The Can Ran… August 26, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1987)

 jon and jan up

I can be honest

I can stop complaining

I can give you space

***

Choosing to serve thrusts me into mastering.

An honest answer surprises humanity and pleases God, leaving me free from further lying.

Refusing to complain allows me to learn, which keeps me in the hunt to evolve.

And when I stop interfering with others, I suddenly have the time to perfect my gifts.

I can be of value … if I value what I can be.

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After Sunset… March 25, 2013

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A good plan. It is important. Not because it always comes off without a hitch, but a good plan is necessary simply for the reason that nothing in life comes off without a hitch. It’s just too overwhelming to come up with stuff on the spot, while being bombarded with new surprises. That’s why most exasperated people find themselves sighin’ and cryin’. Nothing is going to work out the way we planned it.

I think the majority of the human beings on this planet have come to that realization but some of them have made an incorrect decision concerning that revelation. Why plan in the first place since everything is going to go topsy-turvy now and again?

So this has brought about an atmosphere of demanding “guarantees.” Can you guarantee me this? Will you put a guarantee on that–just in case? Do you promise it’s going to work out that way? And if it doesn’t can we blame you?

I think the healthiest moment of my life was when I realized there ARE no guarantees, and that the pursuit of such a venture is not only presumptuous, but dangerous.

I had a good plan for Sunday, March 24th. And to my surprise, nearly ninety per cent of it came off with no hiccups. It was really quite astounding.

I began my day in Trinity, Texas, with two presentations in front of some of the kindest and loveliest people you’d ever want to meet. Russ and  Carol had apparently sat down at some time or another and realized that the Golden Rule begins by figuring out how you’d like to be treated yourself, and then just Xerox that and present it to your neighbor.

I found a motel room that permitted me a late check-out on Sunday so that I could go back after my morning engagements, eat a bite and rest before driving the two hours down to Houston for my evening encounter. (Of course, this courtesy did come at the price of fifteen extra dollars for my motelier. But I’d already prepared for the fact that favors often demand cash.)

I got to put my feet up–and all the other parts attached–for about an hour before driving down to Sunset United Methodist Church in Houston, with Winston and his blessed cohorts. It was a beautiful journey. I had allotted time for traffic in the big city, because Houston, like any typical American metropolis, will suddenly back up traffic just to intrigue the tourist trade. But there was none on this particular Sunday and I cruised in with time to spare, set up and had an absolutely magnificent visitation with the good folks at Sunset.

It was done, I was done and all that remained was to drive out of Houston, find a motel room, and settle in for the night in a lovely “ker-plop” of exhaustion.

It worked.

But if it hadn’t worked that well yesterday, I was prepared to make some revisions. I think if we’re going to be intelligent, we need to realize that anything short of our murder grants us the brain and will to evolve–because all we want at the end of the day, is to be able to collapse in a chair and speak to the room around us, “It was good to be alive today.”

So remember two important things:

1. Make a plan because you WILL need to change it.

2. There are no guarantees.

If you follow those two simple principles, then after sunset, as the night is falling, peace will settle on your soul.

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

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.

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The Caper Continues… September 30, 2012

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I did it again last night.

I sat down in front of a roomful of strangers and spent an hour convincing them we weren’t strange at all, just very human and common. All in all, though, my voice is very small. My lack of fame and fortune can make those who hear my witness believe in my insignificance. Because the big money, the large promotion and the overriding messaging in our society lies to the public by telling each and every one of us how absolutely unique we are.

It establishes an arrogance without the foundation of even five minutes worth of confirming proof. It makes us try to clot together in blood lines rather than for reasons to grope in the darkness for the light switch to avoid cursing our bleakness.

It tells us that we have a unique difference. Actually, all temptation is common to all men. What makes us special is how much we share in common with each other.

This propaganda flowing from the world’s view also tells us that we have unique values–but the values you revere are meaningless if you’re not bearing fruit in your life, especially showing up with a tinge of friendliness on your face.

Then there’s the concept of a unique birthright. “These people over here are better than those people over there because …” Well, often we’ve forgotten why. But God is the Maker and as the Creator, He tells us bluntly that He’s no respecter of persons and strongly suggests that we follow suit.

