Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … October 23rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: I was thinking about Donald Trump.

 

Woman: What a coincidence. Because I was thinking about Hillary. What brought Donald to your mind?

 

Man: There’s such an uproar about him and the things he says. I was just wondering…well, I guess, wishing I would have had the chance to know him when he was young.

 

Woman: That’s so weird. I was thinking the same about Hillary. Yes, I would love to have had a chance to know her before there was a Bill Clinton, or all this political barbed wire that tries to cage her up as a villain.

 

Man: What I was thinking about is that when we’re young, there are three things that happen to all of us, in some form, that shape us. Three things that expose us to everyone around us, and we develop our sense of security or frustration.

 

Woman: That’s interesting. What are the three things?

 

Man: Well, you can probably think of your own, but I find the three things to be the locker room, camp and dating. That’s when we are suddenly taken out of the comfort of our zone, and we fall under the scrutiny of other people’s judgment.

 

Woman: Wow. That’s heavy. So I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to have met Hillary in the locker room.

 

Man: Now, that does sound a little bit odd.

 

Woman: No more odd than you wanting to meet Donald in the locker room.

 

Man: So what would you have said to Hillary?

 

Woman: “Relax. Some people look more endowed, more blessed, more athletic, but in the long run, it all comes to the surface and they are less advantaged in other areas. Don’t try to be the prettiest and the best or feel cheated because you aren’t.”

 

Man: Exactly. “Donald, stop worrying about your hands, or anything else that protrudes from your body. Just realize that you have gifts and they will come to the forefront when it’s time.”

 

Woman: Do you think he learned to be a bully in the locker room?

 

Man: Do you think she acquired some of her insecurity there?

 

Woman: Camp–the first time the lights are turned off in the cabin, and you’re with a group of girls and you can talk about what scares you, why you think your hips are too big and who you really like…

 

Man: Yes, I wonder if Donald ever actually sat in a log cabin somewhere in the woods with a bunch of guys who were at ease, and truth started slipping out because the room was just dark enough that you’re not afraid about how you sound.

 

Woman: You can tell by the fact that these two people choose lying lying that they were horribly misinformed about life.

 

Man: It is the truth that makes us free. But to allow for that freedom, we need to at least be around someone who allows the truth to come forth without criticizing us.

 

Woman: And then there’s dating. Isn’t that the third thing you mentioned?

 

Man: Absolutely. It’s terrifying.

 

Woman: Why do you think it’s so terrifying? Let me answer my own question. For me, it brought every fear and inadequacy to the forefront–like I was certain the person I was going out with was completely aware of all the stubble hair in my armpits.

 

Man: Could you ever eat enough Tic-Tacs to be confident about your breath? So what would you tell Hillary about that?

 

Woman: I would say, “Hillary, you’re going to meet a lot of men you’re going to love and who would be willing to love you. But you won’t meet many who give you a love that you can trust in.”

 

Man: I would say to Donald, “Even though you grew up in a neighborhood with a family which felt that bullying, being forceful and mean was viable, the best way to prove your strength is to not use it all the time. It’s all right to lose as long as you learn from it, and it’s certainly necessary to apologize if you want to be forgiven.”

 

Woman: I would love to have known Hillary when she was young. I would love to have caught her before she ended up with a cheater, believing it was the best she could get.

 

Man: And I would love to have known Donald when he still had a chance to believe in the power of kindness mingled with ingenuity instead of trying to control through domination.

 

Woman: Too bad we weren’t there.

 

Man: Actually, I’m grateful there was someone there for me so I don’t have to constantly prove my masculinity by pushing my way through.

 

Woman: And I’m glad that I feel confident in myself, and just include others for the joy of it instead of the need.

 

Man: Do you think we really could have made a difference?

 

Woman: Probably not. We were just learning the stuff ourselves.

 

Man: Maybe we can just help the young Donalds and Hillarys around us, who have not yet decided to give up and use deceit instead of talent.

 

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Surprise … April 7, 2014

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car van grillMy itinerary and the front end of my van took me this morning to a time of fellowship and celebration in Surprise, Arizona.

They were lovely folk.

I suppose if you’re a continual, or even occasional, reader of my column, you may get a little weary of the general application of the word “lovely” that I use in describing human beings. I should clarify. When I say I met lovely folk, I mean that they surprised me.

Some of them surprised me with how clinging they are. Others surprised me with their reaching aspect. Both groups are intriguing.

Those who are clinging often find that my simple sharing and homespun ideas fail to confirm their ongoing desire for complexity.

They would much rather cling to their tradition, which I would classify as religion minus a true understanding of humanity. (I don’t know what good it does to believe in a God who doesn’t know crap about people.) Yet some people cling to aspects of practice and precepts that bring very little satisfaction to either body or soul.

They are also clinging to fear. Following suit, I would define fear as replacing understanding with a purposeful choice to remain ignorant.

