Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 2

There is definitely a reason that patrons of literature over the centuries have sincerely warned those who put pen to paper (or in our time, fingers to keys) that it is never wise to write something in the first person. Just too many I’s for the “eyes” which will read it.

Yes, it’s safer to let your tale be told by a he, a she, a they or even an it.

Then, if your character ends up being a scoundrel—even temporarily—you don’t have to personally wear the orange D on your chest—for Dumbass.

But when I talk to you about R. B., I must speak in the first person. These are lessons I had to learn which you perhaps already knew, or will decide to ignore.

I will simply have to own the good with the bad, the silly with the serious and the righteous with the sinister.

Let me begin by saying that I wrote a musical. Fifteen songs plus little interludes sprinkled among them which I referred to as “widgets.”

I was very proud.

Actually, most of the musical was written in less than three months—with a song or two trailing off to coincide with the calendar year.

I got my band together and we recorded the music on a reel-to-reel tape system, overdubbed through a cassette machine, until we had something that sounded like an entire cast performing the tunes.

I had no idea what I was going to do with this collection of lyrics, notes and melodies.

I played it for an old buddy of mine in Columbus, Ohio, who immediately fell in love with the whole idea surrounding the project—so much so that he decided to make it his pet purpose. Before I knew it, he went out and secured fifteen people to invest in this endeavor, giving us a whopping ten thousand dollars to do something with what we had.

I was young. I probably should have taken it slow. But honestly, those two words—“young and slow”—rarely appear together in Earth’s environment.

Therefore I went into a professional studio and hired musicians to record the soundtrack and decided to put together a cast of nine characters for a twenty-five-city tour of the United States of America. This would be a daunting task for someone who knew what he was doing, let alone for a sheep in the woods, unfamiliar with the ravenous wolves.

My first step was to hold auditions.

I thought people would flock to have an opportunity to travel for two months across the great American plain—to sing, dance and act in front of audiences in hometown theaters from Pennsylvania to Texas.

I was wrong.

About twenty-five people signed up for the audition, and they all came with three questions:

  1. What am I going to make?
  2. How much does it pay?
  3. What will be my remuneration?

On the night of the audition, they all came in having much less talent than ego. Also, they were more greedy than giving and critical than appreciative.

Chief among them was a fellow named R. B. He was a sweet enough guy, but his New England upbringing had led him to believe that he was one of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He had exacting demands:

He didn’t want to audition the way everyone else did. He wanted to set up his guitar amp and sing his own songs instead take a crack at mine.

Also, he was so nervous to audition in front of the rest of the contestants that he demanded a private room. He sang a hair off-key, breathless from nervous energy. Yet, he still had just enough of a voice to be considered.

I was young, too eager, and uncertain whether I would be able to fill all the positions from the handful of souls who came out for the trials.

I gave in too much to R. B.’s requests.

I just didn’t know if I would ever find other people to staff our show, so I was careful not to close a door to anyone. Through that experience, I learned that sometimes if you don’t close the door, all the flies come in.

Four days after the auditions, still having three spaces to fill, I hired R. B. to be in my musical and travel with the cast. I made the decision after about three hours of a back-and-forth conversation with myself that went like this:

“Sure, he doesn’t have…”

“But then again, maybe…”

I learned, from this first encounter with R. B., that when you base your future on maybe, you always end up with what will be—wishing for what could be.

1 Thing You Can Do This Week to Be in the Know

 

Attractive Without Attraction Does Not Attract Anybody

I freely admit that being handsome or gorgeous is an immediate plus for gaining attention in the human family. Matter of fact, it may give you one or two free cracks at the prize without having to suffer too much critique from admirers.

We like pretty people.

We, ourselves, either believe we are pretty, or certainly have a comprehensive plan and are working to get there.

But if “attractive” cannot produce an attraction, people will scurry away, not only disappointed, but vindictive that they so easily swooned over dimples and smiles. At this point, attractive has failed to deliver, through evident beauty, any promise of beautiful things forthcoming.

I don’t think I need to discuss with you what attractive is. But I have readily prepared myself to explain what the attraction is that can take unattractive people and attract them to everybody.

There are three links that form a chain.

If you’re able to grasp how these units are meant to combine to generate an attraction, then you won’t have to worry nearly as much about being universally considered attractive. There are even many actors in Hollywood who might, on the surface, be considered homely, but because of their work, character, longevity and quality, are now able to attract anybody.

So what are the three links that form the chain of attraction?

It begins with confidence.

Confidence is characterized through the statement, “I have some experience.” Confidence does not say that you have all experience, or that your experience will solve the entire breadth of problems or that there isn’t something that could come up that you would not be able to handle. Confidence is just stating, “I have some experience.”

You take that link and fasten it to “humble.”

Humble is an admission necessary for all of us:  “I have some weaknesses.”

These two attributes connected create a ying and yang that let people know that you’re safe for consideration.

Confidence: I have some experience.

Humble: I have some weakness.

The final link is mercy: I have some forgiveness.

