Terkel… February 23, 2013

(1,800)

On the third day I decided to stop.

Sprawled on the gravel near the dumpster behind the convenience store, sitting out in front of my motel, was a man who certainly conveyed that he had lots of time on his hands and not too many places to go. I guess that’s a quaint way of saying–homeless.

I passed by him in my van the first two days, waving and smiling. On my first passage, he seemed a bit bewildered by my friendliness but on the second day he returned my greeting with the vigor of a long-lost friend watching his confidante fly off to Siberia on a secret mission.

But on the third day I decided to stop. I rolled up, eased my window down and said, “How ya’ doin’?”

Stumbling to his feet, staring into the distance and refusing eye contact, he replied, “Zeus has given me the light.”

I paused, recollecting my Greek mythology. Zeus was the top-dog god on Mount Olympus. I continued. “Zeus, huh? How’d you get an appointment with him?”

The question obviously baffled him so he continued his runaway train of thought. “Mercury gave me wings,” he proclaimed, still staring off into the distance.

It seemed we were going to run the entire roster of Hellenistic deities.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

There was a long pause. I decided not to repeat my question. I felt it would seem as if I were insensitive or impertinent. I just waited. At length, he responded.

“Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” Each letter grew in pitch of volume and intensity.

“I would have guessed Brian or Kenneth based on your age,” I replied.

For the first time the trance was broken and he glanced at me with a crinkled brow. Noting his coherency, I asked, “So what are you doing out here behind the convenience store?”

He yelled, ‘The policeman said I could be here as long as I didn’t lean against the building and sat on the gravel. It’s public property.”

I obviously had struck a nerve.

“You misunderstood my question,” I explained. “What I’m asking you is, what’s your story?”

“Zeus gave me…” he began.

I interrupted. “Listen, Terkel. I don’t know whether you believe in Zeus or not, but let’s just pretend for a second that you don’t. If you’d like me to stop bothering you, I get it. But really, it’s quite simple. I have passed by you for two days and waved, and I thought i would stop this time–just to see if there was anything human that could happen between us.”

This time he paused, recollecting human manners. “Do you have any money?” he asked.

“You know I do,” I replied. “You see, they don’t let you leave the back end of the convenience store and roam around if you don’t have it.”

I think he smiled, which led me to believe there was a little bit more inside of him than just a supernal messenger from Zeus.

“Do you have any money you can give me?” he asked more pointedly.

I reached for my wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills, and as I was beginning to hand them to him he added, eyeing the cash, “Breakfast tacos are three dollars.”

“You  mean Zeus left you out here without breakfast?” I probed with a smile.

He smiled back, as if mirroring my image. I reached into my wallet and added an additional one to my offering. “Breakfast tacos it is, then.”

He took the money and inquired, “What’s your name?”

“This is gonna be weird,” I said. “My name is also Terkel. T-e-r-k-e-l.” I mimicked his previous bravado.

He chuckled in spite of himself. “You’re not Terkel,” he said.

“Neither are you.”

He chuckled again.

“You see, this wasn’t so bad. We talked for a minute, we got past the lineage of the Greek gods and you ended up with money for breakfast tacos.”

I reached down to close my window, finishing up the conversation. He stepped forward, and for the first time, looked me in the eyes.

“Thank you, Terkel,” he said. Then he stepped back and stared in the distance as if perched on the deck of the Santa Maria, peering for the north star. He mumbled something about Zeuss and collapsed onto the gravel in a giant heap.

I drove away. I do not know if I did a good thing or a bad thing. Such determinations, in my mind, are deliberated by foolish souls who pursue levels of divinity instead of acquiring the true depths of their humanity.

What I did was something different. And without difference, we are stuck with what and who we are … believing that nothing can change.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

The Power of Nothing… October 14, 2012

(1,668)

Live from October 1st filming

Little Brian had not yet learned the power of becoming invisible. He was only seven years old, and that particular piece of youthful wisdom normally arrives around ten or eleven. So he made the mistake one hot summer day of coming into the house, shuffling his feet in the carpet, collapsing on the couch, sprouting a frown, and communicating to his mother that he was bored and devoid of any ideas of how to entertain himself.

This was a big mistake. The young lad was about to lose all of his freedom. Because Mom, wanting to be a good exhorter for her young offspring, began to come up with suggestions about what bored Brian could do to stimulate his mind and body–and at the same time, perform some useful chores around the house. Before he knew it, he had gone from being a liberty-loving youngster to being a room cleaner, a garbage carrier, a dog walker and even, for some ridiculous reason, raking up the dried-up grass his father had mowed the night before. Now he was exhausted and bored. He had failed to understand the power of nothing.

There are days when progress is not made nor is there any particular inclination that devastation and defeat is waiting in the wings to leap on our carcass. People who become dismayed, discouraged, frustrated or pass on the impression that they are without needful activity always get roped into the dumbest jobs possible.

For instance, how would I describe this Saturday in the discovery of my miracle and the restitution of my legs, so I can walk about instead of utilizing the power of the wheel?

Nothing much happened.

I feel a little better; I can straighten up without having a catch in the back of my legs and hips. I told a friend of mine that from the waist up, I’m twenty-five years old and from the belly-button down, I’m about ninety-one. I guess if you average those two numbers, you get my actual age.

So what have I got to complain about? I was trying to remember that old saying. Is it “a watched pot never boils?” Something like that. Sometimes things slow down and they do so in order for us to celebrate, evaluate and appreciate.

If life whirled by at the speed of light, we would not only fail to see it, but we would never get a chance to giggle at the silly moments and revel in the victories.

Celebrate. Just take a few moments of nothingness to celebrate all the goodness that has come thus far. For six decades I’ve been able to live, and in most of those years, be productive, humorous, creative and loved. How remarkable.

Evaluate. Yes, evaluate why, at this point, certain blessings are eluding me, and exercise my good common sense and desire to bring these gifts to me.

Appreciate. Appreciate the fact that no one is running my life, that God has given me choice, and if I am willing to adapt and grow, very likely the best things are yet to come.

Thus the power of nothing.

So when I call someone on the phone and I say, “What’s going on?” and they say, “Nothing,” I think, “You are so lucky.”

I was lucky today. I didn’t get worse. I didn’t get much better. I got a chance to celebrate my past blessings, evaluate some things that I’ve been doing wrong and appreciate a breath of air to insert new opportunity.

Don’t be like Brian. Don’t tell God, Mother Nature or the world around you that you have run out of interest in your own life. People will think they’re helping you by making up really crappy jobs.

I never allow myself to look bored. Instead, I praise God for the power of nothing–just a few minutes every once in a while that plop in my lap–where I have nothing to prove … and everything to gain.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: