Drawing Attention … November 11th, 2020

The Family (Week 3)

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Music:  Tomasian from Cloud of Witnesses

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

Published in: on November 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Living a Legendary Life … November 8th, 2020

Thirty, Sixty and a Hundred

The Mandeville Marauders were a baseball team.  Last season they got a new coach.

Bob Stark.

Coach Stark took over a team that was always playing .500 ball—won as many as they lost and lost as many as they won. Of course, no aspiring coach plans on maintaining such a record. The goal is to win more, to justify both his hiring and his techniques of motivating a team. Coach Stark had one simple rule:  hit home runs.

The team practiced fielding and running, but during batting practice there would be no rehearsal of the sacrificed fly or even simulation of the bunt.

Nope. Home runs. That’s what Coach Stark wanted and that’s what they practiced. Coach Stark contended that this was the way the Marauders could be pulled out of the doldrums of a mediocre season.

There was an excitement all through spring training camp. All of the players became better at hitting the long ball and at judging pitches–waiting for the right one so they could smack it out of the park.

The chatter in Mandeville was incessant. Just on the strength of word of mouth, there were more people purchasing advertisement in the program book and vendors lining up to have concession stands at the stadium.  Every one was certain that Coach Stark’s “home run philosophy” would put the Marauders in the winning column and Mandeville on the map.

The first game was against the Adamsville Athletics. The philosophy paid off.  Six of the nine batters hit a home run during the game.  Exciting—Yes, downright thrilling to see those balls flying out of the park. That’s why it was so perplexing that the Marauders lost the game—8 to 6.  The Athletics had no home runs.  But eight men had been able to cross the plate.

Coach Stark celebrated with the team the six home runs and told them, “We’ll get ‘em next time.”

Well, next time they hit five home runs—big long ones—and lost 7 to 5 to the Terrapins. Three nights later, it was another loss, 9 to 7, to the Tigers. All in all, after six games, the Marauders players had hit thirty-four home runs, a team record, and lost all six games.

Coach Stark was at his wit’s end.  After the last game, a sixth loss against the Ducks, an old man emerged from the crowd and asked Coach Stark if he could have a moment of his time. He was a small fellow, the kind that would be almost invisible even in a room occupied by three people.

He sat down with the Coach and made his case. “Coach Stark, I’ve been watching your team for the past six games. I, myself, have never played baseball, but have always enjoyed the sport, although at times I find it a bit slow and dull.”

Coach Stark frowned at the little old man, so he hurriedly continued.

“It just seems to me, Coach, that if everyone’s always hitting home runs, there’s no way to get anyone on base, so that when you actually do get a home run, you don’t just score one person, but two, three or even four. You see, that’s how they’re beating you, Coach. One of their batters may strike out, followed by another one getting a base hit, and then the guy who got the base hit runs to second base, and the next guy maybe walks. Then somebody else hits a double and then the next batter hits a double, a runner scores, and then you have two runners on second and third. So your pitcher decides to walk the next batter, loading the bases. The next batter hits a fly ball, which your fielder drops, allowing two more runners to score.”

Coach Stark was annoyed by the little, old man. “What is it you’re trying to say, fella?” he demanded.

The old man paused for a moment and then spoke slowly. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, if everybody is trying to hit home runs, there’s not enough people getting on base to make the home runs mean much.”

Coach Stark piped in. “There is nothing better than a home run.”

The old man paused and then replied. “Well, I think there is, sir. And that’s a victory caused by the whole team working together.”

As in our story, we live in a world that extols the beauty and the power of hitting the home run. Fame and fortune are portrayed as the ultimate symbols of human value. But life really doesn’t work that way. Just like in baseball, life demands that we pick up the bat and take our chances. Sometimes we strike out, sometimes it’s a base hit. Sometimes we walk. And sometimes we hit a double, a triple, or even a home run. The only difficulty comes when we don’t recognize the value of each and every maneuver.

