Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4350)

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.

Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4343)

Episode 6

Opening night for the musical arrived about thirteen days before the cast was suitable for public viewing.

Yes, another fortnight and we might have achieved “adequate” with the possibility of “passable.” But as the maniac once said, “The show must go on.”

The music was learned and the pitches, generally pleasing. But the vignettes that separated the numbers were filled with so much wooden acting that we could have built a fort.

As to the choreography, we should have put a disclaimer in the show’s program, warning parents to cover the eyes of their small children.

There was one saving grace:

Our homosexual producer had gathered all of his flair and had designed and purchased stunning costumes. They were accessible and colorful—and as we found out later, easy to clean. They gave the show the appearance of legitimacy.

During the final rehearsal, which blended chaos with over-optimism, R. B. appointed himself cheerleader for the troupe. Whenever a note was missed or a cue ignored, he stepped in and said, “Don’t worry, guys. We’re going to do great.”

I probably should have stopped him, but before I could, one of his fellow-cast members snarled, “Hey, R. B., just because they’re dance slippers doesn’t mean you need to slip up.”

R. B. laughed, completely oblivious to the fact that he was being critiqued.

During the time of preparation for the evening’s fiasco, I made two requests: don’t drink too much water or you’ll sweat like a pig; and under no circumstances were any of the cast members to go into the lobby in costume—so we could keep the surprise of the quality costumes from the audience until stage time.

R. B. ignored both.

Feeling the need to use the bathroom because of over-watering his hole and not wanting to stand in line with his cast members at the facility backstage, he drifted his way through the halls to the lobby, where he not only used the bathroom donned in his costume, but stopped off to talk to the audience members in the foyer, who were complimenting him for his appearance.

Then, under the influence of the fumes of appreciation, he walked down through the auditorium and jumped onto the stage, where we were all waiting behind the curtain.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been any more infuriated—yet it was hardly the time for a teaching moment.

I took a deep breath, channeling my Knute Rockne, and tried to deliver a pregame speech.

I think I did pretty well, but all the cast members knew there were so many gaps in the training for the show that it was literally impossible for anything to happen short of the Hindenburg.

I still held out hope that maybe the god of dance would send angels to join us. He did not. Instead, arriving on opening night were the devils of dunce.

And I didn’t even take into consideration that the lack of preparation would be further complicated by nerves—great stage fright. There were at least five times when the musical came to a complete halt while the cast members stared at one another, wondering whose turn it was, and the audience giggled uncontrollably at the mishap unfolding before them.

I wanted to run.

The advertising had been so good that the theater was packed. There were two nights scheduled for Columbus before we hit the road—and both performances were headed toward standing room only.

Of course, I realized that once the word was passed about opening night’s bedevilment that few people would show up for the second go-round.

The little boy in me arrived. I wanted to disappear, go back to the rehearsal camp and wait for the cast to join me later. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was stand out in the lobby with my fumbling thespians. For of course, I knew it ultimately would be viewed as my fault. But I came and stood among them.

Back at the rehearsal camp, discussing what to do the next night—how to quickly simplify the choreography so as to not look quite so inept—and which songs to go over, R. B. spoke up, interrupting my instructions.

“Excuse me,” he said sprightly. “Guys, I think we did pretty good for our first try.”

Now, I’ve never been in a room with a lynch mob. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people to become so enraged that they grab someone and rush him into the forest, throw a rope over a tree bough and hang him on the spot. But I would venture to say that the cast came close to putting R. B. in a “neck-tie” that night.

I stepped in to protect him, but also rebuked him.  “Listen,” I said, “there’s nothing wrong with stinking and doing a shitty job, as long as you don’t pretend it doesn’t stink and that it’s not shitty. It was my job to get you guys ready. I didn’t do it. But it was your job tonight to give your best performance. As you go to your beds, you can ask yourselves if you did just that.”

R. B. was offended.

Matter of fact, I found out the next day that he stayed up crying to one of the girls about my “attack.”

I worked with the cast all the next day, and by the time we arrived for the second performance, we were miles further down the road than we were the night before.

Of course the problem was, the audience had decided to stay miles away.

Confessing… July 18th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2637)

XI.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

She was my friend, benefactor and producer of my first national album release.

