Comment

Comment: (n) a verbal or written remark expressing an opinion or reaction.

Having abandoned journalism, many forms of etiquette, courtesy and basic grammar, the Internet continues to pass along ideas from people who refuse to accept the fact that others have a creative bend and require consideration.

Somewhere in the past two decades we have lost the true definition of commenting. Let me begin by telling you what it is not.

A comment is not you offering an opinion. In other words, if someone writes an article stating that the President of the United States is a great historical figure filled with virtue, a comment would be on the writer’s approach, delivery, information and process in drawing conclusions. A comment is not jotting down, “Idiot, moron, and son-of-a-bitch” with multiple exclamation points. (A single exclamation point is supposed to express great passion. When I see two, I perceive stupidity.)

Commenting is letting folks know how what they had to share, think, or even a meal you prepared was received. It is not replacing their input with your dogma–feeling as if this resolves the issue for all time.

Often my children recommend a movie to me. If I watch it, I offer the following comment:

“I can see why you liked it. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this movie on the night I watched it, but I did not garner the usual impact or inspiration that I normally enjoy from a flick. It is certainly the kind that I normally do pursue, but this particular one left me cold. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand what the writer and director were trying to communicate.”

This is commenting–a blend of honesty and humility allowing the person who has shared to leave the house without fear of being gunned down by a maniac.

I welcome comments.

I make errors.

But I do not give you permission to ravage my material simply because it busted out the walls of your mental one-room sublet.

 

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Briefcase

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Briefcase: (n) a flat, rectangular container, typically made of leather

Mine was an old, cheap, black variety, torn places all over the fake leather, with bent hinges.

It was my briefcase.Dictionary B

I carried it officiously, thinking it made me look…well, I guess, important.

When I began writing my first novel, I made sure that every time I stopped typing (yes, this was back in the day when we actually used typewriters) every page was placed meticulously, nestled into my briefcase of safe-keeping.

I was so proud.

I had actually written maybe a third of my first great American manuscript when one night, somebody broke into my van and for some inexplicable reason, stole the knobs off my radio–and lifted my briefcase.

I didn’t have anything in there except the first draft of this work and some pictures my kids had drawn of sunsets and oddly-shaped horses.

It was totally useless to the person who stole it, but to me it was gold. I felt like I had lost part of my life.

The idea of having to start over again to regain the energy and thoughts already spilled out onto paper seemed extraordinarily arduous, if not impossible.

Fortunately for me, a friend who had been retyping the material had kept her old copies. Therefore, all of the inspiration which had poured from my heart was salvaged.

Once I received that reprieve from the prison of my fears, I gained a little sense of humor about the whole affair.

I wondered what the thief thought when he pried open that briefcase, thinking he might find treasure, and discovered 102 pages … of poorly-typed novel.

 

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Belittle

Belittle: (v) to make someone or something seem unimportant.

Dictionary B

Those who belittle be “littler” than them belittled.

More and more as I age, in a season when conversation is salted with pepper, I realize that the absence of legitimate talent causes us to attack contributors out of a fear that we, ourselves, are nothing.

Even when I find myself being cynical, I realize it’s because I am jealous of those who have received attention, while my efforts have been relegated to the position of backstage storage.

We belittle because we be “littler.”

That’s the truth of the matter.

There isn’t a great idea ever hatched in the mind of a mortal that has not been forced to endure the ridicule of the ignorant.

It is why we suffer from a dearth of inspiration.

It’s not because the inspiration is unavailable. Those inspired lack the emotional armor to survive the gauntlet of the unrighteous condemners.

It is too bad that goodness is plagued by sensitivity–because for it to gain voice, it needs to escape temporary damnation.

I swear to myself that I will never belittle again. And then, because of my insecurity, I attack in order to protect my ego.

When it’s over, I feel bad.

But unfortunately, the moment has passed, and the chance to embrace beauty has been scared away … by my beast.

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Bassoon

Bassoon: (n) a bass instrument of the oboe family with a double reed.Dictionary B

If the goal of every endeavor is to gain fame or money, then we will end up doing very little in our lives–for fear of ending up with something that fails to deliver the goods.

I learned this early.

I made a decision to pursue things that made me happy, giggle or feel inspired. Whether other people found them to be equally as inspirational or entertaining was only secondary to my deep-rooted concern for entertaining myself.

In the process of chasing that philosophy, I found myself in Tennessee working with a partner to begin a symphony in a town that probably was completely uninterested in even learning how to spell the word.

