Jason Ronk: How Struggles Can Shape A Beautiful Life Pt. 1

Episode 76 is the first half of my conversation with fellow music fan, recovered alcoholic, remarkable stay-at-home Dad and future podcaster: Jason Ronk.

We started out the episode with some singing out the praises of the Moms out there. I did a little bit of the stay-at-home / work-from-home Dad situation with my first-born. Jason definitely is having a longer go at it than I did. Pretty much every SAHD I have talked about that job with has just gotten on their knees to bow in reverence to the work that Moms do.

Jason talked a little about some of the surprising things he has noticed during trips to the park for his kids to play. Both the other kids and the other parents can really be interesting to observe; I’ve notice this a lot, myself. How do parents at the park interact, if at all, with their children while there? It’s almost like a personality test on a live, visual scale. Do they plop down and get right on their phones and ignore their kids? Do they sit and talk with other parents there? Do they play with their kids if they’re asked to? It can be quite fascinating, really.

He talked a bit about what his older child’s experience is like currently in school. We eventually got into talking about how much of a difference outdoor play can be for kids. This obviously isn’t us being pioneers on the subject… this gets talked about a lot these days, with all of the electronics kids have access to and how easy that can be for us, as parents, to let them “do what they’re going to do”… you know, the “electric babysitter”.

As a kid of the ’70s, this all resonates with me dramatically. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors. Having the incredibly good fortune of being raised in Southern Orange County, and being able to walk about a mile to get to the beach, I took advantage of that a lot in my youth. There was a time, however, that changed a little for me. I did love video games and reading and even writing (I wrote a “book” — it never went anywhere, so don’t ask — during the summer between my 8th and 9th-grade school years). But, I definitely benefitted from what was our locale.

Jason traces his move away from his childhood locale to the discovery of the Grateful Dead and that community of Deadheads in 1995. One of his first shows was actually the Grateful Dead’s last show, in Chicago in the summer of ’95, at the age of 19. (We get into this more in Part 2, by the way)

We went back into the childhoods and lives of both his Dad and his Mom… who both were raised in old farm families. Jason’s Dad was in a band that toured with Dolly Parton, played the Grand Ole Opry and had some actual hits! I played a segment of one of their songs in the episode, that you can click here to check out on Youtube. Dick Ronk and the Revenuers and their tune: Let Me Kill The Bottle Bartender.

Jason is not afraid to talk openly and honestly about the battle he fought with drugs and alcohol. He also really said a lot of great things about passing on respect and understanding to our kids and helping them to become great men and women as adults.

Again, this is just the first half of our conversation and you won’t want to miss the second half and Jason’s story about meeting up with Trey Anastasio and a lot of what he has learned in the work he has done over years on himself.

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Intro and Outro music proudly provided with a partnership by Umphrey’s McGee. Check them out at www.Umphreys.com

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