Not Long Tales … December 10th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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18.

Po-Tay-Gold

There was no advantage in being female.

Joni knew this for a fact. At sixteen years of age, she had spent her entire life living on a tiny settlement, stuck between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The elements dictated your effort.

The climate decided your work

And the isolation made it virtually impossible to think about things like dresses and bows in your hair.

It was lift, push and survive. There wasn’t much more time or reason for anything else in this outpost which the original founders had named Sinsear. (These first pioneers might have found some humor in the name, but nobody left behind ever gave it a smile.)

Joni was an orphan. She wasn’t born that way. (Of course, no one is.) Four years earlier, her parents left Sinsear to travel to Portland in the Oregon state, to look for work on the docks. They never returned.

No one talked about it—partially because speculation was fruitless, possibilities were painful—and mostly because living in the harsh surrounding, there was just no time to care.

Joni was willing to pull her load. So she became the community pet, given a slender cot in the back end of the only municipal building in the region—a large log cabin.

She earned her keep the same way all the teenagers did. Of the three hundred and twenty-four people who still lived in the vicinity (that is, if the Hennings, with their six children, decided to stay) there were about sixteen teenagers. These adolescents were employed for one purpose. When the snow came—and the snow always did come—it was their job to keep the road to the mountain pass cleared, so the town deputy could drive his truck up the quarter mile to his lovely home.

He was the richest man in town. Unfortunately, his name was Baron Quigley. But he didn’t act like a baron. He was a pretty nice guy for someone who had too much when everybody else had too little.

Quigley paid this army of teenagers a dime a day each, to shovel out the road to his home after the snowstorms. A dime had become a lot of money since the Great Depression had spread all across the United States.

Joni once asked, tongue-in-cheek, “So, what makes this depression so great?” (People either didn’t get her humor or decided to ignore it. She never tried it again.)

It was 1934, and it was Monday, December 10th. Fifteen days ‘til Christmas.

Joni’s two constant companions were Cummings Johns and Darson Shakers. In a more civilized world, the two old fellows would be classified as ne’er-do-wells, but in Sinsear, they had both found their place. Cummings called himself a “moving mechanic,” and Darson was dubbed “The Gatherer.”

Cummings got his name because he came around to fix things, and as long as you gave him some food and permission to sleep in the warmth of your premises, he was happy to be of service. The same thing was true of Darson, whose title, “Gatherer,” referred to him pulling a small trailer in which he collected the community garbage. (No one knew where Darson took it. Most folks were afraid to ask.)

Joni had it figured that she was better off than most of the other people who lived in the U.S. After all, there was plenty of deer, moose and bear to shoot and drag home for food, lots of snow to keep things cold and tons of wood for a fire, to warm you up at the end of the day.

It was more than enough to survive—and when survival was the name of the game, wise people didn’t sit around and discuss improvement.

So it was a little surprising when a salesman appeared in the settlement, advertising the new “golden potatoes” from Boise, Idaho. He touted that these spuds were twice the size of the normal variety and he whispered to Baron Quigley and several of the men who had gathered at the cabin that “word had that the Simplot Potato Company had secretly inserted into fifty random potatoes one ounce of pure gold per each tuber.”

The sales fellow made the men swear that they would not say anything about it, but the men quickly broke their word, sharing it throughout the entire camp. For the first time in a long time, the gathering of human souls in Sinsear was buzzing with excitement. “Just think of it—a potato with gold in it! A Golden Potato!”

Matter of fact, that’s what they decided to call it.

And the sales rep had even more good news. In an attempt to help out during the Great Depression, the Simplot Potato Growers had cut their price. You could now get five pounds of potatoes for three cents.

Everybody had one thing on their mind: how do we get more potatoes?

The Golden Potatoes would obviously make a great side for the moose steaks and the braised venison—so it wasn’t like they weren’t gonna get used.

So everybody gathered all their pennies and wrote a letter to Simplot Potato Company, requesting a shipment.

Joni didn’t want to get left out, but she wanted to make sure her potatoes were separate from those of the rest of the order, so as not to get things confused when she found gold in one of the potatoes.

One ounce of gold was enough money to last the average person for nearly two years. How wonderful it would be to not have to shovel snow through a pair of winters!

Joni asked Darson and Cummings how she might be able to order her potatoes and keep them separate from the ones being delivered to the camp by the company.

