Things I Learned from R. B. (June 14th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 19

It came in the mail.

I was very surprised.

I had never received anything postal from R. B., even though there were times we’d been separated for years. Not one letter or birthday card had ever come my way.

I didn’t expect it. He was a single guy, singularly focused on his own efforts.

So that’s why I was so bewildered by the arrival of this big, fat envelope. It was normal business-sized—but stuffed to the edges, nearly ready to burst its seal.

I opened it and pulled out what ended up being, after careful count, sixteen yellow legal-size pages, with R. B.’s scrawlings and notes.

At first, I could not identify what I was holding in my hands. Then I concluded that he had sent me a play, formatted in his own imagination.

It was entitled “The Reveal.”

A quick look-over told me there were three characters: Robbie, Papa and Len.

I found a quiet place, sat down and started to read. I don’t know whether I was preoccupied or tired, but I found it difficult to get through the entire piece. Finally, after two or three attempts throughout the evening, I finished it.

It was a rather simple story, about a young fellow who wanted to join the Boy Scouts. So he came to his father, who was a very austere man, and asked if it was okay. His brother, Len, came along, hoping that if Robbie was allowed to join, maybe he could be included.

The response from their Papa was very unusual. He began to pontificate about how difficult it was to be a young woodsman, and that if Robbie wanted to be a Scout, he would have to be tough.

At this point the piece took a bizarre turn. Papa asked Len, who was sitting and listening, to come over and punch Robbie in the stomach as hard as he could. Len was resistant and Robbie was startled. So when Robbie objected, his father scolded him on the dangers of disobedience—and how being a Boy Scout required him to always be prepared.

Even though Len did not want to punch Robbie in the stomach, at the father’s insistence, he did—once, twice—a total of four times. Robbie winced, buckled and finally cried out in pain, causing Papa to shake his head in disgust.

Then the patriarch asked Robbie to punch Len in the belly, but Robbie was unwilling to do it. Len seemed glad, but was concerned that if Robbie failed, there would be no Boy Scouts.

The father harangued them both, challenging their manhood in its boyhood form.

When I reached this point in the story, the writing stopped. Inserted were the words, “To be continued…”

Attached to the little play was a note:

“Jon, I know you put on plays for people. Would you help me put this one on?”

I had no idea what to think.

I was impressed that R. B. had found an envelope and managed to stuff the pages in. I didn’t want to say no. I also didn’t want to say yes—especially since R. B. had run out of money, was living on credit cards and certainly required a job.

The next morning the phone rang, and it was R. B. He wanted to know if I had received the package and what I thought about the play. I asked him what he wanted me to do with it.

R. B. matter-of-factly responded, “Produce it.”

My mind went haywire. I thought of a hundred things I needed to say to him about plays, productions, actors, theaters and advertising, but everything was so negative—and I just didn’t feel like throwing water on the only fire I had seen in him for months.

I agreed.

I agreed to do it.

I even agreed to fund it.

I told myself the only reason I would even consider being agreeable to it was that I knew it would never happen.

I did question why the play was incomplete. He said he would have the rest of it finished by the time it premiered.

I couldn’t help myself. I chuckled.

R. B. actually advertised for actors.

He held auditions. He picked two people to play the brothers, and he decided to play the papa himself.

He scheduled a table reading and brought about seven extra pages, continuing the story, though it was still not done. He made it through the table reading without directing the volunteer actors too much on what he expected them to do.

He even went out and found one of the old warehouses in Nashville which they had begun to transform into little theaters for productions just like “The Reveal.”

Matter of fact, R. B. got all the way to the fourth rehearsal. He hit two problems:

The actors had learned all he had written and needed more pages, which he was unable to supply.

But worse—the young man playing the part of Len started offering opinions on stage direction, and even some suggestions on the structure of the lines.

I was there, sitting in an advisory position (a name R. B. had come up with for my non-involvement involvement).

