Cuyahoga Falls

Cuyahoga Falls: (n) a city in Northeast Ohio, near Akron

 The reason essays are often long is because the author feels compelled to place the reader in the exact moment and space of a given time.

Suffice it to say, today I am talking about a season in our history when boys were dying in Vietnam, hippies were walking the streets and young lads and lasses from the Midwest were desperately trying to be neither.

I grew up in Ohio.

Ohio insists it’s a single state, but anyone who lives there knows differently.

If you lived in Columbus, you might as well be from Iowa, or any other Midwest hold-out to social progress.

If you lived in Cincinnati, you were more like Dixie, with grits in your teeth.

And to the far north was Cleveland, which desperately tried to imitate New York City, complete with crime and a filthy Lake Erie to mirror the polluted Hudson.

I lived right in the center.

No, it’s true. My hometown was exactly ten miles from the geographical center of Ohio. That in itself should have afforded me great honor, but I was stuck, like everyone else, trying to prove myself and do the best with the talent shoveled in my direction.

Mine was music.

But my music was not quite suited to the genre that was rattling and reeling in the time capsule of hippies and soldiers.

So one day, I wiggled my way into scheduling a coffee house in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—very near Akron. I didn’t know much about the place and they didn’t know much about me.

So my little band, excited about actually going somewhere to play a road gig, dressed up.

For the guys, that was pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a tie.

And for the ladies—well, they basically wore their prom dresses.

We arrived at the coffee house, which was called Avalon, and everybody there was in bell-bottom blue jeans, t-shirts, with long hair and sneers.

It was a long night.

Every song we tried was met with chuckles and everything we said was ignored, as they turned to one another and carried on conversations.

I became angry, mainly because I was young, foolish and felt it was my right to be offended.

I told them they were a bunch of snobs. I also told them they didn’t have the wardrobe for it.

This was my first and only laugh of the night.

The proprietor of the coffeehouse stood to his feet and said, “Be cool, fool. You just don’t fit in here.”

He was right—while simultaneously being wrong.

Because if we’re waiting for everyone to mature or expand to be welcomed into our little utopia, we’ve missed the whole point of having one.

A utopia is meant to be a place where anyone is welcome without fear.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Centurion

Centurion: (n) the commander of a hundred men in the ancient Roman army.

I’m not sure what causes a person to be open-minded.

Certainly rejecting fear would help.

Relieving yourself of the conviction that you and all your co-horts possess the only answers would also be beneficial.

But in the Good Book, there is the story of a centurion. He has a servant. Now, we know the centurion is in charge of a hundred men, which
means he’s been given some rank and confirmation of the authenticity of his ability. So why would such a fellow be concerned about a servant? How would that relationship have sprouted?

We know that the gentleman was not only a commander, but was also open to the idea that opportunities can come from unlikely places. So rather than having a servant who hates you, why not have one who loves you?

But when that servant becomes sick and you realize that all those possessing medical knowledge who surround you are inept in advancing a cure, then it becomes necessary to use your open mind to consider a more unorthodox option.

How about an itinerant preacher from Nazareth, who is disrupting his religious community, but supposedly has healing in his hands?

The centurion did not allow his sense of Roman superiority to overwhelm him, leaving him without a remedy. He sent a messenger to ask Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus started to head his way, the centurion was sensitive enough to realize that if this Nazarene came into his home, the young man would be considered unclean because he was at the hearth of a heathen.

So the centurion told Jesus just to say the word, and the servant would be made well. After all, as a centurion, he did that all the time with his soldiers. “You go do this. You go do that.”

Jesus was impressed. He said, “Never have I seen so great a faith.”

So maybe the definition of faith is when we realize we don’t have anything to lose, so being open-minded about other choices just might be life-saving.

 

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Brigadier

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brigadier: (n) a rank of officer in the army, above colonel and below major general.