After we finished the record, she bought me a copy of the Urantia book.

She loved the book.

She loved me.

I assume her goal was to join her loves together in a connection.

The book didn’t work for me. I read some of it and found most of the parts distasteful to both my spiritual side and my human understanding.

I didn’t tell her.

Perhaps I did not want to hurt her feelings, seem ungrateful or lose my meal ticket and helper. It was probably all of the above.

She decided to start having readings of the book at her house on Thursday nights. I, of course, was invited and felt compelled to go.

There were about 25 people there from the music industry–professors from the Vanderbilt University and all sorts of Nashville, Tennessee entrepreneurs.

I joined in to the discussions, keeping my sentiments beneath the surface.

Then one week, friends of ours from Indiana came into town. I thought it would be a great boost to their experience to go meet my mentor and all these talented folks who gathered for the Thursday night Urantia reading.

I didn’t think it through.

My Hoosier buddies were fundamentalist Christians, and as soon as they heard some of the ideas from the book, they felt compelled to object–aloud.

My dear lady friend who had been so generous to me was greatly offended by their interruption.

I was trapped.

Was I going to disavow my friends from Indiana, continuing to be dishonest about my own feelings? Or was I going to make a stand in this lovely lady’s house against her beloved book?

I made the stand. It created a rift.

I left early. My objecting companions patted me on the back for my courage.

Things were never the same again with my Urantia friend.

I felt self-righteous–but it did not take too long for me to realize what an ass I had been.

If I had been forthcoming with her when she gave me the book and I reviewed it, telling her then that it was unnecessary for my journey, things would have been fine.

But because I waited for an unfortunate moment to make my feelings known, shocking her completely…well, the damage was permanent.

I ended up wrong, saying something I believed was right.

She has since passed on, but today I wanted her and you to know that I was erred.

Because spiritual revelation is useless if it doesn’t increase human interaction and compassion.

I have learned to be forthcoming.

At times it may seem blunt but it is better than misleading those who love you … under the guise of trying to keep peace.

 

 Marijohn

 

Donate Button

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

***************************

NEW BOOK RELEASE BY JONATHAN RICHARD CRING

WITHIN

A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

 $3.99 plus $2.00 S&H

 

$3.99 plus $2.00 S & H

$3.99 plus $2.00 S & H

Buy Now Button

 

Messin’ With My Mess… January 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2109)

Christmas fam pic

  • Two filmmakers.
  • One aspiring dental hygienist.
  • Two people who own their own housecleaning business.
  • A great cinematographer.
  • Three sound technicians.
  • A drum-line instructor.
  • An ordained minister.
  • A guitar maker.
  • Five grandchildren.
  • An extraordinary musician.
  • A gamesman and blogger.
  • Food service.
  • National director of a beauty company.
  • An entrepreneur businesswoman.
  • An English teacher.
  • Two bass guitar players.
  • A studio producer.
  • A pair of young singers and actresses.
  • A retired administrative assistant.

Behold–a list of the doings of the family and friends pictured above, which happens to be the group of individuals with whom I shared Christmas cheer.

I was “Daddy” to some, “Pop” to others, “G-Pop” to a few, longtime friend, confidante, and now I am the aging patriarch who travels the country, cropping up every once in a while to remind them of their heritage.

As I sat in the midst of the photo session for the picture  you see today, I was thinking to myself, “What do I hope for these people?”

Is it realistic to dream that they might share my faith? Part of me wishes they would, because my substance of hope certainly conjures delightful, unseen evidence.

How about my politics? Well, since I feverishly and fervently avoid such foolishness, it might be difficult for them to pinpoint my leanings.

No, family is the great testing ground for us to realize that it is important to love people without ever thinking you’re going to control them. I really only hope that they maintain three cardinal principles:

  1. Love people.
  2. Like your work.
  3. Hate injustice.

Because without loving people, you have absolutely no chance of ever seeing God. And if you don’t like your work, it makes most of your day feel tedious. And if you don’t have the foresight to stand up against injustice, you will feel very silly and be proven wrong more often than not.

So take the picture. Preserve it for all time.

But hopefully when we stroll out of the room to our varied pursuits, we can remember that great trinity of responsibility.