The Marauders found out that without base hits, home runs don’t add up to victories. Without bunts and walks and stolen bases, people cannot get onto the playing field—people who add up and make a difference, and not only make the victory sweeter, but actually make the victory possible.

Sometimes opportunities come in thirties, sometimes they come in sixties and sometimes they come in hundreds.  The legendary lifer knows that three thirties nearly make a hundred, and two sixties are even more.

Where are the people writing music that may never be heard by the entire world, but relished by a regional few? Where are the politicians who do not aspire to national office, but instead, make one little town a little bit of heaven? Where are the shopkeepers that will never appear on the stock exchange, but create jobs for a selected few?

Babe Ruth was arguably the greatest baseball player of all time.  He was called the Home Run King. He also had the greatest ratio of strikeouts.

So feel free to aim for the fences every time you come to the plate, but if you want to live a full, legendary life, you are going to take your place on first base, and let another person hit you in.

The true sense of success is in the value of the journey and the creation of the miracle–by our own hands and the helping hands of others.

 

From the Stacks … November 6th, 2020

This week, most of us are considering the notion that sometimes political outcomes have a stark affect on our lives. So I decided to explore some of Jonathan’s more socio-political ideas. He had a great disdain for politics but also a great hunger for justice–which sometimes required that he speak out on such subjects. Here’s one from January, 2014.

But Not Now

Everybody knows this is true: the main reason that government doesn’t work is that it avoids solutions by replacing them with discussions.

I wish I could tell you that conversing on a given subject brings about change. It does not. It is actually a way to dodge the work of transformation.

It usually shows up in the form of putting off the action.

This is not new. The ineffective nature of our government has been present since the beginning–how else could Adams and Jefferson have been such good friends? They tabled their issues. And how did they do it? What did they say to themselves?

“Something should be done–but not now.”

Here’s a quick list taken from my own memory banks:

1.In 1959 in the United States, the average white person contended that segregation was not ideal, but thought it was practical. In other words, they knew it was wrong–that black Americans should NOT be separate. Something should be done–but not now.”

2. Women should also be equal and have the identical pay scale as men. But not now.

3. Truthfully the minimum wage has never been sufficient for a human to be able to live, eat and prosper. Something should be done–but not now. It could wreck the economy.

4. Something should be done for the homeless–put them to work or offer alternatives to their present condition. But not now. It is much easier to discuss whether their condition is caused by lack of opportunity or by laziness.

5. It is obvious that gays and transgenders in our society must have complete equivalence if we want to maintain our concept of liberty and justice for all. But not now. What we want them to do is acquire moral acceptance before they are granted civil rights.

6. Political gridlock in our country is the result of a two-party system that gains power by maintaining power. We know we would be better off if this two-faced monster were beheaded, and many more candidates were offered to the electorate. But not now. Too disruptive to consider. Someone might lose that power they so enjoy.

7. Likewise, the electoral college is antiquated and needs to be replaced with the popular vote. But not now. What would we do with all the people who make their livelihood by honoring its cumbersome inner workings?

We don’t lack the intelligence or even the integrity to know what to do. But we nevertheless choose to be stalled in a lethargic fear of change.

The American government should take heed:

Americans are tired of discussions.

We are no longer willing to “table” justice and equality, which have been standing in the wings waiting to play their parts for lo, these many years.

It is time for America to grow up.

Maturity is when the truth of what must be done is more important than what is convenient.

Drawing Attention … November 4th, 2020

The Family (Week 2)

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Music: Movements Peace and Renew from the Symprophecy 2003

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

Living a Legendary Life … November 1st, 2020

Just Downstairs

Benny loved his mom.  Of course, most kids do love their moms.  But his was stronger.  Benny believed he would love his mom if she weren’t his mom, if you know what I mean.

She always was happy.  She always seemed to have a story to go along with every problem and a joke to accompany every blessing.

They lived on the third floor in the Briargate Apartments. Benny used to complain about having to climb the stairs until his mother pointed out two very important points. “It’s special, Benny, to live on the third floor! First, we get all this exercise without having to pay for a gym, and then, when we finally get to the top of the stairs, we have the most beautiful view of everything in the whole town.”

