Entries from January 2009 ↓

Nothing Is Too Hard For God

Okay, this one is going to be tough to write, so it may be even be tougher to understand.  A neighbor once told my mother, “I just love your son’s column.”  My mother, Ruth Merelyn Jackpot Thompson Jobe, said, “Me, too, when I can understand it.”

I have been dealing with nothingness lately, a feeling that comes over me when I meditate on oneness with everything.  I’ve been listening to Wayne Dyer and others talk about how subatomic structure consists overwhelmingly of nothingness. Any astromer will tell you the vast openess of space is primarily nothing, so clearly nothingness is a big topic.  From the tiniest particles that make up everything from rubber bands to chickens and skyscrapers to the cavernous openess of space, it is fairly safe to say nothingness exists.

As you can read elsewhere on this blog, I have had at least one argument with my beloved Gary Phillips over the idea that nothing exists.  Easy now.  Nobody will debate that nothingness exists.  Consider the example of the space between us and the moon.  From the point where our atmosphere ends to the first grain of moon dust, there is nothing, not air, not flying saucers, nothing.

But to make the leap from the nothingness of outer space and subatomic space to the possibility that nothing exists, and therefore everything is an illusion, or everything is a manifestation of the spiritual imagination, well, that is quite the leap.  Still it is something I think about.  More than one friend has said to me, “Jobe, you think too much,” but nothing remains something I think about.

And yes, I see quite clearly the double meaning in phrases like “nothing remains something,” and the irony in such phrases.  “Nothing exists,” is a phrase with two meanings.  The first meaning is the point of much philosophical debate. That meaning might best be summed up in an opposite phrase my buddy Phillips used, “No, no, Jobe.  Everything exists.”

The second meaning might also be most easily seen by another opposite, “Nothing does not exist.”  Well, obviously that’s not true, because it’s a word.  All words represent something, even if they are words like: fairy, gnome, troll or clingon.  Very few people believe these words represent something that can be found in the grocery store, but they are words that represent something.  So clearly “nothing” exists as a word that represents something.

Stay with me just a bit longer, please.

That something, which is represented by the word “nothing,” fascinates me deeply, spirtually, philosophically.  I have had bank accounts which held nothing.  Some of my plans have come to nothing.  The contents of a vacuum, if it is a true vacuum, equal nothing.  The number zero represents nothing.  “Empty” is a synonym.  Many evangelists appeal to us to fill the emptiness of our lives with the somethingness of God.  And it is at that point that I begin to feel my own spirituality enlivened by this notion of nothing.  If there is no there there, if nothing exists, then is it not possible that the Hindus are right and that the creative spirit itself uses nothingness to create everythingness?  We’re told nature abhors a vacuum.  What if the creative energy, which enlivens us all, also abhors a vacuum, or abhors nothingness to the point that it must create, dance, sing, speak, paint, play, build atoms and stars to begin expressing itself even if the self comes from nothing and is comprised primarily of nothing?

Okay, I am exhausted, so you must be, too, and maybe God is, too.  My reason for telling you all this today comes from my sighting a bumper sticker that read, “Nothing is too hard for God.”  I laughed so hard.  If it’s too hard for God, I’m wiling to concede it’s probably too hard for me, too.

Intelligence is overrated, not that I would recognize any if it were to come around

Conversations of late have convinced me intelligence is overrated.  We seek ways of separating ourselves from each other and intelligence is one such poison.  Wealth, status, fame, race, athletic prowess, national identity, dare we say it, even sexual identity are all used to elevate the pride of one group and make us feel superior to another group.

So if most of the standards by which we separate ourselves do not deserve the value most of us give them, what standards do deserve value?  How about commonality?  How about we cherish, relish, adore, hold close those values which can be shared by all people?  What about laughter?  By this, I don’t mean necessarily the laughter generated in nightclubs, on television screens by professional comedians or actors playing comic roles.  Sure that kind of laughter is great, but it is no better than the laughter that roles among family members remembering stories and gentle barbs.

Three of my favorite people: lifetime buddies Tommy Hicks and Gary Phillips and my lover girl, Gabriele, shared lunch with me lately.  At one point in the conversation a logical conclusion issued from Hicks and I agreed with it.  Phillips offered, “How about that?  Common sense that even appealed to Pat Jobe.”

Which reminded me of the time I was working with a bunch of family members driving nails.  I switched hands and started driving the nails with my left. “Look at that,” one cousin commented.  “Pat’s ambidextrous.”  To which my brother, Bill, added, “I never knew he was dextrous.”

This kind of laughter can be universally shared and valued.

And the same can be said of tears, shared sorrow and pain.  Who among us, regardless of our support or lack of support for Israel, has not ached to hear of the killing in the Gaza Strip?  Who is to blame hardly matters when children are dying.  How do we stop it?  How do we keep it from happening again?

