Day by Day

Day by Day: (adj) taking place each day; daily

My children and grandchildren have a favorite word they use in the midst of discussing entertainment and music from former times.

The word is “dated.”

Once that word is spoken aloud into the chat, they are convinced that the material is no longer relevant, and may even have been “corny” or too simplistic in its inception.

I understand it is the prerogative of every generation to ravage the art, reactions of the previous.

It’s just that with the turning of the present screw, I’m not quite sure what’s the driver.

What is determining cultural thinking?

And what is being abandoned under the guise of progress?

One afternoon, I played the soundtrack from the Broadway musical, Godspell, for my young ones. The music from that particular experience still stirs me and reminds me of a time when protesting Vietnam led to objecting to stupidity, which welcomed a search for wisdom.

In the midst of that, the nation experienced what was referred to at the time as the “Jesus Movement.”

I’m not going to use this article to either analyze nor defend that brief time in our history. All I wish to say is that a song from that Godspell musical, in my mind, personified the mood of the nation from 1971 to pre-election 1972.

Day by day

Day by day

Oh, dear Lord

Three things I pray

To see thee more clearly

Love thee more dearly

To follow thee more nearly

Day by day

It was so common and uncomplicated that it took the air from the room.

I still weep when I hear it, conjuring memories of my own time and also the sheer joy that encompassed the congregated whenever it was sung.

I enjoy much of today’s music and today’s entertainment.

I am not stuck in the past.

But I am cemented into some convictions—one of them being the power in believing that good things can be achieved … day by day.

 

Day

Day: (n) the time between sunrise and sunset

I certainly would not want to be so presumptuous as to suggest that I have found some pearl of great price or fragment of wisdom that is life-changing for every human soul.

But it works for me.

And honestly, it’s difficult for me to care about you if I feel maladjusted.

I’m not nearly as likely to sense empathy for your modicum when I’m toiling with my “bottom of the barrel.”

And I do want to feel for you—somewhat. Enough to be helpful, but not so much that I’m taking phone calls in the middle of the night.

So I will tell you, the best thing I do—the happiest discovery, the most intelligent endeavor and the “eternal” that seems to bring me life—is taking every single day and breaking it down into as many pieces of possibility as I can.

When I make out a “Things to Do Today List,” I include waking up, putting my feet on the floor, morning pee and brushing my teeth.

That’s four things right there.

For instance, by the time God did four things in Genesis, there were birds in the sky.

I don’t say this because I want to be silly or make meaningless things possess significance.

I just think if something I do is unique, it deserves a moment of celebration.

For bluntly, there is nothing like waking up.

No moment in my day will be quite like that first splash of awareness that enters my mind, when I translate from sleep to reality.

Likewise, throwing my legs out of the bed and onto the floor may be the greatest exertion ever undertaken—I mean, in comparison to other times when I exercise and already warmed up.

Must I defend the beauty and the glory of the first morning pee? I love to hear it as it hits the porcelain and splashes into the tide. I love the power I feel when I change the color of a toilet full of clear water.

Brushing the teeth—it is the symbol of salvation. Dirty incisors and crusty molars being immediately transformed into shining stars in my mouth simply by a minute-and-a-half cleansing.

And that’s just to begin my day.

Don’t forget dressing.

Breakfast.

A little reading.

Catching up on some emails.

Stepping outside to see what the day has to offer.

There are so many highlights in one day that are set apart and precious. How dare we ever discuss a week? A month? Or a year?

Take no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow has its own problems.

Consider the day.

Pack it full.

Rally around its possibilities.

Regale its offerings.

Giggle at its missteps.

And tenaciously survive its grumbles and complaints.

 

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama: (n) formerly the ruler and chief monk of Tibet

Religion reminds me of taking a machine gun to battle house flies, the premise being that the more bullets you have to destroy the varmints, the greater your chance for success.

The problem?

Unfortunately, you destroy everything in sight with your machine gun, just to dispel some annoying fly-bys.

As a human being, I am fully aware what qualities I appreciate in other human beings—and what I do not.

For instance:

I don’t like to be cussed out.

I don’t want to grovel for attention.

I like to be able to speak my opinion and have it heard, if not honored.

I can survive a bit of grumpiness as long as it’s followed by a season of smiles.

I like to be right.

