Crazy Larry… February 24, 2013

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Living a Legendary LifeI think it was about eight years ago. I had begun to write screenplays for independent movies, was composing some symphonic works for a regional orchestra, was working on a couple of novels and traveling across the country doing my presentation in churches.

It was an excitingly varied life, which brought one piece of information to the forefront of my mind: everyone is basically looking for a central mission in their journey, but are often reluctant to name that yearning by using one of the conventional terms for God or spirituality.

I found that both intriguing and comical. The thought in my mind is, once you find out where faith has its nexus, the name you come up with for this precious sense of peace of mind is not nearly as important as remaining passionate and fervent.

So I wrote a book called Living a Legendary Life, and in a very tongue-in-cheek style I proposed that rather than fighting over religious vernacular, we should just go ahead and call God–Larry.

I thought it was quite funny. I wasn’t actually suggesting that we start the First Church of Larry or the Holy Order of Larry. What I failed to realize was that I was trying to be humorous, off-the-cuff and clever in a world that does not particularly favor those presentations.

I immediately ran into the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives were upset because I suggested that the name of the Divine God of the Universe was one of the Three Stooges. The liberals, on the other hand, were dismayed because I portrayed a God named Larry (which they didn’t have much problem with) but that this Deity expected people to be involved in their own lives and not cop out on their responsibilities.

Little did I know that I had placed myself directly in the center between these two houses of philosophy, and was in danger of being shot by both sides.

It made me think of the words of Larry’s son, Jesus, who once noted that he was very happy that truth is “hidden from the wise and prudent.” The wise consist of those more liberal individuals, who contend that they’re more intellectual and scientific than their backwoods brethren. And the prudent are the conservatives, who think the only way to be acceptable is to retreat into former times, when everything was supposedly just hunky-dory, and you could actually say “hunky-dory.”

This experience has not deterred my effort to maintain an autonomy from both camps. The wise are too smart to learn and the prudent are too careful to be blessed.

So both of them thought my idea was a rather “crazy Larry” concept–and my satire escaped them. But for those who are not bound by the restrictions of either world, who still believe that God loves us all, and keep good cheer in their lives because it is their favorite survival tool, my writings are still appreciated–and even occasionally comprehended.

After all, faith needs two very important parts: (1) it needs function. It’s got to be practical enough to be of some earthly good. (2) And it requires fervor. If it doesn’t energize you, it is a faith without works … which is dead on arrival..

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

Fifteen Hundred … April 30, 2012

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In Los Angeles

Four years and forty days ago, we brought forth to this world a new website, dedicated to the proposition that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Too pretentious??

Well, fifteen hundred daily columns IS an accompolishment. Just to give you perspective, fifteen hundred jonathots is the equavalent of ten novels, twenty-five screenplays, forty self-help books and six thousand personal letters informing you of the antics of your ever-expanding off-spring. I certainly did not anticipate ever hitting fifteen hundred–and I do recall that when I reached one thousand, I was convinced I had climbed Mt. Everest. (Obviously, I had not peaked.)  

What have I learned? Here it is: I need to constantly retrieve from my own being an awareness of who I am and where I’m going. Otherwise, I become predictable, socially and culturally amalgamated and devoid of fresh-bread inspiration. To escape such a dreary profile, I have developed four questions I ask myself each and every week. I would like to share them with you on this fifteen hundredth essay, for your own consideration. I will then tell you what my answers are. I would be very curious about your responses.

  1. What do I know?
  2. What do I want?
  3. What do I fear?
  4. What do I believe?

I think you will find that within that quartet of inquisitors, there is a good barometer for the atmosphere you have created for yourself. So on this fifteen hundredth jonathot, I am going to go ahead and answer those questions for myself–and hopefully, for your enlightenment (or at least, amusement).

1. What do I know? People and God are inseparable. Likewise, God and people. If you try to block them away from each other, you will find yourself gradually turning into a curmudgeon, convinced of your faith in the Almighty as you become more and more cynical about one of His favorite creations. It would be similar to going to Colonel Sanders’ house and requesting a roast beef alternative for Sunday dinner.

2. What do I want? I want to be prepared to matter in the present. The past is significant because it grants me insight on foibles. The future is completely up to me; so therefore, until I determine my own motivations, tomorrow is cloudy, to say the least. What I want to do is matter in the present. For instance, as I dictate this jonathots, I am driving on I-5 in Los Angeles, California, backed up in traffic–a condition which seems to be mandatory as a cultural experience from the Chamber of Commerce. So obviously, I want to talk to you about what’s in my heart, but I also want to pay attention to traffic–so that my heart can continue to beat. What is useless is to be frustrated that I am stalled or to wonder how long such a delay will continue. In fact, that’s why I saved my writing session for this drive–so I can stay busy with my mind so it doesn’t flip-flop on me and become my worst enemy. Yes, I want to be prepared to matter in the present. Otherwise, I will overlook my opportunity to touch your life and also rob myself of the benefits of such an experience.

