Not Long Tales … August 13th, 2019

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We are overjoyed to announce the initiation of our weekly segment on Jonathots Daily Blog, entitled Not Long Tales. Each and every Tuesday, we’ll be offering you a short story for your enjoyment.

Mrs. Windermoot

Loneliness is a confinement requiring solitude, a commitment without companion.

It had been one year since Mrs. Windermoot had lost her beloved husband of forty-three years, Baris. Even though she had two grown sons who loved her, she found herself very lonely, like a bride left behind on the dock of the honeymoon cruise.

Her sons, Benett and Burgess, were responsive and certainly concerned for her health, but fell short of touching the tender spots of her well-being.

She was alone, which left her lonely. She’d never anticipated being quite so submerged in the sense of absence, but since she had moved into the much smaller two-bedroom townhouse just west of the city, she was constantly battling the pangs of self-pity and the ache of separation.

She did not know any of her neighbors. Several of them had made a visit—but they were all so much younger—and though they promised to return, none did.

Mrs. Windermoot tried to plan activities for herself—making a special dinner, watching a movie. She even scheduled a weekly tea, where she set out all the fixings, including a dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies. Although it was somewhat entertaining, in no time at all, she was just an old woman sitting in a room nibbling treats.

She never reached the point of desperation—that being sharing her complaint with others. Most of the time she sat very still in her home, wondering whether it was too soon to have another nap.

One day she noticed that a city bus stopped right in front of her house. She had never paid any attention before, but on this particular morning, maybe the sun was shining just right, or she just happened to look out at the correct moment.

But there it was—big as life. 9:31 A. M. It was back again the next day, and faithfully returned the third morning.

So Mrs. Windermoot made a plan. On the fourth morning when the bus appeared, she would get on the bus, and ride as far as it went through the town, and at least have the ability to see other scenery—and maybe even converse with new people.

She dressed for the occasion—one of her best Sunday frocks, and made two dozen chocolate chip cookies, which she tucked away in her purse. She eased her way out the door at 9:15 so as not to miss the arrival and was standing there patiently when the bus pulled up. Not familiar with the route or process, she carefully climbed on as the driver impatiently waited for her to place her money in the slot, allowing her the privilege of being toted about.

She was smart enough to know to bring exact change, but her fingers were not very fast, and finally the bus driver, heaving a huge sigh, took the coins from her hand and completed the job.

Once legally paid for, she inched her way back four rows and sat down. There were only two other people on the bus, and she was nowhere near them, and felt foolish to be on a journey with no apparent purpose.

After a couple of stops, with additional people arriving, she felt better. When someone sat in the seat next to her, she finally worked up the courage to greet the stranger. Her words were met with a bit of kindness, so she offered the young man (obviously on his way to work, because of the uniform he was wearing) … well, she offered him a chocolate chip cookie. He was so grateful, explaining that he hadn’t eaten breakfast, and usually didn’t take the time for it.

At the next stop, while people were getting on, the bus driver walked back to Mrs. Windermoot. He seemed huge. His nametag read, “Mickey.” He leaned down to Mrs. Windermoot and whispered, “Listen, lady. I can’t have you giving out food on the bus. I don’t know where it came from. You may be a nice lady and all—you certainly seem alright—but I could get in a helluva lot of trouble if you were poisoning people.”

When Mrs. Windermoot heard the word “poison,” she flinched—a reflex. The whole idea of her being a sinister murderer seemed absolutely ludicrous, if not offensive. The young man who was still chomping on his cookie interrupted. “Listen, they taste great. You should try one.”

Before Mickey could consider the idea, Mrs. Windermoot was holding one to his nose. Beautiful chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe it was a desire to salve the old girl’s ego, or maybe it was Mickey taking responsibility—taste testing to ensure there was no danger. Or maybe Mickey had missed a breakfast, too. But he grabbed the cookie and chomped away. His expression changed from austere to delight.

Realizing that the bus driver was now eating chocolate chip cookies, which seemed to be coming from the frail lady sitting in the seat, three or four people made their way up the aisle to receive a treat of their own. Everybody was grateful, and the bus driver (still maintaining a bit of his authority) told Mrs. Windermoot that if she brought them again, to “make sure he could check them out before they got passed around.”

Thus began a ritual. Four times a week—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—the lonely woman climbed on the bus with her chocolate chip cookies and rode around town, sharing treats and meeting new folks, turning Bus #572 into a friendly wagon of confection.