And finally, they seem to be completely fulfilled with inadequacy. If they don’t have enough money it’s “God’s will” or “the devil’s doing.” If they’re sick, it’s “the Lord testing them” or “the devil chasing them.”

Clinging is not a very attractive attribute. So I’m surprised when I run across those people who continue to pursue such an unfulfilling path–and will project their disapproval of my liberty by snubbing any of my thoughts.

But likewise, I’m surprised when I run across people who are reaching. They’re reaching for a message. It will be difficult to propel a spiritual awakening in this country by using symbolism instead of hardcore ideas. The cross may be an emblem of our faith, but it is the Sermon on the Mount that truly personifies the heart of Jesus.

They’re also reaching for a chance:

  • A chance to become something.
  • A chance to do something.
  • A chance to use their talent instead of complaining about absence or rustiness.

AND FINALLY

They’re reaching for repentance. Nothing happens on earth if you’re not willing to evolve towards the source of greater wisdom. This requires that we admit our frailty and embrace our solution.

Clinging is the opposite of reaching, which is the process for discovering a better use for your hands.

So Surprise, Arizona, was like every other place I am so blessed to infiltrate during my pilgrimage. There were clinging people and reaching people.

And both of them I find lovely–simply because those who are reaching benefit from my philosophy and those who are clinging are blessed by my mercy. 

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G-4: Stay or Go? … December 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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clayI did it.

I made something.

Like every endeavor known to man, I felt greatly fulfilled upon completion, and a little disappointed with the inadequacy of the final product.

You see, in my mind, it should have been much better. But when I was finished, there were flaws. To my comprehension, glaring.

It was time for a decision–a very important one, may I add.  Do I stay or do I go?

Do I step up to what I have produced, proudly taking ownership, and begin to work with it until it becomes better, or do I distance myself from the project, expressing my displeasure and pretending that it wasn’t my fault?

Being creative does not guarantee perfection. Matter of fact, it usually presents you with the opposite: imperfection that yearns for your abiding, loving touch.

There is nothing I have ever done which possessed the qualities of my vision when I finished the first prototype.

That’s just life.

Where we develop a sense of purpose, devotion, loyalty and perseverance is in the extent to which we take responsibility for our labors, and nurture our creations to better forms.

  • No family is perfect.
  • No song is perfect.
  • No nail in a board is perfect.

Everything in life requires a second visitation, demanding that we take personal responsibility.

Is there a time to go? Is there a time to walk away from what hatched from your egg and emerged as a big disappointment? Here’s a guideline:

  1.  If it resembles what you want, but merely needs some work, stay.
  2. If its existence is proven to be a hurtful thing to those around you and yourself, go.
  3. If it is full of promise but ugly, stay.
  4. If it’s ugly, lacking promise, go.

The most valuable concept to possess in the human brain is the knowledge that nothing we touch is birthed in perfection. You have to come around, take a look, find out what needs to be fixed … and produce the good humor that makes correction process tolerable.

 

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Perfectly Imperfect … November 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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AnisaShe was born on October 1st, 1987.

She has graciously selected to refer to me as her “godfather,” minus the Marlon Brando impersonation, mob hits and Academy Awards.

She was an only child, but surrounded by a gang of boys who teased her, bordering on the verge of torment, which some people in our modern day would consider to be bullying, but ended up working out sufficiently (as far as we know).

For after all, we live in an imperfect world, which is perfectly designed for our penchant for imperfection.

Today she is getting married.

She has asked me to officiate at the ceremony. Honored, I am preparing to do my best.

She is romantically joining together with another human being at a time when such relationships are considered to be expendable, if not ridiculous. She is attempting to launch the ship of their future in a harbor infested with the pirates of indecision, infidelity and inadequacy.

I don’t wish to offer her any advice–mainly due to its imperfection–but I would counsel her to pay heed to herself and be true.

  1. Have a heart that’s pure. You should never go to sleep with feelings because they always wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
  2. Have a soul that’s satisfied–not in yourself, but in the awareness that God has simplified His position, authority and personage into the next human being you run across. Yes, people are God, and every time you forget it, you become an atheist.
  3. Renew your mind. Purposefully find one opinion each and every day that has proven to be wrong and set out to change it by challenging its location within your skull.
  4. And maintain a healthy body–at least as long as you can. Death is chasing us from the time we’re born. True joy is the combination of ignoring it and punching it in the nose.

They named her Anisa, this god-daughter of mine. She was given this name because it was one of the characters in one of my novels. In this book, the girl named Anisa is a princess, filled with spunk, beauty and intelligence.

How apropos.

Happy wedding day, my dear. Keep an eye on your heart, soul, mind and body, and rejoice that the world created for you … is perfectly imperfect.

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Mediocre … July 11, 2013

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I must be candid–the main problem in our society is not that we are continually embroiled in disagreements, but rather, that the things we have chosen to agree upon are the breeding ground for mediocrity.

