Attorney

Attorney: (n) a person appointed to act for another in business or legal matters.dictionary with letter A

A friend of mine was going through a nasty divorce.

She was desperately in need of getting away from an abusive husband, but unfortunately had limited funds. Also unfortunately, my bank account mirrored hers.

So she combed through the Yellow Pages and found an attorney who advertised reduced rates. She called him up and he optimistically told her of a plan of action to get out of her marriage for a mere $250.

It was the best deal available so my dear friend jumped on the opportunity and signed on the dotted line.

Everything went along fine at first–until the renegade husband decided to contest. Apparently, our attorney had missed some classes on “contesting.” He seemed completely baffled as to what to do when things did not go exactly by the step-by-step plan in his “paint-by-lawyering” kit.

So he failed to file papers on time, creating an absolute mess for the custody of the children, which eventually led to the crazed gentleman abducting the offspring and generating a plot which might have been suitable for a “Law and Order” episode.

When confronted with his inept handling of the situation, the attorney replied, “Yeah. I probably should have done that, but I didn’t.”

That was it.

My friend thought about asking for a refund but then it occurred to her:

When you go seeking for a discount, you may not be able to “discount” the results.

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Attitude

Attitude: (n) a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or somethingdictionary with letter A

Just last week, my new book, Within, arrived–fully published and ready to go.

When I was holding it in my hands, gently turning the pages in great appreciation, it crossed my mind once again why I wrote it.

I realized that the reason I had penned this particular volume was that I wanted to make the distinction between belief and attitude.

In my journey, I have grown weary of those who have beliefs, yet offer no consolation to either the world around them nor their own sense of well-being.

What difference does it make if you believe in a God who makes you obnoxious?

What possible justification can we have as Americans to preach our gospel of democracy while inequality and racism are still nipping at our heels?

I’m tired of belief. I would rather follow a devil with a smile than a cranky angel.

I’m sorry–that may not be politically correct or spiritually proper. But as I get older, I realize that our time is limited and we should use it wisely.

So when I wrote my book, Within, my goal was to address the attributes, values and the sheer joy that goes into living as a human being–realizing that as I did, I was thrusting to the forefront the beliefs that really matter.

I just don’t think I become a good citizen of Earth by insisting that the world’s about to end.

I don’t think I help folks by criticizing their lifestyle before I benefit their hearts.

I’m tired of belief that offers no relief.

Give me someone who realizes the value of an attitude that is both accepting and challenging, and I will show you a true believer.

If creeds, doctrines, holy books and constitutions are what cause you to find your righteousness, then I must say … perhaps you’re already damned.

 

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Attire

Attire: (n) clothes, especially fine or formal ones.dictionary with letter A

I’ve only owned one house in my life.

It was a big one. The master bedroom had a huge walk-in closet.

Caught up in the vanity of the moment, I felt it was my duty to fill this enclosure with various costumes, clothing choices and attire which I could walk in and choose from daily as “lord of my manor.”

So I purchased garments, and some were given to me as gifts.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that each and every week, I was only wearing about three or four different outfits–repeatedly. The rest of the clothes were dangling from hangers like ugly gargoyles on a medieval castle.

They were fixtures. Matter of fact, some of them collected dust.

In the midst of this comedy of collection, I had a realization.

My mind went back twenty years earlier, when I found myself doing a gig in a small Kentucky town. (I was so grateful for the opportunity to share my talents and to have anyone listen to me that I chose to ignore the fact that the community had fewer than 500 people, and that the building’s foundation was crumbling.)

Arriving at this latest opportunity, I realized I only had two outfits from which to choose. One of them was a powder blue leisure suit which I had worn too often and was certainly a bit grimy. The other outfit was clean, but because I didn’t have a belt, the pants kept sliding down, threatening to disappear, producing disgrace.

So torn between my attire, I first put on the pants without a belt, only to discover that it was very annoying to keep pulling them up. So right before the show began, I slid into a back room and put on my somewhat filthy, powder-blue leisure suit.

In that moment I made a decision about my attire:

Always better to be a little soiled than “unfoiled.”

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Attic

Attic: (n) a space or room just below the roof of a building.dictionary with letter A

I grew up in a two-bedroom house with a mother, father and four brothers.

If you’re wondering if the space provided failed to meet the requirements of the number suggested, you would be absolutely right.

So as a young boy, I was always looking for new places to go, which I felt provided me opportunities to escape the common cloister.

First was our garage, which was very tiny–not large enough to hold a car and a lawn mower.

We had a huge back yard, which was very nice, but my father had haphazardly planted trees, which were now growing everywhere, making it somewhat impossible to find any space for an actual playground.

There was one enclosure of solitude: our attic.

To get to this room, you had to pull down a set of wooden stairs in the ceiling of our garage, climb up carefully and wiggle through the tiny hole into a space about twice the size of the interior of a car. Our house was not insulated, so as soon as you got up into that territory, you were either freezing in the winter or boiling in the summer.

