Bestow

Bestow: (v) to confer or present an honor, right, or gift.

Dictionary B

I still occasionally laugh at myself for sitting around waiting for “the magic.”

Without offering judgment, I must tell you that it is a common weakness in the human race–believing that talents, gifts, prosperity or even a sunshiny day are bestowed upon us by some force of nature or heavenly Creator who apparently has found us to be particularly cute.

Matter of fact, for years I have sat quietly by and listened to people talk to me about my “God-given talent,” nodding my head–apparently agreeing with their assessment that such opportunity was bestowed on me by the heavens above.

What life has given me is an aptitude–what you might call a set of attributes that just might be conducive to one adventure over another.

But because of the goodness of God, I am completely able to ignore that aptitude and insist on contradicting my natural tendencies and pursuing my own free will.

Or I can pursue it.

But aptitude does me no good unless I bring the right attitude–which can never be bestowed upon me.

No–I choose it or I lose it.

And then, taking the aptitude, or at least my rendition, blending it with a good attitude, I can ascertain my altitude.

How high will I fly?

I’m not sure.

But I know this … the wings won’t be bestowed upon me.

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Benefactor

Benefactor: (n) a person who gives money or other help to a person or cause.

Dictionary B

  • The problem with autonomy is that it’s lonely.
  • The difficulty with collaboration is that it generally votes itself into a position of doing nothing.

So what is right?

When do we have an idea that is good enough that it needs a benefactor to fund it immediately instead of waiting for the greatness of the idea to bloom?

A good question.

I have had benefactors in my life. Even though each experience has eventually gone astray, I am still grateful for the generosity of those who believed in me for a very special season.

The reason that benefitting others eventually goes afoul is that when we try to control both the creativity of another person and the circumstances of life, we always end up looking foolish.

My benefactors were very excited about my gifts, abilities and talents–until they realized that “all good things come to them who wait.”

When their generosity did not bring forth immediate profit, they became impatient and started pointing fingers–many of which fell in my direction.

They left me too soon.

It’s not their fault.

Patience is where we possess our souls.

Yet most of our spirits are infested with the demon of shortsightedness.

 

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Badlands

Badlands: (n) extensive tracts of heavily eroded, irretrievable land with little vegetation often found in the Southwestern U.S.Dictionary B

As much as I believe that God is a person, during my journey here on Earth, I value Him mostly as a concept.

What I mean is that since I am living in an atmosphere which determines quality by results, I must look for mortal conclusions instead of insisting on eternal ones.

I’ve learned this from dealing with conservatives and liberals.

In both parties there are certain issues, regions or individuals they have deemed “bad”–dare I say, irretrievable?

So sitting in San Francisco, talking to some of my more liberal acquaintances, I will relate to them about my journeys into Mississippi and Alabama as they roll their eyes and wonder what I could possibly hope to achieve by peddling my thoughts to the ignoramus.

In like manner, I have conversed with my conservative friends in Georgia, who heard that I was heading to Southern California, as they told me they would pray for me, hoping I would be able to do something to enlighten those “fruits and nuts” in the Golden State.

The greatest danger in the human experience is accidentally trying to transform one group of humans to divinity while forcing the remnant to live with the apes.

  • There are no badlands–just regions with a lack of vision.
  • There are no good lands–just territory where they use their talents.
  • There are no chosen people–just folks.

We will finally reach a sense of true spirituality when we take a hint from our Creator and stop living our lives peering at the outward appearance, and instead, begin to ascertain what is possible in the heart.

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Average

Average: (adj) mean or median norm, meaning something that represents a middle point.

It caused me to become a better man, dad, writer, musician, driver, shopper, handler of money and general human being.dictionary with letter A

The day I realized that everything in life eventually averages out and lands in the realm of modicum was the time that I finally knew how to set my goals.

Let me give you an example:

When I looked over at the batch of children hatched from my lust and whim, I thought to myself, what do I want these little dudes to be in 25 years?

At first, my list of requests and preferences was too long. And then I came up with three words:

  • Solvent
  • Loving
  • Creative

With that in mind, I developed my parenting approach.

To make sure they were solvent, I never gave them money without giving them work. Why? Because the only ways to get money other than working for it is winning the lottery and stealing. You can see why I chose what I did. They did not always like the work, and their work was usually pretty mediocre. But even an average work ethic pushed them to the front of the class.

To make them loving, I forced them to go see people who were not very lovely–hurting, frustrated, addicted and poverty-stricken. They were somewhat repulsed, but still ended up much more empathetic than some of their friends.

And finally, creative. Every time they wanted me to buy them something, do something for them or get them off the hook for using their talents, I refused and made them produce something with their own hearts and hands, even though I must tell you, the result was often so ugly that I needed to quickly bury it in the back yard.

Still, they knew they were responsible to come to Earth and provide resources instead of just consume them.

Since human beings will generally end up average, it’s a good idea to have a standard. That’s why we keep Santa Claus around–he reminds us of the importance of giving.

And we maintain a belief in God, although we’re not sure…because He encourages us to find our better humanity. 

