Course

Course: (n) the path over which something moves

I have an internal comedy show going on inside my soul concerning the length of time that each and every fad will last—or shall I say, how quickly that particular “popularism” will disappear.

It wasn’t so long ago that people were bopping around, sticking their noses in your face and posing this question: What is your five-year funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
goal plan?

The first time I heard this, I realized it was irrelevant, and certainly destined to end up in the cultural cemetery, buried near “far out” and “hula hoop.”

But I have to admit, I was surprised at how long it did persist—and you will occasionally hear people do a variation on the theme: Where do you see yourself in five years?

But I will tell you—I think the reason these ridiculous inquiries gain popularity is that we human beings are weakened by our pernicious insistence that we must follow a course of action.

It seems righteous. It sniffs of organization.

It’s the kind of thing that investors like to hear from an entrepreneur.

  • “What are you going to do first?”
  • “What’s next?”
  • “What would be your third effort?”

I suppose if science, Mother Nature, luck and chaos could be included in our planning meeting for our course of action, and each of them voted to participate and promote the campaign, it might have some possibility.

But since science is only concerned about scientific conclusions and not your whim; Mother Nature has nurtured billions of souls before you showed up with your graphs and plans; luck—well, she remains as ambiguous as the veracity of her identity; and chaos is like a toddler locked up in a room filled with expensive glass vases, you may develop a course but there’s no guarantee that anybody will want to take it.

Time and chance happen to everyone, and sometimes you can be at the right place at the right time, but it still won’t turn out…right.

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Cinch

Cinch: (n) an extremely easy task

What are the factors?

I’m talking about the issues that go into making something work or drizzle away in failure.

I wish I could say it was all based upon the value of a good idea or merely the implementation of it.

Not so.

I can think of five things right off the bat that have to be crawled over to get to the finish line.

First, if you want something to be a cinch, it has to work out on paper. If it doesn’t, then you’re hoping for grace (if you’re spiritual) or a mutation (if you’re scientific.)

A bad start.

The second thing is resource. In other words, simply knowing what to get doesn’t get it. Can you locate what you need and once located, can you acquire it?

Third, luck. Many people do not believe in it, but there is a chaotic aspect to nature that cannot be denied. After all, the same thing we try today often doesn’t work tomorrow for no explicable reason.

How about nerves? Oh, yes–the football team was ready for the game, and then became unnerved. What causes it? When do we look at the challenge and visualize the victory, and when are our eyes affixed nervously on the adversary?

Of course, there is the fifth and final hurdle. It’s called performance.

Everyone reading this has had an occasion in their lives when everything was perfect except for one thing–and that single unit blew everything apart.

The reason most people spend their lives in lamentation is that they are burdened with the need–shall we say, expectation?–for something to be a cinch.

This writer will tell you, the only thing he has found to be a cinch–a guarantee–is that there will always be a surprise waiting for those who dare to brag about being prepared.

 

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By

j-r-practix-with-border-2

By: (prep) identifying the agent performing an action.

If you want success to radiate around your efforts, you have to discover what makes things work best.

Finding out by what means peace of mind and joy are enacted is probably the most important pearl we can recover.

This happened to me the day I accepted the idea that faith works by love.

A loveless faith is just a braggart spirit–a person filled with presumption who decides to make bold statements, hoping that eventually he or she will luck into achieving them.

By the same token, love that does not prompt us to expand our faith becomes cloistered and sappy.

What are some other possibilities? What additional “teams” can be brought together for righteousness?

Politics works by truth. Wow.

Marriage works by communication. Certainly.

Good health works by good eating. Not medication.

Prosperity works by labor. (After all, you even have to buy a lottery ticket.)

And human appeal works by good cheer. Everyone loves the funny guy or gal.

Finding out by what means things are achieved is the actual definition of genius.

 

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Armchair

dictionary with letter A

Armchair: 1. (n) a comfortable chair, typically upholstered, with side supports for a person’s arms. 2. (adj) lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity.

There should never be more pundits than participants.

There. I have established a new rule.

Like most rules, it will be ignored in favor of some sort of haphazard pursuit of unbridled freedom.

Yet we have too many people with too many opinions who have too little talent to participate in the matters that are too important.

Last night as I watched the National Championship for college football, I was astounded at how many different people they had conglomerated to voice their opinions on the activities of these barely post-adolescent young men, who have been pushed to the forefront as superior athletes.

Some of these “armchair quarterbacks,” as we often call them, are actually former players. But they all seem to forget a very important fact. Even though I didn’t play football very long, I will tell you something which is never brought up by those in armchairs, be it about sports, politics or life in general:

It happens too fast.

If you expect your training or your brain to be able to come up with some magnificent way to handle the task in front of you, you will be confounded, stumble and make mistakes.

Just as a politician who wants to seek counsel with many people before making a decision always ends up piping in a little too late, any football player who believes he will have time in the middle of the game to access the resources of his brain and come up with the perfect solution for the situation, is going to end up looking foolish and inept.

