Defined … December 7, 2012

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Jon Signing

I woke up confused.

No, that’s too weird. I guess the correct word would be “befuddled,” but that’s such an old-fashioned term that I hate to use it for fear of making myself look like a twenty-first century Charles Dickens. So let me describe the emotion. I knew WHERE I was, but I didn’t know WHY I was. For you see, yesterday afternoon I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a three-week layover, for Christmas near family members, and also a chance to recuperate, record a new album and prepare for the coming year.

I mean, it sounded like a great idea–and I’m sure it will end up being pleasant and even satisfying. But honestly, my friends, I wasn’t here more than three hours before I realized that I felt separated from my work and abandoned to my own personality, which, as it turns out, is rather similar to canned spam.

I realized that I am defined by my talents, abilities and vision. I know in this present age of psycho-babble, people would roll their eyes and tell me I need to be more inclusive, expansive and varied in my approach. I’m sure for somebody else, that’s fine.

But I’m me. I have been me now for almost sixty-one years. I like me. Me is a mixture of giggles, gags, gifts, gyrations and an ongoing desire to see the gospel of peace settle into the souls of humankind.

I don’t feel noble–but I also don’t feel bizarre. For instance, I like to go shopping because you can get things, come back, have them near to where your fingertips can reach them and create convenience. But the idea of shopping in itself is not appealing to me.

I also love my family, but I’ve never built a life around them–nor have I asked them to make me the center of their universe.

I love doing things that other people do–but I guess I find them a bit more of a chore than a pleasure. You must forgive me for using the word “chore”–I’m sure there’s a better term to communicate my sensations. I do feel enjoyment, but not tremendous motivation.

I love being busy–doing what I can. I love the exhaustion that follows time well spent. I love sharing my heart and allowing others a landing strip near my ears to share theirs. I love my life.

I’m just not very good at being domesticated. Case in point: Gardening is something that I would watch for two minutes on some cable channel and be awe-struck by how someone could actually be interested in it.

I love being a grandparent, but I want my grandchildren to know that I’m still alive and as long as I am, I will pursue my dreams, not make their lives a replacement.

I recognized this morning that I am very defined. Maybe I lack a little helium in my balloon. Maybe I’m unwilling to stray too far from my calling–lest I forget the voice I heard from the burning bush.

I don’t know. But I’m going to do my best. I plan on thoroughly enjoying this mishap of arriving in a world unfamiliar to me and learning to partake of the surroundings–alien that I am.

I guess at heart I am a vagabond, itinerant messenger who is scurrying around to find the next wilderness to cry out into.

Yeah. That’s me.

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

F plus A equals A+… October 9, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

My granddaughter asked an intelligent question.

Now, I’m not trying to connote that it’s unusual for my granddaughter to be intelligent. It’s just that at thirteen years of age, she discovered a dilemma which plagues the adult world and causes us, as alleged grown-ups, to become very irritable and unproductive.

She was recently elected treasurer of her class and is also deeply involved in musical theater with her school. Matter of fact, she is attempting to write a script for a musical, and began to collaborate with several other individuals, who somewhere along the line, lost the “good will for the hunting.”

She asked me, “What do you do when people flake out on you and don’t want to finish a project?”

Isn’t that a great question? Little did she know that she just posed an inquiry that probably has Republicans, Democrats and the entire economic world embroiled in controversy and quandary. What do you do to make people do the people things that make life more tolerable for all people?

Well, the first thing I would tell my dear granddaughter is that when you believe a lie, and you notice that everyone else believes the same lie, it takes a lot of guts to be the first one to call it a lie.

And here’s the main lie in our society: life is tough. I don’t know if we feel more mature or responsible by grunting and groaning through our activities, displaying the same disconsolate countenance that our parents had, and their parents before them; I don’t know if we consider it to be more interesting to folks if we are struggling through our endeavors. I am not sure. But somewhere along the line, the belief that some pain is necessary to receive some gain has not only been ingrained in our thinking, but has become the motto of our pursuits. It just doesn’t work.

Teachers try to make students more responsible for their grades by telling them about their “permanent record,” college possibilities or potential future earnings if they get an A instead of a C, and even though we know this is unimpressive to the adolescent mind, we still continue to talk about “stepping up to the plate” instead of focusing on the things that are of true interest to human beings.

I am about to make a bold statement. There are only two things that edify people universally–and if you subtract them from your club, your church, your political party, your school or even your home, you will creep along at an ever-increasing level of misery.

All human beings require fun and appreciation.

If you do not afford this double blessing to people at all times, be prepared for them to become disinterested, start making excuses and eventually be absent.

I can certainly see it in the religious system, where I find myself working from time to time. Some ingenious theologian came up with the idea that the best way to motivate people to godliness was to encourage study, prayer, faithful church attendance and giving. On top of that, we are also asking these people to offer their services in a volunteer capacity to the kingdom of God without ever stroking their egos and telling them what a good job they are doing, but instead, demanding that they don the false humility of being undeserved of any attention. Then we wonder why people are leaving the church by the truckloads.

It certainly wasn’t the way God put things together. Whether you believe all of the Bible or not, you can relate to the story of Eden, where God creates man and woman and gives them two potentials–fellowship with each other and being in charge of caretaking their own property.

Yes, the original plan by God for human beings was for us to indulge in sex and gardening.

Once again–fun and to be appreciated, because there you have a partner for pleasure and rich soil for seed planting, which produces not only your food, but the sense of accomplishment that you have spawned a growing thing.

He suggested they culminate this daily sex and gardening therapy by joining Him in the cool of the evening for a nice walk and talk about the day. I suppose if you’re a religious fanatic, you could say that we forfeited that privilege through sin, never to attain it again until we reach heaven. But Jesus said that “God’s will should be done on earth as it is in heaven,” so it might be a good idea to get back to that sex and gardening approach by applying, in our lives, the activities of fun and appreciation.

I will not work with human beings if fun and a mutual appreciation is not thrust to the forefront. It is a waste of time. Trying to make people guilty, fearful, angry, nervous or pious in order to extract effort does not only produce weak results, but turns them fussy and old too soon.

So here’s what I tell my granddaughter, and I also tell you. If you’re trying to do something with other people:

  1. Don’t ever plan an activity without refreshments.
  2. Never discuss future work until you have thoroughly celebrated the accomplishment of the present labor.
  3. Show them that what has been done so far is really good.
  4. As much as possible, make all planned activities into a game.
  5. Plan laughter. Yes, purposefully include intervals where something funny is going to be shared or done.
  6. Appreciate effort, acknowledge improvement and therefore, stimulate the slackers to jealousy. (Everyone wants a moment of focus.)
  7. And finally, when the fake grown-ups come in and try to turn your activity into something painful, let them have their moment and then simply step up and return to the joy of the Lord.

There you go. That’s why F (Fun) plus A (Appreciation) equals A+. And what is A+? Accomplishment.

We are suffering in America because accomplishment is considered to be unusual instead of essential. We have tried to replace fun with entertainment. Appreciation has been bumped to the side in favor of pep talks and self-help books on our ultimate goodness and worth. It’s not the same.

So if God was smart enough to devise an original plan that was filled with sex and gardening, it might be a good idea for you and I to realize that fun and appreciation are the nourishment of all human progress.

So in answering my granddaughter, I thought I would pass along the same information to you. You can either act self-righteous and consider my advice to be trivial and childish, or you can give it a whirl, and see if fun plus appreciation don’t grant you accomplishment.

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

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