Benny had to agree, although some nights, when he was particularly tired from school, the climb did seem arduous. But his Mom was right about the view. He always felt rewarded when he arrived at the top and saw vista before him.

Mom also made a point of making sure that Benny always was aware of the needs of others.

“Just downstairs,” she would say. “We need to think about the folks.  Maybe they don’t have as much as we do.  Maybe they are hurting.  Maybe if we make a few extra biscuits, we could take a couple to them after dinner.  Because just downstairs,” she would close, “there are always people in need.”

Benny wasn’t sure he agreed.  He knew that he and his mother were fairly poor and she had a difficult time making ends meet, although you could never tell by her disposition, nor did a word of complaint ever come off her lips.

“Just downstairs,” she would say.  “Those are the people in need.”

So mostly to make his mom happy, Benny visited a little girl in the apartment on the ground floor. (He figured she must be really downstairs.) Then he toted her books to school, and paid for her lunch twice a week–and made sure that when his mother made those “extra specials” that the little girl and her family got some. The little girl was very gracious and the family was grateful for the generosity.

Benny was about eleven years old when his mother became very sick.  Once again, you could hardly tell, except that she became smaller and frail and her skin turned very white.  But she still continued to tell Benny “just downstairs there were people in greater need.”

Benny had just turned twelve years old, in the springtime, when his mother passed away.  He didn’t have any other relatives, so the family of the little girl came to see him.

They asked him if he wanted to live with them now that his mother had passed on.

Benny said, “I don’t want to be any trouble.  I know that you—well—that you don’t have much money.”

The father, surprised, looked at Benny and then laughed.  “Didn’t you know?  We own this apartment building.  So I think we can afford one more mouth to feed.”

Benny was a bit bewildered but also delighted to be part of this new family.  He wondered if his mother had known that the father of this family “just downstairs” was the landlord.

He would never know. It didn’t matter. The words and beauty of her philosophy live on.  He never forgot what his mother said.  Because no matter how low you may get in your life, there is always someone “just downstairs” from where you are.

The only way to keep gratitude fully blooming in our hearts is by returning the little bit we can to those living beneath us.

Just downstairs—another step to living a legendary life.

From the Stacks … October 30th, 2020

There is much talk today of our nation running aground.

Is this true? The question drove me to the dictionary, to discover that a ship that “runs aground” has found itself in shallow waters.

Aha, I thought. Shallow. There you go. Thus the problem.

We used to believe that “still waters run deep,” until we realized that the adage doesn’t apply to a generation of people who refuse to speak because of the vacuous nature of their thoughts.

I am not quite so gloomy about our future. Yet I do not think it is the job of people who are creatively bent toward sharing wisdom to always kiss the rear end of the person in front of them.

We just need to realize that when a boat runs aground, it can neither float nor can it sail from its perch.

It must seek out deeper waters.

What has caused us to run aground?

My list:

  1. By telling everybody we’re great, we have eliminated the word “great.
  2. By electronically connecting ourselves to the world, we have emotionally disconnected ourselves from one another.
  3. We have replaced actions with speeches, thinking that merely stating our intentions is sufficient to prove our willingness.
  4. We allow the fostering of bigotry, even though it continues to taint both our history and our future.
  5. We promote a war between men and women while simultaneously using sex to sell everything.
  6. We foolishly think there is a permanent solution to problems rather than a gradual revelation in our everyday reality.
  7. We value critique–one of the more useless human endeavors.
  8. We accept mediocrity, hoping that others will accept our rendition.
  9. We want to believe we are exceptional, even though every nationality that has pursued that particular philosophy has ended up being ruled by tyrants.
  10. We think that problems can be solved corporately, when nothing ever happens in the human family without individuals repenting.

Drawing Attention … October 28th, 2020

The Family (Week 1)

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Music: Friday Afternoon from the symphony Being Human

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

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