Dastardly: (adj) cowardly; meanly base; sneaking

I don’t mind losing words from the English language. I’m not sentimental.

If for some reason one can’t survive the evolution from generation to generation, it doesn’t bother me.

Yet I am fully aware that the loss of certain terms does leave us vacuous and ill-prepared to deal with what the idea foretold.

The word “dastardly” was popular well before my time.

It started somewhere in the Renaissance and ended post-American Civil War.

But if you listen to the definition, you are granted a tremendous insight on what vices travel together as a gang—and how, in doing so, they generate peculiar and unique forms of evil.

It struck me that “sinister” begins with cowardice.

“I’m afraid to deal with it.”

“I’m afraid of the outcome.”

“I’m afraid it won’t work.”

“I’m afraid I’ll get blamed.”

Once this cowardice sets in, a mean-spiritedness raises its ugly head in a defensive profile.

“Why is it my problem?”

“Why didn’t they take care of it before I came along?”

“Why is everybody blaming me?”

“Why doesn’t he get off his ass and do something?”

Then, once cowardly links up with mean, you arrive at sneaky.

“How can I make myself look good while simultaneously making you look bad, so there’s no doubt whose fault it is?”

So even though we’ve walked away from the word “dastardly,” and nowadays have even substituted “tough” in its stead, maybe we should take a moment to realize that when someone is cowardly, sprouting a mean spirit, they eventually will find a sneaky angle to get their way—and probably make you and me look ridiculous in the process.



Combative: (adj) ready or eager to fight; pugnacious.

No one who has been to war is anxious to get back.

No soldier who’s seen his buddy explode next to him is convinced that the flag is worth such a horrible sacrifice.

No general yearns to put his plans to the test in the field of blood and gore unless he is completely out of his mind.

But in the same theme, none of us should ever walk into a room knowing we haven’t had enough sleep, haven’t worked out a conflict in our lives or are reluctantly participating in an event–and subject those around us to our combative nature.

In a gathering of a hundred people who are circling around and fellowshipping, it only takes three individuals slipped into the mix, who have shown up in bad moods and ready to argue, to turn the remaining ninety-seven into either frightened victims or triggered their angry monsters.

The human race is combative.

Somehow or another we have convinced ourselves that war changes boundaries or establishes authority.

All war does is steal away a generation of fertile, creative and productive minds.


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Boiling: (v) to bring a liquid to the temperature at which it bubblesDictionary B

It’s not that we forget old sayings, nor that they’re proven to be untrue, but rather, that their validity annoys us so much that we punish them and cast them into obscurity.

“A watched pot never boils.”

This is an adage.

I would venture to say that the average person under the age of thirty would not only be unfamiliar with this premise, but also baffled as to the logic of its meaning.

Why, you may ask?

Because we have convinced ourselves that waiting for things to happen–becoming impatient with the length of time involved and finally frustrated–is normal human behavior.

I don’t know why we can’t take the truths discovered by one generation and carry them into the next, while dispelling the superstition and silliness–but apparently if someone over the age of forty thought it, we just throw it in the trash.

Human beings suck at waiting.

If we’re told there will be a ten minute delay, after forty-two seconds, we are convinced we have been waiting a half-hour.

The only way to wait for anything is not to wait for it.

So if you put a pot of water on the stove to boil, it knows its job. Leave the room and let it boil.

The happiest you will ever be is when you realize that you’re not as capable as you think you are.

Then you can work with your frailty toward a realistic solution instead of insisting that the damn pot is taking longer this time.


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Being: (n) the nature or essence of a person.

Dictionary B

The question is misleading.

We often ask younger people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s not what we want to know. What we want to know is what they want to do when they grow up. Unfortunately, we teach our younger generation to do without ever having them search their souls for who they want to be.

The end result is that many people arrive at a certain status, where they have achieved obvious success in what they’re doing, while totally dissatisfied with who they are being.

The more important question is, “Who do I want to be?”

After all, I have to live with that entity as I go about doing.

Without this, we convince ourselves that achievement produces satisfaction rather than satisfaction promoting achievement.

We start talking about things like:

  • Bottom line
  • End results.
  • Keeping it real

You don’t have to keep it real if you are real. It just naturally oozes out.

