Antipsychotic

dictionary with letter A

Antipsychotic: (n) a type of drug used to treat psychotic disorders.

I believe the old saying is that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

I don’t know if that means that fools are careless, or angels are chicken shit.

But I do know that ever once in a while, it’s important to risk appearing foolish in an attempt to focus on something that’s important.

So playing the part of the fool, let me state bluntly that America is nuts.

I know that’s not a clinical word normally used by psychiatrists, but it does describe the mishap of activity that is being presently performed under adult supervision.

Religion, politics, entertainment and corporations have lost all sense of morality and even any compass for productivity, chasing down either imaginary dragons or unicorns in the enchanted forest.

There seems to be a national sense of neurotic.

Now, what is the difference between being neurotic and psychotic?

  • Neurotic is when you’re afraid that you’re going to go out on the street and get robbed, so you end up staying at home.
  • Psychotic is when you stay at home and have a visceral experience of being robbed by imaginary thieves named Imogene and Darnell.

Here’s my concern: neurotic people can become psychotic if their neurosis is not talked out.

I believe we’re already on the verge of finding imaginary enemies that are chasing us down instead of having the good cheer and wisdom to tackle simple problems in our everyday lives. So more than ever, people are being prescribed medication for conditions that should be handled among our peers with comedy and conversation.

Yes, if we stop talking to each other, only texting and posting on Facebook, the little demons will start crawling out of the closet and begin to gnaw on our ankles.

So let me be foolhardy and tell you that social networking, the Internet and cynicism are tempting us as a nation to leap from neurotic to psychotic. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why somebody would ever go into a school and shoot a couple dozen little kids.

I know we’re concerned about tragedies like this, but I’m much more worried about the loss of humanity, the missing link in our species that creates brotherhood instead of culture wars, and the rejection of a gregarious nature, forcing us back into our caves, where we scrawl on the walls, admiring only our own artwork.

We will become psychotic, and then will probably become so alarmed that we’ll prescribe a national antipsychotic for the water system if we don’t learn to deal with the neurotic notions that make us feel superior to each other and afraid to merely use our abilities the best we can.

 

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Ante

dictionary with letter A

Ante: A stake of value or money placed by players in a poker or similar game prior to the beginning of the game.

I do believe it is one of the three things that everybody contends they do pretty well. At least they would not allow you to speak disparagingly of their effort.

The first one of these is love-making.

If you were to believe the populace as a whole, every one of us is a great lover. Obviously this is impossible, but I’ve even counseled people who have committed adultery, who were sorry for the action, but also wanted to make it clear that they “blew the mind of their lover.”

I think the second one of these self-concluded abilities is singing.

Even though you run across people who admit they can’t sing, if you listen to them warble and then laugh, insisting they were correct in their assessment, some offense will ensue. Yes, most people think they are “shower” recording artists.

The third one may surprise you. I believe it’s poker.

Nothing will get you more ridicule than admitting that you don’t totally understand the game of poker or that you might find yourself clumsy while participating. For after all, that usually is the persona of a card shark.

So when I am invited to join a poker game, I have to immediately run to the Internet and catch up on the rules, especially when it comes to the realm of “ante” and betting. Honestly, sitting here writing this essay, I don’t exactly remember how the process of placing money into the pot really works.

I know some of you will write to me to explain it in vivid detail, and I appreciate your knowledge on the subject, but it will not prevent me from being tense when the cards are dealt in my direction.

Somehow or another, I can’t figure out how you can make money at poker when you can be “called” at any time. How does the betting continue, enabling you, if you have a good hand, to procure more money if everyone else has folded?

It baffles me.

And I, for one, have found myself in situations where I pretend to know things that I don’t, only to be exposed later as both a fool and a charlatan.

So in a sense, I am going to “ante up” this morning by admitting my lack of comprehension of poker.

Yes, and I feel so candid that I will include singing and love-making, too.

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Another

dictionary with letter A

Another: (adj & pron) a word used to denote an additional person or thing

I have just learned to go with it.

People often ask me how I’m able to write a column every day on the Internet. They think it’s impressive.

For me, impressive is someone digging a ditch on a ninety-five-degree day, or my food server remembering my exact order, complete with a side of horseradish.

