Collate

Collate: (v) to collect and combine in proper order

I do not judge my life by my successes, but rather, by the ease involved in achieving them.

I will tell you quite bluntly that success loses much of its excitement and is greatly diminished by finding yourself bogged down in chores. 

I had an idea.

I was in my early twenties and had written a book. I was so damned impressed with myself. I struggled to let people know that I had written a book, so they could grant me adequate praise.

I was impatient. I didn’t want to just write a book, I wanted to print a book and put it in people’s hands, observing them gasp with amazement.

This was before desktop publishing was a common practice. At my disposal were printed sheets which had been typed–and a Xerox machine.

I decided to ask one of my friends to retype the document so it would be as clean and crisp-looking as possible (though I don’t know what clean and crisp
means.)

This was my first mistake.

This lovely lady was obviously going through some sort of mental disruption, and ended up misspelling hundreds of words, which I did not catch because I decided it would be petty to proofread it.

So not only did I have a faulty original, I used a Xerox printer which probably belonged in a college dorm room, and demanded it do the job of an industrial one.

Not only did it refuse, it was rather snotty about it.

Mistake two: after the first fifty pages, the ink cartridge started to fade.

And finally, making sure that I had three mistakes to “uncharm” me, I collated by myself.

So when it came time to have the book fastened together (with staples) and I handed it off to a friend, within three seconds she was giggling.

On page five alone, the word “the” had been misspelled four times in five different ways. (I don’t know how that’s even possible.)

It was also humorous to her that the pages were so faded that she needed a magnifying glass to read them.

And to add insult to depravity, I collated incorrectly, so page 7 followed 5, then 10, then 17…

So I decided that the only way I would be able to offer this book was to put a disclaimer sheet with each and every sale:

  • See how many mistakes you can find!
  • Did you need a magnifying glass to read this, or are your eyes really good?
  • Even though it was an experiment, did you like jumping all over the book to find out what the next page was going to be?

It was one of the saddest days in my life when I had to take all the project–all the paper–all the effort–and toss it in a trashcan.

There is a reason that we leave it to the experts to collate.

After all, it isn’t just some Random House…

 

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Collage

Collage: (n) a combination or display of various things.

I have a “collage education.”

I have taken misshapen, unpredictable, often dangerous, meaningless, joyous, sad and uncertain circumstances and molded them
together into a life, inserting my face.

It doesn’t come with a sheepskin diploma. Matter of fact, being sheepish in any way keeps you from forming a good collage for your education.

It is that moment when you realize there’s only one thing that stops any of us from achieving joy: fear.

A young man asked me, “How can I become a good writer?”

I responded, “Stop writing. Express yourself. Stop worrying if it makes sense. Matter of fact, stop being concerned about forming sentences. You can always come along and edit later.”

Do what you do without doing it in fear.

Don’t listen to people who talk about mental blocks. Turn your ears off when people are full of warnings more than encouragement.

Life is a collage, and therein we find our education.

And we receive our graduate degree when we take our collage and use it to tutor others.

 

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Clergyman

Clergyman: (n) a male priest, minister, or religious leader, especially a Christian one

All the mistakes I’ve made in my life were caused by me thinking that what I had to offer was not enough.

Whenever I calmed down and realized that the stash in my duffel bag was the total subsistence of my life and journey, I was fine.

But when I allowed myself to be intimidated by forces around me which deemed my offering to be meager because it lacked some
certification, I always ended up either a fool or a liar.

I wanted to help people.

I wanted to use my art to do so.

I wanted to share a message that had humor, hope and heft.

But I also once was very young, and contended that I needed some title to punctuate my adequacy.

Since I did not go to college, I wasn’t allowed to be called “a Reverend.” Therefore I could not be a clergyman.

I don’t know why I wanted to pursue such a position–I guess I just wanted folks to be impressed when they heard the full extent of my resume spoken in a word: “minister.”

So I lied. I manufactured higher learning. And eventually I just called myself a “Reverend” even though I didn’t have any pedigree to bark out spirituality.

It took me many years to escape the foolishness of my insecurity. As soon as I did, I realized that being a clergyman was actually to my disadvantage, because my music, writing, dramatic pursuits and screenplays were much more effective tools for reaching my brothers and sisters than climbing into a pulpit and emoting.

I often think, what is it I’m doing today that’s equally as stupid as my pursuit of being a false cleric?

I don’t know. But I keep looking.

Because if I catch it early, maybe I can avoid some of the embarrassment that occurs when people finally find out the truth.

And…

They always do.

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Browse

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Browse: (v) to survey goods for sale in a leisurely and casual way.

Several years back, when I had just released a new book, my dear daughter-in-law set me up with a booth at a book-sellers convention in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Dictionary B

I was excited about my new writings, so I leaped at the chance to go and share with others the stories I had put together, which in this particular case, had a Christmas theme.

I had never been at a book sellers convention before. So I was a little taken aback when I was just one of several hundred tables set up in rows, where people could amble by, peer at my book cover and then at me, to determine if they had any level of interest.

Yes. They referred to it as browsing.

I quickly learned that there were three different kinds of browsers:

There were a few souls who came to the convention legitimately interested in books–even possibly to the point of purchasing one.