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Authentic

Authentic: (adj) of undisputed origin; genuine.dictionary with letter A

I remember it like yesterday because when it happened, the combination of surprise, disappointment and confusion nearly overwhelmed me.

I met an older fellow who happened to be in my line of work and I immediately took a liking to him. I struggled to get his attention so we could become friends and maybe end up doing some projects together. But try as I might, he had absolutely no interest in entwining our efforts.

I was offended.

I was upset.

I thought this guy was cool, and the fact that he didn’t think I was cool just wasn’t cool.

So to avoid going crazy, I decided I would ask him about his indifference towards me.

I had just finished sharing my talents at a meeting and the two of us were sitting over a cup of coffee at a restaurant when I worked up the courage to pose the question.

“Why don’t you like me?”

He looked at me with a perplexed expression, hoping, I assume, to avoid any confrontation. I challenged him and begged him not to be insincere.

So, taking a big swig of coffee for courage, he explained.

“You are dangerous. At least, dangerous to me. You see, I do what I do because I’ve always done it, gotten pretty good at it, and see it as a way to make money without hurting too many people. Honestly, I don’t believe everything I say. And you probably have noticed–I don’t live everything I believe. You, on the other hand, are frightening. You are authentic. You are real. You have a childlike heart when you talk about your faith. It scares me. Actually, it convicts me because it makes me wonder why I don’t want that for myself. So of course I don’t want to work with you–and I never will. You remind me that what I preach can actually be done, and honestly, I just don’t want to work that hard.”

To my surprise, he downed the last bit of coffee in his cup, stood to his feet, shook my hand, and walked out of the restaurant.

I never saw him again.

In that moment, I temporarily wished to be a little less sincere.

I wanted to be friends with this friend.

But the power of being authentic is that it gives you a storyline that you don’t have to memorize because it’s your own.

But it also alienates you from those who just want to tell stories.

 

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Attenuate

Attenuate: (v) to reduce the force, effect or value of dictionary with letter A

It does plague my thoughts.

Three years ago, my knees, which have always given me a little trouble, basically gave up on the notion of carrying around my weight and allowing me to be a normal “stroller.”

I considered my plight.

I could go to a doctor and check out knee replacements or treatments. Honestly, this would lay me up for several months and take me away from a mission which I feel compelled to pursue with, may I say, some sense of urgency.

So although I’m still able to get around to some degree, for any distance I utilize a wheel chair.

This was difficult for me. All my life I’ve been busy, active, traveling around the country sharing my talents. I didn’t like the sensation of being weak.

But worse than my feelings about the issue was my fear that I was limiting my impact because of the visual of my impairment. It bothered the hell out of me, and honestly, to some degree still does.

When do we cease to be powerful, disappointing in our delivery?

In other words, am I asking people to look past my fragility to accept my viability?

For after all, politics is attenuated by lies, religion is attenuated by intolerance and youthfulness is attenuated by foolishness.

When are we diluting ourselves, and therefore ending up deluded?

I’m not sure.

But as the weeks passed, I realized that in a strange sense, people admired me for continuing through the struggle.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal.

But as long as it doesn’t attenuate my heart and soul … I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.

 

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Apportion

dictionary with letter A

Ap·portion: (v): to divide and allocate

I have a son who is always critical of me because he feels that I do not collaborate enough with others.

Since he wasn’t here for the majority of my life and I am not going to bore him with details, I choose to allow him to pursue whatever thought process he desires.

But I will tell you about my collaborations.

If everybody in the world would understand that we put a piece in the puzzle and at the end, we celebrate the puzzle instead of continually pointing out our piece within, it would be absolutely magnificent to be involved in a group project with a common result. Matter of fact, I have often collaborated with individuals, to allow my apportion to be absorbed and dissolved into the general good, knowing deep in my heart I was part of something grand and glorious.

Perhaps that’s the best way to describe the mission I have chosen for my life.

I am disgusted with religion, find atheism to be hilarious and am truly apolitical. Yet at the same time, I have some talents, abilities and energy that I can contribute to the cause.

The spotlight has often failed to find me in the crowd, and I have only had the satisfaction of involvement as my warmth and comfort.

  • But I have seen change.
  • I have been part of the change.
  • And I have great confidence in knowing that my apportion to the general welfare was offered freely, willingly and joyously.

I would really love to collaborate more with others if, when the project was done, the individuals would not point out how their part in the endeavor “was the most essential to the quality.”

Yes, to find an apportion, one must first discover the dangers of ego gone rogue, and insecurity unchecked.

 

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Animosity

dictionary with letter A

Animosity: (n.) strong hostility

When does what I don’t like become that which I ignore, which ultimately is deemed by me to be something worthless?

Although I think we believe that animosity is a visceral emotion, shown forth by our actions, the real danger of animosity is the nasty dislike in our soul that causes us to disdain the possibility of anything good coming out of what we have decided is crap.

It’s not just that bigotry fills our hearts and that we were taught that certain people, events, talents, attitudes and beliefs are meaningless. It is a disregard for things we disagree with, considering them foolish.

