G-Poppers … May 19th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3312)

Jon close up

G-Pop was thinking about irritation.

It’s that fussy itch that if you scratch it, burns and stings and threatens infection.

It’s knowing that something upsets you, but you feel compelled for some reason or another, to put up with it anyway.

It is the pin that pops the balloon, the rain on the parade and the dread that makes us feel dead.

G-Pop is well aware that irritation occurs among those we seem to love the most. We have learned to tolerate certain behavior without really having any toleration. We’re always frustrated, but we sigh in despair, believing there’s no way of escape.

G-Pop points out that once you discover something that irritates you, your first plan of action should be to create distance.

Since you don’t have any power to change people, nor has God granted you the ability to alter the cosmos, it’s a good idea to wear roller skates and always be prepared to cruise down the sidewalk.

The supreme definition of arrogance is, “I believe that this time I can change what I didn’t last time.”

Verily, verily, G-Pop says unto you, irritation requires a speedy exit.

Irritation also demands that we develop a sense of humor, and if we find ourselves in the middle of that which irritates us, to entertain our aggravated spirit with a joking giddiness.

And finally, look for the open door.

If our irritation is at our job, then we should pray for an open door–to either leave or be promoted to a position to control the environment. This is our salvation.

Don’t allow yourself to believe that you can be irritated and maintain integrity. Living with irritation is like lighting damp sticks of dynamite, believing that none of them will ever blow up.

One just may, and when it does, remember–you’re holding it.

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Confessing … November 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2753)

XXIX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Matt was a minister.

He also was a singer.

He decided he wanted to record what I called a “Twinkie.” It was a 45 R.P.M. record with an A and B side. I called them Twinkies because they were small, delicious and you only had to record two songs to brag about having a record.

Matt came to me because I was only twenty-one years old, sang, played an instrument, had done some vocal arrangements for local gospel quartets, and had written two songs and recorded them, putting out my own Twinkie.

In my little town, I seemed to be a kind of superstar. I enjoyed it. I was a big frog in a cardboard box, content with the air holes provided.

Matt wanted to pay me to produce his record. I said yes.

We had numerous meetings, set a date, and Matt thought that all systems were go.

Here’s the problem: I didn’t do anything.

I didn’t work on the songs, I didn’t hire the musicians, I didn’t even book the studio, although I told him I did.

I lied.

Why? Because I loved the notion of being creative, but despised the footwork.

Matt became a little suspicious. He asked a bunch of questions about the plans. I decided to act offended over his doubt. He immediately backed off.

So Matt arrived at the studio to meet with me on the day I told him we were scheduled, only to discover there was no session planned, and I was nowhere to be found. This was before the time of cell phones and texting, so Matt was stuck with these strangers, hoping I would arrive any minute to straighten things out.

I never arrived.

Matter of fact, I never contacted Matt again.

About six months later, he caught up with me in a shopping mall. I can still remember the chill that went down my spine when he walked up to me and simply asked, “Hey, what happened with the recording session?”

I struggled to make two or three excuses, and he interrupted me and said, “It was really weird. When you didn’t show up, the recording engineer had time available, and he and I sat down together, arranged the music, and I recorded my songs.”

I felt so embarrassed, stupid and strangely affronted. After all, how could Matt make a good record without me?

He didn’t hang around to talk much more.

He just walked away into history.

I learned a lot through that experience, which I continue to still learn.

There is no such thing as talent without integrity. When we attempt to promote it, it ends up being like a lovely sandwich … discovered in a mud puddle.

 

Confessing microphone

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2421)

(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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Three Ways to Win an Argument… October 30, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2397)

arguing woman

Arguments are like hamburgers in the sense that most people agree that they’re not very good for us, but on the other hand, few are able to resist them. Unlike hamburgers, they end up being a part of our diet whether we like it or not, so we should learn how to ingest and digest them better.

First of all, we need to stop mingling the words “discussion,” “debate” and “argument,” as if they are the same species.

A discussion is when people come together, admitting they do not have enough knowledge on a subject and engage in an exchange of information for enlightenment.

A debate is when two people of differing opinions share their ideas with the aspiration that one of the presentations will come to the forefront as having more common sense.

An argument occurs when folks are certain they have discovered a truth which they believe has been tested, and they are unwilling to give in to any other insight because they feel they have found the correct path.

So an argument seems doomed to elicit frayed feelings and even digress to some violence if we do not know how to conduct ourselves and become the winners.

And by winning an argument, I do not mean usurping authority over other people, to bend them to our will. Winning an argument is to control the atmosphere and make sure that rage does not enter in.

So what should we do?

1. Ask lots of questions.

Arguments always turn volatile when people literally spit their opinions at one another, rather than challenging the source of the other person’s position. It’s difficult to become overwrought when someone is asking you a question and you’re having to provide evidence instead of just passion.

