Things I Learned from R. B. (May 10th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 14

We stayed in Sacramento as long as Sacramento stayed with us.

Although I’m uncomfortable with the comparison, I must candidly admit that our family was a little bit like musical locusts. We moved into an area, found out who might be interested in having us share our talents, and after about six months, we established some lovely relationships—but had eaten through all the crop of possibilities.

Since we had decided to keep working at our mission instead of becoming merely “gainfully employed,” we had to make a decision.  Truthfully, our landlord was requesting that we give deep thought to the matter. It was tough.

The guys were a little older and it was time for them to be settling in somewhere to begin their own lives. One of my sons met a delightful lady whom he loved dearly—and has ended up being his wife for twenty-five years. He hardly wanted to leave her to go back to being a traveling man.

We talked it over as a family, voted as a family and we left our home in Sacramento as a family.

We weren’t sure where to go.

To the west was the Bay area of California—from where we had just come. Not many prospects there.

To the south was Los Angeles, where dreams go to die.

To the east was a lot of Rocky Mountains before arriving at a lot of rocky land.

Above us was the Pacific Northwest, where we had not spent much time.

Also, R. B. was there.

Communication with him after the Thanksgiving holiday had been spotty, but the vibrations from his spirit were tenuous, and sometimes even a bit frightening.

I made a decision on a whim and then convinced my family it was a great idea. I didn’t do that very often, but I thought Washington and Oregon would be good for us and our music—and we might be helpful and nurturing to R. B.

When I shared with R. B. that we would be coming up, he was less than enthusiastic. I understood why—he’d dug a hole for himself where he was partially comfortable but wouldn’t be happy for others to see him inside the tomb.

I went anyway.

However, R. B. did provide one immediate blessing.

A fellow he knew had a five-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac in Tacoma which he wanted to rent—and he would give it to us for only five hundred dollars a month.

It was beautiful—at least, to us.

For the first time in their whole growing-up period, my sons would have their own rooms. (Usually in motels, it was a corner with about two feet of space.)

We settled in, scheduled a few things and the money started rolling in our direction. We had decided to pay rent weekly, so every Monday morning, after our weekend’s adventure, we drove to our landlord’s house and gave him one hundred and twenty-five dollars.

He thought it was cute—but I knew it was wise. I was aware how quickly money disappears in a family of five.

Although my sons were disappointed to leave Sacramento, the prospect of this new home with a huge garage did ease the pain.

We wanted to stay for a while. We wanted to see if we could help R. B. escape his depression and loneliness.

For it had been a year-and-a-half since he had held a job. He was living off credit cards and finding that they, too, were much like the locusts.

We tried to love him, but R. B. was unwilling to see us very often. He was horrified at the prospect of us beholding his living situation.

We had come a long way to a foreign land—to have shelter but feel very foreign.

I did not know what was going to come of our quest, or if there was some doorway into the heart and life of R. B.

 

Staring Out the Window… November 15, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2068)

logI sent my two sons out into a nearby woods to look for a huge log. They were exhilarated because I had explained to them the concept of a yule log, placed on the fire to burn all night on Christmas Eve.

Honestly, I didn’t expect them to find such a piece of wood just lying on the ground in the forest, but I thought it would be quite an adventure for them, and I just really wanted to be alone.

For the past year and a half, I had settled into a situation that was unsatisfying. There was plenty of money. Everything seemed fine. But I had quietly walked away from my calling, my talent and my aspirations. Oh, I still occasionally wrote something, or sang a song, just to remind myself of former days. But I had swallowed up domestication while allowing myself to be swallowed.

It was a strange series of events which brought me to this little duplex in Sacramento. (Actually, it was Citrus Heights. We were thrilled because our address was on Orange Avenue in Citrus Heights. Isn’t that cool? We thought it was.) Even though our lodge was humble and simple, it was the best thing we’d had as a home for a long time. It had a fireplace, a sunken living room, a dining room and enough bedrooms that you didn’t have to hear another family member snore.

