Anomaly

dictionary with letter A

Anomaly: (n) something that deviates from the normal, standard or expected

I liked music.

At eighteen years of age, I’m not so sure that I was totally devoted to a career in the field or whether there was a bit of laziness tied into the equation, because playing piano sounded easier than punching a time-clock. (After all, we get ourselves in the most trouble when we try to purify our motives instead of accepting them a trifle sullied.)

One afternoon during that eighteenth year, I took my girlfriend, who was soon to become my wife, into a back room of a loan company owned by my parents and sat down at a piano which had been given to our family, but because we had no room in our house, ended up stuck in the back corner of this lending institution.

I had never written a song before.

As a teenager, I sang in choir, a quartet and for nursing homes, pretending like it was a big gig at Madison Square Garden.

Yet on this day, I suddenly got this urge to compose. It was not stimulated by a professor at a college asking for an assignment, nor was it motivated by my ancestors, wishing that I would abandon all normal courses of occupation and pursue a musical path.

It was truly an anomaly.

  • It was contrary to what everybody wanted me to do.
  • It was an open, seething contradiction to my cultural training.
  • I sat down at that piano, and in the course of the next ninety-four minutes, wrote two original songs. I didn’t know if they were good and certainly was not confident they were great.

But something came out of me that wasn’t a conditioned response or a well-studied answer for a final exam.

It was mine.

Whether it was good or bland, it came from me. It excited me. It encouraged me to muster the perseverance to survive the critique of my society and even overcome my own fits of lethargy to pursue it.

It still excites me today.

Hundreds of songs later, I still feel as thrilled when pen goes to paper, words appear and musical notes cuddle up next to them.

No one in my family ever took the course of action which I chased, beginning with that afternoon in the back room behind that piano.

But it is the selection of that odyssey that has made me who I am.

There are two things you have to remember about an anomaly:

  1. It is never immediately accepted.
  2. It always takes more work than you expected.

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

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Agog

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgog: (adj) very eager or curious to hear or see something: e.g. the tourists were all agog to see New York

I told her she did good work.

She replied flatly, “It’s just my job.”

She was my waitress at the restaurant, and she had done exceptional service to us, worthy of praise and a good tip. She just didn’t realize how valuable and rare she was.

As I finish Tour 2013 across this country, may I share with you a recurring reality? Something has died.

The carcass doesn’t stink enough yet for people to be aware, but it won’t be long. We have gone from being a nation which at least occasionally would be “agog” about our lives to being bored individuals who look at everything as “agig.”

We have lost the spontaneity, the humor, the adventure of solving problems and just the sheer joy of surviving a little bit of hassle in order to manufacture a victory which we can proudly initial.

I’m not exactly sure what we want.

  • Movies are bigger and more expensive than ever, but don’t have legs. People just don’t talk about them.
  • Music is over-produced, over-discussed and overwrought, yet does not create the simple stirring caused by a single Dylan guitar.
  • Government is more prevalent, but certainly less proficient..
  • Churches have become transfixed with the notion of “mega,” while simultaneously settling for a “mini” cultural influence.

We saw it coming. For after all, about fifteen or twenty years ago we decided to stop being impressed with anything. We called it “sophisticated.” “Laid-back.” We referred to it as “maturity.” We thought we were extraordinarily cool when we said, “I’ve seen that before.”

So on my part, I have made a conscious effort to avoid looking at anything as “agig,” but instead looking at it as “agog.”

Staying in motel rooms, I have learned to cook with only a microwave oven, making elaborate casseroles and meals. I am impressed with both the results and myself.

I am agog that people are still willing to come out from their homes and experience something new–something they’re not even sure they understand or will appreciate.

If we’re going to arrive at the full fruits of freedom, we must never cease to be in awe of the idea. For the only true way to ever lose your independence is to take it for granted.

And the only way you will ever be devoid of joy … is to stop looking for happy.

