Compile

Compile: (v) to produce by assembling information

Sobering.

It’s too bad we associate the word “sober” mainly with being free of intoxication from alcohol–because “sobering” is a great word.

To me, it describes those moments in my life when I am struck with the magnitude of the importance of the journey instead of allowing myself the audacity of complaining about the seating.

I had a friend–not really a close friend. Unfortunately, I think he viewed me as his best friend. I never had the heart to contradict him.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Not many people liked him–and that included me. Maybe I was just a better liar, or perhaps I believed there was something noble in feigning affection.

He was an aspiring something-or-other. I guess he fancied himself an artist.

I don’t know if you can actually be an artist until someone appreciates, enjoys or even purchases your art, but that’s a conversation for another time.

When my friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he picked up a cardboard box at the local grocery store to compile his writings, songs, thoughts, journals and work.

An avid cigarette smoker since he was sixteen years of age, he sat puffing away, faithfully putting this material into the container.

All of his accomplishments filled about half the box–with plenty of room to spare.

He handed it to me and said, “I want you to have all of this. Please do something with it.”

About two weeks later he died, leaving me his papers and cassette tapes, the distinct odor of cigarette smoke permeating the cardboard.

I sifted through it once.

I wondered what my responsibility was to what he had compiled. I felt guilty.

And then a realization came to my mind.

If he didn’t have time to do something with this material when he was alive, vibrant and caring, what significance does he think it should have now–for anyone else?

My thinking seemed cold and heartless. I rebuked myself.

Time passed.

I never did anything with his material. Honestly, I’m too busy working on my own compiling. Every once in a while I think I should take the box out and look at it again.

You see, the only problem is… I don’t know where it is.

 

Donate Button

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Podcast

Good News and Better News

 

Advertisements

Cobalt

Cobalt: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 27, a hard silvery-white magnetic metal.

My dad decided to die when I was sixteen years old.

He had planned it for nearly thirty years.

As a cigarette smoker who actually bought tobacco in the can and “rolled his own,” he had pretty well determined the end of his story long before he’d lived out all the plot lines.

I was one of the plot lines.

Before I found out that he had terminal lung cancer which had spread to his brain, there was a brief, three-month period when he became warmer, more tender–wanting some closeness with me.

Unfortunately, by that time I had created so much distance there was no way for me to transport myself to his side–even when I discovered he was dying.

They sat down and explained it to me, pointing out that he would be going through radiation treatments, which involved cobalt. He did.

Yet he barely survived the only cure they had available. When he returned home, he could barely walk and had trouble breathing. His skin was red like he had a deep sunburn, and he smelled like the trash we burned in the back yard.

Being around him just scared the hell out of me.

Everyone wanted me to turn into the devoted son who held the hand of his ailing father up to death’s door.

I just couldn’t do it.

Even when his breathing became so heavy that I could hear it through the walls while sitting on our porch stoop, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I loved him or even be present when the last gasp escaped his being.

This is my memory of cobalt.

It was used in the early years of radiation treatment, and left the patient nearly vacant of the resources to think and move.

As I sit here today, I can wish that I had been a better son and he a better father.

But that is because I have an older mind, and sometimes find it difficult to regain the fury involved in being sixteen.

Donate Button

Chlorinate

Chlorinate: (v) to impregnate or treat with chlorine.

Sometimes I don’t know if things have improved since I was a boy–or if I was just a little wimp-ass. In other words, I have memories of
some activities being very difficult, odd or unusual, which in my life today, are common.

One of those would be a swimming pool.

When I was a boy of ten years, I went to the local pool in my Central Ohio area, and when I got near the water, I couldn’t breathe. The odor, the chlorine, the mixture of too many people–I don’t know what it was. But my head spun and I thought I was going to faint. (For God’s sakes, you can’t faint when you’re ten years old–unless you plan on being the kicking post in your school for the rest of your life.)

Stupidly, I reached out, thinking it was my brother’s arm, and grabbed onto a thirteen-year-old girl, who immediately screamed. When the lifeguard came running up, she explained that I had accosted her, and with my head still spinning, I was unable to contradict her story.

I looked loopy.