Intelligently, we held our first concert very near Christmas and because of that and the basic human nature to be curious, we had a huge attendance, which seemed to bode well for the project.

I was so excited about the event that I wrote a special composition called Christmas. This particular piece of music began with a sprightly bassoon solo, establishing a bouncy, joyous melody which to me personified the uncontrollable anticipation of a child at Christmas.

We hired a bassoon player who just happened to really love playing the instrument. He didn’t get to perform very often in Tennessee, since there isn’t a high calling for bassoonists among the populace. So when he discovered he was going to get to play this delightful ditty, he practiced and practiced–and by the time of the concert, he literally exploded the musical magic off of his double reed.

When the audience heard the tune being played, they giggled like school children because it was such a pleasant representation of childhood memories.

I love the bassoon because it cannot hide its true personality. It is a growly, jubilant tone foretelling of grandfatherly wisdom … with just enough mischief.

 

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Audience

Audience: (n) the assembled spectators or listeners at a public event, such as a play, movie, concert, or meeting.

dictionary with letter A

You may speculate that they are spectators, but the word “audience” literally means that they are there to listen.

As listeners, they are not compelled to feed your ego nor respond to your whim.

If the person sharing is not willing to communicate clearly, or provide a balance of entertainment and inspiration, then he should be prepared for the audience to take its ears elsewhere.

That’s a simple fact.

After many, many years of sharing, performing, presenting, or whatever word you prefer, in front of hundreds of thousands of human souls, I will tell you that I have never come across any gathering that did all the work for me.

Some are friendlier, and some are like a Wells Fargo safe which has to be cracked meticulously in order to find the treasures within.

With the introduction of YouTubes and Internet blogs, there are many fledgling artists who think that having ten thousand “likes” or a million hits is a passage to success.

It is not.

There are three things that tell you that you’ve reached your audience:

  1. Do they get quiet when they’re supposed to get quiet?

Noisy is easy. Getting people quiet is an art.

  1. Do they want more of what you have and are they willing to commit either their time or money to confirm that devotion?

It is a fickle day we live in. The 24-hour news cycle has turned the American attention span and the allegiance of the American audience into the actions of a housefly at a July 4th picnic.

  1. Are they leaving the performance, lecture or interaction a little different than when they came in?

America is desperately searching for answers, while simultaneously pretending that such data is unnecessary.

Solve a problem–save a soul.

It’s really that easy. 

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A. M.

dictionary with letter A

A.M. (abbr.) referring to time between midnight and noon

Talk about a mixed bag.

The A.M. is a dividing line between sinister and productive–because honest to God, very little good happens between midnight and six o’clock.

And if you can get over the foolishness of not considering yourself “a morning person,” the greatest potential for creativity occurs between 6:00 A.M. and noon.

Fascinating.

I have occasionally awakened in the middle of the night with a bit of inspiration, but honestly, these evening stirrings are a paradox themselves. Part of the time, what sounds good at 2:00 A.M. in my bleary mind does not survive the scrutiny of the light of day.

So overall, I think God had a good idea–to have us sleep through the hours that have the most darkness.

Although it is considered to be intellectual in this day and age to contend that darkness is relevant and important, if you don’t mind, I will stick with the early morning, when the blessings are fresh and don’t have to be re-heated to get rid of the staleness.

I like A.M.

P.M. is fine, too, but early in the morning I have a sense about me which evokes an optimism that this is truly a new day … and therefore I have a fresh start.


A la

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

A la: (prep) 1. a dish cooked or prepared in a specified style: e.g. apple pie a la mode. 2. in the style or manner of: e.g. afternoon talk shows a la Oprah.

May I give you my “a la” list? Maybe better stated, a reality a la “wish.”

  • Success a la humility.
  • Music a la emotion.
  • Faith a la evidence.
  • Hope a la progress.
  • Love a la tolerance.
  • Nationalism a la vision.
  • Equality a la action.
  • Debate a la cohesion.
  • Purpose a la common sense.
  • Bible a la humanity.
  • Entertainment a la inspiration.
  • Humor a la edification.
  • Encouragement a la critique.
  • Family a la expansion.

There are certain things that were meant to go together, and when they are separated, they wander about the earth in search of a mate. If you become a match maker to these estranged lovers, you ignite a passion that sets the world on fire with potential.

Yes … potential a la “what’s next?”