Quatrain of a Gig … August 6, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1967)

big equipment

Come prepared to shine

Shine believing in people

People rejoice with hope

Hope is our preparation

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Permanent… March 21, 2013

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hairShe seemed to be a little upset. I think she felt it was too soon to have to pursue another adventure.

I’m talking about my traveling companion, Jan. She had just reluctantly informed me that the perm in her hair was no longer … available. I think she thought that the word “perm” was short for “permanent,” and even though it has been a full six months since she had the procedure performed, she still believed that she should have gotten a little bit more life out of the initial undertaking.

I reassured her that it was quite all right and there was nothing wrong with getting another one done and that she should understand that “perm” does NOT stand for “permanent,” and that if it does, like many other things in life, it falls under the category of false advertising.

Quite honestly, I feel that most of our society is harried and tense because people are buying into concepts that just aren’t true. Simply watching one night of television, I encountered a repetitious, fictitious philosophy:

  1. Set your goals high.
  2. Don’t give up.
  3. Follow your dreams.

Every time these words were spoken, it was almost like there should be soft music–strings playing in the background–some Muzak version of Climb Every Mountain.

In this country, we foolishly believe that if you “stick to your goals” and continue to “pursue your dreams,” anything is possible. We also contend that if you DON’T believe in that, more than likely you will fall along the wayside, in some sort of muddy puddle of disappointment.

But the truth of the matter is, the best way to set your goals is realistic–and then do them daily. Also, giving up is sometimes the best way to avoid continuing the pursuit of a stupid path that is taking you nowhere. And finally, the dreams that you have conjured in your mind may have absolutely nothing to do with your talents and abilities.

The two greatest gifts you can give you yourself are insight and awarenessinsight on what is presently available to you in acquiring your desires and the awareness to know when things are really working and when they need to be changed to a better format.

But you won’t be able to do that if you’re looking for a permanent solution to everything in your life. After all, most things about us are quite temporary–including our life span.

So what IS permanent? The standard joke is “death and taxes.” But all of us cheat death at one time or another, and certainly loopholes ARE found in the tax code. So here’s what I think is permanent:

1. Give us this day. I woke up this morning, took a deep breath of air and realized I was alive. There’s my gift. There is my only sense of permanence, which will last twenty-four hours barring some meteor landing on the crown of my head. Every time we slide out of pursuing our lives on a daily basis, we set in motion a plan to derail our own efforts. You will be tempted to plan in advance and to think in doing so that you are far-sighted and wise. Avoid such foolishness at all cost. What is permanent is “give us this day.”

2. Our daily bread. It’s the second permanent thing I’m offered. Every single day I am given a package of energy, intellect, possibilities, problems, interaction and climate. This is what I work with–my present permanent. What I paint on that canvas will be my daily picture for my life, and will set in motion the next day’s energy and possibility. My daily bread is the reality set in front of me instead of the reality I deny in preference to my arrogant whim and stubbornness.

Yes, Janet, some days you get up and realize that your hairdo is uncurled. You can lament that your hairdo is flat, or you can choose this day to seek another perm

It’s really that simple.

So each one of you can pursue the psycho-babble–the fad of our generation–to believe that we can use “mind over matter” to change our circumstances simply through determination. Or you can intelligently take on this day with all of its elements and stir the ingredients into a beautiful twenty-four-hour recipe of deliciousness.

What is permanent? This day and my daily bread. Everything else is up for grabs.

Everything else is yet to be curled.

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

Taking Turns… March 20, 2013

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conesReligion and atheism share one aspect in common: they both end up hating people.

Religion preaches itself hoarse, explaining the depravity of man, while atheism becomes exasperated with humanistic efforts and gives up on folks due to presumed ignorance and stupidity.

Meanwhile, God loves people He doesn’t love people because they’re always good, nor does He love people because they’re perniciously evil and desperately requiring His protection. He loves people because they’re capable of both. It makes us interesting.

