Colonist

Colonist: (n) a settler in or inhabitant of a colony

I like to believe I’m tough. In other words, able to handle challenges.

Recently, when I found myself stowed away during a hurricane, I was surprised at what a dependent, selfish and fussy child I could become just through inconvenience.

It was hot, confined and the food was a post-Apocalyptic menu. I nearly cried.

So when I think about the colonists who settled the United States, I am baffled. The ignorance, self-righteousness, arrogance and short-sightedness they brought with them in settling the New World is mind-boggling.

Didn’t they realize they were starting all over again and there would be huge changes? That big black-rimmed hats and dark, heavy woolen clothes might not be
ideal for the climate.

They also brought over a religion suited for parlor talk, now being tested in the dungeons of challenge.

And then I think to myself, they were really pretty brave.

How would I have been any different?

Would I have landed on the shore, walked around for a couple of weeks and concluded that I was going to have to pursue a completely different lifestyle, or else I would die from exposure–or even a common cold. Yes, the colonists had few remedies for sickness, and the ones they had were notorious for making you sicker.

Actually, it is quite remarkable and magnificent that they were able to muster enough flexibility and common sense to push on through.

It’s not easy being a colonist.

I occasionally discover that I am marooned in a new situation, very grateful that I’m not alone–that I at least have one or two buddies with me to help me survive all the frightening surprises.

Yes, all of us are really colonists–pitching our tents here on Earth for less than a century. We will be replaced quite soon–and truthfully, it won’t be that hard.

 

Donate Button

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Advertisements

Collateral

Collateral: (n) something pledged as security for repayment of a loan

No one is ever interested in hearing about my successes.

Perhaps it’s the flash of arrogance that enters the human voice whenever we talk about ourselves in a positive way.

I gain empathy, friendship and humor with my fellow-travelers by “pranking” myself in a snarky way–especially when remembering a time when it appears that I was infested with the demon of stupidity.

To protect myself I always begin these stories with: “It happened many years ago.”

That way you know that I would not pursue this particular adventure today–and if I did, since I am older, I would have more money to address it.

I wanted to borrow two hundred dollars. This was back in a time when two hundred dollars was my “guesstimation” of the value of Aladdin’s castle.

The person from the bank told me that if I had some collateral he would be “willing to consider” such a loan.

I didn’t question any further–I asked myself, What do I possess that’s worth two hundred dollars?

Ruling out my kidney, liver and lungs, I came up blank.

Yet all at once, I remembered that in the basement of my parents’ loan company, there were some huge slabs of marble left over from when they had decorated the office. It seemed to me–since they were marble–that they were certainly expensive.

I wasn’t a rube, so I called a local lumberyard person and asked him what he thought such a slab would be worth.

After he understood the dimensions, he said that if I bought them at the store each one would cost me a hundred dollars.

I was thrilled.

All I had to do was carry three (playing it safe) marble slabs up a flight of stairs, around a corner and out the door, and I would have my collateral.

The problem was, the only person available to help me was my wife. Though sturdy, she was not at a strength level to lift her share of what probably was two hundred pounds each. This did not deter me. I decided the best thing was to put her at the bottom and me at the top.

It took two days. (Not full days. Twenty-minutes-at-a-time days.)

We took a lot of breaks.

Finally we actually unearthed from the basement tomb three two-hundred-pound slabs of marble, got them into the back of our van and drove them to the bank.

I was so damn proud.

I coaxed the banker to come out and see what I had to offer for collateral. Opening the back door of the van, he stared at the dusty pile of stone.

He laughed.

And not just a little. It may be the first time in my life that I was laughed to scorn.

He patted me on the shoulder, shook his head and said, “That’s a good one, man. I can’t wait to tell everybody about this one.”

I assumed the loan was a no-go.

Donate Button

 

 

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Coaster

Coaster: (n) a small mat placed under a glass to protect the table underneath.

It’s one of those factors that determines whether you are a bungler or a baron.

There are many.

But when you find yourself with a glass of drink and there is a table in front of you, do you procure a coaster so your condensation does not leave a ring on the table, or do you just put your glass down and later act completely bewildered because your hostess or host was offended by your choice?

It’s where we teeter–all human beings teeter between understanding and arrogance.

Often we understand the purpose for matters, yet in our arrogance, we resist performing the courteous function simply because it seems tedious and makes us appear too subservient.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a bungler or become a baron. Would I be willing to learn the things that are important to my brothers and sisters, and simply avoid conflict with their tender conscience by doing them? Or would I stubbornly going to insist that it’s a “goddamn free country,” and proceed to take my pet bull off the leash for the latest visit to the china shop?

Coasters are not effeminate.

Coasters are not irrational.

Coasters may not be necessary–but you won’t know until you don’t use one. So why take the risk, especially on the chance that you might unnecessarily offend a friend?

But stubborn we are–all children of Adam and Eve.