I like to feel healthy.

I like someone to notice when I’ve done good work.

And I like people to forgive me when I’ve stunk up the joint.

What I’ve just shared with you is a summary of the true value found in religion. Everything else is legalism, prejudice, ritual, outlandish oversight, and rules and regulation—frequently about issues that have not been pertinent since the fifteenth century.

They say there is a man in Tibet called the Dalai Lama who is full of wisdom.

I don’t doubt that.

If you climb into my van, I’ll drive you down the street to the nursing home, where we will walk through holy ground and meet many such men and women.

These are the traveling souls who have worn human skin and discovered much foolishness and settled on simple things, like a small squirt of whipped cream on top of their tapioca pudding.

The Dalai Lama may be just fine.

I don’t disfavor him because he is not of my faith.

But I do not believe that his mere lineage from some dude grants him the license for a holy genetic order.

I think we should listen to the Dalai Lama just as intensely and feverishly as we do the Dolly Parton.

D & C

D & C: (n) a surgical method for the removal of diseased tissue or an early embryo from the lining of the uterus by means of scraping.

After thousands of essays, I have arrived at the letter D.

And D is not dainty.

D is daring.

D feels a dutiful decision to be direct.

So D begins with D & C.

Taking on one of the more controversial subjects of our time, D startles us with deadly determination.

Did you read the definition? “The removal of diseased tissue or an embryo from the lining of the uterus by scraping.”

Could anything more simply capsulize the debate on abortion?

There are just some individuals who believe there’s a difference between disease and a fertilized egg and there are those who certainly contend that a woman should have the right to decide what remains in her uterus, whether it be disease or embryo.

Perhaps they could just give us the dignity of making the two processes somehow different. Maybe one could have a name which is separate from the other. Otherwise, the same process that removes disease abolishes embryos.

Is there any way to gain intelligence, or shall we say, wisdom, from this matter?

Let’s consider this:

Maybe, if it’s as bad as it sounds, it might be worse than we portray.

Or maybe, as horrible as it seems, it is actually less offensive in application.

I guess each person has to decide.

And since we live in a land of freedom, that contemplation belongs to the woman with the beating heart and the thinking mind.

That is the way of a democracy. Such a form of government does not function on morality, but rather, liberty.

And sometimes the pursuit of liberty can insult our morality.

 

Cyclops

(Mythology) a member of a family of giants having a single round eye

Was the purpose of the mythology concerning this creature to generate the image of a horribly frightening being–not only terrifying by its brute strength but equally as intimidating by its ugly appearance?

Or was the writer trying to communicate a hidden moral to all of us about how having only a single eye offers little perspective on life as a whole?

I’m not positive.

But even though I run across human beings who seem to have two peepers, after talking to them for a brief period of time, I can tell they actually have a single outlook about life on Earth, and are incapable of truly recognizing anything outside that field of vision.

Now, the question would be, does it make them ugly to me?

As in the story of the Cyclops, merely having physical prowess and one way of looking at things leaves you quite vulnerable from the rear and the sides.

And although many travelers are proud of how they can only see things one way, when circumstance creeps up from the right, cunning comes from the left, and wisdom surprises from the rear, they are usually exposed as misguided and poorly prepared villains.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Curtail

Curtail: (v) to prevent, reduce or diminish

Imagine a door.

Standing at the door is a tall fellow—broad shoulders—a bit intimidating.

You are pleased to see that he has a smile on his face.

Yet as you stand back and watch, someone approaches the door. Our guard steps in front of it and says some words to the person that you cannot hear. He responds belligerently. The doorman holds his ground and the visitor stomps away, infuriated.

Now you’re curious.

You wonder what’s behind the door. Let me tell you. Yes, to make the story more interesting, I will let you know.

Beyond that door is joy without shame.

The acquisition of being happy with the world around you and pleased with yourself without being haunted with the regrets of bad choices or unnecessary shortcuts.

Are you interested?

So now that I’ve told you that, are you prepared to approach the door?

Of course not. You just saw someone rejected, and he didn’t look any worse or better than you.

Beyond all means, the worst thing, in our minds, is to be rejected.

Even in the pursuit of joy without shame, it wouldn’t be worth being refused entry, dragging your ass away, refused entry.

So let me give you another clue.