As I journey, I am often tempted to fall into the pit of this cynical attitude towards my fellow-humans. And then God blesses me with an insight which refreshes my soul with a bit of reality mingled with hope. Such is the case this week.

Sitting out in front of our motel room is a four-lane highway which has been reduced to two in order to perform what seems to be the ongoing tedium of construction. There are orange barrels everywhere, with yellow plastic tape flapping in the wind. It demands that travelers normally accustomed to a much wider path relent to a more narrow vision for progress. It also means there are red flashing lights to stop the traffic at certain intervals, since other roads wish to intersect.

Having journeyed down this road about eight times so far, I have been astounded that every time I come up to one of these red flashing lights, the dear hearts around me take their turn to go forward in the order of appearance. In other words, whoever was there first gets to go first and everyone else waits patiently for their opportunity.

I think religion and atheists would assume that people would push forward, cheat others or crash into each other due to this mishap of arrangement. But there are no policemen, no one to direct traffic and no yield signs. We all just drive up to the red flashing light, stop, look around, figure out who got there first, and wait our turn.

It is amazing.

I don’t think it would be different anywhere. Some people would say it’s because you’re in Texas and if you were in California, cars would be crashing into each other like a demolition derby. I beg to differ.

To some degree, I think people rise to the occasion–if you let them know it’s an occasion and you give them a chance to rise.

A difficulty in our country is that we have built up an atmosphere for cynicism. It starts with us laughing WITH people. That could be a very good thing. But then it digresses to the point that we end up laughing AT people. We begin to believe we’re superior to certain clumps of behavior which for some reason or another have been relegated in our minds to the status of barbaric. Eventually this leads us to laugh at God, who was so scatter-brained that He made people in the first place.

And then suddenly we stop laughing, develop a sour disposition and cease to believe that anything of quality can ever transpire.

It is a dangerous process.

As I watch the politics, the entertainment and the business in our country unfold, I find myself tempted to be drawn into this burning lava, spewed from the volcano of cynicism.

And then … I drive out in traffic and watch people who do not know each other grant one another the space to go forward.

I will never be a good religionist. You will never convince me that we are not capable of growing and doing better.

I could never be an atheist. You cannot make me believe that human beings are worthless–no better than the animals–and therefore not created at all by a loving God, but instead, merely evolved from the common ooze.

We take turns. Do you understand? We even take turns when no one’s watching.

It’s an exciting life. It’s a beautiful life–if you don’t become cynical.

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

Green Room… March 18, 2013

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fruitInterestingly enough, the room itself is rarely green. It is a simple area set aside for Janet and myself, when we arrive at our gig, where we can have some private moments, consume some fruit and water provided, and ruminate. (Now, if you’re not sure what “ruminate” means, you will understand better by the content of this essay.)

I take the time in that green room, before I am entrusted with the most precious of God’s creatures–human beings–to empty and fill. It’s really that simple. It doesn’t matter what the size or appearance of the enclosure may be. Sometimes they put me in a bridal preparation area that has so many mirrors in it that this fat boy doesn’t dare look up or breathe. Once I ended up in a small closet, where I had to listen to the incessant complaining from the brooms, objecting to my presence.

The significance of the green room is that it’s a place to empty and fill.

I empty myself of all concern. After all, concern is normally just a very expensive bag wherein we tote our worry. Concern does me no good–but emptied of it, I am allowed to fill myself with ideas instead of being overtaken by fears. And what is an idea? A belief that has a plan for doing something to prove its worth.

Next, I empty myself of ego. I don’t do this by thinking about how rotten I am or what a sinner I must appear to be in the presence of a glorious God. “Emptying myself of ego” means that I lessen my requirements for other human beings to satisfy my needs. After all, you are not here to please me. And I will only please you if the good news I bring makes your life better.

