Charlatan

Charlatan: (n) a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.

Even though I don’t believe there’s any secret to life–otherwise God would be a nasty uncle playing a game of hide and seek so He can take a nap–I do believe there are markers along the way, telling us how to make this passage of Earth-Time much more plausible.

One of those gems is to make sure you never critique anyone unless you’ve already scoured yourself to uncover the same condition.

If you call somebody a fake, you’d better make sure you’re not faking something yourself.

If you refer to somebody as a liar, you might want to precede that with an honesty session and unburden yourself of all your half-truths.

And if you claim that someone is a charlatan, you should be fully aware that the false claims you place on your qualifications–the additional bullet points you may slip into a resume–might equally define you as being a charlatan also.

Here’s a powerful message: take aim at yourself first, and then see if you can help somebody else.

Dirty people with dirty hands who come across other dirty people and try to help them end up just transferring much of their dirt onto the person in need.

God forgive generations of ministers, politicians, businessmen, counselors, teachers and even parents who voraciously took on the job of correcting…except where it came to straightening their own path.

 

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Brassy

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Brassy: (adj) tastelessly showy or loud in appearance or manner

How much is enough?

That may be the central concern to human life.Dictionary B

Because in hours of reflection, when opportunity is long gone, the question raised in our soul is either “did we do enough?” or “did we do too much?”

  • In a world of indifference, how much flash does it take for someone to notice your pan?
  • How many cherries before you actually have a bowl?
  • And how many sunrises before someone grabs a camera?

What does it take to draw enough attention to goodness that evil pales in comparison?

I am convinced that the promotion of a great idea is not achieved through a deluge of advertising, screaming, yelling and promotion.

Goodness, gentleness, kindness, righteousness, beauty are all required to maintain a consistency while the world overlooks them until such a time that the planet is prepared to be aware.

Therefore, the quandary is not whether there’s anything good in the world. The issue is whether goodness can survive all of the brassy critique and dark representations to finally get its chance to inherit the Earth.

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Blunt

Blunt: (adj) uncompromisingly forthright

Dictionary B

I am recommending a divorce.

I think it is time to create a Splitsville between the words “blunt” and “honest.”

No human being has the authority, integrity or history to be blunt.

We can’t afford it. It’s too easy for other folks to find the skeletons in our closets–which, by the way, are still so fresh they’re covered with rotting skin.

And “honest,” although an improvement in temperament, is subject to our present comprehension.

So when people tell me they want to be blunt and honest with me, I request that they refrain. I am not confident that my burgeoning human spirit of consolation has grown enough to endure the “hard rain” of their critique.

I prefer honesty tempered with mercy. How would that manifest itself? I will give an example.

Blunt–“You are way too fat.”

Honest–“Don’t you think your obesity is hurting your health?”

Merciful–“I’m thinking about losing a few pounds myself. Have you ever tried and do you have any suggestions?”

Some individuals would consider this misleading or disingenuous.

I just consider it the only acceptable way to affect the world around you without crumbling it.

 

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Began

Dictionary BBegan: past tense of begin

If you acknowledge the source, you can avoid remorse.

Even though it’s very popular to talk about how to begin, the celebration is much more powerful if we first commemorate how we got to where we are now.

Yes, our “begin” is much more efficient if we laud our “began.” May I explain?

I began several years ago to stop being so fussy about trying to get my personal avenue in life. Yes, I have preferences. No one cares. Lamenting their apathy only makes me aggravated and grouchy. So I began to take care of myself and not require that others do it for me.

A decade ago, I began to be self-critical about my projects instead of waiting for the criticism of others. I would much rather be overly analytical of my personal affairs rather than having to recoil from critique.

I began to realize that financial responsibility is not optional.

I began to give independence to my children, so they could have a life separate from their allegiance to my fatherhood.

I began to talk less and think more.

I began to celebrate that intervention by problems is the only way to coax innovation.

I began to begin.

And in beginning … I can now celebrate what I began.

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Athwart

Athwart: (prep) in opposition or counter to.dictionary with letter A

I don’t want to be spooky.

I am not one of those fellows who finds God in every flower or a demon under every rock, but occasionally I have to admit, there are certain attitudes that permeate our society which seem to have been blown in by a wicked specter.

Maybe it’s because I find them dangerous, but more than likely, the reason these particular trends concern me is how quickly they inundate the thinking of the populace.

