Cadre

Cadre: (n) a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession.

“I’ve gotta be me.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve never found particularly worthy of my attention. I’ve never been so certain of myself that I did not yearn to have the
fellowship and input of others.

I have found that the word “solo” is a great synonym for “alone.” I don’t like to be alone.

I don’t need other folks to make me feel valuable, or to surround me with a sense of inclusion. It’s just divinely remarkable to encounter individuals who share common anything with one another.

  • Common taste.
  • Common talent.
  • Common faith.
  • Common appetites.
  • Or even common foibles.

Human beings were never intended to be perfect and can be quite obnoxious when pursuing it. We’re at our best when we hang around with each other, admit our weaknesses and garner energy off the cadre of souls huddled in our corner.

When I have attempted to be autonomous, it was like I found myself standing naked in a room full of doctors. It was inevitable they would find something wrong with me.

Am I hiding? Perhaps.

Am I weak? Most certainly.

Am I benefitting from interaction with others?

Always.

 

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Brace

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Brace: (v) to get ready for something difficult or unpleasant

“I’m not alone.”

This statement is the essence of human sanity.

Being alone makes us lonely.

Lonely causes us to think we’re insignificant.Dictionary B

A feeling of insignificance makes us believe our contribution is meaningless.

I am not meaningless.

But I must understand that common sense, compassion, tenderness, fellowship and faith are often isolated on islands, separated from the mainland by cynical thinking.

Brace yourself.

  • You need to be prepared to be considered an outsider if you’re going to bring anything of value inside.

Brace yourself.

  • People are not going to naturally be kind, but instead, are motivated in a mob mentality, to pursue such wisdom.

Brace yourself.

  • What is passed off as logic is often, within a few short months, considered to be harmful and rejected for its ridiculous premise.

Brace yourself.

  • Look for things that are everlasting, and pursue them with vigor.

Brace yourself.

  • If you aren’t considered a little weird, then there’s no reason for you to be in the game.

Brace yourself.

  • Loving your neighbor may be considered to be unnecessary, irrelevant and unrealistic.

It is time for people who do not view themselves as good, but who desire to pursue good … to do good things.

 

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Blockhead

Blockhead: (n) a stupid person.

Dictionary B

  • I have been stupid.
  • I am presently stupid but unaware.
  • I will certainly be stupid again.

If you find fault with these ideas, then you are susceptible to being a blockhead.

Blockheads are people who are convinced that their concrete thinking is safe and reasonable, only to discover that they are out of step with reality and condemned by common sense.

So if you are looking for companionship, fellowship, relationship or any particular boat to take you across the sea of difficulty–or tranquility–keep in mind that intelligent people are fully aware of three abiding truths:

1. I am capable of being wrong.

2. Since I know that, I’m looking for ways to catch myself before “stupid” throttles me.

3. I am so busy with my own “stupid” that I must trust that you will take care of yours.

If you are with people who do not believe these three things, be prepared to constantly take your pickaxe of argument to their blockhead of stubbornness.

 

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Berate

Berate (v): to scold or criticize someone angrily.

Dictionary B

My wife’s parents didn’t like me.

They had good reason.

I lied, cheated, misinformed and did a bunch of crap which forced them into the role of being critical defenders of their daughter.

Yet I had the excuse of being intoxicated by adolescence. They were supposed to be mature and understand my weakness, but instead, berated me, telling me I would never be anything of quality.

Being very young, I felt it was my duty to verbally attack them also, leaving a chasm of misunderstanding, which I believed would be taken care of over time. I thought that once their daughter and I were married and had children, matters would miraculously transpire to turn us into a family, laughingly remembering former days of conflict.

It never happened.

Matter of fact, I can recite several events in my life when I was berated–or was the berator of others myself–where those relationships have never healed, but have instead settled into an uncomfortable silence of unacceptability.

We are civil.

I suppose there are even moments of kindness.

But the grudge that is still carried leaves both parties breathless, if not hopeless.

So what I have learned with each passing birthday is that the less I confront those around me, the greater the possibility of maintaining the warmth of fellowship.

I suppose we should be a race that is forgiving, gentle and free of resentment.

We are not.

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Belong

Belong: (v) to fit in a specified place or environment.

Dictionary B

Shortly after my arrival, I was told that I belonged to a family.

I was also informed that this collection of people was supposed to be supreme in my mind, and I should defer to them in all cases.