Emptied of ego, I am ready to fill myself with the blessing of people. Please understand that I feel humbled by the notion that my words and talents will be displayed in front of the world that God loved so much that He was willing to give His only begotten son to see it saved. I take it seriously, in a humorous way.

And when I hit that stage, I empty myself of energy. I don’t try to reserve some of my oom-pah for later on. If God loves me and I love Him, the best way to prove that love is to give all the human beings I meet the best I’ve got. And as I empty myself of energy, I fill myself with the response and the joy from the audience.

Someone asked me the other day: how do you know if something’s from God? That’s easy. It makes people better. If it doesn’t make people better, it can’t be God.

Once I’m filled with that response and the show’s over, as I climb up in my van to leave, I empty myself of any further responsibility. I’m a sower–not a farmer. Farmers have to sow the seed and then hang around to clear all the weeds. I think there are too many people worrying about the farm and not enough people planting. Farmers worry about weeds, thunderstorms and droughts. Sowers plant the seed.

Emptied of the responsibility of my last stop-off, I am then filled again with a vision of the task before me. It’s a wonderful way to live–emptied, to be filled again.

I don’t know whether you have a green room to go to, but I would recommend that you find such a place. Yes, find a secluded area where you can experience the miracle of empty and fill.

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

Holes … February 18, 2013

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GE DIGITAL CAMERAComplicating life doesn’t make you smarter.

Coming up with intricate ways of conducting your business certainly does not make you more efficient. And merely saying you live a “simple life” doesn’t work either, if you end up ignoring what needs to be done.

What works is making a plan, fully aware that life, circumstances, people and even God will reveal holes in your goals. What you do with the holes determines whether you will be considered a problem-solver, clever and on-point, or an avoider, a liar and a cheat.

That’s really how easy it is. If this were taught in our schools and churches, within one generation we would solve at least half of our problems–because we would be able to identify them as bobbles before they became disasters.

Allow yourself one fear–a fear of a lack of repentance.

Failure is inevitable because we are all learning. Set-backs are necessary because they instruct us in better ways to accomplish our goals. And without inadequacy, none of us would ever desire to learn more precise procedures to improve our lives.

While the church is concerned about sin, politics about flip-flopping, corporations frightened of whistle-blowers and the average Joe and Jane on the street terrified of embarrassment, we have developed a society which spends most of its time “spinning” our flops into accidents–or even worse, consequences beyond our control.

Here’s the system: I make a plan. In the process of doing that, I study what is set before me, evaluate what I have, and set in motion ideas which appear to be my best selections and which also don’t seem to harm anyone else. As soon as I rev that engine on my new invention, I will discover there are holes.

If I am the first one to notice them,  am prepared to repair them and I am willing to make the adjustments to them I will always appear to be a forward-thinking genius. If I insist that my original prototype is perfect and just misunderstood, or hasn’t had a chance to work out its bugs, or should be accepted despite its lack of quality, I will end up looking like a first-class jerk.

That’s it. Life is about making plans, knowing there will be holes, but that if we’re willing to patch them without bad attitudes or denial, we will make progress.

Do you want to grow up a little today? Make a plan, look for the holes, repair them–and laugh because you didn’t have to humiliate yourself by being exposed as a fool.

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

Never Right… November 2, 2012

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A knock on the door.

It frightens you. It normally wouldn’t, but this is a different night. The wind is howling, the rain is pelting against your house and it sounds like all of hell is trying to seep through the walls of your home to capture your soul and drag you into the deep, dark pit of death. The lights flash, threatening to go out. Who would be knocking on the door at such a moment? It can’t be good, that’s for sure.

You open the door. There’s a woman there with two little children standing in the background, all of them completely drenched. She is frightened out of her mind and begs for entrance. But you see, you’re scared, too. Every apprehension that you’ve ever had about life, death, people, danger and the presence of your own inadequacy comes to the forefront. Mingle that with walking around in a society that demands you be suspicious of everyone around you, and even every piece of fruit you buy from the produce section, and before you have a chance to think, you refuse her entrance, shut your door–and feel grateful that hell is on the outside and you are on the inside.

