Cling

Cling: (v) to hold on tightly

I cannot explain the choices I make in the middle of the night, when suffering from a bit of insomnia and flipping through the channels on television.

In my conscious mind I am trying to find something that’s boring enough to put me to sleep. Therefore I often stop at religious programming.

Just a couple of evenings ago, I landed on a program with a preacher who had a Georgia drawl, explaining why he was not afraid to die. He became very emotional, citing that he knew he was going to go to heaven and spend eternity with Jesus. Surrounded by the dark room and feeling very impressionable in my nighttime skivvies, I nearly believed him.

I wondered why I didn’t feel that way.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t think it sounds interesting.

I get teary-eyed thinking of a world without me.

I can’t imagine how my friends and loved-ones will survive. (Maybe that’s why the Pharaohs locked all their cats in the tomb with them.) I digress.

I cling to life.

I am not a hypochondriac, but if one is needed, I can do a pretty damn good impersonation. Why? Because every breath, every pain, every trickle in my system makes me suspicious that it is the precursor of a wave of destruction.

I think it’s foolish to say you believe in a God who made a beautiful Earth and then to be in a hurry to get away from it, thinking that the upgrade will be an improvement.

I like Earth.

I like people–even when they’re unlikable, because then they’re a puzzle.

I like being around.

I like what happens when I’m around.

So I cling.

Whatever seems to be full of energy, vitality or just the general circulation of the blood, I support with all my heart.

It is time to admit that I am an Earthling who will need to be evicted to get me to leave my particular duplex. Perhaps my Creator has set aside a place for me in a spirit world which is beyond my comprehension. I cannot cling to that.

But I can cling to faith, hope and love.

These are the three things that matter. These are the three things that make Earth sweet.

And these are the three things that make me so glad that I’m still alive with people like you.

 

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Circus

Circus: (n) a traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that gives performances, typically in a large tent

I’m about to break one of my own cardinal rules when it comes to writing.

I don’t mention too many “pop culture” references from the past because they’re irrelevant to the majority of the people who read my blogs.
. But when I saw the word “circus,” my mind went to only one place.

When I was a kid I was portly. (Now, this is a “grandma word” used to describe a fat boy.)

I fell in love with a TV show called “Circus Boy.” I can’t tell you much about it but there was a little kid just my age, with blond hair just like mine, blue eyes–the same–and he was part of a circus. He walked around wearing an adorable hat which might cause the worst cynic to beam a smile.

I loved that show.

So one day when shopping with my parents, I noticed they were selling a replica of Circus Boy’s hat. Oh, my God–I begged. I pleaded with my parents to get the it for me. It must have been very reasonable because they didn’t quibble.

I never took it off. My greatest joy was that when people saw me in the hat, they often commented, “He looks kinda like Circus Boy.”

It was almost like I was a leper and Jesus had just touched me.

One day I was in the grocery store with my mom and dad and a man and woman came up and the lady said, “Is this your son?”

My mother nodded with pride. Then the lady said it. “You know, he really looks like ‘Circus Boy.'”

I was about to explode with a huge smile and share with her that “Circus Boy” was my favorite show on TV when the man piped in, “Yeah, kind of. Except he’s fat.”

The earth stood still.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t look in any direction without seeing human beings who needed to be far away from me at that moment.

I turned on my heel and ran out of the store, wedging myself against the back of a Coke machine in a corner, crying.

You see, the guy wasn’t mean. Just matter-of-fact.

It was such “matter-of-fact” that even I knew it was true.

To this day, “circus” brings up “Circus Boy,” which stirs a memory of my fondness for the show, circulating images of the hat I wore, pretending–but deep in my heart, knowing I couldn’t be him.

I was too … portly.

 

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Chuckle

Chuckle: (n) a quiet or suppressed laugh

He drove me crazy (even though that would not require many miles of journey.)

He was a theater critic who came out to watch my show, and even though I settled my inner being by insisting that I would not glance his
way, my left eyeball seemed to deny the commitment and wander over to view his reaction.

I was hilarious–at least as hilarious as I ever get.

I was on–which is merely the opposite of off.

The audience was with me–though you’re never quite sure how much of it is sympathy.

He just sat there. He didn’t smirk. It was like someone had bet him that he could remain emotionless during the entire affair.

I had never met him before, but I hated him. Not with a ferocious anger, sprouting a rage of violence–just a normal, temporary, human hatred, which could be assuaged merely by the introduction of a simple compliment.

After the show he came backstage to see me. I was surprised. I thought the next thing I would receive from this fellow would be his review, in which he used as many synonyms for “mediocre” as possible.

But turns out he thought I was hilarious.

I had to ask him, “Did you ever laugh?”

He frowned at me as if concerned about how much I might have hurt myself falling off the turnip truck.

“You don’t have to laugh out loud to chuckle inside,” he explained. “I am an internal chuckler, who simultaneously admires the material that amuses me.”

I stared at him, but decided not to pursue the conversation, since at this point, the outcome was in my favor.

But as I considered his insight, I realized that I often watched things on television or at the movies, and would tell people how funny they were–yet I wasn’t really sure my face exuded anything other than a death growl.

All I can say is, you can feel free to chuckle, even if it’s done inside your closet of appreciation.

But thank God–oh, thank God–for those who spill and spew their laughter.