The lifeguard came close to my mouth and insisted he could smell cigarettes, so it was assumed I had become dopey and out-of-control by smoking, and had attacked this young girl at the pool.

The worst part was, as my punishment, the lifeguard made me sit on a chair next to the pool for a full hour, as I breathed in the fumes and became weaker and weaker.

But eventually I got used to the atmosphere and it no longer felt like I was sniffing the air on Venus.

Chlorination seems to have improved over the years.

Or I have just stopped being a flag girl for the marching band.

Donate Button

Chauvinism

Chauvinism: (n) prejudiced loyalty or support for one’s own cause, group, or gender.

Chauvinism is an actual condition when the insecurity of one group of people forces them to usurp their authority by using domination.

It is not a “safe word” that women can use when they’ve lost an argument and want to change the subject to make it seem that they are being
attacked by some sort of Neanderthal.

Chauvinism is an actual predicament.

It is not a return to the past, but instead, a maintaining of the worst. For after all, there are many things from the past that we’ve abandoned just to make sure we don’t die.

For instance, it used to be avant garde to smoke cigarettes, and now it’s limited to Hollywood bad guys and white trash.

We do have the common sense to reject certain things of the past, like smallpox, measles and even the flu, which used to kill off thousands.

So the contention that we want to return to the “good old days” means that we want to go back to days that were not that good and nobody was really allowed to get old.

So what is chauvinism?

It is anyone who believes he or she is exceptional for any reason whatsoever. If you happen to be exceptional in some field, just do your work and let other people proclaim your excellence.

If you find yourself tooting your own horn, be prepared for folks to find you brassy.

There’s a danger even when referring to America as an “exceptional nation”–for the things that make us exceptional have absolutely nothing to do with the populace. They are the freedoms we purposely grant to those who are not always exceptional.

I must come back to my standard mantra: no one is better than anyone else.

You don’t achieve much by trying to contradict it, and the pursuit of believing it grants you the purity of heart to actually see God in the world around you.

 

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

Age of Consent

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Age of consent: (n) the age at which a person’s, particularly a girl’s, consent to sexual intercourse is valid by law.

I am thoroughly convinced that a conservative philosophy would work beautifully if those who pursued it were actually faithful.

Likewise, I have no doubt that a liberal agenda would be equally as positive if the people adhering to its tenets would not swerve from their conviction.

The problem is inconsistency–and nowhere does this show up in our society any more than in our dealings with our children–and especially with our teenagers. Let me give you an example.

Teenagers are supposed to have the wisdom to study for school, take care of their lockers, drive a car, decide what college they want to go to, study for the SAT, make good choices on not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, and control their hormones.

Yet by the same token, we turn right around and say they are irresponsible, childish, silly, that their brains don’t fully develop until they’re twenty-five years of age, and that they are just as capable of lying as they are of breaking out in acne.

We have to make up our minds.

If our children are able to drive a car down the street, are they not also mature enough to make decisions about their own sexuality?

We don’t want our children to be drug dependent, while simultaneously living in a society that has a free flow of alcohol and is discussing legalizing marijuana–to further deaden their personalities.

They can’t drink until they’re twenty-one, yet in every movie or television show, we see high school students freely consuming alcohol products, as if they just stopped off at the local party store and picked up a bunch.

Somewhere along the line, we need to get a handle on what we really believe the young humans are capable of achieving and what we think they aren’t.

I firmly believe that the teenagers who came through my house were capable of doing anything at all–as long as they were adequately motivated and supervised. I believe they were nearly worthless if left to their own initiative.

I don’t know whether that is a positive or a negative–it’s just my finding. To me, young humans are very similar to guns. In the hands of the right individual, who is responsible and willing to point the implement in the correct direction, there can possibly be a powerful use. But guns left lying around will always fall into the wrong hands.

Such is the case with the teenager.

So it is time for our society to realize that when puberty is striking people at the age of twelve or thirteen, to ask these individuals to withhold their urges for ten years in order to complete a college education is not only ridiculous, but may be the definition of impossible.

So what am I saying about the age of consent? I know we have to have a legal number so as to run our society in a prudent way–but I do think it is the duty of all parents to sit down with their children and candidly walk through the entire process of human sexuality–and let them know the consequences of all actions.

