A Great Reward … February 16, 2013

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Jillian MichaelsShe stomps around the room, panting and huffing, with fire in her eyes, screaming a tirade of disapproval to a collection of hand-selected American fatties, who haplessly receive her critical words, having no way of escape. She is muscular, slightly emaciated and totally bewildered by why these misfit souls can’t exercise their way to trimness and beauty.

“What’s wrong with you?” she bellows from the depths of her self-righteousness.

***

I looked forward to it every day.

When kindergarten was over, if I had been a good boy, my mother would drive me down to the Dairy Delight in Delaware, Ohio, and buy me two chicken sandwiches and a root beer freeze. It was so delicious–so reassuring. Sometimes during the morning hours, it was all I could think about while I organized my crayons and cut circles out of construction paper.

It was my reward–proof that I had done well. And I learned it excellently.

Like millions and millions of other people in this country, I was teased, taunted and tantalized with the reward of eateries and treats, to accentuate the possibility of my good grades and fruitful behavior.

“That’s right, Tommy. If you’re a good boy in the grocery store, Mommy will buy you a candy bar.”

As painful as it is for Tommy to maintain the vigil of purity, the prospect of a soft Milky Way candy bar melting in his mouth sustains him through the rigors of restraint.

“If you’re good, Jane, on the way back from dance class, we’ll stop and get ice cream at Baskin Robbins.”

Jane is willing to tolerate the ridiculous contortions of her instructor’s demands for the prospect of Rocky Road with a squirt of whipped cream.

It is the practice of this country to reward its children with naughty little pieces of caloric destruction when they have achieved success–and then we wonder why we grow up to be a nation full of bloated bodies, if not egos.

So some of these rewarded children discover they have slower metabolisms, or they even develop addictions to their rewards and treats, growing fatter than their neighbors. Then we wonder what’s wrong with them. What turmoil is churning in their souls which cause them to destroy their bodies with the poison of food?

We are absolutely insane. We have a First Lady who proclaims the excellence of good eating, while simultaneously living in a nation where food–dripping with grease, fat, sugar and salt–is touted as a confirmation of our prowess and pleasure.

If we actually are going to be healthier, we have to develop a better reward system. I know it torments me to this day. When I finish a show, I want my two chicken sandwiches and my root beer freeze from the Dairy Delight. “Jonathan has been a good boy.” I have colored within the lines. I put down the toilet seat so the little girls wouldn’t fall in at kindergarten. Where’s my treat?

Until we address this problem, we will manufacture a hypocrisy which is not only befuddling to the masses, but also offers little alternative for ever achieving a trimmed-down solution.

I don’t care what you do with your children, but food–especially those terrible morsels of treachery–can no longer be dangled as rewards for good performance.

How about developing “house bucks”–little dollar bills you print–as the reward for excellent work, which can be traded in for favors, opportunities and the ability to make decisions. In other words, you collect 25 house bucks and you get to select all the TV shows for one night. 50 gives you the chance to choose the dinner, as long as it includes all the necessary food groups. 100 house bucks–you get a bicycle, so you can ride around and exercise instead of sit around and eat fat.

Whatever our decision, we cannot punish our adult population, which is growing obese, because as children they were taught that they were good boys and girls, and confirmed to be so by chomping on caramel and cream.

When you remove the hypocrisy, what remains is your reality. As long as you’re not afraid of it, you gain power. We need to understand that food is not a reward–it is nourishment. The true reward in life is the opportunity to decide for yourself what you’re going to do … and to find a way to have fun doing it.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

A Simple Moment — September 27, 2011

12 23 OBOE THEME

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Papers can lie on my desk for weeks, silently screaming for my attention, but never receive one moment’s notice from me unless there is some sort of threat or intimidation to grant them their due.  (Sometimes they even lay on my desk when they’re feeling properly English…)

I, like maybe some of you, have a long list of requirements, which I have even put into an order of importance, yet relegated to the realm of “never to be thought of again.”  I do insist that I am a highly motivated human being who is caring and wants to do excellent work.  Simultaneously, I am either lazy enough or frightened enough that I will avoid labor until it comes pounding on my front door. 

