Coroner

Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.


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Cobbler

Cobbler: (n) a person who mends shoes as a job

Some jobs by their nature are just flat-out annoying.

Honestly, I’d rather be a garbage collector than a politician. A politician has to interrupt the lives of people to get a vote–never thoroughly making them glad for the intrusion.

On the other hand, a garbage man arrives at your house and hauls away your stinky-poo without irritating the hell out of you.

That’s why I would like to be a cobbler. (I’m not actually thinking of changing employment–just aware that the occupation would certainly offer skill to produce blessing.)

I don’t think I would like to be a haberdasher–because even though you may make a beautiful hat for someone, once they put it on their head, unless they pass by a mirror, they soon forget the nobility of your efforts.

But a cobbler takes a pair of shoes that you really like–so much that you want to get them fixed instead of giving them away to Goodwill–and then restores them to a state of newness. You put them on your feet and they feel so good. You look down and you admire them, and you’re so proud of your choice to repair instead of repel.

So every time you see your cobbler, you say, “Thank you so much, and my toes add a double-amen.”

You may not even recognize your haberdasher–the cat who made the hat.

Your sight of your politician may generate a scowl on your face, which you are unable to remove until the next time you view ice cream.

But your garbage man…

Well, you would invite him over for lunch, to meet your cobbler.

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Clause

Clause: (n) a stipulation

Recently, I had a new grandson born. Everyone was so excited. After all, it’s a new life.

The proclamation was, “Welcome to Earth, little Julius!”

But Julius, my dear little friend, you need to read the accompanying clause. The actuary tables tell us the average person lives about seventy-seven years. Let’s
break that down:

The first eighteen of those seventy years are spent living in a house under rules and regulations, taking orders from everyone over twenty-one years of age, dabbling with all sorts of shit you shouldn’t, and confused because the front part of your brain literally has not grown in.

The next twelve years leading up to the age of thirty, you find yourself on the hunt for education, occupation and romantic elevation. There is too much experimentation, frustration and degradation involved in that process. You will often be bewildered because your original elation over obtaining your freedom has been deflated by reality.

Then you reach your thirtieth birthday–a whirlwind of messy nastiness, some of which you’re already trying to pay off in installments.

Now it’s time to have some kids of your own. You decide on two, and end up with three because someone forgot something. These three children begin the life process, impudently resenting all authority figures over the age of twenty-one, primarily you and your mate. They possess more opinions than intelligence.

You feel love but also occasionally diminished–because what you planned to do with your life has been hijacked by others telling you that you’re already old, decrepit and dead, and it’s their turn.

This takes you to about age fifty. At this point, you are greeted by doctors. They tell you that everything you’ve done in the first five decades has created some unhealthy results in your body. Probes, operations and sometimes diseases kick in to remind you of your mortality.

You suddenly find yourself carrying a pill case. You try to make it unobtrusive or even decorative, but you are now hooked on meds for the rest of your life.

This takes you to seventy. Of course, in the meantime you’ve become a full-fledged grandpa or grandma–with more little children who have found even meaner, egregious ways to ignore you. They are instructed to hug you, kiss you and send you thank-you notes including unidentifiable pictures which they’ve drawn. You learn to acquiesce and call three lines scrawled on a piece of paper “great art.”

This leaves you seven years.

You can’t walk as well anymore. You have to stop to recall your password for your Facebook account. And when you look in the mirror there seems to be the face of a troll emerging from your countenance.

The purpose of this essay is to remind us all that life comes with a clause. It’s a simple one. It’s not even in fine print.

Welcome to Earth (where you better make sure you enjoy what you do, or else what you do will take away all your joy–and that’s for sure).

 

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Central

Central: (adj) at the center, of the greatest importance

Is there a center to a box? I always consider a center to be associated with a circle. I suppose you could find the center of a square. Of course you can.

But still, “central” normally is equated with something that’s a circle–like the Earth. There’s a central point on the Earth. I’ve heard about it.
I could have looked it up for you but I didn’t.

There’s a central theme to almost every occupation.

But trying to discover what is central to the human race is difficult because people keep trying to “mash down” the circle.

Some human beings believe it’s their mission to disrupt everything, and therefore provide a climate of chaos wherein allegedly, sense and reason will emerge triumphantly.

I was halfway through writing that sentence and it sounded stupid.

To find deeper truth, some truth has to be honored–otherwise there is no path.

When we begin to question what is central, we start doubting the circle of the Earth and the wholeness of us as a people. That seems dangerous.

We might accidentally start threatening one another with nuclear weapons, or shooting down innocent people in the street–simply because we’ve forgotten what’s central.

Central to our race is a very simple idea: I have to leave you alone and let you be who you are while simultaneously letting you know I care.

It’s a little tricky.

Because if I let you know I care by interfering with who you want to be, then I’ve broken the central theme.