This happened to a man on the east coast. The only trouble is, there’s always a morning after–when all of our decisions come to roost and are brought to our doorstep, demanding an explanation.

What are you going to do? Well, you’ve got to lie, right?  Because no one is going to understand how terrified you were by the storm and why your stupidity made a decision before your conscience had a chance to show up.

You are informed that the two children perished in the storm. For a split second, the goodness that remains within you realizes that you are a murderer. But the liar who controls the living room of your thoughts just continues to offer more and more feeble explanations.

Let us realize that for the next 24-hour news cycle, this man will be hated. Each one of us, in our little pious puddle of self-perceived purity, will insist that WE would have let this woman and her two sons into our homes, to escape the storm. We will judge him harshly, so that we don’t have to examine ourselves more closely.

I will tell you–these moments come to all of us and they‘re never “right.”

  • It’s never the “right” time.
  • It’s never the “right” people.
  • And it’s never the “right” mood.

My dear friends, if you catch me on a good day, I’m a saint. If you give me warning and let me know that a unique possibility is going to avail itself my way, I will bake a cake and prepare for the festivities. It just never works that way. And those people who insist they can trust their conscience to protect them against doing foolish things–always end up embarrassed the morning after, trying to justify their actions, as the bodies of two young boys are retrieved from a nearby marsh.

It’s never the right time. True adventure always knocks on our door when we are at our weakest, or when we least expect it.

It is never the right people. My God, if they looked like us, or appeared to be in the same economic category, or we recognized them in any way, we CERTAINLY would fling the door open and welcome them in. But desperation, frustration and destitution always come from another place, with another look–sometimes even speaking another language.They sport difference, and difference equals danger.

And of course, it’s never the right mood. Maybe you, yourself, are pissed off about the storm–wondering if that old oak tree in the back yard is going to fall over and destroy the bonus room you recently added to your property. Your mind is not on altruism or hospitality, but stuck with the pedal to the metal–in survival gear. You hope  that the better part of you will kick in and do the right thing. But the slowest-moving part of the human being is the conscience. It eventually does arrive, but has no desire whatsoever to be quick about it, and when it happens upon our scene, extraordinarily tardy, it only succeeds in reminding us how badly we have done without its help.

If you want to avoid the fate of this man, who found himself trapped in a never-the-right-moment, never-the-right-people and never-the-right-mood hole in the ground, then you must have something MORE than a mere conscience. You must realize, every day of your life, that you are completely capable of stupid, selfish and even evil things.

You don’t have to degrade yourself. You don’t necessarily have to share it with others. Just refuse to grant yourself the ridiculous notion that you’ve “arrived,” and would certainly never be tempted by folly again. Otherwise, you’ll trust your conscience to cover your butt–and that particular virtue will arrive like a turtle, just a little too late.

The reason most people spend excessive time lying is because they are angry that their conscience failed to rescue them from doing iniquity.

It’s never the right moment.

It’s never the right people.

And it’s never the right mood.

When tragic circumstances arrive at your house, you need more than a conscience. You need a heart that freely admits that you’re prone to doing absolutely insane things–unless you put a guard on the outside of your emotions to prevent wickedness from entering.

Don’t judge that man on the east coast too harshly. He is our brother. He is us. His ignorance cost two young boys their lives.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about the story. Or perhaps not. Maybe it will be swept away because all hearers of the tale will realize that they, too, might have turned the strangers away.

It is never the right time … to do good.

It is never the right people … who are brought to our attention.

And it is never the right mood that inhabits our thoughts … when it’s time to be a human angel.

Don’t trust your conscience. Build a second line of defense by admitting to yourself that much selfishness still dwells in the corners of your mind.

Then just maybe you will be ready for that knock on the door.

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

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