Things I Learned from R. B.

Jonathots Daily Blog


Episode 25

Sitting in the darkness of my room, I was overwhelmed by the circumstances and terrified by my indifference.

It had been nearly six weeks since I had seen R. B.

Following the concert, he had selected a profile of long phone conversations which were more or less therapy sessions. Not therapy in the sense that I was a qualified physician who knew how to address illnesses of the mind and spirit, but rather, R. B. groping into his surroundings, trying to find someone who gave enough of a damn to listen to his ever-increasing pandemonium.

During one of those exchanges, I was able to talk him into coming over to our house for a July 4th cookout next to our pool. I wasn’t surprised when the hour arrived, and he was nowhere to be found. But about forty-five minutes into our festivities, I looked atop the long stairway that descended to our deck, and there he was, shirtless, wearing swim trunks, slowly making his way to join the party. I could see under his right arm that he had his traditional bag of Doritos to donate to the food table.

Yet, as he came closer, I was stunned. I wasn’t alone.

Gradually, everyone spying his entrance grew quiet—and only the boom of the music remained. I looked around at my family and friends and noted that they were peering at me, wondering if I had any information or knowledge on the sight before them.

For you see, R.  B. was almost unrecognizable. He was so skinny that it was difficult to look at him. The bones were protruding from his hips and chest—and his legs looked like kindling wood which would certainly break with a passing breeze.

He continued toward us, each step offering a more startling revelation. When he finally arrived, he gave little Isabella a hug (because they were great comrades from making his video). She greeted him warmly. I stood to my feet and headed his way. He held out his arms for a hug and I quickly forced myself to embrace him. I could feel every single portion of his spine. As I pulled away, I noticed that his skin had turned grey, like marble, and had a texture of soft plastic.

Somehow or another, all of us made it through the afternoon without asking questions, challenging or indicating that there was something wrong. R. B. himself seemed oblivious to the changes in his body.

He must have lost at least fifty pounds and he had never been sturdy to begin with.

Now that everyone had departed and I was alone, it was righteous that I be honest with myself and admit that my comrade was sick.

What made it difficult was that I had just rented a large house for R. B. and a lady I knew, who had three children and was constantly struggling to make rent. I had concluded that this one house could take care of both situations. R. B. could have the upstairs and the family could have the downstairs. I would pay the rent and they could take care of the utilities and food stuff.

We were in our third month of the arrangement and everything seemed to be going well. It was expensive, but it was a resolution.

Now, as I considered the ghost who had come to my house as a skeleton, I surmised that he required medical attention.

I balked. R. B. had no medical insurance, and if he was going to get a diagnosis and treatment, someone would have to pay for it.

I felt like a piece of shit to be considering what to do for this human based upon finance. So finally, I didn’t.

I called my doctor and set an appointment. R. B. reluctantly agreed to go. She tested him—but the visit was very quick.

She reported to both of us that R. B. had a disease. She said it appeared to be fourth stage rectal cancer and that immediate treatment was a necessity.

I watched R. B. as he received the news. Rather than breaking down or becoming angry, he questioned the accuracy of her determination. My doctor was not offended. She suggested that he get a second opinion.

At this point, I finally spoke up. I don’t know why it took me so long to find my voice, but it seemed appropriate. “You don’t need a second opinion, R. B.,” I said softly. “You need a second chance. Get the treatment. We’ll provide the prayers.”

My words touched his heart, and he reached over to squeeze my hand. God forgive me, but I recoiled. It was not my proudest moment.

My doctor set up an appointment for R. B. to meet with a specialist. I posed a question. I asked my doctor if the cancer could be removed through an operation.

She quietly shook her head and said, “No. We will need to see what chemotherapy can do.”

I nodded. I was a novice, but astute enough to know that when operating is not possible, it’s just not good.

We left the office together.

R. B. wanted to go out to lunch. I lied and told him I was busy. I slipped him a twenty-dollar bill, and jokingly told him to eat enough for both of us.

I don’t think he knew that I was repulsed.

At least, I hope not.

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 6th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Please Explain

by Jonathan Richard Cring


My friend Brillo has a pad

Crazy Larry is really quite mad

Dirty Harry is never clean

Porno Pete, quite obscene


Sistah Golda’s the Queen of Funk

Stinky Stephen sniffs of skunk

Reverend Frowner knows the Word

Charlie the Clown is truly absurd


Private Gump had Lieutenant Dan

The Potts family owns a special pan

The Bumblebee really rarely does

And Fuzzy Wuzzy has no fuzz


Little Boy Blue looks better in red

Are they thankful–the Grateful Dead?

We’re looking for a star without the wars

Windows of opportunity, or are there just doors?


It’s never funny to be sent to the farm

And a safety pin can do some harm

You may never find a hat on a cat

And a skinny farm is for those who are fat


Words, wishes on the wall

Graffiti or art–it’s your call

I’m not confused, don’t worry about me

Just please explain Chicken of the Sea

Today’s PoHymn is read by Lily, thirteen years old, from Broward County, Florida


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Day Forty-Five… April 10, 2012


Sometimes it’s merely a passing glance in the mirror. Maybe a brisk walk across a shopping center, requiring a few minutes of rest on a bench before continuing. It could be a flutter in the chest–illusions of a palpitation foretelling of activities within. Of course, there is that bit of embarrassment of being at a swimming pool in front of a bunch of little kids who have not yet learned proper manners. It can be a hundred things–reminders of the fat that has beset me.