Aflame

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aflame: (adv.) in flames; burning

I really don’t sit around and question if there was a Snow White and if she befriended seven short chaps with various personality quirks. I try to have enough sense to catch the essence of the story–the meaning of the tale–without having to verify the veracity of the characters involved.

I bring this up today because I was thinking of a story from the Good Book about a burning bush. According to the folk-lore, Moses saw one in the wilderness which also talked to him, relating the details of a mission and a great odyssey. I suppose if you are intent on proving that everything must have actually happened in order to acquire wisdom from it, you are probably so jaded that you mock this situation as completely implausible, and therefore worthless.

But since I tend to believe that the stories told in the Good Book were related to give us a quick snapshot of the heart and mind of God, I am able to read them without cynically rejecting them, because I deem some factoid to be ridiculous.

What strikes me about this story of the burning bush is that when God decides to speak to one of His children, He feels no compulsion to kill even a random bush to achieve His conversation. For that’s what it says: the bush was on fire but was not consumed.

I like that.

After all, in our day and age, it seems that people are unable to achieve the sensation of being “aflame with desire” without burning out.

Can we not agree that passion is passion–whether it’s emotional passion creating empathy, spiritual passion that generates compassion, mental passion, which pursues knowledge, or physical passion, which activates a lust for romance?

In all of these cases, if we learn from the story of Moses and the burning bush, we must realize that our Creator never intended us to burn out just because we’re aflame.

What I have become in the nature of things, through the pursuit of happiness and in the acquisition of multiplying my talents, is a crock pot instead of a barbecue pit.

In all areas of my life, I burn. I’m aflame. Whether I’m going to the grocery store or writing this essay to you, there is a heat and a passion that is involved and at work. But it’s a slow cooker.

  • I never take myself too seriously.
  • I never purge my soul with incrimination.
  • And I refuse to chase dreams without possessing good cheer.

I want to be a bush that burns without being consumed. I want to be aflame–to give off light and share my warmth without threatening others with fiery consequences.

There is much to learn from stories, whether they be from the Good Book, Mother Goose or Stephen King. And here’s my thought:  if we want to understand the heart of God, we will learn how to play with fire … without getting burned.

 

Ad man

Words from Dic(tionary)

Ad man (n): a person who works in advertising. It is the classic “love-hate” relationship. Basically, capitalism loves it and humanity despises it.

In our society, we require that products be produced, and once manufactured, they must be marketed in the most competitive way possible. Simultaneously, the nervous, apprehensive and often bored consumer becomes the target for all sorts of chicanery, albeit speckled with a bit of cleverness.

Advertising. It is one of those great annoyances that will not go away, similar to the embarrassment one feels on being a grown-up and needing to put baby powder on a summer heat rash. You wish you didn’t, but you guess you’d better.

How can you advertise something without coming across as the classic over-sales-pitching boob?

I experience it myself. Obviously as I travel on the road, I would like people to participate in my writing, my music, my endeavors and even to purchase some of this stuff so that I can continue to my odyssey and perpetuate my childhood whims.

But how can you be an ad man (or an ad woman, for that matter) without appearing callous to those around you, merely concerned about unloading inventory?

Well, there IS the truth. That means that every once in a while, when making your spiel, you realize that what you have to offer is not a perfect fit for the person in front of you, and you might just gain a soul by backing away and letting them know of your product’s limitations for their need.

This was demonstrated beautifully in the movie, Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street. The Santa Claus character acknowledges that Macy’s does not have a certain toy and recommends other locations for acquiring it. Management was in an uproar … until they realized that it worked.

Yes, I guess that IS the key. If you can tell the truth about your product in an enthusiastic way, and then allow the patron to make his or her own decision on whether it fits in to their requirements without insisting that they are either short-sighted or “don’t yet understand the full range of your offer,” then you can be a decent ad man instead of an obnoxious one.

Advertising. It won’t go away.

Actually, it shouldn’t go away. But what we CAN require is our American right … to hear and decide for ourselves.