“I don’t know,” said Darson curtly.

That’s the way Darson was. He began every conversation like he was ready to spit into the snow. Then he began to sweeten up as he talked.

Cummings was a little bit nicer—he actually did the opposite of Darson. He started off talking reasonably nice, and by the end turned as sour as a pickle.

Joni had learned to ask most of her questions when the pair of gents landed about in the middle.

Cummings objected. “Why do you want to separate off your potatoes from the others? What a selfish thing to do. You mean if you find gold in your potato, you’re not gonna share it with me, after all I’ve done for you?”

Darson interrupted. “What have you done for her?”

Cummings was offended. “What do you mean, what have I done for her? The little bother-bug is an orphan and I’ve never made her feel like she’s not wanted even though her parents left and haven’t come back.”

Darson shook his head. “Isn’t that what you just did?”

Cummings scratched his beard. “She knows what I mean.” He looked at Joni. “Don’t you?”

Joni smiled, shook her head and returned to her question. “How can I keep my potatoes separate from the mass of potatoes?”

Cummings suddenly had an idea. “Well, I suppose you could order them later than the others. Then they would come separate—but also, you’d be waiting and maybe the shipment that came to the town folk would be filled with gold and you’d be left out.”

Joni did not like that at all.

Darson spoke up again. “Can we all agree that potatoes without gold in them taste mighty good and are well worth purchasing, especially if you can get some of that good white gravy on ’em?”

Cummings’ eyes sparkled. “I do love me some gravy,” he said. “Gravy is God’s way of apologizing for tasteless food.”

“Amen,” said Darson, staying sweet a little longer than normal.

Joni was still not satisfied. “I make a dime every time it snows,” she said. “Now, figure this out with me. If I took that whole dime, I could buy me about fifteen pounds of potatoes.”

Cummings vigorously shook his head. “I don’t like math problems. I never learned no arithmetic.”

Darson jumped in with his agreement. “I’m with you there, brother. I’ve lived a long time, and honest to God, nothin’ adds up.”

The two men laughed like they were drunk. (Joni knew this because she had seen them that way many times.)

Convinced there was no more need to consult her two companions, she went off by herself to dream about Po-Tay-Gold.

She liked the name. It sounded promising. And since it was almost Christmas, she wanted a few moments of privacy to think about it. So she went to her cot in the back of the cabin and lay down as darkness began to fall, finishing the day.

She fell asleep.

Joni had a dream. It was more than a dream. It was like this really nice-lookin’ young man was standing in front of her, talking right into her face. All he said was, “You’re going to win the gold.”

Joni woke up so thrilled that she wanted to run and find Darson, or Cummings, or anybody, and tell them that God had spoken, and her prosperity was on the way. But it was already dark—not safe to be running around looking for people since it was that time of night when the creatures of the forest ruled over the prairie.

As she lay on her cot, nearly sleepless for most of the night, she decided it was actually a good idea not to say anything about her dream, except maybe to Darson. Well, Cummings, too. Wouldn’t want to leave him out. Maybe she could tell some of the kids while they were shoveling snow. She’d have to be careful. She wouldn’t want an old-fashioned, jealous spirit to fall on her and have people dislike her because she’d been favored.

While Joni lay sleepless, the heavens opened and dumped eight inches of snow all over the world around her. The only problem was, it was the wet kind, not the powder. Wet was more difficult to shovel—made her legs ache and her back creak. But she knew at the end of the day, she’d have her ten cents to order fifteen pounds of potatoes.

Much to her surprise, the potato people from Idaho decided to ship a whole bunch of potatoes in the direction of Sinsear after they heard that their salesperson was received quite well by the folks. So it was only four days later—December 15th—that a big shipment came in on a huge truck.

There were so many potatoes that people could buy more than they’d even ordered.

Inspired, Joni did something she’d never done before. She asked one of the boys who was on the snow-plow team—who usually criticized her for being too slow—if she could borrow a dime from him. (For some reason, he always seemed to have a little more coinage than the rest of the kids.)

He asked what she’d give in return. Joni had no idea what to say. So the boy came right out and told her that if she’d give him a big kiss on the lips, he’d loan her the dime.