I didn’t care. I liked to go up there and look through the stuff.

Then one day I realized that I was not surrounded by treasures, but rather, rejects–items which were no longer found worthy to co-exist with the mortals.

  • Maybe they were outdated.
  • Maybe they were ugly.
  • Maybe they had worn out their usefulness.

But mostly they were abandoned.

Pictures, frames, papers and periodicals, periodically boiling and freezing.

After a while, I got depressed being up there. I had this strange sensation that someone would come, pull up the ladder and close me in, deeming it necessary to have one less person in the house and deciding that I was more suited for the rejects on high.

It spooked me.

I know that Anne Frank once found solace in an attic, but for me it was merely a reminder that when people get tired of things, deciding to hoard, they take them to a place where they’re out of the way … and soon forgotten.

 

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Attest

Attest: (v) declare that something exists or is the case.dictionary with letter A

If I reached into my treasure chest of what I believe and hold dear, and removed everything that wasn’t backed up by my own experience, I would soon find myself with a lot of available room.

One of my steps of maturity in this human journey is realizing that quoting, reciting, insisting, proclaiming, preaching and postulating “just don’t make it so, Joe.”

Honestly, the only time my words are worthy of being heard are when they are accompanied by adequate traveling miles that confirm I have actually taken the trip.

What can I attest to?

  • I can attest to the fact that “an eye for an eye” is completely useless and renders us violent and paranoid.
  • I can attest to the fact that normally when I am kind, gentle and loving to the world around me I get some portion of that coming back my way.
  • I can attest to the fact that judging other people only creates enemies and pisses God off.
  • I can attest to the fact that when I’m given a tiny window to use my talent, my ability is proven to have enough traction to generate an income in my direction.
  • I can attest to the fact that 20 minutes after I eat at Taco Bell, I have to go to the bathroom.

These are my realities.

They are true enough that I could swear on a stack of Bibles, even though honestly, I couldn’t swear on a stack of my realities about everything that’s in the Bible.

It does not mean that I don’t hold many truths to be self-evident, or wish they were realities. It’s just that I can’t attest to them.

And when I try to do so, I end up getting challenged, and either looking like a fool or finding myself stubbornly digging my heels in on glare ice.

Simplify.

Are there a certain number of things we need to believe to be classified as believers?

Or does being able to attest to one thing get you into the club?

 

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Attenuate

Attenuate: (v) to reduce the force, effect or value of dictionary with letter A

It does plague my thoughts.

Three years ago, my knees, which have always given me a little trouble, basically gave up on the notion of carrying around my weight and allowing me to be a normal “stroller.”

I considered my plight.

I could go to a doctor and check out knee replacements or treatments. Honestly, this would lay me up for several months and take me away from a mission which I feel compelled to pursue with, may I say, some sense of urgency.

So although I’m still able to get around to some degree, for any distance I utilize a wheel chair.

This was difficult for me. All my life I’ve been busy, active, traveling around the country sharing my talents. I didn’t like the sensation of being weak.

But worse than my feelings about the issue was my fear that I was limiting my impact because of the visual of my impairment. It bothered the hell out of me, and honestly, to some degree still does.

When do we cease to be powerful, disappointing in our delivery?

In other words, am I asking people to look past my fragility to accept my viability?

For after all, politics is attenuated by lies, religion is attenuated by intolerance and youthfulness is attenuated by foolishness.

When are we diluting ourselves, and therefore ending up deluded?

I’m not sure.

But as the weeks passed, I realized that in a strange sense, people admired me for continuing through the struggle.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal.

But as long as it doesn’t attenuate my heart and soul … I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.

 

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Attention

Attention: (n) notice taken of someone or something dictionary with letter A

After a handful of decades of public speaking, I will tell you that human beings are not interested unless they’re interested.

That may sound silly, but if you stop to think about it, all of us are inundated with information which has little use to us in the moment. But we are challenged to believe that someday, at some place, it will become valuable.

So unfortunately, this puts us all in a conformity of boredom, feeling mature by enduring speeches instead of enjoying the now.

Here’s what I think about attention. It goes really well with two ideas:

  • Attention to detail
  • Attention span

I think these go together as a pair.

If I go into a lot of detail and lose the attention span of my audience, then no matter how righteous I feel in sharing my data, it is absolutely worthless because no one’s listening.

On the other hand, if I take some time and find out what really does interest people and put it in the context of what will actually help them, then I can use my attention to detail effectively.

People may have a limited interest in government, but they really want it to work and not interfere.

Folks may want to go to heaven, but nobody’s in a big hurry to get there.

And people are only interested in following instructions when it means they can put together something that will be fun.

I think we’re in danger of hating humanity because they’re so human instead of studying humanity and loving them for being human.

My attention is held by what seems to be pleasurable. If I can make love, generosity, tenderness and creativity a pleasant experience, then I have brought a great gift to my generation.

 

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