The man standing at the door will only ask you one question.

(Don’t roll your eyes. I didn’t say it was a great clue.)

Just one question.

You still seem perplexed.

Okay—let me give you one more clue. I’ll tell you what the question is.

That perked you up. Here it is:

What are you willing to curtail and change to receive joy without shame?

Be careful, now. Because all the religion, politics, philosophies and entertainment have flattered you and me to believe that we are fine the way we are. Just misunderstood.

Since our youth, we’ve heard it: “Be yourself.”

And now you’re coming to a door where you’re being told that you will be required to deny false gratification, insincere sentiments and dispel lies to come in and find joy without shame.

Are you prepared?

Are you willing to look into the face of politics and say, “There is no hope in you because you lie to me, thinking I’m a liar, too, and will understand your lies?”

You will have to gaze into the glassy eyes of religion and say, “I need more than eternal salvation. I require a human life that is abundant with experience.”

Can you curtail your faith that entertainment will provide the necessary food for your emotions, soul and body, and instead, call it out for failing to recognize your whole person?

And finally, push away from the false comfort of a pop psychology, giving you false confidence instead of challenging you to learn your world.

Are you ready to walk up to this “bouncer?”

Or do you need some time?

Yet I will tell you—the question will always be the same.

Certainly, the smile on his face will always be there, but the choice remains.

The decision is yours.

Are you prepared to curtail foolishness to gain wisdom and peace of mind? 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Curfew

Curfew: (n) a regulation requiring a person to be home at a certain prescribed time.

The startling thing about wisdom is how much sense it makes if you’re not running from reason.

If you’re in a mood to listen and hear, the gems that can be picked up from the desert floor of human interaction is mind-boggling.

But the minute you’re convinced that your aspirations, your lifestyle or your pursuits are supremely energized, then your ears will close and your mind will flap in the breeze.

Such is the case with the American adolescent.

I was once an adolescent, so I feel qualified to speak on the issue. On top of that, for some reason I decided to birth babies, who unfortunately became adolescents—and once again, I peered first-hand at the lingering problem with these creatures.

An adolescent is self-destructive because an adolescent believes that truth is better acquired outside the home, outside the faith, outside the school and outside common sense.

So anyone who tells an adolescent about an exciting adventure suddenly becomes the “John the Baptist” of the high school hallways, declaring the “way of the Lord.”

Nowhere is this any more true than in the arena of curfew.

If every living human were completely honest, they would proclaim: “Nothing good is ever done after twelve midnight, unless you work the third shift making ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.”

Everything that happens after midnight is drenched in iniquity, covered by darkness and surrounded by the kind of rascals who feel it is their privilege to “party all night and sleep all day.”

So when a Mom, Dad or any authority figure sets a curfew sensitive to that border into the entrance of Dante’s Inferno, it is based on a concern that when fun is done, we need to run.

Because after we’re done with all the eating, the movies, the bowling, the partying—then we are in the car, driving and looking for a new location to continue an event which should be over.

Everyone knows this.

Even if you caught a teenager speaking bluntly to a friend, this adolescent, too, would have to admit:

“At midnight, the coach turns into a pumpkin and the slipper drops.”

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Curb

Curb: (n) an edge for a sidewalk.

If you play the nasty game, you will probably end up nasty. You might try to keep yourself pure in the midst of the scum, but you will certainly end up as slimy as the rest.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

If you insist that “everyone is beautiful in their own way,” and privately sponsor a beauty contest, your hypocrisy will surface.

If you proclaim that aging allows for wisdom while you secretly try every pill or medication conceived in the Amazon forest to remain young and virile, you certainly will lose some credibility.

When I was much younger, I watched people do step aerobics.

You may not even remember it.

It was just a small piece of plastic, about five inches tall, that you kept stepping up and down on for exercise.

When I was thirty years old, I remember thinking how stupid it was. I even remember my words: “My God! That piece of plastic is no higher than a curb!”

I mocked those participating. I couldn’t imagine why or how this could ever be significant.

I was equally as critical of those who did jumping jacks. How could this be an exercise? Clapping your hands over your head as you spread your legs, to return them to normal, going back and forth…

Well, it’s more difficult to describe than to do.

Then I woke up one morning, put my foot down on the floor, stood up and my knee turned me ever-so-slightly to the right as I rose.