Joni had never even thought about kissing. Just like wearing a dress seemed foreign, kissing seemed to be something done on another planet. She always wore Levi’s and her bulky wool sweater. They certainly didn’t make her attractive—at least she didn’t think so. Nobody had ever called her cute, pretty or even reasonably acceptable. Now this boy was willing to use her lips for collateral.

She was ready to say no when he leaned in and grabbed him a kiss anyway. Joni was shocked—offended. Her head was spinning. She wanted to curse but didn’t know the words. The boy just laughed at her, handed over the dime, and said, “You pay me back within two weeks or I get me another one of those.”

She stood, staring at him as he stomped away, giggling. What had just happened?

Yet, she was so proud of herself for being willing to sacrifice for her Po-Tay-Gold that she ran to the truck, which was surrounded by locals. She bought fifteen pounds of potatoes—almost so heavy that she couldn’t carry them. She took them back to her cot in the cabin, found an old knife that the Baron used to whittle wood, and started cutting them open.

She was about nine potatoes in when Darson stuck his head in the door, saw what she was doing and exclaimed, “What in the name of Geronimo’s bones are you doin’, girl?”

Joni didn’t even look up. She just responded, “I’m lookin’ for gold.”

Darson laughed. “But what are you gonna do with the potatoes when you’re done?”

Joni looked down at the carved potatoes and said, “I’ll offer ’em to all the folks and we’ll have a big potato bake.”

Darson nodded approvingly. “That’s good thinkin’. I’ll pass the word.”

By dinnertime Joni had cut open all of her potatoes. There was no gold. She had thought one of them might have gold in it, so she called Cummings in to confirm whether it was gold or not—since she didn’t know what gold looked like. But this particular potato felt moister. But Cummings explained that it was just rotten and seeping out some pukey juice.

Joni had carefully picked it up and threw it to the side, continuing her labor. So much carving, so much hope. No gold.

Matter of fact, other people from Sinsear had spent their early afternoon into the evening doing their own potato inspection. No one found gold.

People were a little bit fussy, but after a fire was built and a rack was constructed for roasting, and when the eating began, people cheered up a little.

Joni was concerned. She realized she couldn’t give up. That angel boy in her vision had told her she was gonna get gold. Why would God tell her a lie? And if He wasn’t a liar, then out there, waiting, was her gold.

After the great potato bake, Joni was ready to head for the cabin. She told Cummings, “I’m gonna keep looking for my Po-Tay-Gold. It’s here. Do you believe with me?”

Cummings didn’t know what to say, but nodded, so Joni ran with all her might to her bed, hoping for a sleep that would give her enough energy to plow the road to buy more potatoes.

Cummings came back to the fire. Darson was sittin’ there, chomping on a particularly well-cooked, yellow potato. Cummings said, “Joni’s bound and determined to find one of those fifty golden potatoes.”

Darson turned and looked at Cummings. “What?” he inquired.

Cummings replied, “You know—she wants to get money—gold.”

Darson laughed and laughed. He laughed so long that Cummings was almost ready to punch him in the snout. Finally calming down, he put his arm around Cummings’ shoulder and said, “Listen, my friend. You do understand, there is no gold in any of the potatoes.”

Cummings jerked back, shocked. “But the salesman told us there were fifty potatoes sent out with gold in them.”

Darson patted Cummings on the leg. “Now, just stop and think about it. How would they get gold inside a potato? They couldn’t cut it open. They couldn’t squeeze it in.”

Cummings looked at him, alarmed. “Are you sayin’ there’s no gold in any of the potatoes?”

Darson shook his head. “Not a nickel.”

“Then they lied?” Cummings shouted, surprised.

Darson hushed him. “Don’t be shoutin’.”

Cummings said, “But we gotta tell people.”

Darson shook his head. “Now, why would we do that? There’s no harm in buyin’ potatoes. They’ll get et. But there is plenty of harm in destroying hope just so you can be right.”

Cummings was mad. “Well, what about Joni? You know we love her.”

Darson frowned. “Well, I certainly feel somethin’ about her. I’m certainly devoted. Yeah, I guess I do love her.”

Cummings said, “Well, what should we do about her?”

Darson took a deep breath. “I wouldn’t do anything. Look at it this way, Cummings. She’s sixteen years old. She’s a girl living in the wilderness. She has to act like a boy, or she’ll be worthless. What should we tell her?”

Cummings stood up and excused himself. He was upset—so upset that he couldn’t sleep. In the middle of the night, he got an idea. When he had graduated from high school many, many years before, somebody had given him a brand-new silver dollar.

