Ceiling

Ceiling: (n) the upper interior surface of a room

I offer no criticism nor judgment to those who pursue owning their own domicile where they can roam the halls as Lord or Lady of the
Manor. For about eleven years, I did it myself.

I was intrigued. I was told by those who owned homes that it was ridiculous to pay rent and have no revenue being laid up for the future.

I bought into it.

For a while it went along real well. I especially was fascinated with adding small improvements that would show my flair and style.

And then the house turned against me. It felt very personal.

I do not know what I did to offend my four walls and a roof, but one after another, grievances, complaints and near-disaster lined up to offer a rebellious tantrum.

One night it all came to a head as I was sitting in my bedroom and the ceiling began to leak.

No–that word is too passive. It actually poured water down on me and the floor below.

It didn’t stop. There was no explanation. And I will always remember my first inclination:

“Damn, somebody outghta DO something about this.”

It took me a moment, but I did eventually realize that “somebody,” in this case, was me.

The explanation for my outpouring was pretty simple. The hot water heater had exploded, pouring out all of its contents–ruining carpets, warping floors and making the house smell like a high school locker room.

After eleven years, I got rid of my home. I will never own another one.

I do not begrudge those who disagree with my assessment, but for me, when the ceiling begins to pour forth water, I want to call a landlord instead of tapping my own resources.

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Calculate

Calculate: (v) to determine the amount.

I don’t want answers.

I want the information to coincide with my conclusions.

In other words, I basically have already decided what I have done and what I’m willing to do–so I’m on the hunt to discover the foxy way to
get by with my contribution.

The human race spends too much time calculating plans to avoid the inevitable, and therefore ends up with the same problem–except more serious and delinquent.

What should I calculate?

I should calculate who I am and what I really can do.

I should calculate that sharing this with other people in an honest frame of mind is the most practical way to make friends.

And I should calculate that sometimes my efforts, abilities and resources are not enough to cover the need, so I should buy myself enough time to make arrangements, seek assistance or negotiate a better deal.

We should never calculate too far from the borders of realism.

An example:

I, for one, am a believer in heaven, but I’m certainly calculating to stay here as long as possible … just in case.

 

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Brave

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brave: (adj) ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

I have discovered that one of the more brave things to do is choose the correct moment to be a coward.Dictionary B

First, you have to be fearless about the characterization. Is it cowardly to know that you’re outnumbered, ill-prepared, uncertain, or to proceed with caution–even delay?

I don’t think so.

Bravery always reminds me of the Native American going hunting, only having the resources and time to make four arrows. Yet at the end of the day he knows two things: he must come back with dinner, and he’s only got four shots.

So what is the goal? Avoiding foolish undertakings that may seem noble or adventurous but will steal the quality of his supply.

So he waits.

He waits for that moment when he can get close enough to the deer.

If he does that–if he passes over the long shot, refuses to chase tracks that lead nowhere and simply allows the opportunity to come close to him–he has a much better chance of returning home with game … as the brave instead of a foolish archer.

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Available

Available: (adj) able to be used or obtained

There are a few great principles that just make life work better.dictionary with letter A

Fortunately for us mortals, they are simple.

  • Our attempts to complicate them do not actually improve their quality.
  • Our instinct to ignore them does not negate them.
  • Our decision to embrace them brings a sense of true joy to our hearts which greatly increases our power to endure.

One of these primary precepts is this: happiness is when we begin to believe that what is available to us is our blessing.

Just imagine how content we could become if we thought a box of macaroni, eight slices of cheese and a can of tuna were the makings of a meal instead of symbols of our poverty. Tuna and macaroni and cheese. It is edible, you know. And if we access the spice rack, we might just be able to turn it into a delicacy.

I am only miserable in my life when I convince myself that I am cheated by what is available.

I become giddy with my journey when I take what’s available and turn it into the “Magical Mystery Tour.”

So what is the trick? Here’s what I choose to believe:

What’s the harm in using what’s available until something better comes along? Who knows? What is available may be enough.

And if not, I would rather fill my time being inventive with my resources … instead of bitching about them. 

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Alloy

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alloy: (n) a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, usually to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion

Since I don’t know anything about metal, I will refrain from trying to come off as someone who just read a short Wikipedia explanation in order to espouse expertise.

Let me instead use the word “alloy” to suggest the melding of two great ideas–which, when smelted, create a bond which is difficult to break.

The first idea is “No one is better than anyone else.”

Every culture which has ignored this principle, or set it aside to temporarily gain the approval of the majority, has found itself flailing, devoid of purpose and alienating the very citizens who could have brought about progress.

The second idea we would like to bind into this mixture is, “Be fruitful and multiply; replenish the earth.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we set these two ideas into motion–to collide in a unity of purpose to become the backbone of our culture?

No one is better than anyone else–and because we hold that truth to be self-evident, we encourage you to be fruitful, expansive, creative and bring about the multiplication of new energy, instead of dividing us into little sects and groups, so that we can replenish the earth instead of robbing it of all of its resources.

The day we understand that equality and creativity are not conservative and liberal concepts, but rather, issues of survival, will be when we wake up and become intelligent enough to be worthy of the brain space we have been granted.

What a great alloy.

Even though each one is individually a strong concept, when united, they give us the sniff of humanity and the power of our convictions instead of rendering us … hapless, over-evolved gorillas.

 

Advantage

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advantage: (n) a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position.

“Tall, dark and handsome.”

I never acquired any member of that trio. I do not possess that advantage.