Once Mrs. Windermoot realized the chocolate chip cookies were a hit, she brought some little finger sandwiches, Rice Krispies treats—well, almost anything that came to her mind that she could make quickly for at least fifty people. Yes—it didn’t take long for the sweet old woman to gain a congregation of fifty admirers for all of her offerings.

A week passed. Two weeks. A month. Two months. Gradually, Mrs. Windermoot learned the story of Mickey, what the young man she originally met was hoping for his future, and the life stories of a dozen or more fellow travelers. It actually seemed that the bus was beginning to grow in attendance, if such a thing were possible. And everyone always seemed to be in a better mood once they boarded Bus #572 and headed off to pursue their responsibilities.

Then one morning, Mickey pulled the bus in front of her house and Mrs. Windermoot was not there. It was Wednesday. Mickey knew it was the right day. He was concerned, as were four or five other people, who stared out their windows, desperate to see the old lady emerge with her kindness and generosity.

But she was nowhere in sight.

Mickey was on a schedule, but his curiosity overwhelmed him. Where was she? Then his imagination went wild. Why wouldn’t she be out there? Was she alright? Did the old lady die?

It was right after this last question crossed his mind that Mickey decided to climb off the bus and go knock on her door. He did not notice that three or four other people joined him, apparently feeling a similar concern. Mickey knocked, and he knocked again. He peered in the window. There was no movement.

He reached over, tried the doorknob, and it opened. How foolish of the old lady not to lock her door, he thought.

But motioning to those who had trailed behind to “stay back!” he stepped into the house to investigate. Human nature being what it is, of course nobody listened to him, and they followed him through the door like a little train of detectives.

Inside there was an eerie silence. No sound.

There was one light on in the house, which appeared to be coming from the kitchen. Mickey inched toward the light, listening carefully for any movement. He was frightened—afraid of what he might find. He turned to those following, holding a finger to his lips, demanding that they remain quiet. He walked slowly to the opening of the kitchen, and as he rounded the corner he looked. There she was. It was Mrs. Windermoot.

She was sitting in a chair, peeling eggs.

She turned around, surprised to see Mickey in her home, and gasped. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

A good question. He didn’t know how to explain that he was expecting to find a body, not an egg peeler. “When you weren’t out there for the bus, I got scared, so I decided to check on you.”

Mrs. Windermoot glanced over at the clock that sat on the stove. “Well, you’re two hours early,” she explained.

Mickey looked at the same clock. It read 7:40. Leaning down and peering at it, he reported, “Ma’am, for some reason, the clock stopped. It’s 9:37,” he said, looking at his watch.

Mrs. Windermoot turned red with embarrassment. She looked behind Mickey and saw that there were six other people in the house, staring at her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought I was ahead of my time! You see, I got up this morning deciding to boil eggs to make egg salad for our trip today. I wasn’t sure whether to hard boil them or soft boil them, so I decided to go in-between. But when I got to the in-between time, I thought how terrible it would be if they were runny, so I boiled them again.”

There was a pause, then everyone laughed.

Mrs. Windermoot was not certain why she was so hilarious, but she appreciated the affirmation. Mickey patted her on the shoulder and asked, “How long would it take you to finish your project?”

Mrs. Windermoot crinkled her brow, thinking intensely, as if pondering the national debt. “I should be ready in twenty minutes,” she said.

Mickey looked back at the passengers in the room, cleared his throat and said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I shouldn’t do this, but there’s no reason why I can’t make four or five more stops, and then come back around on Johnson Street and pick you up—as long as NO ONE TELLS ON ME.” He raised his voice at the end.

Everybody nodded their heads in agreement. Mrs. Windermoot looked up at Mickey and said, “I’m sorry to have been so much trouble.”

Mickey patted her on the shoulder. “You’re no trouble at all. Matter of fact, a lot of trouble has left since you came along.”

Mickey corralled all the souls and they headed out the door. As they streamed back to the bus, Mickey realized he was taking a big chance by changing the schedule. What if someone noticed? What if there was a new customer who complained to the company about the delay? What if this was one of those weeks when there was a spy on the bus, evaluating his ability and performance?

As he reached the steps to climb into the bus, he scratched his head. He glanced back at the house, wondering if he should run and tell the old lady that he had changed his mind. Then…

Mickey shook his head and chuckled. “What the hell,” he said to himself. “No one’s gonna care. And I sure do love a good egg salad sandwich.”

