Cruel

Cruel: (adj) willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.

You do know that your clock doesn’t say, right?

I’m talking about when we casually cite, “The clock says…” and we note the time.

Since clocks can’t speak, they can’t say.

Some folks would say that’s being picky. (Actually, it’s a little trick you learn in writing to make sure you don’t have grumblers and complainers instantly mocking you because you claim to have a talking clock.)

But two nights ago, I caught my clock reading, “2:53 A.M.”

Suddenly I was wide awake.

It’s amazing that during some of these midnight stirrings, it feels like you could get up and build a bridge. And then, five hours later when you’re supposed to get up and bridge something, you can barely move.

We are strangely constructed, curiously functioning and unfathomable in our conclusion.

But since the clock read “2:53,” I decided to ask what the plot was. Yes—my brain always has some sort of idea it’s brewing, contrary to what I might think about during the day, and also frequently critical of my self-assured attitude.

The question on this particular awakening was, “How have I been cruel?”

When I’m better prepared—after the selection of my favorite shirt and a good breakfast—I would probably insist that I’m not cruel. But my brain was reading something else at 2:54 in the morning. So I stayed quiet and listened.

This is the lecture I received:

You are cruel when you withhold appreciation simply because you believe you’ve already expressed your favor.

You are cruel when you know someone requires a hug and you supply a handshake instead.

You are cruel when your friend has contacted you by text or email, and you arbitrarily decide to return it—the next day.

You are cruel when you hear an ignorant statement made in your presence and you let it go without comment, thinking it’s none of your damn business.

You are cruel when you turn into cement over an issue of spirituality, politics or morality because you think it makes you appear more righteous.

You are cruel when you comply to the mediocrity of a situation or the indifference of a room because there’s no need to be a boat-rocker.

You are cruel when you no longer believe you’re capable of being cruel.

I don’t like it when my clock reads.

I guess I’m just like everyone else:

I would be completely satisfied with an ignorant time piece.

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Credentials

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Credentials: (n) evidence of authority, status, rights, entitlement to privileges, or the like, usually in written form

 I suppose if you removed my driver’s license from my wallet, I would possess no credentials whatsoever. My state has authorized that I am entitled to drive a vehicle.

I have never received credentials from a music school, though I have persisted in making music.

I have no credentials whatsoever to write books, blogs and screenplays—yet again, I pursue.

I certainly had no credentials to be a dad, but the kids kept showing up.

I had no credentials as a lover, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

I am not licensed or approved to be a philosopher, a teacher, an instructor or a motivator—but these things have come up and in the absence of real talent, I have stepped in, acting as the best substitute I could.

I suppose I should have given more thought to gaining credentials. They do look good when writing a bio. Getting places or people of note to qualify you is much better than jotting down, “Have no fear. I am here.”

And I am certainly not one of those who feels self-righteous about lacking credentials, as if I were showing some sort of superiority by sheer grit and force.

It’s just that everything in my life started about one year earlier than it probably should have.

When I possibly could have gone to college, I was having my first son. And since I had that little family, when I might have wanted to garner some sort of degree or certificate, I was trying to put pizza and animal crackers on the table.

What I had to learn was that the absence of credentials demanded an honest presentation of oneself rather than lying or becoming defensive or saying something stupid like, “I have graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

I think it is absolutely delightful, if not essential, for people to gain credentials. I certainly do like to know that my plumber has plumbed before, and somebody knows that he’s not “plumb crazy.”

But in the absence of credentials, I will humbly offer myself, candidly share my value and do the best goddamn job I possibly can.

 

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Correspond

Correspond: (v) to communicate by exchange of letters

Dear You:

This is me.

I am writing you for many reasons.

Well, that’s not true.

The main reason I’m writing you is that I don’t want you to ignore me.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Each one of us is so busy that we soon will forget people we know unless we purposely correspond with them. We may protest and say that’s impossible, but certainly, “out of sight, out of mind.”

Pretty soon, who knows? In a moment of feeble-mindedness, you might actually fail to recall my name.

I don’t want you to do that.

I’m too important to me for you to forget me. Do you follow that?

And I hope you are too important to you to have me forget you.

This is why we contact one another. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s done through a letter, an email or a text—just as long as I know that you know that I am here and you are aware.

Yes, all forms of communication, at their root, are insecurity speaking out.

After all, how much time would we spend thinking about God if there were no Bible? And how much Bible would we read if there were no church? And how many churches would have people in attendance if they weren’t going there to meet up with people they hope wouldn’t forget them?

We can either deny selfishness, or we can use it to help us understand the selfishness that exists in others. Once we forgive ourselves for selfishness, we might have a bit of leniency left over to forgive one another.

I correspond because I do not want to be forgotten. In the process I am able to communicate to you that you are well-thought-of and treasured.

How can this system be wrong?

How can this be anything other than the definition of the selfishness of humanity put into good practice?

Dear You,

This is me.

May we never forget us.


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Core Curriculum

Core curriculum: (n) a collection of courses with a central theme

I tend to run out of the room in a bit of horror when I hear voices raised and people begin to stomp around sharing their opinions with more energy than wisdom.

I know it may be popular to be sold out on your convictions, but too often I see people’s convictions sell them out, leaving them ignorant or inept.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Every once in a while, you’ll stumble across a discussion laced with some humility—and the participants will admit that the reason a conversation is necessary is because knowledge is lacking.