The conversation became heated. I wanted to interfere, but two parts of me refrained.

First was the promise I had made—to be solely an observer. And second—well, second was that I didn’t care enough to want to see the whole thing come to fruition.

But there, before my eyes, R. B. ran the gamut of his emotions.

First, he was calm.

Then he was offended.

Next, he was angry.

And at length, he was nasty.

The young man finally grew tired of spitting at the brick wall of R. B.’s resistance. He walked out. This scared the other actor, who explained that he was not accustomed to such conversational brutality.

R. B. made fun of his weakness—and in doing so, caused the young gentleman to quit.

Remaining in the room were R. B. and myself.

He looked over at me for comfort, support and a bolstering “attaboy” for standing his ground.

I found a chip in a nearby floorboard and stared at it silently, waiting for the moment to pass. After a while, R. B. rose, apologized and left.

I never heard another word about the event or the play. I never knew how it ended. The subject was just dropped.

About four months later, when I worked up the nerve to ask him about the experience, he stared at me as if he didn’t even know what I was talking about.

I did not pursue it.

For some reason, this little manuscript was written but would never be produced.

The importance of it lay deep in the soul of R. B., who apparently was still trying to overcome his father…and that punch in the gut.

 

Things I Learned from R. B. (June 7th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 18

They called the place “The Hunchley.”

R. B. heard about it listening to one of the local Christian radio stations.

It was a gathering of about a dozen songwriters who were looking for their big break and got together to play their songs for one another, both to gain encouragement and suggestions on how to make the compositions more tuneful.

In my earlier years I had attended several of these.

I will be candid and say that I found them boring—because as a poet of sorts, I was completely uninterested in any material that was not my own. I tried to fake it, as did those around me, but the only time any of us were happy was when intoning our own personal songs.

So when R. B. brought it up, said he wanted to go, was scared to go by himself and asked me to join him, I turned him down.

The first thing that bothered me about it was that R. B. had been unemployed for two years. He was losing the will to seek the livelihood to give him solvency.

His stock in trade was repairing computers. When these magical machines had first appeared, repairing them was a very good job to have. They were expensive, and most people paid the money to have them fixed instead of replacing them. But as often happens, time marches on, taking prisoners, and soon computers were cheap enough that it was just more efficient to buy a new one than to take it to a shop and have an R. B. do surgery.

His job just didn’t exist anymore, and he was unwilling to pursue any other field. Each time a possibility was offered in his direction, it just didn’t sound as uptown as saying, “I rebuild computers.”

I didn’t want to do anything that might divert his attention from work. And secondly, he wasn’t that pleasant to be around when he was mingling his songwriting with his anger.

So I did not agree to go with R. B. to The Hunchley on the first, second or even the fifth time he asked me.

But one Monday night he arrived at my door, all dressed up, and begged me to come along to The Hunchley.

He didn’t want to go by himself. He was timid. Actually, he was a confusing mixture of timid and overbearing—a turnoff on two fronts.

Yet I had no reason to say no. Of course, there was the excuse of sanity, but after the fourth well-executed “beg,” I agreed.

On the way to The Hunchley, I decided three things:

1) I was not going to talk much

2) I was not going to eat much (something I committed to at other places than The Hunchley)

3) And under no circumstances would I play one of my songs.

My career had already taken me into the publishing world, the musical caravan, television and all sorts of concerts. I was done with that and I was not interested in seeing if I could start it again.

We tried to arrive late, but since it was young songwriters, we were still too early. This allowed much too much time for the six or seven sitting around waiting to get to know R. B.

To describe R. B.’s personality, you would have to consider a broken water pipe. When a water pipe sits there, you never even notice that it’s a water pipe and has water running through it. But if it breaks open, it sprays in every direction.

That was R. B.

Once he realized there was time on everyone’s hands, and most of the people were nervous, he decided to fill all the space with stories about his childhood, his songs and his dreams for his career.

