Byzantine

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Byzantine: (adj) excessively complicated plan

My scribe–typist, comrade or only person who’s willing to work with me on posting my blogs–told me this morning that we had reached the last word in the B’s on our quest for Words from Dictionary.

Comically, that word happens to be “byzantine,” which is basically a convoluted plan to do something that seems to have bizarre ramifications. In other words, something like writing an essay on every word in the dictionary.

It seems to be a deal you make with God, so that when He comes to take you to heaven, you explain, “I can’t go. I’m only on the letter E.”

After all, even a small child of four years would probably not make it through the entire dictionary–to zoology–in his or her lifetime.

A byzantine plot, adventure, or quest is so outlandishly contrived that one would wonder over the sanity of the instigator.

Yeah. That would be me.

See you tomorrow at C.

(That was clever, wasn’t it? “See you at C.”)

 

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Byword

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Byword: (n) expression summarizing characteristics

What do people think when they hear my name? That’s damn important.

Even though we try to play down the significance of public opinion, since none of us live an isolated existence, people’s idea of us are pretty important.

Am I so mixed up that those who know me find it difficult to pinpoint a continuing virtue or a clinging vice?

Am I constantly reinventing myself to such an extent that no one is sure what I treasure?

Even though we extol the value of choice, it is actually a blessing. Many times we get no choice. All we have is the overwhelming evidence of how we selected to be known, punctuated by countless irrefutable examples.

What is my byword?

  • Is it selfish?
  • Dull?
  • Is it aging?
  • Kind?
  • Indifferent?
  • Is it oblivious?
  • Gentle?

Each one of these words has attended a master class of achievement.

Frankly, no one assumes we’re oblivious–we have to prove it through our complete mental absence.

No one assumes we’re kind unless we have extended kindness.

No one insists we’re old unless we’re constantly complaining about our pains.

So here’s my advice: pick a profile and profile it daily.

 

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Byway

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Byway: (n) a road or track not following a main route

Introspection is beneficial as long as we’re not afraid of discovering untended wounds.

They are there.

They annoy us, but unless we track them down and identify the pain, generally speaking, we assume that we are trapped in our destiny.

Somewhere on the highway of life, we all get hurt. The speed limit is just too fast. People are trying to get to their destination and don’t mind being rude. There aren’t enough rest areas, stop-offs or gasoline stations to keep us safe and well-attended.

We become cynical. The road continues without seeming purpose, except for the dissolving of mile markers.

That’s why I tell you that nothing good ever happened in my life on the highway. Everything of quality that has been brought into my soul appeared on the by-way.

Those times when I had the courage to depart the majority opinion or the flock of determined sheep, and exit to find my own thoughts and grazing, I birthed something of quality.

You see, it’s not that small towns are better than large towns. It’s just that there are too many roads that flow into the big city. Traffic control becomes more important than people’s feelings. When there is only one blinking light in town, you stop because you want to look both ways. You’re not trying to avoid delay, but instead, appreciating the chance to test your brakes and peek around.

It was Frost who talked about “the road less taken.”

It was Jesus who warned us of the dangers of the “broad path which leads to destruction.”

If we really do believe that life has a quality to it, then we should be in search of that treasure. If we think the journey on Earth is a perpetual popularity contest, then we’ll probably avoid the byways–and in so doing, find ourselves crammed up in traffic, cursing the nearby competitors.

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By-stander

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By-stander:(n) a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part

Most people know what an oxymoron is. It’s a statement or collection of words that seem to contradict one another–case in point, jumbo shrimp.

That being said, I will tell you the little known oxymorons is the pairing of the two words “innocent by-stander.”

Although I admit meteorites do fall from the sky and hit people in the head, most of the time there’s a warning and an opportunity before a conclusion.

The warning can be subtle. Sometimes you need to tune your ears to Mother Nature in order to heed the precaution. Even though we consider people who focus on warnings to be paranoid, they rarely find themselves categorized as “innocent by-standers.”

After the warning, there’s usually some sort of opportunity:

  • A chance to say something.
  • A door to do something.
  • A way of escape–a few seconds where thinking can be clarified.

Shortly after that opportunity comes a conclusion. It is random and always certain. It doesn’t care about our status–it just follows through on the warning.