I’ll never forget it. It was breath-taking.

Sudden.

Disconcerting.

I began to think about those people who did their step aerobics—moving up and down on their private curb to exercise. All of a sudden, I had full comprehension about why this particular exercise was beneficial.

For you see, the human body has a will to die—from the toes up.

  • First, your feet ache
  • Your ankles, cursed with cankles, start grumbling every time you walk too far.
  • Then there are shin splints.
  • Your calf muscles occasionally have a spasm or charley horse.
  • Then one day, the knee—the center of commerce in the leg—starts getting fussy.

Then you wish you had done your step aerobics.

Or maybe you did too many step aerobics, and your joints sent you a special delivery.

The point is, whatever age you are, use what you’ve got wisely—and sparingly.

It doesn’t last longer if you over-use it.

And it won’t last at all if you never use it.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crotchety

Crotchety: (adj) given to odd notions, whims, grouchiness, etc.

There are three words that seem to travel together. Buddies, if you will.

I don’t think you can see “crochety” without the word “old” hanging around, accompanied in the back seat by the word “man.”

Crochety old man.

Women aren’t crochety—women are bitchy.

Men, on the other hand, get a “cushioney” word, perhaps pulled out of a hat owned by Charles Dickens: “’Tis crochety, old boy.”

Also, men are old. Women, on the other hand, are decrepit.

At least with the word “old” you have the possibility of “wisdom” traveling alongside. But decrepit immediately conjures a vision of an old witch with a fondness for dining on the carcasses of little children.

The gentleman in the story gets the advantage of maintaining the word “man” to describe him, while the woman would be a hag.

So if you have a penis, you get to be a “crochety old man.”

Absent that appendage, you are a “bitchy, decrepit hag.”

After all, what does it mean to be crochety? It means that nothing is going your way anymore because your way is so old it’s covered with dust.

What can one do to age and still be a person who isn’t crochety?

I think there is a three-step process, whether you’re male or female:

  1. Shut up.

No one wants to hear all your stories.

  1. Listen.

And as you do, learn some of the lingo so you don’t talk like you came out of a 1970’s movie.

  1. Think funny things, think serious things—share the funny ones.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Crescendo

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crescendo: (n) a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.

I do realize there’s a danger in over-analyzing things. It can become tedious, if not obnoxious. Yet I will tell you—life becomes much simpler when you first realize it’s supposed to be simple, and then you start looking for the parallels that dwell behind every experience and lurk beneath each rock.

Over the years I have played my share of music.

Some people have even accused me of being a musician.

I’ve written songs and I’ve composed about eight symphonies (though Mozart and Beethoven shouldn’t be worried about their day jobs.)

Music has taught me a lot.

That’s not a very profound statement, but once again—simple.

Music knows what the key is meant to be in every situation.

It finds a melody, so some sensibility can be mustered for the hearer.

It certainly acknowledges the need for harmony.

And it has a great desire to strike a chord of commonality among us.

But never does music teach us anything more than it does with the crescendo.

Some people live their lives full out, loud, always punctuating their crescendo to the maximum. Then when they need to say something essential or shout out a truth, no one listens because they are always blaring and trumpeting their feelings.

The wisdom of music is to start your piece quietly and build.

Let’s be honest—if the audience doesn’t want to hear the song or doesn’t prefer the tunefulness of it, playing it more loudly does not achieve much of anything. But if you can acquaint all those around you with a theme they really embrace, by the time you get to the finale, you can generate a crescendo that triumphs the message and the music to the climax.

I used to be of a mindset that the louder I said something, the more emphatic and powerful it became. But I just ended up in a room with a bunch of fellow bellowers, shouting over the top of one another.

I shall never forget the night I was playing a concert, and the band that was on right before our troupe closed out with a screaming anthem, leaving the audience leaping to its feet, applauding wildly.

I realized there was no way to top that, so I looked for a bottom. I took the stage with just my guitarist and sang our sweetest, most childlike ballad. By the time I finished, the attention was mine. If I had desired, I could have manufactured my own crescendo. There was no hurry. It wasn’t a competition.

Turn down the noise.

First in your own mind—your own twitter—and then patiently let it all tone down around you.

Take a deep breath, pick your moment, make sure it’s timely…

CRESCENDO.

 


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