Atrophy: (v) gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.dictionary with letter A

He requested to sing a song.

It was a tune he once intoned as a younger man when he was healthier and well-voiced. I was sitting at the piano and he eased his way to my side and asked me to play the selection for him.

I paused. In that short span of reflection, I was thinking about how embarrassed my friend would be when he realized that all the talents of his youth had taken a southerly route and atrophied.

It is a cruel reality: that which we ignore or fail to use simply decays and disappears without giving us notice.

Fearing that my friend, who was ailing and aging, would make a fool of himself, I tried to change the subject by playing a different song and moving things along. He became insistent, nearly incensed.

  • He wanted to sing the song.
  • He wanted to prove that he “still had the chops.”
  • He wanted everybody in the room to know that he was virile and alive.

There are three things that are immutably true. They are clichés, so people often either ridicule them or ignore them.

  1. If you don’t use it you lose it.
  2. The victory goes to the perseverant.
  3. If you want to get to Carnegie Hall–practice.

They seem almost silly by themselves, but when applied together, you realize that the most important thing in life is to never stop until you’re dead.

Atrophy will set in.

I stalled, but eventually everyone insisted I play the song so that my friend could perform.

As he began, his voice cracked, forewarning of disaster, and when he went up for the high note, there was a horrible squawk.

He felt foolish–it ruined his day.

Even though people told him it wasn’t that bad, and insisted he was brave for trying, I made note:

Don’t do anything in public that you aren’t able to perform in private.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix


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