So what is the age of consent?

I really do not think human beings are able to consent to their own choice in sexuality until they have been taught what is destructive and what is valuable. For some folks, that means they probably shouldn’t kiss until they’re thirty. But for other kids, it could be much younger.

Our culture is desperately in need of some consistency. I welcome the concept of freedom … as long as it is intentionally and ferociously linked to responsibility.

Acolyte

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acolyte: (n.) a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession.

I make no judgments on traditional religious practices which I may or may not consider to be part of my lifestyle.

Yet some of the more humorous events have happened to me while watching young and old try to walk down to the front of the church and light the ceremonial candles.

We call them acolytes. They are usually young people who have been convinced they have been granted an honor by sitting through a couple of classes, hearing an over-explained description of an age-old process, which appears to be VERY simple until Sunday morning arrives and they are put in the position of being the fire-starters.

One of my favorite visions is the young acolyte wearing the ceremonial robe with a pair of dirty tennis shoes sticking out of the bottom. I won’t even go into the symbolism.

I recall being at one church and an acolyte came forward to light the candle, only to discover that his magic fire stick was not making connection with the wick. For some reason the thing would NOT ignite. So in a moment of humanity, he proclaimed for all to hear: Aw, shit.”

Laugher ensued (even though I am sure folks sought absolution later.)

I DO like it when there is a hovering grown-up presence off to the side, nervously watching the youngsters go up to light the candles, like a mother hen concerned that the chicks will not know how to receive the nourishment of the grain being thrown by the farmer, breathlessly anticipating a fiasco–nearly apoplectic.

And of course, you can’t forget the acolytes who come forward dragging their feet, completely disconnected, barely able to get through the process before collapsing, exhausted, on the front pew designated for their position.

I know that the lighting of the candles is a symbolic portrayal of “bringing in the light of Christ” to our spiritual gathering. But like most human attempts to honor divine concepts, it is always laced with inadequacy, comedy and apathy.

I am not suggesting we should train and pay acolytes who are more professional in their approach.

But in conclusion, my favorite of all the events was when one of the deacons at a church realized that the trainee acolyte was having difficulty lighting the candle. The deacon ran up to the rescue, tried to light the candle himself using the apparatus, was equally unsuccessful, and so reached into his pocket and pulled out his cigarette lighter, leaned forward to complete the job, had his cigarettes fall out of his pocket, bounce on the altar–and scatter all over the top of the prepared communion.

In the seconds that followed, you could sense the man’s horror. There were probably countless revelations about his character revealed through this single action–and speculation on whether it would be appropriate to remove one of his cigarettes from the holy goblet, nearly rendering him paralyzed.

At length he gathered up his smokes and retreated to his seat to languish in his humiliation.

Being an acolyte is another one of those rites of passage that you have as a young person, which older people tell you is very, very important–but no one ever really mentions … after their eighteenth birthday.

 

Aalto, Alvar

by  J. R Practix

dictionary with letter A

Definition of Aalto, Alvar (1898–1976), Finnish architect and designer; full name  Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto. He often used materials such as brick, copper, and timber in his building designs to blend with the landscape. As a designer he is known as the inventor of bent plywood furniture.
Come on. The dude has four names. Let me give you a scale on numbers of names:
People who go by one name are divas. Beyoncé. Kermit. God.
Two names: Hard-working folk. John Deere. Jack Daniels. Martha Stewart.
Three names: Serial killers, authors and mascots. John Wayne Gaycee, Henry David Thoreau, Smoky the Bear.
But four names or more?  Really?? Fruitcake. And I don’t mean any disrespect.
Also, what’s the big deal about blending into the landscape? Isn’t that what cavemen did? “Hey, look, Buck! There’s a hole in this rock. We can live inside there without changing the landscape or ambience!”
And by the way…bent plywood furniture?? I have done that many times–just by sitting on it suddenly.
I’m sure Mr. Aalto is a nice guy, and probably came up with his own idea on how to blend things together…ala Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and army intelligence. But if you ask my opinion, making furniture out of plywood is what causes many young married couples to end up purchasing living room suites that wear out long before the payment stops.