Little is Big on a Bad Day … February 15, 2013

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Pictured above is the Miakka School House, a historical landmark which I photographed last night during my visit to the tiny community, which is strategically enclosed in the greenery and mushiness of Central Florida.

You might suspect that in person, the schoolhouse does not appear to be psychedelic. I have enhanced it. Some people would say I’ve distorted the image. Such is life. Rarely do we get a glimpse of an image in actuality before our minds take it over and attempt to either enhance it, or in a fit of frustration, distort it.

I will tell you this of a certainty–very few people have their lives ruined by a disaster–mainly because disasters are rare. It is much more likely to have your life altered, devastated or left barren by a little thing that is blown out of proportion than it ever is by being struck by lightning. The human tendency to take “little things” and make them “big” simply because “we’re having a bad day” is what renders us fearful, suspicious and often frozen–unable to move forward.

Our upbringing doesn’t help. Adding to the trepidation are the number of murders offered on television as evidence of a cruel society. And honestly, just the human tendency to think that evil is more intriguing than good causes us to swing to the dark side. I guess it would be harmless if it weren’t so harmful. But it is often in the midst of our false concerns that we fail to recognize a true opportunity, which ends up leaving us with a mess.

How can we keep from distorting the facts presented to us? Or just as bad, from trying to enhance everything in order to make it look better, ending up with a bizarre representation?

First of all, I think we have to admit to ourselves early in our morning that we are ill-prepared for the day and have set our feet toward being a dunderhead. Sometimes I even give those around me the gracious warning that I am a ticking time bomb of stupidity.  Amazingly, often that is enough to shake us out of our dim-wittedness.

Yes, merely confessing “I’m having a bad day” sometimes changes it into a good day. But if you continue to walk around in a foul mood, insisting there is nothing wrong with you, it’s everybody around you doing “stinky work,” you can set in motion the beginnings of a real disaster.

“I’m having a bad day. Please, someone help me.”

And since you know you’re having one of those bad days, and you are susceptible to making everything little too big, don’t make any decisions without asking three questions:

1. Have I done this before? Is this situation in front of me, which seems so foreign and problematic, really just an opportunity that I’ve previously handled, wearing a different hat? You will be surprised at how encouraging it is to remember former successes.

2. If this did happen before, what did I learn from it? Most people think that the brain remembers things because we see something that triggers memory. Actually the brain only remembers things when we ask it to retrieve similar occurrences. The brain is not helpful, just available. So if you don’t ask your brain to dredge up the past, it will lock it up solutions like they’re in solitary confinement. What did I learn the last time?

3. And finally, what is different with today? Occasionally something will be unique in your present dilemma. But usually not. Generally speaking, the only thing separating today’s frustration from yesterday’s clear-headedness is a bad night’s sleep, nightmares or low blood sugar. What is different?

By the time you finish asking these three magical questions, having already admitted  having a bad day, you have much less chance of turning something little into something big, distorting the image set in front of you. It is a problem we humans encounter incessantly. Therefore, it would be a good idea to have a plan of action for handling it.

Because of the rainy, drippy weather, only a handful of determined souls made it out from the Floridian rural countryside to our concert last night. I drove a long way to get there. So I was tempted to take something little–like poor attendance–and make it a big thing. Instead I asked myself the questions:

  • Have I been here before? Yes, and every time that I remained faithful, it’s always been beautiful.
  • What did I learn? Whether you and I are in front of eleven people or eleven thousand, it makes no difference if I am sharing in a bad mood. So buck up.
  • What is different? Me. I am different because now God has given me the grace to ask these miraculous questions instead of dumping bad attitude along the side of the freeway like I’m running away from town to escape an eviction notice.

You don’t need to enhance your life and you certainly don’t need to distort it. Just stop making little things big–just because you’re having a bad day.

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

Val’s Pals … February 14, 2012

 
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Valentine’s Day–a delivery system for chocolate, flowers, jewelry, aftershave, golf shirts and miscellaneous power tools. Yet–is it more than that? It could be–if we actually focused on relationship instead of just commemorating a once-great union of hearts.
 
In my lifetime, I have watched as the pendulum has swung from the extreme of Father Knows Best to “Mama Knows Everything.” There is a general misconception in dealing with interaction between the sexes that some sort of cushioning or compromise MUST be established–because we apparently are from different planets, arriving on spaceships fueled by diverse energy. Because of this false representation, we seek to compliment or ignore one another in the pursuit of domination. Domination is useless, especially when it comes to interfacing with someone we purport to love.
 
Yet in the times when Father was supposed to be the All Knowing, women were underpaid, not considered worthy of leadership on a national level (or even high management in corporations), a little unpredictable and ditzy and meant for the home, not the battlefield–be it war, politics or business.
 
Move ahead through years of alleged women’s liberation and cultural growth, and today we insist that women are smarter than men, as we continue to underpay them, forbid them high seats in government and the Fortune 500, think they’re very unpredictable and ditzy and keep them far from the front lines of the war–be it commercial, cultural or military.
 
So what has changed? All we have done is play a pretend game: “Women are really smarter than men, but after all, we don’t need smarter. We’ve got men!”
 
As long as the goal in any relationship is to dominate, we will never truly understand one another, no matter how many boxes of chocolates, bunches of flowers or trinkets are peddled. Somewhere along the line, we have to understand that true friendship is neither complimenting or ignoring, but rather, trying to stay on point and being as honest as we can, while dancing around trying not to offend.
 
If a woman can’t find that in her mate, she will have a best friend she converses with and a husband she tolerates.  May I immediately point out that merely tolerating another human being is not the greatest aphrodisiac to lead into the bedroom? So then we get to preach that “women don’t like sex and men do.”
 
