Coexist

Coexist: (v) to exist at the same time or in the same place

It’s stuck right there in the middle. I’m talking about the word “coexist.”

In the chain of understanding that links us together as human beings, coexist perches on the fifty-yard line.

When we don’t respect one another, we look at other humans as “occupying space.” They are occupiers. Therefore they can be bumped, shoved and pushed around to get out of our more important way.

On the other side of coexist is “include.” This is when we realize that our space on Earth is our space on Earth, and is linked equally to every other compartment.

But somewhere along the line, in order to move away from occupying, where we disdain the value of other souls–toward including, where we not only respect but also grant dignity to the lives of others–is this neutrality of coexist.

In other words: “You have every right to be here, just like me, whether I feel that way today or not.”

That’s coexist.

  • Coexist gets rid of racism.
  • Coexist removes hyper-culturalism.
  • Coexist also demands that we cease waving our flag, ignoring the patriotism of others.
  • Coexist is a journey we take, where we lose our ignorance on our way to kindness.

Let’s learn to coexist.

Maybe we won’t get any further than that–but it’s enough to keep us from killing each other each and every day.

 

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Coated

Coated: (n) a layer of covering

I, for one, appreciate and enjoy the candy coating on my aspirin.

I know it’s just a brief whiz-by of sweetness, but it keeps me from tasting any of that aspirin flavor that sticks in the back of your throat and makes you cough.

It’s just damned considerate.

This crossed my mind about twenty years ago, but I didn’t really do anything about it until last year. (Sometimes it takes nineteen years to work up the gumption to follow through on one of your own pieces of brilliance.)

But twenty years ago, I thought to myself, the problem with human relationships is that they aren’t candy-coated.

We walk around with some adult, grown-up notion that things should be nasty, and the more bitter they are the better it is–because we’ll end up with such a great, complaining story.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that this applied to me. I was waiting for somebody else to put it into practice. But then I sat down one afternoon and realized that I am sometimes hard to swallow:

I can be bitter

I can be nasty

I can be sour.

And the truth of the matter is, my responsibilities require that I use candor and truthfulness to get the job done. After all, can there be anything worse than a writer who’s a liar–which may force him to write more lies later?

Yet there are human ingredients of sweetness that can be added to truth, so that we can feel love as we embrace reality.

May we never lose kindness.

May we never forget the power of being gentle.

May we always take into consideration a sense of humor.

And certainly, may our daily lives be blessed by the power of apology and the simplicity of a thank you.

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Chide

Chide: (v) to scold or rebuke

Some of the more painful moments in life are when we experience disappointment or defeat–and after the sting of the failure is dying down–the chiders show up.

They have three distinct approaches that really do stink:

  1. “I had a feeling this wouldn’t work.”

It’s usually not a feeling they shared with you–and certainly not based on any sentiments they previously expressed. No, after the fact they create new facts.

  1. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Oh, I see. It’s not enough that life has slapped me in the face. You have brought fresh salt for the wound. It doesn’t even matter if I’m impressed enough by you to be hurt by your disappointment. Disappointment is often the straw that kills many a camel.

  1. “If it were me…”

Yes, folks who have all the facts available to them have now seen the outcome and understand the complete situation, but relentlessly explain how they would have done things just right.

We talk about love all the time. It’s a good thing.

We talk about kindness. Certainly valuable.

But the greatest gift a human being can offer is mercy.

Since life has kicked you in the teeth, I promise not to remind you of the high cost of dental bills.

A great man once said that merciful people are happy because they have the confidence that the mercy they express will be given back to them.

Because most certainly, each one of us takes our turn at being the fool.

So to withhold chiding is opening the door to grace–which can cover a multitude of our deluded efforts.

 

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By-product

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By-product (n) a secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else

The Good Book calls it “the fruit of the Spirit.”

That was back when people saw fruit growing on trees or bushes. They understood fruit was the by-product of planting, a process and a passage of time.

They comprehended that Spirit would come into a situation, and the evidence of that blessing would be the by-product of fruit.

But now we call our fruit “produce” and buy it at the market.

We now approach our humanity much the same way. If we can’t pick it up quickly, buy it over the counter or assume that we already have it, we are too impatient to wait for something of the Spirit to grow to a point that it creates a by-product.

And even though the Good Book lists many things, it refers to all of them as a single fruit. It’s a lesson–that beautiful teaching that comes our way, informing us that you can’t have one without the other.

Some groups want to be loving but not joyful.

There are other organizations that will talk to you about the joy of gathering, but they find no peace.

Of course, there are peacemakers who have absolutely no patience for waiting at the bargaining table.

Is it possible to insist you are patient without expressing kindness?

Or does kindness ever fail to manifest goodness?

There are human beings who will tell you they can be good without ever being faithful.

I heard someone tell me they had faith, but felt no gentleness toward mankind.

And of course, there are many of us who think we’re gentle or forgiving, but we have no self-control.

