Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 1

Flops, failures and flunk-outs.

I learned more from these than from any blessing that ever came my way.

I shall be candid and tell you that I’ve garnered practically nothing from success—except that it tends to make me over-rate my ability.

I knew a fellow.

We were acquainted with each other for twenty-seven years. Sometimes we were friends; other occasions, enemies. It was always spicy.

He died thirteen years ago.

Yesterday he came to my memory, and I realized that for all intents and purposes, nobody knows about R. B. I think even his family may have allowed his image to slip from their minds.

I learned a lot from him. (Mostly through those aforementioned flops, failures and flunk-outs.)

But there were times that were rich with emotion.

And all the encounters were chocked full of experience.

I’d like to take a while to tell you about that twenty-seven-year journey, one story at a time. They won’t be long—and I certainly hope, not tedious.

If they end up being boring, it’s only because I failed to tell them well.

But at the end of our journey—whenever that happens—I hope we will share the value of learning instead of just assuming.

For the sake of his privacy, we shall refer to him as R. B.

The first time I encountered him was right after I finished writing a musical…

Untotaled–Stepping 15 (August 17th, 1965): Mr. O … May 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2243)

(Transcript)

I called him Mr. O because he had a Norwegian name with five syllables that I could neither remember nor pronounce.

He was older than death.

What I mean is, his flesh was so gray and his movements were so slow that he appeared to be a creature coming from the grave instead of one inching towards the tombstone.

I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me.

I think our mutual displeasure began one day when I was mowing the lawn and the grass clippings blew onto his beautiful, graveled driveway. He came out of his house screaming at me, explaining that all I had to do was turn the mower around and pull it towards me, so that the clippings would go into my own yard.

Honestly, it sounded tedious, meaningless and frustrating.

So when I went inside and explained it to my mother and father, they had the opportunity to do something inspirational. They could have explained that since it was Mr. O’s driveway, he had the right to decide how it would be decorated.

But I guess they had problems with him, too. Because they rolled their eyes, called him a few choice names and walked away, leaving me to believe it was my family duty to continue to aggravate him.

So I did. I refused to mow in the direction he requested, blowing my grass across his well-kempt drive.

In retaliation, every time one of my balls rolled into his yard, he retrieved it and refused to give it back.

It was a feud.

It was ridiculous and could have been so easily handled if I had been instructed to give place to the feelings of another human being. But instead my childish sensations were justified instead of rectified.

I think my parents thought they were trying to be cool and side with their son. But I needed more than that.

I needed to learn how to live in a world that demands sharing.

Before I could grow up and become a decent human being, Mr. O passed away. So many things I would like to tell him.

  • For after all, Mr. O had the right to determine what came into his own yard.
  • Mr. O even had the right not to like me.
  • And I must realize that Mr. O had the God-given right to be cranky.

For after all, if I am going to be mean to everybody I don’t like or who doesn’t like me, I’m going to be too busy pursuing vendettas … to ever enjoy myself.

 

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After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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