G-14: Jungle or Garden?… March 7, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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jungleI think most people have found themselves in the embarrassing situation of arriving late to an appointment, being held up by traffic, and requiring an ice-breaker to share when entering the room of awaiting friends.

One of the favorites quips is the gasping exclamation, “It’s a jungle out there!”

It usually evokes some laughter–partly due to its corniness–but mostly because we have all become a bit convinced by society, entertainment and even religion that human beings are depraved animals.

So rather than looking at life and our potentials with optimism, we find ourselves desperately trying to avoid the human representations of silly monkeys, ravenous lions and venomous snakes.

Somewhere along the line we have forgotten the beautiful explanation that man and woman were spawned in a garden. Maybe it’s too idealistic. Perhaps the world around us will not permit us to believe that such beauty is attainable and such blessing within our grasp.

I just don’t know what we ever gain by allowing the underbrush of weeds and human mediocrity to surround us, causing us to retreat to our caves in fear. Yes, I think there’s a choice. Am I going to continue to live in a jungle or am I going to do my best, before I leave here, to turn the earth–or at least my portion of it–into a garden?

cultivated gardenTwo things are necessary to transform a jungle into a garden:

1. You’ve got to cool things down.

Jungles are steamy and hot, breeding all sorts of creeping, crawling vermin which welcome such a searing climate. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do in any situation is to refuse to participate in frenetic energy and heated debate, find a quiet place, sit down and wait for things to cool off. I do think it’s what Jesus meant when he suggested that the “meek inherit the earth.” As long as you’re struggling, punching and fighting with everyone for the dead carcass in the middle of the Serengeti, you are exhausting yourself–not to mention casting your lot with the more unseemly actions of the beasts.

Cool things down.

Occasionally I find myself in an argument and realize that the flame is rising and the intelligence is leaving. The situation requires that somebody shut up. When I actually am wise enough to do so, things cool down.

2. Clear things out.

I have been focusing this year on eliminating the scrub brush that suffocates my life, making me feel paranoid and claustrophobic. There are things I just don’t need, require or even desire anymore. Maybe they were once status symbols or security blankets, but now they’ve just become all-encompassing. If you’re going to grow something, you often have to remove what is occupying space but is useless.

Clear things out.

When you cool things down, all the hot-headed animals and the plant life that is tropical disappear. When you clear things out, you find soil underneath the tangled mess of weeds. Then you’re prepared to plant a garden.

And what is a garden? A glorious three-step process. A garden give me the chance to:

A. Seed what I need.

Yes, to actually get specific instead of hoping for the best or praying for miracles because I failed to do my job.

B.  Grow what I know.

I realized last week that I don’t lack wisdom. I lack frequent flyer miles using it. There is so much I can do, say, share, perform and be that I squander in pursuit of things unknown or beyond my capability.

C. And finally, receive what I believe.

Having come to peace with myself and my own gifts in the garden I have cleared off, and knowing that things have cooled down, I can be a good farmer. Yes:

  • Seed what you need.
  • Grow what you know.
  • Receive what you believe.

You can think whatever you want–I believe we were born in a garden … and have settled for a jungle.

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Thanks for the Turkeys … November 22, 2012

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It was the first thing that came to my mind.

I don’t really like to admit this, because we all like to rewrite the history of what we did, presenting it as a bit more noble than it actually was when it squirted out of our innards. But somewhere along the line, a certain amount of honesty is necessary–otherwise, you end up being bruised and confused by your own lies.

When I discovered that I was having trouble with my legs, the notion of being inhibited in walking was not nearly as uncomfortable to me as the realization that a certain amount of virility, powerfulness and masculinity would be robbed from my profile. For let us be candid–a man sitting in a chair with wheels might be considered one of the classic turn-offs. If it weren’t, someone would certainly have considered using it to pick up chicks at the bar.

  • I didn’t want to be that short.
  • I didn’t want to be that vulnerable.
  • I didn’t want to be that annoying guy sitting around with a ready explanation.

I wasn’t really upset about rolling along instead of walking. It’s just that the stigma attached seemed fairly costly to my manliness and was going to permanently, I guess, rob me of the necessary sexuality to keep me from going bonkers. Do you know what came to my mind at that point?

Turkeys.

Maybe it was because we were coming up on the season–or that my brain just seems to fluctuate between periods of lucidity and inanity–but I realized that the turkey has a really bad public relations problem. You know you’re in trouble with the mass appeal of society when your name conjures images of being a loser.

“You’re a turkey.”

Or the even more pointed example, “You are a REAL turkey.”

It’s hard to hold your beak high when you realize that even if you have smoothed all your feathers and you’re looking your best, people are privately thinking to themselves, “Thanksgiving dinner!”

It must be especially difficult for the turkey because he or she realizes that they came so close to becoming the symbol of American prowess, power and patriotism. Benjamin Franklin, a notable forefather, pushed the bird forward as the candidate to be the nation’s favorite feathered friend. He was outvoted. I’m not sure what the count was, but the bald eagle won. It may be the only occasion when a bald creature won a contest over one with better plumage.

I don’t know what was in the minds of those who voted against the turkey. Was there hidden prejudice? Were they privately thinking to themselves, “That bird can’t fly!” After all, no one is ever going to use the phrase, “Soar like a turkey,” just as no one will ever be able to say, “Run that marathon like Jonathan Cring!”

And the final indignity, do you have to be killed, beheaded, plucked and baked, but for some reason, people step back with a scrunched face, dissatisfied, and think, “It’s not enough. We should stuff him with oysters, bread and seasonings.” And then, on top of THAT, when you’ve made the supreme sacrifice of your carcass–to become tasty–you’re usually smothered in gravy because you’re dry.

Yet, my dear friends, this is not the last indignity. Yes–after people have gorged themselves on your flesh, they have the audacity to insist that it’s your fault that they fall asleep during the football game, because you contain some sort of “hidden drug” which knocked them for a loop.

Do you see the point?

I was greatly encouraged by the plight of the turkey, realizing that I was still able to have a brain and be equated with intelligent conversation instead of relegated to “gobble-gobble.” (Oh, my dear God, is that the source of “gobbledygook?” I’ll have to have Jan look that one up.)

It is also important in this bad public relations swing, to portray the turkey as belligerent, habitually  pecking at things, in order to advertise and promote turkey shoots.

It seems that sometimes in life we all find ourselves in the position of being a turkey instead of an eagle. So on this Thanksgiving morning, and throughout the day, I will commiserate with my fellow-persecuted-old-bird, as I realize that I may have been weakened in some way by my affliction this year, but I’m still not ready to end up face-down on the platter.

I have much to share. I have much to say. And I’m thankful for anyone who has an ear to hear.

By the way … do turkeys have ears? That would be the final insult–or maybe blessing–to be deaf so you wouldn’t have to hear what a turkey you are.

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