So Cummings grabbed a potato and very carefully slit open the side, and with the skill of a craftsman, he found a way to slide the silver dollar into the center of the potato. Then, to keep the slit from being noticeable, he took a little bit of glue from his workbench and smeared it to cover up the incision.

He was so proud of his effort.

The next morning, he told Joni he had found a potato that had apparently fallen out of her stack when she was carrying them in. He handed it to her, who sprouted a dark cloud of disbelief. Cummings encouraged her to cut open this potato.

She did.

There, at the center, was that beautiful, shiny silver dollar.

Joni was thrilled. She jumped up and down, clapped her hands, and started to head out to tell the people in the community. Then she changed her mind, turned back to Cummings and said, “Can you believe this?”

He shook his head, feeling proud that he had come up with such a magnificent idea, to satisfy Joni’s desire.

Before he could speak, as she jumped up and down, Joni exclaimed, “Now, I can order me about one ton—two thousand pounds—of potatoes! I oughta find the gold with that many, don’t you think?”

Cummings didn’t know what to say. It didn’t make any difference, because Joni had already run out the door, with plans for figuring out how to place her huge order.

Cummings stood to his feet, feeling it was his responsibility to track her down and tell her he had placed the silver dollar into the potato. Matter of fact, he was halfway down the street when he stopped in the middle of the road and peered up at the sun, thinking.

If he told her, it could break her heart.

If he didn’t tell her, it could also break her heart.

The only difference was that if he told her now, her heart would be broken immediately. If he waited, she would have a little big longer to be thrilled.

He turned and walked down the street to repair a busted pump. He would remain silent.

For the truth of the matter is, our visions will continue to be dreams as long as we keep believing in them.

Money is Deaf… January 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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  • Money talks–if we give it voice.dollars
  • Money answers–if we infuse it with intelligence.
  • But money is deaf to the cries of those who often need it the most. It is oblivious to the pleas of the disenchanted, disheartened and disenfranchised.

Many selfish people use this obvious disability of money as a pretense for their greed. After all, what good does it do us to have finance if we’re surrounded by those who feel compelled to beg and steal to procure their solvency?

The world is not safe with those who cling to finance, ignoring the capability of money to talk and money to answer.

So what we have is a ritual of guilt, where religious people and charitable organizations will, from time to time, hold campaigns or telethons to intimidate the public into giving from their income to help the needs of others. Often, in doing so, we have to degrade those without and portray absolute destitution, deprivation and near destruction.

It is a nasty process.

I would like to present an alternative. I only offer it as a solution to the “deaf and dumb” condition of the coins that rattle around in our purse, unwilling to leave our possession to aid the world around us. It’s a two-step process:

1. As pertaining to money talking, I suggest we learn to “give small.”

I don’t like to give away hundreds of dollars. It makes me feel intimidated, angry, begrudging and put upon, so that I swear I will not give again for a good long time. Yet anything under ten dollars can leave my possession with me remaining cheery.

So rather than waiting to be accosted by “the least in the kingdom,” I look for them. Yes, I probe for a way for my money to gain voice while it is still my choice, and kept small.

If you want your money to “talk” and you don’t mind hearing it speak, you might want to think about “giving small.”

Don’t wait until some organization or individual needs thousands of dollars. Catch people when they are just beginning to struggle.

A couple of days ago I saw a young lady bagging groceries at an HEB grocery store. She was very good. But I could tell by her body language that she was fatigued and growing weary in her task. When she finished packaging my material (in a very proficient way, I might add) I handed her three one dollar bills. It was nothing to me, but in that moment, it was gold to her.

I whispered, “You’re doing great.”

As I left the store, I noticed she was sharing with her friends. Give small.

2. If you want your money to answer the real problems in your life, invest big.

Not in lame-brain schemes, but in areas which need obvious improvement. Otherwise you spend your time repairing instead of expanding. Repairs are never noticed, but investments show that you’re growing.

Perhaps some people think it’s better to “give big” and “invest small,” so as to salve their conscience. I find this unrealistic.

I have enough spirituality within me to give small, and I can learn to be smart enough to invest big. Therefore, my investments will allow me to have more “small money” to give.

Money is deaf. It just refuses to listen to need.

So help it talk by “giving small.”