But the reason I can write is because I don’t fight the first sensation that comes to me and try to improve on it too much. Most of the people I know who are writers fail at the task because they’re waiting for another idea.

They become too critical of their first instinct or try to complicate it or embellish it too much and lose the beauty of what I refer to as “slapping your face” inspiration.

Two immediate examples came to my mind when I read the word “another.” Both of them are comical in nature because they show how ridiculous we become when we are either too analytical or feel too entitled.

There is a story in the Good Book about the character John the Baptist sending his friends to ask Jesus the question, “Are you the one or should we look for another?”

It’s pretty funny. After all, there weren’t a lot of people doing miracles and railing against the religious system, while preaching a universal message of love.

But Jesus didn’t fuss. He just went out and did a good day’s business. Then he told the messengers to go back and report to John what they had seen. He left it to John to decide for himself if there was another.

On the other hand, there is the advice you get from people, usually older adults, when you’re a teenager, about romance, after your girlfriend breaks up with you.

“There are a lot of fish in the sea,” they proclaim.

You see, that’s fine if one fish is as good as another, but if you were thinking about getting a bowl and having a fish of your choice to be your lifelong pet, then some specific attributes would be required. (There’s a reason they call them “gold-fish.”)

Human beings are not like buses. You can’t miss the opportunity to love one and think another one is going to be coming around the corner real soon.

“Another” is a dangerous word. If we use it too often, we begin to believe that we are merely consumers who are being wooed by God and our fellow-humans with their wares.

If you ignore blessing too often and miss out on the moving of the Spirit … you might find yourself stuck with something much less satisfying than what was originally offered.

 

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Anecdote

dictionary with letter A

Anecdote: (n) a short and amusing or interesting tale about a real person or incident.

There are things that are true–yet truth has a responsibility to stay contemporary.

What I mean is that simply because something was true in a certain way a hundred years ago does not mean it can be heard as truth in our present society by pursuing the same method.

For instance, people used to tell stories.

Back before radio, television, Internet and downloads, the bearer of news relied on speech instead of Podcasts.

Folks actually sat around a fire for hours, spinning one yarn after another, giving examples, and in the process, created both understanding and fellowship with one another.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to get nostalgic. I’m perfectly satisfied living in a world where the anecdote has been set aside, or only applied as a means of an opening monologue for a Rotary Club speaker.

But in the pursuit of truth, we have to learn how to take the better parts of the past and mingle them with the new awakening. The only danger, of course, is losing the intimacy once possessed between human beings, and ending up with phones that have their own “I”-dentity and think they’re “smarter” than us.

So what should we do?

I think it’s the responsibility of the creative people in every generation to keep the warmth of great ideas and heat them up on the burners of our time.

It’s one of the reasons I write this essay. I can take words, insert my anecdotes on subjects a bit beyond the realm of my true perception, and therefore interact with you blessed people.

So the next time you come across some grandfatherly individual who begins his conversation with, “It reminds me of the time when I was a young man…”–instead of rolling your eyes and quietly texting under the table, find an ingenious way to come up with two questions to ask him about his experience, and see if it doesn’t change a mere story … into an encounter.

 

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Andante

dictionary with letter A

Andante: (adj) used as a direction in music to mean a moderately slow tempo.

I have found that a little bit of knowledge gives you just enough confidence that you can stumble into creative ways to make a fool of yourself.

It’s much that way with me and music.

I had three years of what you might call “formal training” in playing the piano, and then lots of extemporaneous encounters which have afforded me a scholastic understanding of the craft, similar to storing old papers, discarded clothing and unused appliances in a utility closet. There is no plan for organization–just a bunch of stuff.

So when I saw today’s word, andante, what popped into my mind was what I believe to be a title to a small composition I played when I was a child, pursuing the eighty-eight keys set before me.

It was called Andante Favori. Now let me explain–I do not know if this music actually exists, or if it was a cute title that my piano teacher applied to a piece she wanted me to attempt, and decided to try to make it more appealing.

But as it turns out, as I prepared for today’s essay, I looked it up on the Internet, and discovered that there actually is an Andante Favori. It was written by Beethoven, designated WOO57.

I’m not sure of the translation, but I’m pretty convinced that the title simply means, “A Favorite Andante.”

