College

College: (n) an educational institution or establishment

 

I never went to college.

I have used numerous excuses and lies to disguise this fact:

  1. “Well, the experience I’ve had is very similar to going to college.”
  2. “I took a few courses but never enough for graduation. Maybe I should check into that.”

Or the outright lie:

  1. “I am a graduate of Xavier University.”

(My thought? Most people would not know how to spell Xavier and would not pursue further.)

All through my twenties I felt like a dog without a collar. You know–a mutt rolling around the town, and everybody knows he doesn’t have a purpose or an owner
because he has no tags.

Yes, without college I felt a sense of self-discrimination. I was so convinced that people were looking down on me that I looked down on myself.

Then one day I simply asked my inner soul, do you wish you had gone to college?

I immediately realized that everything I had experienced would be gone in deference to the collegiate adventure.

That would include a wife, two kids, a music group, albums and writing a book. The case could be made that I would have eventually done these anyway–just with more book learning.

But one day–I guess I was about thirty-three years old–someone asked the question about college and I responded, “I never went.”

I really felt that the Earth moved beneath my feet–that the sky was falling in to trap me. But nothing actually happened. The person who inquired was a little surprised, since she felt I was very adept at what I was doing. But we were quickly on to talking about whether potato salad was better with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

You see, you don’t have to go to college for those kinds of discussions. Just have a heart, an idea you believe in and a willingness to be wrong.

I have found this to be the definition of higher education.

 

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Circulate

Circulate: (v) to pass or cause to pass from place to place or person to person.

I have recently been accused of being anti-social.

The diagnosis was offered because I failed to attend a party. It was assumed that anyone who didn’t want to come to this social adventure
had to be out of his or her mind.

I was supposed to come and circulate among people whom I have known for years, and read about ever-too-frequently on my Facebook page. As a matter of fact, I know so much about these folks that I could probably write personal bios for them.

But they were convinced that I had sunk into some sort of despair because I wasn’t going to come and hear the same old stories while partaking of a dip with only subtle new inclusions.

I do need to circulate–but I need to do it among people who are not necessarily related to me or benefit from me personally or financially.

A great man once said that if you only love those who love you, what in the hell is so special about that?

For instance, I just came back from the grocery store. I encountered at least twenty-five people I have never met before.

I circulated.

I conversed.

I opened up my heart to the possibility that these were good folks and I would benefit from the exchanges. I suspect about half of them thought I was crazy for being so talkative. But the other half took a risk, jumped in and, well…circulated.

We do not circulate when we only hang around those who resemble us or are friends because we buy presents for them on birthdays or Christmas.

We circulate when we allow the blood of human relationship to mingle among castes, races, genders and ideologies.

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Centerpiece

Centerpiece: (n) a display placed in the middle

The centerpiece of education: experience that promotes retention.

The centerpiece of human romance: a woman who really wants to have sex.

The centerpiece of faith: adventure.

The centerpiece of love: faithfulness.

The centerpiece of hope: introspection.

The centerpiece of America: a toss-up between “all men are created equal” and “liberty and justice for all.”

The centerpiece of music: a memorable melody.

The centerpiece of business: repetitive quality.

The centerpiece of humanity: good cheer.

The centerpiece of the Universe: controlled chaos.

The centerpiece of God: free will.

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Annex

dictionary with letter A

Annex: (v) to add to one’s own, especially as relating to property or land: Ex. Moldova was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.

You have to watch words. They’re tricky, especially when uttered from the tongues of deceivers.

Often in an effort to disguise greed, selfishness or oblivion, we use language that is vicious at its heart, but drenched in a bit of honey. Or maybe it’s not vicious at all–just misleading.

  • Can I borrow a Kleenex?
  • I don’t mean to be critical, but…
  • You know me–I like to get along…
  • Does anybody else think that Bob is …?
  • It’s just the way we do things over here…
  • It may be old-fashioned but I still think…
  • I believe women want to stay at home…
  • I’ve always found men to be stupid. How about you?
  • I think the races don’t want to mix. Birds of a feather, you know…

These and many other statements are spoken daily by people trying to hide their real intentions, while annexing huge portions of human dignity, feelings and righteous freedom.

Hitler annexed part of Austria. He called it an annexation instead of an invasion. If somebody had questioned his use of the word, who knows? We might have avoided a world war.

So even though I occasionally make people angry by insisting they use the proper term for their actions instead of “annexing” different terminology to clean up their actual motivations, I believe I will continue to do so, and perhaps by pursuing such a noble adventure … stop a war or two myself.

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Amalgamation

dictionary with letter A

Amalgamation: (n.) a mixture or blend: e.g. a curious amalgamation of the traditional and the modern.

I love that word.

Matter of fact, I will go so far as to say that our society is an amalgamation of many amalgamations–some good and some bad.

I think the best amalgamations are when an obvious need is blended with a willing spirit, culminating in a needful revelation.

Let me give you an example:

People in our country are too cynical. One of the ways we’re cynical is that we think everyone has the right to disagree with the fact that the country is too cynical.