An example:

Driving in Seattle, Washington one summer, I was returning from a recording session when I looked ahead–almost a quarter of a mile–and saw a back-up of traffic. But worse, smoke was beginning to rise in small puffs, letting me know that collisions were going on between cars.

I had a very brief opportunity to avoid being part of a huge freeway pile-up. My brakes were not going to be useful–the person behind would just plow into me.

So as I saw the chain reaction developing in front of me, I moved onto the berm and traveled on it for about a mile, as cars continued to pummel one another in the calamity.

It was very close, but I was able to get in front of the origin of the collision. There was no traffic and I was on my way.

Do I think I’m a genius? No.

Have I always been so observant? No.

But when I haven’t, the problems have piled up on me. 

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By-product

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By-product (n) a secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else

The Good Book calls it “the fruit of the Spirit.”

That was back when people saw fruit growing on trees or bushes. They understood fruit was the by-product of planting, a process and a passage of time.

They comprehended that Spirit would come into a situation, and the evidence of that blessing would be the by-product of fruit.

But now we call our fruit “produce” and buy it at the market.

We now approach our humanity much the same way. If we can’t pick it up quickly, buy it over the counter or assume that we already have it, we are too impatient to wait for something of the Spirit to grow to a point that it creates a by-product.

And even though the Good Book lists many things, it refers to all of them as a single fruit. It’s a lesson–that beautiful teaching that comes our way, informing us that you can’t have one without the other.

Some groups want to be loving but not joyful.

There are other organizations that will talk to you about the joy of gathering, but they find no peace.

Of course, there are peacemakers who have absolutely no patience for waiting at the bargaining table.

Is it possible to insist you are patient without expressing kindness?

Or does kindness ever fail to manifest goodness?

There are human beings who will tell you they can be good without ever being faithful.

I heard someone tell me they had faith, but felt no gentleness toward mankind.

And of course, there are many of us who think we’re gentle or forgiving, but we have no self-control.

When the by-product is born from the true Spirit, the love makes you joyful. That burst of joy makes you perpetuate peace. Realizing you’re dealing with human beings, you bring along buckets of patience plus the wisdom to know that greasing the wheel with an abundance of kindness is never a bad idea. Goodness arrives, and it’s so good that we actually decide to be faithful to it at all costs.

Then we get a surprise.

Being faithful makes us less nervous. We become gentle. And when gentleness settles in, we don’t feel the need to be erratic and out of control.

There are by-products.

There is living proof that the Spirit is at work inside a human being. When the Spirit is absent, you may see lots of trying, but the only by-product is aggravation.

 

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By-pass

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By-pass (n) a road passing around a town

I’ve driven through Los Angeles about a half a dozen times.

Every town has unique traffic hazards.

For instance, Chicago has so many lanes and so much foul weather that you feel you’re in a congested arena of bumper cars.

San Francisco doesn’t have enough land for the number of cars that want to make their way up the coast.

Atlanta is filled with people who like to stop and gaze at traffic accidents, therefore creating jams which don’t seem to have a point of origin, but are endless anyway.

But Los Angeles is unique. They seem to always be working on parts of the freeway, or there are guest dignitaries who are blocking off segments of the road–so there is always a detour or a by-pass.

One day I was driving on the 405 when all the cars suddenly began to exit to honor a detour. We ended up going through the residential district of one of the poorer areas of town. For a while, there were signs encouraging me to pursue. But then, all at once, I realized there were no signs and no more freeway traffic to follow–just me, driving around haplessly, staring at unfamiliar surroundings.

I realized I was lost. I pulled over and asked a gentleman where the by-pass was to take me back to my destination. He laughed and said, “That’s about seven miles back, on this street.”

I frowned. “Well, I didn’t see any signs taking me there.”

He then roared with laughter. “Signs? Well, the kids in the neighborhood love to steal those signs. They put ’em in their rooms to decorate their homes. You can’t follow the signs. You need to follow the guy in front of you, who looks like he lives here and knows where to turn.”

I had not done that.

I was looking for a by-pass with signage.

What I ended up with was a by-pass which required you to be led of the Spirit.

 

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