Yet, if you want to get back into the Garden, you need to swallow your pride and discover the location of the forbidden apples.

 

Donate Button

Clout

Clout: (n) influence or power

Liars talk too much.

It’s one of the sure ways to pick ’em out. Rather than just stating the facts or presenting the situation, they feel the need to emphasize some
aspect of their story to further impress you with its validity.

That’s always been my problem with the word “clout.”

How much more reinforcement is necessary for a good idea?

How many times do we need to recite our accomplishments before we understand that nobody cares?

How often will we find ourselves stumbling over words because we are not yet convinced that the room has been swayed by our argument?

Does a nation have clout because it has a big army? (Candidly, the nations which have had big armies throughout history are no longer around.)

Do a people have credence because of their faith in God or their morality? If that were the case, the Puritans would still be very popular instead of deemed assholes for killing little girls as witches.

Does a woman gain clout by convincing everybody that she’s just as good as a man, when being a man may not be good enough?

How many characters do we need to introduce to develop the plot?

How many promises should be secured before we decide to move out and attempt a noble deed?

When I was in my thirties, a very prosperous music producer told me that I had no future because I didn’t carry enough clout. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I decided a long time ago not to carry anything I didn’t need.”

We don’t need clout. Actually, it warns of insecurity, pomposity and arrogance.

If I believe I am the best at anything, I need to leave my house more often.

If I think that God favors me because of my numerous religious inclinations, it may be necessary for me to encounter those human beings who scrape together fifty cents, knowing they need sixty cents to survive.

If you want to legitimize the word “clout,” then here is a better definition:

Clout is when I have the humility to realize I don’t really matter, so if I want to keep from being invisible, I should open up my heart and do what I can for the human race.

 

 

Donate Button

 

Class

Class: (adj) showing stylish excellence.

I have selected the class of my identification.

It isn’t being white. I’m too blotchy for that.

It isn’t being young. I’ve eaten too much birthday cake.

It isn’t being old. My brain and spirit refuse to make that concession.

I’m not in a class with the intelligentsia. Matter of fact, I feel silly writing the word “intelligentsia.”

I’m not in the class of the ignorant. I try to avoid ignoring things.

I simply want to possess “who I am” as simply as possible and show class. What is class?

I suppose people would give many examples of class, but my definition is: the ability to expose arrogance without hurting anyone.

Life is filled with arrogant people who think they are a class above everyone else. Being able to welcome them back into the family of humanity without infuriating them or making them defensive is called classy.

Arrogance kills the human spirit because it forbids humility. Humility is the only thing that makes us tolerable to one another.

Join me in hoping for more class in our world.

And the best way to guarantee an answer to that wish is to sport a little bit more of the stuff yourself.

 

 

Listen to Stitcher

Donate Button

Celestial

Celestial: (adj) belonging or relating to heaven.

Did you ever realize that all the descriptions we have of eternal life are related to us via ancient manuscripts, from people who lived in the first century A. D.? And then we’re working under the trust that he or she actually had a vision of the supernal location.

Other writers have tried to parallel the existing insights, but we are pretty well stuck with an ancient history about our future history.

Do you find that a bit disheartening?

To me, the celestial realm is already a trifle bizarre. Since my physical body is made up of the same stuff as a bear and moose–flesh, blood, veins, arteries–it does seem a bit presumptuous to think that my wilderness friends turn into dust and I live forever.

It’s because I have a soul. Which means they don’t. Yet there is a certain amount of arrogance mingled with ignorance in the presumption of walking on streets of gold.

So where does that leave me? It certainly places me in the category of believers who yearn for a heaven someday. Yes, I have enough arrogance and ignorance to line up with those masses.

But it does give me pause to appreciate, generate and evaluate my earthly lifespan with greater tenderness and passion.

 

 

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

 

Cede

Cede: (v) to give up power or territory

The fear of insignificance generates the arrogance of self-destruction.

Somewhere inside each of us is a terror that if we cede our ego or talents over to a common pot or competition, we will dissipate like a ghost
in the mist.

It’s the mixed message given by our educational system, which simultaneously insists that “hard work will produce a payday” but “self-promotion is better.”

It’s so easy to get confused. It’s very possible to lose sight of one’s soul in pursuit of gaining the whole world.

What can I afford to give up without feeling like I’m vanquished?

  1. I don’t have to be well-known if I’m known for doing well.
  2. It is much more important for me to be happy for what I do instead of being lauded for it.
  3. I am convinced that my meter of measuring my progress is much more sensitive than that of society–so as long as I am clicking my own goals, I do not need to be applauded by the masses.
  4. And finally, I can’t give up something I don’t really have. The delusion that we possess certain amounts of respect, power or position causes us to battle against forces that are not really fighting against us.

A great man once said that “he that would gain his life must lose it.” Even though initially this seems counter-intuitive, a second looks tells us that chasing a dream which is never meant to be is the certain way to destroy the beauty of heart’s desire.

Donate Button