IS it an advantage? I think if you’re tall, dark and handsome, you do get an immediate pass to the front of the line. Unfortunately for you, if you don’t back that up with “smart, hard-working and caring,” you probably will be booted to the curb quicker than someone who is plain-looking.

Why? Because you’re disappointing. You promised SO much with your looks and delivered SO little with your personality.

Therefore what seems to be an advantage quickly can become a disadvantage if you end up thinking you are a fleshly mannequin instead of a real human being.

Yet I will tell you that we all NEED an advantage–something that truly sets us apart instead of us merely “moving our parts” and getting “set in our ways.”

So I worked on ME. Actually, it’s a work in progress, so please do not think that I’m done. Three areas, paralleling “tall, dark and handsome:”

Since I couldn’t muster “tall,” I decided to be faithful. By faithful, I mean true to my own word while sensitive to the needs of others.

I went opposite on “dark.” I decided to be a light–to bring possibilities and hope instead of merely stating the obvious and offering gloom to the room.

“Handsome” out of the question, I chose to be attractive. Now you may think those are the same, but they aren’t. What is most attractive to other human beings is a glorious blend of humor, talent and humility. When you are able to mix those three spices together, you can put them in any dish and create a delicacy.

  • There is no advantage in being good-looking if you’re dumbfounded.
  • There is no advantage in wealth if you’re selfish.
  • And there is no advantage in being popular if you’re not prepared for the day when you will be pushed away by the latest fad.

The greatest advantage any human being can have is to tap your resources … and give a damn.

Action

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Action: (n.) 1. the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. 2. a thing done; an act.

Hundreds.

Maybe thousands, over the years.

Yes, I’m talking about the number of people who have told me they wanted to do something special or significant with their lives, but found themselves stalled by some piece of obstruction.

I used to be enthralled with these tales, feeling that if I could be a stimulus to their progress, then I would be an exhorter of talent, and indirectly, a collaborator in their success.

I always listened patiently. Then, at length, when they took a breath, I would insert a question:

“What action are you prepared to take to change your circumstances and commence to fulfill your dreams?”

I didn’t mean it to be challenging. I wasn’t questioning their authenticity. I was trying to initiate a plan of action which would transform their discouragement into an adventure.

Universally at that point, they frowned and told me that there was no way they had the time, energy or money to do anything other than lament their lack. Foolishly, in the early days, I made suggestions on how they might garner more resources.

I was always astounded at how this caused them to become defensive or even angry, and usually terminated the conversation in a disjointed way.

I realized that the problem with action is that it always invokes a reaction.

Simply because I say I want to do something and set in motion a work schedule to achieve it, does not mean there won’t be a hundred things that will challenge my plan and creativity and question my motives.

Some people call this “evil.” Others refer to it as “bad luck.”

I now understand that it’s just Mother Nature, making sure that only the serious applicants actually make it to the interview.

So now when people tell me they would like to pursue their dreams, I listen for three elements:

  1. Are they doing anything that resembles what they are describing?
  2. Did they bring a piece of paper, to take notes? All of us are fully aware that we won’t remember good advice without writing it down.
  3. Are they asking questions and trying to find new insights, or just relating the finality of their own story?

Now, I don’t ignore people who don’t have these three qualities, but I certainly am aware that I’m talking to someone who wants to commiserate instead of commissioning a new cause.

Yes, the only problem with action is that it demands that we stop talking about what has happened …, and we start making something new happen.

 

Accelerant

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accelerant: 1. (n.) a substance used to aid the spread of fire.

There are really only two things you can do with fire. You can douse it or you can spread it.

Funny thing about fire is that sometimes it’s a really welcome warming, and other times it can be quite destructive.

So it’s good to have an accelerant around, like gasoline, when you’re trying to get your fire going.  For instance, anybody who’s ever barbecued knows that charcoal lighter is one of your better friends.

And then there are times when fire gets started and you would like to inhibit it from burning down your house. Then the presence of water is suddenly essential.

Here’s what I think–somewhere along the line in our country, we have gotten these two ingredients mixed up. We often pour gasoline on fires that should be put out and we douse pleasant fires with water, which would be ideal for toasting our marshmallows.

I don’t know how this happened. I think some folks just think fire is bad. They think anyone who gets excited, passionate or enthusiastic in any shape or form needs to be hosed down.

Then there are other folks who worship fire and believe the more ablaze the world becomes with controversy, anger and frustration, the better the outcome. I think we need a lesson in utilizing these two elements. Let me make a list:

1. When you see young human beings being creative, even if you don’t understand their particular rendition of talent and ability, bring gasoline, not water.

2. When you’re watching television and two people are arguing, with no intention of listening to each other, throw a bucket of water on it.

3. If you’re in church and everybody’s being quiet because they’re afraid of God, sprinkle some gas and light a match.

4. If you’re in a learning situation and some loudmouth is trying to take over the room and infuse ridiculous ideas into the surrounding hearers instead of freshening them with generosity of spirit, turn the squirt gun on him.

5. If you’re listening to a candidate talk about our country and all you hear is complaining, frustration and promotion of his political party, please apply H2O.

6. But if your four-year-old grandson is asking a bunch of questions about life and is thirsty for knowledge, light the fire.

We could sure use an accelerant in this day and age–to burn off stupidity and welcome a planting of a whole new forest of ideas.

We also might want to back up a water truck to some existing flames which are doing nothing but destroying beauty, and see if we can’t save the landscape.

Water or gasoline?

I do believe that all of us will eventually be evaluated by the next generation on how well we implemented each resource.