There were many more authors, who came by my table to try to talk to me about their book, hoping that I would abandon my foolish cause of self-promotion and become enamored with their endeavor.

And then there were the professional browsers. These were people who hung around for a while. They picked up my book. They scanned it for a few minutes. Sometimes they even giggled, connoting that they had enjoyed something.

I foolishly tried to interject my feelings to engage them in conversation.

It was at that point that I realized they were hoping I would solicit their opinion, so they could calmly set my book down, smile at me, turn on their heel and walk away.

I fell for this about ten times, until I realized it was a game.

After that, when people came up to my table, unless they were determined to get my attention, I sat very still…acting like I was recovering from a stroke.

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Author

Author: (n) a writer of a book, article, or report.

I guess they have to say something about me.dictionary with letter A

I’m talking about those individuals who are assigned the mission of introducing me at concerts or public speaking events.

So I do allow them to call me an author.

In the practical sense, I have written 12 books and pen 3 daily blogs. I guess I am within the boundaries of the definition.

But honestly, an author is someone who has an idea, finds a way of communicating it and presents it in such a way that it causes the reader to be transformed. Up to that point, you are merely practicing penmanship or speculating on paragraph formation.

Here’s what really makes you an author:

Did you have a good idea?

Did you keep it in a vernacular which is understandable?

Were your readers impacted?

Without these three elements you’re just writing.

So I have to be honest:

  • Sometimes I am a writer
  • A paragraph carver
  • A shifter of words
  • A predicate to a nominative

And then there are times when I am inspired by simplicity instead of motivated by complexity–and I put down a few concepts which rattle the heart in the chest and awaken the mind to a new possibility.

If Shakespeare were alive today, he would reject his own material as outdated. He would laugh at those people who revere his syntax and he would learn the street lingo of our time, and author from his heart.

If you’re going to be an author, you have to realize that sometimes you just write. Not everything that comes out of your computer is inspired, nor worth public consumption.

But it is through the error that the trial gains beauty.

So I will continue to write, and on rare occasions, will author something worthy to be considered by my fellow-humans.

This is not a position of false humility, but rather, the realization of the limits of my scope and the tenuous nature of my mortality.

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Aerialist

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aerialist: (n) a person who performs acrobatics high above the ground on a tightrope or trapeze.

We will trust in something.

  • Those who do not put their faith in God find great solace in education, knowledge or science.
  • Folks who are not physically inclined are comforted by reading, writing or thinking.

It always astounds me when I watch folks working a trapeze–how they overcome their fear of heights–until I realize that it has little to do with that. I suppose it would even be possible to have such an apprehension, and as long as you placed your faith in the skill of maintaining your craft, you would be fine.

After all, an aerialist does not trust the wire he or she is walking across. The wire is the obstacle. Certainly, they are careful to maintain the integrity of the line, but they place their faith in the jungle control and well-trained connection they have with their muscles and bones.

Walking across a high wire is not about trusting the surface nor even your balance. It is having the physical tone to know that when you place your foot down anywhere, the tendons and ligaments that control that appendage are strong, firm and sure.

It’s true of anything in life.

As I write this article today, there are millions of people who would insist they are incapable of such a task. They would find it nerve-wracking, if not foreboding, to put together sentences or ideas that possess interest.

But I trust the muscle. As I think, I say.

It’s a confidence that has grown in me as I have arrived at the moment of composition, without any idea ahead of time about what I’m going to share. I dig deep into my soul and find not only a topic, but a personal insight.

An aerialist is not a person who places his faith in chance, but rather, someone who knows that his body will respond the same, whether walking in the air, or on terra firma. An aerialist is a human testimony of working what we do well until we can have total enjoyment in the experience because we have logged the hours of practice.

It’s true for all of us–or else the lack of the truth leaves us feeling inadequate or meaningless.

I cannot walk on a high wire, but I do understand what gives them the impetus and confidence to do so: it is the same muscle and moxie that grants me the window to open every day … to let the fresh air of ideas sweep through me and from me.

 

Adverb

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adverb: (n) a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb: e.g. gently, quite, then, there

They do more than THAT.

That definition confirms that “adverb” has a really bad agent.

Because adverbs do more than explain or modify–they also put energy and action into words that would just lay there on the paper like somebody spilled ink.

“I went to the game.”

“I went joyously to the game.”

See the difference?

Without adverbs, we start acting like we’re old people. Yes, adverbs are for YOUNG people. They put some oom-pah into the polka band. They put more cowbell into the rock song. They even bring in the tympani twenty measures too soon because they’re so doggone excited about getting the drums in there.

  • Adverbs tell us that we’re writing instead of just reporting.
  • Adverbs tell us that things are done vigorously instead of just done.
  • Adverbs follow a verbal explanation with a visual punctuation.

They make us believe that human life was meant to be lived out loud and excited instead of droned or whispered in embarrassment.

As you can tell, I like adverbs. I even like unusual adverbs, such as “swimmingly.” (Granted, it shouldn’t be used very often and certainly never as a pun, to describe a Red Cross Lifeguard class.) But at the right moment, it’s tremendous, like all adverbs.

So stop looking at them as danglers.

And please, do the English language a favor and recognize them … as the enhancers they were intended to be.