I became a better person when I paused “doing” and perused “being.” It led me to three conclusions:

  1. I am not alone.
  2. You aren’t either.
  3. We should consider each other.

It makes all the difference in the world.

It actually turns you into a human who is worthy of being.

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Attention: (n) notice taken of someone or something dictionary with letter A

After a handful of decades of public speaking, I will tell you that human beings are not interested unless they’re interested.

That may sound silly, but if you stop to think about it, all of us are inundated with information which has little use to us in the moment. But we are challenged to believe that someday, at some place, it will become valuable.

So unfortunately, this puts us all in a conformity of boredom, feeling mature by enduring speeches instead of enjoying the now.

Here’s what I think about attention. It goes really well with two ideas:

  • Attention to detail
  • Attention span

I think these go together as a pair.

If I go into a lot of detail and lose the attention span of my audience, then no matter how righteous I feel in sharing my data, it is absolutely worthless because no one’s listening.

On the other hand, if I take some time and find out what really does interest people and put it in the context of what will actually help them, then I can use my attention to detail effectively.

People may have a limited interest in government, but they really want it to work and not interfere.

Folks may want to go to heaven, but nobody’s in a big hurry to get there.

And people are only interested in following instructions when it means they can put together something that will be fun.

I think we’re in danger of hating humanity because they’re so human instead of studying humanity and loving them for being human.

My attention is held by what seems to be pleasurable. If I can make love, generosity, tenderness and creativity a pleasant experience, then I have brought a great gift to my generation.


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dictionary with letter A

Apart: (adv) two or more people or things separated by a specified distance from each other in time or space (e.g.: his parents are living apart)

  • What separates us defeats us.
  • What we consider unique is really arrogance.
  • Birds of a feather don’t always flock together.
  • Culture is often just a cult of superiority.
  • Fear of each other is instilled and never natural.
  • Yearning to be left alone opens the door to sadness instead of awareness.

All of these statements come from my heart. Yet the entirety of the passage would be questioned by most people in our generation

Why? Because in our cowardice to discover one another, we choose to scatter into our corners.

Is this a problem? Is there a danger in remaining apart?

If each one of us was marooned on a desert island without supplies, with people from all walks of life, the necessity for communication would be required for survival. Yet for some reason, we feel we can stay apart in our world and still survive the prejudice.

This is what I know: Earth was here long before I arrived. Even though my brattiness would like to believe it will stop when I die, it won’t.

So since I’m passing through, I have three choices:

  1. I can fix something that’s broken.
  2. I can break something that’s fixed.
  3. Or I can notice what’s broken and help someone who can fix it.

To achieve all of this, I must interact with my brothers and sisters.

To embrace solution … I will need all of them.


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dictionary with letter A

Antonym: (n) a word opposite in meaning from another. (e.g., bad and good)

What a simplistic example by Webster–bad and good.

I will tell you right now–there are antonyms in our generation that did not exist a hundred years ago, but because of the introduction of the lifestyle of mediocrity, we have gradually eroded certain virtues, causing them to lose their rich soil. Let me give you some examples:

Religious and spiritual.

Although once considered synonyms, they are now on the other side of the room from each other, throwing doctrines. Being religious is pursuing a form of godliness, and being spiritual is finding the power in believing and making it practical.

Shall we try again?

Politician and statesman.

At one time they might have been used in a press release to describe a senator or congressman. But after eight or more years of governmental deadlock, we now realize that a politician is someone who is voted into office and a statesman is an individual who embodies the office.

I guess I have time for one more.

Men and women.

We have convinced ourselves today that they are opposites. It was fully the intention of the Creator to make them synonyms, complementary to one another. But because we find communication so exhausting and understanding passé, we would rather conclude that the two sexes of our species are doomed to derision.

We must be careful about this word, antonym.

For instance, simply calling it a “war on terror” does not keep it from being a war.

And insisting that people are born with certain attributes does not remove the responsibility we all have … to improve and grow out of our crib.



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dictionary with letter A

Antipope: (n) a person established as pope in opposition to the one perceived by others to have been canonically selected.

I am not afraid to listen to ideas or read opinions that are contrary to my personal likes or philosophy.

