Dark Cloud

Dark cloud: (adj) dim, indistinct

It is a perennial favorite to feed a never-ending argument about the value—the realism—of dark entertainment.

One of my grandchildren says she doesn’t want to be known as a “goody two-shoes,” which has set her in motion to watch, read or peruse anything that clouds the mind with darkness.

I fuss with my children over this issue.

I’m just always curious about what I refer to as “the final day.”

I’m not speaking of eternity, or a “Great White Throne Judgment.”

I am referencing the sensations, the regrets, the wonder, the curiosity and the reflections that enter our minds and souls when and if we know we have twenty-four hours to live.

It is often the case that this cushion of preparation is not provided, and we go from breathing to breathless.

But assuming that we had a guaranteed twenty-four-hour period to consider our choices, would there be anyone who wished that he or she had spent more time in the dark clouds?

It may seem noble, or worse, intellectual, to commiserate with the insane or the hopelessly lost.

But what is it they teach us?

Are they a warning for the stupidity of foolish behavior?

Or do they encourage us to loosen up just a bit more, keeping an eye on not going too far?

Yet the human race always goes too far.

I do not need to be surrounded by butterflies.

But I need to at least observe caterpillars, knowing where they are headed.


Commiserate: (v) to express or feel sympathy or pity; sympathize.

It’s almost like the human being runs on two gas tanks. (Perhaps it’s foolish to try to compare our species to a combustible engine, but if you will forgive my simplicity, I will make the analogy.)

We have one gas tank that fuels us to achieve, and we have another tank that helps us putter along in self-pity.

Obviously, following this comparison through to a conclusion, the tank we fill up more often determines much of our happiness, success and value.

The problem comes when deciding where to place our feelings and attitudes when assisting others. Should we challenge, or should we commiserate?

And if we decide to encourage, which tank are we filling? Are we being sympathetic, which makes our friends believe they are victims? Or are we attempting to be uplifting, stirring them out of their doldrums?

It may sound tender-hearted to commiserate, but honestly, very little is achieved by filling up the self-pity tank of someone you love.

That engine has no power to do anything but sustain idle–not rocket them into the stars.


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Atonement: (n) reparation for a wrong or injury.dictionary with letter A

If I save somebody’s life, how important will I be to them after a couple of weeks?

They could always make reference to the fact that they value my gift of salvaging them from death. But we really wouldn’t be able to hang out together. It would be awkward, wouldn’t it?

But if we became friends, then the sphere of influence would be greater. He or she could come over to my house, barbecue, watch a movie, laugh, talk about family or commiserate about the job.

But somewhere along the line, this new friend would have to go home. He or she would not be allowed into my inner sanctum of privacy and thoughts.

This is why we get married–so we can have someone who saves us from our loneliness, becomes our best friend, but also becomes entwined with us emotionally and helps us make decisions which steer our mission.

I know it is the great jubilation of the Christian faith to continually discuss the atonement from sin by Jesus dying on the cross.

But once the realization hits you and you’ve achieved salvation, to have it constantly brought to your remembrance and hung over your head is…well, as I said, rather awkward.

Somewhere along the line this savior needs to become a friend. Then he can hang out.

He can become part of the everyday life that forms the blood and tissue of your being.

And if you take the time to learn the philosophy of this savior–the impetus that caused him to want to be your redeemer–then you can actually marry yourself to his principles and create a lifestyle rather than just an atoning event.

I think church fails because it tries to turn an atonement into a friendship.

  • Atonement is beautiful.
  • But friendship is better.

And allowing yourself to come into covenant with the Golden Rule is what is truly life-changing.

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


Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Action: (n.) 1. the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. 2. a thing done; an act.


Maybe thousands, over the years.

Yes, I’m talking about the number of people who have told me they wanted to do something special or significant with their lives, but found themselves stalled by some piece of obstruction.

I used to be enthralled with these tales, feeling that if I could be a stimulus to their progress, then I would be an exhorter of talent, and indirectly, a collaborator in their success.

I always listened patiently. Then, at length, when they took a breath, I would insert a question:

“What action are you prepared to take to change your circumstances and commence to fulfill your dreams?”

I didn’t mean it to be challenging. I wasn’t questioning their authenticity. I was trying to initiate a plan of action which would transform their discouragement into an adventure.

Universally at that point, they frowned and told me that there was no way they had the time, energy or money to do anything other than lament their lack. Foolishly, in the early days, I made suggestions on how they might garner more resources.

I was always astounded at how this caused them to become defensive or even angry, and usually terminated the conversation in a disjointed way.

I realized that the problem with action is that it always invokes a reaction.

Simply because I say I want to do something and set in motion a work schedule to achieve it, does not mean there won’t be a hundred things that will challenge my plan and creativity and question my motives.

Some people call this “evil.” Others refer to it as “bad luck.”

I now understand that it’s just Mother Nature, making sure that only the serious applicants actually make it to the interview.

So now when people tell me they would like to pursue their dreams, I listen for three elements:

  1. Are they doing anything that resembles what they are describing?
  2. Did they bring a piece of paper, to take notes? All of us are fully aware that we won’t remember good advice without writing it down.
  3. Are they asking questions and trying to find new insights, or just relating the finality of their own story?

Now, I don’t ignore people who don’t have these three qualities, but I certainly am aware that I’m talking to someone who wants to commiserate instead of commissioning a new cause.

Yes, the only problem with action is that it demands that we stop talking about what has happened …, and we start making something new happen.