People were polite at first. Then they looked over at me, wondering if I had the special key to turn him off.

At length, they turned their bodies away from him, hoping to discourage the verbal deluge. Fortunately, everyone finally showed up and the evening commenced.

It would have been fine if R. B. had sat there as a gentleman, listening to other people’s efforts, and then gone up to sing his song and listen to their comments.

He was incapable of such a maneuver.

The room was not large, and when other people were singing, R. B. was whispering—very loudly in my direction—all the various ideas he had about improving their work.

When he shared some of his thoughts aloud, the faithful dozen tried to be patient, partially out of their Southern-hospitality training, but also because they weren’t certain if R. B. might actually be somebody—or, oh, my God—a song publisher.

Then it was R. B.’s turn to share a song. It quickly became obvious to the gathered that R. B. was not someone or a publisher.

This seemed to grind some gears in the machinery of The Hunchley.

So after he got done, many critics rose to point out the flaws they heard in his music. They weren’t mean—but they sure weren’t uplifting.

R. B. got more and more infuriated.

After the grilling was done, he came back to his seat and looked at me with fire in his eyes and whispered, “Let’s leave. Now.”

It actually was not a very good time to depart. The musicians had gathered into some sort of mutual devotion and were attempting to gain a spirit of unity.

R. B. didn’t care. He stood to his feet and stomped toward the door.

I thought about remaining, to see if he would return, but I was a bit unnerved about him being outside the building, knowing that he was fully capable, while smoking a cigarette, to suddenly unleash his burst of curse.

I stepped outside and motioned to him. We went to the car and got inside. I was about to start the vehicle when he grabbed my hand and said, “Can you believe those asses?”

I was hoping it was a rhetorical question, but I was wrong.

R. B. wanted me on his side, and he wanted me on his side right then and there.

He began to explain what he wanted me to feel.

He called them hypocrites. No talents. Vindictive. And unbelievers.

I realized it was up to me to pick one of these insults, make it my own and join him in the demolition of The Hunchley.

I paused and thought for a moment.

I wished I were not there.

I wished I’d had better sense than to come.

I wished I didn’t have to wish anything.

I spoke in my quietest voice. “You know, R. B., there are hundreds of these songwriting meetings all over Nashville every week. Is it possible you just found a bad one?”

My, God, Jehovah—he liked that thought.

He asked me where these other groups were and how he could find out about them. I said I wasn’t sure, but he could investigate.

R. B. enthusiastically nodded his head, changed the subject and started talking about how good he thought his performance was.

I felt confident that I would never have to go to another “Hunchley” event with R. B.

Why?

Because R. B. never investigated anything.

Things I Learned from R. B. (May 31st, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 17

R. B. deeply enjoyed Chinese food, even though he hated ordering it off the menu because he was unable to remember the names of the delicacies that enticed his flavor lust, and ended up having to ask the waitress what the various terms meant, and then ended up nodding his head as if he understood, only to reveal upon her departure that he was clueless as to what had been explained to him—and just a little bit pissed that she was “so damn foreign.”

About two weeks after arriving in Nashville, R. B. requested that we begin what he called “sessions.” Having been unemployed for well over a year and spending most of his time alone, he was very reclusive, and a bit fearful to share his feelings in front of others, even if he knew them well.

So he saved my family for “fun times.”

He asked me if I would be willing, once a week, to partake of a meal and help him with his plans. Thus, the “sessions.”

I suggested we choose a Chinese buffet that had become our family favorite, where we also taped a weekly broadcast of a radio show, which I purchased time for on a local station. It was a five-minute-a-day newsy, comedic and sometimes musical presentation on an outlet which, according to a respected survey, seemed to have no listeners.

We didn’t care much. The show was for our glow. We gathered at the Chinese restaurant on Saturday mornings, taped the show and then over-ate the MSG.