What next? For people who have lived a life flirting with “slender,” the answer seems simple–similar to what I emote to individuals who are trying to quit smoking. (“Just stop buying cigarettes!”) Or, in the case of those who surround me: “Come on, brother! Just eat less!”

That’s because they think it’s about losing weight. Losing weight is for people who go on vacation, eat too many calzones, come home and just stop eating calzones, shedding any pounds they garnered in the process of over-eating. My job is not to lose weight. I’m losing a body. It is a body I’ve had since I was twelve years old. It demands an entirely different process–one which is not necessarily better enacted on shows like The Biggest Loser. I suppose if we all could go off to some farm and do nothing but exercise and eat a pre-prepared diet while being screamed at by individuals who have always been skinny, we, too, might be frightened into some drastic de-pounding. It doesn’t work that way.

No, it’s different for those who are obese, and nothing will happen in their lives until that fact is realized. There is a three-step process, each step requiring ninety days. Please forgive me for the audacity of stopping off here at day 45, when I am still in the midst of the initial burst. But perhaps the information and also the testimony of my experience will encourage both you and me to press on.

You can’t lose your body until you stop trying to lose weight. To lose your body, you have to put out of your mind any notions of feeling better or looking better. Those are two requirements that create the despair that causes obese individuals to give up. On Day 45, I have no concerns whatsoever about feeling better or looking better. Those are goals for the future. My aspiration, in the first ninety days, is to:

1. Do better. What does it mean to “do better?” Every discovery of doing better has a two-pronged outlet–eliminate and include. Once you target what to eliminate and quickly replace it with inclusions that are equally as tantalizing, you will inch towards doing better–one day at a time. Here’s the truth–suppressing my appetite doesn’t mean anything because I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because it’s fun. And since I am never going to stop eating because it’s fun, my goal is to eliminate fun choices that are killers, but include equally fun choices that are life-giving. To “do better,” I have to stop listening to skinny people who don’t know anything about being fat. Instead, I need to learn myself.

For instance, last night I ate catfish and summer squash. I like both of them. Here’s what I eliminated: neither one of them was fried; neither one of them had butter on them and neither one was drenched in sauces. I eliminated tartar sauce as my side dip, but I included a little bit of catsup. I challenged myself to find out if I enjoyed the taste of catfish and summer squash, or if I just actually favored the flavor of grease in my mouth. Amazingly, the catfish, summer squash and a little bit of catsup was  satisfactory to my taste buds and my needs.

Yes, in the first ninety days, you work on doing better. And two of the ways I do better go against dietary wisdom–I do not get on a scale. When you are an obese person, weighing yourself profusely is discouraging. It is trying to jump from “doing better” all the way to “looking better.” You don’t get to do that. You didn’t get fat in a week and you’re not going to get better looking in seven days either. I don’t need a number to tell me that I’m doing better, and sometimes the number is misleading and therefore, frustrating.

Next–a personal choice. During my ninety days of “doing better,” I refuse to look at myself in any full-length mirrors. Why? Because it makes me want to jump to “looking better,” which is the final stage of the journey, and can only create animosity in my soul over the slowness of the process. So when I find myself walking towards a mirror, I turn my head. It is too soon to demand evidence for my eyes. I need ninety full days of merely doing better. This period of time is followed by:

2. Feeling better. After ninety days of establishing making better choices, you can allow yourself the luxury of accepting a new burst of energy–an excitement which fuels your ongoing project of doing better, marching you forward towards looking better. I think it is ridiculous to assume that you’re going to feel better  until you’ve given ninety days to the cause of doing better. And the beauty of God’s grace is that each one of the ninety days of “doing better” doesn’t have to be a roaring success. As long as you keep in mind that in the second ninety days, you’re going to be feeling better, you can get up every morning and continue the faithfulness of doing better than the day before. Feeling better is the gift we receive after ninety days of doing better. And after 180 days, I fully plan on peering in the mirror and confirming that:

3. I look better. Most people give up on their goals because they cannot see where the work is taking them. Just as you can’t watch a pot boil and you can’t eat a hard-boiled egg until it’s done, you cannot gaze at yourself after twenty, forty or even 110 days and expect to peruse your new body. The final ninety days is for relishing, rejoicing and being grateful for looking better. By that time, doing better has become your life, feeling better is a fill-up at your emotional gas station, so looking better is the pay-off–the trip you’ve won to Vegas.

I have always known how this works, but sometimes I have despised the process. I have resented that such a nice and fine person as myself should have to suffer such restrictive slings and arrows to achieve better health. Yes, I can be a brat. But this time, I’ve acknowledged the truth and embraced the genius. So halfway through my ninety days, I wanted to stop off and share my joyous, but tenuous, progress. It is rich with possibility and rife with danger. But I know that unless I have ninety days of doing better followed by ninety days of feeling better, I will never be able to celebrate ninety days of looking better.

Just some thoughts from the middle of my present quest.  I hope you don’t mind this piece of self-indulgence from me.

Believe me, it’s healthier to do it in writing … than at the dinner table.


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.

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.


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.

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