Permanent… March 21, 2013

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hairShe seemed to be a little upset. I think she felt it was too soon to have to pursue another adventure.

I’m talking about my traveling companion, Jan. She had just reluctantly informed me that the perm in her hair was no longer … available. I think she thought that the word “perm” was short for “permanent,” and even though it has been a full six months since she had the procedure performed, she still believed that she should have gotten a little bit more life out of the initial undertaking.

I reassured her that it was quite all right and there was nothing wrong with getting another one done and that she should understand that “perm” does NOT stand for “permanent,” and that if it does, like many other things in life, it falls under the category of false advertising.

Quite honestly, I feel that most of our society is harried and tense because people are buying into concepts that just aren’t true. Simply watching one night of television, I encountered a repetitious, fictitious philosophy:

  1. Set your goals high.
  2. Don’t give up.
  3. Follow your dreams.

Every time these words were spoken, it was almost like there should be soft music–strings playing in the background–some Muzak version of Climb Every Mountain.

In this country, we foolishly believe that if you “stick to your goals” and continue to “pursue your dreams,” anything is possible. We also contend that if you DON’T believe in that, more than likely you will fall along the wayside, in some sort of muddy puddle of disappointment.

But the truth of the matter is, the best way to set your goals is realistic–and then do them daily. Also, giving up is sometimes the best way to avoid continuing the pursuit of a stupid path that is taking you nowhere. And finally, the dreams that you have conjured in your mind may have absolutely nothing to do with your talents and abilities.

The two greatest gifts you can give you yourself are insight and awarenessinsight on what is presently available to you in acquiring your desires and the awareness to know when things are really working and when they need to be changed to a better format.

But you won’t be able to do that if you’re looking for a permanent solution to everything in your life. After all, most things about us are quite temporary–including our life span.

So what IS permanent? The standard joke is “death and taxes.” But all of us cheat death at one time or another, and certainly loopholes ARE found in the tax code. So here’s what I think is permanent:

1. Give us this day. I woke up this morning, took a deep breath of air and realized I was alive. There’s my gift. There is my only sense of permanence, which will last twenty-four hours barring some meteor landing on the crown of my head. Every time we slide out of pursuing our lives on a daily basis, we set in motion a plan to derail our own efforts. You will be tempted to plan in advance and to think in doing so that you are far-sighted and wise. Avoid such foolishness at all cost. What is permanent is “give us this day.”

2. Our daily bread. It’s the second permanent thing I’m offered. Every single day I am given a package of energy, intellect, possibilities, problems, interaction and climate. This is what I work with–my present permanent. What I paint on that canvas will be my daily picture for my life, and will set in motion the next day’s energy and possibility. My daily bread is the reality set in front of me instead of the reality I deny in preference to my arrogant whim and stubbornness.

Yes, Janet, some days you get up and realize that your hairdo is uncurled. You can lament that your hairdo is flat, or you can choose this day to seek another perm

It’s really that simple.

So each one of you can pursue the psycho-babble–the fad of our generation–to believe that we can use “mind over matter” to change our circumstances simply through determination. Or you can intelligently take on this day with all of its elements and stir the ingredients into a beautiful twenty-four-hour recipe of deliciousness.

What is permanent? This day and my daily bread. Everything else is up for grabs.

Everything else is yet to be curled.

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

Taking Turns… March 20, 2013

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conesReligion and atheism share one aspect in common: they both end up hating people.

Religion preaches itself hoarse, explaining the depravity of man, while atheism becomes exasperated with humanistic efforts and gives up on folks due to presumed ignorance and stupidity.

Meanwhile, God loves people He doesn’t love people because they’re always good, nor does He love people because they’re perniciously evil and desperately requiring His protection. He loves people because they’re capable of both. It makes us interesting.

As I journey, I am often tempted to fall into the pit of this cynical attitude towards my fellow-humans. And then God blesses me with an insight which refreshes my soul with a bit of reality mingled with hope. Such is the case this week.

Sitting out in front of our motel room is a four-lane highway which has been reduced to two in order to perform what seems to be the ongoing tedium of construction. There are orange barrels everywhere, with yellow plastic tape flapping in the wind. It demands that travelers normally accustomed to a much wider path relent to a more narrow vision for progress. It also means there are red flashing lights to stop the traffic at certain intervals, since other roads wish to intersect.

Having journeyed down this road about eight times so far, I have been astounded that every time I come up to one of these red flashing lights, the dear hearts around me take their turn to go forward in the order of appearance. In other words, whoever was there first gets to go first and everyone else waits patiently for their opportunity.

I think religion and atheists would assume that people would push forward, cheat others or crash into each other due to this mishap of arrangement. But there are no policemen, no one to direct traffic and no yield signs. We all just drive up to the red flashing light, stop, look around, figure out who got there first, and wait our turn.

It is amazing.

I don’t think it would be different anywhere. Some people would say it’s because you’re in Texas and if you were in California, cars would be crashing into each other like a demolition derby. I beg to differ.

To some degree, I think people rise to the occasion–if you let them know it’s an occasion and you give them a chance to rise.

A difficulty in our country is that we have built up an atmosphere for cynicism. It starts with us laughing WITH people. That could be a very good thing. But then it digresses to the point that we end up laughing AT people. We begin to believe we’re superior to certain clumps of behavior which for some reason or another have been relegated in our minds to the status of barbaric. Eventually this leads us to laugh at God, who was so scatter-brained that He made people in the first place.

And then suddenly we stop laughing, develop a sour disposition and cease to believe that anything of quality can ever transpire.

It is a dangerous process.

As I watch the politics, the entertainment and the business in our country unfold, I find myself tempted to be drawn into this burning lava, spewed from the volcano of cynicism.

And then … I drive out in traffic and watch people who do not know each other grant one another the space to go forward.

I will never be a good religionist. You will never convince me that we are not capable of growing and doing better.

I could never be an atheist. You cannot make me believe that human beings are worthless–no better than the animals–and therefore not created at all by a loving God, but instead, merely evolved from the common ooze.

We take turns. Do you understand? We even take turns when no one’s watching.

It’s an exciting life. It’s a beautiful life–if you don’t become cynical.

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

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