When the by-product is born from the true Spirit, the love makes you joyful. That burst of joy makes you perpetuate peace. Realizing you’re dealing with human beings, you bring along buckets of patience plus the wisdom to know that greasing the wheel with an abundance of kindness is never a bad idea. Goodness arrives, and it’s so good that we actually decide to be faithful to it at all costs.

Then we get a surprise.

Being faithful makes us less nervous. We become gentle. And when gentleness settles in, we don’t feel the need to be erratic and out of control.

There are by-products.

There is living proof that the Spirit is at work inside a human being. When the Spirit is absent, you may see lots of trying, but the only by-product is aggravation.

 

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Bucolic

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Bucolic: (adj) referring to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.

When my assistant spoke the word–“bucolic”–I said, “I’ve heard that before.”

I had no idea what it meant.

I’m careful not to use words that I’ve suddenly discovered, thinking it will make me appear intelligent Dictionary Band well-versed in the vernacular.

So when she looked up “bucolic” and read the definition, a thought immediately came to my mind. It’s kind of a strange one.

The thought was, we are never totally happy where we are.

If we’re sitting out in the middle of a beautiful pasture filled with trees and flowers on a springtime day, the notion will suddenly present itself: “This would be perfect if I just had a Big Mac and a Coke.”

Then we may find ourselves stuck in a traffic jam, sucking in the fumes of oil and gasoline, wishing for the bucolic surroundings of a robin in the forest, flying toward its nest.

Strangely, we find both positions to be acceptable. After all, dissatisfaction might be considered one of the top four “normal” conditions of humankind.

Yet somewhere inside us is a desire to be content with what we have.

Because when I’ve allowed contentment to rattle around my belfry, it has rung the bells of appreciation.

It may sound sappy to be happy with what’s crappy.

But when I am, I’m more pleasant to be around.

I know that no one likes my bitching–not even me–but I follow it like a monk in a monastery.

I’m hoping that when I finish this life I will be remembered for the kind words I conjured in the midst of turmoil … instead of the turmoil I decided to conjure in the midst of kindness.

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Bubbly

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Bubbly: (adj) used to describe a person who is full of cheerful high spirits.

When you remove tenderness and compassion from everyday life because, you will very quickly end up with a society that denies kindness while Dictionary Bfearing tragedy.

It’s tricky business.

I know there are people who think there’s a master plan of evil to destroy the world, and sometimes what we see certainly seems to confirm that theory.

But we are all too intent on coming across cool. Because of that, we’re never hot nor cold. We’re so afraid of being light-hearted and bubbly that we accidentally cuddle up to darkness.

It amazes me what younger audiences consider to be corny.

  • They don’t like silly humor.
  • They don’t like sentimentality.
  • They don’t like to hear too much praise given to an idea.
  • They don’t wish to give tribute where it is due.
  • They believe in the power of the unsaid–the silence that is supposed to project appreciation, but actually lacks volume and intent.

Can bubbly be obnoxious? I suppose.

But the truly dangerous profile is the stoicism which considers appreciation to be overwrought and gratitude assumed.

 

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Broke

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Broke: (v) past tense of break

“If it ain’t broke…”

Almost everyone in America, down to the youngest lad or lass, could probably finish that idiom.Dictionary B

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It’s one of those statements which was hatched decades ago–probably by a lazy husband arguing with his wife over a repair that seemed unnecessary because there were no dangling wires, frayed cords or very much chipped paint.

Truth is, we fix things all the time that aren’t “broke.”

We take precautions when we see wear and tear.

We provide general maintenance on vehicles and appliances.

And if we see a little spot on our clothing that’s beginning to pull a seam or two, we retrieve the needle and thread so as not to be caught in the middle of a social situation with an unsightly rip.

But this particular axiom about “broken and fixing” has permeated our thinking so much that we leave many things undone that could sure use some tender, loving care.

We know what’s involved in carrying on a relationship between a man and a woman, but because no one complains, we ignore kindness and consideration in favor of seeking our own will or avoiding feeling silly.

We know to say “thank you,” but we’d rather insist we already did.

We know to say “I’m sorry,” but are convinced that people would feel awkward if we offered such a trivial piece of consideration.

We certainly are aware that “I love you” makes the world go around, but are equally willing to stop the globe to keep from uttering it.

Long before something is broken, it’s damaged–and if we’re able to catch it in its weakened state, it doesn’t need to break.

If we worked on teaching about marriage and saving relationships, we wouldn’t have such a god-awful custody system in this country, dividing children up with the “sword of visitation.”

If we understood that decisions will always be greeted with unexpected results, we would never choose up teams, wearing red and blue jerseys and thinking that the coloration empowers us.

Some people would say America’s “broke.”

I would say there’s some surface scratches and dents.

But if we don’t tend to it and take care of the little blemishes, in no time at all, we could end up not being what we’re cracked up to be.

 

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