Life really works with the conjoining of two magnificently unpredictable units: instinct and luck.

And the only way to be successful is to put yourself into enough uncomfortable situations that your instincts begin to turn you in the right direction, and then realize that the choices you make will still require some luck in order to be fruitful.

I got tickled after the game last night when they asked a player what he was thinking “right before he threw that pass.”

The young man crinkled his brow as if he didn’t understand the question, but politely replied, “Well, it was just a play and I played it through.”

Exactly.

America sometimes seems obsessed with the notion that we can educate ourselves into a better world.

Pundits love to discuss, from their armchairs of comfort, how somebody should have done something completely different in a given situation. But the best we can really do in life is to stop being afraid of difficulty.

For it grants us the instinct to know what to do at the right moment, and then step back…and pray we get lucky.

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A-OK

dictionary with letter A

A-OK: (adj) in good order (e.g. everything will be A-OK)

Is my “A-OK” your “great” or could it be that my “fantastic” is your “mediocre?” A-OK has validity only if the people delivering the report are reliable.

This has come up many times in my life, but especially in the realm of parenting children.

I would often ask one of my sons to go down and clean up the garage, and when I inquired about the success of the project, I got the following replies:

  • “A-OK”
  • “Great.”
  • “Pretty good.”
  • “It was really a mess down there.”
  • “I did my best.”
  • And even, “Come on, Dad. It’s just a garage.”

You can see how these responses are not confidence building. The problem is, I had to filter what they said through who they were.

We now live in a time when “A-OK” is spoken too easily, with the hope that the lacking in effort will be made up for by either luck, God, or more than likely, the patient repair of other folks who follow us.

Sometimes it terrifies me to get in a car and drive along, realizing that it’s being made with the quality control of today’s corporate thinking.

Whatever happened to pride in work?

I know we have the adage of “going the second mile,” but truthfully, that statement lacks any punch if we all have not pre-determined the length of the first mile.

Because every day of my life, I meet individuals who are convinced they have done more than they needed to, never realizing they have fallen short of adequate.

I have rejected “A-OK” from my lingo.

So what I chose to do instead is to quickly explain the choices I have made in my efforts, and then allow other people to ascertain the status.

Because if we do not discover what is bare minimum, we will begin to dangerously flirt with incompetence.

So the greatest danger we face is our own sleepy attempts to cut corners … and end up cutting ourselves.

 

 

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Angle

dictionary with letter A

Angle: (n) the space, usually measured in degrees, between two intersecting lines or surfaces.

In the pursuit of our human journey of discovery, revelation and wonder, there are actually very few dead-end roads.

Yet we all sometimes dramatically feel that we have come to such an impasse–where choices have abandoned us and we are left staring into the Great Abyss. But honestly, most of the time–whether you believe it’s life, luck or God–some road intersects into your possibilities just short of falling off the cliff.

That road, joining up with our present march towards extinction, creates an angle.

What a great word.

Yes–there is always an angle allowing us to escape in the nick of time.

There’s even a verse in the Good Book that reinforces this idea. We are provided “a way of escape”–a road that joins our dismal retreat, allowing us to turn right or left, gaining a new perspective and no longer being on a dead-end street.

I have been part of many failing plans. Yet you don’t make money as a writer, nor gain fans, by discussing your dismal results. People normally like to hear about the successes.

But I’ve never had a success which was not a branch from a road heading toward failure, which granted me a new angle–a fresh perspective and a glorious reprieve from doomed conclusions.

It is too much to ask or demand, that we never have a set-back. Matter of fact, in an attempt to avoid such interruptions, we usually invite the possibility of disaster.

But when you’re on one of those dead-end roads that seems to be going nowhere, start looking for the turnoff … the miraculous intervention of opportunity that gives you an angle for escaping the great leap off the edge. 

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Affinity

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Affinity: (n) a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something

I think it has a meter–yes, an “affinity meter.”

When I was younger I was more intolerant. My affinity for others was based on three criteria:

  1. Do I like them?
  2. Do they have enough money to contribute to a pizza?
  3. Will they be fun?

Anyone who didn’t fall into all three categories was pretty well nixed from my holy circle of friends. I felt fully justified. After all, who wants to be around someone you don’t like, has no cash flow and is a buzz kill?

I don’t know when this transition occurred, but one day it crossed my mind that people have bad days, bad seasons, bad histories, bad relationships, bad luck and bad karma. Sometimes we catch ’em during one of these “sunken” places on their journey instead of at the top of the mountain. And if you start throwing all the heavy boxes overboard, you will eventually get rid of some excellent treasure.

So as I’ve aged, I have changed my “affinity meter.”

  1. Do I like them?
  2. Do I understand why I don’t like them?
  3. Can I hang around long enough to find out if it would be possible for me to like them?

As you can see, the need for pizza money is gone.

Affinity is the awareness that because nothing is perfect and nobody has it all, we gradually take many people into our lives–to piece together the whole experience of fellowship.