And encourage it to answer by “investing big.”

 

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Three Freaks… August 29, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bearded ladySlipping out of the encampment of the sleeping carnival crew, three freaks make their way down the hill, into the unsuspecting village of the townsfolk beneath.

They mean no good.

They are mischievous, self-motivated, bizarre and willing to do whatever is necessary to usurp their opinions, feelings and antics.

The same “attack of the freaks” is being paralleled in America.

We have released three freaks onto our families and children under the guise of pseudo-intellectualism and open-mindedness–or maybe because we want to come across as always being in the flow.

I don’t know about the motivation. But the three freaks are wreaking havoc on the spirit that has made America great.

1. Self-esteem. You can tell people who lack ability, motivation and talent that they are good, but you can never make them better by your words. Confidence is awarded to those who cross the finish line.

2. Getting even. Although we insist we are a Christian nation, we tout the Middle-eastern philosophy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth“–a belief system, by the way, which has proven to produce nothing but wars. Here is a piece of gold: the best way to overcome mistreatment is to leave it behind and refuse to take revenge.

3. Stressed out. Somehow or another, the criterion for being an adult is having a countenance wracked with worry and fear. History disagrees. All the great men and women of the past learned very quickly that stress is where success begins. Without a need, there is no creativity.

These three freaks who have escaped from the “carnival of errors” will continue to plague us with their pranks until we take them back to where they belong and view them from either afar or when we’re in a mood to think about foolishness.

Let me give you three freak-killers:

1. Work for joy and self-satisfaction, not praise.

2. Forgiveness heals the mess.

3. No blessing without testing.

You put those three concepts to work and see if your self-esteem doesn’t naturally grow, your sense of justice and fairness is not appeased and your productivity does not tolerate a few minutes of feeling crunched.

Beware the freaks. They do not mean you any good whatsoever. They are trying to bring the philosophy of the carnival to the simplicity of life.

 .

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Healing … February 11, 2013

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There is only one limitation in life–one, and one alone.

We are only limited by the boundaries of “normal” which we establish, prohibiting us from receiving inspiration beyond our permission. That’s it.

The more commandments, rules, doctrines, political parties and philosophies you adhere to in order to corral your spirit and willingness to change, the less likely you are to ever be enlightened.

When folks tell me they’re a Republican, what they are trying to say is that I need to stay within the parameters of their thinking–otherwise they will be forced to repel both me and my ideas. If they tell me they’re Democrats, likewise–it is a warning that I need to maintain a total and complete respect for the dominance of that particular profile.

It does not anger me; it does not frustrate me. It just makes me sad that we think any one given collection of ideas has the capacity for handling the intricate need of the human heart.

The world needs a healing, undoubtedly. But merely being cognizant of a cure or trying to establish a prescription for treatment is not what is required to get to the root of the problem and soothe the aching need.

After my presentation yesterday, a dear woman came to my table and told me a bit of her history–how she had been filled with the Holy Spirit and was working with the elderly. She said she found herself wanting to pray for them. In the process of pursuing these supplications to God, she deeply believed that the Lord had placed a touch on her life, to grant her the gift of healing.

I listened. I didn’t listen as a cynic. I didn’t listen. wondering if I agreed with everything she said. I didn’t listen, considering whether it totally lined up with my theology or intellectual profile. I just listened.

She asked me if she could pray for my knees. There was only one answer. Yes. Why would I want to deter someone from granting me a piece of tenderness, perhaps insight and gentle relief to my faltering joints?

  • Yes. Pray for me.
  • Yes. Meditate over me.
  • Yes. Summon the reincarnated spirit of your grandmother from the Brahma bull for me.

Why do we think we have to be so suspicious–when it’s obvious that we all are needy? I look for three things, and when I see them in a human being, I embrace them:

1. “I care.” No one has anything to offer mankind if they haven’t developed a brokenness in spirit that causes them to really care. You can’t teach it in seminary. You can’t earn a degree from a college which transfuses that feeling into your soul.

2. “I’m aware.” Yes, for a moment, I’ve stepped out of myself and I’m noticing that you exist. I see you–not just in relationship to myself. I see you as you are.

3. “I share.” Even though I don’t have silver and gold, what I do have I give to you. I don’t have all the answers, so instead, receive my love.

Those are the three things that bring healing. And whether you believe in the gift of healing or not, would you agree with me that this gift would certainly be accompanied by I care, I’m aware and I share?