The one that comes to my mind, which seems to have become very popular in the past 15 to 20 years is the notion that we prove our intelligence by being negative.

Everyone wants to be a critic.

The trouble with critics is that when everyone is doing it, it is no longer a mere critique, but rather, eliminating the energy for creative ideas.

It’s scary to be creative.

Even as I write this essay, I have to be hyper-vigilant about grammar, detail, accuracy, length and form. Some of this is good, but the amount dumped on us is a burden that discourages experimenting with good ideas to see if they’re great.

At any moment, you can offer a suggestion and there is a multitude of nay-sayers standing nearby–to make these inclinations athwart.

Yes, they are fully prepared to explain in vivid and often vicious detail how stupid you are for your assertion. So the end result is a generation that plays it safe while simultaneously feeling no safety.

It will take courageous people chancing that their efforts may be ridiculed, but still proclaiming their thoughts, to overcome this mob mentality of merciless menacing.

My contribution is two-fold:

  • I will continue to create.
  • I choose not to take what is created in front of me athwart.

 

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Anomaly

dictionary with letter A

Anomaly: (n) something that deviates from the normal, standard or expected

I liked music.

At eighteen years of age, I’m not so sure that I was totally devoted to a career in the field or whether there was a bit of laziness tied into the equation, because playing piano sounded easier than punching a time-clock. (After all, we get ourselves in the most trouble when we try to purify our motives instead of accepting them a trifle sullied.)

One afternoon during that eighteenth year, I took my girlfriend, who was soon to become my wife, into a back room of a loan company owned by my parents and sat down at a piano which had been given to our family, but because we had no room in our house, ended up stuck in the back corner of this lending institution.

I had never written a song before.

As a teenager, I sang in choir, a quartet and for nursing homes, pretending like it was a big gig at Madison Square Garden.

Yet on this day, I suddenly got this urge to compose. It was not stimulated by a professor at a college asking for an assignment, nor was it motivated by my ancestors, wishing that I would abandon all normal courses of occupation and pursue a musical path.

It was truly an anomaly.

  • It was contrary to what everybody wanted me to do.
  • It was an open, seething contradiction to my cultural training.
  • I sat down at that piano, and in the course of the next ninety-four minutes, wrote two original songs. I didn’t know if they were good and certainly was not confident they were great.

But something came out of me that wasn’t a conditioned response or a well-studied answer for a final exam.

It was mine.

Whether it was good or bland, it came from me. It excited me. It encouraged me to muster the perseverance to survive the critique of my society and even overcome my own fits of lethargy to pursue it.

It still excites me today.

Hundreds of songs later, I still feel as thrilled when pen goes to paper, words appear and musical notes cuddle up next to them.

No one in my family ever took the course of action which I chased, beginning with that afternoon in the back room behind that piano.

But it is the selection of that odyssey that has made me who I am.

There are two things you have to remember about an anomaly:

  1. It is never immediately accepted.
  2. It always takes more work than you expected.

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Anesthesia

dictionary with letter A

Anesthesia: (n.) drugs or gases designed to create insensitivity to pain prior to surgical procedure.

It occurred to me while standing in the breakfast aisle at the local supermarket.

In previous years, I complained about going shopping and having rude little children point, giggle and laugh at me simply because I was a fat man.

On this day, what crossed my mind, standing next to the Honey Nut Cheerios, was that I couldn’t remember the last time that I had such a confrontation with a little one in the marketplace. I wondered if it was because our children had gained a new sensitivity and had ceased to mock unusual people.

Without being too cynical, I seriously doubt that. There is certainly as much prejudice around today as in any other time.

So it baffled me a little bit.

But then I realized–the secret to this absence of ridicule did not lie in the children, but rather in me.

  • I had stopped looking for the pain.
  • I had ceased to probe the room for disapproval or listen for the slightest chuckle.
  • I had learned to go about my business.
  • I had accepted the great anesthesia of confidence and peace of mind, to free me from the need to be pricked and probed until I screamed out in displeasure.

Maybe the kids are still laughing. But I am dull to their critique.

Maybe when I come zooming by, they poke each other, point and giggle at me. But I am already gone.

The glory of anesthesia is that necessary surgery can be done to our bodies without us fighting the treatment.

May God give me the anesthesia of soul satisfaction so the surgery that He needs to continue to do to my heart … will be painless and profitable.

 

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