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 8th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Lunchtime

by Jonathan Richard Cring

If Jesus took me to lunch

What would we talk about?

As we sat down there to munch

Would I share my inner doubt?

 

For as much as I appreciate

The forgiveness of my sin

What would be truly great

Is learning how to win

 

I desire to have a lovely soul

Sparkling so sublime

But must the years take their toll?

A wrinkle in my time

 

I want to possess a mother’s voice

Tender, reassuring and kind

But also make a divine choice

In the lover and friend I find

 

The anthems that I raise

As I sing my songs of praise

Always make me smile

But only last a while

 

As Jesus and me break the bread

Will I allow him inside my head?

 

For man does not live by bread alone

And woman is much the same

Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone

To share a common name

 

So pass the salt, my dear Lord

There’s no one quite like you

For I refuse to become bored

Never aging, always new

Our guest reader is Lisa, a singer/songwriter living in South Florida with her two children

 

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3 Things… July 19th, 2018

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That Will Slow the Aging Process

1. Think, using your reasoning

 

 

2. Listen, using your mercy

 

 

3. Laugh, using your humility

 

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Ask Jonathots… June 16th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

Three times last week, I heard national news spokespeople say, “People don’t change.” How did this philosophy become commonplace in America?

Just a quick note to begin this answer–whenever you seek counsel, you will normally get one of three approaches:

1. The cynical approach. “Based on the data provided, we can tell you that it is unlikely…”

2. The hopeful approach. “With God all things are possible…”

3. The practical approach. “Present trends do not bode well, but certain actions could change the outcome.”

So I would like to answer this question by explaining that normally people are cynical about human beings changing because they, themselves, are no longer hopeful of much transformation in their own lives, and when presented with alternatives, they reject them.

I think it is a problem for older people to change simply because they embrace three erroneous profiles:

A. “The best things in my life have already happened.”

In other words, if you contend that the most exciting parts of your journey are already over, it will certainly cause you to be less-than-motivated to make transitions.

B. “It’s worked pretty good so far.”

There is an abiding notion that the philosophy which has taken us to this point in our experience should be sufficient to carry us on through the times ahead. There is no basis for this conclusion, but it prohibits aging people from taking an hour to learn how to work a computer.

C. No one’s listening to me anyway.

As you get older, there is a tendency to believe that your influence has greatly lessened because the children are grown, the job is in the past, your appearance is more fragile and you’re cast into the role of a soul on the way out the door.

These three ideas can cause a human being to dig in and refuse evolution. Matter of fact, when we talk about individuals who have great repentant leaps, like Ebenezer Scrooge or George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” these changes usually revolve around interventions from angels or spirits.

So to guarantee that a certain amount of enlightenment continues, consider three principles of power:

1. The best has not already happened or I would not still be here.

2. What worked yesterday will need some tuning for today.

And finally:

3. The best way to make sure people listen to me is to say things that are relevant to the moment instead of nostalgic about the past.

People can change. They just don’t naturally do it.

It takes a desire to live our lives all the way to very end instead of walking around in a misty haze of the past.

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Populie: The Longer You Live, the Better… November 19, 2014

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nursing home

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody’s in a hurry to get there. Even the more bitter and pessimistic souls around us are not anxious to exchange “streets of crime” for “streets of gold.”

It is an open contradiction.

So what do we desire? A superficial form of immortality called longevity.

People work the first forty years of their lives to save up money, so they don’t have to work the last thirty-plus. Very few people ask the big question: how important is the quality of life?

So we create the populie. We applaud people who reach their ninety-fifth birthday without ever asking what is propping them up and whether they are dreading the daily pains of life.

Entertainment works both spectrums on this issue–sometimes portraying that “old is mold” and other times insisting that “old is gold.”

Religion extols the promise of long life because therein lies their piggy banks. Yes, it’s true–young people don’t give as much to the church as old folks.

Politics tries to garner a huge block of graying voters by playing to the fear of these souls, while reflecting back on the nostalgia of what they consider to be “better times.”

But if we’re looking for good life and all we get is time spent, then there’s the danger of ending up in a prison of disappointment.

For instance, if I drove over to a retirement home today at lunch hour, would I hear laughter, conversation, gaiety and feel energy in the room? Or would I encounter disgruntled human beings, who thought they were going to enjoy their “golden years,” and now find the whole experience sullied by too much concern, too much worry and too much pain.

