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.

 

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Climate

Climate: (n) the weather conditions prevailing in an area

Maybe it’s why people hate small-talk.

When you find yourself talking to a stranger, you are nearly compelled to discuss the weather.

It is rarely suitable–the weather, that is. We always seem to have a preference that’s different than today’s forecast. Every once in a while, a climate will roll around that makes us smile because it fits into an ideal we established in our minds when we were much younger. But rarely.

The weather woman down here in Florida has been going through a series of flip-flops and somersaults. Two days ago, she was very concerned that we had not had enough rain. Yesterday, she felt it was unseasonably hot. And today, she lamented that the rains had arrived, but they decided to bring along “storms.”

The weather is the crucible–where we express our inner dissatisfaction with life, Mother Nature, circumstances, our relationships and even God.

So because of our grumpiness, we may be in a climate that is unsuitable, creating a climate of human interaction which is even more cloudy.

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Cider

Cider: (n) an unfermented drink made by crushing fruit, typically apples.

It was less than two miles outside of our town.

There was a family with a farm who had apple trees and a press.

A cider press.

It was delicious.

Looking back, the climate that surrounded apple cider during my upbringing was transcendent of anything that I later or even now experience.

The trees were filled with colorful leaves, the air was brisk and made you want to leap a little when you walked, and the cider was glob-in-your-throat sweet.

Every once in a while my mother accidentally left some in the refrigerator too long and it would get zippy. Some zing.

I did not realize that it had slightly fermented (I’m not sure how anything can slightly ferment) but I desperately enjoyed it.

I remember going to Halloween parties. The menu was so simple: cider, caramel apples, doughnuts and candy corn. (One kid in our class said it was well-balanced because the candy corn was a vegetable.)

Sugar, sugar, sugar.

I don’t know how we ever worked it off–and maybe we didn’t. It would literally kill me today if I had a doughnut with cider and a side of candy corn. I would be rushed to the hospital.

But hopefully the Emergency Room would be nearby, on a brisk day, with the leaves about to fall.

 

 

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Chasm

Chasm: (n) a deep fissure in the earth, rock, or another surface

The three-step process is as follows:

  1. It’s a problem.
  2. It seems unfixable.
  3. Therefore it’s normal.

This is the present way our society handles difficulties. In doing this, we’ve opened the door of our home to many a stray racoon, thinking the creature is not that
different from our domesticated pets. When the racoon ends up being wild, untamed and unwilling to accept human domination of the household, we have to make a decision.

Do we shoo it out the door? Do we kill it? Or do we find a way to live in the home with a racoon, pretending we’re equals?

I know it sounds silly. Thus the point.

Nearly fifty years ago, our country was concerned about a generation gap–a chasm that existed between parents and teenagers, causing conflict and a lack of communication.

Move ahead fifty years and the same chasm still exists. We have just decided it’s normal. In deciding it’s normal, the racoon of rebellion wanders the hallways, throwing its attitude and therefore dominating the climate of our American Dream.

We defend the racoon by saying it has a right to free speech.

Or to own a gun.

Or to be anything it wants to be.

Or to interfere in the lives of others as long as it doesn’t totally destroy.

We’re afraid of chasms, but instead of admitting there’s a gap in understanding, we pretend it’s a cultural difference, an ethnic preference, a doctrinal dispute or a political stumping point.

Somewhere along the line we will have to agree on the three things that will allow the human race to survive:

  • Creativity
  • Tolerance
  • A challenge

We will have to stop being afraid of the chasm, and instead, be prepared to make some giant leaps for mankind.

 

 

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Broach

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Broach: (v) to raise a sensitive or difficult subject for discussion

All cancers are birthed and thrive in a climate of silence and indifference.Dictionary B

If there were an awareness, every soul would be on the lookout for such a killer. But for some reason, it becomes more important to maintain the illusion of good health than to actually confirm it.

So it is with our society.

Because we possess an irrational fear of being found without merit, or even weakened by vice, we fail to discuss the things in life that would make us stronger, wiser and more valuable.