 

 

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Cherry-Pick

Cherry-pick: (v) to selectively choose (the most beneficial items) from what is available.

Living in an era when social slop is often offered as emotional cuisine, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the bad from the good and call it ugly.

Matter of fact, upon reading the word “cherry-pick” this morning, a negative feeling came over me–images of prissy people sitting around
choosing their favorites based upon preference in design and structure.

People often say that I cherry-pick my political views, missions and certainly my spirituality. So to those critics, let me say with full-throated confidence:

You are right.

I have no idea if what I believe about government would actually work, but in my mind it is certainly preferable to the “dance of the dunce” that we presently parade in Washington, D.C.

I don’t know if I am any kind of expert on television, movies and entertainment–I just know that I don’t like anything that doesn’t both entertain and inspire me.

And I certainly cannot contend that the Gospel I believe in is completely in line with the one that was in the mind of the Nazarene who strolled the Earth in loincloth so many centuries ago. But after many years of living, I believe it is still the good news that actually functions in the hearts of all cultures.

It is time we begin to cherry-pick:

Start liking movies for their content instead of who stars in them or who directs them.

Begin to believe in ideas, not because 25,000 people gather to cheer them on, but because they are full of mercy and grace.

Listen to music that stuns our consciousness with an immersion of human awareness instead of merely demonstrating the height and breadth of technology.

I am a cherry-picker–and because of that, I have found my life to be fruitful.

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Charcoal

Charcoal: (v) to cook over charcoal.

My dad tried hard.

I didn’t know it at the time–I was a teenager and I thought he was an old man. He was pretty old–older than most of the dads.

Sometimes he would imitate joy over having me as a son. I was usually watching television at the time, and unaffected by his attempts at
conversation. Then, when I needed five dollars to take a girl on a date, he distanced himself from me–protecting his pocketbook.

We never connected. But to his credit, he never stopped trying.

He even decided to go out and buy a really cheap grill from Buckeye Mart, complete with charcoal briquettes and lighting fluid. He was determined to grill hamburgers in our back yard.

He had no experience.

The first half hour was spent trying to figure out how to ignite the charcoal. Then he ended up wasting about two pounds of hamburger because he didn’t know you were supposed to wait until the fire went down. I faithfully stood by his side watching as he told me I would be taking over the grill in just a few moments.

I never did take over the grill.

The charcoal he bought was so cheap it wouldn’t stay lit and the lighter fluid was bargain brand and not very effective.

So at the end of the excursion, my father presented a platter of hamburgers that looked like charcoal briquettes, and some that were still raw.

It was a fiasco.

It would have been fine if he had laughed at himself or admitted his lack of foreknowledge. But he didn’t. He blamed Buckeye Mart for having inferior products and me for not being adequately motivated.

It is not a good memory.

But it does remind me that a sad man–who happened to be my dad–kept trying to please a very bratty son.

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Borrow

Borrow: (v) to take and use something that belongs to someone else with the intention of returning it.

I have an inkling that determining whether people are getting older can be evaluated by judging the shows they watch on television.Dictionary B

For instance, when I was younger I would never have watched “Wheel of Fortune.” And even though I would not call myself an avid viewer now, it is occasionally on in the background while I do other things.

Likewise, I would have made fun of myself for watching the judge shows like “People’s Court.”

I bring this up because on these court TV shows, each case finishes up with an interview in the outside hall, where the announcer asks the litigants what they learned from the experience. Universally, the eternal truth that falls from their lips is, “Don’t trust anybody.”

Benjamin Franklin intoned, in his pseudo-intellectual way, “Neither a lender nor a borrower be.”

It is a wonderful philosophy–if you are never in need.

But since my life has been bespeckled with all varieties of poverty and prosperity, I can appreciate the fact that every once in a while … you are one cup of milk and one bowl of cereal short of breakfast.

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Boob Tube

Boob tube: (n) television or a television set.

You probably won’t believe me but his name was actually Uncle Bebo.Dictionary B

He was a small, elf-like man with a mischievous grin who used to love to tease me with various tricks and little lies he’d tell to produce astonishment, which brought him great levity when seeing my bewildered face.

I remember telling him one day that I liked Milky Way candy bars. The next time he came to see me, he brought me black licorice. He said, “If you like Milky Ways, you’re really going to like black licorice.”

To this day I don’t know whether he was joking with me or if he really thought that black licorice tasted like Milky Ways.

It doesn’t.

This is the same thing I feel about television. In an attempt to pulse the marketplace to become more realistic, the producers try to convince us that their exaggeration is reality. In other words, they pass off black licorice as Milky Ways.

I’m not so sure they mean harm, but I’m quite positive they do not understand that the purpose of art is to both evoke and invoke–evoke a response, but invoke more of the beautiful attributes of human behavior.

An evening of watching the boob tube makes me feel that the world is filled with boobs–idiots who think they achieve their purposes by resorting to violence.

Of course, this is ridiculous. The laws of our land forbid us from even laying a finger on another person without being accused of assault. But we are led to believe that revenge, getting even, cheating, lying, expressing great frustration and being childish are acceptable forms of behavior.

Television is not dangerous, it’s just irresponsible.

It is fully aware that we need Milky Ways, but for some reason it has over-purchased black licorice and is trying to get rid of it.

 

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