Nose to the Grindstone

I still have a few years left to live, and I fully intend to become a ballet dancer, a jet fighter pilot, an astronaut, and an opera singer while I still breathe. It’s going to take some real efforts at time management for me to fulfill my remaining potential. No more wasting time on social media. Nose to the grindstone.

Will I be good at any of these occupations? I suppose the only one that really matters is fighter pilot. Others could be killed if I over-estimate my abilities. If I prove to be a mediocre astronaut, I will disappoint Mission Control, but drifting off into the endless void will not cause others to suffer. As a clumsy ballet and opera performer, I can bore an audience, but such an outcome would hardly be newsworthy.

You’re Just Like a Sick Celebrity!





Are you aware of which celebrities have had the same disease from which you are now suffering? To learn how they handled it might prove instructive, if not inspirational. Sure, unlike you they might have been able to afford the best medical treatment, but even super doctoring is no guarantee against a virulent pathogen. If they survived it, you can do. Maybe.

In fact, maybe you’re already on the same lifestyle page. They worry about negative publicity, while you fret away nary a second on possible bad press. So if you’re not having the life sucked out of you by a virus or bacteria, you can probably breathe easy about the rest of your problems. You’re a winner today!

Some Things Don’t Change Much

(Original Caption) A state trooper gets his lumps and is stretched prostrate on the ground between skirmish lines of pro and anti Robesonites at the grounds of the Old Hollow Brook Golf where the Negro baritone Paul Robeson, held his Sunday concert despite protests of veterans groups. The veterans gathered in numbers to parade in protest and 1,200 police were on hand to guard against rioting. Minor outbreaks, such as this one which saw the trooper felled by a rock, occurred all up and down the battle lines as the afternoon wore on.
State troopers beat a man leaving a concert by Paul Robeson at the Old Hollow Brook Golf Club; troopers and police, who were supposed to protect concertgoers from anti-Robeson protesters, joined them in harassing them instead.
State troopers beat a man leaving a concert by Paul Robeson at the Old Hollow Brook Golf Club; troopers and police, who were supposed to protect concertgoers from anti-Robeson protesters, joined them in harassing them instead.

Here and Now

When you look at everything as a gift, as grace, then envy and remorse disappear. If you consider it your duty to simply enjoy this day as much as possible, then you become child-like. You are less inclined to confront other people, to give instructions, to find fault, to blame.  You find it easy to cultivate patience, because the whole notion of waiting becomes absurd.  Who are you to decide which moment is more important than another? Why not find a way to enjoy where you are and what’s happening around you, right now? Any other response is at best arrogance, and at worst, insanity

Squaresville

Those who are already in power like to pretend to be revolutionaries. They say things like “A Storm is Coming,” but they’re pretty sure that nothing is poised to disturb the status quo, and if there were any storm on the way, they would do everything in their power to minimize damage to their status.

Real revolutionaries keep a low profile, hoping that the element of surprise will work in their favor. Having little to lose, they are ready to risk everything when the time to strike arrives.

Squares like to dabble in the arts. It makes them seem less square. When I lived in San Francisco, there were faux bohemian “art galleries” on Fisherman’s wharf, where a vacationing investment banker from Missouri could buy an oil painting of a San Francisco street scene, complete with globs of paint to show that the painting was modern and hip. What they didn’t tell the investment banker was that the painting was produced in a factory in Dafen, China, on an assembly line. Want a rainy Belle Epoque Parisian street scene? They’re cranking them out over there even as we speak.

My Secret

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By the time you read this, I will have already ascended into heaven. It was planned this way from the beginning. Even before the solar system was formed, my course was set. How do I know this? I have always known this. The angels have known this, as well.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m delusional. Just another kook who entertains delusions of grandeur. My goal is to get you to think you’re just like me. I know that we’re all part of an all-consuming plan to bring about the fruits of creation, and I want you to know that, too.

This is my religion. It’s nothing I want to force on others. I’m not a voice crying in the wilderness, hoping to be heard. I don’t care if no one listens to or believes me. I certainly don’t want you to believe in me. Believe in yourself.

Let me tell you a story. When I was yet a boy, I was visited by an angel. I had a fever, maybe the mumps. I was about three. My parents took these childhood diseases seriously, for I had had an older brother whom I never met who died about the time I was born. He had contracted measles which then turned into encephalitis. He died in agony. I simply ran a high fever and saw an angel standing at the foot of my bed. We talked for a long time, he and I. I got the impression he was as tall as the empire state building, but somehow fit into my bedroom.