We don’t know how to broach the subject.

It leaves us startled, insisting that a tragedy has beset us … one that was actually well-planned through the rigorous efforts of our dumbstruck apathy.

 

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Behave

Behave: (v) to act or conduct oneself in a specified way, especially toward others.

Dictionary B

  • Read the rules.
  • Study the room.

Over the years, I’ve learned the power of these two profiles. Every situation you find yourself in has rules and also has a climate for activity.

If you enter the situation and decide to be ignorant of the rules and the climate, you will quickly break one of their commandments, and end up looking like a fool–especially if you try to defend yourself.

I have never been a great fan of rules, nor do I find trying to maintain a specific atmosphere to be fulfilling. But even more, I hate being on the outside looking in because it has been proven that I broke the rules. If I don’t like the rules, more than likely I will not be able to change the game.

I have to smile when I see idealistic younger folk who contend that they can enter the world of politics and transform it. Politics enjoys being ambiguously evil.

Likewise, the notion that you can go to a church, a corporation, a club or even a family reunion and insert your notions and have meaningful input is extraordinarily naive.

Make sure wherever you go–so that you will behave well–that you learn the rules and understand the climate.

If you’re going to vacation in Miami, Florida, in the middle of July, understand that there will be a lot of ethnic food and tons of heat, humidity and surprise rain storms. If you are prepared for that, you will not break the rules by complaining to the locals about the situation, which makes you come off as a tourist instead of a participant.

I do not participate without knowing the rules, and I do not leap into any activity without comprehending the climate in which business is conducted.

That way I behave myself and am considered a solid citizen … instead of an intruding jerk.

 

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Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar: (n) dark, sweet Italian vinegar that has been matured in wooden barrels.Dictionary B

I guess it was around age 35 when I stopped trying to be enticed and instead, allowed myself to be convinced.

Up to that point, everything needed to have a sensuality, an obvious value or a pleasure related to it in order to grab my interest.

To put it bluntly, a stick had to come along a poke my lust–whether a lust for food, romance, power or even work–to get me revved up and ready to go.

Yes, I needed to be enticed.

So in that time–those “salad days”–when I ordered a salad, I always got a mix of Thousand Island and Blue Cheese dressing. Why?

  • Because I loved the taste.
  • I loved the rich, thick texture.
  • And I think, secretly, I was enthralled by the number of calories.

But then when I reached 35, I started thinking about my mortality. Death is highly unlikely when you’re a kid. But death lurks in your late thirties, and even though it’s not prominent, it is still evident.

It was at that point that I realized my choice of salad dressings was contrary to my good health. So I investigated other choices.

The one suggested to me more often than any other was balsamic vinegar. “Low in calories, good for your tummy and a promoter of excellent digestion.”

When I tasted it, I wanted to run out of the room. It was not creamy. It was not delicious. It was intrusive. Yes, that’s the word.

But since I was trying to move out of a climate of enticement, I allowed myself to be convinced that this dressing was to my betterment.

To this day, when I go to a restaurant and they don’t have lower calorie options, I will order it–not because it’s enticing, but because I finally am convinced.

 

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Anomymous

dictionary with letter A

Anonymous: (adj) a person not identified by name; unknown name.

Sometimes I stumble across an adage or poem that is particularly clever, insightful or even artistic, and at the bottom is the word “anonymous.”

Obviously, it’s not.

  • Somebody wrote it.
  • Somebody thought it.
  • Somebody did it.

Yet over the years, a strange transition has occurred.

Here’s my opinion on that process: some person without an agent or an ego came up with an idea which he or she shared freely among friends.

One of those people realizes how obscure their companion is and feels compelled, on a journey to a far-away city, to share the inspiration. They are surprised at how responsive everyone is to the piece, and initially give credit to the friend who spoke it.

But then they think to themselves that since this buddy is never going to actually be in this far-away city, what would be the harm in taking bows for the composition?

Likewise, someone else in the room, who travels even further, decides to repeat the same process, stealing the thunder from the thief.