It didn’t take long before I was required to belong to a school.

  • We had a mascot.
  • We had teams.
  • We had jerseys.
  • Our school was better than your school. At least, purported.

I also belonged to a church. It was not the only church in town, but in many ways, I was instructed that it was the only church in town. To belong to this institution, I had to believe in their ideas, doctrines which granted them a sense of importance, uniqueness and preference.

My genealogy told me that I was of German descent. So apparently, I belonged in the white race, the offspring of Germanic tribes. That seemed to carry some significance which I never totally fathomed.

I met a woman. Actually, I met several women. But I had to pick one so we could belong together. Picking more than one was considered scandalous.

I graduated from school and was told I needed to belong to a corporation and have a job. I found that limiting and tried to launch out on my own, only to be scolded for failing to belong to the good working folk of America.

It did not take long to realize that other people belonged to different things than I belonged to, and because of that, it would be impossible for us to achieve high levels of interaction or fellowship.

It seemed to me that belonging was just a well-organized way of clumping–and once clumped, a certain amount of defensiveness was necessary in order to maintain the integrity of our particular heap.

I grew weary of such foolishness.

I belong to the human race.

That’s it.

I am not in the mood to join any other faction. 

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Agoraphobia

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgoraphobia: (n) extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.

I think I have claustrophobia.

I didn’t used to–even though the brief time that I played football, I didn’t particularly care for pileups, where people would be on top of me.

But agoraphobia‘s different. Within the spectrum of being frightened of experiencing a lack of room and oxygen is also a fear of people. Matter of fact, we start it pretty young, don’t we?

  • We tell our children not to talk to strangers.
  • Within the first few years of their lives, we cloister them in an atmosphere with no more than five to seven people, making a trip to the grocery store seem like a perilous journey through the jungle.
  • We coddle our offspring and project our apprehension into them upon entering school–so much so that many of them do not recover from their agonizing trepidation of interacting with people their own age. They can become misfits.

I guess what concerns me is that a little bit of agoraphobia is inhabiting everybody in this country. Statistics tell me that about 34% of the people who walk down the street holding a phone are pretending they have a phone call, so as to not have to interact with others.

Not only is it annoying to text when other people are around, but it may leave you totally debilitated and vacant of the desire to be close.

I admit, it can be frightening to make eye contact with other humans, but the absence of that gesture of openness neither alleviates danger nor promotes congeniality.

There are probably people who suffer from this condition, but I do think we are changing the definition of the word “fellowship” in our society. It is now a keystroke on Facebook, with twenty-four characters expressing how handsome we think some child is or how pretty a new little dress may be. In fact, my oldest son told me that Facebook is the new church of America. He said it with certainty and a bit of resignation.

If it’s a church, I’m curious about where God is, where love is, where hope is and where faith can grow. Because to merely admire someone’s new bowling ball is not to strike up a new friendship.

I know I’ve veered off the subject a bit, and perhaps the condition of “agoraphobia” is a worthy topic for a writer and thinker much brighter than myself.

But I do believe we can avoid becoming frightened of each other by choice. To do so, we will have to come away from our computer screens, our smart phones and actually look into each other’s eyes again … and risk what we see.

Affinity

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affinity: (n) a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something

I think it has a meter–yes, an “affinity meter.”

When I was younger I was more intolerant. My affinity for others was based on three criteria:

  1. Do I like them?
  2. Do they have enough money to contribute to a pizza?
  3. Will they be fun?

Anyone who didn’t fall into all three categories was pretty well nixed from my holy circle of friends. I felt fully justified. After all, who wants to be around someone you don’t like, has no cash flow and is a buzz kill?

I don’t know when this transition occurred, but one day it crossed my mind that people have bad days, bad seasons, bad histories, bad relationships, bad luck and bad karma. Sometimes we catch ’em during one of these “sunken” places on their journey instead of at the top of the mountain. And if you start throwing all the heavy boxes overboard, you will eventually get rid of some excellent treasure.

So as I’ve aged, I have changed my “affinity meter.”

  1. Do I like them?
  2. Do I understand why I don’t like them?
  3. Can I hang around long enough to find out if it would be possible for me to like them?

As you can see, the need for pizza money is gone.

Affinity is the awareness that because nothing is perfect and nobody has it all, we gradually take many people into our lives–to piece together the whole experience of fellowship.