The angel assured me that great things were in store for me, and that death was nothing to fear. That being the presence of God was the most enjoyable thing imaginable, and it would never prove to be less than that. I did, however, have a job to do before I got to enjoy being the presence of God, and that I shouldn’t worry, because inspiration and coincidence would be mine for the asking.

I have found that to be true. There is nothing to worry about. Simply enjoy the situation you find yourself in, no matter what it is, because it is wholly sufficient for your happiness.

I’ll never forget the first time God Himself appeared to me as a ball of fire. I was driving down the highway in my Ford pickup truck and a ball of fire entered through the windshield and hovered just above my knees. He told me not to be afraid, that he didn’t intend to burn me, but he wanted me to light a fire that would cause others to come to Him. He wanted revival, and wanted me to take whatever actions would make that come about. He suggested that maybe once I got it going I could upgrade to a Lincoln Town car and allow the pickup to be used on the farm. I didn’t yet have a farm, but maybe that was in the works, as well.

God suggested I found a school, the Institute of Bible Theology, and train students to be ministers. Three weeks would be enough for the coursework, and they could take the exams online to prove that their proficiency.

When I stopped for gas, the ball of fire vanished, but a beautiful young woman named Emma appeared. At first I thought she worked at the service station, but then I remembered that all the gas stations in this state had been self-service for years already, and Emma told me that she was an angel, sent by God Himself, to give me courage. She handed me a big bag of gold dust and winked, saying “there’s more where that came from. Plenty more!”

“But guess what, the news gets better yet! You don’t need to wait for Jesus to return, because you’re already Jesus. We’re all Jesus!”

I thought that sounded a little fishy and vowed to run it by some experts in the field as soon as I had the time to do so. But it was nice to see a pretty girl be so upbeat and excited.

I don’t like to blow my own horn, but this was all fitting in perfectly with my preconceived ideas about religion. Yes, I was special. Yes, up until this moment I had been selling myself short, but no more. Now I was ready to spread my gossamer wings and fly.

I know what my detractors will say. “Where are the miracles?” I must admit, I can’t explain why I have not yet manifested any crowd-pleasing spectacles. That’s where faith comes to the fore. If I truly believe that I have been chosen, then all my faith reverts to and focuses on He who chose me. If anyone asks what I have done lately to prove my holy status, I will smile and bravely say “my time has not yet come.”

Some of us take a while to grow into our full powers, while others are on a mission right out of the starting gate. A dreamy child, I was unaware of my gifts until early adolescence. Then at the age of thirteen, it all started to come clear to me. Yes, I could read minds. Yes, I had x-ray vision. Yes, I could astral project myself at light speed across the universe with nothing more than a wink and a nod.

Of course I entertained myself with these powers for a while after discovering them, but then the novelty wore off. The thoughts of others were no more profound or entertaining than my own. Seeing women’s bodies beneath their clothes became commonplace. One part of the universe looks pretty much the same as any other after a while. Most of it is thinly spread hydrogen gas, punctuated by an occasional star. Ho-hum.

Clowns in Peru are suffering from the Pandemic, but nobody knows or cares. If you want to understand Britney Spears, you must first understand her hair. We are all on fire with delusional thinking, but there is no simple cure for any of it. First, we must simply stop thinking altogether. Then, we can start over again, from the beginning.

I entertain myself with these kinds of thoughts. Which observations are helpful, or even real? There’s no easy way to discern nonsense from profundity. It’s up to the audience to determine the value of any communication. So far, the audience seems to be asleep.

This isn’t show business, it’s religion. It measures its gains not in tickets sold but in saved souls. Broad is the highway that leads down to perdition, but narrow and steep is the path to everlasting life. We can never forget our mission. The rejoicing in heaven is audible when we do our job well. The groans of the damned blend in with the cacophony of human misery that surrounds us.

We know we’ve done a good job when the groaning, weeping and wailing diminish and blend in with ambient noise. Then we can relax. Interactions with friends and family come to the fore. We start to have fun again.

Fun is a sign of holiness. Only the righteous can really enjoy themselves. Sinners are a miserable lot. I know, I meet them every day and sometimes it’s all I can do to resist their sneaky plans and insidious desire to drag me down to their level. They hope that by bringing me from my sanctified state they can lessen the envy that torments them.