After a while, at a huge party somewhere far away, three or four people hear these words, and attribute it to several different individuals, generating an atmosphere of confusion.

Since no one is certain any longer who actually came up with the idea, it is determined to call it a draw and attribute it to Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous.

It also occurs in our everyday life in America. We have a nation of laws, regulations and general compliance within the citizenry, and believe that this temperate climate is achieved by human effort, never giving any credit to the spiritual training and the moral grounding that has been infused over generations.

We choose instead to attribute to religion or politics, and everything good is a by-product of our thinking or the latest craze.

In case you didn’t know, loving your neighbor as yourself is not anonymous.

If you weren’t aware, telling the truth did not spring from nothing.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to trace back great notions to their source, and therefore sit at the feet of wisdom instead of crinkling your brow … and pretending that the power that makes life work springs from magical four-leaf clovers.

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Alaska

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Words from Dictionary

Alaska: (n) the largest state in the U.S., located in northwestern North America, with coasts on the Arctic and North Pacific oceans, separated from the contiguous U.S. states by Canada, pop. 626,932, capital, Juneau.

How appropriate, on this Christmas Day, for the word “Alaska” to fall in my lap, since it is such a snowy, chilly locale, suitable for North Pole occupation and reindeer games.

Yes, I wonder if part of that 626,000 people located in that huge mass of popsicle might include elves and a saint who gives away toys.

I, personally, have not known a lot of people from Alaska. I did have a friend who moved there for a couple of years, because she heard that if you stayed there for 365 days, you would receive a check from the treasury, rewarding you for having the fortitude to live in the climate and maintain residency. I think she stayed for a couple of checks before she realized that having money in a warmer climate, although fewer dollars, was preferrable.

I would like to go up there sometime, but my penchant for wanting to drive everywhere would make for a long sleigh ride, and considering my size, I don’t know if I would be permitted to fly in one of those single-engine planes, land on a lake somewhere and boat my way to the gigs.

So I will just have to hope that the good folks of Alaska will realize my admiration for them and their perseverant attitude toward all things frozen, and allow me to stay warm below. I am more than willing to send a care package … something toasty, perhaps?

Abustle

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abustle: (adj.) bustling; busy: the main drag was abustle with creative sidewalk artists.

One of my least favorite emotional states or climates for activity is frantic. This is why I don’t like “abustle.”

I don’t mind people being busy, but I don’t want them to let me know they are or appear they are on their “last nerve,” ready to explode with overwrought eagerness. I think the secret in life is to get a lot accomplished and surprise yourself at the end of the day with the list of successes, without ever appearing to lift too many fingers.

Yes–if we’re successful at achieving laziness but are still productive, we may have just discovered the true secret of life.

I get around folks all the time who move like gnats. Have you ever noticed a gnat? It has no particular direction and actually flies in little, tiny circles, attempting to locate some sort of goal that would give its life purpose. So one gnat in a room can be much more annoying than two flies. The flies are bigger and buzz more, but they do occasionally land and rest for a spell instead of continually fidgeting to make themselves known without any obvious purpose.

Do we really look more intelligent and creative when we’re abuzz? Does quickening our step get us somewhere faster, or just increase the possibility of tripping up? Is worrying the sign of true concern, or just an obvious admission that we don’t really know what we’re doing and certainly don’t believe in what we’re pursuing?

I do hate it when people say they’re busy. “I didn’t write you this week because I was busy.” So I guess that means that because I DID write to you, my life must be devoid of purpose. Or does it mean that I took the time to leisurely grant you three or four minutes of my thoughts to send your way?

Don’t tell me you’re too busy. Don’t run around all abustle, convincing the world that God is anxiously awaiting the results of your present adventure. We take ourselves too seriously. In the process, we admit that life is serious. In doing that, we stop having fun.

I am not busy. And if I am busy, I will stop immediately. I will not move one inch until my joy returns and I can go back to meticulously relishing every single moment of my endeavors.