Sometimes foolishness gets a pass, but it has to be legitimate foolishness. Dictionary BI’m talking about that fresh kind that just slipped out of your stupid brain because of your ignorance. If you’ve done foolishness before, you can’t claim that it’s “innocent foolishness.”

I did a foolish thing.

I was so young, self-inspired and full of false confidence that life decided not to punish me for my presumption.

My younger brother decided to join the army. Considering he had never even played with army men and walked with the sensitivity of a marshmallow, the idea was ludicrous. But it was in full swing before any of us realized that he had sauntered off to be a soldier.

The first we knew of it was upon receiving a call from basic training, where he pleaded for us to “get him out of there”–or he was going to commit suicide.

Now, I can discuss with you the unfairness of him placing me in that situation, but instead, I will tell you that in an attempt to be a good big brother, I called the army base where he was doing his imitation of G.I. Joe, and talked to a Brigadier General. Now, I don’t know exactly what a Brigadier General is, but it sounds a whole lot more important than me.

For some reason, he took my call. I don’t know why. Maybe he was just a nice guy. Maybe he couldn’t believe that someone was asking for his younger brother to be released from basic training.

His first inclination was to laugh at me. After all, you can’t maintain a volunteer army while promising a money-back guarantee. If everyone who was displeased with the accommodations at “Fort Kick Your Ass” was released immediately, we wouldn’t have enough soldiers to march in a small-town parade.

So on the first call he chuckled.

On my second call, he took the fatherly approach, explaining how the military works.

On the third call he appealed to my patriotism.

On call 54, he asked me if I knew how powerful he was.

But somewhere along the line, on the 93rd call, he paused. This is what the Brigadier asked me:

“You’re going to keep calling me until we release him, aren’t you?”

I replied, “You can just stop taking my calls.”

“Then I would have a suicidal assistant to deal with,” he presented.

I really don’t know what happened.

I don’t know if what I said made any difference at all.

But this fine Brigadier General realized that I was sincere and that my brother was not even suited to the rigors of being a back-up in the chorus line.

They released him.

It was a miracle.

But actually, it was an expansive piece of grace … granted by a man who was trained to be ruthless.

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Amice

dictionary with letter A

Amice: (n) a cap, hood or white linen cloth worn on the neck and shoulders by a priest or member of other religious orders.

Always willing to admit my ignorance, I had absolutely no idea what this word was, nor do I still have much of a vision for the garment described

But I am certainly aware of the inclination of those who wish to express their position, authority, superiority or uniqueness by the type of cloth they use to adorn their bodies.

I guess it’s just a part of being human.

But I must be honest–at times it seems inhuman or unkind, to separate oneself off from others by blaring a fashion statement.

Case in point: I don’t have anything personally against the Amish nor their ilk, but I find it a bit aggravating that secretly, somewhere deep in their souls, they sense a moral and spiritual upliftedness by dressing “plain,” and proving that in so doing, God is smiling more on them than on my sweatpants.

It does not take very long to travel through the Good Book to see that Jesus was quite aggravated himself by the religions leaders, who adorned themselves in elaborate robing to demonstrate their position and heavenly placement.

On the other hand, I suppose it’s essential that military service personnel wear uniforms, to create–well, uniformity. (Yet, when we really are being intelligent in wartime situations, we have our soldiers infiltrate the local populace by dressing normally. It increases the possibility for victory via subterfuge.)

I’ve had ministers tell me that wearing a collar when walking down the halls of a hospital makes it easier for the patients to identify someone who could bring spiritual solace.

As always, for every objection you can make in life, there is someone who can hatch a story to egg you on, to defend why things are the way they are.

But for the record, you will probably never see me wear an amice.

First of all, I don’t look good in hoods. I was raised to believe this is a slang term for “criminal”

Also, if the best shot I have at impressing the world around me of my prowess is to wear a particular doo-dad or a dud, in order to be the cool dude …then I think I would rather blend into the simply-clad masses.

