Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”

 

 

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Caffeine

Caffeine: (n) a crystalline stimulant that is found especially in tea and coffee

I was twenty years old and was thoroughly convinced that every idea that popped into my head was granted by the supreme fairies of genius notions. I was in the midst of the seduction of a particular inspiration, working feverishly, with pen in hand, when I realized I was getting
sleepy.

Successful people don’t sleep, I thought. A budding impresario does not yearn for the pillow.

So I went down to the local drugstore and bought a product called “No Doze. ” I didn’t even read the instructions. (You have to be twenty-five years old to consider such a mature move.)

I just took two. Nothing happened.

So I chased it with two more, waited half and hour and took two more.

Within the span of two hours, I ended up taking eight No Doze, when I finally decided to read the instructions, which explained that each tablet contained the caffeine equivalent to fifteen cups of coffee.

Shortly after reading this warning, my heart started to palpitate. My face blanched, Sweat burst out on every part of my body. I thought I was going to die.

For the first time in my life, I went to the emergency room of the hospital and explained to them what I had done.

The doctor quipped, “You shouldn’t have taken so many.”

True, but not poignant.

By this time my chest was cramping and my legs were twitching. The doctor reached over into his magical cabinet and pulled out a shot of something, which I later learned was a tranquilizer.

I slept in that examination room for six hours. I awoke drained, embarrassed, and desperately trying to explain how I planned to pay for the late-night visit.

So over the years I have convinced myself that I am allergic to caffeine–so as not to accidentally stimulate any reaction similar to the one I had that night so many years ago.

 

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Bondage

Bondage: (n) the state of being a slave.

Dribbling sweat and spitting out angry consonants, the preacher forewarns his timid congregation of the dangerDictionary B of the bondage of sin. Here’s the real essence of bondage:

Bondage is the loss of free will.

Whether it’s taken from you due to addiction, removed by the authorities because of your criminal activity, or snatched from you by religious fervor which insists on stringent practices to please a pissed-off God.

Bondage is when human beings can’t decide for themselves.

Presently, we are in bondage to the delusion of destiny–the ridiculous notion that our lives are pre-determined by some ethereal force which has programmed us for purposes beyond our control.

Actually, the most frightening thing about human life is that we choose to do both the evil and the good that spew from our nature. We are not prodded by the heavens nor are we drug to the depths of hell by demons.

The only true bondage is when we revoke our free will to something, someone, or some place and find ourselves dissatisfied, without a vote.

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Bodily

Bodily: (adj) of or concerning the body.

Dictionary B

Every piece of contradiction is held in place with a reverence to a little scrap of silliness that we’re frightened to abandon.

So in politics we accept lying because it is the silliness we believe holds the process together.

In entertainment, we talk about the “bottom line,” preaching the notion that the pieces of art we foster must make huge profits–otherwise they are not worthy of production.

Likewise, we lift high the silliness of “blind faith,” when it is our doubt that makes our spiritual experience rich with discovery and hope.

And finally, this certainly is true when we talk about bodily functions.

Everybody craps, pisses, farts, screws, sweats, stinks and has aches and pains.

But rather than finding the great commonality which might remove a lion’s share of foolish bigotry, we whisper about these bodily similarities for fear of offending those who somehow believe that the One who created us would find such talk “nasty.”

I have nothing against appropriate dialogue in given surroundings.

But as long as we are afraid of our bodies, we will generate a cloud of deceit to hide our human essence.

 

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Beatific

Beatific: (adj) blissfully happy; imparting holy bliss.Dictionary B

He probably smelled like sweat, grain and farts.

I’m talking about Jesus.

Since he was always on the move in an arid climate and there were no ways to prevent body odor, he reeked.

There was also no halo around his head to let you know that he was special, divine or even beatific.

  • What you had was an encounter.
  • What you possessed was your sense of wonder.
  • And what you had to decide for yourself was whether what you heard could contradict what you were seeing and smelling.

I supposed it would be easier if angels came with a glow. But actually, angels just come with truth. And even though the truth makes us free, we are not always in a hurry to discover our freedom, but are literally captivated by our error.

What tells us that the experience in front of us has eternal possibilities?

How can we know that we’re in the presence of greatness?

And how can we allow words and ideas which may seem contradictory to our training to come and soothe us with mercy and tenderness?

I don’t know the answer.

It is the way of mankind to ignore true value in favor of cheap exchange.

But we can take hope in the notion that beauty can often be identified by the presence of genuine humility.

 

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Anti-septic

dictionary with letter A

Anti-septic: (adj) of or relating to substances that prevent disease-causing micro-organisms.

They put a sign on my door.

Apparently, my condition was common enough that these signs were readily available for ordering from some medical supply house.

The sign read, “This patient is septic.”

Nurses and doctors started walking into my room wearing gloves and masks. I felt like I was in a horror flick and had unfortunately been cast in the role of “the horror.”

What they discovered was that I had an infection which had spread throughout my bloodstream, and therefore every excretion from my body, including my sweat and spit, was toxic.

It was weird.

It made me appreciate the term “anti-septic.” Because when I was anti-septic–completely against the concept–people liked me a lot more and didn’t have to bundle up like mummies to be in my presence.

They put me on a treatment and within a couple of days they were able to remove the sign and my practitioners stripped themselves of all necessary protection.

Now…without becoming too philosophical, we can be septic in many ways, including emotionally, spiritually and mentally. All “septic” really means is that we are poisonous to those around us. It would be good to engage an anti-septic at that point, don’t you think?

So when I am emotionally septic–in such a bad mood that I’m not fit to be a caretaker of snakes–I quarantine myself so as not to spew unrighteous feelings into the air to infect the general populace.

When I’m spiritually septic i spend some time thinking about how blessed I am, and then, with tears in my eyes, apologize to a generous Father in heaven, who is waiting for me to come to my senses.

And when I’m mentally septic–promoting my own prejudices instead of truth–I allow myself the grace of shutting my mouth until some healing can happen in my thoughts.

Anti-septic is a good thing. Because septic kills.

And we certainly have too much of that going around, don’t we? 

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Anthill

dictionary with letter A

Anthill (n.): a moundlike nest built by ants.

In the literary world, ants are always portrayed as industrious do-gooders. They’re also priggish in the sense that when characterized by poets, they are shown to be a bit snobbish about their craft, talent and provision.

I’ve even heard public speakers suggest that a factory or a particular group of working individuals were humming along at such an efficient pace that they “resembled an anthill.”

Yet having looked at an anthill myself and watched ants at work, I would like to make two subjective points that are contrary to the common promotional representation:

1. Can there be anything uglier than an anthill?

A vision in beige, heaped up in no particular style, constructed for the sole purpose of creating a catacombs of work environment for its enslaved occupants. At least when you look at a bird’s nest, it’s formed with all sorts of remnants of this and that and has some individuality. An anthill looks like the desert got the mumps.

2. I personally have watched ants go by me–busying themselves and oblivious to the world around them–and I have noted that there is no good cheer in the little crawlers.

Even though I am a great admirer of efficiency and work ethic, when you remove joy from the experience of human discovery, you end up acting…well, like an ant, wishing you could say “uncle.”

No wonder they occasionally rebel and slip away from the hive to raid picnics. (There are even a few radicals who decide to start their own business of rubber-tree plant removal.)

But most toe the line in their blah surroundings, pushing tiny morsels into the hill in order to eat, dry their sweat and go back out to find more scraps.

So I don’t think it’s a compliment for people to tell me I work like an ant. Because if you’re going to climb mountains … you’re going to have to get out of your anthill.

 

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