Then religion steps in a offers the precept that many of us have a unique salvation. The truth of the matter is, we all need to repent from time to time or we will find ourselves perishing just like the people we criticize.

Those same religious people suggest that Jesus was a unique human–but we’re told in the Bible that he was tempted in every way just like us, that he was touched by our infirmities and that he learned. Sounds pretty doggone human to me.

The scientific community energizes the theorem that there are unique species–preferred, if you will, by nature. Here’s the truth about that: whatever does not evolve will dissolve. That goes for organizations, ideas, fashions, spirituality and bio-chemical reactions.

Lots of folks believe in the doctrine of unique ability, but for everything I do well, there is a parcel of activities that I am very poor at achieving. Facts are, we all take our turn as weaker brothers. It’s what makes us feel empathy towards each other–compassion for other human beings. Without it, we start doing a bunch of speeches about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and wondering why the “bums on the street don’t get jobs.”

We also begin to promote the notion of a unique prosperity. “Some people just have the knack for making money.” But we forget–riches are a doorway to generosity, or else they’re a trap door to destruction. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What a powerful thought! Everyone needs to learn generosity–whether you have five dollars or five billion, it’s the same lesson. Find out what you need, and then give as much of the rest of it away as you possibly can before you depart the planet.

Of course,  one of the more popular ones is the comical presentation of the unique gender. “Men are better than women; women are better than men…” How powerful do you think we can be as a race when one half is fighting the other? That’s why the Bible says that “in the kingdom of God there is neither male nor female,” and since the kingdom of God is within us, all of those things occupy our human space and should give us a license to understand one another instead of pretending we have to travel from Venus to Mars.

And finally, there is a great patriotic shout, especially in our country, that we have a unique freedom. But it is the truth that makes you free. It’s not freedom that brings the truth. And the truth of the matter is: NoOne is better than anyone else. When you finally grasp that, your freedom allows liberty for others, granting you permission to have it yourself.

Do I think we’ll ever get over the fantasy of unique and embrace our commonality, develop a sense of humor about our journey and enjoy one another? I don’t know. But I do believe it is the only worthy pursuit for anyone who would want to repair the breach in our world instead of widening it.

So my caper will continue. I will traverse the country, sharing that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” and field these objections from my brothers and sisters, who are frightened that if they become too accepting, they will lose their power to be superior.

It is my mission. I don’t know if it will ever gain the wings to get off the ground, or whether it will just be simple, thought-provoking idea shared in a gathering of the local citizens. But I do know this–I have gained true humanity, power, intelligence, wit and spirituality by denying my uniqueness and accepting my portion in the human family.

It’s what Jesus did. He became totally and completely one of us so as to leave no doubt about the importance of common ground.

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Are you ready to sign up for the team? Or are you looking for your own unique way to be unique?

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Losing It … August 17, 2012

  • Loser — Part 4
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“He that would gain his life…”

Behold, my dear, sweet friends. We are a nation of control freaks. Unfortunately, we only recognize the vice in others while failing to acknowledge the behavior in ourselves. When we are accused of being manipulative, we respond by saying that we’re only trying to take control, maintain control and eliminate defeat. It has become a mantra–defending indefensible positions with the idea that he who yells the loudest and curses the most will win the day and therefore, be proven correct.

Here’s an insight: there is an actual truth that often exists outside of our willfulness. With that reality at work, we must understand that when we take control and we are erred, those around us–and we ourselves–are in danger and at the mercy of poor judgment. If we maintain control without allowing in fresh ideas, then we are trapped in the scenario of our own making, which has already been proven to be unsuccessful (just look at the economy). If on top of taking and maintaining control, we insist that the way to eliminate defeat is to prove that we are walking in a victorious life, we will find ourselves needing to deceive, embellish and lie to keep from being discovered as a failure. This philosophy, although popular, is not only fallacious, but dangerous.

” … shall lose it.”

Yes. “He that would gain his life shall lose it.”

When you try to take control and you, yourself, are not really in control, you end up losing out because you’re ill-prepared for the natural hassle that comes along to question your authority. Hassle is the great equalizer that bypasses race, ethnicity, religion and gender–and just makes us all wiggle and squirm under the same uncomfortable conditions.