If I leave you to yourself to pursue your avenues but you know I do so because I have no interest in you, then I’ve also failed.

It is that amazing place we land–where we are tolerant, but vigilant.

I love you enough to let you be who you want to be while simultaneously standing guard to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or fail to miss an opportunity.

 

 

 

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Burglar

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Burglar: (n) a person who commits burglary.

For the sake of maintaining the privacy of the individual, I shall refer to him as Mick.

I met Mick many years ago. He was a nice fellow. We had great conversations and he was very interested in my work. He was so interested in my efforts that I began to ask him about his.

At first Mick was reluctant to share his occupation, but then one night, in a very relaxed atmosphere, he told me that he was a burglar.

I was a little shocked.

First, I never envisioned this person in front of me to be that style of individual. But secondly, I was astounded that he was so forthcoming. He wasn’t ashamed to admit his burglary, but rather, went on to explain that he often found himself coming up financially short at the end of a month, and did not know how to make ends meet.

Because of this, he had often had his electricity turned off, his little son had gone without shoes and his wife had eventually left him.

So Mick decided to become a burglar, but one with a conscience. Here was the way he justified it to me: whenever he found himself a bit short of cash, he would go out and burglarize some old lady or old gent’s house, stealing only the few things he knew he could pawn, which would give him the cash to pay his bills to get him to the next paycheck. When the paycheck came, he took some of the money, went back to the pawn shop, bought back the items, and when he was sure the families were not home, he returned them in a box on the front porch with a typed note which read: “Sorry I had to borrow these. I was short this month.”

When Mick finished explaining this to me, I was simultaneously baffled and impressed. He seemed to have come up with a way to sin which had no immediate ramifications.

I had no idea what to say to him. I wanted to become moralistic, and suggest that stealing in any way, shape or form was wrong.

So I did what I often do in uncomfortable situations. I conjured an elongated clearing of my throat, followed by an anemic nod. 

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Breeze

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Breeze: (n) a gentle wind.

I had absolutely no right or wisdom in hopping into a brown Dodge van and heading off from Ohio to Oregon.Dictionary B

I was twenty-one years old, had a music group and was convinced that the only way to prove to myself or anyone else that this was a viable occupational choice was to go out and try to make money doing it.

In my not-yet-formed brain, the logical step was to drive to Oregon, where two people had promised us a place to perform–as long as we understood there would not be much money.

Who could pass up such a bonanza?

I have mercifully had most of the trip wiped from my memory and relegated to oblivion–but I do remember driving through South Dakota, where the temperature had soared well over 100 degrees, and being so hot in our un-air-conditioned confines that we stopped in a small town at a public pool to cool off.

Even though the sun was blistering and scorched our skin, the water was ice cold, so we were a little deceived by the fact that we were actually being poached.

I got the worst sunburn of my life.

It was so bad that when we went to the drug store and bought one of those spray treatments, my hot skin turned the liquid into little scraps of paper.

I was miserable.

On top of that we had no money–procuring lodging in a motel was completely impossible.

So we found a park just outside that little town, pulled the van over, opened up all the doors, perched on some bean bag chairs we carried with us, and lay there, broiling in our burnt flesh, surrounded by humid air.

I was so miserable that I prayed.

I didn’t know if I wanted God to kill me or peel me like an orange.

About twenty minutes after I finished my little supplication, a breeze came up.

I will never forget it.

Because my skin was ablaze, the air was chilly–and felt so good. That breeze stayed with us all night long, so we didn’t swelter in our van or die of sunburn.

Now, some people probably would say that wind was a natural phenomenon of the South Dakota wilderness.

Others might insist there were three exhausted angels blowing in our direction all night long.

It doesn’t really matter what you believe, because God made the breeze … just as surely as He made the angels.

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Box

Box: (n) a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular

There are several phrases I do not like.Dictionary B

Actually I despise them so much that I scold myself when I use them.

  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “I hate you.”
  • “You don’t get it.”
  • “You’re a foolish asshole.”

Well, I could go on.

But one of my least favorite–a thought that makes my skin crawl–is when people turn to me and say, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

I know they’re really not interested.

I know they’ve sized me up and they’re trying to figure out what box they want to put me in.

They want things simple.So they have a system of storing people away so that their decisions are neat, tidy and final. If you don’t fit into one of their boxes they will decide that you’re a misfit or a rebellious anarchist.

They’re listening for buzz words.

About ten years ago, someone asked me about my occupation. I explained that I was a writer but also a performer. So they said, “Are you a teacher? A storyteller? A philosopher? Or an entertainer?”

Then they smiled, waiting for me to climb into their box.

My response was, “Well, really all of those and more.”

This was displeasing to them. They shook their head and walked away.

Mankind is ready to build a box for you.

They will encourage you, praise you, instruct you, guide you and applaud you until you get inside one of their pre-prepared cartons.

And once you do … you will never be heard of again.

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