Some time ago I was arguing with a friend about a project he was working on and I stopped in the middle of the back-and-forth and asked, “Do you feel this project is up to the calibre and integrity of what you’ve done in the past?”

It brought him to a complete halt. In the midst of that stall, he calmed down, thinking more deeply.

To win an argument, always have more questions than comments.

2. Somewhere early on in the argument, concede a point or two which will not alter the quality of your conviction.

Anytime you argue with folks, they will make a good point, and usually pride will prevent you from admitting it. If you stop to acknowledge the truth, you disarm your competitor and also create a more gentle environment for the ongoing experience.

If it’s true, it’s true. And if it’s true, say so quickly. You don’t lose points and in the end you will actually gain respect.

3. Summarize as you go.

Every few seconds, repeat these words: “So what you’re saying is…”

It gives the person a chance to hear back what you heard, and confirm whether it’s true, or if some mis-speaking occurred. It also slows the progression of arrogance, permitting simplicity to have its day.

I guarantee you that if you do these three things, you will win every argument, because the true goal is to arrive at a way for both of you to continue to work together and be friends, even though this rift has occurred.

The key to life is realizing that you can give up some turf and still have enough room to stand.

arguing man

 

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Where’s Ya’ Goin’? … December 8, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2089)

older boy with SantaAt twenty-two years of age, I was an unsettling blend of fun-loving, lazy, irresponsible and unfortunately, just talented enough to have reason to pursue a dream that was trying desperately to elude me. What happens in this type of situation is that normally you do quite well–until you run out of money.

Finance is not the most important thing in life, but it does buy you time to think about the important things.

So at Christmas time, I decided I needed to go out and make some candy-cane funding for my little family, and opted to pursue being Santa Claus. I was built for the position. Matter of fact, when I applied at the department store, they were delighted because the costume fit me perfectly and they didn’t have to add padding.

Honestly, I was pretty good at it, being Santa Claus. It involved acting, joking, caring … and could all be done from a seated position. The best of all my worlds.

Still, because cash flow was tight, I wasn’t able to afford money for lunch, so I lived on candy canes from my bag, which I gave to the children. I carefully tried to insert them into my mouth past the synthetic beard provided for me to accentuate the part. As you probably have already visualized, candy canes are sticky, and I was often unable to push the candy cane past the beard without including some hair in the process. It was yucky, but it was sweet.

Every three hours I was given a break, and would go down a freight elevator to enjoy some water and free time. One day, much to my surprise, a young boy about six years old followed me to the back of the store to the freight elevator, and surprised me when he piped up, “Where’s ya’ goin’?”

I was shocked. But wanting to maintain integrity, I continued my role.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s going to go feed his reindeer!” I said with abundant joviality.

“Where’s are dey?”

“Just down this elevator in the basement, waiting for me to bring them food.”

“Is dis the magic food that makes dem fly?” he inquired.

“Yes. I mean, no. Not yet. After all, don’t want ’em to fly until Christmas Eve.” I produced another ‘ho-ho-ho.’

“Which reindeer do you like best?” he continued.

(We were in the midst of a conversation which was quickly becoming an interview. I not only was losing my quiet time, but realized that in a few short moments, I would be beyond my expertise.)

“I like them all the same,” I shared with equity.

“I like Blitzen,” he said with assurety.

“Why is that, young man?”

“Such a cool name. And also, I think he helps Donner pull the sleigh, because sometimes Donner’s a little weak because he’s getting older. Just like my Grandma.”

Wow. This was getting way too deep for a department store Santa Claus.

“Well, I gotta go now,” I said, trying to inch my way to the elevator.

“Can I go with you?”

I should have known this was coming and prepared myself with a good answer. But I was twenty-two years old and punching a clock, even if it was for the North Pole.

“No, you can’t.” That’s all I came up with.

“Why?” he asked.

Once again, a predictable question. I decided to be honest.

“It’s because Santa Claus is tired right now and needs to put his boots up so he’ll be ready to talk to other boys and girls and find out what they want for Christmas.”

Much to my surprise, he accepted this and nodded his head.

“Can I ask you one more question?” he said softly.

“Sure.” He was so adorable I couldn’t turn him down.

“Are you the real Santa Claus?”

He looked up at me with a glance that any Hollywood producer would require off of a child actor, but unfortunately never get, no matter how many takes are procured. What should I say to him?

I thought about the standard fare:

  • No, I’m not really Santa Claus. I’m just one of his helpers.
  • I’m just filling in for him today because he’s busy making toys.

But momentarily inspired, I replied, “What do you think?’

He crinkled his nose, squinted at me, and said, “I think you are.”

“Then you’re probably right,” I concluded.

He hugged my leg, turned on his heel and strolled away, singing.