But after all, we are all atheists in the sense that we don’t believe in everyone else’s gods.

  • We sneer at them.
  • We laugh at them.
  • We call them ludicrous.

Think of this: in the Christian faith, we look with horror on some sub-culture which throws a young virgin into a volcano as a sacrifice to a molten god, while simultaneously worshipping a Savior who died on a cross for our sins as an equally innocent victim of sacrifice.

Therefore animosity is when we fail to notice our own hypocrisy, and attribute stupidity only to the other guy.

It is why prejudice still exists in this country. With that prejudice comes a brattiness and self-righteousness that lends itself to insults instead of introspection about why we feel the way we do about others.

Even though I have worked on my soul diligently, to prune away all the branches of dead-head ideas and superstitious beliefs, I still occasionally come across a patch of withered vines entwined with my brain, sprouting the “grapes of wrath.”

Yet as long as I am aware that I am a work in progress and that I will need to continue to chop all the animosity out of my life which is based on my piety … I have a chance at becoming a decent human being.

 

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Amerasian

dictionary with letter A

Amerasian: (n) a person having one American and one Asian parent

It’s time for a moratorium. At least, I’m declaring one.

I refuse to indulge anymore in the constant creation of new names to segregate people off into smaller and smaller clumps based upon minute cultural differences, separating us from a greater understanding of one another.

I am especially averse to this word, “Amerasian.”

I have a beautiful grandson named Wyeth, whose mother is from China and whose father is from Louisiana. I suppose that would make him Amerasian if I was so dumbfounded by the culture that I participated in such nonsense.

  • There are no African-Americans because none of them could actually live in Africa.
  • I am not a German-American because seven generations ago my family came over on a ship to get away from that country.
  • There are no gay-Americans.
  • There are no female-Americans.

We’re just human beings, and the more we try to promote our culture, maintaining the traditions passed down from a lineage we don’t even understand anymore, the more we will confound our own personal journey with the clutter of clatter.

I even laugh at my own children, who worry that little Wyeth won’t get enough of China–or Louisiana–to enrich the mix of his life.

Let me give you a clue: Wyeth is a person, so as long as he has purpose, food, clothing and love, he’s not going to give a crap about whether it comes from China or Louisiana.

Can we get over the childishness of “cultural integrity?”

I want to possess a philosophy that would allow me to live anywhere with anyone at any time. If I don’t have that in my possession, I will fine-tune my thinking until I acquire it.

Wyeth is not Amerasian. He is my grandson. And by the grace of God, if he continues to grow and use his talents, someday he’ll be a blessing to the whole earth.

 

Accredited

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accredited: (adj.) of a person, organization or course of study officially recognized or authorized: e.g. an accredited chiropractic school.

I often chuckle when people ask for a resume. Have you ever thought about it?

A resume is a statement of what you’ve already done–which reeks of “has-been.” Or it insists on what you desire to do, which sniffs of being  a “wannabe.” But it certainly proclaims that you’re not doing much right now. Otherwise why would you be looking for a job?

A resume is humbling–but it is where people expect us to pull out all the information that is accredited:  all the schools we attended which have the seal of approval; all the companies we’ve worked for which have some sort of visual recognition to the reader, and all the skills that fall within the spectrum of society’s present favorites and understanding.

I don’t have a college education. Due to a mixture of ignorance on birth control and persistence to honor the pregnancy of my girlfriend, I found myself launched into adulthood right out of high school, trying to acquire my pedigree in the dog-eat-dog world. Once I decided I was not going to cannibalize by eating my fellow-dogs, I lengthened my journey toward success.

Yes, sometimes there are short-cuts, but they take you through the woods where you generally run into the Big Bad Wolf.

So I tried to work on ME. I gave myself two great gifts. Here they are:

1. Don’t assume you’re good enough. There are always new ways to try new things to tap new talents to create new possibilities.

2. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Such comparisons always lead to judgment, criticism and self-delusion.

Once I started working on myself and stopped critiquing others, I got better. In the process of getting better I also got older.

It’s amazing. Some people don’t even CARE if you’ve been to college once you cross your thirtieth birthday. By the time you’re forty, they don’t even ask, unless they’re nerds.

What they want is what every human being wants: “Excuse me. Do you have anything in your knapsack that will make my journey easier?”

So I try to always bring along a provision to cover my needs and a little extra for those who forgot to pack for a rough hike. It gives me a sensation of being “accredited.” My fellow travelers look at me and say, “Thank you for taking on the burden of caring for yourself–and for giving enough of a damn to bring an extra portion for us.”

I have nothing against formal education. But the thing about “formal” is that eventually the prom is over. You need to slip on work clothes instead of long dresses and tuxedos.Pomp and Circumstance stops and the new song is Whistle While You Work.”

It’s what really makes us accredited. It’s what makes a resume leap off the paper and appear to be filmed in 3-D.

So get your education–and with all your “getting” of knowledge, acquire some wisdom. And with that wisdom, have the generosity to pull your load.

And bring along an extra sandwich for a stranger.