If you are a leader and you’re starting a job managing a group of people and you don’t have mercy, you unfortunately will soon turn into a tyrant.

But when you take the three links—confidence, humble and mercy—they form a chain of attraction.

No matter where you go across the world, they will attract you to anybody.

Too much confidence? You’d better be attractive, too.

Too much humble? You may just look like you’re playing it safe.

And too much mercy? You can be taken advantage of.

So if you can ignore whether you are deemed physically attractive, but instead, confidently, humbly and mercifully pursue your goals, then that will build the attraction which will attract you to anybody you meet.

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1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Magnify Your Character)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week …

(To Magnify Your Character)

William Shakespeare contended that “all the world’s a stage and each one of us, merely players.”

So who are you?

In the world of theater, it is impossible to play too many characters without coming across anemic in the roles. Also, if you establish your character onstage and then drastically revise it, the audience doesn’t buy into your leap.

The one thing you should think about this week to magnify your character is:

Don’t let your problems give you stage directions

Unlike true theater, in everyday life we have a tendency to adjust to the settings, the surroundings, the spotlights, the poor audience reaction or the failure of others around us to remember their lines, and either attempt to revise our dialogue to fit the circumstance or freak out because our the revisions cause us to lose all credibility.

Here is this week’s question: who are you?

And don’t try to tell me that you are a multi-faceted individual with many different layers of being. That’s the best way to describe a liar. Who are you?

Once you find the answer to that, remaining faithful to the role, no matter how the play unfolds in front of you, is how you gain the reputation of being solid and trustworthy– well worth knowing by your peers.

An acquaintance recently asked me, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am a character addicted to good cheer, so no matter what you hand me, I will do my best to give you back joy.”

The definition of immaturity is feeling the need to change the script simply because there’s been an unforeseen twist in the plot. But in doing so, we sully our character and make ourselves seem unreliable.

Who are you?

Answer that question–and then don’t let your problems or your mishaps give you stage directions.

 

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Cracked 5 … November 28th, 2017


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Reasons that Leftover Turkey Often Tastes Better

A. Stewing in its own juices, it found some answers.

 

B. Not needing to compete against the arrogant Honey Baked Ham.

 

C. Spent some time in the “cooler”–got born again.

 

D. People are hungry again by Saturday.

 

E. Rejected at the original feast, it gained character.

 

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G-Poppers … December 18th, 2015

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Jon close up

G-Pop was born years ago on a day like this one, repeated annually.

Born, G-Pop decided to seize the opportunity to live, dwelling in a small village until limited talent afforded broader possibilities.

Trying to blend aspiration, inspiration and procreation, he birthed songs and sons, four boys in all, three surviving the process of growing, and yet a trio of others who arrived desiring a homestead, and seemingly have moved on, no worse the wear from his tutelage.

He traveled the country, interfacing with those who crossed his path and turned in his direction.

Pain and pleasure merged to form potential.

Success and failure united to construct a character.

Being neither political or bound by business constraints, G-Pop chased the whim of his heart and the vision he insisted was inspired by Spirit.

  • A man.
  • A human.
  • A salvaged sinner.
  • A saint, requiring props.

He had a belief in a God who believed in people–belief in people who allow room for an expansive God.

G-Pop lives on.

There are those who think he should settle into his place. Yet finding a place is an address, not a way to address our generation’s quandary.

G-Pop does not seek acceptance, just a reasonable doorway.

Mary had a baby and named him…

He became an angel to some, shepherded the souls sent his way, and works on becoming a wiser man … who can follow the stars in the sky.

 

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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The Alphabet of Us: C is for Cunning… December 22, 2014

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Baby block C bigger

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Three pushy forces bully us to conform to the pattern of what is now considered, in this short-sighted season, to be normal.

  • “I must be better”
  • “I must be popular”
  • “I must be smarter”

Human beings were never meant to be consistent. It is within the spectrum of our unpredictability that we create our learning curve and our charm. When we deny this vulnerability, we place ourselves in a position where we must defend our “better,” our “popular” and our “smarter.”

Unfortunately, this leads to lying. And even worse than lying is the misconception that we can actually pull it off. This is cunning.

Cunning is the contention that “because I am better, very popular and smarter, I can trick you into believing whatever I desire.” It is ugly, selfish–and worst of all, it is doomed.

To escape cunning you have to counteract the three pushy bullies and speak the truth about your own inconsistent journey.

1. I am not better. I need to fail. I need to admit I fail. Failure is my only hope for escaping the disaster at the end of repeated stupidity.

2. Although I love human beings, I don’t need to be popular if such notoriety comes along with sacrificing my character and my soul.

3. The only way to become smarter is to learn from people who know more. This requires that I admit that I am less intelligent.

At the root of every drama which ends in defeat is a character who contends that he or she is better than others, popular for a time and smarter, which enables them to use cunning to produce the backdrop for their demise.

You will never be destroyed by being weak.

You will be destroyed by acting strong and ending up weak.

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