I told R. B. that he might like the place because he wouldn’t have to remember the Chinese dishes but could just stare down into the buffet until he could visually identify a favorite. So it was agreed that we would meet once a week—the day and time changing based upon his whimsy.

R. B. knew how to talk.

Apparently saving up lots of energy from lonely nights, he could fill three hours of conversation better than any man I’ve ever met.

The situation was simple and perverted. R. B. wanted to present plans he’d made, which, as time passed, proved to be theories he had no intention of pursuing. And I got to pretend that I was using my skills as a teacher, a reasoner and a counselor, to help another human being. In the process, both of us got high blood sugar and weight gain.

Since I had not seen R. B. for some time, the first “sessions” were a little bit startling. He had settled deeply into habits. I suppose some people would call them bad.

It is certainly safe to call them questionable: smoking, staying up late, drinking, over-sleeping, temper tantrums and having a diet which consisted of anything that fit concisely into a Styrofoam container.

The sessions were not a healthy situation. I knew if I aggravated him by making contrary suggestions, he wouldn’t want to meet anymore, and I would lose my buffet appointment and ability to claim that I was in the midst of counseling.

He also did not want to become aggravated because the sessions were his red-letter day of the week—when he could spring for $6.99 to have a pair of ears listen to him ad nauseum.

Looking back on it now, I see how easy it is for us to get involved in meaningless and perhaps even dangerous entanglements. I can tell you three unchanging ideas that came out of R. B. during the sessions:

  1. The industry was changing and that’s why he was unable to get a job.
  2. In some way or another, he was smarter than me and he didn’t even know why he was seeking my counsel since I was basically a nobody-nothing.
  3. It was made clear to me that I could be encouraging, supportive, complimentary but needed to avoid espousing any idea that he didn’t appreciate. Otherwise R. B. was likely to pout.

Working within this framework, we maintained what could be loosely considered a friendship.

But I did maintain it. I had selfish reasons which were bolstered by a couple of selfless aspirations.

One of the selfless thoughts was that if I didn’t talk to R. B. and commiserate with him, who would?

Of course, a case could be made that if he wasn’t being pandered to by a Chinese-gobbling friend, he might have been able to get some real help.

The fact of the matter is, I, myself, was too needy to help the needy. I didn’t realize it at the time.

But every session always ended with the same speech.

“This was good,” opined R. B.  “Let’s follow up on some of the ideas and meet again next week, and I certainly will try to work up the energy and hopefulness to go out and apply for a job or two.”

Things I Learned from R. B. (May 24th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 16

For nearly five months, I had been squirreling some money away, trying to fund an idea I believed needed to be pursued.

It was time.

Whatever inspiration had once possessed the soul of our family—to travel across the country, working, living and making music together—had gradually dissipated down to a stream of loyalty and an irritating question.

If we weren’t doing this, what in the hell would we do?

My wife mustered the energy to be happy, but certainly had lost the desire to schedule, travel and perform.

My sons were thrilled to be brothers, enjoined with me, but knew deep in their hearts that the “call of the mild” must replace the “call of the wild.”

They needed lives of their own.

This would take money.

I knew it was foolish to announce to the family my campaign. It just might make them fearful that if they ate an extra apricot, they were destroying our future.

So I kept it private.

After five months, I had a small sum I was grateful for—but knew it was nowhere in the ballpark of fulfilling the need.

We were traveling across the panhandle of Florida, heading toward Jacksonville when I said a very simple prayer.

“Dear Lord, I’ve painted myself into a corner. Either help the paint to dry quickly or direct me clearly on how to leap out of my predicament.”

Also, it had become more difficult to acquire schedulings. It takes a lot of passion to convince somebody of what you want to do—and honestly, people were not quite as open to being convinced.

So in late August, in boiling hot Jacksonville, we succeeded in getting one booking for the week–on the Sunday night.

One opportunity to pay our way.

One mission field.

One audience.

