Getting in Character … July 27th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Siskell and Ebert

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

A good performance does not guarantee a good response.

Learning this may be the secret to both contentment and success.

Somewhere along the line, we have acquired the idea that good things eventually receive acclaim. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are factors at work in the marketplace of humanity that are often geared to eliminate competition by thrusting good ideas, good sensations and even good performances to the rear. Otherwise, mediocrity would have no chance of surviving–and we all know that the mediocre is often hoisted on the shoulders of the masses and proclaimed to be excellent.

So the first thing we must do is establish a standard for ourselves that is higher than present expectation.

There’s a simple reason for this:

If we do receive rave reviews, then we know that it was brought about by concerted effort rather than luck. And if we don’t, we can have confidence that any persecution or retribution that comes our way is more than likely being spawned from some pit of prejudice or jackal of jealousy.

So if we’re not going to always receive what we’re due for our performance, what is the purpose of trying to excel, or stepping out on the stage of life to display our hearts in the first place?

Every real performance which is practiced and perfected affords us four delightful conclusions:

1. We can stop lying.

That in itself should be enough to encourage us toward developing the glorious rendition of our part.

2. Every good performance exposes our insecurities.

Isn’t it fascinating that rehearsal always brings the faults to the forefront, and then we can decide whether we are secure enough to improve them?

3. Performance eliminates conceit.

There is no need to be conceited about something that is obviously good. Conceit is generally birthed in a person who privately fears that what he or she has to share is insufficient. So they try to cover it up with pomp and circumstance.

4. And finally, the pursuit of a great performance, whether regaled with honors or not, gives us a huge opportunity to overcome our fears:

  • Fear of failing
  • Fear of obscurity
  • Fear of being critiqued
  • And fear of suffering injustice while knowing deep in our hearts that we’re doing something of great quality

The truth of the matter is, great does not always rate. It doesn’t come with a guaranteed award.

But it does reward us with a true sense of confidence… that we have stepped out and found our best.

 

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I’m Looking For… A Pleasant Planner February 1, 2013

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listWedged somewhere between the pesky pusher and the lazy loser is the delightful individual who purposely discovers ways and means to be a pleasant planner.

Although many individuals hate to admit it,we all do realize that some sort of organization is necessary in order to avoid … well, to avoid disorganization. Life is way too short to have to constantly peer at the rear end of people who have passed you by because they had an idea on how to follow through. Here’s what to avoid in the pursuit of a goal:

1. Don’t be too serious. If joy is our strength, then nagging is our death. Being somber in an aspiration communicates dissatisfaction and certainly does nothing to recruit followers.

2. Don’t be too involved. If you have your fingers in EVERY pie, no one wants to eat your pastries. Sooner or later you have to trust people to do something even if you believe it may amount to nothing.

3. Don’t take too long. Anything that takes over an hour needs to have a reprieve. I have heard directors tout the importance of three-hour rehearsals, but I will tell you–they only got sixty minutes of productivity out of it. Every human being needs a break after the hour hand goes around once.

4. Don’t be too boring. Some propagators insist that a certain level of tedium is necessary to prove sincerity and that we’re grown up about the vision. Good luck with that.

And finally …

5. Don’t be too strict. I know the old saying is “close enough for Hoyle,” but since nobody knows what that means, could we change it to “close enough for human?” Be prepared for people to fall short. In the movies, strictness is always portrayed as wrong, annoying and punishable. You might want to take a more cinematic approach.

Here’s what I think goes into becoming a pleasant planner:

1. Keep it simple. Just about the time you think it’s too childlike, you need to knock off a couple more steps from the directions. We are human beings. We like to celebrate. Establish benchmarks along the way where partying is possible.

2. Be ready to change. Even the Ten Commandments had to be amended. God knew that we human beings would never be able to follow anything past Number 1. That’s why, at the end of the Good Book it says “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you pull that off, you have done your part.

3. Laugh at your lack. There is one certainty in every project–it will run out of both energy AND money. If you’re not prepared for that you shouldn’t begin. A good sense of humor about falling short of the glory of your aspirations is the beginning of energizing future accomplishment.

4. Have fun getting it done. When you remove the excitement from life, you take the blood out of the body. For a little while it still looks like it’s human, but gradually, without blood flow, it starts to decay and stink. If you take the pleasure out of progress, everything around you will die and develop a stench.

5. Learn and burn. Learn what works and burn away everything that doesn’t. That means that a lot of things on your original list will have to be dumped along the roadside. You only look stupid if you become sentimental about things that are no longer valuable. You look like a genius when you follow through on the plans that do bear fruit.

Yes, I am looking for a pleasant planner.

I am looking to follow someone who tells me that my burden is easy and the weight is light.

To tell people anything else is to scare them away from following and chase them down the road … into obscurity.

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Sameness… December 24, 2012

jon-in-red-hat

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It was a time when the world was engrossed in a raging debate over taxes. The most recent Caesar was deliberating on how to maintain the integrity of his empire, keeping it from falling off the current “fiscal cliff.”

Poverty was everywhere. It was gnawing at the flesh and the innards of ever-increasing numbers of common people, who were only able to muster complaints over the sheer magnitude of lack.

Kings were concerned about maintaining their power, ignoring the needs of mothers and children in order to maintain the supremacy of their positions.

Zealots roamed the terrain, performing terrorist acts against perceived injustice–all in the name of their favorite gods.

Religion, having stalled in its own inadequacy decades before, was trying to discover new life through regulations, restitution of historical moments and rigid application from the pages of dusty scrolls.

The cultures were segregated. Some say it was done so that the traditions of each group of people and their customs could be honored, but more often than not, the separation just created misunderstandings and blockades to communication, sprouting feelings of superiority.

Nations were rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms.

It is into this environment that God inserted Himself in human flesh as a baby–birthed in obscurity.

As I sat over a meal last night with the lovely members of my family, I looked around and realized that they were an intelligent lot, filled with creative energy, but still sheep heading to the slaughter of the sameness of “olden times.”

For today, we suffer from the same conditions that greeted the Messiah. We are trapped in the inflexibility of men’s wills and purposes. We extol our differences and tout our uniqueness, never having a chance to absorb deeper fellowship through commonality. We have trapped ourselves in religious and political upheavals that threaten our future, overemphasize our past and leave our present stalled–void of purpose.

I suppose I could tell you that some things have changed. We have computers, which quickly inform us of our disjointed status. We have penicillin to heal diseases (until those same infections discover ways to outsmart our drugs). We dress differently, if not better. We drive cars instead of camels and we eat with knives and forks instead of our fingers.

But the main demons that possessed our society all those years ago remain intact, having survived all of our attempts at deliverance.

I have decided not to join the melee. I resist all attempts by the masses to deem me odd,  not slithering into the present pit of lava. I have decided to shepherd the sheep that are sent my way, simultaneously listening for the angels of my better nature. I am trying to gain wisdom as I look to the skies. And I travel the earth as a student of discovery instead of a know-it-all.

I am not interested in taxes and I’m quite intent on avoiding kings. I may appear to the common man to be insensitive as I move in and out of cultures, seeking similarities instead of accentuating differences. And most of all, I find my source of worship and meaning in barns and mangers instead of sanctuaries and the halls of Congress.

Call me weird.

Most of the world slept through the night some two thousand years ago, wondering how things could ever get better when everybody seemed content with them remaining bad. It took a child–and it will take a child in each and every one of our hearts–for us to birth peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

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

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