Last night I woke up in the middle of a great sleep feeling a little sick–and maybe with what I thought was some tightness in my chest.  Being a fifty-nine-year-old hypochondriacal, overweight male, I considered that perhaps this was the “big one”–a pending heart attack. I had no real reason to think in that direction and the minute I shifted around, sat up in bed and belched a couple of times, I realized that what I was feeling was just some late-night overuse of peanut butter and crackers.

But in that simple moment–when I was considering my own demise–all sorts of pledges, promises, dietary considerations and reforms came rushing to my brain–a prayer to God that He grant me one more chance to overcome my obesity before exploding my chest. Here’s the funny part: the minute I was free of the notion of my looming doom, I was also relieved of any sensation of repentance.

You see, we want to live a life of our own choice, where WE motivate the world around us to our betterment and to the betterment of itself.  We want to believe that if God would just give us excellent circumstances, we would produce phenomenal results.  But the truth of the matter is, very few of us will actually move to do much of anything until we are confronted by tribulation, trial, temptation, disaster, inconvenience, frustration, red tape or just general nit-picking, aggravating duty. Candidly, we probably won’t even clean the gutters on our houses unless a tree crashes in on our roofs.

Yes, our good work shows up when we are forced to pull out our better china and place our best recipe on the plate for consideration. Until then, we are people who promise instead of a people of promise.  You do recognize the difference, right?

So just think how tough it is to be God.  You love your children but You know they are innately lazy and unmotivated without some sort of rod accompanying the guiding staff.  You don’t want to be a grouch, but You also don’t want to leave them perplexed over their lack of progress, wondering why life has passed by so quickly. 

 The source of trials and tribulations is that someone else has failed to do his job, dropping the problem on your doorstep. God doesn’t tempt anyone, nor does He hassle us. The hassle that comes into my life is because somebody else somewhere along the line passed on the responsibility–and I ended up picking #1 in line at Baskin Robbins. Yes. Someone else’s duty has become my responsibility.

It’s what happened in our society with the financial crunch; it’s what has happened with the test scores in our schools. We let an opportunity pass that could have been handled in the moment and now it is still here, refusing to go away–except it’s uglier–because now it falls in our jurisdiction.

So is there an answer? Is there any way that we can simulate problems in our lives without coming across as pessimists and being rejected by others because we always bring up the negative possibilities? Probably not.  

But I would make one suggestion: limit your load to five. 

Don’t lie to yourself and insist that you are so proficient that you can multi-task and do many, many things during a day and accomplish them well. Those people don’t really exist, and if they did we would all basically hate them. Find out five things that need to be done on any given day,write them down, and check them off when they are completed. Don’t be tempted to replace them with things that appear to be more urgent. After all, urgent things have waited a while and can wait a while longer. The only way to live a good human life is to be focused on a few things at a time and perform them to the best of your daily ability.

You will, of course, miss some opportunities and some individuals will criticize you for not being “on point.”  But don’t try to do more than five things in a day. That gives you 35 tasks in a week and 150 in a month.  That should do it, don’t you think? So you can either try to do 373 things poorly, or admit that you’re human and must focus on a simple moment and attempt 150 with a bit more style and deliberation. It’s not a perfect system.  If it were, you and I would be ill-qualified for the position. It’s just our way of admitting that until the pile of debris in front of us gets large enough, we usually don’t grab a garbage bag.

A simple moment–when we realize that the problem has become a trial and the trial is threatening disaster and we step into it, reluctantly trying to fix it, while complaining about how we wish our lives were easier. 

If you really want to take authority over your journey, choose five “fussers” a day, take them out of the status of being “trials” and just make them desirable choices in achieving your daily bread.

Will it work? I’m sorry.  I wasn’t listening.  What did you ask? (I think you get my drift…)

Like everything else in the realm of human beings, distraction makes it a “sometimes affair.”

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