So on this day, as the boys made the trek into the woods, I stared out the window into the cold December grayness. It was so beautiful.

It was also terrific to be moving forward. The sensation was overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes and a resolution to my spirit. I would truly never allow myself to be surrounded by mediocrity again.

As I stared into the distance, I closed my eyes and reopened them like a shutter on a camera, taking a picture. I wanted to make sure I would never forget the morning–surrounded by silence, chilled to the bone by joy and at peace with myself.

It was so beautiful.

All at once, coming toward me in the distance were my two boys. Between them was a large log they found in their quest. I had to laugh. They had performed the impossible. They had done something unexpected.

May we all be so blessed.

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

Iffers … July 10, 2012

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What if Mary and Russell Cring hadn’t had an argument sixty-one years ago about his numerous trips to Canada, which transferred itself into make-up sex, and culminated in a pregnancy?

What if I had decided to stay on the football team instead of pursuing the arts? Would I have ended up tackling running backs rather than blocking scenes for screenplays?

If I hadn’t asked Elizabeth Ristine out on a date, would all of my circumstances be uniquely changed–or even reversed?

If I hadn’t flown to Arizona to steal her away from college, against the wishes of her parents, would there be anything in my life that remotely resembles what it is today?

If I hadn’t boldly taken those first two songs I wrote when I was nineteen years old and gone to the recording studio in Columbus, Ohio, to press them on a 45 RPM record, would I ever have gotten the courage to do it later in my life?

If I hadn’t received the confirmation of winning the Midwest Regional Talent Exposition, would I have had the gumption to go to Nashville and think I was worthy to be heard?

What if I had skipped that Rambos concert, where I plugged one of my songs?

What if I had failed to go on the Teddy Bart Show in Nashville and never received that phone call that hooked me up with my producer, Marijohn Wilkin?

If I had skipped that brief excursion into Mobile, Alabama, would my son, Joshua, still be alive?

If a twist of fate and blind luck hadn’t produced the pregnancy of my last son, would I have been able to endure the death of Joshua and push on?

If I hadn’t moved to Sacramento, would my son, Jerrod, have ever met his wife, Angy?

If I hadn’t made the trek up to Tacoma, Washington, would my friend, Kathy, be free of her abusive relationship and my friend Richard, have followed me back to Nashville, where he ended up dying with friends–instead of alone, with strangers?

If I hadn’t decided to leave the road in 1991 in order to give my children back their own lives instead of lives entwined with mine, would they have the opportunities they enjoy today?

If I had listened to the nun at the convent in Birmingham, Alabama, who told me I had no right to pen a novel on the life of Jesus, would I be sitting here holding I’M … the legend of the son of man?

If I hadn’t done 1,123 five-minute radio broadcasts in Nashville, Tennessee, during the 1990’s, might the spark of my zeal for art and God have gradually slipped away?

If my friend, Janet, hadn’t been running away from a husband who abused her, would I ever have had the opportunity to be a friend to her ingenious sons?

And if Janet hadn’t come into my life, would there ever have been the Sumner County Symphony–with all of its delicacies, intricacies and beautiful twists and turns?

And if the housing crisis of 2008 hadn’t come along, would I have gone on the road, traveling to thousands of people to share my message, living out of a suitcase, enthralled with every moment?

And if I hadn’t come back to Nashville to take care of the house and close up shop, would Deahna have ever come into our lives and joined our family and brought me to today, where I now sit, waiting for the birth of my new grandson, Johann?

If I hadn’t awakened this morning with the idea to write this jonathots about “iffers,” would some person in South America or Germany have missed an insight on his own life that propelled him them in a fresh direction?

God gave me a life. I gave back to God my choices.

God stayed with me. I stayed with God.

The end result?

We both worked with my choices, God adding His grace–to collaborate for a wonderful life.

   

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

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