I thought to myself how wonderful it was to be childlike. What a disadvantage to be so old that I couldn’t believe like him anymore, and so young that my lack of belief would cost me for quite some time to come.

In all my life, I never met anybody who was better off for doubting. I have never seen atheists, agnostics or even overly zealous thinkers walk away singing.

Maybe in the vast spectrum of reality they are better off possessing knowledge, but for me, I want to be like that little boy:

Chase my dreams, talk to my ambitions and walk away … singing.

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Sixteen Going On Seventeen … August 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1989)

handSixteen–actually, near seventeen years ago, I started working with Janet Clazzy. In kind, she started working with me. We work together.

It is a great source of bafflement to many people–how a man and woman can combine in a partnership of creativity without a marriage certificate or without having Dr. Phil on speed dial.

But life is all about giving respect and never limiting the potential of anyone based on what you see, what you believe or what you were taught as a child. Because of that, we have done some magnificent things and have learned a whole parcel of inspiring lessons. May I share?

1. It’s not so much what you do as who you do it with.

2. Family is where we experiment with kindness and honesty to make ourselves ready for a new world of brothers and sisters.

3. America is not a land of conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, old, young, gay and straight. America is like a waiting room, anxiously looking for a way to get started.

4. Hospitality isn’t a location–it’s the true evidence of intelligence.

5. Talent increases with integrity.new set

6. Women are men trying to be women in a world that worships manhood–but needs equality.

7. Success is achieved by avoiding fads which historically have fizzled.

8. Music is emotion; emotion is human.

9. We don’t find faith through God–we uncover God through using our faith.

10. Timing is learning how to avoid wasting the next moment.

11. Don’t get cheap where people can see it.

12. Find good people and let them be good.

13. The more you become offended, the poorer you are.

14. Cheer for humanity to win.

15. No one ever got happy by discovering what is bad.

16. Keep creating–and God will partner with you.

17. And finally, in honor of our upcoming seventeenth year of fellowship, find a way to get closer with more humans.

I enjoy working with another person who is learning the power of vulnerability so as to eliminate the necessity of dong it over again.

It’s been a good ride.

 .

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Troublemaker… March 29, 2013

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jesus at UN

Love your enemies.

What is he talking about? There are dangerous people in the world who have to be monitored and even confronted in order to maintain a civil society. You cannot initiate a diplomacy of “love” to countries like North Korea and Iran. They will view it as weakness and use it as leverage against you in the next confrontation. You certainly cannot tolerate someone tooling around, asking us to love our enemies. The trouble he will end up making could cost us our freedom and our way of life.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Impractical. If we actually treated other nations and people with the same integrity we bestow upon our own citizens, we would be affording them undue respect, since they don’t have the same morals and guidelines that we offer to our people. It would lead to a demise in nationalism and a lack of pride. What we need to do is continue our practice of giving “most favored nation” status to the cultures that agree with us and are willing to be like us in most ways.

Don’t judge or you will be judged.

Another portion of idealism. If there is no way for us to feel superior in some aspect of our lives, how are we to gain the confidence to be leaders instead of just an elongated trail of followers? A certain amount of pride is necessary to maintain purpose, right? If people are not better than other people, how can we enforce integrity and morality, granting us a universal sense of well-being? It’s not so much that we’re judging people in order to alienate them, but instead, enlightening them to the error of their ways.

You are the salt of the earth.

Once again, it may be nice to present the concept of an even playing field, and even to insist that “all men are created equal,” but when you give too much power to the weaker members of our population, they will use it for an occasion to welcome anarchy. Encouragement is one thing–but to unleash the idea that everyone can become equally spiritual or equally human is to produce a chaotic environment, where “lessers” mingle with “greaters” and we are never able to determine true excellence. It is possible to understand that people are ignorant–without hating them.

The kingdom of God is within you.

If we’re going to teach people that true spirituality spawns from their own inner faith, inner soul and inner emotions, then we are weakening the foundations of organized religion, granting us the civilization of understanding God. After all, statistics show that people prefer a worship experience that is full of liturgy and pre-fabricated messages, which can be spoken by the entire assembly to instill faith and unity. If we allow people to have their own experience with God within themselves, we are eliminating the demand for religion and replacing it with abstract searching. Where would this leave our churches?

As you can see, the basic teachings of Jesus, which he intoned two thousand years ago, still cause the hierarchy of society to tremble–or laugh–depending on their particular mood. Conventional wisdom trembles at the notion of human beings being blessed with the individuality of discovery, without being constrained by ritual and commandments. And it laughs at the respect given to folks by the Nazarene–to be able to find the face of God and righteousness on their own.

Perhaps the progression of years would keep us from publicly humiliating, mutilating and executing Jesus for such actions taken in our American culture. We are beyond such barbarism.

We would just let the 24-hour-news cycle assassinate his character.

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