, or I can become a whiny, cautionary voice of worry and concern. The choice is mine. But either way, there will be a chain reaction.

It’s not so much that if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, rain falls in Brazil–but rather, if a bear farts in the woods of Minnesota, is he conscientious enough to excuse himself so the squirrels don’t get cranky and have a bad day?

 

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Build

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Build: (v) to construct something by putting parts or material together

What should the question be?

Is it what I build?

How I build?

Where I build?

When I build?

Or why I build?

Let’s start with why I build.

I build because there’s a need. There’s an absence of a landmark which proclaims an important truth.

When I build.

Two ingredients are always necessary–labor and money. If people are not motivated to build, the money will quickly be eaten up. If the mDictionary Boney is not available, the labor will be disgruntled.

How should I build?

Without strife. I’ve seen people begin projects and absolutely destroy their relationships just because the deadline or the goal superseded the appreciation of one another.

Where should I build?

There’s an axiom that something built on rock will last longer than something built on sand. Sometimes we build on sand because we think what we built will be so appreciated that there won’t be any attacks against it. That’s a mistake. Our building should be able to withstand the onslaught of nature and critics.

And finally, what we build.

We should always build to sufficiency, with a vision for growth. We should never place a one-acre building on a one-acre property. There’s no place to go. But we should never be ashamed of a humble beginning. The secret to success is not to begin big, but rather, realistically, so people can constantly see our growth.

Yes, what should we build?

What is it we need?

 

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Brink

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brink: (n) a point at which something is about to happen; the verge.

Two pundits. Two opinions.

Contradictions.Dictionary B

One firmly states, “We are on the brink of disaster.”

The other enthusiastically counters, “We are on the brink of great success.”

Each one has a case.

Each one works off of existing facts, trying to convince the listener of the validity of his or her point.

Can they both be right? Or are they both wrong?

It is amazing to realize that most of the time, life continues at a snail’s pace, without disaster or success. Matter of fact, it takes a great intervention to produce either one.

But we are on the brink of a decision.

Are we going to leave things the way they are and let them play out? Or are we going to intrude on the trend to generate a new possibility?

There are certain ingredients for disaster. Arrogance and ignorance would be the pair which normally precede that devastation.

And there are ingredients for success. Kindness and creativity. For after all, nothing of human quality can be done without kindness, and if we don’t create, we have a tendency to settle.

What are we on the brink of?

It would be the hope of this author that we’re on the brink of a great awakening–a season when we’re no longer afraid to admit our weaknesses, anticipating that they can be forgiven, the door flung open to repentance…and that we can usher in a new life.

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Bribe

Bribe: inducement offeredj-r-practix-with-border-2

Tit for tat:

  • If you will do this, I will do that.
  • If you give me this, I’ll give you that.
  • If you believe in me, I’ll believe in you.
  • If you kiss me, I’ll kiss you back.

We are constantly bribing each other. We withhold blessing, generosity and affection as hostage while we negotiate our deal.

We need to be self-motivated. We should do things because we want to, not because we have to or we’re trying to get something off of someone else.

Truth is, if I love myself, I can do a helluva lot of good things. In order to love myself, I need to believe I have enough resources through my talent and faith to sustain success. That way I don’t have to negotiate bribes to acquire my sense of worth.

Dictionary BDoing things of our own volition is the secret to contentment.

Otherwise, you and I will continue to bribe each other, only satisfied when we feel we get the better end of the deal.

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Bootstrap

Bootstrap: (v) to get oneself out of a situation using existing resources.

There are two distinct paths that lead to happy–one is pursuing success and the other is fostering contentment.Dictionary B

Both paths will get you there.

The only question is, which one of these situations is more common to Planet Earth?

For instance, there would be no need to call “success” by a different name than “life” unless it was somewhat uncommon. Otherwise, everyone would just say, “My life makes me happy.”

But actually, for most people, it is success that makes them happy. Anything short of that brings some sensation of disappointment.

On the other hand, if it is possible for us to cleverly derive energy from life–to bootstrap our way into contentment–well, I guess you could say that we can fool ourselves into being happy.

The man who demands twenty dollars will never be satisfied with ten. But the person who would love to have twenty dollars, who has already devised a plan to survive on five, will rejoice over ten.

Can it really be that simple?

Can we work for a higher goal while keeping our expectations more realistic?

Truth is, if we don’t, we’re going to bounce back and forth between discouragement and elation, leaving those around us never certain of who we are–and making us unable to ascertain the depth of our ingenuity and resilience.

 

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Basilica

Basilica: (n) a building similar to a Roman basilica, used as a Christian church.Dictionary B

The battle will always rage.

It is the confrontation introduced by Judas to Jesus when he felt that the Master was foolishly spending money on unnecessary expenses instead of giving alms to the poor.

Honestly, as ridiculous as it is to spend a lot of funds on appearances, it is equally annoying to stand on the corner and lament the choices of others.

Here’s an easy rule I use in my life when deciding if I need a “basilica”–in other words, some edifice or evidence of my success and prowess. I ask this question all the time, and find it most beneficial. I use it for small things and for large decisions, and I find that if I’m candid, I always come up with the right answer, which enables me to avoid unnecessary financial loss, and usually dodge criticism from those who are ready to dole it out free of charge.

Here’s the question: Is this really necessary?

  • I do it with my time.
  • I do it with my family.
  • I do it with my underwear drawer.
  • I do it with my socks.
  • I do it with my car.

When you stop and simply ask yourself if the latest whim to build a basilica is actually going to adv ance your cause, or just burden it with debt, you’ll be astounded at how quickly your common sense will leap forward, attempting to take back control.

Even though I have many opinions on how money is misspent or how it should be given out in larger portions, ultimately it is up to the holder of the treasure … to decide what measure. 

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Attempt

Attempt: (v) to make an effort to achieve or complete something, typically a difficult task or action.dictionary with letter A

In a recent article by a young blogger, I read his assessment of what he considered to be the summary of life.

He stated that on each of our tombstones should be carved one of two words: success or failure.

He contended that the determination of that inscription was totally our decision.

The wonderful thing about being young is that you have many years to correct your dumb assertions.

There are many things that can be our final epitaph–not just the issue of success or failure. And honestly, much of the success or failure we experience is based upon what the market will endure.

Are people ready to hear? Are people prepared to change? Because the failure of one crusader in his time becomes the common knowledge of the next generation.

So here’s what could be written on my tombstone–preferably in crayon.

Attempted.

  • I attempted to play football, and was quite good until laziness took over.
  • I attempted to be a good father considering the fact that I was more suited to a Bohemian lifestyle.
  • I attempted to take my talent and use it to benefit human beings.
  • I attempted to be a good lover, though sometimes I felt I lacked the necessary equipment and opportunities.
  • I attempted to be solvent, bouncing between abasing and abounding.
  • I attempted to evolve my thinking in a day and age when getting older is equated with stubbornness.
  • I attempted to lose weight and so far have only succeeded in preventing myself from ballooning to circus proportions.
  • I attempted to travel the country from town-to-town with a Johnny Appleseed approach for my message.
  • I attempted to be a generous human being, reaching into my often-meager pot to distribute my goods
  • I attempted to stop lying because it was my reasonable service.

I attempted.

Success is over-rated because it is often determined by others who desert the ship when there’s a “new skipper in town.” And of course, failure can often be just a lack of ears to hear.

I am an attempter.

I am proud of it.

It fulfills me.

I need no other praise than the confidence that sweeps my soul when I have completed that which I have been challenged–by myself–to do.

 

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