If you’re trying to maintain your control, you will find yourself in the dastardly position of being unwilling to evolve with the revelation of truth. Isn’t it amazing that we have fought wars to defend concepts that were already against our better interests? Hundreds of thousands of Americans died between 1861 and 1865 over the institution of slavery, which had already been determined by many nations of the world to be immoral and arcane. But the war raged because men and women were unwilling to evolve towards inevitability.

And the final reason that “he that would gain his life shall lose it” is that rather than being challenged and enlivened by difficulty and defeat, we are taught to recoil, pull up lame and be bruised by our setbacks. I don’t know whether we get an opinion on anything–it is a luxury that ignorant people often take, delaying a better path–but I tell you this: you definitely do not get an opinion on your losses. The only thing you can do is acknowledge them, learn from them, adjust to them and grow through the experience as you try afresh.

As you can see, the greatest opportunities in life do not occur when we are winning, but rather, by the repositioning we do when confronted by inevitable failure.

“He that will lose his life …”

Now THERE’S something nobody wants to do. But we’re not speaking of totally forsaking all of our individuality, but instead, just taking a moment to count the cost of the pressing transition that is coming our way. Yes–actually thinking about what is around the corner and how it may be different instead of assuming that yesterday’s life will be Xeroxed. If we finally relinquish our pettiness to the joyful conclusion that life IS changing, we have the ability to begin to maintain our good cheer. Good cheer is just the awareness that nothing is going to be the same, but God will go with us as long as we don’t give up.

This grants us the flexibility to do one of the more intelligent maneuvers in life–adapt quickly. Everyone who stands against a reasonable premise ends up being ground under by the wheels of progress.

Count the cost of change. Maintain your good cheer and adapt quickly. It may feel like you’re losing your life, or at least your sense of domination, but it always ends up …

“…shall gain it.”

Yes, “he that will lose his life shall gain it” because he or she will avoid the delay caused by stubbornness. I’ve even seen folks who knew they would eventually have to give into new ideas continue to dig their heels in to make some sort of foolish point about their freedom to object. What a waste of time. If you’re not stubborn, you can actually join the committee and be involved in the process of the change.

I do not know what is going to happen in this country on any given issue, but there is one central theme that is universal in the United States of America: we never take liberty away from any individual without paying the price and feeling completely foolish afterwards. Every race and nationality has taken its turn at being the underdog, and those who stubbornly held that position and repelled these individuals always ended up looking like the villains in a Stephen King movie–black hats and all.

If you can be involved in the process of change, you get the privilege of surviving, to end up living better.

“He that would gain his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life (for my sake),” Jesus said, “shall gain it.”

Losing is not painful. It is predictable. It is what we spend most of our time doing and the least amount of time training for. How ridiculous.

  • Just like the Olympic athletes who win bronze, we need to take as much out of the experience as we possibly can without insisting that we’re all equally winners.
  • Just like Jesus, who hung on a cross, sometimes the reasons for our affliction are not obvious on Day One. Often, it is on the third day that we will rise to the occasion.
  • And just like me, you don’t need to feel beautiful to do beautiful things. Apparently, only one person is the prettiest, so everybody else better get a grip, because beauty will not win the day. Wisdom always trumps comeliness.
  • And if you would gain your life, you must learn how to lose. Lose with style, grace, awareness, flexibility and good cheer.

May I close this whole series with three easy-to-remember thoughts?

1. Don’t be sure, be pure. (Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know–and be prepared to know more.)

2. Don’t resist, persist. (Keep moving towards liberty and justice for all. God is always right there somewhere in the midst.)

3. Don’t be right, capture the light. (The ability to win an argument is not a guarantee that you’ve won the day. There are principles at work that will always carry on no matter how well you argue and fuss about your own opinion.)

Losers–we share it in common. It makes us love each other. It’s what we all understand about each other. It’s what makes us all … brothers and sisters.

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The Dental of Mental … May 4, 2012

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“Let me sink my teeth into it.”

It was a popular phrase long before the current craze of vampire movies. Deciding what to “bite off” and putting some energy into it is a valuable process in our lives. How should we determine it? What should we bite into?