Crisis points around the world tear at the deepest heart of compassion within us, and that is to be valued.  If we don’t value it, if we allow our politics or national interests to blur the interests of commonality, we lose our morality. 

I love the aches I find among my friends and those with whom I talk, the aches that yearn for peace, decent standards of living for all people.  I love the theme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve to live a healthy, productive life.”

So be it.  Somebody remind me the next time I get up on one of my high horses and think myself better than somebody else because of their politics, religion, or some perceived difference between us.  Remind me that Frye Galliard was right when he said the things that unite us are far more important than the things that divide us.

 

With Elizabeth House In Marion, NC

On Saturday I got a few minutes with Elizabeth House, the librarian in Marion, a woman I have known for many years.  I gave her credit for being one of the people who has made me a nut, and she laughed and said she could only take a little credit.

She is a dear soul with a heart of gold, but when I told her my new book has only sold 39 copies, she laughed and said that couldn’t be right, that it was on Amazon.com and therefore must be selling better than 39 copies.  Maybe I should have told her only 52 copies have been printed, so 39 is not really only that bad.  The book was published six weeks ago, and it is receiving very good feedback.  If you’d like to make it 40 sold, they are available from iuniverse, amazon.com, and can even be purchased from the Target web site.

The book is called, “Falling In Love With Everything,” and I really recommend both the book and the concept.  As the good book says, love covers a multitude of sins.  It can also be great fun.  Good luck.  Have a wonderful life.

This Is It

This is it.

This is the life each of us has to live, not some life we imagine we would live if things were different.  This is life, full of whatever pain and glory we might muster.  Imagination is certainly part of it, but much misery springs from feeling we have been wronged or failed or somehow lost our way if we are not living that imagined life instead of the one we actually wake up with every morning and go to bed with every night.

This truth came to me in a rattling and shaking way about 15 or 16 years ago when I was writing a column for The Amazin’ Shopper, a tabloid where I also sold advertising.

The column I wrote about it is in the archives somewhere.  I do recall that my boss and publisher, Amazin’ Shopper Big Man Tommy Hicks said he had no idea what the column meant by the phrase, “This is it.”

He didn’t understand what the column was trying to communicate.  At least, in his case, the column failed.

But the truth behind it shook me like a rag doll.  It was neither the first nor the last time that particular truth has rattled my cage.

Let me see if I can say it another way.  I have imagined a life in politics.  It is one field where I have failed miserably, even as a volunteer.  Lest they come find me and whip up on me, I won’t list the candidates I have supported with my heart and soul and lost.  Good people, and almost without exception, they have lost and lost and lost.

But to allow those losses to frustrate me and disillusion me and make me feel like a lost puppy, is an utter and complete waste of time.  Life just is what it is, and in my case, this is it.

Business has not been my long suit.  I’m not sure I have a long suit, but my ventures in business have ended badly and very badly and occasionally remarkably badly.

Two divorces do not recommend me highly as a husband.  My children are all wonderfully successful, so I think I have done pretty well as a parent, and that may be the best job in the world. But the point here is that success and failure are not all that important on either end of the spectrum.  As Andy Capp once said in the funny papers, “There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us, it’s hard to know which of us ought to tell the rest of us how to live.”

If I can remember, “This is it,” I can take great comfort in not having to layer it with standards or expectations or forms of self torture that grunt and strain against reality as if it would so much better if it were simply something different than that which it already is.

I told you all that to tell you this.  Not long after writing that column 15 years ago, I drove by a hair salon in Boiling Springs, S.C. called, “This Is It!”  The exclamation point was particularly alluring, since it reflected how I felt in the wake of realizing life simply is what it is, therefore, “This Is It!”

Seeing the salon amused me and confirmed at a synchronistic level my conviction, “This is it.”

About two years ago, in the wake of my second sad and horrible divorce, my ex-wife and two of my children and my ex-mother-in-law moved into a house about a hundred feet from that salon, and I thought that was again remarkable synchronicity.

How strange, how amazing, how lovely to drive by that salon many more times and see their sign proclaiming, “This Is It!”

This morning there was one more twist.  I drove to Boiling Springs, where my exes no longer live, but where some Christmas presents had been wrongly delivered.  I picked up the presents from the building that once housed “This Is It!” but the salon had moved.  It’s now over behind Sonic where you can get peach tea and fried potatoes of various consistencies.

They took their sign with them, but the truth remains.

This is it.  This is the life each of us is given to live, although we may frustrate ourselves with all kinds of imagined differences.  This is life.  This is the way it is.  We can change it sometimes, make it a little better, maybe make it worse or even horrible, but whatever it is, that is what it is.  This is it.