It’s not a vote.

Cynicism is obvious because we prefer to stagnate in unworkable ideas instead of pursuing risky options that might require greater commitment. So if we admit that we’re cynical, we can concur that we need a willing spirit to consider other options, rather than sitting over coffee talking about how miserable everybody is.

Minus that willing spirit, cynicism is no longer an emotion. It becomes a philosophy.

But if you have a willing spirit, you can develop a sense of adventure to try some new things and weigh them in the balances, to see what works and what doesn’t.

Otherwise, you begin to question whether the whole process of growing and expanding is really necessary in the first place.

Politics, religion and entertainment have sunk into a quicksand of cynicism, which tells them to remain very still because if they struggle they might sink faster. But here’s the truth: even if the best reaction to quicksand is to remain still, you will eventually have to get out of the mire, or your life will be useless.

We need an amalgamation in this country–recognizing our cynicism, repenting of it and welcoming new ideas, even if many of them seem ridiculous and without merit.

Because honestly, the funniest story that could be told: Thomas Edison sharing about the experiments that failed to work … on the way to the light bulb. 

Adventure

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adventure: (n) an unusual, exciting and possibly hazardous experience or activity.

Make up your mind.

Is it unusual? Or exciting?

Is it exciting? Or is it hazardous?

Sometimes the dictionary sounds like my grandma. One of her favorite sayings, when she occupied grumpy human space, was, “I know it sounds like fun, but it also sounds dangerous.”

First of all, that’s not a great deterrent to a teenager who thinks that “fun” and “dangerous” should be the same. I think we greatly inhibit our progress as human beings–and also rob ourselves of opportunities–by trying to evaluate everything based upon whether it’s unusual. I also believe that connoting that the definition of “adventure” fits into one of those three categories is probably the most efficient way to keep people efficient–and boring.

I disagree with Webster. Adventure is just the way it sounds–it’s adding a venture.

It’s taking on something new, seeing how it flies, and making sure you don’t get TOO far off the ground–so if it crashes, there will be no loss of life or limb. Otherwise, you start believing you’ve got to do something truly weird to express yourself, or worse, totally expensive.

I have friends who can’t have fun unless they spend money. To a certain degree isn’t that the antithesis of fun? Because even as you’re enjoying the surroundings, you’re lamenting the loss of income.

No, I think “adventure” should be adding a venture to your life every week, different from the previous week, which does not involve much capital, much time or much loss of anything. For instance:

  • Once in your life you should volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  • You should probably go hiking.
  • Get on a lonely stretch of road and drive your car real fast.
  • Surprise a stranger on the street with a five-dollar bill.
  • Be in a good mood when people think you probably shouldn’t.

Just find things that are already built into nature which are intriguing and take them on, so when the subjects are brought up, you can have a story.

There you go. That’s what life is all about. Granting yourself enough ventures that you can always come up with a story … often describing how much you despised the addition.

 

Acoustic

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acoustic: (adj.) of music or musical instruments not having electrical amplification: e.g. acoustic guitar

  • It has to be fun.
  • It has to be humble.
  • And it has to be willing to learn.

Those are the three ingredients I think are necessary to make any adventure workable, enjoyable and realistic. Whenever any group of people takes themselves so seriously that they believe they’ve arrived at the apex of all understanding or the pinnacle of all talent, they are obnoxious and in some ways, dangerous.

This is true of musicians.

Music, which was meant to be a heartfelt explosion of joy, intimacy and emotion, has become, God forbid, a craft. And as craftsmen, we sit around and discuss the subtleties of the use of particular implementations which hold our delicate treasures together.

Thus the word acoustic.

So the rock band, which was once willing to admit “they only knew four chords and that’s why their music sounded the way it did,” pretentiously now does a documentary film, sharing their music acoustically instead of using electronic assistance. We’re supposed to stand back in awe of these cave men, who have discovered that there is some little world outside their enclosure, and mull over their genius simply because … “they’ve unplugged.”

I love music.

  • Music was God’s way of saying life should be tuneful.
  • Music was God’s apology for conversation.
  • And music is our way of expressing ourselves without insisting that the whole room listen to us pontificate.

So we should HUMBLY pursue it, realizing our limitations and ceasing to make excuses for our frequent bobbles.

But instead, we proclaim some people who compose to be “masters,” and everyone else mere “minstrels.”

So rather than enjoying the fact that other people have picked up our instrument and exceeded our efforts, we instead attempt to tear them down because they are not purists and don’t honor the traditions of syncopation or structure.

YUK.

I don’t care if you rock, jazz, square dance, hillbilly, rap or insist on Mozart. Be humble about it and have some fun. You’re not a better musician because you play an acoustic guitar instead of an electric one. It’s not a better auditorium because it’s acoustically adjusted to the high A-sharp on the first violin.

It’s supposed to be joyful. “A joyful noise”–remember that? So unless you plan on giggling and dancing, don’t come my way.

Acoustic set.

Somebody needs to take off the rubber nose and the big floppy shoes.