Not very clever, but in that day and age, composers had to make their living as teachers, and since there was not a lot of printed music available, they penned their own lesson tunes for the students who were given to nobility, but not necessarily talent.

So as I’m writing this today, I am literally punching in a You Tube of somebody playing the piece. I can tell you that it’s not stunning, it’s very simple, and is exactly what an andante should be: completed but not memorable.

So it is with a combination of rejoicing, awe and yet a bit of being unimpressed that I share this with you today.

It’s just nice to know that Ludwig actually wrote the song and it wasn’t an andante of my imagination.

 

 

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Amass

dictionary with letter A

Amass: (v.) to gather together or accumulate a large amount or number

Oh, cautious soul that I truly am, I am always suspicious of the majority.

When human beings amass in large quantities, stuffing themselves into arenas, large sanctuaries or convention halls, I become a bit disconcerted.

Because to gain applause you have to get the approval of many people at the same time. Already that connotes a great degree of compromise. It also encourages demagogues, who espouse the present popular stumping, screaming from the podium until the listeners become frenzied.

Every time I become concerned about my level of popularity or fame I go on the Internet and watch a news reel of Adolph Hitler circa 1932 in Germany. No one could have had more charisma. If you read his speeches in English, they are filled with nationalism, pride and a great sense of “Yay us.” So of course, people amassed behind such encouraging themes.

But here is the startling fact: human beings are just better when we’re not kissing our own ass (or nearby asses).

Certainly we require a certain amount of appreciation, but mingled in with that should be adequate doses of challenges, questioning and even the occasional on-the-spot review.

Although I realize that I am in the minority in my lack of acceptance for the majority, I will tell you that the best decisions I have made in my life, the most amazing transitions and the most valuable conclusions arrived at in my soul, were accomplished in moments of reflection, and punctuated by seasons of repentance.

  • So those who amass wealth are prodded in their spirits to give it away. If they aren’t, we call them “stingy butt-holes.”
  • Those who amass friends are in need of sharing that friendship with the entire world instead of swallowing it whole. Otherwise we think of them as glory-hounds, flitting from one party to another.
  • And those who amass respect are obligated to share it with “the least of the brethren” around them, so as not to convince the gathered horde that superiority has been achieved, and therefore the inferior ones should be trekked to the gas chamber.

I don’t believe in a lonely life. But I do believe that the “road less traveled” is not only quieter, but gives you a chance to look deep inside and discover the need for improvement.

 

Ajar

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Ajar: (adj and adv) a door or other opening left slightly open

“Keep the door ajar.”

We all know what that means.

It’s our way of communicating that what is happening, beyond that which is inside the enclosure, is not private, segregated or secret.

It is also what we were told to do as teenagers when we were in a room with our girlfriend or boyfriend. It was a reminder that at any time, our seclusion could be interrupted by the inclusion of others.

I made a decision a long time ago to keep my life ajar. To think that any of us can get by with hiding our mistakes or foibles is a ridiculous notion. In an age of super-information available at super-speed, it is doubtful that privacy can be attained, so the only thing open to us is to select speed of revelation.

I’ve been silly about it in the past.

  • At one time I was embarrassed that I didn’t go to college, but began a family immediately due to my rising hormones, which preceded declining grades.
  • I used to be afraid to admit to others how unknown my efforts were and attempted to name-drop to procure respect, which only, in the long run, drew further attention to those mightier than me, whose names I was invoking.
  • I used to avoid questions by changing the subject or offering answers I thought were cleverly ambiguous, but actually just sounded evasive and stupid.

You can feel free to attempt to delude the public, keeping your door tightly shut, in hopes of avoiding interference from strangers. But as the Good Book says, there is nothing “whispered in the ear which is not eventually shouted from the housetops.” (By the way, a statement spoken by a fellow who didn’t even have to deal with the Internetor the NSA.)

So I can sum up my philosophy about “keeping my life ajar” in three quick statements:

  1. If I’m ashamed of it, change it enough to where the shame is gone.
  2. If I’m the first one to bring it up, nobody can act like they “got me.”
  3. Honesty is the best way to keep people off your back, because they relax and then you can actually be more like yourself.

Keep the door ajar. Pretty good philosophy.

Keep your life ajar. Genius.