There is a very simple three-part mission given to human beings, which, as long as we are actively and joyously pursuing, makes any age in life feel like twenty-two. You don’t have to go much further than the beginning of the Good Book to find it:

“Be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth.”

Can we all agree that when we stop being fruitful, what we feel is rotten?

The lack of multiplying subtracts purpose, and doesn’t add up in our thinking.

I, too, am getting older. So every single morning I get up and ask myself a question: am I still fruitful?

In other words, can I do what I’ve always done to some degree, and still do it well? Maybe there will be a drop-off due to age, but I still should be peddling towards the second mile.

Secondly, am I multiplying? Am I taking the energy I have for living, and helping others do what they do well?

One of the things you will discover as you get older is that your greatest value is not self-obsession, but rather, self-awareness in blessing those around you.

And finally, am I replenishing? This one is simple. Am I still giving more than I’m taking?

Each one of us has seasons of vulnerability, where we must draw from our account instead of making deposits. But if that season continues, the will to live slowly dies in our being.

It’s not about living long. It’s about living well.

Candidly, if I were told tomorrow that the next fifteen years of my life would be spent breathing, but my talents, joy, good attitude and spirituality would be dimmed in the process, I would choose to go.

I might be reluctant, but I would be fully aware that to be truly human requires fruitfulness, multiplication and replenishing the earth.

 

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Peace with the Pieces… March 10, 2013

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piecesIt was odd.

I was suddenly overwhelmed by the notion of my own inadequacy.

Thinking about the sharing I would be doing tomorrow morning at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, I was confronted with my lacking. I am a bald, aging man with limited mobility, who has suffered–or at least struggled–with obesity all my life.

To say that I feel humbled by the notion of offering exhortation, edification or even insight into the lives of others would be an oversimplification of my vacancy. I don’t know whether anybody is worthy to be a voice crying in the wilderness–especially entrusted with the concept of challenging people to “prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.”

Somehow or another it seems prudent for me to straighten some of my own paths before instructing others in path-straightening.

But what does that mean? Am I to sit around and wait until I am a worthy representation of goodness in order to praise goodness, point to goodness or even stand in awe of what goodness can do?

I am pieces, trying to make peace with myself.

I am chunks of what could be a whole, but doesn’t really promise to ever coagulate.

I am an incomplete vessel who really has only one responsibility–don’t lie about my insufficiency. Don’t exaggerate my qualification. And don’t pretend to be anything other than the subtotal of my pieces.

When my knees gave out on me late last year, I thought my time  of speaking in front of audiences and pouring out my heart was over. I honestly did not want to be a disgrace to the kingdom of God through my weakness. I was determined to develop an excuse for escaping my continued participation in the unification of the human spirit with the presence of God by pulling up lame–literally.

Maybe it’s just that I felt stupid. Maybe “wheeling” my way in front of an audience to hobble to my keyboard was just a little too much hyperbole of uselessness.

I don’t know. It wasn’t that I wanted to quit. It just seemed that quitting was an honorable thing. Make room for someone who’s more … whole.

And then I remembered the words that God said to Adam in the Garden when his little buddy was hiding among the fig leaves.

“Why are you hiding?”

“I’m hiding because I’m naked,” said Adam.

“Who told you that you were naked?” asked God.

Yes–who told me I was unworthy? Who told me I was weak and beyond redemption? Who told me that it was time to graze in the grass instead of  shepherding people to greener pastures?

I did.

I decided what was righteous.

I decided what was beautiful.

I decided what was marketable.

God hasn’t worked with me for these many years and seen me crash and bounce to the earth to not allow me to continue to speak my mind.

I’m finding ways to be at peace with my pieces. For after all, being complete is over-rated. When we express our weakness, those around us perceive us as stronger by the confession. When we pronounce our strengths, yet obviously sprout flaws, we are only made weaker by our boasting.

I come to you in pieces, trying to find a way to have peace with them.

You can decide … whether it’s worth hearing.

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Eco-Quality… April 3, 2012

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A gift.  For a gift to have true value it has to possess two attributes–it has to truly be “mine” and I have to understand it. I have received presents that were not gifts, because the instructions came in German or Chinese and I was unable to access the true worth of the intention.