 

Agenda

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgenda: (n) 1. a list of items or subjects to be considered at a meeting 2. determination of a program of action

  • Republicans want less government.
  • Democrats want more government.
  • Conservatives want to conserve.
  • Liberals want to be more liberal in their choices.
  • Baptists want to baptize.
  • Catholics want to take care of their religious obligation.
  • Buddhists want to meditate.
  • Bankers want to make money.
  • Wall Street wants to make money and also take it away from others.
  • Women want equal rights.
  • Men want sex rights.
  • Children want to play.
  • Drug dealers want to sell their product.
  • Politicians want your vote.
  • Actors want a job and praise.
  • Singers want applause and to sing.
  • Old people want more health care.
  • Young people want more fun.
  • Sailors want a boat.
  • Pilots want a plane.
  • Soldiers want action and their pay.
  • Hippies want peace.
  • Jews want Jerusalem.
  • Muslims want Jerusalem–without Jews.
  • Terrorists want their demands.
  • Dogs want a bone.
  • Cats want to do whatever they want to do.
  • Football players want a touchdown.
  • Baseball players want a homer.
  • A hockey player wants his teeth.

In a world where everybody has an agenda, we must understand that we are at the mercy of the ploys of society–UNLESS we are aware of the aspirations of others and try our best to arrive on the scene without too many pre-conceived ideas.

Is it possible to have an agenda to not have an agenda?

Doesn’t that just make you a contradiction in terms?

Abbasid

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAbbasid: (1) adj. of or relating to a dynasty of caliphs who ruled in Baghdad from 750 to 1258.  (2)  n.: a member of this dynasty.

I remember a time when the mention of guns would conjure in my youthful immaturity the concept of cops and robbers. Also, I guess, was a flash or two of soldiers.

It was simpler. As a young kid, I would finish my breakfast hurriedly and head outside on a summer’s day to play all around the neighborhood with my friends, to return for a lunch of a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of yucky tomato soup, to then run out the door again and play and play with wild abandon.

I didn’t have a monitor on me to make sure I wouldn’t be abducted, nor did my mother worry about whether the neighbors were perverts.

Now, you see, some of them WERE. Perverts aren’t new. We didn’t come up with them in the past twenty years. It’s just that perverts were aware that they were odd–and tended to hide their predilections away from the neighborhood.

The reason I bring this up is because when I read the word “Baghdad” in the definition, I thought about how much that word has changed in my mind over the years. When I was a kid, Baghdad was a place in stories where people rode camels and when they got tired of moving so slowly, they leapt upon magic carpets.

It was cool. It was magical.

I didn’t know they were Muslims … because I didn’t know what a Muslim was. I didn’t know they hated America … because why would you hate us when you’ve got TENTS that look small on the outside but when you walk inside, they’re palaces? I didn’t know their women were subjected and mistreated. In the stories, they were all princesses.

Move ahead a little bit and Baghdad turns into kind of a stronghold for some guy named Saddam, who lives next door to another strong-arm dude named the Shah of Iran–but we’re told it’s cool because they’re our allies. This, of course, pleased me. Because they were our friends, we had a lifetime supply of magic carpets available to us.

Then we find out the Shah is a jerk and Saddam is kind of crazy–followed by some of their people abandoning their carpets and jumping into our jets and flying into our big buildings–and those folks from Baghdad suddenly become our enemies. Since then, my public perception of this place has been going constantly downhill.

It’s too bad.

Maybe Baghdad people never WERE Ali Baba, but I’m sure they’re not all Ali Bad-Bad either. I’ll never know, will I? I’ll never get the chance to find out about their caliphs and their Abbasids, because basically they’re our enemies–or is it now our friends? It’s hard to keep up.

There are not a whole lot of things I would like to return to. I certainly think that knowledge has progressed us, holding back the tide of disease and stupidity, but it would be nice to recapture some of the trust and gentleness we felt towards our fellow-man–even those in Baghdad.