 

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

She Sang To Me … August 4, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1963)

Jon Signing The show was done.

I made my way from the stage to my book table. I am of a mind to believe that the audience has been so kind to grant me an hour of its attention–I certainly can give them a moment or two of my ears.

I learn so much by listening to those who pass in front of me. Even those who never stop at my table to speak teach me that it’s not my job to reach the whole world, just those who can hear my pitch.

But tonight, when I finished in Suttons Bay, a lovely woman came to my side and told me she had written a song. She didn’t know what to do with it. I asked her if it had ever been performed. Once, at the church, she offered.

She then asked me if I would like to hear it. Assuming she had a CD copy of the performance, I said yes. Then all of a sudden, she burst into song. Well, burst is too strong a word. She gently eased her way into sharing her beautiful melody.

  • I was enthralled.
  • I was blessed.
  • I was intrigued.
  • I was a little embarrassed by the fact that I had anticipated something quite different.

But mostly, I was attune.

She sang three verses, including a key change she had inserted into her arrangement. As she performed the tune a capella, in front of me, my producer brain began to insert strings, guitars and harmonics into what I was hearing. Before too long, I had an entire orchestration running through my head as I listened to her continue her composition.

All at once she stopped singing and said, “I don’t know what to do with it.”

I gave her a few guidelines on getting a lead sheet made and a recording, but what I didn’t tell her was that the music business is so filled with favoritism and preoccupation with popularity that it is rare that anything new is allowed to wedge its way into the scene.

As she walked away, I took a second to try to remember the melody–to hum it in my spirit.

I thought about how wonderful it is to believe in heaven. Not for the streets of gold, gates of pearl, or angelic choirs, but rather, to finally arrive at a place where all the inspirational classics that never were able to be promoted and heard will be sung, extolled and produce praise.

All the books that were rejected out of hand by careless publishers will be on the shelves, available to the redeemed souls, to become redeemed again.

All the unrequited lovers will find their satisfaction.

All the dreamers will taste the sweetness of their unachieved aspirations.

It will be a place of fulfillment. It will be a land where we will not be intimidated to hear someone burst into song because they have been inspired.

She sang to me…and it was very special.

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

REALvival… May 16, 2013

(1,822)

revival tentI wasn’t there.

When the first producer pitched the idea for a reality show, I personally was not present. But I have been a partaker of such events often enough in my life that I can give you a pretty accurate idea of how it came down.

Some young guy in a t-shirt and jeans arrived at a board meeting in front of some  overly business-minded older gents and said the following:

“It’s really quite easy. We’re gonna call it a reality show. We know five things: First–human beings are all unique and different; secondly, these differences create conflict, which–number 3–ends up making great theater and drama for an audience watching that conflict, which produces a fourth possibility–that people will schedule their lives around viewing the pending explosion of human emotion. And finally, Number 5, to keep it really pumped up, we can give a big prize to the winner at the end, who ‘survived’ all the insanity.”

The young fellow got a green light and thus began the onslaught of reality shows.

We now believe that true reality–or what is real, if you will–is the acceptance that human beings can’t get along. Instead, what we do is tolerate one another, and when that’s impossible, we eliminate each other by voting one another out of our lives.

Do we really want this to be our legacy?

First and foremost, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe reality shows are real. I believe they are made up,  overly promoted or manipulated to keep us at odds with each other so that news stories can be reported and politicians and religionists can promote their cause by attacking “the enemy.” Here’s what I believe is real:

1. Humans are all family. No one sees an ant crawl across the sidewalk and asks himself, “I wonder if it’s German.” No, we say, “There’s an ant.” Why do we think God looks down from heaven and sees gay, straight, Australian, black, yellow, honey mustard sauce or barbecue? If God sees human beings, don’t we become more like God by doing the same?

2. To be real is to find similar heart in each other. Most things that move one person move another. There are a few exceptions, but they are just that–personal tastes in the moment which do not preclude general appreciation.

3. We are here to learn from each other because it more than likely will determine our survival. When we start off resistant to the inclusion of others or to hearing their insights we are limiting our possibilities to what we already know and have experienced. Talk about creating a climate for repetition and boredom!