So you can continue to be “normal,” squelching all attempts by God and the universe to enter your back door with some unexpected delivery. Not for me.

I’ve let down the guard of many of my pre-conceptions–so the heavens have a chance to conceive something … inside me.

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

The Missing Interview … August 14, 2012

  • Loser — Part 1
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During the Olympics, when they had an interview with visitors to London about the various styles of fish and chips, you realized that they had reached the end of possibilities for making the event any more marketable. After all, seventeen days is a long time. Even when you’re talking about athletes from 204 nations converging on a single city in an action of sporting pleasure and worldwide unity, it still loses some of its glimmer when you cross about twelve days–especially when you consider the rewards system.

Because in the midst of all that coverage, there are many interviews with many people who are participating and later winning in the games. I listened to them intently and like everyone else, was deeply impressed with those athletes who won gold medals, especially in multiples. I found it somewhat interesting when they would have a conversation with a particular sportsman from a small nation who won a silver medal which ended up being the only one his country acquired.

But the obvious missing interview was the discourse with the individual who, through much effort and training, was able to win four bronze medals.

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on displa...

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, for some reason or another, NBC, which certainly became desperate for feature stories, still did not consider a third-place finisher who had achieved it several times to be worthy of air time. Perhaps the Olympics was the beginning of the notion that prizes should be given not only to the winner, but also to those who come close.I’m sure I would feel differently if I was an athlete at the Olympic Village, but somehow or another, bronze leaves me cold. I’m not particularly thrilled with silver. And I know that I’m not alone here. Because even though they do tally the silver and bronze medals, it is worse than an afterthought, but rather, a necessity brought to our attention because the Olympic Committee decided to offer also-ran prizes.

Yes–the missing interview is with that guy or gal who won the most bronze medals. It’s just difficult to celebrate their position. It would be similar to attending a party of an individual who lost on Jeopardy! who decided to be festive by inviting all of his friends to his house to indulge in enjoying the Rice-a-Roni he got for third prize. It leaves something to be desired.

It’s not that I’m saying that people who come in third in the Olympics are mediocre. It’s just that we need to stop trying to make people feel that they have achieved what they really haven’t. All of us are trying to escape self-deception, and it doesn’t help when the world around us encourages it.

If you won a bronze medal, you’ve really lost. Maybe you came to London to win bronze. I guess that’s possible. But somewhere along the line in your training, even if you were pursuing third place, you would have a particularly good day of exercise and begin to believe that first place was possible–so therefore, disappointment is inevitable.

The only thing we all share in common is that we’re all, at one time or another, losers.

In other words, we lose. There are three deadly reactions to losing that eliminate us from further human contact: (1) anger–an abstract sense that life sucks and is not fair; (2) excuses–going through a litany of possible explanations of why you didn’t get gold; and (3) resignation–“oh, well, it was just never meant to be” or worse yet, “it was just God‘s will.” All three of those positions drive other human beings away like an odor hanging in the air from a busted port-a-potty.

What do you do when you’ve got five bronze medals that accurately telegraph to the world that you’re a loser?

1. Be grateful you’re healthy. In the pursuit of gold, you became a phenomenal physical specimen. Amazing. You are in a tiny percentile.

2. Realize that you got to play with the best. There is a difference between winning first place at your high school talent show and coming in third on American Idol. The difference is that you have a clear understanding of what it means to bark with the top dogs.

3. Know that you got to be part of something great. For the rest of your life you will get to say that you competed in the Olympics. Now, there’s always some jerk who will ask you if you won any medals. After about a year, bronze will start sounding better and better.

4. You learned what you can do and what you can’t. The beginning to all future success is putting your abilities to the test and finding out where you leak. You can plug the leaks or you can avoid exposing them. Either way, you’ve got information.

5. You can take the adventure and rather than experiencing humiliation, mature it into humility. When we are not ashamed of what we’ve done, we can be honest about our place in life. It gives us a humility that makes us attractive to our fellow-travelers. It is a benefit you receive only when you don’t win the gold.

So there you go. Even though there was a missing interview with that bronze champion, he or she will come out of the experience having been surrounded by the same intensity, beauty, power, fellowship and pageantry as all those who won gold.

It’s just a matter of taking the best from every experience and using it to increase your next possibility.

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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