There are three basic reasons that people bite things off, making the new taste their project. Sometimes they bite things off because everyone around them, including their families, tells us that it’s perfect, encouraging them to “take it on,” even making it clear that if they don’t, they have passed on a golden opportunity. Can I tell you that guilt is one of the worst motivators for human beings? And it is usually followed by a sense of dread, interpreted as “being responsible.” Biting off something because someone else wants you to do it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The second motivation that often taunts us is that we “need” to do something.Whenever it appears that I need to do something, I purposefully delay, to make sure that my choice is not generated in frustration or futility, but rather, by my own inclination. Because the only reason to bite anything off is because I WANT it.Yes, the only question that needs to be asked by anyone at any time before biting into a new piece of life is,Do I want it?”

It doesn’t mean that everything we bite off is good for us, or even necessary–because there are only two things that human beings require to maintain their sanity: (1) The choice was my own; and (2) if I find out it was a stupid one, please permit me a road to retreat and repent

The “dental of mental health” is to choose to bite off only what you want, not what others tell you is required or what you believe you need. Everyone knows–once you bite something off, you’ll have to chew it, and chewing is the process by which we prepare food to leave the delicious world of our taste buds and enter the unknown of digestion.  So as we consider what we want, the only question we really need to pose to ourselves is, “Can I chew it?” In other words, “Can I be patient?”

Chewing is being patient. It is also making sure that we drain the last bits of flavor out of what we’ve bitten before discarding it for more practical use.If we can’t enjoy the process of chewing, then we’ll probably end up trying to swallow everything whole, which will certainly cause us to choke in our hour of need. Can I be patient? Patience is one of those words that’s thrown around without definition, so let me give you two applications:

  1. It tastes good enough that I don’t mind keeping it in my mouth for a while. Don’t think you’ll chew very long on something bitter.
  2. I don’t mind being patient and chewing on it, because I know when it finally reaches my body, it’ll be good for me.

The main piece of success in my life is that I have learned to enjoy the chewing process. If you need instant gratification or immediate appreciation, you will never draw all the taste out of every experience, but will either become reluctant to bite anything off in the first place, or end up gulping, swallowing life whole, without tasting.

Can I be patient? Because after all, when the chewing’s done in the “dental of mental,” it comes time to swallow. What I have bitten off has now been chewed and no longer resembles anything of what I once took on. Swallowing is asking yourself the question, “Am I ready to evolve?”

Some folks believe that if their plans change, they have lost the integrity of the experience. Yet, plans changing IS the experience. Swallowing is what transfers food into energy.Change is what transforms “choice” into fruitfulness.Without change, we arrogantly begin to believe that everything we put into our mouths should remain there instead of being absorbed. How many evolutions will I have to absorb to get the full benefit of what I’ve bitten off and chewed? Well, let me swallow the next one and we’ll see how it goes. Am I ready to evolve?

Which leads to the final step in the dental of mental–digestion. Will what I have bitten off, chewed and swallowed produce the nutrient of even greater desire? There is nothing more discouraging than beginning a project and finishing it by saying, “I will never do that again.” Most people are not lazy–or vacant of purpose. They are afraid to bite things off because the last time the chewing and swallowing produced indigestion. It was dissatisfying and left them with a severe case of heartburn.

Yes. The heart, rather than being rejuvenated through the experience, is aggravated and disappointed.

So–will what I want be patiently evolved in me to end up producing even greater desire to do more? Because that is the essence of mental health. At the end of our experience, we should be fatigued, not exhausted. We should feel exhilaration, not exasperation. And we should want rest–in order to pursue again–instead of escape, to avoid contact.

If you don’t do what you want, you end up being on somebody else’s mission, which means that even if it’s successful, you lose the credit.

The dental of mental health: biting, chewing, swallowing, digesting.

  • Do I want it?
  • Can I be patient?
  • Am I willing to evolve?
  • Does it appear that it will produce even greater desire?

Don’t cheat yourself out of great mental health. Even though the world around you insists that you need to accomplish their desires, never sink your teeth into anything that you don’t really want.

  

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