4. Because we’re involved, no one is merely watching–everyone is participating. Life is not a spectator sport. There is no stadium to sit in and view the game. There is just a field and a ball.

5. We all win. When we work together as a species, finding similarities, learning from each other and participating, we all end up wininng, even when the prize goes to another. Why? Because they would not have gotten there without our cooperation.

So I would like to be part of a REALvival–to take what is historically proven to be true instead of living off the opinions of the past twenty years, which, may I add, in another two decades will be viewed as silly and comical.

You and I are part of a reality show–it’s called life. By the way, it demands that we work together to be true “Survivors.”

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

Lolly Dee … April 25, 2012

Question 1: Do I understand where I am?

(1,495) 

Lolly Dee Sanders.

That was her name. I do not know if it was her Christian name (mainly because I’m not really certain what “Christian name” actually means.) But it is how we high schoolers of the junior class knew her–our English teacher, speech teacher, junior class advisor and also director, producer and promoter of the class play. She had the energy level and the frenetic presence of a monkey who had been away from bananas for weeks. She was well-liked by the students, appreciated by her fellow-teachers and tolerated by the administration. They were not so sure they actually liked her because she allowed the students to refer to her as Lolly Dee (unless grown-ups were around, when we reverted to “Mrs. Sanders.”) It was amazing how mature it made us feel–just being able to call our teacher Lolly Dee–almost the same sensation you feel as a young child when you goes into your back yard, hide behind a pine tree and scream, Goddammit!” You know you shouldn’t be doing it–and you don’t feel any irreverence toward the Almighty. It just takes you out of the chicken-noodle-soup-and-tuna-salad-sandwich brigade and into the realm of black coffee and glazed doughnuts.

That’s what Lolly Dee did. She understood.

For instance, when I tried out for the junior class play, she came to me privately and said, “Listen, you’re really good. You can have whatever part you want.” Now, honestly, I probably wasn’t very good. I was possibly just the only male who auditioned who could make sentences without leaving the punctuation in doubt at the end. But it empowered me. Even as I write this to you, I still feel bolstered by that moment–when this really intelligent, cool and energetic woman gave me carte blanche over my choice.

Later, when my father died just before premiere, she called me into her office. She didn’t ask me anything, just sat there not saying a word, waiting for me to decide what I wanted to do. She was as silent as an Episcopalian watching the offering plate pass. I was moved by such freedom–I decided to go ahead and be in the production.

Likewise, she was magnificent in the meetings of the class officers (where I was president of the class, although candidly, I never did anything, viewing it more as an honorary title).

She taught me something very important, though. Because one day I saw her at the Presbyterian Church sitting around with a bunch of older women who were working on a quilt. Lolly Dee was not energetic; she was not bouncing around the room. She just sat there with those old chickens and clucked out conversation, sewing away. I didn’t even recognize her. She blended in, looking just like one of the older women. Yet that night, as we rehearsed the play at the school, she was supercharged with energy–hugging everyone and encouraging us to do our mediocre best.

She was remarkable. She taught me that the first and most important thing to do in life is to understand where I am.

Yes. Do I understand where I am?

Instead of walking into situations with an agenda, touting my resume or making it clear to everybody how young or old I am by my speech patterns, Lolly Dee taught me to eyeball a situation, find out where I fit in and bring everything I’ve got.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday a minister asked me if I could offer any thoughts in a service in his church–which was very, very traditional, the people steeped in preferences. I said, “Of course.” And the reason I could say “of course” is because I met Lolly Dee. Her life told me how to react to what was already going on instead of insisting on placing my imprint on every situation and my doctrine into every theology.

By the way, I returned to the school the year after I graduated, just to walk the halls, see the teachers and–I don’t know–maybe boast a little bit about how well I thought I was doing. I saw Lolly Dee. She was kind and courteous to me, but then she was off and away to tutor her present crop of chickadees. I smiled. Lolly Dee wasn’t mine anymore. She was intelligent enough to know when I needed her and brilliant in recognizing when to bow out and exit, stage right.

I will never forget her. I don’t know whether she is still alive or has passed on. But she taught me to always understand where I am instead of stomping my feet and demanding place. Because of that, I don’t need special circumstances to do special things.

I just need to be ready.

**************

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.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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.

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