Likewise, around the age of sixty-one through seventy-two and beyond, we receive a gift. Unfortunately, most people of that age do not believe there IS a blessing imparted their way. Maybe it’s because the instructions are in the language of logic and we’re looking for something deeper or more mature. Maybe it’s because we focus too much on the difficulty of implementing the gift and fail to recognize the benefits. I’m not sure. But the ecosystem of Planet Earth is perfectly balanced within the human species by having us begin as children and basically end the same way.

Estrogen and testosterone removed as chemicals of dependence, we arrive in our later years once again on an even playing field, able to communicate if we so desire.

It is an eco-system that proffers quality, which I have blended to form a new word: eco-quality.

We are children again. As children, we can either choose to be child-like or childish. Verily, verily I say unto you–the greatest natural resource unused in this country is not natural gas trapped beneath the surface, but rather, our retired, aging, experienced, elderly population, which is set aside to vegetate and die. Maybe it’s because they never got over their addled essence and have decided to live a life that is adversarial rather than friendly. Maybe it’s because they wish they were still “kidding” and become overly involved in the lives of their grandchildren–ending up  interfering more than enlightening. Perhaps it’s because they think they’re still in their forties, struggling to make ends meet and haggling over the price of toilet paper at Costco. But more often than not, they get stuck dissing in action, and continue to pick at one another, finding fault and resenting each another because everything didn’t turn out quite as perfectly as planned.

So instead of having a flourishing, mature population, full of experience and wisdom, we have bratty old folk who need to have their diapers changed, bitching about eating their strained prunes and broccoli. I cannot disagree with those young humans who find this both annoying and pathetic. If you reach sixty-one years of age and the things you wanted to do with your life have still not happened, do yourself a favor and get up off of your rocker and imitate some of your aspirations with the energy you still have remaining. If we can teach our graying citizenry–many attending Woodstock, who were part of the disco revolution and survived all sorts of financial meltdowns–yes, if we can teach them to take on the better parts of chilled-hood and put that into practice in their everyday, senior citizen existence, we can unleash an intelligence for our youth and probably save a lot of money on medical care.

When children are happy they do two things–they learn and they play. If you reach sixty-one years of age and you think there is nothing for you to learn, you might just want to go to meet your Maker, who will be more than happy to explain to you the error of your conclusion. There is nothing more exciting, amazing and enthralling than an older person who is still willing to learn. We insist that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but since we are not of the canine species, we might want to rise a little above our “dogged” determination.

Learn. What’s necessary in order to learn? Two things: (1) “I don’t know,” and (2) “please teach me.” Since testosterone has ceased making men sexually obsessive, and estrogen isn’t cloying at women’s souls to keep them domesticated, we can actually enjoy things together and learn simultaneously.

And of course, play. There is no joy in longevity if we can’t find a way to pleasurably do everything. If life is a chore, please bring sundown so we can go home. But if we can find a way to make grocery shopping interesting, going to church a new vista of experience, or even a doctor’s visit to be a time of learning and information-gathering, then every day seems to have purpose and potential.

Yes, the greatest resource that is lost in our society is not the oil from old fossils, but getting our old fossils who are still alive to squeeze out some oil of gladness.

God gives us the tools:

1. We are not living in the pressure cooker of addled essence, where our hormones are screaming demands, making our bodies twitch with indecision.

2. We no longer have the pressure of “kidding.” I will be honest with you and hopefully others will join me–I enjoyed being a parent, I find grandparenting interesting, but I am glad I am back to my life being my own, thank you.

3. We have the intelligence to dodge the futility of Re-Spend-ability–causing us to fret over money–and  instead can take our experience and patience–to use it more wisely.

4. Hopefully, we will cease from dissing in action,  generating an atmosphere of tension, which has digressed to an ongoing silence of dissatisfaction.

Learn and play. Everybody gets older, but no one needs to get old.

The years from sixty-one to seventy-two and beyond should be conducted with two mantras:  (a) “I really know a lot, which makes me want to know more.” and (b) “if it ain’t fun, it ain’t done.”

A simple submission to these two precepts would change our society from a youth-crazed, fad-driven mania to a more balanced situation of looking at things through the eyes of experience instead of need and greed.

Let’s not kill off our old people, but let’s create eco-quality,  joyously returning to our chilled-hood, when male and female were much the same and we we had great fun bouncing a ball … and learning our biology.

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Listen to Jonathan sing his gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, accompanied by Janet Clazzy on the WX-5 Wind Machine

 

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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