Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.

What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.

Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.

It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might,funny wisdom on words that begin with a C every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.

This happened four–no, five times.

It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.

I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.

I let him struggle.

Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.

Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.

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Chilly: (adj) uncomfortably cool or cold.

Three-and-a-half minutes.

Sometimes I pity those in South Florida who are unfamiliar with this precious expanse.

It’s the length of time it takes to step out into a frigid night, tiptoe across the ice, climb in your car, start it up–and for the heater to gradually
surround you with toasted air.

Watching the ice melt on your windshield as you sense you are safe, sound, warmed and relaxed, staring out your window at the glorious winterscape.

You can put your car in reverse, back out of the driveway, and carefully slip-slide your way down the road, feeling that you’re encompassed by a fire of contentment, permitted, from your cuddled position, to look at the arctic surroundings.

It is amazing.

Sometimes the three-and-a-half minutes feels like three-and-a-half hours because it’s so cold–but when the heat finally arrives, it is so comforting, so tender and so forgiving of the icy world around you that you could just sit in there for the rest of your life.

As we enter the winter season, this scene comes to my mind, as I am a native of Central Ohio.

Heated air in a car on a winter’s night is a confirmation that if we’re patient and start up the engine, a little warmth will come our way.


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dictionary with letter AAntipruritic: (n) a type of drug used to relieve itching.

Life is a farce.

The sooner you realize it and become comfortable with the idea, the more proficient you will be at achieving your goals and the less resentful toward the overall comedy.

Let’s look at the basic rollout:

When we’re young enough to have energy and the passion to drive us to participate, we’re too stupid to do anything of quality. After we survive the “season of stupidities,” we gain the intelligence to make better choices, but we’re too exhausted to enact them.

Isn’t that hilarious? It’s an invitation from the Creator to relax and not take things too seriously.

Because when I was twelve years old, I got naked with a bunch of my friends, and slid down the bank of a creek in Oklahoma into an ice-cold pond, to skinny-dip.

The water was so cold that there was no room for ridicule because all of our genitalia disappeared. It was a blast.

But since we were young, inexperienced and mentally flawed, we had no idea of the local terrain, vegetation or possible perils.

So about three days later, I discovered–on my bummer side–that I had contracted poison sumac. I didn’t even know what sumac was. (Actually, I would have been happy to go through the rest of my life dwelling in that ignorance.)

It itched like poison sumac sounds like it would, and since it was on my backside, it had an inclination to “go west, young man,” and creep up to my more non-scratchable areas.

I needed to do something.

I tried every over-the-counter antipruritic–and the relief lasted only the length of time it took to smear it on, pull on my underwear and take two steps.

Nothing helped.

Apparently, this particular strain of sumac was well-versed in medical treatment.

After numerous attempts to relieve my scratchiness, one day I found a huge clump of ice which was left over from a fishing trip, where the catch of the day was kept frigid.

A thought came to my mind. If no one was looking, perhaps I could pull down my underwear and sit on the ice.

So I did.

At first it stung. Then it burned.

But when it froze, I found God.

It was a little embarrassing to go around my tiny village trying to acquire large chunks of ice, but it was the only thing that brought me any sense of contentment, and kept my “sumacian” enemy from attacking the neighbors.

It took about two weeks–but it finally went away.

I think it’s safe to say, I put that one on ice.


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


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Ablation: n. 1. the surgical removal of body tissue 2. the removal of snow and ice by melting or evaporation, typically from a glacier or iceberg.

I guess I’m familiar with both types of ablations.

When I was a kid, our house sat on a small hill, completely covered by trees. So in the winter, when snow fell in our back yard, there were patches of turf which were untouched by sunlight due to the covering of the branches and therefore, the accumulated ice would not melt, even when May Day came around.

My mother would ask me to go into the back yard and dislodge the frozen precipitation from our yard so little kids wouldn’t slip on it on their way to play ballgames on our property. I seriously doubt if any kid would ever have slipped on the ice. The patch was only about five feet long and a foot and a half wide. But you don’t argue with your mother. She always has a second and third more boring reason for doing things which she will be more than happy to reiterate to you, and also controls the purse strings and access to kitchen treats.

I will tell you–this ice was determined. It had survived some very warm April days and had seen all of its friends dissipate into a watery grave as they drizzled down the hillside.

So I chipped at it with a shovel, dislodging some pieces, and actually had to dig up some of the ice, which had developed a deep and lasting relationship with the underlying grass and dirt. Not certain of where to take these leftover pieces of winter, I walked them over to our trash barrel, placed them in there and set some pieces of paper on fire in an attempt to melt them.

It was amazing how long it took for the ablation to have its complete effect.

Ice and fire.

You would think that fire would have the advantage, but ice really does hang in there, melding itself into a harder and harder nugget of determined cold.

I also had a tumor removed from my body at one time, which was a rather strange sensation. It hurt very badly, but no one believed I actually had an internal problem, so the doctors attempted to treat it externally. One day it just popped. Turns out there were two in there–one which exploded and drained (have I lost you yet?) and another which had to be surgically removed.

That second was quite similar to my back yard ice.

I was always curious about how long that ice would have lasted in my backyard had my mother not insisted on relegating it to the trash can. I guess I am also curious about whether my second tumor would have taken care of itself like the first one did.

But I also see a time and place for ablation. And now I have a much better word for it, which I can show off in those embarrassing times when ice and soft tissue need to be dramatically removed.