I am certainly not impartial as I read, but I try to comprehend what is offered to me in the composition and f out if there’s anything that can stimulate my brain to greater understanding.

Yet I have to tell you this–the article I read yesterday, which postured intellectually on the legitimacy of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, was basically the same old brick-and-mortar construction that has been put forth for years to undermine the notion, or maybe even the need, for a savior.

I guess all of us, when we’re entrenched in our attitudes (which certainly borderline on sin) are greatly displeased by the concept of repentance or anyone who would even embody such a ridiculous requirement.

But it doesn’t change the need of our species to be emotionally enlightened, spiritually cleansed, mentally rejuvenated and physically inputted to our healthier good.

I will go so far as to say that believing that Jesus of Nazareth lived is essential to our well-being as we continue to search for “jesus like” people in our own generation, to confirm the promise that we are neither as self-sufficient as we believe nor as depraved.

It’s why the Catholics have a pope. And he has a hat, which means he has a human head.

And if for some reason that pope decides to be a “company man” instead of a personal adjudicator for the masses, then we create an anti-pope.

We need human beings to confirm that we’re not just a group of apes with a mortgage.

Every time a society declines into the depths, attacking spirituality and ceasing to believe that a savior, a pope, an artist or a philosopher can arise from our midst to challenge us to better ideals, we end up in war, strife and succumbing to our latent bigotries.

So if the pope don’t work, we create an anti-pope. And if he don’t work, we look for another human in our generation who still believes in the ideals of a Nazarene named Jesus. Without this, we don’t become a secular society which is free of the intimidation of religion.

No, we become lonely travelers who believe that survival is more important than compassion.


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Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAesthetics: (plural n.) a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.

I will never forget attending my first film festival.

I had written two movies which had been honored for consideration. I arrived at the event thinking I would be sitting around, munching on bagels and cream cheese, drinking coffee and discussing the soul of my flicks. I thought we would get into plot lines, character evolution and maybe even get a little emotional over the impact of the material.

Imagine my dismay when the dialogue among the filmmakers turned to the aesthetics of camera angles, lighting and focus. Yes, the focus of the entire three days of celebrating film was what we saw through the lens instead of what we felt in our hearts.

It left me cold.

It left me hungry for an appreciation of emotion over the general worship of decor.

I am often uncomfortable living in a society which turns the Academy Awards into a fashion show instead of a study of theatrical application. We seem to be more concerned about how our lives are furnished than with furnishing the next generation with a vivid description of our lives.

I know aesthetics can be meaningful–maybe even deep. But the greatest moments I’ve ever shared were heart-felt, usually in a simple environment with people I loved, who were undistracted and unwilling to do anything but drink in the moment.

May we always be cognizant of the beauty, the quality and the expansion of our efforts, and may we never forget that what truly lasts … is what comes from the heart.


Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAdroit: (adj.) clever or skillful in using the hands or the mind: e.g. he was adroit at tax avoidance.

A time or two I have actually tried to USE the word, but I was never able to get it completely out of my mouth without giggling.

First of all, it’s much easier to say “accomplished,” and also clearer to the listener. But mostly, when I say “adroit” I have to think of a droid. And when I think of a droid, I start conjuring visions of R2D2 or C-3PO.

And then I smile and chortle.

Some words were just never meant to be used. Or maybe they’ve been destroyed by other words that came in and sucked up all the air in the room.

I suppose it would be fun to say that C-3PO was adroit at being a droid. But that’s the kind of pun and cleverness which in our generation makes people groan instead of laugh.

Yes, humor has changed. It has to be brazen and perhaps even a little risqué nowadays to get an exuberant response from an audience. A simple play on words leaves people thinking that you’re old-fashioned or kind of silly.

But anyway, back to “adroit”–I have to conclude that it’s one of those words which if I used, everybody in the room would get that “W-h-a-a-t??” face and then become annoyed that I was trying to be overly smart instead of communicating coolly.

And then, like me, they would probably pull up the idea of a droid instead, which might take them to Aliens, where the monsters had acid for blood and the artificial life form was possessed by one of the villains.

See? It just makes me digress.

So I shall stay away from “adroit” because of its pretentious sound and reference to robots.

I hope the word will not feel shunned.

Even though, if you think about it, “adroit” and “shunned” are very similar in their practical use.