For instance, what does an eighteen-year-old American teenager need to know, think, believe and feel upon graduating from high school? Candidly, college offers new choices the student can take advantage of if he or she is so inclined, but I do think we should be very interested in what the average eighteen-year-old already knows upon completing the core curriculum in the American educational system.

And in a sense, it does boil down to “reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic”—but may I add a fourth “R?” Rationality.

Reading is necessary because if you’re eighteen years old, and you insist that everything you need to know you’ve already learned, then you are certainly a danger to those around you.

‘Riting because if you’re only going to use words in vague half-sentences or tweets, then you will often leave the world around you bewildered as to your intentions. Can you write a decent paragraph that conveys what you’re trying to say?

‘Rithmetic—because entering the adult world, you must understand that things need to add up, and if they don’t you must subtract something and learn to divide up your efforts to grant you the possibility to multiply.

And finally, rationality. Teaching an eighteen-year-old that most of the time, he or she is either wrong or deficient of the data necessary to make a good decision will calm things down, with a bit of needed uncertainty, instead of becoming overwrought, chasing unrealistic dreams.

Yes, there is a need for a core curriculum—where we start out agreeing on common sense principles.


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Contraction

Contraction: (n) a shortened form of a word or group of words

I have been considered a writer by entities other than my personal ego.

I am grateful for that nod—humbled by the notion that someone would actually like to read a few words that I have put into sentences as long as they funny wisdom on words that begin with a Cdon’t extend beyond three paragraphs.

I have often stopped and wondered if I should use the contraction “it’s” instead of “it is” or “I’m” instead of “I am.”

Here’s an easy one—“let’s” instead of “let us.” (No one says “let us” unless they’re doing medieval theater.)

When is it valuable to shorten something and when does the extension produce greater impact?

It’s a decision I make nearly every day. There are actually times when “do not” is more effective than “don’t.” Don’t you agree?

There are occasions when “we’ll” does not appear as the word “well” and may be an on-point insertion rather than the words “we will.”

But in my limited and less-than-touted-in-fame journey, I have found that when emphasis is needed, remove the contraction. For at that point, it more resembles a contraption.

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Conjunction

Conjunction: (n) a word used to connect clauses or sentences

I wasn’t exactly sure how to write this essay, and I have to admit, I find myself a little reluctant today, for I didn’t get a good night’s sleep to rally my senses, nor am I particularly hitting on all my cylinders mentally about the word itself, but I’ve certainly been writing long enough to put together something solid on this particular subject, or I can refer to some of my former writings and see if they can grant me some insight, so I will continue to pursue this particular word instead of moving onto another one and abandoning the significance of writing something about a very familiar, usable unit, which is often ignored by the world around us because there’s a great fear, and a legitimate concern, that overextending a sentence might confuse the reader, but I’ve never found such a situation to be true because I give people credit for being intuitive and able to keep up with the subject matter–yet I have to admit that I have at times read what they call run-on sentences, so there is some legitimacy for using caution when putting such skill into practice, but for today, I will simply see what I can come up with, and do my very best, for that is the best I can do, but I will try to do better, even though there is no word for better than best, yet maybe in the process, I can come up with a new word which will communicate that concept, so here we go.

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Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories 'Til Christmas

(click the elephant to see what he’s reading!)


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Collate

Collate: (v) to collect and combine in proper order

I do not judge my life by my successes, but rather, by the ease involved in achieving them.

I will tell you quite bluntly that success loses much of its excitement and is greatly diminished by finding yourself bogged down in chores. 

I had an idea.

I was in my early twenties and had written a book. I was so damned impressed with myself. I struggled to let people know that I had written a book, so they could grant me adequate praise.

I was impatient. I didn’t want to just write a book, I wanted to print a book and put it in people’s hands, observing them gasp with amazement.

This was before desktop publishing was a common practice. At my disposal were printed sheets which had been typed–and a Xerox machine.

I decided to ask one of my friends to retype the document so it would be as clean and crisp-looking as possible (though I don’t know what clean and crisp
means.)

This was my first mistake.

This lovely lady was obviously going through some sort of mental disruption, and ended up misspelling hundreds of words, which I did not catch because I decided it would be petty to proofread it.

So not only did I have a faulty original, I used a Xerox printer which probably belonged in a college dorm room, and demanded it do the job of an industrial one.

Not only did it refuse, it was rather snotty about it.

Mistake two: after the first fifty pages, the ink cartridge started to fade.

And finally, making sure that I had three mistakes to “uncharm” me, I collated by myself.

So when it came time to have the book fastened together (with staples) and I handed it off to a friend, within three seconds she was giggling.

On page five alone, the word “the” had been misspelled four times in five different ways. (I don’t know how that’s even possible.)

It was also humorous to her that the pages were so faded that she needed a magnifying glass to read them.

And to add insult to depravity, I collated incorrectly, so page 7 followed 5, then 10, then 17…

So I decided that the only way I would be able to offer this book was to put a disclaimer sheet with each and every sale:

  • See how many mistakes you can find!
  • Did you need a magnifying glass to read this, or are your eyes really good?
  • Even though it was an experiment, did you like jumping all over the book to find out what the next page was going to be?

It was one of the saddest days in my life when I had to take all the project–all the paper–all the effort–and toss it in a trashcan.

There is a reason that we leave it to the experts to collate.

After all, it isn’t just some Random House…

 

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