Conjecture

Conjecture: (n) an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information

The young man disagreed with me.

I gave a college concert years ago, opening it up to a Q & A with the audience afterwards. One of the male students asked me, “Since you’re afunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
Christian, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ actually ever work?”

I think he expected some sort of conjecture on my part–about the value of pursuing lost causes, even though it might not seem that they possessed immediate merit.

Maybe he just wanted to justify his passion for revenge–or his girlfriend, sitting next to him, might be greatly impressed by him challenging the guest artist.

Wanting to make sure the audience understood his question, I asked him to repeat it. He rolled his eyes to communicate that I was apparently old and deaf, and posed the question again.

“What I asked you,” he said, “was, when did ‘turn the other cheek’ ever work in history?”

“I see,” I responded. “So let me ask you a question. When did gouging out eyes, pulling teeth and counterpunching ever exactly work in history?”

He stood tall and patriotic and replied, “Well, at least we went to war and beat the shit out of them.”

A small piddling of applause.

“Well,” I objected, “apparently we left some shit in them–because they’re back again. You see, my friend, turning the other cheek is not an attempt to bring flowers to a gun fight, but rather, to buy some time to see what can be done to change the fight from guns to conversation. And that, historically, has proven, over and over again, to be effective.”

Feeling the need to be justified, he spat, “Well, that’s just your opinion.”

“That it is,” I replied. “Actually, it’s my conjecture–a conviction I hold because pursuing anything else leaves blood all over my hands.”


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Clinic

Clinic: (n) a hospital department where outpatients are given medical treatment

Old Marion Webster always tends to leave out a detail or two in presenting definitions.

Clinics are not only places where people go to get medical assistance, but often find themselves frequenting due to poverty.

I’ve been to a clinic. It wasn’t because I doing research for one of my essays. No–I was busted.

Broke. Without bucks. Dollarless.

I found the experience to be humiliating–not because I thought I was better than all the other clientele. It was humiliating by design.

All the furniture was old, scarred, some pieces broken. The magazines were dated at least four years earlier, and had articles which had already proven to be incorrect. The candy machine was empty except for peanuts and Cheese-it crackers. The Coke machine was out of order and the coffee maker had a crack in it, so they could only make one cup at a time.

The nurses were volunteers who attempted to be cheery, but still conveyed a sense of yearning to get over their stint quickly and return to their normal lives.

The people around me were sick–some very sick. It made them look and act dreary.

I sat there and thought to myself, how easy it would be for people of substance and finance to just donate new magazines.

How about that church down the road which recently bought new furniture for their parlor–giving that old plush couch and chairs to this clinic so people would feel just a bit more comfortable as they sat for hours, waiting for a three-minute visit?

Would it kill the vendors to make sure that the candy machine was adequately stocked, and price it just a bit more reasonably for those who have to search longer for quarters?

How about giving them a new coffee pot, or taking up a donation to make the Cokes reappear?

I wasn’t angry over the indifference–just perplexed by the ignorance.

Now that prosperity has crept my way, I have a little extra money every once in a while that might seem like a gold mine for a clinic.

Maybe just buying flowers for the attendants to wear every day. Or if you worry that the patients might be allergic, purchase more colorful scrubs.

For some reason or another, rich people do not feel it’s enough to insult the less fortunate with mere poverty. They want to make sure the experience leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

 

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Busy

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Busy: (adj) having a great deal to do.

“Busy as a bee.”

Are bees really busy? We attribute this to them because they fly, buzz and appear to be accomplished.

But if you think about the normal day of a bee, it’s more the life of a hippie at a commune.

They fly off, check out the flowers, and while there, they pick up some nectar–and then they fly back to their hive, buzzing and maybe taking the long way home.

They contribute their nectar to the general well-being–the ongoing project, the commune’s goal. They spend a little while enjoying their time with the other drones, dreaming of a day when they might have their moment with the queen.

And then they’re off again, at a respectable, but not break-neck pace, to enjoy more flowers, bring back more nectar and come into the hive with that age-old joke that most bees hate: what’s the buzz?

After this procedure is repeated a number of times at an enjoyable clip, the bee can proudly step back and say, “I made honey. I made the world a sweeter place. I have taken something that was in the flowers and created a substance that transfers that glorious juice into the tastebuds of human beings.”

Most of the people I see who say they’re busy are just frantic.

They don’t visit the flowers.

They don’t take the long way home.

And they sure as hell don’t make honey.

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Bloom

Bloom: (v) to produce flowers; be in flower.

Dictionary B

Perhaps the most difficult thing for human beings to do is admit that what we are pursuing is just not blooming–especially if we’ve gone through contortions to promote it.