I came to a decision before we rolled up to our engagement.

“Whatever we have at the end of tonight I will use to set us up somewhere and give my sons the chance to launch their own lives.”

Yet I was discouraged when I arrived and realized we were at a church that only had fifty people on a Sunday night—a black church, which meant we might have to wade through some resistance.

It’s not that black churches were difficult, but sometimes, because of the nature of the South and memories of segregation, the parishioners wondered why a white family was coming to a black church instead of sharing their talents with white folk.

I put those thoughts out of my mind, making sure they were busy elsewhere. Instead, I took a count of my situation.

I felt I needed three thousand dollars to settle in.

With some amazing blessings from the previous two weeks, I had managed to collect $1434 in cash.

That night, when the pastor introduced me and I stepped in front of an audience of forty-two people, the calculator in my brain boiled over with frustration.

I needed to make about thirty-five dollars a person to get my nest egg.

Now, I am not negative by any stretch of the imagination but am also not a fool. I don’t know whether I could have pulled a gun and gotten thirty-five dollars a person out of the gathering. There were several souls who might have needed me to donate to them.

But no matter.

Whatever happened, I was going to take the whole family to our next destination and do the best we could.

We would no longer be “on the road again.”

Over the years I have experienced some magical nights, yet none to compare with the warmth and tenderness exchanged in that sanctuary.

About halfway through I realized that these strangers had decided to become one with us, and we, likewise, one with them.

We laughed.

We cried.

We sang nearly every song we could play.

At the end the pastor stood and took up the offering.

I was astounded when he handed me $1,433.

Now, I will not tell you that I should ever have taken my family on the road. I also will not lie to you and say that everything I did on that journey was well-thought-out or appropriate.

But the science of our music, the Mother Nature of what apparently was a good season, and the humanity of this congregation launched us to our new beginnings.

The next morning as I drove north, I explained what I envisioned for us to do as a family.

They were relieved.

They didn’t act that way—there were some tears of regret.

But there were also some shouts of “hallelujah” over the new possibility.

To avoid a motel room, we drove all the way into Nashville, Tennessee, and in just three hours, located a new apartment.

We spent that first night sleeping on the floor of our new home.

The next four days were nothing short of miraculous.

My sons got out, secured social security numbers, found jobs and set in motion getting drivers’ licenses.

It all fell in place—mainly because I felt as if I was no longer forcing the direction. Rather, the passions of my children were driving the solution.

I hooked up a phone—landline. Two hours later it rang.

It was R. B., calling from Tacoma.

I don’t know how he knew we were coming to Nashville or how he successfully tracked down our phone number so quickly.

He did a little hemming and he did a little hawing, and somewhere in between, I got the idea that he had hatched his own plan.

He needed his own miracle.

Sensing his frustration and his desperation, I said, “Hey, buddy, why don’t you just move to Nashville? It’s where you started. It’s where we met—and it’s where they make music. How can you lose?”

Two weeks later, driving a car that should not even have been on the road, he arrived, found a small one-room apartment and settled in.

We were in the same community again, with even less in common.

Still, all in all, it was better for both of us than where we found ourselves short weeks before.

Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 7

Eight thousand three hundred and twenty-nine miles.

From Erie, Pennsylvania, down to Jacksonville, Florida, across to Houston, Texas, up to St. Louis, Chicago, then over to Detroit, and even Nashville, Tennessee—with many cities in between.

For thirty-one days we traveled to twenty-five cities, putting on performances of my musical, surviving on fast food, common hospitality, and the financial generosity of an audience asked to pass the hat.

Providing our transportation were two leased vans—one stripped of interior seats, which acted as utilitarian, hauling equipment and suitcases. The other was a twelve-passenger van for the cast.

There were nine of us in all. I drove the passenger van, and Gary and Don took over the responsibilities of the “Ute Van.”

They liked that. And little else.