Now, this particular Mexican standoff doesn’t vary, whether in the secular or in the religious realm. The religious community believes that men should dominate and that women should raise the children and take care of the household. In some religions they’re even willing to cut off her sexual organs to make sure she doesn’t forget her mission.
 
In the secular community, the pretense is that women are much smarter, more organized and able to direct, while simultaneously they are relegated to a submissive position where they are basically housewives, even in the office (coffee and comfort), and they’re disemboweled sexually by being forbidden true authority.
 
Here’s my suggestion–let’s do something special on this Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to reject the power of the flower or the thrill of the drill, but you might want to sit down and have a conversation with the person you say you love that begins with this statement:
 
“Honestly… Well, I am not always honest with you, but instead, compliment or ignore you because I foolishly think, because of my training, that I am supposed to dominate you. I would like to stop that and instead, maybe for the first time in our journey together, find out who you are and what you want … and ditto for me.”
 
Now, if I thought the farce of “romantic America” could continue without creating chaos, I would never even bring up the subject. After all, America believes that McDonald’s makes the best hamburger and really, no harm, no “fowl.” But when you think that complimenting or ignoring your love to create domination is the best way to interact with another human being, while internally you find them obtuse or irrelevant, there is a nasty hypocrisy going on that will eventually flare up and decimate your contentment.
 
This is why we often step back and say, “I never thought they would get a divorce.”
 
Just removing domination from a relationship allows for two people to actually begin to talk again. The reason we didn’t like dating is because we had to chat. It is exactly the reason we should return to it.
 
So if you look at Val’s Pals on this day, they are  com through gifts and the action of ignoring expressed by pretending that somehow or another we forgot that it was a special day. It is all an inglorious ploy to create domination. Neither Father nor Mother know best.
 
Actually, we never get the best until Father and Mother learn how to communicate with each other.
 
 
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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.

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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.

Teaspoonology … February 13, 2012

 
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I understand and I am certainly not offended.  To the mindset of the average person in our hectic society, my little  philosophy seems frivolous, if not futile. I call it “teaspoonology.”
 
I have no grandiose notion that my contribution to life is going to come in some sort of magnanimous flood of information and wisdom. But daily I am provided a teaspoon–and I realize that I’m going to dump that portion into a vast ocean of life.
 
You might wonder how I was introduced to my particular brand of teaspoonology. Some years ago I noticed that “sour” was becoming the countenance, the taste, the thinking and reaction of those around me. A puckered face became the preferred visage.  It was like we had all decided that life was meant to be just a little bitter, so why fight it? And it was ushered in along with the assertion that presenting reality meant studying the dark side of humanity.
 
There was once a time when our literature, art, religion and politics presented our more bleak options as obscure, unnecessary and escapable. But then that changed. Goodness became the elusive; mediocrity and evil became the commonplace. It “soured up” the flavor of human life. So that’s why I decided to take my little teaspoon of contribution afforded to me every day of my life and sweeten it. So when it is added into life’s mix, for a brief time there is just a hint of a change in taste. Within moments it gets stirred in and the more discriminating soul might be able to notice the subtle difference.
 
I have discovered that I don’t have more than a teaspoon, but I do have the power to make sure that the elixir I add becomes sweeter and sweeter as I adjust its intensity. Yes–more potent with the nectar of possibility instead of adding vinegar to the already-tainted contents. For after all, what power is there in succumbing to stupidity? What joy in insisting that only sadness rules the roost? What victory in bowing one’s head in the presence of death instead of fighting to the end? It is my little concept of struggling against what most people would consider to be inevitable.
  • Yes, I am angry at religion. It makes people believe they have no hope unless they embrace a God they are told they can’t understand.
  • Yes, I am infuriated with politics.  It persists in a message of doom and gloom in order to garner a vote which grants power which is rarely used to improve anything.
  • Yes, I am baffled by an entertainment industry which tantalizes us with images of our creature instead of the possibilities of our creative.
But I will not allow my anger to overcome my mission–and that particular odyssey is quite simple: to take my teaspoon of contribution, sweeten it more each and every day and faithfully drizzle it onto the great concoction before me.
 
It is a childlike precept. May I share it with you? “Since no one is better than anyone else, let’s ease up, take our teaspoon … and sweeten the pot.”
 
Does it work? Case in point:
 
When I arrived at my present lodging location, I met a maid who services the rooms and befriended her. I gave her a few dollars for her generous work and treated her as I would want to be treated if I found myself in her station. Last night, when I went to perform my final show at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, I left a bag of money in my room accidentally–not realizing that the maid was going to come in and clean my room. When I came back and saw the room was spotless, my mind immediately went to that vulnerable clump of cash. You know what happened? Even though she had to move the money to do her cleaning, she restored it in entirety to its proper place. An honest woman, true. But might she have been tempted to be dishonest if her first encounter with me had been a jolt of sour instead of a teaspoon of sweet? I don’t know–and I don’t care.
 
I am determined to take my teaspoon and blend it into the broth of daily life, working on increasing the intensity of its potential while encouraging others to simply reject the sour and embrace the sweet. It was my message yesterday. It will be my message tomorrow.
 
I do not think we can change the world by insisting that the world is too big to change.
I do not think we can personally be happy as long as we spend most of our time in despair over the unhappiness that surrounds us.
 
Somehow or another, we need to purify our teaspoon of involvement, sweeten it up and pour it in. If enough people would do it, it might alter the taste of our society just enough that others might notice and want more of the flavor. Certainly it is a piece of idealism, but without it, we are left dumping our refuse of bitterness into the common pot.
 
And this I know: the only way to truly stop misery is to refuse to participate in its insanity.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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