I suppose that’s why we selected to compromise in the first place–it’s easy to find human weakness and identify it as normal, and then glorify it as individual. In other words, the more we promote that each one of us is an individual with particular tastes, styles, emotions and beliefs, the simpler it is to tolerate inadequacy.

For example, I may become frustrated with your lack of productivity, but all you have to do is claim that you are a TYPE of person who works “at a different speed” and has varying goals from mine. Once you remove a common standard for humanity which each one of us has to consider in evaluating ourselves, you silently produce anarchy, making us too self-sufficient and overly tolerant of incompleteness.

  • Once we’re convinced that we’re “fine the way we are,” what is the need for excellence?
  • What is the need for introspection?
  • Why should we require ourselves to consider our previous attempts with regret, and determine to repent and do better?

This is the only place where Republicans and Democrats, atheists and believers, and conservatives and liberals agree. It’s the statement: “We are not the same, but rather, individual islands of “special” creation, who must be viewed as independent of general human behavior.”

If this philosophy had wings, we should let it fly. But since the only fruit of this ideology is the generation of loud-mouth critics rationalizing their own inconsistencies, we might want to reconsider what has gotten us to a place where we’re stuck in the mud with no desire to go forward.

Case in point–what you have in Washington, D. C. is not gridlock–it is the application of a selfish society which has finally elected leadership reflecting its own ridiculous formula for life. Our President, Senators and Congressmen are all convinced there are MANY ways to solve problems, and they must fight for their own personal utopia. Since we contend there are a multitude of salvation available for the human race, we therefore believe that each person should “work it out” in his or her own way.

Not only does this eliminate cooperation, but it also institutes an airport with many landing strips and no air traffic controller. It welcomes disaster. It is a certainty that the planes will collide.

So what can we do?  Well, the best way to alleviate pain is to trace it back to its source. Would you allow me to do that? Over the next week or so, I will share where we have derailed our train of thought. Yes–where we have allowed ourselves to extol the mediocre, so as not to impinge on the rights of others to be less than they could be.

It should be very interesting.

You may agree with some of my thoughts and disagree with others. I welcome your disagreement as long as it’s not grounded in the silliness of declaring it “unfair” or “out of the flow of present thinking.”

The first thing I will contend is that life did not begin with the founding of the United States of America. Life didn’t commence at YOUR birth, either. And it was not instituted in the latest revelation of favored Google searches.

Life had a beginning and life has taught us much about ourselves.

On the morrow we shall go to class.

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Peace with the Pieces… March 10, 2013

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piecesIt was odd.

I was suddenly overwhelmed by the notion of my own inadequacy.

Thinking about the sharing I would be doing tomorrow morning at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, I was confronted with my lacking. I am a bald, aging man with limited mobility, who has suffered–or at least struggled–with obesity all my life.

To say that I feel humbled by the notion of offering exhortation, edification or even insight into the lives of others would be an oversimplification of my vacancy. I don’t know whether anybody is worthy to be a voice crying in the wilderness–especially entrusted with the concept of challenging people to “prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.”

Somehow or another it seems prudent for me to straighten some of my own paths before instructing others in path-straightening.

But what does that mean? Am I to sit around and wait until I am a worthy representation of goodness in order to praise goodness, point to goodness or even stand in awe of what goodness can do?

I am pieces, trying to make peace with myself.

I am chunks of what could be a whole, but doesn’t really promise to ever coagulate.

I am an incomplete vessel who really has only one responsibility–don’t lie about my insufficiency. Don’t exaggerate my qualification. And don’t pretend to be anything other than the subtotal of my pieces.

When my knees gave out on me late last year, I thought my time  of speaking in front of audiences and pouring out my heart was over. I honestly did not want to be a disgrace to the kingdom of God through my weakness. I was determined to develop an excuse for escaping my continued participation in the unification of the human spirit with the presence of God by pulling up lame–literally.

Maybe it’s just that I felt stupid. Maybe “wheeling” my way in front of an audience to hobble to my keyboard was just a little too much hyperbole of uselessness.

I don’t know. It wasn’t that I wanted to quit. It just seemed that quitting was an honorable thing. Make room for someone who’s more … whole.

And then I remembered the words that God said to Adam in the Garden when his little buddy was hiding among the fig leaves.

“Why are you hiding?”

“I’m hiding because I’m naked,” said Adam.

“Who told you that you were naked?” asked God.

Yes–who told me I was unworthy? Who told me I was weak and beyond redemption? Who told me that it was time to graze in the grass instead of  shepherding people to greener pastures?

I did.

I decided what was righteous.

I decided what was beautiful.

I decided what was marketable.

God hasn’t worked with me for these many years and seen me crash and bounce to the earth to not allow me to continue to speak my mind.

I’m finding ways to be at peace with my pieces. For after all, being complete is over-rated. When we express our weakness, those around us perceive us as stronger by the confession. When we pronounce our strengths, yet obviously sprout flaws, we are only made weaker by our boasting.

I come to you in pieces, trying to find a way to have peace with them.

You can decide … whether it’s worth hearing.

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