I often wondered why the two of them had auditioned for the play in the first place. Then I realized it was because they didn’t think they would be good enough to get in, but thought it would be fun to try—never imagining they would run across a producer like myself, who was so desperate for a cast that he hired them.

Every once in a while, just to keep things honest, I sent R. B. back to ride in the Ute Van along with Gary and Don, to act as my eyes and ears.

Unfortunately, R. B. was so inexperienced that he didn’t realize the pair was smoking pot right in front of him. When we stopped for gasoline, his innocence played out comically in how loopy he acted—from exposure to second-hand smoke.

When I cracked down on Gary and Don about the grass smoking, they immediately assumed that R. B. had squealed. They confronted him and he denied it, but they never believed him. They used the remainder of the tour to make his life as miserable as possible, with practical jokes, mocking him in front of the girls in the cast, and I think once even peeing on his costume.

Even though I tried to correct the matter, the cast members were not my wards of the court, but rather, young people wanting to get by with as much as they could and doing as little as they could in the process.

One of the girls challenged R. B. to “stand up for himself.” He explained that such a maneuver was against his Christianity because he believed in “loving people and forgiving them.”

Although his rendition of the Gospels was accepted by the other cast members who heard him share it, I interrupted with a different interpretation.

“Forgiveness is powerful if you’ve already established yourself as the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. If you’re valuable—nearly indispensable—then offering the humility of forgiveness carries some weight. But if you’ve spent most of your time on the back of the bus—or the back of the van, in this case—your forgiveness just looks like what any loser would have to do.”

R. B. had to make a choice. Was he going to side with me and the rest of the troop or was he going to quietly join into the rebellion of Gary and Don, as they attempted to convince themselves that they could do everything better than me?

One night, the sponsor at our concert called me into his office about an hour before showtime. He was an old buddy—going way back. He knew everything about me, and I the same for him.

He said, “You need to get your cast straightened out. I just had three of them in here, trying to convince me that you were crazy and that they needed some relief from your dictatorial style.”

Before I could even ask my friend who the three were, he identified them. “It’s your three boys,” he said. “Gary, Don and R. B.”

I wasn’t surprised with Gary and Don. But I was quite astounded that R. B. sided with his tormentors against me.

I know the cast thought I was going to yell at them before the show once word spread that I had been informed, but I did no such thing.

When I was introduced to do the opening words before the musical began, I received warm applause from the audience, which remembered me from former days. I did something that surprised everybody—even myself.

I said, “I want to thank you all for coming out here tonight. We are not in very good spirits and have been arguing with each other for several days. I didn’t want to try to fake you out. I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t want you guessing. The cast that’s about to come out and perform are doing a good job, and they’re probably peeing their pants right now, wondering why in the hell (pardon my language) I’m saying this. The reason I am is that we don’t have to be perfect to do good things. But it sure helps if we’re honest. So I would like you to forgive us for being mere mortals, and please allow us to take you on a journey. Perhaps in pursuing that odyssey with you, we might get in better moods ourselves.”

The audience burst into applause.

The overture began and we were off to the races. It was a brilliant show.  When some of the cast members made their entrances, you could see tears in their eyes.

I didn’t have any more trouble with Gary and Don. But R. B. was never able to get over the fact that in his opinion, I had humiliated them all in front of the audience.

Even though Gary and Don despised him, R. B. chose to befriend his detractors.

The K Word … April 16th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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THE

Related image

WORD


I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for nearly twenty years. Overall, I found it a very pleasant experience.

Yet seventy-four miles south of my home, on Interstate 65, was a town called Pulaski. It is the community where the Ku Klux Klan began. So most assuredly, confidently and sadly, I will tell you today’s word that should never be used again—the “K” that should not be spoken—is the Ku Klux Klan.