3. What do I fear? I fear a piece of personal dishonesty being disclosed because I failed to be candid. It’s really our only danger, folks. If we have a pure heart and we haven’t tried to deceive ourselves or other people, we don’t have to go into the great press of humanity nervously twitching, wondering when we will be discovered for the charlatans we are. Now, the first time I said something about myself in candor, I was embarrassed, apprehensive and filled with trepidation. I thought the world was going to end because people would know how frivolous and weak I could be. Yet, rather than warranting ridicule, my confession was received with delight, understanding and a bit of reciprocation from those around me, who felt liberated to be equally as transparent. Fear is always born of a lack of love, and a lack of love is always birthed through not caring enough about yourself to be truthful.

4. And finally, what do I believe? Earth needs my attention and heaven is unknown, but by all reports seems well-staffed. Since God made BOTH heaven and earth, I just find it best to work on the turf that is beneath my feet. The only time I get in trouble in my life is when I start looking to the future, searching for destiny instead of opportunity and wondering whether eternity will afford me my due reward. What do I believe in? The joy, contentment, peace, understanding, compassion and silliness that I feel right now. If God thinks He can do better, let Him bring it on. I welcome the expansion.

So there you go.

I will continue to parade my thoughts and feelings in front of you, drenching them in veracity (as much as I know) and salting them with inspiration.I have found that trying to separate my heart from my soul makes me an emotional wreck. Divorcing my spirit from my mind causes me to become mentally dwarfed, incapacitated from achieving renewal. And disconnecting my mind from my body is like walking around in a continual human texting activity, oblivious to the world around me–about to run into a wall.

So here’s to fifteen hundred days we’ve had together. (And let me tell you–I’ve always respected you in the morning.)

And no matter how many more there may be, always realize that you can get in touch with yourself by finding out what you know, what you want, what you fear and what you truly believe. 

  

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

The Last Twenty… March 25, 2012

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I spent the first twenty years of my life more or less kicking my own tires and revving my engine to see what I had under the hood. I didn’t do anything to excess–except eating. I studied enough algebra to discover I would never use  it and I am always astounded that I actually received good marks in chemistry, despite a lack of any awareness of even attending class. I attempted to learn the Golden Rule but was never encouraged to believe it was plausible. I went from baby to child to young man to fully grown male of the species without breaking a bone, but spraining everything else available. I guess I was just normal.

That was my first twenty.

My second twenty was spent trying to learn how to eek out a living so people wouldn’t criticize me for being lazy and banks wouldn’t charge me overdraft fees. I also discovered sex, which opened the door to procreation, which forced me into a room–at gunpoint–of fatherhood. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the experience. It’s just that I’ve never been so ill-prepared for anything since the day our teacher told us that we would ONLY be speaking Spanish in class for the entire period. Yes, in that second twenty years I tried to learn how to be a man, an artist, a husband, a provider and a father. Five things. (Something’s gotta give, right?) I did my best.

In the next twenty years, as my children launched out on their own, I decided to pursue my career. Normally one does that younger, but I saw no reason to be in step with society. In that twenty years period, I wrote three novels, eleven symphonies, seventeen screenplays, many songs, and traveled the country back and forth a couple dozen times. I also joined my dear business partner in starting a symphony, which ended up being both a creative and a philanthropic endeavor in our community. Exciting stuff.

But I woke up on Tuesday of this week and realized that I am probably in my last twenty. At first I tried to slide into some silly, melancholy sentiments–but then I realized how long twenty can be. Now I’m not saying that I have twenty more years left. God knows there are always little surprises for all of us. It may be only twenty minutes. Twenty days. Twenty weeks. Twenty months. Or I might win the jackpot and get the full twenty years. But whatever happens, I’d like to keep my mind on that idea of twenty.

Because I’ll tell you right now–if I only had twenty minutes to live, what I would do, knowing what I know about my heavenly Father, who will hopefully be my next innkeeper, I would be kind and smile at everyone.

If information was given to me that I had twenty days to linger on this planet, I would limit my projects, and instead of trying to look like “Mr. Busy Man,” I would finish them all instead of leaving a bunch of half-eaten doughnuts lying around.

How about if God whispered in my ear that I had twenty weeks to live? Well, I’ll tell you right now–I would make a weekly contact with everyone I know and love–with a special message from my heart.

If twenty months were graciously afforded me, I would be creative, making sure that in some way, shape or form, I left my own footprints in the sand.

And if by some stroke of mercy and grace, this old body of mine can muster up twenty more years, I would do everything aforementioned in great good cheer, without ever going to bed worrying.

I guess any way you look at it, at any age we are all in our last twenty of something. After all, what could be more sad than the last twenty potato chips in the bag?

We will never be judged on our longevity, nor honestly, on whether we were in perfect physical condition. But someone will bring up how we decided to use our time. Actually, they won’t even need to bring it up, now, will they? The evidence will remain–to either convict us … or make us free.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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