There are just signs that ideas, beliefs and goals are growing in the right direction and are worth further cultivation. When these signs are absent, we have to be willing to walk away and maintain the good cheer necessary to start again.

What are the signs?

1. Good ideas green.

Long before they bloom, they show some sprout–what you planted is actually emerging from the dirt. There is a greening.

2. We don’t find ourselves needing to make excuses.

I can always tell when I’m pursuing a faulty pathway–I need to over-proclaim its value or constantly explain why it’s important. Some truths do need to be self-evident.

3. Other folks see the growth and get excited.

America is a victim of hype. We spend too much time trying to advertise instead of asking ourselves if it actually has any chance of progress.

  • If you plant a seed and get some green, then comes the bloom.
  • If you don’t plant a seed there’s no chance for greening–that is true.

But don’t expect anything to become flowery if it doesn’t have… da-vine.

 

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Becoming

Becoming: (n) the process of coming to be somethingDictionary B

She was pretty sure of herself. Matter of fact, she stated it as a fact: “Young people get more conservative as they get older.”

I guess this can be stacked up with other definitive phrases like, women belong in the kitchen, Asians can’t drive and baked beans create farts.

We certainly do love our categories.

But if I were to stop and think about it for a moment, I would have to contend that the true power of longevity and surviving near-disaster is to come out of the experience more compliant, less sure of oneself and granting grace to others.

My life has not made me more conservative or more liberal. But it has taught me to be more merciful.

I have only one function left to me in breathing air, moving about and meeting others: Becoming merciful.

It is the only becoming that truly makes me becoming to others.

Without it, I am a cranky plant, growing without flowers and sprouting ever-increasing, ugly leaves.

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Barrel

Barrel: (n) a cylindrical container bulging out in the middle, traditionally made of wooden stavesDictionary B

Imagine my surprise when I first discovered that monkeys didn’t actually come in barrels.

I don’t even know where that saying came from. I’m a little surprised that PETA has not lodged a formal objection to the whole concept.

It astounds me how certain words evoke images in my mind, often without rhyme or reason. When I hear the word “barrel” I think of the hard candies I used to eat, called Root Beer Barrels, which seemed to last four days in your mouth.

I also think about the rustic planters I put in my front yard for a season, which were called “half-barrels,” and held soil for showcasing pretty flowers.

But the “barrel of monkeys” thing keeps popping back to my brain and annoying my sensibility. Because if you think about it, a barrel of monkeys would be much more frustrating than fun.

Could it be that somewhere along the line someone actually had a whole barrel of monkeys, and they were desperately trying to get rid of them, so they put out an ad in the local circular, trying to get somebody to purchase the damn things so they wouldn’t have to deal with a bunch of wiggling and squiggling primates?

Yes, maybe that’s where all the erroneous ideas have come from–some hapless individual is desperately trying to get out from under a bad investment and comes up with an advertising spin to market a fiasco.

Maybe that’s why we still call it a “Presidential campaign.”

 

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Arrange

dictionary with letter A

Arrange: (v) organize or make plans for (a future event).

The first thing that pops to my mind when I see the word “arrange” (other than thinking it is how a seven-year-old boy from Alabama might pronounce “orange” upon first seeing it) is the idea of how many cultures arrange marriages.

Of course, as a good American, I join the huddled masses yearning to be free by rolling my eyes and insisting how unromantic and ridiculous this sounds. After all, just look at the success rate of the American culture in organizing marriages based on courting, long engagements and numerous therapy sessions.

Yet in countries where they arrange marriages, divorce is an anomaly.

Would we be smarter to arrange more things in our lives instead of leaving them to the whim of a destiny that actually only exists in the minds of our authors?

What is the power of an arranged marriage?

Well, first and foremost, you actually have a reason for being together other than lust. Somebody has arranged the details, deciding that the union has possibilities beyond merely extending a one-night stand into a six-month, uncomfortable relationship.

Secondly, during the time that you would be getting to know the other person after you were married, the excitement of touch, sound and smell would be within the bonds of matrimony instead of being taken for granted after dating too long.

And finally, I believe that marriage would be put in perspective. Rather than being this “holy union ordained by God,” to accentuate and define the meaning of the universe through the procreation of other human beings, it would become a beautifully negotiated deal between two individuals who know each other enough to challenge each other and love each other enough to survive the challenge.

Yet I certainly will persist in my Anglo-Saxon, American ideal of falling in love. But I will not rule out the power and beauty of having things arranged.

It certainly works for flowers. Otherwise, they clump together in one color … and never receive the benefit of becoming a bouquet.

 

 

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