The K Word is the Ku Klux Klan

It’s not so much their views. I don’t agree with anything they say. Yet if they were coming from a position of personal experience, I might need to consider their perspective. But no member of the KKK has spent fifteen years playing in the National Football League, surrounded by black men. If they had done this and come out with a negative insight, then I would have to conclude that they had a right to their opinion.

Or if some of the members had lived in Israel for ten years and after the visitation, had stated that Jews were greedy and less than human, I might question their premise but certainly would have to acknowledge that they had been involved in a live-in experiment.

But there’s no member of the Ku Klux Klan who has spent any time with members of the black race or the Jews. They are not well-traveled individuals who, after careful research, developed a doctrine of the division among the races, with the hypothesis being that “white people are better.”

These are little boys and girls who were never allowed to formulate their own thinking but instead, absorbed the prejudice, anger and fallacious notions of their ancestors.

Unfortunately, these ancestors came to the conclusion that keeping their cotton crop in the black was much more important than the blacks who made it possible for them to have a cotton crop in the first place.

They are childishly ignorant—ignorant because the philosophy they cling to was long ago abandoned by people of reason, science and emotional well-being; childish because they’re still trying to please parental figures, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and ancient kin who held to a belief system that found its only power by leaving others powerless.

There is a school of thought that if you want to do away with the Ku Klux Klan, then let them speak their mind, let them be heard, and they will be revealed for who and what they are.

Unfortunately, unfoldings in our country over the past ten years tell us that giving breath to a murderer is granting license to murder.

This is why I’m saying the KKK should never be mentioned. It should not be discussed. It should not evoke either anger or apathy.

We should pretend that it does not exist until it’s so small that evolution can swallow it back into the earth—where it will finally die—with the graves of those who were once so presumptuous.


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Good News and Better News… November 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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In the midst of a furor of a nightmare of screams, it is nearly implausible to discern the whispers: the soft, gentle pleadings of the Spirit within us, to find ourselves and pursue a precious path.

We become the victims–the auditory slaves of foolish men and women who have succeeded in providing us decibels without hope.

It’s loud.

It’s brash.

It’s bloody.

It’s irreverent.

It’s irrelevant.

And it’s often meaningless.

But the sheer brute blast of this storm of stupidity seems to be the cultural forecast, threatening to blow us all away.

Into such a climate Jesus of Nazareth also came.

Just like us, he was surrounded by mayhem–a nasty empire, brutal religion, vendettas, bigotry, prejudice, gender bias and ignorance that rebuffed knowledge.

He chose not to yell.

He found a space and made his place.

If you’re determined to be recognized, wealthy or even famous, you will be worthless to this time–because the natural flow of human degradation will determine whether you will be ushered in for consideration, and unless you are willing to be as crazy as the world around you, you will probably be considered unnecessary.

But…

You can find your space and make your place.

  • Jesus was profoundly simple.
  • Jesus was deemed uneducated because he chose this path.
  • Jesus was mocked as unaware because he would not join into the political fiasco and the religious ramblings.
  • He was simple.

He offered three ideas to humanity which still trigger our best efforts and initiate the only march to beauty that we have ever marshalled:

1. Consider.

Stop being sure. Don’t recite all the things you learned as a young’un. Don’t repeat the bigotry of your benefactors. Consider. Consider your life, consider an intelligent approach–even consider a lily.

2. Watch.

Sometimes he said to go ahead and while you’re doing that, pray. But always watch. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on your support. Listen for the buzz words that talk of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and creativity.

Watch what is before your eyes carefully instead of merely lining up for the next I-Phone.

3. Cheerful.

“Be of good cheer” is the match. It lights a fire that warms instead of burns. For after all, joy is the best treatment for insanity.

These were the three messages of a simple man. They will never be outdated but unfortunately, they will also never be regaled as “trending.”

It will take you and me to close our ears to the screams, and listen to the whisper of “consider, watch and be of good cheer.”

The good news is that living such a life is far less exhausting.

The better news is, only this simple life is truly fulfilling.

 

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